(originally aired November 2, 2008)
And finally we come to the last Treehouse of Horror on my roster, and guess what. It sucks. First is “Untitled Robot Parody,” starring Transformers, because when I think Halloween, I think of fucking Transformers. There’s no real story here, just a bunch of jokes about robots forming from regular appliances and machines. Honestly, there’s a million things to rip on about Transformers, and they don’t even try. Next is “How to Get Ahead in Dead-Vertising,” where ad executives convince Homer to kill off celebrities so they can reap the profits of using their images royalty-free. Again, no plot. Homer is a psychopath and murders dozens, the celebrities rain down from heaven and kill him. The end. Lastly is “It’s the Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse,” which if you’ve gathered, is a parody of the Peanuts Halloween special. I can kind of appreciate the care that went into this segment, with attempts at watercolor backgrounds and mimicking the animation style of the classic short in some shots, but there’s not much else here. Of course the Great… or Grand Pumpkin was going to turn out to be a monster, then you’re just waiting for the thing to end. And so there you have it: as I’ve mentioned before, what once were season highlights are now as boring and uninspired as the rest of the crop. That is the tragic rise and fall… of the Treehouse of Horror.
Tidbits and Quotes
– We open with Homer voting in the 2008 election, a segment that ages quite well. I guess well enough that they effectively reused the same joke this year for 2012. An odd thing about this episode I noticed was the inconsistency of violence. The opening ends with Homer getting sucked into the voting machine, we hear buzz saws and him getting horribly maimed, then he’s spit out, just looking a little haggard, no blood whatsoever. Then we get to the second segment, which features a rather long shot of Krusty getting fed into a wood chipper, with blood spewing out and him screaming in agony, perhaps the most uncomfortable scene in the entire series, until he is reduced to a mangled pile of flesh and organs. Then later, Krusty shoots Homer with a shotgun, which causes his head to literally explode on camera. Jesus, I’m no prude, but can we find a happy medium with this violence, please?
– Homer gets into his car, which then transforms into a robot with him inside it. And the shading changes from pink to red and blue like Optimus Prime. Alright. This leaves Homer sticking out of the robot’s anus, which it has for some reason. This only serves to remind me of the amazing bit from Clerks the Animated Series where we saw people run into a car, then it transforms into a robot, and we see blood gushing out of it as everyone inside is instantly crushed.
– The first segment ends with the two main robots facing off, one being the Malibu Stacey car Bart got. But, it was like a toy size, now it’s humungous. Oh, who cares.
– Act two opens with a parody of the Mad Men opening. Or, rather, it is the Mad Men opening with Simpsons characters in it. It’s the Family Guy mistake where you confuse making a reference to actually doing a parody. How does this lampoon Mad Men in any way? It’s just another attempt for the series to appear relevant by referencing a current item in pop culture.
– Honestly, with Homer’s behavior over the last decade, I don’t bat an eye at him just murdering celebrities and getting away with it. This could basically be a normal episode at this point. I did wince a bit when he went after Neil Armstrong, although his death thankfully wasn’t gory.
– I did like Jimmy Stewart blocking the gates of Heaven, and zombie John Lennon (“All we are saying, is let’s eat some brains!!”)
– Abe Lincoln is gay! Isn’t homosexuality hilarious, everybody? Isn’t it?
– There’s not much in the way of parodying Peanuts in the third segment either. It’s a love letter to the short more than anything. And I love at the end they have Marge appear to comment, “And to those who feel like we’ve trampled on a beloved children’s classic…” Like this is their idea of “edgy.” Please. There’s an amazing subtle joke in an old South Park where the boys are watching and complaining about A Charlie Brown Christmas, then right before commercial in the background, we see on the TV a naked Charlie Brown and Snoopy is bludgeoning him with a giant stick. That’s trampling on a classic.
– This episode kind of had a minor controversy with the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network (whoever they are), who took issue with Nelson using the word “gay” to taunt Milhouse with. Curious they get upset now; for the last few seasons, there’s been a derogatory gay joke or slur about every other episode. But I guess since this was the Halloween show it had more viewers. I’m sure the writers were just glad to get the publicity for a day or two before it blew over.
– The pumpkin patch is right behind the school. Milhouse runs away from the Grand Pumpkin, somehow ending up at the Simpson house. Then he runs to the school. What? Are people even test-screening these shows anymore?
– I do like the racist pumpkin bit (“I’d rather die than hate!” “Pumpkin segregation forever!”)