The writers' strike of 1988 delayed most hourlong dramas' fall return to late October or later, and MacGyver sat it out until Halloween night when the fourth season unofficially kicked off. There was a great deal to like about this episode, which was cleverly scripted, featured the always-beautiful Teri Hatcher doing her thing as Penny Parker (although in this case probably a little more annoyingly than usual), and some intensely executed scenes. The scariness factor wasn't exactly off the charts, and I didn't expect it would be given the age demographic of MacGyver audiences, but there were nonetheless an impressive amount of thrills and chills in the episode's middle stages as the mystery unfolded. The revelation of Sheriff Howels as Betty Parker's killer was predictable, but the revelations to the bizarre mysteries of the house and Betty's lapse into derangement were very clever. This episode always gets mixed reviews from MacGyver fans, but it was one of the better Halloween episodes done for TV adventure shows over the years.
The tone of this episode was actually an excellent indication of what was ahead in season four. The stories, attitude, and look became very dark on many of the fourth season episodes, and I'm guessing this transition was useful to the series in a number of ways. The fourth season is typically a "crossroads" season for most action shows, and the shows that don't diversify their content abruptly lose their audience (think "The A-Team"). While the number of traditional adventure episodes declined in MacGyver's fourth season, the new material proved to be more engaging than would a recycling of plots from past seasons. Beyond the new direction of storytelling, the darkness also helped with production in dark and dank Vancouver, where the weather hampered the production of the outdoor adventure episodes that were more commonplace in earlier seasons. Even MacGyver's clothing went dark in season four, pitching his Indiana Jones-style leather jacket for black leather. The overall result of this transition: the fourth season of MacGyver was my personal favorite.