579. Treehouse of Horror XXVI

Original airdate: October 25, 2015

The premise:
In “Wanted: Dead Then Alive,” Sideshow Bob finally kills Bart, but when that proves unfulfilling, he repeatedly resurrects him to murder him again and again. “Homerzilla” is a Godzilla “parody.” “Telepaths of Glory” is a Chronicle “parody.”

The reaction: And now, back to our regularly scheduled Halloween shenanigans, which are just as lifeless and uninspired as ever. The first segment involves Sideshow Bob (not hitting rock bottom after his last appearance, I suppose) who takes great glee in killing Bart over and over and over again. This whole segment is just endlessly seeing this ten-year-old get brutally killed and dismembered, which rides the line of being somewhat absurdly amusing in its overkill (literally), but overall felt more uncomfortable to me. But I can give the episode some credit, this is the first time I’ve been genuinely unsettled at a Treehouse of Horror in a very long time, normally they’re just goofy and dumb and not even trying to be scary. The following two segments are exactly that description, however. The second tale takes on the original B&W Godzilla films, which features a labored set-up, then a long montage of disconnected gags of Homerzilla destroying the town. Then it turns into a satire of American remakes, with a bunch of executives agreeing to remake Homerzilla and fill it with product placement. It’s not so much targeting the 2014 Godzilla as much as the awful 1998 version, which is not a fresh target, although this concept of shitty Americanization is not exclusive to one franchise. But it’s all very rushed, there’s not enough time devoted to the different ideas here, although I’m sure even with a whole episode, they’d manage to screw it up. The final short is even more rushed, at barely four minutes, as we are treated to a re-telling of Chronicle. Bart, Lisa and Milhouse get super abilities, but there’s not even a hint of tension until the end when Milhouse “goes mad with power,” with Lisa says verbatim. But then we see that Maggie is more powerful, incapacitates Milhouse, does a few things, then goes to sleep. For all the effort they put into the last episode, it’s surprising to see so much laziness here. I guess not so surprising, really. Things are getting back to normal.

Three items of note:
– Our special Halloween opening is done by John K, his second piece for the show. As I said for his couch gag, I really do not care for his modern visual or animation style, everything feels very weird and floaty, and characters and body parts twitching for no reason and reacting in bizarre ways. It’s also very long, almost two minutes, time that could have been devoted to expanding the incredibly condensed latter two segments. But if someone else animates something for us, we’re responsible for less work! Yay!
– The inclusion of montages in Treehouse of Horrors always felt wrong to me, like creating a strong creepy, unsettling tone is pretty important, and to blaze through information with a montage seems counter intuitive. But of course, these specials aren’t even trying to be spooky anymore. Here we get two montages, one in the first segment, one in the third. The latter seems especially egregious considering they were attempting to go for the found footage look like in the actual movie with Lisa holding a camera, but they do a montage anyway, albeit with a slightly shaky cam style. They didn’t even make one found footage joke. I guess if they didn’t bother doing it in their Paranormal Activity “parody,” they’re not gonna do it here.
– Kang and Kodos get squeezed in at the end, breaking the fourth wall in commenting on how once again, they’re a mere afterthought. You’d think after twenty-six of these, they’d remember to include them somewhere in the actual episode. When the episode goes into 4:3 for some reason, Kang yells, “Just because it looks like season 4 doesn’t make it season 4!” No shit. It’s lines like this that make me pretty sure the writers know the show is terrible now, but they don’t seem to really care.

One good line/moment: I did enjoy seeing Bob take a stab at being a college professor, and being incessantly irritated by his intellectually inferior students (“Rubbish! Drivel! What is this Game of Thrones they’re referencing?”)


8 responses to “579. Treehouse of Horror XXVI

  1. While I felt the Bob segment further cheapened Bob character-wise (i.e. Krusty was suppose to be the object of Bob’s fury, while Bart became a side-vengeance after constantly sticking his nose into his plans) it was the best segment by default. Though the episode as a whole was very forgettable.

    This was the last THOH I have seen.

  2. The only bit I’ve seen of this episode is the John K. opening, which to be honest I actually like, despite the fact it’s pretty flawed. The silly spooky atmosphere and espcially the song reminds me a lot of those spooky themed Disney cartoon shorts from the old days (definitely got some “Trick or Treat” vibes from this).

    The flaws mainly come from the animation. As you mentioned all of the characters feel floaty and weightless, and not only that but designs of the characters are pretty inconstant. Lisa and Maggie start changing colors towards the end, but the real offender in this case is the monster Frank Grimes. His design changes in nearly every shot. One minute he’s a Frankenstein monster, then he suddenly has detailed abs, the next he’s got hoofed feet, the next he’s this weird alien creature with antennas, long legs, and a clawed hand. It’s really distracting.

    This opening was actually supposed to be for the previous Treehouse of Horror episode, but it got delayed a year because John K. is John K. and can’t make a deadline to save his life. It was also supposed to be longer and featured Grandpa as well but his scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. You can view John’s original storyboards and production artwork for the opening here: http://johnkstuff.blogspot.com/search/label/Treehouse%20Horror

    Interestingly enough I find that John’s storyboards look more polished than his actual animation. Maybe he should just stick to doing storyboards and have the animation be handled by someone else.
    I also feel the need to share my favorite bit of dialogue that got cut:

    Homer: “But real sickos give you apples!”
    Marge: “With razor blades?”
    Homer: “No! Apples are bad enough!”

    • Character design changing in each shot is one of those things John K actively tries to do in most of his animation. It’s pretty much expected because it is something he enjoys doing.

      Though I agree his more recent animation has a floatiness and weightlessness that calls too much attention to itself. Also something noticeable in his early work (i.e. the R&S pilot)

  3. You know, if this has been done like 10-15 years ago, I would have loved seeing a Halloween take on Sideshow Bob killing Bart. However, it just doesn’t work after the Season 8 episode with his brother.

    Homerzilla was quite weak. They should have just done the Bartzilla parody from Bart’s Nightmare and maybe had Homer Kong show up to battle him.

    As for the last segment, I don’t even remember it. I think I know what you are talking about, but it was based on that shitty Chronicle movie, so I forgot it as it has NOTHING to do with Halloween.

    Of course, if you thought this THoH was bad, wait until you see the next season’s one. I think it knocked THoH XII out of the top spot on my worst list.

  4. I hated this THOH. The first segment wasn’t funny or scary, it was just disturbing and cruel. Maybe its because I still see Bart as a 10 year old boy, but I always thought there was a moral issue with killing him. There is a certain degree of innocence about both Bart’s pranks and his mannerisms, and watching him get slaughtered so many times by Bob ruins it. Also, the fact that the entire Simpsons family didn’t care when they found Bart’s mutilated body destroyed any scary aspect of it. Bart’s rotting body and Bob’s abuse of it didn’t instill any scariness into the segment, it just made it more disturbing. The worst of all for me was watching Bart get reanimated and killed numerous times. I get they were trying to make this funny, but did we really have to see Bart’s head get graphically smashed in, his arms and legs get bent backwards, his eyes get swollen and his guts get beaten out of him?

    At the end of the segment I remember thinking to myself “what did I just watch?” All I saw was a defenseless little boy get murdered, abused, and tortured by some creep that had been following him around for years. It’s not like Bart had done anything to deserve such cruelty from Bob (in every interaction the two have had, Bart has always been the good guy) and watching a helpless Bart sit there and be bludgeoned to death wasn’t funny. This episode ruined Bob’s slapstick comedic effect for me, as I couldn’t find anyone who is capable of committing such atrocities against a child funny. I think they were trying to get attention with the idea of Bob killing Bart and they screwed it up royally IMO.

  5. As problematic as the John K. segment is, you have to admit that it looks more lively than anything on the show these days.

  6. My one good line/moment was Bob’s pretend-Milhouse texts to Bart: “Largo stuck in harp. Looks funny. Sounds exquisite.”

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