“Bart, just let me drop and save yourself!” – Clobber Girl
“What do you think I’ve been trying to do?” – Stretch Dude
For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes. This year we’re doing Season 11. Why Season 11? Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show. Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “inadvertently”).
Today’s episode is 1104, “Treehouse of Horror X”. Yesterday was 1103, “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner?”.
Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to move on to Halloween?
Mad Jon: Let’s.
Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we just do these in the order in which the appeared, or shall we do them in terms of quality?
Mad Jon: Order they appeared.
Unless you guys disagree.
Charlie Sweatpants: Fine by me.
Dave: Order they appeared please.
Charlie Sweatpants: I ask because I’m of the opinion that one of these is vastly better than the other two.
Mad Jon: I really have a hard time ranking THOH skits by quality, at least within the same episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: But if we’re going by order, then let us discuss Dead Flanders.
Mad Jon: Ok.
Charlie Sweatpants: This is not the one I think is good. There’s way too much Homer acting overly dumb, characters not making any sense (even within this Halloween sketch), and then there’s a lot of off voice Maude Flanders, which just bugs me no end.
Dave: Yeah. It was pretty irritating to watch through and through.
Mad Jon: I was hoping this wasn’t your top skit. As a THOH bit, it’s pretty standard, but I just don’t see enough of the family in this one as they are. It is just them being panicked and scared.
The plot is very THOH, but since, as Charlie pointed out with Homer’s overacting, nobody is themselves, I sort of just wait for it to end.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.
Like Homer’s long ass whispering scene to Flanders corpse.
Mad Jon: Exactly.
Dave: I’d nearly forgotten.
Charlie Sweatpants: There’s just no need for it. Ditto all those long scenes where people stare at them accusingly and Homer and Flanders’s corpse on the roof.
The whole thing is just a few minutes long, they shouldn’t need that much filler.
Mad Jon: Well put.
Dave: So we agree this was pretty weak.
Charlie Sweatpants: Very week.
Mad Jon: I feel the second weakest, but that is till pretty week.
Charlie Sweatpants: The only scene in this one I really like is Homer’s description of all the cliched horror locations.
Mad Jon: There is that.
Charlie Sweatpants: Of course, a couple years after this, "South Park" did it better when they had the old man describe the haunted ski mountain and then the evil road Butters has to travel down.
Mad Jon: Lot of history down that road…
Charlie Sweatpants: But it’s still the highlight of the sketch.
And with that, I’m ready for Xena.
Mad Jon: Nope.
Mad Jon: I am going to go out on a limb and hope this was your favorite.
Charlie Sweatpants: We have indeed reached the segment I think is easily the best of this one.
Mad Jon: Whew.
I guess I am not an idiot. I like this one.
The idea of CBG as a villain could have gone either way.
Charlie Sweatpants: It could’ve, but thankfully this is a Halloween episode so they just made all the uber-geek jokes they could, and most of them are funny.
Mad Jon: Swing for the fences I guess.
Dave: Yep, it generally worked for me.
As a one off flight of fancy.
Charlie Sweatpants: Comic Book Guy dying in the "classic, Lorne Greene pose" gets me every time.
Mad Jon: I thought Lucy Lawless did a very good job.
Charlie Sweatpants: And it’s a joke that’s aged well since they rebooted Battlestar Galactica.
Mad Jon: Yep.
Charlie Sweatpants: I agree though, Lawless does a fantastic job of both playing herself and not playing herself.
Mad Jon: I like the ending
Charlie Sweatpants: I’m not Xena. I’m Lucy Lawless.
Mad Jon: Yep, That’s the one.
Charlie Sweatpants: This whole segment is like that, there’s lots of in jokes, but at the same time, Bart and Lisa are kind of acting like they really would if they had super powers. I’m never bored.
Charlie Sweatpants: Like when Lisa tells Bart to let her drop.
Mad Jon: That was funny
Charlie Sweatpants: Or when he stretches his eyes into the adult section.
Mad Jon: So, we agree. This is the A team in this THOH.
Charlie Sweatpants: Easily.
The Halloween episodes were the last ones to really go to shit, and segments like this are why.
Mad Jon: I think there is more breathing room in these. You can go wild, as long as you can wrap it up in 6 or 7 minutes.
Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly. They have the freedom to just crack jokes about Star Wars, William Shatner, and nerds (A wizard did it!).
Azaria’s delivery on, "Oh please, I’m not insane, I simply wish to take you back to my lair and make you my bride" is just perfect, but it’s also a line that could never have worked in a regular episode.
Dave: How these have managed to turn dull is surprising, given that they’ve historically been the opportunity for the writers to let loose.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, even with all the rules off, you can still phone it in or just fuck up and not care.
Dave: That’s kinda my point. There’s no need to phone it in, and yet they do. But I digress.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well yeah, Exhibit A for that is the final segment here.
It’s a pastiche of lame celebrity jokes, and they’re like: ta da!
Dave: There’s one thing I genuinely like about this segment, Homer’s quip about remembering him filled with murderous rage
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d only add to that the way he inadvertently taunts Bart by saying they’ve both lived long, full lives.
It should’ve ended without him reacting remorseful, but it’s good.
Lisa’s instant response of "Mom" when asked who gets to come is good too. But for the most part this one is unimaginative Y2K bullshit and jokes that basically boil down to, "Hey, don’t you people dislike Rosie O’Donnell/Tom Arnold/Pauly Shore? Remember how lame they are?"
Mad Jon: Yeah, just wasn’t that entertaining. I agree, there were a few good lines, such as the ones you’ve pointed out, but I didn’t really get into it. Pretty much after the point we find out Homer is the Y2K compliance guy, I checked out.
Charlie Sweatpants: Right. It’s an excuse for them to wind up Jerkass Homer and let him spin, and then it’s a bunch of cheap celebrity jokes.
Charlie Sweatpants: Even Dick Clark as a robot is kinda that.
Anything else here?
Mad Jon: Meh, not a fan of this skit, and I don’t really have anything else to say about the episode.
Dave: In retrospect, it was predictably bland.
Mad Jon: The pinnacle of my THOH viewing career came in 1994(?) when they had the first three lead up to the new one that year. That was cool.
Charlie Sweatpants: I still recall getting home from trick or treating to see what I think was TOH II.
Dave: Aww, memories.
Charlie Sweatpants: But these late season Halloween episodes are all really uneven.
Mad Jon: That is true.
Charlie Sweatpants: And the hell of it is, I really do like the Xena part, but I almost never watch it because I don’t want to sit through the others.
Mad Jon: That would be a bit of waiting for a few minutes of entertainment.
Charlie Sweatpants: Right.
Well, if it’s all the same to you two, I’m going to remove my breastplate and fly home.
Dave: No one wants to see your boobs.
Charlie Sweatpants: And yet many have.