Its Halloween once again in Springfield and that means another edition of the Treehouse of Horror.
This year we get parodies of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Split and Jurassic Park. Given how long the show has been on the air its surprising that neither Invasion or Jurassic have never been lampooned before. My preference would be for the show to not lampoon known entities and at least create one original segment for the special but I digress. Let’s get into it!
The special does away with a lengthy intro and instead goes straight into a cold open. It begins quaintly enough with the Simpsons suckered into traveling to a small town for an oyster-eating competition. The offer, it turns out, is a ruse intended to lure hapless victims who will be sacrificed to Cthulhu. Homer duels the evil deity in said competition and naturally wins.
The real highlights of this segment were actually the sight gags. Among the cemetery tombstones, the show mourns: “ESPN”, “American exceptionalism,” Toys ‘R’ Us, “slow news days,” and “thinking Nazis are over.” There’s also a mustachioed man weeping at the grave of Watermelon-flavored Oreos! The other funny bit from here were the crows having a New England accent.
Invasion of the Pod-y Snatchers
This one had some potential since both are both thoughtful films with a lot to say about the paranoia and social discontent of their respective eras. To their credit, the writers clearly tried to find something clever to say by marrying a straightforward parody with a subplot about Springfielders being glued to their smartphones. But that basic idea never coalesces into anything significant.
The only real funny part is when the pods are running wild, Willie attempts to discern whether Chalmers is still human by asking him (at hedge-trimmer-point!) the lineup of a particular Scottish football team. “I don’t know!,” the panicked Chalmers exclaims, “Is there a Rudy?” “There’s always a Rudy!,” answers Willie.
This one works for several reasons. For one thing, the actual movie parody is sort of incidental. It would work just as well if you’ve never seen Split. For another, it has the darker sense of humor that fuels the better Treehouse specials.
There’s a truly a fascinating question at the heart of this particular storyline – what happens when Bart finally pushes Lisa too far and she snaps? As it turns out, she develops dissociative identity disorder and sets about murdering Bart and his friends, one by one. Yeardley Smith is truly the star of the show here. Not only is she given a big musical number, she’s able to tackle several extreme variations on an iconic character.
The majority of the complaints to this special can be leveled at the closing segment. It’s a Jurassic Park parody that has little else to offer beyond the basic premise and a couple of decent jabs at the Jurassic Park universe. Also, they borrowed from the classic “Itchy and Scratchy Land” episode during a flyover of the previous parks. This was instantly recognizable but had less of a kick to it than the season 6 version. You can read that review here!
In short, all the senior citizens are injected with dinosaur DNA. Led by Professor Frink, the park’s resident scientists combine speculative theories with untested technology to give senior citizens a better life.
The only real funny part is when Frink is spared by the advancing dino-seniors for proclaiming himself their creator. Only then is he set upon and killed by his slighted assistants while he cries, “You were listed in the footnotes!”
Not counting the intro this year’s edition had 1 good segment (Multip-Lisa-ty), 1 mediocre section (Invasion of the Pod-y Snatchers) and 1 bad section (Geriatric Park). Overall, this was not a good installment. Lisa, however, was a standout and she essentially carried every segment she was in and performed very well in her bit. Aside from that the jokes were few and the special lacked any real horror. At least last year one of the segments was genuinely disturbing to make it worth the wait. This year I think the focus was too much on actually parodies than content itself. As I mentioned above they should at least have one original short to balance it out.
The Simpsons is taking a break this week and returns November 4, 2018 with new episodes. In the meantime keep it locked on TGON for all your news, reviews and analysis.