EVERY. TREEHOUSE OF HORROR. EVER. [REVIEW] (Pt. 3)

WE’RE TWO DEEP. TWO DEEP, I SAY! Read Pt. 1 and Pt. 2 to catch up on ten years worth of Treehouse of Horror segments before reading any further. Well, unless you’re an IDIOT who likes knowing NOTHING. I guess that’s been working out pretty well for me though. Get it? Because I’m an idiot? Who knows nothing? Anyways, I have little memory of any of these episodes because I think I was too cool for The Simpsons at this point in my life or something. Hahahaha. That’s crazy, because I was less cool when these episodes aired than I am now, which is not at all! Enough of the dilly-dallying, let’s tear into this crap-sack!

night of the dolphin treehouse of horror xi groundskeeper willie

Treehouse of Horror XI (Season 12, Ep. 1)

Funniest Credits Nickname: The Dwarf from “Don’t Look Now”

G-g-ghost D-d-dad” – Homer’s horoscope not only warns him that he’s going to die that day, but also says that he will receive a compliment from an attractive worker, which Homer hopes is Lenny. BOTH HOROSCOPES COME TRUE! When Homer gets to Heaven, he’s given 24 hours to go back to earth to perform one good deed worthy of letting him into heaven. After a few failed attempts at benevolence, he eventually saves a baby from careening into the street, but Saint Peter wasn’t looking, and Homer is sent to Hell. THE END! There are some good visual gags in this episode, like ghost Homer drinking a Squishee, only to have it fall on the ground and people slip on it. Also Homer’s attempts at doing good, like carrying Agnes Skinner across the street, only to fall and Homer claim she was going to be the next Hitler, were kind of funny. Still not Halloween-y enough for me!

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Scary Tales Can Come True” – In this “Grimm’s Fairy Tales” parody, Homer loses his job as an oaf and since he can’t afford to take care of his children, he tosses Bart and Lisa into the woods. The kids come across parodies of the Three Bears, Rapunzel, and trolls. A witch tries to eat them but fails. Pretty funny, right? Okay, maybe that’s not the word for it. I guess it was kind of neat to see famous fairy tales in the Simpsons style? I wasn’t really into the concept of this one so I checked out early on, but it might be more up someone else’s alley.

 

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Night of the Dolphin” – After a visit to an aquarium, Lisa frees a dolphin that she feels would be happier in the ocean, but that dolphin ends up being the dolphin ruler and convinces all other dolphins to revolt against humans. Now THAT’s funny! Dolphins start killing people one at a time, but their revolt escalates to coming up on land and forcing humans back into the sea. THIS ONE WAS GOOD. The story centered around Lisa, so every other member of the town got to pop in and act silly. My favorite moment was Mayor Quimby calling a town meeting to order and saying, “People, please, we’re all frightened and horny.” Hahaha, why are they all horny?! CLASSIC QUIMBY. Even though the concept was really silly, some scenes recreated classic moments from The Birds, with surprisingly creepy results. This is the Treehouse of Horror stuff I love! Keep it up!

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Overall Thoughts – The middle sequence was probably the least funny and least Halloween-y, but luckily that one was bookended by funnier/spookier stories. And you know me, I’m a sucker for ending with a story that brings the whole town into it, so this episode ended on a high note. Let’s keep the good times going!

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treehouse of horror xii wiz kids simpsons harry potter

Treehouse of Horror XII (Season 13, Ep. 1)

Hex and the City” – Hmmmm…hex? Will this be about witches?! No. It will not. Rather, the Simpson family travels to “Ethnictown” to see a fortune teller. Homer accidentally ruins the gypsy’s store so she curses Homer. Marge grows a beard overnight, Homer chokes Bart so much that his neck stretches, and Lisa grows hooves. Worst of all, a helicopter kills Lenny and Carl! No! To end the curse, Homer gets a leprechaun to battle the gypsy, but they end up getting married instead. Bart dies because his floppy neck is too weak to pull his head out of his cereal. Too bad! I liked the wacky versions of characters, and that Yoda officiated the wedding for some reason, but nothing much more memorable than that. Hey, it could’ve been worse!

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House of Whacks” – Salesmen convince Marge to turn the Simpson house into a robotic ultrahouse, which I’m sure will happen without a hitch! The ultrahouse computer, voiced by Pierce Brosnan, begins falling for Marge and tries to eradicate the rest of the family. When the family realizes what’s happening, they shut the computer down in a scene reminiscent of 2001: A Space Odyssey, but instead of deactivating completely, the voice instead loses its British charm. The family donates the computer to Patty and Selma, knowing they could use a man around their apartment, and the computer kills itself. Even though the Simpson family already had a computerized home (in Season 8’s “You Only Move Twice”), this story was different enough to not feel redundant. The episode referenced Pierce Brosnan, Matthew Perry, and Dennis Miller, and even though those people haven’t really been important to pop culture for 15 years, the jokes still worked, especially compared to the recent Jerry Springer or Regis and Kathie Lee references. When Bart sees Dennis Miller as an option for the computer’s voice, he asks, “Isn’t that the voice that caused all those suicides?” to which Homer clarifies, “MURDER-suicides.” CLASSIC MURDER-SUICIDE GAG! Maybe it’s that the pop culture references were clever and quick that they didn’t bother me? WHO CARES, IT WORKED!

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Wiz Kids” – HARRY POTTER TIME! Bart and Lisa attend “Springwart’s School of Magicry” and as you can imagine, Lisa excels while Bart flops. Mr. Burns is re-imagined as Lord Montymort, who recruits Bart to be a wizard powerful enough to fight Lisa. When the siblings collide, Burns transforms into a dragon, and Bart learns the error of his ways in time to defeat Burns with his sister. I guess Harry Potter was so popular that the show couldn’t avoid doing their take on it, but I felt like a lot more could have been done, especially considering how many strong supporting characters center around the school. Oh well, guess I’ll have to write my own parody with better jokes!

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Overall Thoughts – Trivia! The creators were getting sick of coming up with silly nicknames for the credits so they dropped them this year. The show opened with a gag where Mr. Burns was putting up one not so spooky decoration, which started a chain reaction of events leading to some horrific things happening. I really like how this was clearly a one-note joke that they couldn’t fit into any of the segments so instead used it to introduce the show. None of the segments really fit the “horror” conceit, but since this aired shortly after 9/11, it’s possible that the creators didn’t want to do anything too grim so soon after a tragedy.

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treehouse of horror xiii send in the clones simpsons

Treehouse of Horror XIII (Season 14, Ep. 1)

Send in the Clones” – When Homer breaks a hammock, he has to replace it. The end. JUST KIDDING. He buys a magical hammock that creates clones. Realizing how handy it is to have clones around the house to do the things he doesn’t want to do, he creates tons of them. Unfortunately, the clones are a little warped mentally, and when one clone kills Flanders, Homer takes them all to a cornfield to abandon them. He also throws out the magical hammock, which the clones get their hands on, and they create an army of Homers. The military intervenes, but the ending reveals that one of the clones replaced Homer! This segment, similar to “Attack of the 50 foot Eyesores,” felt like a great concept that never really figured out what it wanted to be. The best joke was the Simpson family seeing Kent Brockman report on a horde of Homers, and Bart turning to ask, “Dad, is there something you’d like to tell us about this horde?” See, because they all look like him! Get it?! It’s funny. Shut up. There was also a funny gag where the clones were replicating themselves so frequently that they were turning into different mutations of Homer, including the morbidly obese Homer from Season 7’s “King Size Homer,” the Homer from The Tracey Ullman Show, and even Peter Griffin from Family Guy. Ya know, because that show was just a slightly warped copy of The Simpsons.

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The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms” – When Lisa reds a tombstone that mentions someone getting murdered far too young by gun violence, she convinces Springfield to ban guns. The police even starts a program to exchange guns for money! Unfortunately, the tombstone belonged to Billy the Kid, who returns as a zombie with other famous outlaw zombies. Now they have all the guns! Professor Frink invents a time machine to go back to a time before the guns were banned and instead encourages the town to go to the cemetery to shoot all of the corpses repeatedly as a preventative measure. Another time-traveling Homer appears, this time from the more distant future, and the town just shoots him. Meh. I guess the setup of this segment was clever, but they weren’t really able to capitalize on the premise, much like the previous segment. ALL WELL, CAN’T WIN ‘EM ALL.

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The Island of Dr. Hibbert” – The Simpson family decides to take a vacation to the Island of Lost Souls, where Dr. Hibbert has been transforming Springfield’s citizens into animals. When Marge sneaks out of her cabin to investigate, she gets turned into a cat. When Homer tries to find a cure to turn Marge back, he finds Flanders has transformed into a cow-centaur type of thing and requests Homer to milk him. When Homer confronts Hibbert for these atrocities, he realizes that all animals do is eat and mate and roll around in their own filth, and volunteers himself for transformation! Hibbert turns him into a walrus and everyone is happy! Despite not being all that funny, I enjoyed seeing this interpretation of the H.G. Wells novel because it was much better than the 1996 film version. IMAGINE IF VAL KILMER WAS IN THIS? Now THAT would have been something. Maybe next time, guys. Maybe next time.

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Overall Thoughts – Considering how lacking last year’s installment was on the horror front, I was happy to see this year embrace that angle much more, even if none of the segments were that strong. The opening gag featured a seance to contact Maude Flanders, only for it to have been a practical joke where Bart got to reveal he was the prankster with the line, “It’s me, Bart Simpson!” FLANDERS KNOWS YOUR LAST NAME, BART. Also worth mentioning is this year marked the official transition from the episodes referring to themselves as “Treehouse of Horror” instead of “Simpsons Halloween Special.” DID YOU KNOW THAT, GUYS? THEY CALLED THE EPISODES SOMETHING DIFFERENT FOR 13 YEARS.

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Treehouse of Horror XIV reaper madness the simpsons

Treehouse of Horror XIV (Season 15, Ep. 1)

Funniest Credits Nickname: Al “Halloween Names are Back” Jean

Reaper Madness” – Death comes to take Bart, but Homer intervenes to protect his son. He kills the Grim Repear, making it impossible for anyone on earth to die. Homer must embrace the role of the Grim Reaper to restore order and hijinks ensue! When God forces Homer to kill Marge, he instead kills Selma and tries to trick God. The bearded guy (God) doesn’t fall for it, exclaiming, “This isn’t Marge, this is her fat sister Selma.” Hahaha, that’s awesome. I love how morbid this segment was. In the brief period where no one is able to die, Moe tries to hang himself but just dangles there. MOE TRIES TO HANG HIMSELF. Moe is notorious for living a miserable life, so his suicide attempt was incredibly dark yet also hilarious. There’s also a scene at a baseball game where Homer and Bart have terrible seats so Homer just kills everyone in their way until they get to the front. Strong start to this year’s Halloween special, guys! Keep it up!

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Frinkenstein” – Professor Frink wins the Nobel Prize, and during his acceptance speech, reveals that he wished he could impress his dead father. The twist is that Frink kept his dad’s corpse and finds a way to reanimate it! This “Frinkenstein’s Monster,” if you will, wants to replace his old body parts with new ones, killing anyone in his way. Then….oh, I don’t know, he dies or something? They got Jerry Lewis to voice Frink’s dad, so similarly to “Desperately Zeeking Xena,” this segment felt like it was an opportunity to have a guest do a voice before figuring out the best way to utilize them. Since Hank Azaria imitated Jerry Lewis’s character from The Nutty Professor to create Frink’s voice, it only made sense to have Lewis voice the re-animated father, but I think these two worlds colliding didn’t work out too well. I would’ve much preferred a whole episode center around Frink and his father so Jerry Lewis wouldn’t have had to be so…Jerry Lewis. Then again, I’m sure the people who make The Simpsons have a better idea of what to do with things than I do, so I’ll go back to not trying to usurp them.

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Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off” – Bart and Milhouse order a watch that stops time from an old comic book ad. When the watch arrives and actually works, Milhouse acts like a nerd and says he wants to use it to get far ahead on his homework. Luckily Bart talks sense into him and they do a bunch of silly things, most of which involve making people’s pants fall down. When the town realizes these two are responsible, they chase them down, but when Bart uses the watch to stop time long enough to allow them to escape, the watch breaks! It takes 15 years to read the repair manual, but they eventually do it and blame the whole thing on Martin. Stupid Martin. There were a lot of funny visual gags in this episode, because of, ya know, TIME STOPPAGE. Not very scary, not very spooky, but Marge wondering why Bart aged 15 years while the time had stopped and offering no real explanation made me chuckle.

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Overall Thoughts – SILLY NAMES ARE BACK! Phew, that was a rough two years. The show’s opening featured a violent fight between the Simpson family with bats and guns and fire over Halloween candy, which signified the return to more horror-themed segments in the aftermath of toning it down after 9/11. Kang and Kodos pop in to tell the family they’re stupid for celebrating Halloween in November, referencing the fact that the Halloween specials had been airing the first week of November for four consecutive years. STUPID BASEBALL. YOU’RE RUINING EVERYTHING.

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treehouse of horror xv simpsons the ned zone

Treehouse of Horror XV (Season 16, Ep. 1)

Funniest Credits Nickname: Ghostly McGhosterson

The Ned Zone” – Homer accidentally gives Ned a concussion while using a bowling ball to retrieve a Frisbee from the roof. Much like the events of Stephen King’s The Dead Zone, Flanders begins to have visions of people’s deaths. Homer recognizes Ned’s new-found skill and attempts to cash-in on it. When Flanders admits to having a vision where he shoots Homer, Homer tries to antagonize Ned into shooting him, thus making the premonition come true. When that doesn’t happen, Homer goes to work at the nuclear plant, feeling safe that Ned wasn’t always right. However, Homer is real dumb and at one point thinks Flanders has encouraged him to push a button to make the core explode, and Ned must resort to shooting him to prevent a nuclear holocaust. Obviously I’m a fan of this segment being a Stephen King parody, but that’s because I’m a sucker for a solid horror homage. Also, when Homer asks Ned how he envisioned his death, Homer hopes that it’s in a “naked girl avalanche,” and since I’ve envisioned that as my own death, it resonated deeply with me.

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Four Beheadings and a Funeral” – In Victorian England, the Muttenchop Murderer runs wild! Maybe this is a Jack the Ripper parody? WRONG, MORON. Instead, Lisa and Bart act like Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. Well, I guess it could be a parody of both, but who cares? Lisa and Bart track down clues and find that the murder weapon belonged to Ebenezer Burns. The two track Burns to an opium den where they see that Homer is the Muttenchop Murderer. Wait, no, it’s actually Wiggum. It doesn’t really matter because the entire thing was Ralph Wiggum’s opium dream. Man, I sure do hate when anything is revealed to be a giant dream, even in animated form! This segment felt more like a faithful adaptation of a Sherlock Holmes story than a clever twist on Sherlock as a pop culture figure. Not that spooky, not so many chuckles. Womp womp.

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In the Belly of the Boss” – At an “Invention Expo,” Professor Frink creates a shrink ray so he can shrink a giant pill down in size, but before he can shrink it, Maggie crawls in. Then Mr. Burns eats the pill. MAGGIE IS IN MR. BURNS’ STOMACH. Frink shrinks the rest of the family in Fantastic Voyage fashion so they can save Maggie. They run into every obstacle you are currently picturing to get to Maggie, but they didn’t realize the ship was so precisely calibrated that it couldn’t handle the weight of Maggie so Homer stays behind. Before he can be rescued, Homer expands back to full size within Mr. Burns, but with all of Burns’ loose skin, Homer is able to stay alive. I don’t know, guys. This felt like an episode of The Magic School Bus more than anything else. I’d probably give this episode a worse rating if it wasn’t for the weirdness of Homer expanding inside Mr. Burns’ loose skin, because that was REAL gross. Also, this episode gets points for making Maggie an integral part of the story, definitely the Simpson who has had the least importance in every Treehouse of Horror.

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Overall Thoughts – This episode opened with a parody of Perfect Strangers featuring Kang and Kodos, which was weird, and also closed with the Perfect Strangers theme over the end credits. I DON’T GET IT. Maybe this signaled a broader conceptual narrative going forward, since the creators abandoned the wraparounds years? I thought the episode started strong but then just ran out of steam with the next two segments. Faaaaaaaart.

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Stay tuned all this week for reviews on the rest of the episodes! Don’t miss any updates by following @TheWolfman on Twitter or liking “The Wolfman Cometh” on Facebook. You don’t want to miss updates, do you?

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