TV Review: “The Paloni Show! Halloween Special!” is a Twisted Collection of Spooky Shorts from Justin Roiland and Friends

A quick lesson in the turn-of-the-21st-century alternative comedy scene: a couple decades ago, Dan Harmon and Rob Schrab (both currently of Rick and Morty fame) co-created the monthly comedic short film festival called Channel 101 in Los Angeles. One of the regular participants of that festivant was animator Justin Roiland, who went on to create the above-mentioned Rick and Morty (itself based on a bawdy Channel 101 spoof of Back to the Future) with Harmon.

Now Roiland is a huge success due to Rick and Morty’s juggernaut-level popularity, so he’s got a development deal with the mostly-Disney-owned streaming service Hulu, under which he co-created the well-received alien sitcom Solar Opposites, which dropped its third season this past summer. But some Roiland is never enough, because now the talented writer/director/voice-actor has dug deep into his own vault of previously failed pilots from yesterday to resurrect 2009’s The Paloni Show for a characteristically shattershot (but often hilarious) Halloween Special!

The Paloni Show! Halloween Special!, like the above original pitch presentation before it, is hosted by the titular Paloni family (now with much less of the character that became Morty). Who or what the Palonis are isn’t really that important, except for the fact that they really, really want to put on a good Halloween special for the kind folks at Hulu who gave them a TV show. Recreating a bit of that special Channel 101 magic, the Palonis (voiced by Justin Roiland himself, Pamela Adlon, Zach Hadel, Kari Wahlgren, and Vatche Panos) introduce a collection of animated (and one live-action) shorts all loosely tied into a Halloween theme, created by a variety of talents from around the world. In-between the shorts, the Palonis go on a manic Halloween adventure of their own over the course of this special’s hour-long running time. The shorts, like Roiland’s pseudo-improvisational style of humor, can be hit-or-miss, but on the whole this unique Halloween experiment is never less than entertaining, especially for those who– like me– count themselves among the fans of this family of creators.

Highlights include a beyond-twisted kids’ show starring a melted puppet superhero character named Plopsie who went for an ill-advised swim in the L.A. River, a landlord (voiced by the late Gilbert Gottfried) who enters into a tangled web of deception with his tenants, the mayor of a small town who declares Halloween unlawful for 50 years after getting scared at a surprise party, a commercial for a high-class underground cannibal restaurant, a quick but funny parody of Beetlejuice, a very cool-looking claymation short about an alien zombie apocalypse (I think?), and an extremely clever take on slasher-movie tropes starring a killer astronaut. The wraparound story also features a slasher character named Dana Carver (think about it) and the performances of the leads are all fairly delightful as they explore a haunted house and expose a Hellraiser-like cult. This brand of comedy always reminds me of the short-lived 2005 MTV2 sketch series Wonder Showzen, with animation and visual styles that could ostensibly appeal to younger kids, but containing lewd jokes, mature themes, and oh so much gore that could only ever be targeted at desensitized adults. Look, this kind of stuff is right up my alley, as it has been my whole life since Ren & Stimpy warped my fragile mind in the early 90s, so you won’t see many complaints coming from me. But those who don’t like this type of depraved humor are probably going to want to steer clear. For the rest of us, we’ve got another fun, off-the-wall Halloween special to enjoy during this time of year.

The Paloni Show! Halloween Special! premieres this coming Monday, October 17th, exclusively on Hulu.

Halloween 2022 coverage is presented by shopDisney
Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.