(originally aired October 26, 1997)
It always bummed me out that later seasons managed to bungle the Treehouse of Horror episodes; I’m sure they’re tough to write, but it really represented a true fall from grace that they were able to drop the ball again and again on their annual tradition of unbridled creative freedom and craziness. But the series has a fair share of good Halloween shows left in it, so let’s enjoy them, shall we? We got three great segments this time around, each one improving on the last. First is “The Homega Man,” where Homer finds himself the sole survivor after a neutron bomb hits Springfield, but soon finds himself in the sights of former living denizens of the town, now hideous flesh-eating ghouls. There’s a lot of great bits in this one, starting with Quimby’s adamant nature on his hatred of the French (“I stand by my ethnic slur!”), and France’s swift retaliation launching a missile from underneath the Eiffel Tower. A completely uninhibited Homer dancing nude in the church to “War” is a pretty classic scene; especially love after “Say it again!” in the song, he responds, “Okay!” The dramatic chase scene seems kind of like it’s filling time, but the fact that the ghouls have some weird undead roadster for some reason makes it goofy enough that I don’t mind. The finale’s pretty silly too, but I still remain entertained. It’s a Halloween show, it should be a little oddball.
In “Fly vs. Fly,” Homer buys Professor Frink’s old matter transporter, and some shenanigans by Bart results in his DNA getting spliced with a fly. So while Bart’s head is zipping around on a fly’s body, the Simpson family are stuck with Bart’s body with a hideous fly head grafted on it. Not sure which cast member voiced Fly Bart, but kudos to him; just a bunch of angry disgusting noises, keeping him not so much a threat as just really animalistic and gross. I also love how the family is very quick to take in and accept this new change; in fact, Homer seems to be much more affable toward his son than ever (especially sick scene where he kisses Fly Bart’s forehead, leaving a trail of goo behind). The real Bart manages to get Lisa’s attention to get her to help him, and eventually restores the two to their proper bodies. Lots of great stuff floating around this one, from the weird crazy stuff at Frink’s yard sale to all the lazy uses Homer has for his new technological purchase. The ending is pretty great too, with a swell of dramatic music as Homer seems to be having an epiphany… but is actually going to threaten his only son with murder (“I’ll chop you good!”)
“Easy Bake Coven” takes place in the 17th century, where “Sprynge-Fielde” is in the midst of a massive witch hunt. Marge is quickly signaled out, and in a test of her soul’s purity is pushed off a cliff. But, turns out she actually is a witch, and along with her hag sisters set out to besiege the town of their delicious children to eat. Like “King Homer,” it’s neat seeing our characters in a completely different setting, and how their personalities mesh with the times. Springfield’s traditional mob mentality translates perfectly to Puritan times during their witch hunt; the quick ganging up on Marge with no evidence whatsoever is hysterical, as is the swift dismissal of Lisa’s Bible verse urging compassion (“Doesn’t the Bible say ‘Judge not lest ye be judged’?” “The Bible says a lot of things. Shove her!”) Patty and Selma also easily translate as witches, given their already hag-like demeanors. The story strangely turns into a tale of the very first Halloween, as Maude Flanders manages to get the witches to swap their children for some delicious cookies instead. It’s kind of a neat ending, especially with Captain McAllister’s random narration (“It wasn’t long before this yearly custom became an annual tradition.”) All in all, three quality segments. Eight years of Halloween shows and they’re still pretty solid.
Tidbits and Quotes
– This is probably my favorite TOH intro with the FOX censor; nailed it immediately with his laughing out loud at something in the script, then swiftly crossing it out. I’ve heard quips from many writers about how executives would love certain material then demand it be cut out. The censor appears to be doing a bang-up job with this script (“As the Fox censor it’s my job to protect <you>, from reality. And thanks to my prudent editing, tonight’s Simpsons Halloween special has been rated TV-G! This means there will be no raunchy NBC-style sex, or senseless CBS-style violence,”) at least until an arm holding a knife emerges from the ratings box and stabs him to death. I think this was also in the infancy of the parental ratings box as well, so pretty clever on them.
– Nice brief appearance by Herman in the first segment, showing Homer the ultimate bomb shelter, the Withstandinator (“It can take a six megaton blast. No more, no less.”) Also great that when he’s reduced to a skeleton, Homer hands him back his canned goods and causes him to lose his other arm.
– Always loved “Ready… aim…” [mouth pop]. And the Intel Inside logo on the missile.
– Classic, oft-quoted Comic Book Guy quote, mere seconds before his death: “But Aquaman! You cannot marry a woman without gills! You’re from two different worlds!” And then… “Oh, I’ve wasted my life.”
– I love how quickly it takes Homer to notice what’s going on (“Jeez, what’s with all the death?”)
– Great line from Sideshow Mel (“Silence! …you’re talking too loud.”) Just because “Silence!” is so over-used in so many movies.
– Love that Homer is freaked out by a coffin in the back of his getaway car, and his line, “Go to hell, cloaky!”
– I like that Flanders automatically designates the two groups as “freaks” and “norms,” like it’s pre-established rhetoric.
– At Frink’s yard sale, Lisa picks up a blivet, an famous optical illusion that could not and should not exist in the real world.
– Great Frink line welcoming the Simpsons (“Good morning, ma’am. Good afternoon, sir. It passed noon while I was speaking so that was technically accurate.”)
– Love Homer’s pondering over purchasing the matter transporter (“Two bucks… and it only transports matter… well, ah… I’ll give you thirty-five cents.”)
– The fridge contains a full rack of Duff, except for one similar can labeled “Cat Ear Medicine.” Guess which one Homer grabs through the transporter. Castellaneta gives some great disgusted moans after taking a swig.
– Homer sets up the transporter by the toilet during one scene, then the scene ends with him haphazardly throwing his hand through the machine hitting Lisa in the face, meaning a disembodied hand socked an eight-year-old girl while sitting on the can. Stay classy, Simpsons.
– Love the two splices of Santa’s Little Helper and Snowball II, first both their heads (“Twice the pet and none of the mess!”) then both of their rears (“Ehhh, you can be Lisa’s.”)
– My favorite bit of the episode is probably the spider shaking its limbs in annoyance as the fly Bart flies away after tricking it.
– Love the conveniently marked “Door” button on the microwave. Because if it wasn’t labeled, we wouldn’t get that the button Lisa pushed caused the door to open! Integral!
– The court is basically classic mob dog-piling in Springfield, except set three hundred years earlier. Evidence? Mrs. Krabappel accuses that Marge’s whites come out much whiter than her’s. Moe is convinced (“Oh, I’ve heard enough, burn her!!“)
– Wiggum lays out how Marge’s due process works (“You sit on the broom and we shove you off the cliff. If you’re innocent, you will fall to an honorable Christian death. If you are, however, the bride of Satan, you will surely fly your broom to safety. At that point, you will report back here for torture and beheading.”)
– Nice nod to the classic Looney Tunes cartoons as the Bouviers float on their brooms and click their heels before they dash off, like Witch Hazel would do. Also love how they cackle loudly whilst airborne, and stop immediately upon landing.
– You know what… I’d eat a caramel cod. Why not. Smother anything with caramel, I’ll take a bite out of it.