Thursday, October 23, 2014

Your Treehouse of Horror Guide

The Simpsons is now in its 26th season, which means the annual Treehouse of Horror Halloween episode is turning 25! As a huge Simpsons fan and extremely unreliable blogger, I figured I'd put the week before Halloween to good use and watch all 25 episodes. Of course, this wouldn't be legally possible if it weren't for the too-good-to-be-true simpsonsworld -- every episode streaming online*. So, the plan is mix old and new -- starting with the most recent, I'll watch 2 episodes of "new" Treehouse to one of "classic".  And, of course, snark and review. Ratings are on a 0-5 scale, with 5 being the top, of course.

Treehouse of Horror XXV (Season 26) Only a week old, this is standard late-model Simpsons Treehouse: a parody of arguable timeliness, with two (fairly) original segments. However, they did make with the laugh laugh, so it's hard to 
  • School is Hell - 4.5 Bart flourishing in a school for demons? An unpromising premise far exceeded by the constant flow of jokes, from low to high brow -- and Homer's donut-eating torture gets a quick cameo!
  • A Clockwork Yellow - 4.5 A timely*** romp through most of Kubrick's oeuvre through the lens of "A Clockwork Orange" -- there's even a callback to "Barry Lyndon".
  • The Others The original Simpsons have returned several times, so this one was a bit weak -- until the ending. Seeing South Park, Miyazaki, Archer and Despicable Me versions redeemed the bit.
"Thank you for choosing the Burns Hellport, a division of Gulf and Western"
"You went to Hell and came back a winner -- just like Jesus!"
"You should not be out lugging, shin-slicing or eye-groining"
"The power of Chrysler compels you!"

Treehouse of Horror XXIV (Season 25) 2013's offering was very up and down -- one spectacular intro, two decent segments and an all-time dog. Here's the intro:  

  • Guillermo del Toro's Opening credits5 Three minutes of insanity referencing classic horror movies, novels, authors, the previous 23 episodes and del Toro's own movies
  • Oh, The Places You'll D'oh! - 4 The Seussian rhymes often do impress, even when the violence goes to excess!
  • Dead and Shoulders - 0.5 Oof. This was a dog. This is exactly the kind of hack-y crap The Simpsons should parody, not produce.
  • Freaks No Geeks Nothing outstanding... until the twist at the end, including the fake newspaper.
"From you I've learned to feel compassion for these disgustos"
"A wedding is no time to worry about threats from the bride's former lover"

The Simpsons Halloween Special (season 2): 3.5 Of all the Treehouses, this one stands out -- the writers clearly weren't sure if they were doing a comedy or a 80s-style mild horror, it's still good, after a very weak first segment.

  • Bad Dream House - 2 Some good bits, but no stand out lines. Like the rest of the episode, this was a bit too indebted to "The Twilight Zone"
  • Hungry Are The Damned - 4.5 The only segment that would be right at home in a later season, it's both a parody of classic sci-fi and funny in its own right.
  • The Raven It's not hilarious, but is there a better version of the Raven than narrated by James Earl Jones with Homer as the protagonist and Bart as the Raven? I'm going with no.
  • Best Non-Poe Line: "Everyone that comes from a race that has mastered intergalactic travel, raise your hand" and "Well, it was written in 1845 -- maybe people were easier to scare back then"

This is exactly the sort of development that would have been fatal to my college career, had they had the internet on computers** back in the early 90s. 
** If you didn't recognize this quote, you desperately need to watch more of The Simpsons.
** 43 years isn't timely?

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