You know, it’s kind of irritating me that all of these non-Treehouse of Horror episodes that ape the structure still get to have wrap-around plot, and yet the Treehouse of Horror episodes don’t. That seems weird to me. It’s a fun formula that makes for some good episodes, and I’m glad that they at least try to connect the stories in them, but it makes me kind of bitter that they then don’t do it for Halloween. But that’s neither here nor there; let’s talk about some public domain stories!
Things start off with Marge sorting through the stack of bills they got in the mail that day, when she finds a letter from the library. It claims that Homer has a massively overdue book, which he’s completely forgotten about. It’s a book of Classics for Children that he checked out to read to Bart, and has completely forgotten about. So they decide to read the book together, after a weird OJ Simpsons reference.
The first segment starts off with the ridiculous joke where Homer assumes the story will be about a van he rented once, which is super stupid, but still something I think of any time I’m behind an Odyssey. But after that dopey joke they move on and we dive right into the myth of the Odyssey with Homer as Odysseus. We see Homer wrap up the Trojan war by giving King Ned the Trojan Horse, along with the stupid line “whenever people get wood they’ll think of Trojans,” before everyone is wiped out. And once the Trojan are dead Homer and his band of soldiers (Lenny, Carl, Moe, Frink, and Apu) get in their ship without making a sacrifice to the gods, and set sail.
But that lack of respect pisses off the gods, and Poseidon (Captain McCallister) decides to make their voyage a living hell, sending them all about the ocean. After briefly checking out the Sirens, who turn out to be Patty and Selma, the group of sailors end up landing on the island of Circe, where she promptly turns everyone but Homer into a pig. So obviously Homer has to eat the pigs. And now, friendless, Homer heads back to home after crossing the River Styx, where Styx music just blares, and he gets home to Marge. Where he promptly kills all the creepy suitors and decides to peace out to a bar.
Joan of Arc
The middle story takes a weird turn and tells a real story of history instead of a Classic tale, but whatever. We see France during the 100 Year War, and Lisa as Joan of Arc who is being told by God to lead the French to victory. So Lisa suits up and heads to the French army, where they’re just firing dudes at British castles with catapults, and teaches them lessons, like putting rocks in the catapults instead. So Lisa begins leading the French army to victory, and gaining the respect of the King of France. And after passing some weird test from King Milhouse she starts to get creeped on by him. But things start to fall apart in the next battle, because she’s promptly grabbed by Willie and stuffed in a sack. So Lisa is brought back to England and put on trial for heresy, and we sadly don’t get references to that Dreyer film, and we just see the English yelling at her until things get awkward when God gets called as a witness and admits that he told Willie to save England too. So Lisa loses her case, and is burnt at the stake. Comedy!
Our last segment today is the classic Shakespeare tale of Hamlet, which obviously puts Bart in the lead role, trying to solve to murder of King Homer. The story opens up with Homer visiting Bart and telling him to avenge him, so Bart heads out to investigate, and quickly realizes that it’s his Uncle Moe. So when the court is listening to some improv from Krusty Bart starts leading them down a path to recreate Homer’s killing to see if Moe will crack. And he obviously does. So with Moe basically confessing that he poisoned Homer, Bart decides to go stab Moe while he slept. Unfortuantley Moe isn’t in the bedroom, and Bart ends up stabbing Polonius (Chief Wiggum). So as Wiggum dies he asks Ralph to avenge him, and a duel is prepared. And King Moe is not taking any chances, and decides to cover everything in the room in poison, even Rosencarl and Guildenlenny, who then die. So Bart shows up for the duel, Ralph promptly kills himself, Bart kills Moe, slips on blood and dies, and Marge kills herself to avoid cleaning up the mess. And, of course, the episode ends with the family saying that Hamlet was adapted into the movie Ghostbusters, and then dance to the theme song.
Yeah, this one’s okay. It’s similar to the Tall Tale and Bible Story episode, which I generally find fun. The story choices were interesting, and two of them worked pretty great for me. I don’t know why the Joan of Arc one was put in this episode, and I don’t think it worked very well, but the other two were pretty fun. Although, being a huge mythology geek, I would have loved just a straight up full-length episode parodying the Odyssey, because of course I’m going to be sad that they didn’t include Scylla and Charybdis. But it worked pretty well with what they had. And while I’m not a fan of reading Shakespeare, I do like adaptation of it, and while this Hamlet wasn’t as enjoyable as Ryan North’s To Be or Not To Be, it was still a lot of fun.
Take Away: Don’t stiff the gods out of their sacrifices, don’t trust God, and don’t trust your ghost father.
“Tales from the Public Domain” was written by Andrew Kreisberg, Josh Lieb and Matt Warburton and directed by Mike B Anderson, 2002.