“Oh hi, as the FOX censor, it’s my job to protect you from reality.” – FOX Censor
There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until September, so we’re going to spend the summer overthinking Season 9. Why Season 9? Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons. Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders). So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “unprecedentedly ”).
Today’s episode is 904 “Treehouse of Horror VIII”. Yesterday’s was 910 “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”.
Note: Dave was called away due to a half-witted oaf shortly after we started, so the second half is a two man affair.
Charlie Sweatpants: Time to move from one holiday to the other?
Mad Jon: Yes, lets
I generally feel it’s tough to screw up a TOH, because you only get like 5 or 6 minutes a segment. So worst case scenario it’s boring.
And even if the story is dumb, there are usually a couple of good gags.
Charlie Sweatpants: True.
In the case of VIII, I think they get better as they go along.
Mad Jon: I can see that, I am not a huge fan of the fly one.
Charlie Sweatpants: The Omega Man one has too much rather pointless action, Fly vs Fly has less, and Easy Bake Coven even less.
The fly one has some down points, I’ll not disagree with that.
Would you agree that the witch one is easily the best of the three?
Mad Jon: You are right about Homega Man, there is a lot of Homer just punching dead guys.
Yes, I would agree with that statement.
There are a lot of good lines in that one.
Charlie Sweatpants: Homega Man has its moments, particularly “I stand by my ethnic slur”, the Kang and Kodos reverse UFO sighting, and Homer dancing naked in church.
Mad Jon: I did chuckle at all those scenes.
Charlie Sweatpants: But you’re right that they think Homer punching dead guys is funnier than it really is, and the whole car chase thing takes way too long.
Mad Jon: Yeah I usually check out right about then,
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s a good bathroom break moment, not much happens.
But as I said, I think of that as the weakest.
Mad Jon: Precisely, although tonight I went to move the sprinkler right as the chase left the church.
Charlie Sweatpants: Didn’t miss much, did you?
Mad Jon: Nah. I also like Herman’s description of the bomb shelters abilities, “It can take a 6 megaton blast, no more, no less.” It’s very Herman.
Charlie Sweatpants: Most of the humor is right up front.
The fly one is similar in that regard.
Mad Jon: Indeed. I like the garage sale.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s big problem isn’t a chase scene as much as it is a sitcom level inability of the family to realize that Bart’s a fly.
Mad Jon: The plot kind of ruins the story.
Charlie Sweatpants: But it takes less time.
So I don’t mind it as much.
Mad Jon: Like I said, can’t screw up 5 minutes that much as long as there are a couple of jokes,
I think there are multiple reasons that the TOH series kept up its viewers through most of The Simpsons’ tenure. I know it’s a bit of an institution, but when you can capitalize on not cutting your own wrist for 22 minutes as well as your viewer’s increasingly short attention span, you can accomplish a lot with very little.
Even the last few seasons have had pretty decent numbers, especially when compared to the regular episodes.
Charlie Sweatpants: TOH is like a videogame with cheat codes. You’re already doing something fun (or working from an unprecedentedly robust comedy template), now you can do it without any rules.
Mad Jon: That is a good summary of why I like the witch bit from this TOH - its cheeky and different. They can have fun with the characters in a new way without forgetting their traits.
Going out on limbs is usually what gets the Simpsons in trouble, but you can do it with TOH.
Charlie Sweatpants: The final segment is easily the best here. Right from the get go, with the town motto being “First Toil, Then the Grave”. That is the best summary of the Puritans ever, and it’s only five words.
Mad Jon: That is good, I also like Ned’s response to Goodie Maude’s fears about carnal whatevers.
Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed.
There’s also Krabappel with the scarlet A, Quimby’s throwing the floor open to “wild accusations”, and the whole due process of being thrown off the cliff which culminates with Wiggum’s “The Bible says a lot of things, shove her.”
Mad Jon: Ha ha, I love the bible line.
Charlie Sweatpants: The only comedy opportunity it feels like they missed was with Lovejoy and Flanders, it’s not hard to make fun of the panting, lascivious hypocrites who were the big men behind witchcraft accusations.
But they gave it a decent turn with Marge actually being a witch.
On the whole, this one has much less action/suspense and much more actual jokes.
Mad Jon: Agreed.
And that’s the story of the first caramel cod.
Charlie Sweatpants: As per usual, I find myself with a lot less to say about good Simpsons.
Mad Jon: Well, when you spend time watching new Simpsons, its ok to be more complainer than exalter.
You sort of have to be in the right mode to discuss what they do right.
Charlie Sweatpants: Which is not the mode I’m in after watching Miracle on Evergreen Terrace.
Mad Jon: On the nose.
Charlie Sweatpants: But rather than double back on ourselves, shall we call this one done? Unless, of course, there’s more to TOH VIII you wish to add.
Mad Jon: Nah, I think we covered the important stuff.
Charlie Sweatpants: And the not so important stuff.
Mad Jon: I’m more of a generalist anyway.