“Stupid party, wish we was trick or treatin’.” – Bart Simpson
The annual Halloween episode tends to be pretty bland in the hands of Zombie Simpsons, and this year was no different. The first story was about Bart going to school in Hell, where he does better than he used to do at Springfield Elementary. The second is a bunch of meandering references to Stanley Kubrick movies that ends with Kubrick himself staring right at the camera for some reason. The third one involved the old Tracey Ullman versions of the characters being ghosts.
- Give them this, if they’re going to sneak in Kang and Kodos for no reason, at least this opening didn’t take too long.
- Oof, this thing about “penal”, “penile” and “penis” was probably funnier when it was doodled on an actual fourth grader’s notebook.
- Hey, now Lisa’s here.
- The Hell chalkboard punishment “Eternal Torment Is The Only Just Punishment for the Unbaptized” is pretty good . . . and they didn’t even read it off to us! Happy Halloween!
- But it didn’t last long. Lisa just explained to us that snow is cold.
- Then Bart told us how he’s feeling about his teacher.
- The “Burns Hellport” wasn’t terrible.
- Guh, even in Halloween episodes though, we’re reminded of how cushy and comfortable the writers have gotten. Homer just went on a rant about private schools sending parents twenty e-mails a day. I bet they also hate it when your worthless butler washes your sock garters but they’re still covered with schmutz.
- And now Hell-Chalmers is expositing pointlessly.
- The montage didn’t even take too long.
- So, this thing with Bart torturing Homer was supposed to be some kind of ending? Even here they need exposition:
Bart: That’s my Dad, I can’t hurt him.
Homer: No, boy, I want you to do it.
Bart: What, why?
Homer: Bart, you went to Hell and came back a winner, like Jesus.
Tedious crap like this is why even when they do manage some decent jokes, these segments will always be bland and unmemorable. “Hell School” is a decent enough little concept, but they can’t give it a coherent plot or not spend time explaining the jokes even in just seven minutes of runtime.
- For a show that got a little pious over Family Guy‘s rape joke, this “In-out” thing sure goes on a long time.
- Moe’s cutesy narrator language is already grating:
“Everything was all fish and chippie until Dum collected himself a twiggy-wick”
- The montage in the first segment didn’t take too long. This one . . . not so much. Homer just bounces around his room for a while.
- And we’re back to explaining things. Homer’s going to marry Marge, then Moe asks a rhetorical question/joke setup, then Marge explains things.
- I get that this segment is just a scattershot of Kubrick references, but it kinda undercuts the joke of Moe being forced to watch FOX when he pleads to have it turned off, and then immediately takes the Clockwork Orange helmet off without a problem.
- Now Nelson, Jimbo, Kearney and Dolph are beating Moe up. Nelson was already in the house, thus making Moe talking to Kearney at the door pointless. Is five consecutive seconds of narrative coherence really too much to ask?
- Speaking of sloppy writing, despite the fact that we saw a title card called “Years Later”, Homer just said it’s been a few months. If that’s a joke, I sure don’t get it.
- And on the topic of narrative incoherence, Moe reacts to his beating by trying to get his old gang back together. I assumed it was to get revenge, but we never see the bullies again. Instead we’re off to an incoherent mash up of various Kubrick references.
- Topped off by more expository narration from Moe, and Kubrick himself getting hit on the head with a pen. This one seems to have just petered out rather than ended, but maybe that’s for the best.
- Onto segment three, where the TV is apparently only playing Married With Children. I get that’s a show from forever ago, but it might’ve helped for there to be more to it than that.
- Homer and Marge are in bed, then Marge leaves because Grampa was there too, then . . . you know what? Screw it. Basically nothing happens and what little does happen is explained to us.
- Lisa just called ghost-Bart burping “unmotivated”. Maybe they do know what motivation is. That’s the only evidence from the last five years or so, but still.
- Also, it’s nice that they’re trying to do the old style voices, but twenty-five years has made that impossible.
- Speaking of “unmotivated”, what’s with ghost-Marge and regular-Homer falling in love? Ghost-Homer just kinda stands there.
- And now Marge killed herself. Uh, okay.
- Good question from new-ghost-Marge, “Won’t the other Homer be a problem?”. That little reminder slightly preceded Homer getting killed by ghost-Homer.
- And now Lisa and Bart are dead too because . . . I really don’t know. I guess they all want to be ghosts for some reason?
- Dr. Marvin Monroe is now also back as a ghost. His butt gets stuck in the wall. (Comedy!)
- “Let’s not fight anymore, let’s make him decide between us!” – Not only are they telling us what’s happening, they’ve once again forgotten the older Homer. Then both Marges explain themselves, because ghosts explaining themselves is a significant fraction of the dialogue here.
- Now both Marges are hugging their respective Homers.
- And we end on many different Simpsons versions.
I expect basically nothing from this show, so it’s hard to call myself disappointed in any of this, but that final segment is still kinda disappointing. It’s a neat idea to bring back the original character models and you could probably have some fun with the old and new versions interacting or going at cross purposes, especially in a Halloween episode where you’ve got basically no rules. Instead, Homer and ghost-Marge have a weird non-romance and most of the segment is people killing (themselves or others) and explaining how they feel. What a waste.
Anyway, the ratings are in and it remains good to be behind football. Last night’s dutiful episode reminded 7.64 million viewers that this show used to do much better Halloween specials. As with previous weeks, that’s good for this year and very bad historically.