Season Eleven hasn’t been off to a great start folks. Looking ahead, things will get better, but we’re entering choppy waters. The Golden Age has passed, and we’re slowly sinking down into the Dark Times. But hey, at least a Treehouse of Horror episode still can remain solid. And after starting off as if the show was some sort of special hosted by Kang and Kodos where the aliens in the audience don’t find them funny at all, we get going!
I Know What You Diddily-iddly-Did
Okay, I know I just said that this episode was entertaining, and then we’re starting things off with an I Know What You Did Last Summer parody, but trust me; it’s actually not as bad as that should be. It starts off immediately after another Halloween story, where the Simpsons are happily driving through the fog after rescuing their Super Sugar Crisp cereal from vampires. And while Marge is trying to navigate the fog, she accidently hits someone, and when they go out to look at who it was, they find it’s Ned Flanders. So they obviously decide to cover up this vehicular homicide, and Homer brings the body home and tries to throw it off a roof to convince Maude he died by accident. Unfortunately Maude goes inside and doesn’t see the drop, so Homer just throws him in the house and says Ned had a heart attack. So the town begins to mourn Ned, and the Simpsons assume they’re off scot free. That is until they get home and see that there’s a message written in blood saying “I Know What You Did,” on their door. So that’s worrisome. And it gets worse when that night they find that their living room is covered in more evil messages, causing them to run away in fear, while being chased by a mysterious figure in a fisherman outfit, like that stupid movie. The family escape into the middle of nowhere, and think about splitting up and hiding in the old abandoned amusement park, the spooky roller disco, the pet cemetery, and the lake where sexy teenagers were killed exactly one hundred years ago. But before they break up and go to those horrible places, the fisherman shows up, and it’s Ned. Turns out right before they hit him with their car, Ned had been bit by a werewolf, and was thus unaffected by the car accident. So everything’s okay. Other than Ned being a werewolf, and ready to eat Homer as the rest of the family runs away in fear. Since you don’t have to be the fastest person, you just need to be able to outrun one person.
Desperately Xeeking Xena
Okay, I know I said that this was a funny episode, and first we got a parody of I Know What You Did Last Summer, and now we have a Xena reference, but trust me, this one works great. It opens up at some sort of trick-or-treating event at the Elementary School where kids are putting their candy through metal detectors to find razor blades. And when Nelson jams the machine, it blasts out some radioactive energy, and hits Bart and Lisa. But luckily it was Stan Lee radiation, and gives them wonderful superpowers instead of terrible tumors. Lisa gets super-strength and Bart has stretching abilities. So they become Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl, and turn into Springfield’s superheroes. And just in time, Comic Book Guy decides to become a super villain called the Collector, and breaks into a special interview Lucy Lawless is doing about Xena, where she’s explaining that all continuity errors can be blamed by wizards. The Collector abducts Xena, and brings her back to his lair with all the other celebrities he’s kidnapped and intends to make her his bride. Luckily Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl find out about this, and go to save her. But he’s easily able to best them with a laser gun, and prepares to dip them in liquid Lucite to kill them. But Lucy Lawless comes to the rescue to pretending to seduce Comic Book Guy so she can break out of her mylar bag and attack him. Comic Book Guy briefly gains the upper hand when he takes out a double-sided lightsaber and prepares to attack Lawless, but when she points out he ruined it’s mint condition, he freaks out and slips into the Lucite tank. So everything’s better, and Lucy Lawless flies Bart and Lisa home, since even though Xena can’t fly, she can.
Life’s a Glitch, Then You Die
Hey, our Treehouse of Horror retrospective of late 90s references continues with this final segment, all about Y2K. Remember that? People were really worked up about something that turned out to be absolutely nothing, so hey, let’s imagine what life would be like if it actually led to something! It starts out on New Year’s Eve where everyone is hanging out in the Simpson’s for a party. People are mingling, and the conversation turns to Y2K compliance and about Homer was supposed to do something to get the Plant up to date. He obviously didn’t do it, so when the ball drops, his idiocy starts a chain reaction that lets the Y2K virus completely take over, causing all technological items in the world to start malfunctioning, including the robotic body of Dick Clark. So everyone starts panicking, especially since everything in the modern American home has a microchip in it, causing all the items in the kitchen to attack the family. They flee and start wandering the new apocalypse, trying to find a way to survive. Which does lead to one of my favorite interactions of all time:
Lisa: “Look at the wonders of modern technology now.”
Homer: “Wonders Lisa, or blunders?”
Lisa: “I think that was implied by what I just said.”
Homer: “Implied or implode?”
Lisa: “Mom, make him stop!”
Awesome. And after that interaction they come across the body of Krusty, whose pacemaker has malfunctioned, and find that he has a letter letting him on some sort of rocket ship that’s abandoning Earth. So the family head to the rocket, and find that Lisa was actually on this list of the worlds best and brightest already. So Lisa, Marge, and Maggie get on the ship, and are saved. But Bart and Homer aren’t doomed, because they find another rocket, and sneak aboard. Unfortunately, it turns out this isn’t a ship full of the best and brightest, it’s full of people no one wants, like Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Arnold, and Courtney Love. Oh, and this rocket is heading straight for the sun to kill them all. But that’s too slow for Homer and Bart, who decide to eject into space while their rocket heads to the sun, having their heads explode from decompression.
Okay, this is one of the more topical Treehouse of Horror episode we’ve had yet. Yeah, there are great segments like “Citizen Kang” that really take advantage of when it was made, but this episode is so incredibly 1999. Because if there’s anything that screams 1999 more than a Y2K joke, it’s an I Know What You Did Last Summer joke. But I still found this one pretty funny. Treehouse of Horror episodes kind of remain inoculated from the show’s declining quality, and from my memory still remains pretty solid for years to come. And while some of the jokes in this one sure don’t work, there are plenty that still do. Seeing Ned actually be a werewolf that survives the car crash is a great joke that ties off a pretty lackluster first skit. The superhero segment isn’t really that Trerhouse of Horror-ish, but it’s super funny. And that Y2K skit is pretty stupid, and that ending with what’s essentially a suicide is pretty dark, but there are still some great gags in it that keep it working. It wasn’t one of the best Treehouse of Horror episodes, but it’s still pretty damn solid. Really the only thing I could wish was that the whole idea of Kang and Kodos hosting the show had continued like a wrap-around segment, but that’s just my inability to let that aspect of the Treehouse of Horror segments die, because I really miss them.
Take Away: Don’t drive around in the fog without fog-lights, don’t play with liquid Lucite, and don’t worry about Y2K.
“Treehouse of Horror X” was written by Donick Cary, Tim Long, and Ron Hauge and directed by Pete Michels, 1999.