I’m not sure why the last couple of seasons of the Simpsons have had kind of mediocre endings and beginnings, but it’s a weird pattern I’ve been noticing. Despite that though, it’s almost always been a delight to check in on that latest Treehouse of Horror. And while today’s isn’t a particularly great entry to the series, it’s still a lot of fun. It also features an absurdly long introduction to the episode, which begins with the ancient Mayans. They’re finishing off their prediction that the world will end in 2012, unless they kill a preordained sacrifice. Which just so happens to be Homer. However, as they’re preparing to kill Homer a Mayan Marge shows up, and decides that she loves him and wants to save him. So she goes out, seduces a guard Moe, and has him get sacrificed instead. Which ensures that the world will be destroyed in 2012. We then cut to the modern day as we see several Mayan gods arrive and personally destroy the Earth, starting in Springfield. Neat!
The Greatest Story Ever Holed
Our first segment begins with a wide variety of Springfield citizens heading into the grand opening of Springfield’s latest waste of taxpayer money. A supercollider! No one really seems to want it, but Lisa convinced them to build it, so they all at least want to see Professor Frink turn it on. And, when he does he immediately realizes that their collider isn’t big enough to provide information, so it’s worthless. However, as the townsfolk sadly leave the building something remarkable happens. The two particles actually do collide, and create a miniature black hole. The black hole begins travelling around the laboratory, consuming matter and slowly growing larger. It even floats out of a window and manages to consume Ralph and Nelson before Lisa is able to spot it.
Lisa is baffled by this, but takes it all in stride and ends up controlling the black hole by walking it like a dog. She then brings it down to the basement, hoping to hide it there where it won’t continue to consume matter and grow. This fails. Because the rest of the family almost immediately find the black hole, and despite Lisa’s numerous warnings of what would happen if it grew larger, they begin treating it like a magical garbage disposal. This then starts a slippery slope where the black hole starts to get bigger and bigger, until it ends up eating the Simpson’s whole house. Lisa then loudly explains that a single more item could cause the black hole to reach critical mass. Which is exactly when Milhouse hits his first home run ever, and the ball lands right into the black hole. This triggers a chain reaction that causes the Black Hole to rapidly grow in size, quickly absorbing the entire town, before it’s suddenly quelled when it absorbs Maggie’s pacifier. Oh, and we see that the town of Springfield has been jettisoned across the universe and they’ve landed on an alien world where the citizens are treated like royalty. So, win-win?
Our second segment is actually a parody of something horror-related, which is kind of an oddity in these later seasons. Unfortunately it’s a parody of Paranormal Activity, a series that I am baffled by. But whatever, there’s some solid gags. It begins with Homer telling us that there’s been some magical happenings going on in the Simpson’s house, so he’s set up some cameras to try and catch something in the act. And from there, things start escalating. Because we see something invisible steal Homer and Marge’s blanket, hit Homer with a golf club while he sleeps, and even rips their couch in half before lighting it on fire.
That last one got the family to wake up, and they end up racing down to see what’s going on. And Marge almost immediately starts acting suspicious, but no one seems to notices it. So Homer decides to amp up the video coverage, and puts cameras everywhere, catching increasingly haunted behavior, such as Marge getting possessed and forced to watch Homer sleep and pee all night. But things finally get untenable when this invisible being tries to abduct Maggie. The family race in and end up finding that the thing that’s been haunting them is some sort of demon, that looks like Moe. Marge then spills the beans, and says that when she was a kid she saw Patty and Selma trying to summon the Devil, only to get this demon. She ended up saving her sisters by promising the demon some future boon. And now it’s here to take Maggie. However, this is all easily avoided when Homer just promises to have a threeway with the demons. Yep. That’s how this one ends!
Bart and Homer’s Excellent Adventure
Our final segment in today’s Treehouse of Horror is probably the weirdest of them all. It starts off with Bart and the Android’s Dungeon, checking out an important issue of Radioactive Man from the 70’s. Bart really wants it, and is irritated that Comic Book Guy is selling it for more than the price on the cover, and heads outside to grumble about it. Which is when he sees Professor Frink roll up in a goddamn time machine. Frink gets out and leaves the time machine unattended, so Bart has no choice but to steal it and travel through time to the 70’s, which is explained by showing that various James Bond movies he’s passing through. Bart then gets to the 70’s and buys the comic for its cover-price, and is more or less underwhelmed.
But before heading back to the present Bart notices something he can’t pass up. He sees Barney and Homer being yelled at by their principal. Yep, Bart has travelled back to the years when his parents were in highschool, even though that backstory was seemingly erased. But, whatever, it’s the 70’s and Bart ends up sneaking into detention to mess with Homer. He starts abusing his future father, and obviously gets strangled. Which is a bummer when it turns out that this detention session is the one where Homer first met Marge in “The Way We Was.” And she is not pleased with Homer strangling some random child, thus changing Bart’s entire future.
However, when he finds that a picture of himself has indeed changed, but for the better, Bart decides to roll with it. He then heads back to the present, unaware that teenage Homer stows away. Bart then gets to his new future, and finds that in this new reality Marge has married Artie Ziff, and the family is super rich. Bart instantly accepts all of this, and begins his new life of leisure. Meanwhile, teenage Homer is a little horrified. And he finds a partner in this timeline’s Homer, who is also horrified that Marge isn’t with him. The two then devise a plan to win Marge back. They simply use the time machine to get a Council of Cross-Time Homers, and have them attack Artie Ziff. Where they’re promptly beaten. However, as Ziff is easily beating up all of the Homer’s Marge arrives, and suddenly realizes that her true meaning in life was to protect and love Homer’s of all shape and size. She then leaves Artie, and begins a new life in a household full of Homers.
As far as Treehouse of Horror episodes go this one wasn’t one of my favorites, but it was far from the worst. It’s a little surprising to actually see them parody something even tangentially horror related, which sure as hell hasn’t been happening lately. Which seems weird, since straight up normal episodes are now just parodying Inception, so I’m not sure why they would have a Back to the Future parody on a Treehouse of Horror instead of just a regular episode. Because that’s how things seem to be going now! But it’s fine. I enjoy the black hole story, even though there isn’t a whole lot to it. But I do like seeing Milhouse’s first and only success cause the downfall of Springfield. That’s fun. The Paranormal Activity thing is fine I guess, even though it suffers from that usual second-story problem of feeling a little underfed. But the story I was most surprised with was the dumb Back to the Future parody. There was no reason that an idea this goofy should be fun, but I enjoyed it. It’s so weird that apparently “The Way We Was” is still canon, especially considering the events of “That 90’s Episode.” But it’s still fun.
Take Away: Don’t play baseball, don’t make deals with demons, and don’t mess around with time machines.
“Treehouse of Horror XXIII” was written by David Mandel and Brian Kelley and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2012.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons