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?”)