As we reach the era where the quality of the Simpsons will start to wane, there’s one thing that generally stayed of a similar quality. The Treehouse of Horror episodes. It’s not like they don’t have their own dips in quality, but I feel like they remain an anchor in the crazy storm that these teenage seasons will give us. And while this episode certainly isn’t one of the stronger Treehouse of Horror episodes, it’s still pretty fun. We start off seeing Bart writing on the chalkboard in blood before the family is gruesomely murdered in the driveway, and then we jump right to the first story.
Well, let’s get rid of the weakest segment first. It opens up in the Kwik-E-Mart while Snake is trying out a new comb. He decides to make the purchase and then lights up a congratulatory cigarette, which is against the law, and causes Snake to get arrested. And when put together with his previous convictions for torching an orphanage and blowing up a bus full of nuns in self-defense it turns out Snake has had his three strikes, and is now going to be executed. And as he’s taken away by Wiggum he swears vengeance on the three people who witnessed his smoking crime, Apu, Moe, and Bart. But it shouldn’t be a big deal, because Snake is immediately brought to Fox’s new show, America’s Deadliest Executions, where he’s promptly electrocuted under the solemn gaze of Ed McMahon. Story’s over!
Although, as soon as the execution is over Homer gets a call from Dr. Nick saying that they’ve found a donor for him. So he heads into Dr. Nick’s office, and finds out that he’s going to get a hair-transplant with Snake’s hair. Which impresses his friends and family, because it looks pretty great. That is until the hair starts to burrow into Homer’s mind, and basically turn him into a were-Snake. So every now and then Snake takes control of Homer, and has him go murder Apu in the Squishee machine, and rip Moe’s heart out with a corkscrew. Bart obviously gets freaked out about these murders, and Homer offers to protect him and lock the two on them in Bart’s room. Which is where Snake promptly takes over Homer’s body, and starts trying to kill Bart with a sledgehammer. Marge and Lisa run in to help, and Lisa is hilariously shot down when she tries to explain what was going on, since as Marge puts it, we all figured that out. So Homer has a minor crisis when he has to decide between having hair, and murdering his son, and ends up ripping the hair right off his head, where it’s then shot by the police. And the curse is lifted.
The Terror of Tiny Town
Our second story starts with the kids watching a Halloween episode of the Krusty show, which opens with him jumping into frame in a Dracula costume and proclaiming “Tonight I’m going to suck. Your blood!” He then gets ready to introduce a special Halloween Itchy and Scratchy, until Marge turns the TV off. She’s not into letting the kids watch an even more violent episode of the cartoon, and takes the remote batteries along with her when she takes Maggie trick-or-treating. Bart and Lisa then get desperate, and start rummaging through Homer’s tool-box before finding some plutonium. Lisa voices some concerns, but Bart manages to get the TV operative with the plutonium, and doesn’t seem to notice that it’s having weird effects. Namely that the TV is coming to life. Lisa tries to get the remote away from Bart, and in the struggle they hit the ENTER button, and get sucked into the TV, right into Itchy and Scratchy’s world. At first it seems like a good gig, because they get to laugh at their antics in person. But it turns out Itchy and Scratchy don’t find it nice to laugh at their pain, and they decide to try and kill Bart and Lisa instead. The cartoon characters then start chasing Bart and Lisa through their cartoon town, running Poochie over in a cop car along the way. Bart and Lisa manage to escape them with an ejector seat, but realize they’re going to die when they land in the field of electrified bear-traps below them. Luckily they’re saved by Homer, who wanders in and changes the channel, causing Bart, Lisa, Itchy, and Scratchy to crash into the Regis and Kathy Lee show. But Homer gets them back to Itchy’s house, where they find the screen back into the real world. They try to get Homer to free them, and as he’s struggling to understand the magic remote Bart’s flesh is torn off by a spray of piranhas. Homer finally hits the eject button though, and they’re popped back into reality, where Lisa is able to rewind Bart’s skin back on. But things aren’t over! Because Itchy and Scratchy are able to burst into reality, where it turns out they’re the size they should be. Homer just picks Itchy up and puts him in a hamster cage, while Scratchy falls in love with Snowball II, before learning he’s going to be neutered.
Well, let’s end this Treehouse of Horror episode with the obligatory Kang and Kodos story, which starts off with the family dealing with a fussy Maggie. Marge explains that it’s because she’s teething, and reveals that Maggie has grown one giant fang, which creeps the rest of her family out. But that turns out to be the least of their concerns, when Homer is playing “this little piggy” with her, and ends up popping her legs off. Homer proudly proclaims that Maggie “lost her baby legs,” and doesn’t seem to care when she starts to sprout some tentacles. Honestly, no one seems that concerned, even when she climbs onto the ceiling. They take Maggie to Dr. Hibbert’s office, but all he prescribes is fire, and lots of it, so he’s no help. They end up taking Maggie home, puzzled about her weird transformation, and things are made worse when she starts using her pacifier like a transmission device, and sends a signal into space. It’s picked up by Kang and Kodos, who reveal that Maggie is actually his daughter.
The aliens then head down to Springfield, and show up at the Simpsons house. Homer assumes they’re Mormons, but they explain that they’re there to take Kang’s daughter, Maggie. Marge then comes in and decides to tell Homer the horrible secret truth of Maggie’s parentage. They all get into the living room and have coffee and start to tell the story. Apparently Marge was abducted and brought aboard the spaceship with the purpose to crossbreeding their two species. The let Marge pick the location of her insemination from a selection of popular human mating locations: the back seat of a Camaro, a friend’s wedding, an airplane bathroom, and the alley behind a porno theater. Marge obviously chooses the porno theater, and is then awkwardly flirted at by Kang, before getting hit with some little baby ray, impregnating her. And with that out of the way they start arguing about who gets to take Maggie, with no one getting any headway. So Bart decides they need to ask the only person qualified to handle such a weird matter. Jerry Springer. They head onto his show, and it plays out pretty much exactly as you would imagine. A big fight, lots of profanity, and Kang vaporizing the whole audience. Maggie then kills Jerry Springer, solving nothing. The group then goes outside the studio, still not sure what to do, and Kang threatens to kill everyone in Congress unless they give Maggie to them. The Simpsons then call their bluff and let Kang and Kodos wipe out America’s government.
This certainly wasn’t the best of the Treehouse of Horror episode, but it also isn’t one of the worst. It’s smack dab in the middle. The prototypical Treehouse of Horror episode. There’s some good, some bad, and overall it’s just a little enjoyable little break from what passes as reality in the Simpsons. The Hell Toupee segment really doesn’t do anything for me, and is one of my least favorite segments that I’ve ever seen. I don’t’ know what it is about it, it just doesn’t click with me in any way. The idea of Fox airing executions was pretty great, but other than that, it’s pretty mediocre. The Terror of Tiny Town is pretty stupid, but I like it quite a bit. Even though Lisa and Bart are already cartoons, it kind of reminds me of Who Framed Roger Rabbit, with real people interacting with silly drawings. Plus it’s great to see Itchy and Scratchy being offended by the idea of someone laughing at their antics, and deciding to kill them. Pretty great. But it’s that last one that’s probably the best. I just love Kang and Kodos so much, and even though I still enjoy Treehouse of Horror episodes that feature them as cameos, I much prefer any time they get whole segments devoted to them. And while it’s certainly not as funny as Kang and Kodos impersonating Bill Clinton and Bob Dole, having them inseminate Marge and give birth to a crazy alien Maggie was pretty damn enjoyable.
Take Away: Don’t accept hair transplants from executed convicts, don’t use plutonium as batteries, and don’t have sex with aliens in the back alley of a porno theater.
“Treehouse of Horror IX” was written by David X. Cohen, Larry Doyle and Donick Cary and was directed by Steven Dean Moore, 1998.