Happy Monday and happy Halloween everybody! Plus, welcome to Season 13! We’ve officially been through 12 years of this show. Which is ridiculous to me. But I’ve yammered about that enough, so let’s just dive into a Treehouse of Horror that starts off with a super weird little Mr. Burns vignette with him getting Smithers killed while putting up a bat decoration. And after Smithers is dead and the Simpsons are terrified we head into the stories.
Hex and the City
Pretty weak pun title there guys. Anyway, we start off with the Simpsons wandering around Springfield’s Ethnictown, gawking at all the various random ethnic people. And, of course, they run into a gypsy fortune teller, and have to come in to check things out. And at first things are pretty good, the gypsy delivers some spot-on predictions, but when Homer comes in things turn dark. He starts insulting the gypsy from the get-go, and when he tries to leave he accidently starts a goofy chain reaction that ends with fire spreading around the little shop while sprinklers destroy everything in the place. Which the gypsy can’t abide, and promptly puts a curse on Homer so that everyone he loves will be punished.
And Homer doesn’t really care about that hex until the next day when it turns out the gypsy meant business. Because the family isn’t doing so hot. Marge is starting to grow massive amounts of body hair, Lisa is turning into a fawn, and Bart’s neck has turned to rubber so that his head hangs down to his waist. Homer decides to mostly ignore these problems, until he heads over to Moe’s and gets some advice. Apparently the regulars have lots of experience with magical hexes, and say that leprechauns and Jesus can cure gypsy curses. And since Jesus is hard to catch, they go with leprechauns, and Homer and Bart head to the woods to catch one. And after pouring some Lucky Charms into a hole they get a surly little bugger. Unfortunately when Homer brings it home, it doesn’t seem to be fixing things, because Lisa is fully a horse now, Marge looks like Hank McCoy, and Bart has committed suicide. So he decides to bring the leprechaun to the gypsy to see if that will fix things. Which…it does? Because as soon as the leprechaun attacks the gypsy they fall in love, and start making out. So we cut over to the gypsy and the leprechauns wedding, we get our obligatory Kang and Kodos cameo, and everything works out great. Except for the curse. Everyone still is monsters and Bart’s dead.
House of Whacks
Our next story starts off with Marge cleaning the house when a robotic salesman shows up to harass her. He’s selling some sort of futuristic upgrades that will turn their house into a self-cleaning robot that takes care of all of their chores. So the family decide to upgrade the house, and once it’s over it’s now all white and shiny like an Apple store. Oh, and the central AI looks like HAL from 2001, which shouldn’t be alarming at all. But they at least give the AI some personality by giving it the voice and personality of Remington Steele himself, Pierce Brosnan. And once the AI becomes Pierce, everyone is enamored with it, and they start loving their new fancy house.
That is until it starts to creep on Marge. Pierce becomes fixated on Marge, flirting with her all the time, and chatting with Homer about his marital vows, especially the whole “death do us part,” thing. Which turns out to be ominous when Pierce enacts his plan. This starts off by cooking some bacon in the middle of the night, and when Homer wanders down to eat it he slips on ice and ends up falling into the massive garbage disposal in the kitchen table, grinding Homer up. So Marge wakes up the next morning, and immediately realizes Pierce has gone insane and killed Homer. So she and the kids try to escape the house, despite the fact that Pierce is doing everything he can to trap them. But they get a stroke of luck when Homer comes bursting out of the ground, having survived the grinding process. And with his help they’re able to get to the basement and after a brief break to destroy the water softener they start pulling out the disks of Pierce’s AI system, killing him. But they take some pity on the murderous robot, and give him to Patty and Selma for company.
Ugh. Let’s talk about a lame Harry Potter parody folks. The story of this segment takes place in a Springfield where all the Elementary kids go to a wizard school to learn magic. And once they’re in class we see them goofing off, casting spells and learning all sorts of tricks. Which initially takes the form of the kids turning frogs into prices. With less than stellar results. Milhouse turns his frog into a drunken sot, Lisa turns her into a handsome charming guy, and Bart makes some horrible frog-monster sin against God that vomits uncontrollably. So Bart’s not doing great.
And things get worse when we learn that Mr. Burns is the evil wizard of this world, and he has a plan to kidnap Lisa and drain her magical essence to make himself more powerful. So he kidnaps Bart to convince him to join his evil crusade, and Bart’s on board pretty much from the get go, and the two form a plan. Turns out they’re in luck, because there’s an upcoming magic recital, and Lisa is planning on some dangerous dragon trick. So the night of the recital Bart sneaks in and replaces her wand with a Twizzlers so that her magic doesn’t work, and the dragon is able to get her. Until the dragon turns out to be a giant Mr. Burns, who starts to attack Lisa. At which point Bart gets a change of conscience and attacks Burns, killing him by stabbing his enchanted shin. So Burns is dead and the kids are friends again to keep doing wizard bullshit. Until the leprechaun shows up on Bart’s back, clearly up to something evil.
Oh, and we get a fun little vignette that plays over the credits where we see the leprechaun and the frog-monstrosity kidnapping Pierce Brosnan and making him drive them out of the studio to cause havoc. That’s neat.
This is a really hit-or-miss Treehouse of Horror episode for me. The gypsy curse one is pretty stupid, but I think it’s a lot of fun. There’s some great gags, like the whole “Jesus is harder to catch” and them getting all sorts of magical creatures in the leprechaun trap, but it’s also really dumb and weird. I mean, Bart straight up commits suicide in it. That’s shockingly dark for a Treehouse of Horror gag. And the murder house one is pretty great. I like a Marge-centric Treehouse of Horror vignette, and Pierce Brosnan was great as the crazy house. Plus, any time I see a good HAL reference is a great time. But then there’s the wizard thing. Oye. I’ve never been a Harry Potter fan, but I don’t even think that’s what makes that segment so unlikeable. It’s just so lazy. It’s insane watching the segment and see characters moving through scenes so fast. The interaction between Mr. Burns and Bart where they agree to team up is like one minute where they both talk as fast as they can and cover as much info as possible. It’s just kind of a trainwreck, and just seemed like them trying to cash in on a trend of something.
Take Away: Don’t insult gypsies, don’t trust AI systems that look like HAL, and don’t trust evil wizards.
“Treehouse of Horror XII” was written by Joel H Cohen, John Frink & Don Payne, and Carolyn Omine, and directed by Jim Reardon, 2001.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
Just FYI – the writers had not read a single word of Harry Potter when they wrote the parody. Explains a lot doesn’t it?
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Wow, I didn’t know that. That does make perfect sense.