Original airdate: October 6, 2013
The premise: “Oh, The Places You’ll D’oh!” is told in Seussian rhyme, starring Homer as the Fat in the Hat, who takes the kids out for a calamitous Halloween rampage. In “Dead and Shoulders,” a freak accident results in Bart’s decapitated head being attached onto Lisa’s shoulder. “Freaks No Geeks” takes place in a 1930s circus, where sideshow freak Moe is sweet on Marge the trapeze artist, while strongman Homer plots a scheme to steal his valuable emerald.
The reaction: I certainly wouldn’t consider Dr. Seuss very spooky, but the first segment is definitely the stand out. The designs and art direction of the Seussified Springfield is pretty neat and engaging to look at, and the rhyming prose remained pretty strong throughout the whole thing. I’m not exactly sure why Homer acted like a homicidal maniac, but I appreciate the rare use of satire in treating the Fat in the Hat like a dangerous child abductor. Also, Maggie is designed like Cindy Lou Who and that’s pretty freaking adorable. The second story is… whatever. If Futurama‘s “Put Your Head on My Shoulder” was six minutes long and had no jokes or narrative thrust, this is what you’d get. A big pet peeve of mine with these Halloween shows is that horrible violence or crazy shit happens with none of the characters even batting an eyelid in reaction. Bart’s head is (bloodlessly) cut clean off by his kite string, his head hits the grass, and he lets out a quiet exasperated sigh. It’s like he could barely muster the energy to care. Also, what happened to his body? I guess they just forgot about it. The third segment starts off okay, I like the sepia tone and the old time designs, and a few gags were chuckle-worthy, but when the actual plot kicks in, it’s just awful. Homer exposits his scheme out loud for the audience: he gets Marge to marry Moe, he’ll kill him, and then take his emerald ring. Next scene he walks into Marge’s trailer, asking, “Hey Marge, wanna marry Moe?” He gives a limp argument, blathers on about the ring Marge knows nothing about, and she just rolls over and agrees. Later, we get another scene in the trailer where Homer pours poison into Moe’s drink, and in similar fashion, Homer just yells his plan at Marge again in case people forgot. Then the story ends with the freaks killing Homer. Or, we get a random tag of him as a tarred and feathered limbless mound as the How I Met Your Mother theme plays. Boy, that show sure gives me the creeps.
Three items of note:
– I know I’ve mentioned this multiple times, but do they just hate Maggie Roswell or something? We get a scene from Miss Hoover, and the sound quality on her is just the worst it’s ever been. It sounds like they recorded her from under the couch or something.
– We get a wonderful scene of Skinner getting out of the car after being chewed out by Agnes for the umpteenth time, crumpling to the floor and rolling up into a ball. Agnes then berates him for having a panic attack and starts walloping him with her hand bag. Isn’t this great Halloween fun, everybody! This is just bizarre and depressing. Bipolar disorder, anxiety, depression… I believe any topic can be funny as long as it’s framed in the proper way, but as we’ve seen time and again from this show now, it really feels like the joke is just to laugh at the person. Martin is gay! The FBI agent last episode has a mental disorder! Skinner’s having an anxiety attack after decades of psychological torment! Let’s laugh at how broken he is!
– For the first time in years, Kang and Kodos actually cameo within a story rather than being isolated to their own cutaway or tagged on at the end. They’re one of the captives at Burns’ freak show (“Creatures from another galaxy!” “Actually, it’s more of a globular cluster!”) Then Burns drops a sheet over their domes, to their chagrin.
One good line/moment: The extended opening title sequence, directed by Guillermo del Toro, is the obvious pick. Although I do think it’s overly long and has way too much stuff going on, I still think it’s one of the coolest things to come out of the show in a long time. It’s clear del Toro just wanted to cram every single horror icon into one piece, including references to all of his movies. Personal highlights are the nuclear rod turning Homer into one of those horrific Blade vampires, Lisa jamming with all the iterations of the Phantom of the Opera through film history, and the pan-over prior to the Simpson house where it’s just a grab bag of all the monsters left on del Toro’s giant list.