Original airdate: October 16, 2016
The premise: “Dry Hard” is a Hunger Games “parody.” “BFF R.I.P.” features Lisa’s imaginary friend killing people out of jealousy. “Moefinger” is a Kingsman: The Secret Service “parody.”
The reaction: Treehouse of Horrors nowadays are usually just condensed would-be parodies of non-horror movies, but now we’re at the point where they’re a hodgepodge of multiple movies at once. The first segment features Lisa as Katniss in a Hunger Games-style Springfield fighting for natural resources from the all-controlling tyrant Burns. This show already did a parody of this franchise back in the LEGO episode by mocking the love triangle, and they do it again here too, and it’s just as limp (“My name is Pita, like the healthy bread!” “My name is also Peta, like the animal rights organization!”) When Lisa convinces everyone to just go after Burns and reek hell, then it becomes Mad Max: Fury Road with everyone in their souped up vehicles and people tied to those waving staffs. References! The third segment puts Bart in Moe’s secret service society, a la Kingsman. I guess if they consider Mr & Mrs. Smith rife Halloween material, why not this? The first half consists of Moe expositing endlessly to Bart about who they are, what they do, what their mission is… yawn. Then Homer turns out to be the villain, he looks like Blofeld from James Bond, and Bart engages in a big action set piece with him killing a bunch of people. I guess they’re trying to riff on the showstopping sequence from the movie, but does “parody” mean you take an amazing scene and make a worse, less engaging version of it? The second story actually had some potential in its idea: people closest to Lisa getting killed and her being under suspicion for the murders. But any tension or intrigue is ruined by overexplanation per usual (“Oh, no, she’ll kill Mom! What do I do?”) These specials were once so imaginative, a once-a-year respite from the normal series to try something different. Now, they’re filled with the same debilitating problems as every other episode. But this isn’t new. None of this is.
Three items of note:
– The opening features the Simpsons being faced down by their various arch rivals: Sideshow Bob, Kang (or Kodos), the ghost of Frank Grimes and the crazy leprechaun for some reason (how random, they haven’t used him in almost a decade.) I’ve talked before about how lame and cartoony it feels for the Simpson family to have arch nemeses, but I guess this is what counts as fan service these days, milking another laugh out of Homer not remembering who ol’ Grimey is. Maggie immediately kills the three live bodies because that’s her schtick, and Grimes watches in horror as the screen fills with all 600 episodes playing at once (“In hell, they make you watch all of them in a row!”) The latter two-thirds, yes. Then we get a second intro, our couch gag, “Planet of the Couches,” which I feel like the show has done already. Ah, whatever.
– The first segment features authoritarian Burns hoarding all the water for himself, and during his broadcast to his lowly subjects, he continually wastes it in a multitude of ways, culminating in him doing an extended tribute to Flashdance with him dousing water on himself leaning back on a chair. I liked it better when Willie did it. I feel like this is going to be a very shitty season for Burns.
– The episode ends with a rearrangement of “Goldfinger” called “600,” as the show flaunts its latest meaningless milestone (remember when they used to make fun of those?) It ends with a scroll of shows that were “so very bad” over their lifetime on FOX, ending with The Critic and Futurama just to get people’s dander up. Al Jean’s credit warns, “You’re Next, Gunsmoke.” The Simpsons is currently the longest-running primetime series, but it needs to get past show #635 to have the most actual episodes, which they will hit come season 30. My thought for the last few years is that would be when they would finally stop; 30’s a nice round number, and they’d have finally beaten that last record. But, really, why stop now? FOX seemingly doesn’t see the need to quit at this point, so I honestly don’t know. As grim as it may be, part of me feels the only thing that would halt the show now is the death of one of the core six cast members. I mean, how much worse can this series sink? Once I think it hits bottom, it keeps plumbing those depths. Well… I guess we’ll find out, won’t we?
One good line/moment: The second segment actually had a few alright lines (“The only invisible killer I believe in is God,”) and Lisa’s imaginary friend suffocating Milhouse with his plastic baggie was actually kind of disturbing, which happens very infrequently in Halloween shows of late.