(originally aired November 6, 2005)
FOX airing the Halloween show in November had become almost an aggravating tradition now, enough for the series itself to acknowledge it. The opening sequence was so, so cathartic when I first saw it, with Kang and Kodos desperately trying to speed up time during baseball season so they can air the Treehouse of Horror, but end up going to far and accidentally obliterate all of existence. If that’s our beginning, then the rest of the show must be pure gold! Well, not exactly. While there are some entertaining moments throughout, this is just another mildly disappointing Halloween show. First up, “Bartificial Intelligence,” where the Simpsons adopt a robot boy to replace Bart when he falls into a deep coma. I like the vague not-so-distant future setting, and there’s some great direction by David Silverman to give a bit of a creepy atmosphere, but ultimately it’s not extremely interesting. I kind of like the ending where Bart ransacks the discarded robots who took him for his revenge, but everything else feels kind of blah.
“Survival of the Fattest” is definitely the worst, where Burns invites a group of people to his lush estate in order to hunt them for sport. This is a conceit that feels like a one-off gag from the show proper than an entire Halloween segment. There’s nothing really spooky about it; it’s just an exercise to see how many beloved secondary characters we can kill off in six minutes, which I guess is good enough for the writers at this point. And when I think Halloween, I think Terry Bradshaw. The last one “I’ve Grown a Costume to Your Face,” a scornful witch curses the citizens of Springfield to become whoever, or whatever, their costume is. This is the most Halloween-y of them all, and it still doesn’t feel right. Some people are happy with their new personas, some aren’t, and it all comes to a spectacular non-conclusion, which is admittedly kind of amusing. The biggest problem I’m seeing with these recent Treehouse of Horrors is tone. The non-spooky content in some segments also shares some blame, but even when it was being comical, Halloween specials in the past always had this really unique quality to them. Whether they be playing up the tension or mimicing suspenseful music cues or camera moves from the movies they were parodying, they didn’t feel like the regular episodes. Conversely, despite their impossible content, each of these three segments would work fine if put in regular rotation.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The Kang and Kodos opening is definitely the best part of the show. The animation of the entire universe (including God Himself) being sucked up in a vortex is pretty awesome.
– The pacing in the first segment is kind of odd. Bart has just gone into the coma when Hibbert suggests she get a robot boy to replace him. He then jokes about being glad that Bart isn’t dead so now he can keep billing them, twice, and gets mad at Homer and Marge for not laughing. Their kid’s in a permanent coma, what’s his damage?
– Now we have music montages in Halloween shows too, with Bart and David fighting for family and friend’s affections to the tune of The Eagles. Again, this does not feel Halloween-y to me.
– Really well timed bit where David uses Homer as a buffer for robo-Bart’s buzzsaw, but then has absolutely no problem ripping through them both (“Ohhh, those were my good pants!”) Then, I don’t know why they tagged on the weird exorcist ending, you could have just ended it on Homer and his new small robo-legs giving out.
– The second segment is really a big dead zone. The only thing I smirked at was the Blue-Haired Lawyer tying up a legal document to defend Burns’ human poaching, and then Burns shoots him. Terry Bradshaw doesn’t do a bad job, it’s just a role that doesn’t fit in a Halloween show.
– I don’t know if this is the first time it’s mentioned, but the Crazy Old Man’s new moniker is Old Jewish Man, which feels way too on-the-nose. And that’s not another Jew joke, I swear.
– I laughed hard at Sideshow Mel’s “Burn her… gift certificate!” It’s just like “Surely he cannot speak!” in the dolphin story, I love whenever Mel makes a grand announcement in the middle of a crowd scene.
– Wiggum is now Jared from the Subway ads (“I’m only a little overweight and sexually ambiguous!”) I don’t entirely get this gag. Did it seem like Jared was gay? I believe he’s married. It just feels like a weird shot.
– Maggie turning everyone into pacifiers and flying off to the Bewitched theme is a pretty good out. Moe’s PSA for adult illiteracy, with guest star Dennis Rodman… not so much. I like the idea of characters breaking the fourth wall for the Halloween show, but it just felt kind of random how they did it here.