Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXV

Treehouse of Horror III12

“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.

23 Responses to “Behind Us Forever: Treehouse of Horror XXV”

  1. 1 LSP
    20 October 2014 at 9:15 pm

    I know this is nitpicking, but that segment with the simpson families in different styles was very inconsistent with it’s art. They had no problem giving Pikachu and Ike beady eyes, yet they gave the Adventure Time versions normal Simpsons eyes? And they had Archer Maggie walking on her feet even though Archer is supposed to be realistic? Oh and, that was a god awful attempt at a South Park “style”. /rant

    • 2 Joe H
      20 October 2014 at 11:05 pm

      I think the anime style bit was the only one that had any effort done on it, considering they seemed to have crossed 6 separate anime, though I’m sure Google did half the work.

      In retrospect, that whole sequence was incredibly forced. Lisa randomly talks about “evil marketing entities” using their likeness as if this had anything to do with the rest of the segment (it did not).

      • 3 Joshua
        21 October 2014 at 2:40 am

        And as if the evil marketing entities that be had anything to do that final sequence.

        The writers wanted to try and trick faux-news sites into writing faux-articles about the Simpsons borrowing styles from more popular franchises.

        • 4 Sarah J
          21 October 2014 at 12:06 pm

          You hit the nail in the head there. Doing tributes, references, and “parodies” is the only way this show can get any attention these days. It’s basically the same as bringing in a guest star to attract viewers.

      • 21 October 2014 at 3:43 pm

        Yeah the Adventure Time Simpsons seemed like the writers just picked a cartoon that was popular with their private school going children, it could of just as easily been Regular Show or Teen Titans Go!.

        Also how do you so horribly fuck up imitating South Park? The show’s animation is now completely CGI but it still resembles the first couple of seasons when it was literally just simple geometric shapes cut out of construction paper.

        Finally to prove ZS is even worse than it was several years ago, the writers would of included Family Guy and Bob’s Burgers as part of the alternate Simpsons.

        • 6 Steve M
          23 October 2014 at 5:29 pm

          Speaking of the writers’ private school-going children . . .

          Homer’s rant about the many annoyances of private schools — silent auctions, book fairs, multiple daily emails to parents — speaks to how out of touch the writers have become, both with their audience and the show’s characters. How would Homer even know about these things? I thought the Simpsons were middle class? And do the writers really think that these complaints are going to resonate with their audience?

          In their 26 years on the air, the Simpsons have gone from a humble and at times financially distressed family to elitist snobs. The family that was wowed with their stay at the Watergate Hotel in Season 3 has since traveled to every continent, rubbed elbows with dozens of celebrities, and (as this blog has pointed out) developed a tendency of unthinkingly meandering into VIP areas with ever-present VIP badges.

  2. 20 October 2014 at 9:19 pm

    I want so badly to argue with your overall negative review of my favorite yearly Simpson’s episode…but you are spot on. Sadly, they have turned an episode where they can experiment with the characters, into a dull lifeless half hour of wasted time. :(

  3. 8 Stan
    21 October 2014 at 12:50 am

    Maybe it’s just me, but I realized something with this last segment. They didn’t show us the new vs. the old Simpsons characters. They’ve shown us characters from two completely different shows. It really felt for me like watching the crossover (a little though, because they old had 7 minutes to cover it up), unlike even FG’s Back to Pilot. Plus unlike Charlie, I think that at least Castellaneta has done great work on both Homers because they did sound differently and the older Homer sounded a lot like Season 1. But what tipped me the most was the final picture taken, in which they all fight for some reason except for the new Homer going “meh”… I paused right there and truly, his face, and old Homer’s face, were like two different characters.
    Anyway, it’s odd enough, but I can’t say that I hated this THoH. For the record, the last three of them were helluva lot crappier than this one. Of course, this isn’t The Simpsons level, but somewhere between Seasons 15 and 17 of ZS would surely do.

  4. 9 Joshua
    21 October 2014 at 2:49 am

    “That was unmotivated” she said just a few scenes before characters offed themselves and Maggie murders the unibrow baby for no discernible reason.

    Speaking of, it seems the ‘zombie Simpsons writers committee for sameness’ has decided Maggies two characteristics are repressed violence (taking the final gag from Who Shot Mr Burns part 2 too far) and her rivalry with the unibrow baby (again taking a one time joke too far).

  5. 10 Angelm Young
    21 October 2014 at 9:10 am

    I’m getting scared. The ratings are starting to look good, even though they’re overall bad. Is it going to plunge anytime soon, because in a few weeks, they’re going to have a Futurama crossover, an all-musical episode, and a really weird episode where The Simpsons are blasted into space…again.

    • 21 October 2014 at 12:07 pm

      Much of the ratings are holdovers from football games now. I expect the Futurama crossover to do well on Futurama’s merits, but after that I wouldn’t expect decent ratings.

      • 12 FireFlower
        21 October 2014 at 12:36 pm

        I think even that Futurama stunt will fail in the ratings.

        • 13 Sarah J
          21 October 2014 at 5:42 pm

          Eh, I think it will probably at least do okay. Many people argue that Futurama slipped in quality post-cancellation, but most still remained fans of the show. Post-cancellation still produced a lot of good episodes and even some that have gotten ranked as classic. Futurama fans are still around. Family Guy has dropped in quality and popularity, but even that crossover got pretty good ratings. (though, did a football game air before it? I’m not sure)

  6. 21 October 2014 at 10:38 am

    It’s all ratings gimmicks right now. Just wait until the new year. That’s when the ratings will plummet.

    • 15 Stan
      21 October 2014 at 11:09 am

      I’m crystalballin’ 2.75 mil for this season average.

      • 16 Angelm Young
        21 October 2014 at 2:57 pm

        For that to happen, wouldn’t the ratings have to steadily decline, going so far as to reach 1.00? I do not know much about TV ratings, except they’re just as full of BS as any award show.

        And the first episode of the new year usually gets insanely high ratings. Explain that, O Great Armchair Swami.

        Face it, the only thing we can do now is stop watching and never look back, not even to review how awful it is, because that’s just want those alleged Ivy League assholes who birthed this abortion want us to do. Haven’t you heard the expression, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity”?

        • 21 October 2014 at 4:04 pm

          We’re all part of the armchair swarm.

          Also someday when The Simpsons keeps declining in ratings they will have a sweepstakes where people will be able to win money and prizes to increase viewership as a last desperate attempt to keep The Simpsons on to keep making more money even though they are several lifetimes rich as of now.

          p.s. Great BUF Charlie. I wish a DHS reference book on every single BUF would be published, someday, even just as an eBook.

        • 20 Stan
          21 October 2014 at 7:00 pm

          Who said anything about watching the show v. the ratings? These only count if you’re watching it prime time =)

  7. 21 Stan
    21 October 2014 at 7:10 pm

    And, obviously, statistics? I believe Mark Twain’s friend had a saying about that doctrine.

  8. 22 ecco6t9
    22 October 2014 at 1:49 am

    I honestly forgot it was a Treehouse of Horror episode for the first few minutes.

  9. 22 October 2014 at 5:22 pm

    It’s cute how Facebook has come alive with anime and Adventure Time nerds going crazy over the lazy references at the end of this episode. It’s like when Zombie Simpsons knows they’re turning out a particularly shitty episode, they’ll do something half assed like this to get attention.

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