What a perfect episode to post on Christmas. The best Treehouse of Horror of all time! At least from what I remember of them, and of the ones I’ve seen, but I’ll stand by that statement until proven wrong. Every Treehouse of Horror episode that they’ve had so far have been amazing, but this one truly stands out to me. I don’t know what it is about this one, but it just hits me on every level. And like I said in the very first post of this project way back in July, this was the first episode of the Simpsons I ever saw. Yeah, there’s a whole lot of nostalgia mixed in with this episode, but I think even without that, this episode is just about as perfect as a Halloween episode could be, even though it unfortunately doesn’t have a frame story, one of my favorite aspects of Treehouse of Horrors. Although it does start with Marge coming out on the stage to inform us that this year’s so scary that they aren’t even allowed to show it, instead they’re going to have to show a John Ford movie called “Two Hundred Miles to Oregon.” But as that movie starts playing we get taken over by Homer and Bart, who are pulling an Outer Limits thing to let us know that we’re still getting out Simpsons Halloween Special. We then don’t get any tombstone gags, besides a meta-one that decries the death of “Amusing Tombstones,” before seeing several townspeople getting gruesomely killed, and we’re straight into the stories!
Oh man. The Shinning. Such a wonderfully hilarious and spot-on parody of a truly wonderful story. It opens up with the family driving up to their version of the Overlook Hotel, and right as they’re about to get there Marge remembers that they forgot to lock the door, causing them to go all the way back, and after two other false starts, they get to the hotel, after forgetting Grandpa and just pushing on. So they get there, and talk with Mr. Burns, who obviously own the haunted hotel. He shows them around the place, and we’re given a wonderful gag with the blood pouring out of the elevator, which causes Burns to comment “That’s odd, the blood usually gets off at the second floor.” They continue wandering the grounds, and Bart finds out that Willie is the groundskeeper for the Hotel, and that he also has a psychic power that he calls the Shinning, which is legally distinct from the Shining, and tells Bart that if he ever needs help, give him a telepathic shout-out.
At that point Burns and Smither leave, after cutting the cable and taking all the beer, to insure that Homer goes mad, which happens immediately. Homer wanders off and meets a ghost Moe in the bar, who tells Homer that he needs to kill his family, so Homer gets on the job. Marge comes across a typewriter in an empty room, with just the phrase “Feelin’ fine,” written on it, which calms her nerves. That is until a lightning crash reveals that Homer has written “No Beer, No TV Make Homer Go Crazy,” scrawled all over the walls. Homer leaps out of the shadows and attacks Marge, who fends him off with the Spousal Insanity bat, until he’s knocked out and she drags him into a pantry. Homer is then content to just eat all the food until Moe and some other ghouls drag him out, and goes on his ax spree. He tries the “Here’s Johnny!” line to little success, and finally finds the family after smashing in and announcing himself as the 60 Minutes opening. Bart decides to call Willie for help, and I love so much that Willie refers to Bart as “the little fat boy,” because I’ve never thought of Bart as fat, but he totally is, and it’s funny that Willie didn’t even learn the kids’ name. So Willie runs to their rescue, and gets axed in the back right away. So Homer chases the family out into the snow, and right as he’s about to kill them they find Willie’s portable TV, and Homer’s urge to kill fades as the family sits down in the snow to enjoy TV together. They then freeze together overnight, until the Tony’s come on and Homer’s urge to kill begins to rise again…
Time and Punishment
So “the Shinning” is great, but this segment is probably my favorite Treehouse of Horror segment of them all. This may be the real reason that this episode is my favorite Treehouse, because it’s so spectacular. Things start off with Homer and the family sitting around the kitchen while Homer tells the family just how lucky he feels in life, and how happy he is, before Bart points out that his hand is stuck in a toaster, which causes him to freak out and flail around in pain. And just as he gets them off, Bart yells that his hand is stuck in there again, and he has another freak out. But once he’s free he finds that the toaster is destroyed, and he heads down to the basement to being trying to fix it. He then…somehow…creates a time machine from the toaster, and gets transported back through time, even getting to meet Mr. Peabody and Sherman.
He then shows up at the time when dinosaurs weren’t just confined to zoos, and freaks the hell out. But he remembers some words of wisdom that Abe gave him on his wedding day, “If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything, because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can’t imagine.” And with that knowledge, Homer smashes a bug, and gets brought to the future to see what he’s caused. And the world he’s created is pretty terrible, because Ned Flanders has become the unquestioned Lord and Master of the whole world. Homer and the family is then dragged to the Re-Neducation center, where they’re brainwashed into loving Flanders, and told they need to get lobotomies. So Homer flees and makes it back to the house just in time to grab his toaster and go back in time to escape Flander’s dystopia. He then goes back to Dinosaur Time, and ends up squishing a fish, which brings him to a world where Bart and Lisa are murderous giants. This begins a wonderful montage of Homer going back, messing things up, and seeing the horrible ramifications of his deeds. He sneezes on a T-Rex which causes an extinction level plague, which in turn gives him a perfect future where the family is rich and Patty and Selma are dead, but he flees when he learns they don’t have donuts, just a moment too late to see that donuts rain from this worlds sky, which is the saddest thing in the world. There’s then a hilarious moment when Willie shows up out of nowhere to tell Homer that he still isn’t in his right world, and offers to help him before getting an ax in the back from an evil Maggie, who informs Homer that “This is indeed a disturbing universe,” in the voice of James Earl Jones. So Homer just goes back and starts killing everything in sight, which starts causing a series of terrible futures, even giving Kang and Kodos the heads of Mr. Peabody and Sherman in their contractual cameo. But finally Homer reaches a world that seems exactly the same as his old one, except for the fact that the family have lizard tongues, which Homer can live with.
And now the episode ends with probably the weakest of the three stories. It’s still a lot of fun, but it’s got a hard act to follow, and is just okay. It starts off with Bart being sent to detention, only to find that apparently everyone in school is being sent to detention, and it’s overflowing to the point that the kids have to stay in the cafeteria too. And while Principal Skinner is complaining about the overcrowding of kids in detention Lunchlady Doris is also complaining about the fact that due to budget cuts she has to use Grade F meat for the kids. But after an accident with some soup, Principal Skinner decides to kill two birds with one stone and start making the detention kids into food. He gets Jimbo turned into Sloppy Jimbo’s, and after he explains what he did to the rest of the teachers, they’re fully on board, and the cannibalism starts up. But it’s not until they serve some Uterbrauten made out of Uter that Bart and Lisa start to get suspicious, mainly from when Principal Skinner accidentally admits to having killed and processed Uter. The kids run to Marge to ask for help, but she doesn’t seem to really care about their problem and tells them to fight their own battle, so they head back to school to deal with the killer teachers. At this point we see the teachers have all become super fat, and have reduced the amount of students to Bart, Lisa, Milhouse, Wendell, and Ralph. Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse sneak off, trying to escape, and end up getting attacked by crazed teachers. Willie ends up running to the rescue, but gets an ax in the back from Principal Skinner and gives the wonderful line of “Ach, I’m bad at this.” Theguts teachers then corner the kids in a room with a giant food processor, and after Milhouse gets ground up to paste, Bart and Lisa fall in too, but right as Bart’s about to die, he wakes up and finds it’s all a dream. The whole family is in his room, telling him that everything is okay, except for the fog that turns people inside out. And speak of the devil the fog rolls in and the whole family get ripped open and turn into bloody bags of guts. They then begin singing a parody of “One” from a Chorus Line as Willie joins them to dance about.
This episode is tremendous. Yeah, “Nightmare Cafeteria,” is the weakest of the three, but it’s still a great segment, and all three prop each other up to create one of the best Treehouse of Horror’s of all time. I would have preferred if this one had a wrap-around plot, but as it stands it’s still wonderful. And man is the Willie gag incredibly hilarious. It’s such a weird idea to have Willie show up in every story, and just to get an ax in his back. It’s just the perfect Halloween episode, and I find it especially funny that it happened to fall on Christmas. Happy Halloween everybody!
Take Away: Don’t agree to watch hotels over the winter, “If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything, because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can’t imagine,” and don’t eat kids?
“Treehouse of Horror V” was written by Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath, David Cohen and Bob Kushell and was directed by Jim Reardon, 1994.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons