(originally aired November 3, 2002)
Here’s the part where I talk about how depressing it is that these Halloween shows are declining in quality, since I can’t think of any new way to start these. Or I could just jump in immediately. That’s a better idea. “Send in the Clones” is a decidedly goofy segment where Homer buys a magic hammock only to find it creates mindless clones of himself. At first he reaps the benefits of them, able to fulfill multiple boring family and work duties at once, but when he finds the clones are capable of terrible things, he abandons them all out of town… with the hammock. Soon an army of Homers is created and starts destroying the town, and they must be stopped. I kind of like the first half of this, with all the dummy Homers subbing for the real one, but leading up to the end things feel kind of lazy. The Homer clones eat everything and all go to the Duff brewery? Come on, that’s too easy. It almost seemed like they were setting up the clones were going to off Homer, which could have been interesting, but then they turn it into a joke (“It would take three clones to kill the original Homer! …I mean, four!”) That’s another odd thing about this segment, everyone acts so casually and jokey when there’s strange or horrible things afoot. It’s like a normal episode when the characters don’t seem to care, but even more bizarre here given the fantastical things that are happening. Oh, and the ending was completely obvious too.
“The Fight to Creep and Scare Harms” is really strange, I’m not even sure what to make of it. Lisa sees a tombstone of a young man killed by gun violence, and is inspired to plead with the town to ban all guns. Her wish is granted, but when Springfield is defenseless, gunmen of the old west rise from the grave, led by said young man William Bonney, aka Billy the Kid. I get the idea here, that without guns, five men are able to completely take over the town with their six shooters, but it really doesn’t feel right. Why can’t they get help from another town over? Then there’s the scene where they’re all at Moe’s, and the whole Simpson family is there of course, why couldn’t anyone else just ambush them with giant bats? Or torch the place? I dunno. South Park unintentionally took this idea (Simpsons did it!) in their “Pinewood Derby” episode, but it works a lot better there. Then Homer steals Frink’s time machine, goes back and has everyone repeatedly shoot the graves of the dead ghouls, causing them to rise and run like hell, and Lisa cops that guns are the answer. I can’t even say I hate this one, even though I want to, because I feel I really don’t understand what they were going for. I’m still puzzled.
“The Island of Dr. Hibbert” is the only segment that kind of works… kind of. The Simpsons vacation on an island resort run by Dr. Hibbert, who had long ago gone mad. Turns out it wasn’t the best idea, as Hibbert has been spending his days turning humans into animals, and the Simpsons are next on the chopping block. Seeing all the animal-ized characters is visually interesting, and neat how it reflects their characters, like Agnes Skinner as a kangaroo with Skinner in her pouch, Wiggum as a pig (not much to change to the model there), and of course Disco Shrew. But why is Dr. Hibbert doing this? He has one mad spiel about how he feels humans should never have evolved, but it doesn’t really fit who he is. It’s basically they wanted to do a Island of Dr. Moreau parody, and figured they had to go with Hibbert since he’s the doctor. I almost feel like an idiot talking about reason or sense in a Halloween show, but you need at least some in there. Burns and Willie work as villains since they’re already crass and mean, Hibbert not so much. But it’s the best of the three, though that’s not saying an awful lot. Definitely the worst one so far, though I have a creeping feeling I’ll be repeating that in later seasons.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The opening seance with Maude, voiced again by long last by Maggie Roswell, felt uncomfortable to me, and really showed how the writers really had no concern about dealing with offing Maude. To create such crass comedy based on senselessly killing the wife of an important character (“Maude! You look as pretty as the day I buried you!”) It just kind of made me cringe. And not much has changed: the latest Halloween show where they pathetically tried to parody Dexter showed a devilish Maude apparently being Satan’s love slave. What the fuck, guys?
– Really, why didn’t the first segment end with the Homer clones trying to get rid of Homer? It was set up, it makes the most sense, hell, they even released a promo card of the clones ganging up on the original. They could intimidate him with their dumb clone voices, and it could be creepy and weird, but still funny since they’re mindless Homers. But instead we’ll end with getting rid of them with helicopters carrying giant donuts. The potential for creepiness and scares in a Halloween show is basically gone, and been replaced by the same sad attempts at comedy we see in the show proper.
– The only joke in the segment I like is the slow bit where Homer shoots the clones that know how to get back into town. It’s pretty well timed. I didn’t even laugh at Peter Griffin in the sea of clones; any pot shots the show makes at other media nowadays feels kind of pathetic, given how poor the series has gotten.
– Going off of “Brand New Badge,” I bizarrely didn’t mind Maggie shooting all the mobsters, but her apparently being a mass shooter would become one of her personality traits is something that’s not so cool with me. So here we are, an episode later, doing a gag showing a giant box labeled “Maggie’s Guns.” It’s a Halloween show, but still, what?
– The only joke in this segment I like is when Billy gets upset when Homer starts playing piano. He said to play pian-ee, which is more like jangly old Western-type music.
– Why does Frink pull Homer aside to tell him about the time machine? Why the fuck didn’t he just go back in time himself? They didn’t even bother to explain it.
– Frink’s dying speech as a turkey is good, but kind of went on too long.
– I love whenever Marge actually attempts to be funny (“‘House of Pain’? This must be where you pay the bill!”)
– Cat creature Marge I’m sure set off signals for a lot of furries out there. Even though it’s so dumb that he didn’t notice, I love how shocked Homer is by it after the fact (“Oh my God! She’s become a monster! Which I have to admit, I sort of suspected during the sex.”)
– Why would Hibbert turn Flanders into a female cow? Because we need a joke where Homer has to milk someone he doesn’t like. Why not make it Patty or Selma? Actually… no, that would be incredibly creepy…
– I like that Comic Book Guy is the leader of the manimal clan, it kind of fits him that he, normally an social outcast, would be on top in this fantastical situation.
– Kang and Kodos get wedged in at the end. It’s feeling more and more like an afterthought lately (“Look at that island! It’s shaped like our number four! Makes you think.”)