THREE GUYS AND… A TELEVISON SERIES
series created by Marvin Mercer and Nick Stephenson
“THE SIMPSONS: TREEHOUSE OF HORROR, PART 2”
written by Dominick Cappello
There was a time when “The Simpsons” didn’t need to rely on crossovers with “Family Guy” (1999 – ) and “Futurama” (1999 – 2013) to be relevant. Also, who didn’t love their annual Halloween specials? Freddy Krueger and Jason Voorhees appear in the intro to “Treehouse of Horror IX” and it’s actually Robert Englund doing the voice of Freddy. Cool. A none too original plot device is someone receiving a body part from a deceased killer during a transplant and then the spirit of the killer begins to take control. That’s what happened to Homer Simpson in “Hell Toupée.” Snake Turley is sentenced to death by electrocution. Homer receives a hair transplant from Dr. Nick Riviera. Hi, Dr. Nick. Homer’s new quaff used to belong to Snake. His hair follicles control Homer and make him murder the witnesses who condemned him. Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Moe Szyslak. The last witness his Bart, but Homer resists the urge to kill his own son and tears the hair from his scalp. In “The Terror of Tiny Toon,” Bart and Lisa and enter the violent cartoon world of “The Itchy & Scratchy Show” after Bart places plutonium into the remote control. Poochie even makes a cameo! Alright! Poochie’s in the house! Itchy & Scratchy put their differences aside and team up to try and maim Bart and Lisa. Itchy & Scratchy follow them out of the TV and into the real world. Scratchy falls in love with Snowball II, which means that he’ll have to be neutered. Bummer. “Starship Poopers” is a Kang & Kodos story. Maggie goes through some unusual changes such as losing her limbs, growing tentacles and a single fang. It is revealed that Kang is the real father of Maggie, having once abducted Marge and inseminating her with a ray-gun. Kang & Kodos wish to take Maggie back to their home world. They go on “The Jerry Springer Show” (1991 – ) to settle the dispute, but end up in a scuffle and Jerry Springer is beaten to death. A hilarious scene. Kang & Kodos also host “Treehouse of Horror X.” The Simpsons are watching from home, as spooky incarnations from past specials, and Lisa asks the obvious question, “What do aliens have to do with Halloween?” “I Know What You Diddily-Iddly-Did” began as a parody of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” (1997), with Marge accidentally running over Ned Flanders with her car. Just like in said slasher flick, someone who uses a hook as his trademark weapon knows their terrible secret. It’s Ned Flanders, who survived being run over because he was bitten by a werewolf. Zombies and vampires have been featured many times in these specials, but not so much with werewolves. I don’t know why they get short-changed. Marge escapes with the children when the full moon rises and Flanders transforms, but Homer isn’t so lucky. Bart and Lisa become superheroes in “Desperately Xeeking Xena.” Stretch-Dude and Clobber-Girl. Comic Book Guy is The Collector. He kidnaps Lucy Lawless, the star of “Xena: Warrior Princess” (1995 – 2001). He is obsessed with her and plans to make her his bride. Stretch-Dude and Clobber-Girl come to the rescue. The Collector uses the double-edged lightsaber from “Star War: Episode I — The Phantom Menace” (1999), but he so distraught when he realizes that it is no longer a collectible because he removed it from its original package that he falls into lucite. Best death ever. “Life’s A Glitch, Then You Die” played up on the paranoia surrounding Y2K. Anyone remember that? When the world was suppose to fall apart on January 1, 2000? Yeah, well, that didn’t happen. But, when Homer Simpson is your Y2K compliance officer, all hell breaks loose. The world is on the brink of destruction. Marge, Lisa, and Maggie board a spaceship full of A-list celebrities heading towards Mars. Homer and Bart are stuck on a spaceship full of D-list celebrities such as Tom Arnold. Their destination is the sun. Homer and Bart eject, finding the vacuum of space less painful than Tom Arnold. You can’t really argue with that logic.
“Treehouse of Horror XI” opens with a tribute to “The Munsters” (1964 – 1966). In “G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad,” a horoscope warns Homer that he will die. He chokes to death on a piece of broccoli. He then has 24 hours to perform a good deed and earn his way into heaven. He ends up in hell instead, where the devil gives him noogies. In my own humble opinion, not the strongest story. “Scary Tales That Come True” is a parody of Grimms’ Fairy Tales, namely “Hansel and Gretel,” with references to “Goldilocks” and “Rapunzel.” Bart and Lisa are captured by a witch who lives in a gingerbread house and plans to eat them. Not to worry, Homer the oaf comes to their rescue. “Night of the Dolphin” is a hidden gem. What a brilliant premise to have unassuming dolphins bring about the downfall of mankind. Lisa, being too compassionate for her own good, frees Snorky from an aquatic themed amusement park. Snorky then becomes the architect of the dolphin rebellion. Lenny Leonard is their first victim. Homer gives a rousing speech and the residents of Springfield attempt to fight back, but the dolphins are victorious and banish them to the sea. Kang & Kodos appear at the end of the episode, miffed that they were snubbed by the producers. “Treehouse of Horror XII” opens with Waylon Smithers being electrocuted while attempting a hang a single decoration atop the mansion of C. Montgomery Burns. “Hex and the City” is another one that’s not a favorite of mine, but I know plenty of folks who think it’s a riot. Homer is cursed by a gypsy. All those around him suffer, so he captures a leprechaun for good luck, then the gypsy and the leprechaun fall in love and get married. Kang & Kodos attend the wedding. “House of Whacks” features Pierce Brosnan as the voice of The Simpsons’ futuristic automated household. This is back when he was playing James Bond 007. The house falls in love with Marge and tries to kill Homer, so it’s punishment is a fate worse than death. Having to live with Marge’s nasty twin sisters, Patty & Selma. “Wiz Kids” has Bart and Lisa attending a school of wizardry just like Harry Potter. Bart, as usual, is an underachiever while Lisa is at the top of her class. The funniest part of the entire episode is the mutant frog prince which Bart conjures up. The poor creature cannot stop itself from vomiting constantly and begs for the sweet release of death. Mr. Burns is an evil sorcerer who wants to steal Lisa’s powers. He convinces Bart to betray her, but at the last minute, Bart has a change of heart and vanquishes Mr. Burns by stabbing him in his enchanted shin. During the closing credits, the leprechaun and the vomiting frog prince kidnap Pierce Brosnan.
“Treehouse of Horror XIII.” Lucky number thirteen. The Simpsons and Ned Flanders hold a séance for Ned’s dearly departed wife, Maude. She appears as a ghoulish specter and reads them three tales of terror. In “Send in the Clones,” Homer buys a hammock with supernatural powers. Between this hammock, the monkey’s paw, and evil Krusty the Clown doll, Homer never makes wise purchases. The hammock creates many clones of Homer. Peter Griffin even makes a cameo as one of the clones. This was when critics were accusing “Family Guy” of being a cheap carbon copy of “The Simpsons.” The horde of clones overrun Springfield and are lead to their deaths by helicopters using donuts as bait. Sadly, Homer was also killed, so Marge will have to settle for one of the clones as a husband. Lisa’s do-gooder ways causes trouble again in “The Fright to Creep and Scare Arms.” She campaigns for all firearms to be banned from Springfield as a tribute to William Bonney, who was gunned down at the age of twenty-one. Considering how brainy Lisa is, you’d think that she would know that William Bonney is Billy the Kid, who returns from the grave with other gunslingers to terrorize the defenseless town. Professor Frink then sends Homer back in time to stop the undead cowboys. Zombies, cowboys, and time travel? Seems like a hodgepodge of a story. “The Island of Dr. Hibbert” is a parody of “The Island of Dr. Moreau” by H.G. Wells. Dr. Julius Hibbert turns The Simpson family and other familiar faces into human / animal hybrids. Comedic gold. Marge is turned into a cat, Ned Flanders a cow, Chief Wiggum a pig, and too many others to list. Homer resists at first, then sees the appeal of an animalistic lifestyle and becomes a walrus. Kang & Kodos takes notice of the skull shaped island from their flying saucer. To date, this was their briefest and most uneventful cameo. In “Treehouse of Horror XIV,” after Bart and Lisa fighting over candy escalates into Marge plugging Homer with a shotgun, Kang & Kodos gripe about the Halloween episode airing in November. The slobbering alien duo already have their Christmas decorations hung. This was because FOX began airing the MLB World Series in 2000. At least now they air the annual “Treehouse of Horror” before the World Series. I’d prefer a couple of weeks early as appose to a couple of weeks late. “Reaper Madness” has The Grim Reaper come to claim the soul of Bart. Homer kills The Reaper with a bowling ball, resulting in a world without death. Homer tries on The Reaper’s black cloak, then assumes his duties. This an instance where “The Simpsons” were late to the party, following in the footsteps of “Family Guy,” who had already done a similar episode. Homer enjoys his time as The Reaper until Marge his next on his list. But, he tricks the almighty one by substituting the body of Selma. Or was it Patty? I can never remember. “Frinkenstein” has comedy legend Jerry Lewis guest star as the deceased father of Professor Frink. This was likely because the character of Professor Frink was inspired by the performance of Jerry Lewis in “The Nutty Professor” (1963). Professor Frink brings his father back to life mad scientist style, then his father goes on a rampage, stealing body parts. I have mixed feeling about this story. I didn’t enjoy it the first time around, but it has somewhat grown on me when viewing reruns. “Stop the World, I want to Goof Off,” has Bart and Milhouse Van Houten sending away for a miracle stopwatch that actually stops time, reminiscent of “A Kind of Stopwatch,” an episode of “The Twilight Zone” (1959 – 1964). The hyjinks ensue until they accidentally break the watch, freezing time permanently. They enjoy their freedom at first, then they begin to miss their normal lives. It takes them fifteen long years to repair the watch. Lisa is only one smart enough to realize that Bart is the culprit and she tinkers with the watch with some bizarre results. “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley & His Comets plays during the closing credits.
“Treehouse of Horror XV” opens with a scene from “Keepin’ it With Kodos,” a sitcom starring Kang & Kodos. They adopt Bart after devouring the rest of The Simpsons. Then, the theme to “Perfect Strangers” (1986 – 1993) plays. Okay, that’s just plain funny even if it has nothing to do with Halloween. “The Ned Zone” is obviously a parody of “The Dead Zone” by Stephen King. Ned Flanders is struck in the head with a bowling ball, then has premonitions of doom. He sees that Homer will destroy Springfield with a nuclear explosion, so he must kill Homer for the greater good. Even after Ned shoots Homer, he still sets off a nuclear explosion with his tongue. Happily, all of The Simpsons are reunited in the afterlife. “Four Beheadings & A Funeral” takes place in London, 1890. Lisa and Bart are essentially Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson. They are on the trail of The Mutton-Chops Murderer, who is essentially Jack the Ripper. After a trip to an opium den, Inspector Wiggum of Scotland Yard is discovered to be the murdered. Kang & Kodos then arrive in a steam-punk flying saucer. All of this is revealed to be an opium induced hallucination had by Ralph Wiggum. “In the Belly of the Boss” is a parody of “Fantastic Voyage” (1966). Maggie is accidentally shrunken down and ingested by Mr. Burns. Professor Frink shrinks the rest of The Simpsons and they attempt to rescue Maggie in a micro-submarine. Marge has to wear a skimpy bathing suit, evoking memories of Raquel Welch. Homer expands inside of Mr. Burns, so just like in “Treehouse of Horror II,” they must share a body. The “Perfect Strangers” theme plays again during the closing credits. Kang & Kodos are fed up with baseball by the time of “Treehouse of Horror XVI,” so they use an “accele-ray” to speed up the boring game, but use too much power and destroy the totality of existence. Woops. “B.I. Bartificial Intelligence” is a parody of “A.I. Artificial Intelligence” (2001), a tedious film directed by Stephen Spielberg. Bart is badly injured during horseplay and left lingering in a coma. The family replaces with an android who is the perfect son. Bart returns to find that he has been usurped. Homer prefers the android and abandons Bart in the wilderness. Bart poaches hardware from misfit androids and turns himself into a kick-ass cyborg. He destroys his replacement, also buzz-sawing his father in half. But, it was all dream had by Homer, who has been possessed by a demon. “Survival of the Fattest” is “The Most Dangerous Game” by Richard Connell. Homer and all of the prominent male characters are invited to the jungle estate of Mr. Burns, who hunts them for sport on a reality show entitled “The World Series of Manslaughter” with NFL analyst Terry Bradshaw as the guest color commentator. Each death is worthy of a chuckle. Homer is the last man standing and just as he is about to be gunned down, he is saved by Marge, who clunks Mr. Burns on the head with a frying pan. “I’ve Grown A Costume to Your Face” has an angry witch being denied a $25 Kwik-E-Mart gift certificate in a Halloween costume contest because she is an actual witch and thusly not in costume. The witch is a sore loser and with some hocus-pocus turns all of the residents of Springfield into their amusing costumes. Some are happy with their make-over. Others, not so much. Maggie has become a witch as well, but she uses her powers to turn everyone into pacifiers. Look closely and you’ll see Kang & Kodos in the background. Dennis Rodman, formerly of the Chicago Bulls, appears at the end for a public service announcement concerning adult illiteracy.
“Treehouse of Horror XVII” has a “Tales from the Crypt” (1989 – 1996) intro with Mr. Burns as the Crypt Keeper. Amazing. One of my favorite intros. The main difference between “Married to the Blob” and “The Blob” (1958) is the alien sludge that arrives in a meteor is green instead of pink. Homer ingest the sentient green sludge, one of the dumbest things he‘s ever done, and morphs into a big green blob with an insatiable appetite. This is turned into a public service as he is fed homeless people so to clean up the streets. Man, that is messed up. “You Gotta Know When to Golem” has Richard Lewis as the voice of a character out of Jewish folklore, made out of clay, who can be controlled by placing scrolls into its mouth. Bart finds the Golem in Krusty the Clown’s prop room. He uses the Golem for wicked deeds, sending his bullies to the hospital and killing Principal Seymour Skinner. Lisa knows that the Golem has a good heart, so The Simpsons build him a mate out of Play-Doh, voiced by Fran Dresher, and they live happily ever after. “The Day the Earth Looked Stupid” takes place in 1938. The residents of Springfield are panicked by “The War of the Worlds” radio drama narrated by Orson Welles. Voice actor Maurice LaMarche provides his always spot-on impression on Orson Welles just as he did in “Ed Wood” (1994), dubbing Vincent D’Onofrio. The same voice he used for Brain on “Pinky & the Brain” (1995 – 1998). Then, Kang & Kodos lead an actual alien invasion. After their invasion is over and Springfield is utterly decimated, the aliens argue as to whether or not the people of Earth had WMDs (weapons of mass disintegration.) Wow. A little social commentary. You wouldn’t expect that in a Halloween special. Many have grumbled endlessly about the show’s perceived decline in quality, but re-watching these “Treehouse of Horror” episodes brings me to the conclusion that expectations were probably a bit too high after almost twenty seasons and that “The Simpsons” are held to a higher standard than any other animated series.
– Dr. Rochester