Monsters and Mayhem

Thanks mostly to “The Walking Dead,” zombies have been sucking up all the oxygen in TV’s monster room lately.

Zombies have even lurched into TV commercials, thanks to Sprint’s hilarious “Whoa, let’s not go putting labels on people” spot, and that’s a sign of two things: 1) zombies have reached the mainstream, and 2) because zombies have reached the mainstream, zombies soon may not be so cool anymore.

But that hardly means television will run out of scary monsters. TV has always taken the big-tent view when it comes to monsters, from “The Addams Family” to “American Horror Story,” and nothing underscores that truth better than the arrival of another Halloween.

Just as vampires didn’t chase away all the other monsters when they got hungry a couple of years back, zombies aren’t even close to the only monster game in town this time around.

Television embraces all scary stuff, even Joan Rivers’ plastic surgery, which is why Halloween has always been a deceptively potent holiday in the TV game.
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So yes, “The Walking Dead” has become more of a phenomenon than ever. And yes, Sundance will be joining the zombie game Thursday with “The Returned,” a French series featuring a very different sort of zombie.

But all over television, we will celebrate Halloween with outfits and tales that have little or nothing to do with the undead.

Let’s take a peek, then, at some of what TV will be dropping in our trick-or-treat bags.

AMC goes all-horror all week, featuring modern classics like “Friday the 13th” and some cool obscurities like “Thirteen Ghosts” with Tony Shalhoub. Starting at 8 p.m. Wednesday the network will run all the “Halloween” movies through Thursday night.

TCM rolls out classic horror flicks Thursday, starting at 6 a.m. with “The Curse of Frankenstein.” Roll through the Mummy and Dracula before the 8 p.m. feature “The Pit and the Pendulum.” One caution to horror buffs: These are 1950s and ’60s versions of the classic flicks, not the ones from the 1930s.
Christopher Lee’s stake causes him indigestion in 1968’s “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave.”
Christopher Lee’s stake causes him indigestion in 1968’s “Dracula Has Risen From the Grave.”

If all that sounds too high-falutin’, check out Epix, which begins its own Halloween marathon at 8 p.m. Wednesday with the documentary “The Nightmare Factory.” From there the network swings into drive-in horror flicks like “Pumpkinhead” and “Cheerleader Massacre,” through Thursday night.

On a gentler note, PBS Kids is plunging into Halloween all week. Curious George’s first Halloween special, “A Boo-Fest,” premieres tomorrow. Other PBS Kids stars who will be tackling Halloween issues in their regular slots this week include Peg+Cat, Sid the Science Kid, Wordgirl, Clifford the Big Red Dog and the Cat in the Hat.

Not a zombie in the bunch.

And that’s only the beginning.

Syfy kicks off a new series called “Naked Vegas” on Tuesday at 10 p.m. with a body-painting segment in which the person and the costume will become one. Yes, that show will include zombies.

NBC’s Cozi channel will start airing the 1959-1961 paranormal classic “One Step Beyond” on Monday and keep it up all week.

The Disney Channel is showing Halloween-themed cartoons on Thursday, from big names like Mickey Mouse. Cody Simpson hosts Halloween sketches on “Awesomeness TV” Monday at 7:30 p.m. on Nick.

Hallmark naturally brings in Catherine Bell’s Good Witch character, with “The Good Witch” at 7 p.m. Sunday and “The Good Witch’s Charm” at 9 p.m. She returns Monday and Wednesday at 8 p.m.

Comedy Central has “Ghostbusters” at 8:30 p.m. Thursday.

ABC Family serves up spooky stuff every night through Thursday, from the bizarre Meryl Streep/Goldie Hawn movie “Death Becomes Her” (Wednesday, 1:30 p.m. and midnight) to the always-entertaining Halloween episode of “Pretty Little Liars,” Tuesday at 6 p.m.

On serial TV, the selections include:

“Hart of Dixie,” the CW, 8 p.m. Monday. How many TV shows would even have a “Junior League Ball” as an option to play with? This one does, and the drama heats up when Lemon Breeland (Jaime King) finds she’s not invited. My heavens!

“2 Broke Girls,” CBS, 8:30 p.m. Monday. CBS is encouraging viewers to create “2 Broke Girls” costumes in the spirit of “2 Broke Ghouls.” There will also be costume issues on the show.

“Modern Family,” ABC, 9 p.m. Wednesday. This show loves Halloween, so much that Claire (Julie Bowen) must be cautioned to keep her celebration “family-friendly.” On “Modern Family,” of course, that still leaves a good deal of latitude.

“American Horror Story: Coven,” FX, 10 p.m. Wednesday. Every week is Halloween on “Coven,” really. But for this episode, Delphine LaLaurie (Kathy Bates) says only certain offerings can prevent bad things from happening. As if anything can prevent that on this show. There’s also a tea party that viewers may not want to try at home.

“The Middle,” ABC, 8 p.m. Thursday. Halloween gets tangled up with football rituals, combining two all-American pastimes.

“The Vampire Diaries,” the CW, 8 p.m. Thursday. Another show where it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between Halloween and any other day. The Whitmore Historical Ball has been informally renamed “Monster’s Ball,” so Elena (Nina Dobrev) and Damon (Ian Somerhalder) attend in the costumes of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII. Hasn’t Damon come a long way? Can we imagine him even agreeing to go this event a couple of seasons ago? His gout must be better, too.

“Back in the Game,” ABC, 8:30 p.m. Thursday. Another show where sports and Halloween mingle, only this time it’s baseball. Danny (Griffin Gluck) and his team of lovable misfits work on ways to avoid being monstered.

“Grey’s Anatomy,” ABC, 9 p.m. Thursday. Odd as it might sound, doctor shows have long had a soft spot for Halloween. Shows like “ER” would have patients appear in weird costumes with weird maladies, and surprise, that’s pretty much what happens with “Grey’s.”

NBC will air its traditional “Saturday Night Live” Halloween special Thursday at 8 p.m.

CBS is even putting a Halloween touch on its daytime lineup Thursday, with holiday-themed editions of “The Talk,” “The Young and the Restless,” “The Bold and the Beautiful,” “The Price Is Right” and “Let’s Make a Deal.” If you’ve always wanted to see “Price” announcer George Gray as a disembodied head, this is your chance.

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