Aired only once on ABC in 1976, the musical comedy special is noted for a number of its highlights, including Margaret Hamilton reprising her role as the Wicked Witch of the West for the first time in nearly 40 years, as well as the first primetime television appearance of the then relatively unknown band KISS.
The basic plot of the special has Paul Lynde going away for a rest period, so as to avoid all of those pesky trick-or-treaters on Halloween night. His housekeeper (Margaret Hamilton) takes him to the home of sister (Billie Hayes reprising her role of Witchiepoo); it is here that Paul learns the two are, in fact, witches, and their real reasons for bringing him was to have a well-known and loved TV personality help soften the image of witches, and show that they're not really bad after all. In exchange for his help, the two grant Paul Three Wishes; after they grant his first two wishes (to be a rhinestone trucker, and a romantic sheik), Paul is convinced that witches are good, and decides to use his last wish on them, granting them their wish to go to a disco rave.
In additional to Margaret Hamilton and Billie Hayes, the special also includes appearances by Billy Barty, Tim Conway, Roz Kelly, Florence Henderson, Betty White, and Donny & Marie Osmond. Because a majority of the appearances in this special are made by Krofft actors (a number of Krofft crewmembers also worked on it), there has been a common misconception that this special is a Sid & Marty Krofft production, however, the Kroffts had absolutely nothing to do with its production.
For many years, it was believed that no master copy (or any copy for that matter) of this special existed, until thirty years later, when a copy was found, and the special was given a DVD release in 2006.
This special contains examples of
- Actor/Role Confusion: In-universe, apparently Margaret Hamilton really is the actual Wicked Witch of the West.
- Celebrity Paradox: A subtle example, regarding Miss Halloween of 1976.Paul: She has a striking resemblance to Betty White... then again, all you witches do.
- Character as Herself: Somewhat; Roz Kelly is billed and refered to as "Pinky Tuscadero," her character from Happy Days.
- Dance Party Ending: Disco Baby.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Witchiepoo's pet vulture, Rover, who growls and snarls like an angry dog.
- Gender Flip: Not so much a flip, but for the finale, a gender-neutral version of Johnnie Taylor's "Disco Lady" is performed (to wit, "Disco Baby").
- Good Witch Versus Bad Witch: Witchiepoo and Margaret want Paul to use his notoriety to help raise awareness that witches aren't as bad as people make them out to be.Paul: After all you did to Snow White?Margaret: Distortion.Paul: What about Hansel and Gretel?Witchiepoo: We were framed.Paul: What about Dorothy and her little dog, Toto? From The Wizard of Oz?Margaret: She asked for it. (Beat) And her little dog, too!
- Gratuitous Disco Sequence: Paul uses his final wish to wish something for Witchiepoo and Margaret, who both wish to go to a disco; the wish is granted, and Witchiepoo's mansion is transformed into a disco rave, complete with dancers, Florence Henderson belting out a disco version of Frank Sinatra's, "That Old Black Magic," and a closing number with, "Disco Baby."
- Halloween Special
- Heavy Meta: When KISS is introduced, their first number is "Detroit Rock City".
- Hurricane of Puns: Not just from Paul, but almost everybody in this special riffs one pun after another.
- I Want You to Meet an Old Friend of Mine: Donny & Marie Osmond appear during Paul's opening number (his signature song, "Kids"); Paul was also a frequent guest star on Donny & Marie's variety show (which, coincidentally, premiered the same year).
- Incredibly Lame Pun:Florence Henderson/Lady Sessly Wesslinghouse: Why are you wearing that earring?Paul/Florence of Arabia: Because I'm a very chic skeik.
- Instant Seduction: Subverted, at first. In the Florence of Arabia segment, Paul is a sheik, trying to seduce his kidnapped victim (Florence Henderson as a Proper English woman), though his attempts to woo her fail... until he bribes her with a parrot that was once kissed by Barretta, then she falls for him.
- Laugh Track: And an applause track too.
- Literal-Minded: At one point, Paul is hungry, so Witchiepoo informs Gallows that, "Mr. Lynde would like a bite." Guess what Gallows tries to do?
- One-Steve Limit:
- Billie Hayes and Billy Barty.
- Also invoked by Betty White as Miss Halloween of 1976: Apparently, Witchiepoo and Margaret promised her a date with a famous Paul, but she was hoping for Paul Newman, Paul McCartney, Paul Williams, Les Paul, or even Saint Paul, certainly not Paul Lynde.
- Not to mention KISS member Paul Stanley.
- Three Wishes: Pretty much the plot device of the special, in that Witchiepoo and Margaret will grant Paul three wishes in exchange for his helping improve witches' image.
- Two Guys and a Girl: The Rhinestone Trucker segment has Paul Lynde and Tim Conway as two truckers, both set on marrying a waitress at a diner (Roz Kelly); because both of their impending marriages are at the same time, to the same woman, a battle of strength, wits, and riches ensue. Ultimately, Long Haul (Conway) may be the smartest (and the short-order cook the strongest), but Paul is the richest, so Paul wins Pinky over.
- World of Ham: Very much so, and of course, Paul Lynde is King of Ham.