Season 1, episode 24: “Night of the Day of the Dead”

It’s the Halloween episode! I definitely remember this one, at least the second half of it. I feel like Disney must have hyped it up a lot during October.

It begins with Matt and Lanny plotting out the best spots in the city for trick-or-treating while Lizzie and Matt exchange their usual cruel banter. The McGuire parents show up to tell Matt he’s not going trick-or-treating at all, by the way, he’s going to the Halloween festival at Lizzie’s school. Matt and Lizzie both hate this plan, but their parents offer no explanation at all.

I hate this show and watching it every week has become a chore I dread, but you know what? I fucking love the theme song and am pumped every single time I hear it. I don’t know if it’s just the strong jolt of nostalgia. It reminds me of being in fifth grade, which was a pretty fun year for me except for 9/11.

Or maybe I just love the song in general. It’s so catchy!

At a Fright Night planning session, we get another scene of Kate attempting to lead a meeting, much like the similar scene in “Come Fly With Me.” And as in that scene, Ashlie Brillault struggles with her lines. Kate is wearing a bland butter-yellow outfit in this scene and delivers all of her lines – mockery of people’s suggestions, mostly – in a sniveling voice. As always, I wonder who cast her (she is TRULY TERRIBLE, I really can’t emphasize it enough) and why Kate is supposed to be popular in this universe. They don’t even dress her like a cool girl. Her outfits tend to be very feminine and fussy, with big floofy hairstyles that were decidedly not popular at the time.

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Miranda volunteers to bring in Día de los Muertos decorations, which Kate immediately vetoes for no reason. Lizzie says, “I think it’s great to have stuff from other countries at our parties!” and the entire room bursts into people screaming “YEAH!” That’s a good message, but this scene is such a goddamn mess I cracked up laughing. First of all, everyone in the room just says the word “yeah,” over and over, like the world’s simplest mob. I recorded it so you can experience it for yourself.

Secondly, this scene is blocked terribly, with people standing up every time they want to talk. Miranda ends up standing up then sitting down several times. The kid actors look sort of uncomfortable with all the unmotivated standing. Also Tudgeman keeps screaming impressions of Star Wars characters for no reason.

It’s all a disaster, but the pro-diversity mob is into the Día de los Muertos idea, and Miranda shares a story about some kid in Mexico who disrespected the dead on Día de los Muertos and… something scary happened to him. I don’t really know, because every time I watch this scene I’m confounded by all the weird shit happening in it. At one point Miranda said “His hair turned white!” but then they cut to her and she says “white” again like they didn’t line the sound up properly? There’s some kind of sound stutter. “His hair turned white-white!”

Lizzie asks if she can sign up to be the vampire mistress in the Dungeon of Terror, like that’s a real role that’s important, because she’s ready to slut it up on Halloween this year instead of dressing in something corny and dumb.

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Kate says she can be the vampire mistress if she cleans out the janitor’s closet for them to decorate as a dungeon.

Lizzie and Gordo meet up in the janitor’s closet for Lizzie to rant about what a pill Kate is. Gordo reassures her that Kate ruins everyone’s life, not just hers. How is this girl so popular? Lizzie says Gordo has to help her clean the closet, and he gets on a big self-righteous soapbox about how he won’t be manipulated by Kate and it’s all a part of the bullshit popularity wars that he wants no part of. Tell that to last week’s Gordo, this week’s Gordo! That Gordo did Lizzie’s homework for her last week so she could get him into popular hangouts.

Lizzie says she’ll get her cousin Heather to go out with Gordo the next time she visits if he helps her, and Gordo’s jaw drops and he kicks into cleaning mode. Gordo is gross. I seem to remember Lizzie having a cousin played by Hilary’s older sister Haylie, but when I looked it up I found out that Haylie Duff played Kate’s cousin, so I guess we won’t get to see the payoff of this creepy setup. I feel bad for Lizzie’s cousin.

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One cleaning montage later, Lizzie reports back to Kate, who tells her she’s decided to be the vampire mistress and Lizzie has to be a clown. I feel like there’s nothing stopping Lizzie from getting any other slutty costume and showing up in it for Fright Night, and also I feel like she shouldn’t have so much to prove this Halloween since she was a hot model just a week ago, but who am I to judge this show besides a person who’s devoted a huge chunk of her life to judging this show?

Matt raids the fridge to put together a costume to be himself turned inside out while his mom stands extremely awkwardly on one side of the fridge. This episode has noticeably bad blocking throughout.

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Jo vetoes a bunch of stuff he wants, like spaghetti sauce for blood, but finally says he can take a whole bunch of sausages, which had to have been the most expensive food item in the house. No one points out that a costume made of raw meat will be disgusting.

Jo says she got caviar for her and Sam for that night and Matt can’t use it, and when he leaves Sam grabs his wife around the waist and asks what’s up with the caviar and she says the kids will be out of the house and they both get all turned on by that and Jo starts talking in a cutesy baby voice and they both start making out! Gross! I don’t want any of this!

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Jesus, how did I forget that the B-story of this episode was going to be Sam and Jo trying to have sex all night and getting interrupted? That’s totally the rest of this episode. Kill me!

We finally get to see Miranda’s parents, who help her bring in some Día de los Muertos decorations. They make some corny jokes, but Miranda laughs good-naturedly about it. Man, I’d much prefer a show about Miranda. Lizzie is always screaming at her parents or acting like they’re scum. Miranda is so much cooler and more fun than Lizzie.

Kate is super fake in gushing to the Sanchezes about how cool their decorations are, but I don’t know why. Is she just a suck-up to adults? There’s no clear motivation for it, and as always, the actress doesn’t help sell it.

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Regardless, she immediately tells Miranda to stick the skeletons representing her dead ancestors in a corner. Note that I don’t know enough about Día de los Muertos to be able to determine how accurate any of the traditions mentioned are.

Miranda threatens Kate that bad things might happen to her if she insults the dead on Día de los Muertos, and Lizzie asks her privately if they really have powers. She tells the skeletons to get Kate, then shrugs and walks away as the camera gives us a Very Ominous Closeup.

Later, Kate changes into her vampire mistress outfit. Lizzie complains about it, but Gordo, who is gross, thinks Kate looks hot as hell.

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She…really doesn’t?

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I was not what you’d call “hot” in middle school or any other part of my life, but I’m pretty sure guys wouldn’t be into this giant hairsprayed mess of a hairdo in 2001, and the dead makeup doesn’t help either. Kate is bordering on Lindsay Lohan’s zombie bride costume in Mean Girls. 

Dumb Matt, whose outfit is clearly store-bought and not homemade from meat products, eats the tamale offering for the dead and Miranda screams at him for upsetting her ancestors. Gordo, reliably awful always, butts in to shit all over Miranda’s culture and say that none of that is real anyway.

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Matt’s lemonade starts bubbling and turns black. Lizzie looks over at the skeletons and they disappear right in front of her eyes.

While Gordo tries to reassure Kate that it’s not surprising at all that cafeteria food would visibly curdle, #relatablekidthings, Lizzie walks up to Miranda with a cup of dirt and is like, “So Tudgeman said Matt just disappeared and became this pile of dirt? That’s like, not weird or out of the ordinary, right?” and doesn’t seem at all freaked out by what she’s saying. But Miranda says people always get turned into dirt on Día de los Muertos! Again, can’t tell if any of this is accurate.

Gordo yells at them both for believing in superstitions, and Lizzie’s all like, “Fuck you, Gordo, my brother did get turned into dirt! Look at his eyeball in the dirt!” in a way that still doesn’t seem like she’s at all weirded out by this or concerned that her brother is dead. Gordo looks up into the sky and screams a mockery of the spirits, in case you weren’t sure if Gordo was a bad white guy or the worst white guy.

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Two scary life-sized skeletons appear in the doorway, then disappear.

Cut back to that shit I don’t like: Sam and Jo are about to get it on. Sam shuts down their trick-or-treating stuff while Jo sits in the living room surrounded by so many candles it looks like she’s about to do some weird Halloween witchcraft. They’re all obnoxious with each other and Jo says, again in a cutesy baby voice, “And husband sits next to WIFE!” and it’s all really horrible and I hate it. Before they can get any grosser, some teenage punk shows up and starts screaming for candy so Sam screams back and finally Jo hands him a chicken pot pie to get him to go away.

Meanwhile, at Fright Night, Kate and Miranda hear a tiny voice coming from a toy. The spirits have trapped Gordo in a toy’s body as punishment for his white sins. Kate knocks over the toy and shatters it and freaks out because she killed Gordo. A possessed Lizzie zombie-walks in, groaning Kate’s name.

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A lot of chasing by Lizzie and by the skeletons ensues. Miranda yells at Kate for disrespecting her ancestors, and Kate smacks herself in the head a lot while screaming “Dumb Kate! Dumb Kate! Dumb!” which is an interesting character development for her. It’s all interspersed with scenes of the McGuire parents spooning and shit until the teenage punk comes back to prank them.

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Less of this, please!

Miranda finally convinces Kate to smear chocolate cake all over herself and pour punch on her head while dancing and Gordo jumps out and reveals he was filming her. It was all an elaborate prank. Everyone in school laughs and points at Kate until she cries. Cool? Gordo promises to put pictures of Kate’s humiliation on the front page of the school paper the next day. This is a hell of a lot of bullying over a slutty vampire costume.

I’m still not super clear on how that trick went down. Miranda’s parents dressed up as the skeletons and some voice effect microphone on Gordo’s camera provided his “trapped inside a toy” voice, but I don’t know how the curdling lemonade or disappearing skeleton dolls worked. It’s also weird that Lizzie asked Miranda about whether the skeletons really had powers if they were planning an insanely involved prank to imply that they did. The writers really wanted this episode to trick the audience too, but they committed so hard to the bait-and-switch that a few bits of this episode don’t make any sense.

Sam and Jo end up trying to prank the teenage punk by bringing a hose into the house and hoping he’ll come back to re-prank them. When the doorbell rings, they fling open the door and hose down…Mr. and Mrs. Sanchez, who are there for some reason. Why are they there? They left Lizzie and Miranda at school. Oh my God, were the McGuires planning an orgy?

This episode was kind of a mess. I guess it’s pretty fun for a Disney Channel Halloween episode except for all of the parental foreplay that I never asked for.

Notable fashion moments: Lizzie wears a red tie-dye shirt with a blue tie-dye skirt. It’s a lot, and also way more Fourth of July than Halloween. She wears an orange leopard-print shirt with a purple hoodie later, which feels way more holiday-appropriate.

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Other interesting tidbits: Lanny laughs by mouthing the words “ha ha.” Lanny can’t make any sound? But he does mouth things? Sometimes? I wish I could understand his silence. As an interesting note, Lalaine isn’t actually Latina. She’s Filipina. This seems like the review to point that out.

10 thoughts on “Season 1, episode 24: “Night of the Day of the Dead”

  1. Halloween episodes are always fun. So glad I found this website. You’re so funny. I can’t wait until you review the murder mystery episode. I love/loved that one so much!

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  2. “Lizzie says she’ll get her cousin Heather to go out with Gordo the next time she visits if he helps her, and Gordo’s jaw drops and he kicks into cleaning mode. Gordo is gross. I seem to remember Lizzie having a cousin played by Hilary’s older sister Haylie, but when I looked it up I found out that Haylie Duff played Kate’s cousin, so I guess we won’t get to see the payoff of this creepy setup.”
    ^ Why is he gross? Why is that creepy? He was willing to do something to get an in with Heather… the same way Lizzie and Miranda do things to get an in with Ethan? Unless that’s also gross and creepy too.

    “Later, Kate changes into her vampire mistress outfit. Lizzie complains about it, but Gordo, who is gross, thinks Kate looks hot as hell.”
    ^ Why is he gross again? Okay, wait, I’ll give you this one. Kate definitely doesn’t look attractive at all; and for Gordo to think SHE’S hot when he had Hilary Duff and LaLaine next to him… come on, Gord-On.

    “Everyone in school laughs and points at Kate until she cries. Cool? Gordo promises to put pictures of Kate’s humiliation on the front page of the school paper the next day.”
    ^ yeah… but the next time we see her, I bet Kate is still popular and the incident is never brought up.

    Also, the Sanchez’s explain why they showed up – Miranda forgot her sleeping bag. As for Jo and Sam… I thought you wanted happiness for Jo! She’s used to sleeping with a stuffed toy and a blankie… if she wants a night with Sam to compensate and her kids are out of the house, more power to her!

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  3. Since Halloween is this week, I just rewatched the episode for the first time in maybe 4 years and I was genuinely shocked by the outcome??? Wow! The grand finale is publicly bullying/humiliating Kate and laughing about it. I was kinda uncomfortable and waiting for some moral lesson twist at the end or something, but nope!

    Also, as someone else commented above, Mr. & Mrs. Sanchez were there to drop off Miranda’s sleeping bag. She was sleeping over the McGuire’s after Fright Night! I still think that ending line is pretty funny:

    Jo: “Oh!!! We thought you were a trick-or-treater!!”
    Mrs. Sanchez: “I see… We give them candy at our house.”

    The only thing that bothered me about this is that Sam & Jo definitely should’ve noticed that Miranda’s parents weren’t that singular punk kid before (and during!) spraying them with the oatmeal and water lol. I hate when shows do stuff like that.

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