And the Children Were Silent

Chalkboard - Treehouse of Horror XXII

“That doll is evil, I tells ya.  Evil!  Evil!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
Grampa, you said that about all the presents.” – Marge Simpson
I just want attention.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson

I happened to find myself at my brother’s house yesterday, keeping an eye on three of his kids, two nephews (13 and 11) and a niece (8).  Though they’re well aware that the new episodes are subpar, they wanted to watch the new Zombie Simpsons.  When Homer farted for the first time my niece got a goofy grin on her face, but the boys only looked up from their laptops intermittently.  Not a single one of them laughed out loud during the entire episode, and when it was done my niece said, and I quote, “That wasn’t very good.”  Allow me to agree with the eight-year-old.

Of the various crimes against comedy that went into those four segments, the farting was the most tiresome, but the entire episode was an exercise in stretching weak jokes and weaker ideas to fill that unforgiving time requirement.  The premise of the opening segment is Homer getting trapped a la 127 Hours, but even though that whole thing was supposed to be an introduction, it took nearly two minutes just to get Homer out into the boonies.  Once he was there they dragged it out even more by having him chew off a limb three (3) times.  The second segment had such a weak premise that it couldn’t make it through even its limited runtime without a classic Zombie Simpsons swerve, having Homer suddenly become Spiderman.  The Dexter thing suffered a similar fate as it ran out of steam and needed divine intervention to make it to the commercial break.  The Avatar segment, easily the longest, clocking in at nearly eight minutes, spent more than a quarter of its runtime on the goofy battle/action/whatever sequence at the end that was light on jokes, thought and satire and heavy on surprisingly boring cartoon violence.

There were a couple of lines I actually liked, notably Flanders telling the hooker to “Spend less time on your back and more time on your knees” and Chalmers’ windy but accurate “This is a delicate mission that requires utter loyalty.  I can think of no better candidate than the resentful guy in the wheelchair who has just arrived.”  But for each of those there were a dozen or more cringe inducing duds like the alien repeatedly screaming at Milhouse.  When she yelled at him for kicking the rock my instant reaction was, “I wonder how many times they’re going to repeat this.”  The answer was three.

All in all, this was about what to expect from Zombie Simpsons in a Halloween episode.  Turned loose with no limits on their creativity, they hash together a few tepid pop culture references and call it a day.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are the worst ever for a Halloween episode.  Last night’s unworthy successor was silently endured by just 8.01 million viewers.  That’s below last year’s 8.20, which was itself a record low for Treehouse of Horror.  The Halloween episode is often one of the strongest numbers of the year, and if that’s the best Season 23 has to offer then it’s going to plummet to unheard of depths by the end of the season.

26 Responses to “And the Children Were Silent”

  1. 1 Anonymous
    31 October 2011 at 1:57 pm

    They’re straight back into parody mode for THoH so it’s no wonder people aren’t interested.
    Avatar, 127 Hours and Dexter. Who cares?!

    • 2 RCreed
      31 October 2011 at 2:20 pm

      Huh? Not that I didn’t think it was shit, but tell me a Treehouse of Horror segment that wasn’t a parody.

      • 3 Will
        31 October 2011 at 6:08 pm

        Was that board game one a parody of anything?

        • 4 Thrillho
          31 October 2011 at 6:46 pm

          Jumanji, which came out 15 years earlier. Relevance? What’s that?

          • 5 Will
            31 October 2011 at 7:31 pm

            A Sound of Thunder came out in 1952. However, Time and Punishment was actually good.

            • 6 Stan
              31 October 2011 at 8:27 pm

              Since Avatar came out about three years ago, they probably decided to parody it two years ago, and the idea made itself into a Halloween special a year ago or so. Just a point to show you how sluggishly long things are being done there.

      • 7 Anonymous
        1 November 2011 at 8:42 pm

        Whoops, I meant that they aren’t parodying things in any way fitting to a THoH. No horror, no creepiness, just movies and TV shows.

  2. 8 teg
    31 October 2011 at 2:08 pm

    I feel it’s worth noting that they finally did what we all knew was coming and cut out the annual token “actually based on a horror movie” segment. I mean, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly? Really? Who thought that was a good idea? They could at least make the effort to do another Twilight Zone parody rather than stretch the concept beyond recognition.

  3. 31 October 2011 at 2:11 pm

    After I heard the voice in the Dexter parody, I immediately thought of the joke from Radio Bart.

  4. 14 Will
    31 October 2011 at 6:09 pm

    Anyone remember when THoH episodes were based on horror films or Twilight Zone episodes?

  5. 31 October 2011 at 7:21 pm

    The farting segment was just awful, just fucking awful. Felt like something even worse than a Family Guy episode. What were they thinking?

  6. 19 Stan
    31 October 2011 at 8:24 pm

    Ever since the Simpsons became the Unsimpsons, their Halloween specials always follow one single pattern: something stupid – something stupid – something loooong and stupid. And it hadn’t changed since. Pummeling it so hard into viewers for the last decade or so actually makes them rather “not hate” that shit, as in “wasn’t so bad after all”. Sickening.

  7. 20 Chris
    1 November 2011 at 3:00 am

    I was just looking at the two previous Quotes of the Day from classic Treehouses of Horror, and what were they parodying? King Kong and The Shining; in other words, timeless classics. Now it’s Avatar, 127 Hours and Dexter; in other words, not timeless classics. If you want one more example of how far this show has fallen, simply look at the source material of their parodies. It used to be heavy on Citizen Kane, Godfather and things like Twilight Zone and Hitchcock movies. Now it’s heavy on flavor-of-the-month pop culture references that no one will remember.

    • 21 Bea Simmons' Rotting Corpse
      1 November 2011 at 7:21 am

      To be fair, the old episodes had those references too. You just don’t remember the flavor-of-the-month pop culture thing they’re parodying.

      • 22 Charlie Sweatpants
        1 November 2011 at 6:43 pm

        The flavor-of-the-month-stuff used to be limited to small things, now they’re using it as the basis for entire episodes. That’s the problem. (Well, one of them anyway.)

        • 23 Bea Simmons' rotting corpse
          1 November 2011 at 10:12 pm

          I’d say it’s not a big problem anyway. An episode that parodies a flavor-of-the-month can perhaps feel fresher in the future than another tired old Road Runner, Spider-man or Clockwork Orange parody

  8. 24 Snaked
    1 November 2011 at 7:47 pm

    So do any of you guys tend to prefer The Cleveland Show (aside from Seth’s other shows) to Zombie Simpsons like me, or do you guys also think it’s one of the the worst things ever conceived even moreso than ZS like many on the NoHomers Message Boards? I honestly don’t think it’s THAT bad and while it was quite pointless to make, it’s at least more tolerable than ZS IMO.

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