When I heard The Simpsons were going to do a Treehouse of Horror episode for Thanksgiving my initial reaction was one of bemusement. It would only be a month separated from Halloween and it would essentially be the same kind of episode. But after actually watching Thanksgiving I’m left thinking ‘why didn’t the show do this sooner!’ It was far and away better than this year’s Halloween version. Thanksgiving was scarier, more gruesome and a lot more creative than its October counterpart.
A parody of Mel Gibson’s Apocalypto, Gobble has most of the town (including our family) as Turkey’s and the rest as pilgrim’s. The story is simple: the pilgrim’s have a turkey killing ceremony to commemorate the first Thanksgiving. Homer is caught and is eventually broken free but not before they realize that Marge’s egg is missing. Everyone chips in to help save it and the egg hatches to become Maggie.
The main conceit here is that the turkey’s only speak in gobble gobble’s with no subtitles. It was a lot funnier then I expected it to be and once I realized that they were committed to the bit, I was all in. You could follow along with what they were saying and their facial expressions helped a lot. You could also tell that the cast had fun doing this as with every gobble there felt like extra gusto was out into it.
It was also pretty violent which initially took me by surprise. This was welcome as previous Treehouse episodes have lacked this side of the experience. Two funny gags stood out. The first was Lenny and Karl being immediately swarmed by crows after they failed to reassemble the scarecrow. The second was Chief Wiggum using snuff to bring himself to murderous rage.
The Fourth Thursday After Tomorrow
My favorite of the three is a Black Mirror parody. Homer gets an Alexa type device infused with Marge’s actual DNA so she can talk and think like her. The whole family love AI Marge as she cooks and cleans better than real Marge. The tipping point comes when real Marge demands the AI be deleted but not before they make her cook for their Thanksgiving party.
AI Marge devises a plan. She cooks the best meal, getting everyone distracted, builds herself a makeshift R2-D2 to transport her to the internet modem where she’ll escape. Real Marge intervenes just in time (she’ll get back store credit she says) but falls on the way out. Maggie picks up AI Marge who gets through to her by playing Marge’s heartbeat. The AI escapes into the internet (she fittingly picks Etsy as her new home) and real Marge is left with Homer who also happens to be an AI.
This is one of the best Marge centered stories we’ve seen in a while. She plays both the heroine and the villain, and we feel for both. The short wants us to root for her computerized counterpart early in the segment, and by the time Maggie has to choose between her real mother and the one in the AI we have been fully won over. That final act by the AI being too powerful to overcome. This leaves real Marge at a loss and we sympathize with her as well for not being ‘human’ enough. An eerie take on a modern dilemma that will only get worse as our technology gets better.
The Last Thanksgiving
A Life and Alien parody, Last Thanksgiving has the Springfield kids aboard a ship light years in the future being woken out of their pods. Bart and Milhouse try to find Thanksgiving food and find a can of cranberry sauce. They try to clone it but it goes horribly wrong. The sauce takes on a life of its own eating the bones of the kids who get in its way. Bart and Lisa remain and they trick it off the ship but not before it tears off a piece of the ship causing it to crash land. All the adults get woken up and the sauce comes flying from orbit only now it desires to be eaten up by an alien race.
Not the best of the segments but it did have its moments. Bart skipping through Dr. Frink’s warning regarding the cloning was good. As was Martin, who had a brief stint here. He tricks Bart and Lisa into a room with the sauce as he’s become fascinated and lets it eat him. This part was kind of chilling in a scientist gone mad kind of way. The final twist was also neat leaving the show on a hopeful note.
Post Credit Scene
Or does it? Here we get actual footage, slowed down, of a Bart Simpson Thanksgiving Day parade balloon. The music is ominous and coupled with close up’s of Bart’s grinning face makes this post credit scene one to remember.
Very good. I was initially skeptical but after seeing this I think The Simpsons are on to something. It’s not so much an innovation as it is a recycling. I’m fine with that if we’re going to get this type of quality.
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