Interrupted only by the occasional group of neighborhood kids looking for free candy I’ve been plowing through the Halloween episodes this evening. I started at “Treehouse of Horror I” and just kept going. They’re a very accurate microcosm of the show at large in that they get a little bit weaker, but still outstanding in general, around Season 7 or 8 and go downhill from there. By Season 9 (where Homer’s the last man alive, Bart turns into a giant fly, and they do the story of the witches) things are undeniably different for the worse, and beyond that they’re more Zombie than Simpsons.
None of this is exactly news. But even after all these years I continue to be struck by just how quickly things went to hell. There you are in Season 8 laughing your ass off with “The Genesis Tub” and “Citizen Kang” and just two years later – barely the blink of an eye in the long history of the show – and you’re looking around for something else to do during the drawn out action sequences in “Hell Toupee”. That one’s got some good lines, but you’ve got to pick them out between all the meandering exposition and “action”. The endings get less clever, the parodies get thinner and just like that you’re on your way to that awful fake musical they broadcast two weeks ago.
Like I said, this isn’t news, hell, it’s the entire premise of this blog. But having it happen right before your eyes in just an hour or so is always jarring.