The 25th installment of The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror (XXV) brought a sense of familiarity and silliness with what has undoubtedly become a beloved Halloween tradition from the oldest running animated series.
We begin the episode with an alternate universe where Bart Simpson actually enjoys school and even ends up class valedictorian. Trick is, he’s going to school in Hell. With classes like ‘keeping the Yankees in first place’ and the reading of books such as Fahrenheit 451,000, he finds his true calling being a first-class sinner. He’s able to graduate Hell only after he completes his last assignment, to disembody his dad. Homer is overly willing to help his son, exclaiming, “C’mon boy, pull me apart like string cheese!”
At commencement, the speakers define Webster’s definition of success. Then we see Noah Webster (as in Webster’s Dictionary) in chains, a captive in eternal damnation. He asks in despair, “Why am I here?” To which the commencement speaker furiously replies, “You changed the ‘re’ to ‘er’ in theatre, I hate that!” Overall, this might have been my favorite of the three shorts.
Our second mini-story is dubbed A Clockword Yellow, a spinoff of the film A Clockwork Orange. Basically, Homer and all his buddies are glugs (thugs), dressing up and causing mayhem, beating up other gangs and bonding over their crimes. In the midst of their troublemaking, what begins as an implied reference to rape (one of the glugs claims they should be looking for “some of the old in-and-out”) ends up being the gang jumping in and out of an automatic door at a convenience store. After Homer meets Marge, she convinces him to leave his life of “glugging, shin-slicing, and eye-groining” behind.
The third segment of the episode may have been the most anticipated, in a parody of the horror movie The Others. In a blast from the past, we see a ghost family of characters from the Tracey Ullman Show, a show that first featured The Simpsons cartoon characters in the late ’80s. These longstanding original characters bring some nostalgia to those who have been with the show long enough, in subtle early characteristics like Bart’s constant belching and love for chocolate milkshakes. The ghosts of old-show’s past haunt their present-day emulations and start drama when ghost Marge starts to hit on human Homer, who returns the infatuation for his “younger” wife. Homer, to the flirting ghost of Marge levitating the bed, “I demand you put me down right after the sex!” While the premise of the last story was clever, it also felt rushed and ended quite abruptly. As the family kills themselves off in the last moments of the show, it left me saying to myself, “Oh, that’s it?”
I did, however, thoroughly enjoy the Despicable Me minion-ized Simpsons featured in the credits, so I left on a happy note.
The night’s finest quotes:
“Stop laughing. I said ‘penal,’ not ‘penile.’ It’s not like you made me say ‘penis.’”
“You went to Hell and came back a winner—like Jesus!”
“The power of Chrysler compels you.”
Homer describes Hell as “like Arizona without the golf,” to which the demon Skinner principal replies, “We do have golf, but all the greens are tricky.”
“I feel like a ghost the way you haven’t been paying attention to me! Plus, I’m dead.”
“Welcome to the most frustrating, befuddling and, yes, erotic book release party you’ve ever attended!”
“Willie’s got stew for the winter!” groundskeeper Willie yells as he drags the Simpson family’s dead bodies out of the house, in one of the funnier scenes of our Treehouse of Horror finale.