Folks, we’ve had a rough week. Season Fourteen ended with a bit of a thud. But let’s not dwell on the past, let’s move valiantly on into Season 15, and get ready for another Treehouse of Horror episode. We start off with a little opening segment that teased the idea of them doing a wrap-around gimmick this year again, but sadly we don’t get it. Instead we get Bart and Lisa looking at their candy after trick-or-treating, and then getting in a massive brawl that ends up including the entire family. But Marge ends it when she shoots Homer to death and his blood spells out the title of the episode. Lovely!
Our first segment, with its amazing title, starts right off the bat with the Grim Reaper itself showing up at the Simpson’s house to reap Bart’s soul. This leads to a ridiculous Benny Hill chase throughout the house while the family tries to help Bart scare away Death. But during the chase Homer’s able to get the upper hand on Death, and smashes him over the head with a bowling ball, seemingly killing the personification of Death. This causes the world to temporarily lose the ability to die, as we see with Frankie the Squealer getting hit with a barrage of bullets not dying and Moe just hanging after an attempted suicide. But Homer quickly realizes that this is a bad way to live, and tries to fix Death. This doesn’t work, so he instead just throw him away on trash-day.
But never one to pass up a free cloak, Homer decides to put on Death’s robes. At which point the segment turns into that Tim Allen Santa Claus movie, because now that Homer’s put on the costume, he becomes the new Reaper. And he gets used to it pretty easily, heading out to the Retirement Castle to get some souls, goes to Lisa’s class for career day, and kills a bunch of people at an Isotopes game to get better seats. However, things turn bad when Homer learns that the next person he has to kill is Marge. So, he brings a corpse up to the top of a mountain, ready to yell at God for making him kill his wife, and get his curse lifted. But right after Homer loses his Death ability, it turns out that it wasn’t Marge’s corpse, it was Patty’s, but before God can complain, Homer races away on a motorcycle. Homer and God have a brief 70s-style car chase, but Homer wins, and manages to trick God and return everything to normal.
Our second segment opens up with Homer sitting on the couch when he gets a call from the Nobel Prize committee, and is informed that he just won the Prize in physics. Homer rolls with this news, until he learns that it’s actually Professor Frink who has won, and that they dialed the wrong number. Lisa decides to go tell Frink that he just won the Prize, and the two chat for a bit. Frink is obviously pleased, but says that he wishes his father could be alive to see the big day. We then get a flash-back to Frink’s younger days where his father, voiced by Jerry Lewis, is heading out to research sharks as some sort of action-scientist who is ashamed of Frink. Turns out he died on the voyage, and Frink has his father’s body on ice, and has just been waiting to bring him back to life, and this seems like the perfect timing!
So Lisa and Frink work together and are able to bring Papa Frink back to life. However Papa Frink is angry that he’s been brought back to life as a semi-robotic monster, and decides that the only way to fix this is to wander Springfield, kill people, and replace his organs with theirs. Good work Frink! So Papa Frink stalks the streets of Springfield, and becomes a hodgepodge of body parts. But Lisa is able to talk him down from his murderous rampage, and gets him to agree to shape up and go watch Frink win the Nobel Prize. We then cut over to the Prize, where Frink is giving his acceptance speech. But just on time Papa Frink comes strolling in, looking like normal, and the two have an emotional moment. But that’s ruined when Papa Frink decides that all of these genius brains in one place is too good an opportunity to pass up, and he goes on a rampage. Frink’s able to stop his father with a well-timed crotch-kick however, and manages to save the day as his father dies for the second time, but while telling his son he’s proud of him this time.
Stop the World I Want to Get Off
Our final and silliest segment begins with Bart and Milhouse hanging out in the living room, being bored, when Marge stops by with a big old box of vintage comics. The boys start rifling through the box, checking out all the old comics and enjoying the ridiculous old ads that are in them. And when they spot an ad for a pocket-watch the guarantees it can stop time. They boys decide to send in the handful of pennies that it cost, and mail it to an address that is somehow still in business. And when the watch actually arrives, they’re stunned that it totally works. Bart’s able to completely stop time, and uses it to pick on Lisa. And after realizing that if Bart and Milhouse are both holding the watch, they can both still move around while the rest of time is paused, and they decide to start pranking the whole damn town.
They begin their prank-war by pantsing Skinner at an assembly and stealing all of Homer’s donuts before enacting a complicated prank where Homer’s clothes fly away, Nelson shows up to laugh at him, and then Nelson’s clothes vanish. This prank-wave obviously bothers the city, so they have a Town Hall meeting, where Bart and Milhouse obviously prank Quimby. But Quimby assumed they would, and has some precautions prepared that manage to prove Bart and Milhouse are behind it all. So the town rush after the boys to kill them, and they freeze time at the last second before they’re killed. Unfortunately in the rush they broke their watch, and are now stuck like this. For a while they just enjoy life, doing all sorts of crazy stuff together, but when they finally get bored they decide to learn watch-repair and get everything fixed. And after fifteen quick years they’ve mastered the repair course and are able to repair the watch. They place Martin in front of the mob to be killed instead of them, and then just go back to their old lives, hoping no one notices that they’re now in their mid thirties.
You know, this is a really solid Treehouse of Horror episode. I could complain about my normal stuff, like the fact that there’s no frame story or that the segments were parody’s of Twilight Zone episodes, but who cares, I had a good time with it. No Treehouse of Horror episode is ever completely bad, and this one is actually much better than the last few we’ve had. The Grim Reaper segment was a lot of fun, and really got goofy and weird by the end of it, especially with the whole Santa Claus vibe that the segment had. The one with Papa Frink maybe was the weakest, but it was so hilarious to see Jerry Lewis star as Frank’s father when Frink has existed as a blatant parody of Lewis’ Nutty Professor character all of these years. And the time freezing segment is a blast. It’s not really a Halloween story, but it was a whole lot of fun and led to some hilarious moments. Just a solid episode all around, and a pretty great welcome to Season Fifteen. Let’s see if the rest of the season holds up this great.
Now, I just want to tell anyone that’s a regular reader to the site that I’ll be taking the next week off for a much-needed vacation with my wife, but I’ll be back to this Sisaphean task an continue into Season Fifteen in a week.
Take Away: Don’t put on dead people’s clothes, don’t reanimate your parents to deal with buried grief, and don’t buy shit out of old comic books.
“Treehouse of Horror XIV” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2003.