The Simpsons revisit the Treehouse of Horror in 25th season

Maggie, Lisa and Bart Simpson as they appear in the “Oh, the Places You’ll D’oh" segment of the Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror XXIV." (FILE)
Maggie, Lisa and Bart Simpson as they appear in the “Oh, the Places You’ll D’oh" segment of the Simpsons' "Treehouse of Horror XXIV." (FILE)

By John Connor Coulston // Staff Writer

“The Simpsons” annual “Treehouse of Horror” Halloween specials have always been one the series’ calling cards.

Personally I’ve been a life-long “Simpsons” fan, and even when I missed the majority of a season, I would always tune in each October to see what the creators had concocted for the Halloween season.

Over the years, the “Treehouse of Horror” episodes have featured some of the series’ most memorable moments—such as Bart discovering his evil twin Hugo, Homer trying to kill the rest of the family in a parody of “The Shining” and Groundskeeper Willie seeking revenge on the inhabitants of Springfield in homage to “Nightmare on Elm Street.”

While the overall quality of the series has arguably declined in recent years, the specials have still retained their worth by having strong ideas—such as recent parodies of “Strangers on a Train” and “Paranormal Activity”—even when the execution isn’t up to par with earlier seasons. This year, however, I was surprised to see that while the segments featured strong writing, their premises seemed weak.

The first of the three segments was the Dr. Seuss parody “Oh, the Places You’ll D’oh.” The premise being that Bart, Lisa and Maggie are visited by Homer as, “The Fat in the Hat.” They travel throughout a Seuss-ified Springfield where Homer becomes increasingly mischievous and violent. He blows up Mr. Burns’ mansion, robs the Kwik-E-Mart and delivers sinister lines like “Go grab all his money and vodka and gin, and I’ll knit a nice thnord from his leathery skin.” While this was the strongest of the segments and featured fantastic animation paired with a hilarious, rhymed-based script, its premise still came off as random.

The second segment, “Dead and Shoulders,” told the story of Bart being decapitated in a freak accident and having his head sewn onto Lisa’s body. The two have to adapt to the change and eventually battle for control of the body. The humor was strong, but aside from that, the plot seemed bland and ended rather abruptly.

Finally, the last tale, “Freaks No Geeks,” puts all the residents of Springfield into a 1930s traveling circus/freak show. It borrows its plot from a horror film from the 30s, in which the strong man (Homer) tries to kill the world’s ugliest man (Moe) in order to steal his priceless emerald. It did feature a couple of humorous lines, including a homage to “How I Met Your Mother” at the end, but the focus was mainly on the plot. While it isn’t the scariest or funniest segment by far, it was interesting to see the creators fully commit to the premise, even if it was out of the blue.

While it would have been nice to see more parodies of well-known horror stories, “Treehouse of Horror XXIV” was well written and animated. After 25 seasons, it’s good to see the inhabitants of Springfield in completely different contexts every now and then. Even though it’s not going down as one of the classics of the series, it will still please fans, as well as anyone looking for comedy-horror this Halloween.

Follow John Connor Coulston on Twitter at @JCCoulston.

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