Reading Digest: Halloween Television Edition

Treehouse of Horror VIII5

“Thanks to my prudent editing, tonight’s special Halloween show has been rated TV-G.  This means there will be no raunchy NBC style sex, or senseless CBS style violence.” – FOX Censor

There are many, many links this week to Halloween teevee things.  There are lists, there are videos, there are meditations on Halloween television generally, and there are two people who compare last week’s rotten episode to lousy candy.  Oh, and there are several people who agree with us.  Beyond that there’s some blog love, some feminist environmentalism, some beer, and some excellent usage. 

Before we get to that though, remember that exceptional wood burned Captain McAllister skateboard I linked last week?  You know, this one:

Eric Swesey Duff Brewery

Eric Swesey (the guy who made it) was kind enough to get in touch, and he’s looking to sell it.  He’s in San Diego, but I’m pretty sure they have the ability to ship things from there.  You can see bigger pictures of it here and here, and you can e-mail him at ericwayneswesey at good old gmail.  (Sorry for the odd phrasing there, but one must keep the spambots at bay.) 

Enjoy the links, and if you’re in the market for a sweet skateboard, check out Eric’s site. 

The Simpsons episode titles. – Smooth Charlie’s Link of the Week is this quick and accurate comparison of the episode titles of Season 3 and Season 22.  The pun filled refuse of Season 22 does not come off well.  (Thanks Graeme!)

Springfield Historical Society Explains The Simpsons Real-World History – Our friends over at mcgarnagle.com got written up on Laughing Squid.  If you haven’t been over there lately, I strongly recommend it.  I didn’t know about the Frankenstein opening until I saw it on Springfield Historical Society. 

The Real 199! – God bless Ctrl-V. 

Millhouse and Nelson – Once again from the mind of Eric Swesey, here’s Nelson and Milhouse playing what looks like a game of Deer vs. Indians.  I probably don’t need to tell you that Milhouse is the deer. 

Smart sports statistics – A plea for using better stats in hockey contains this:

Homer Simpson’s hypothesis that “people can come up with statistics to prove anything” may be more relevant in sports than any other discipline.

Excellent usage. 

Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish – A look back at Burns run for governor (and Marge’s awesome thwarting thereof) through the lens of environmental activism.  I’ll just quote the conclusion:

The Simpsons writers certainly stepped out on a limb with this episode, as burning indictments of government failure and corporate greed are rarely welcome in the media. But I think it’s the strong feminist stance that the episode takes that is most daring of all.  It would have been an easy and almost expected outcome if Homer had ruined Burns’ campaign with workplace incompetence. The writers’ decision to turn Marge into the protagonist of the episode is a refreshing change and a win for both feminists and environmentalists.


The Return of Duff Beer – Only This Time it’s ‘Legendary’ – A lawyerly look at the weird legality of the recently reborn real Duff beer, particularly as it pertains to Australia. 

Corina’s Cartoon Cuts: Best of Simpsons Halloween – Excellent list, nothing even close to Zombie Simpsons. 

Top Ten Simpsons Treehouse of Horror Segments – No Zombie Simpsons here either.  Bravo. 

In Time and the broken ticking clock – A review of In Time with excellent usage:

Ah, the ticking clock. In many ways, it’s both the hoariest and most effective of all suspense tropes: the protagonist has something difficult and dangerous to accomplish, but a limited amount of time, and by the way, the countdown starts now. This convention was mined most brilliantly by the first five seasons of 24, but countless thrillers have made use of it in various ways, to the point where Dean Koontz lists it as one of the three central devices for generating suspense, along with the chase and the anticipation of a violent event. And for all its familiarity, it still works, despite being frequently parodied. (My favorite subversion comes courtesy of Fat Tony on The Simpsons: “You have twenty-four hours to give us our money. And to show you we’re serious…you have twelve hours.”)

You see, my wife, she has been most vocal on the subject of the Justin Timberlake movie.

What are you supposed to be, the Witch’s Brew? – Some great Halloween movies and teevee, including lots of YouTube, some of which is “Treehouse of Horror V”. 

Help us with temporary jobs for NBA players – Jebus, ESPN:

Don’t know if it will be inspirational but we all should remember the wise advice of America’s greatest philosopher, Homer Simpson, who said: "If you really want something in life you have to work for it. Now quiet, they’re about to announce the lottery numbers."

Homer also said: "Lisa, if you don’t like your job you don’t strike. You just go in every day and do it really half-(bleeped). That’s the American way."

You can’t type “assed” on espn.com?  For shit’s sake, Disney, get off your fucking high horse.  Or ass, as the case may be. 

Happy Halloween! – A bevy of Halloween links, including to a full video of James Earl Jones reading “The Raven”. 

Remote Controlled Families – A women discovers the joy of watching Season 2 in French. 

Go Crazy? Don’t Mind if I Do! – Someone put Homer’s quote on a picture of Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall.  They did reverse the quote, he says “No TV and no beer” not the other way around, but it’s still pretty clever. 

Homer Solo – Similar to the above, but this time it’s a very old picture of Bill Clinton playing the saxamaphone.  

The Simpsons: Another Halloween, Another Average "Treehouse of Horror" – A tv.com review of last week’s episode that compares the segments to Halloween treats and has this to say about paralyzed Spiderman:

Candy Grade: A head of lettuce. Because that would be a pretty weird thing to get on Halloween, and this sketch was bizonkers.

If that episode were a house, and I was still thirteen, I would’ve egged it back to the Stone Age. 

So, Don Draper Is Basically Principal Skinner? – A few comparisons between The Simpsons and Mad Men

The 13 Ghosts of Scooby-Doo…In 10 Words – I can’t believe they didn’t work Vincent Price into a better episode. 

TV Round-up: Halloween Episodes | Lenny Tunes: Lenny’s TV Blog – Lenny Tunes rates Halloween episodes from “Full-Size Candy Bar” down to “Homemade . . . Taffy?”.  Zombie Simpsons comes in right at the bottom, as it should.

Bart VS Thanksgiving – If it’s November, it’s time to look back at “Bart vs. Thanksgiving”.  If you really want to sear your eyeballs, there is YouTube of Up With People performing at the Super Bowl. 

The Greatest Tragedy of Our Time – One can’t help but notice the bemused proxy-embarrassment on the guy in the sweet looking Homer t-shirt. 

Only at the Nashville Jewish Film Festival will sexy provocateurs meet The Simpsons – Mike Reiss is going to Tennessee:

If that’s not enough to get you schlepping out to Hillsboro Village for the fest, consider this: closing night Nov. 10 consists of happy-hour noshing at Sam’s and an hourlong presentation and chat hosted by The Simpsons writer/producer Mike Reiss on the history of "Jews in Toons." As Bart Simpson might say, "Oy caramba!"

RetroBuzz: The Simpsons – YouTube clips of Don Mattingly and Mark McGwire.  That is all.

Intertextuality?! – You can use The Simpsons to teach just about anything. 

Halloween Tribute to Bruce Campbell – Some love for Bruce Campbell includes this nice reminder that the good “Treehouse of Horror” episodes really were scary:

I used to be am so easily afraid of everything that I couldn’t even watch The Simpsons Halloween specials as a kid. To this day, I still don’t watch any horror, despite a love-hate relationship with the concept of zombies.

Happy Homerween – Animated .gif of Homer’s flaming jack-o-lantern intro from “Treehouse of Horror VII”.

Vintage LA Raiders Bart Simpson t-shirt NWT – An ancient, though surprisingly non-bootleg looking, Bart t-shirt for the Raiders. 

Rage Simpsons – The family, and Grampa, as internet troll faces. 

Fish Tank (WiiWare) Review – A late entry (saw the e-mail just as I was about to hit publish), this review of a fish based puzzle game has this as its subhead:

An unrequested fishin’ surplus

The author asks if that qualifies as excellent usage, and it definitely does.  The wording is correct, it’s a pun, and it’s relevant.  (Thanks Philip!)

What Makes a Memorable Halloween Episode? – Contemplating television’s penchant for Halloween episodes gives us this:

Many tv shows have Halloween episodes, but not all Halloween episodes are equal. The Simpsons created some all time great Halloween vignettes (from alien’s Kang and Kodos impersonating Clinton and Dole to Bart’s Krusty doll coming to life with a murderous appetite). The most recent Treehouse of Horror was a large disappointment and led me to question – just what is the formula (if any) for a good Halloween episode?

I don’t know if there’s a formula, but if there is, Zombie Simpsons is far from it. 

Weekend Wrap Up: Happy Halloween Edition – Yes:

I had read somewhere that even in off years, the Treehouse of Horror episode is usually still good. Well, that didn’t hold true tonight. This forgettable entry into the longest running Halloween TV tradition failed to be funny or haunting. A parody of 127 Hours was thankfully short but still painful. Homer gets Flanders to start killing people in a Dexter parody that goes nowhere before fizzling out and an Avatar parody ended the night. When did they just decide to do all parodies? Its like they hired all the Mad Magazine writers who were out of work. Grade: D


Halloween horror: ‘Walking Dead’ rocks, ‘Simpsons’ sucks – And finally, I get to end the way I like to, with someone who agrees with us:

First, let’s make short work of “The Simpsons.”

After being a zealous fan of the show for its first 10 seasons or so — we just re-watched “Mr. Plow” on DVD the other week — I fell out of love with “The Simpsons.” A dozen years ago, the show seemed to lose most of its creative edge. Maybe you really can’t do 500 episodes of a TV series and expect it to continue to be good. Duh.

Tonight’s “Treehouse of Horror,” the show’s annual Halloween special, had a couple of funny moments but overall was pretty lame. Judging by tonight’s episode, the show has traded pointed, harsh humor and wonderful characters for cheap and crude laughs. When a joke revolves around the similarity of the words tentacles and testicles, you know the show is spinning its wheels.

Preach, brother, preach. 

7 Responses to “Reading Digest: Halloween Television Edition”

  1. 4 November 2011 at 2:37 pm

    Much love for giving a shout-out to my buddy Berdo!

    Also, no love for my entry on Kim Kardashian’s divorce? “Whatshisface loved Kim as much as he loved Fresca” did nothing for you?

    • 4 November 2011 at 3:02 pm

      K.K.’s divorce? That’s one of next year’s Tree House of Horror shorts.

    • 3 Charlie Sweatpants
      4 November 2011 at 3:11 pm

      I have a personal “minimal celebrity gossip” policy. Avoiding that sort of thing on the internet takes a certain amount of doing, and at this point I’ve got my eyes trained to reflexively glaze past anything that has names like “Kardashian” and “Bieber” on them. I actually didn’t know she’d gotten married until the divorce news was so prevalent that is spilled over my defenses.

  2. 4 Patrick
    5 November 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Ahh another good middle finger to the censors :) (the quote and picture)

  3. 5 Thrillho
    6 November 2011 at 11:04 am

    That blog post about the current episode titles is great. I get the feeling that they come up with “clever” puns first and then try to write episodes from there. That’s the only excuse.

  4. 6 Philip J Reed
    6 November 2011 at 8:53 pm

    Thanks for the hat tip! I appreciate you including the link to my review!

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