Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXIV

Chalkboard - Treehouse of Horror XXIV

“Is it supposed to take this long?  What’s a good time for a mass evacuation of the entire plant?” – C.M. Burns
“Forty-five seconds.” – Mr. Smithers
“And what’s our time so far?” – C.M. Burns
“I don’t know, sir, this stopwatch only goes up to fifteen minutes.” – Mr. Smithers

Programming Note: Real life has once again very rudely interfered with my bitch-about-Zombie-Simpsons time the last couple of weeks, which is why this post is four days(!) late and I haven’t done a Compare & Contrast for either of the Season 25 episodes so far.  Thanks to baseball there won’t be any new Zombie Simpsons for at least a week and possibly as long as three, so I should have time to get caught up.  Reading Digest is 50-50 for today, and if I do get it finished it’ll probably be later than usual.  Sorry. 

– It’s been on-line for a week now, but Del Toro’s opening is self-evidently pretty cool.  

– Wow, the first segment was actually good.  There are some clunky phrases here and there, and the animation is uneven, but I wasn’t bored.  More on this below.

– This second one, however, is not.  The kite thing took forever.

– What’s with the idling snowmobile?

– Miss Hoover doesn’t sound right at all.

– Homer falling down stairs – classic!  

– There’s a reason no one ever expanded a throwaway idea from “Treehouse of Horror II” into a whole segment before.  Did they not get that having to go to a recital and the reception for Queen Beatrix was a deliberately terrible sitcom idea? 

– And the ending, with lots of two headed people, is the admission that they really had nothing here but “two heads, derp-a-der!”. 

– Narrative-wise, this Freaks one is the opposite of the Dr. Seuss one.  We get everyone telling us exactly what they’re feeling and doing while they’re feeling and doing it, like Moe saying “I ain’t got no chance with the strong man’s girl” right after we just had a scene where we saw that and then he talked to Lenny and Carl about that exact thing. 

– Homer monologues his plan because really we need to have this explained again to us or we’ll never follow it.

– Barney rolling just doesn’t stop.

– “From you I have learned to feel compassion for these disgustos”, there’s a lot of telling, telling and then more telling.

– Oh, good, it’s over.

The second two stories, and I use the term loosely, are exactly what anyone familiar with Halloween Zombie Simpsons has come to expect.  Both are things the show has done and/or referenced better before, the story gets exposited to the point of cliche several times, and there’s lots of filler and that weird, bloodless gore they like so much. 

But the first one, to my pleasant surprise, was quite decent.  It (mostly) rhymed, and while there’s nothing terribly novel about dirtying Dr. Seuss, that doesn’t mean it can’t be done well.  It had a jaunty but elaborate animation style that made it much more interesting to look at than the two-heads one or the Freaks one, never stopped for weird asides or filler, and even managed to show us a story without explaining and expositing every third sentence. 

How unusual was it for Zombie Simpsons?  Well, for one thing, it featured something resembling object permanence between scenes.  Observe:

Treehouse of Horror XXIV1

These are little guys Homer takes from under his act and then torches.  It’s the first moment of real violence (the kids are appropriately shocked without even saying anything).  At the end, after their increasingly terrible adventure, the kids return home to . . .

Treehouse of Horror XXIV2

. . . the burn mark, and even some traces of the explosion that mostly happened off screen.  In other words, the beginning of the story is connected to the ending.  Haven’t seen that in a while.  The rest of this season is still probably going to be as forgettably dull as last season (and the season before that, and before that . . .), but this was nice to see.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they remain low by all but the lowest standards.  Last Sunday’s surprisingly entertaining first eight minutes, and the twelve boring ones that followed, were seen by just 6.31 million viewers.  That breaks last year’s record of 6.52 million for least watched Halloween episode ever. 

7 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXIV”

  1. 1 R. Michelle Marcel
    11 October 2013 at 11:04 am

    The final segment’s punchline being a gradual build up to jab at How I Met Your mother is something I ‘d have expected from Family Guy.

  2. 11 October 2013 at 11:22 am

    I wish I could say The Simpsons were dying, but they already have, hence the term ZS. Anyway good points Charlie, Esp. The derpa a derp comment.

  3. 3 Joe H
    11 October 2013 at 2:53 pm

    Good defense of the first segment. It wasn’t my cup of tea, but the actual effort put into it and the lack of constant exposition is certainly noticeable. It also had more to the violence than the usual bloodless decapitation in retrospect.

    In retrospect, the last two segments kind of seem reminiscent of the old Ren & Stimpy episode “Double Header” from the latter seasons. Not a good sign when Games R&S is more memorable.

  4. 4 FireFlower
    11 October 2013 at 4:12 pm

    Yes the first story wasn’t too bad…even though The Cat in the Hat has noting to do with Halloween.

    • 5 baconkong
      11 October 2013 at 9:18 pm

      THoH stopped being exclusively about Halloween a long time ago. Now it’s just another excuse to burn off their not-quite-22-minute ideas.

  5. 6 Stan
    11 October 2013 at 9:40 pm

    I’m surprised you actually did one “behind us forever” on the ep, but even more that you didn’t bring up something that wasn’t discussed all over on Monday/Tuesday.
    Also, this is fairly minor but the Barney rolling off cliff in the last segment WAS a joke to put time into, partly because that was part of the joke. Like when they do a joke with people breaking stuff up, and there’s that skinny guy attempting to vandal an object clearly beyond his physical shape. That’s what this moment reminded me of.
    And finally, ZS manages to be funny 10% of the time (now maybe 5% thou), like you yourself once put it. However Seuss’ bit really tore the template here, and strangely enough, I can’t really say they tried hard. It did came out as an oddity after so many years of suck.

  6. 12 October 2013 at 5:23 am

    Even though I know little of Seuss, I must say the Cat in the Hat part was as twisted as I remember the movie being.

    Now if they could stay consistent on that level on quality, things would be much better.

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