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Friday, November 2, 2012

A Disordered Trek through Time - Twenty-Three Tree-Houses



Hmm...No beer...



XX

 

"Dial 'M' for Murder or Press '#' to Return to Main Menu"
Black and white animation, plus a revenge-swapping agreement between Lisa and Bart. Decent animation, but lacking on the funny.

"Don't Have a Cow, Mankind" 




"Juicy, flavorful, with just a hint of....AH!" 

Another zombie episode. Bart eats one of the infected burgers, but doesn't become infected. He is the key to curing the disease. Not bad, but not too great when compared to Homega Man and Dial 'Z' For Zombies". 


"What kind of people eat the body and blood of their savior?"

 "There's No Business Like Moe Business"


  
A murder plot involving Homer, Moe, and Marge. The trio has been featured in a few episodes, but this is particularly random and unneeded. This musical episode that never quite catches the beat.

 Overall Grade: C-/D+

***

X



"I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did"

“Can’t get enough of that sugar crisp…”





“Guess I forgot to put the fog-lights in…”

The first part of Tree-House X takes the cake for the best opening segment since The Shinning. Segments two and three (Desperately Xeeking Xena and Life's a Glitch) can’t quite hold up when compared to the first, Tree-House X is still fabulous for the moments that work.



Overall Grade: B+

***




XIV


Part one sees Homer become the Grim Reaper. Not the greatest segment, but better than most of season 15. See it.

The second segment is a Frink affair, involving his attempt to resurrect his father from cryostasis. There is quite a few funny parts in this episode, so I won’t spoil it any farther. Check it out.


The third part is passable, not quite on the level of the first two, but interesting in the premise of a time-stop device. Worth watching, since you’ve come this far.



 Overall Grade: B-

***

II





Tree-House of Horror II takes a slight detour from the greatness that was Tree-House I. It isn’t horrible, but it does seem to take a step back from the humor of the first. It is worth seeing all of these segments, and many of you likely have, but I won’t waste too much time on something so well known. Out of the three segments, I see parts I and III tied, with part II the odd man out.





Overall Grade: B+

***




XIII




The 13th Tree-House starts with a tale of cloning. Thanks to a magic hammock, Homer replicates himself to make his chores easier. One Homer follows Marge shopping, while another listens to his Grandpa Simpson’s nonsense.  After one clone accidently murders Flanders, Homer takes them all to a farm to get rid of the evidence. This results in an army of Homers on an eating rampage, and a cameo from everyone’s beloved failure, Gil. See it.

The second segment is another raising the dead episode, but this time the dead come to life because Lisa gets rid of all guns. There are a few good parts, but it is pretty inconsistent. Not bad, but not quite great.



The third part is the Simpson’s tale on the Island of Dr. Moreau. Interesting, but not the really that memorable either.


Overall Grade: B-/C+

***


I




The first Tree-House of Horror sets the stage for all the rest, in epic fashion. The first segment involves a haunted house, built atop of an Indian burial ground, which seeks to evict the new inhabitants, the Simpsons. Upon realization that the Simpsons are there to stay, the house sinks in upon itself, vanishing into nothingness instead of allowing the family to stay. 





The second segment revolves around the family's abduction by saucer people...aka Kang and Kodos. The possibility that the Simpsons will end up as dinner drives this segment to a hilarious conclusion. Just look for the Guide to Cooking Forty Humans".




The last part is quintessential Halloween, in the form of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven read by none other than James Earl Jones. Homer Simpson is the protagonist of the story. I will not go into too much detail about this part, but it is near perfect.

Overall Grade: A/A-

 
***
XIX


"Untitled Robot Parody"




This transformers rip off gives Michael Bay a run for his money, taking the giant robot franchise to a place it has been many times before. As expected, this turns out to be one big basket of fail.


"How to Get Ahead in Dead-vertising"




This is a parody of Mad Men, with Homer taking the position of heartless, alcoholic advertising executive. This episode is equally devoid of feeling. Miss it.  

"It's the Grand Pumpkin Milhouse."



This segment takes on the animation style of Charlie Brown, but the homage does not do justice to the original material. If I want to see Charlie Brown and the Giant Pumpkin, I'll just watch that, rather than the XIX knockoff.
 

Completely forgettable. The less I say about this episode, the better.

D-/F



***

III
This episode is well-known enough that I will simply leave quotes for the rest of this. If you haven’t seen this episode yet, go do that now, or don’t.


"Clown Without Pity"



Owner:             Take this object, but beware it carries a terrible curse...
Homer:            [worried] Ooooh, that's bad.
Owner:             But it comes with a free Frogurt!
Homer:            [relieved] That's good.
Owner:             The Frogurt is also cursed.
Homer:            [worried] That's bad.
Owner:             But you get your choice of topping!
Homer:            [relieved] That's good.
Owner:            The toppings contains Potassium Benzoate.
[Homer stares] That's bad.
Homer: [worried] Can I go now ?

"King Homer"



Carl:               Hey, I heard we're goin' to Ape Island.
Lenny:            Yeah, to capture a giant ape. I wished we were going to Candy Apple Island.
Charlie:           Candy Apple Island? What do they got there?
Carl:               Apes. But they're not so big.


Dial 'Z' For Zombies"
Bart:               I thought dabbling in the Black Arts would be good for a chuckle, how wrong I was. I should have never read that book.
Lisa:                Bart, maybe the library has another book that will reverse the spell?
Marge:                        It's our only hope!
Homer:                      [cocking a shotgun] To the book depository!


Ned Flanders: [incarnated into a zombie] Hey, Simpson. I'm feeling a mite peckish. Mind if I chew your ear!?
[Homer shots him dead with his shotgun. Marge and Lisa gasp]
Bart:               Dad, you killed the zombie Flanders!"
Homer:                      He was a zombie?

Overall Grade: A/A-
***

VIII

The HΩmega Man"


Nuclear Apocalypse is caused by the French of all people. Homer is the last man on earth, or so he thinks.  Not the best segment, but the great moments from this part raise the overall quality of this Tree-House up.

"Fly vs. Fly"
Bart and a Fly are transformed by passing through Frink’s transporter. Not a bad segment, but not a great one either.


"Easy-Bake Coven"
Halloween in Salem, complete with personalized witch-trials. Seems like a near-miss. It has its moments, but it doesn’t hit anything out of the park.


Overall Grade: B-/C+

***

XVIII

"E.T., Go Home"


Kodos comes down to earth to live with the Simpsons. There’s quite a few laughs in this episode, and it is a must in my mind. It even kind of makes up for the other, weaker segments.

"Mr. & Mrs. Simpson"
I’m sure you understand the reference here. Homer and Marge try to kill each other. There’s a Gatling gun…meh.

"Heck House"

Lisa, Bart, Milhouse, and Nelson start tricking everyone on Halloween, instead of giving them a chance to pick. Flanders suggests sending the kids to him, as he h as prepared a “heck house” at the church for the kids. Another miss, but some guffaws along the way.


Overall Grade: C-/D+
***

XVII

"Married to the Blob" 

Homer becomes an eating machine, after he finds a green morsel under a meteorite. He finds a group of teenagers in the midst of a barbeque fight, and switches to human meat. Next, he tries to satiate his hunger with an Oktoberfest-full of Germans, and fully morphs into a blob monster.  A few laughs, cameos by Dr. Phil and Sir Mix-A-Lot, but it’s still lacking when compared to previous seasons.

"You Gotta Know When To Golem"
Bart awakens a Jewish golem, mayhem ensues, but not too many laughs. Fran Drescher shows up L Skip it.


"The Day the Earth Looked Stupid"
Simpsons meets War of the Worlds…people are duped, cause people are dumb.  Edna made me laugh at one point, as she passed out Chester Strikes.
Edna: Here children, have a cigarette to calm your nerves.

There’s a few random laughs in the rest of the episode. Not a complete miss. For Treehouse XVII, that’s a compliment. Kang and Kodos finish the episode with a laugh.

Overall Grade: C

 ***

XII 


Hex and the City: Homer destroys a gypsy’s store, and she places a curse upon the Simpson family. Marge grows a beard, Bart has a stringy neck, and Lisa becomes a centaur. There are a few great lines from this episode.

Carl: I was hexed by a troll and a leprechaun cleared that right up.
 Lenny: You know what’s even better than leprechauns? Jesus. He’s like six leprechauns!”
Carl:  Yeah, but he’s a lot harder to catch. Go with a leprechaun.”

At the end of this part, Kang and Kodos make another memorable appearance at the wedding of gypsy and leprachaun.

Kang: I always secrete ocular fluid at weddings.
Kodos: Why did you drag me here!? I don’t know anybody!

"House of Whacks" deals with the Simpson’s house, now robotic, sentient, and voiced by Pierce Brosnan. Even with James Bond, this segment is a miss. I won’t say too much more, if you are intrigued by the concept, go ahead and watch it.


“Wiz Kids” is equally, if not more forgettable than “House”. Harry Potter spoof, but it misses more laughs than it finds. *wiff*




Overall Grade: D+
***

IV

 Conan did a phenomenal job with the segments between the three stories, using Bart as the narrator walking through a hall of terrifying portraits. The first story is titled simply, The Devil and Homer Simpson. Ned Flanders plays the devil.

Homer: Oh, I'd sell my soul for a donut.
(Flanders appears as the devil.) Devil Flanders: Did I hear someone wanted to sell their soul?

Homer: Flanders?! You're the devil?!

Devil Flanders: It's always the one you least expect isn't it?

 Homer is banished to hell for selling his soul for a donut and Marge tries to save him by bringing a lawsuit against the devil. Homer is represented by Lionel Hutts, who as usual, does a disservice to his client. Marge is forced to save Homer herself, by bringing up an earlier contract in which Homer promised his soul to Marge for eternity. Homer wins the trial, but is cursed with a donut head for the rest of his life. At the end of the episode, he is unable to leave the house due to a police stake-out. 

Chief Wiggum: (Outside house, sipping coffee) Don't worry, boys. He's got to come out of there sometime.

Part Two of this episode is okay, but only that. The gremlin on the bus doesn’t really do it for me, although sees Hans Moleman did make me smile. Ned Flanders also has a great part in this episode, as he tries to save the gremlin after Bart knocks it from the bus. Homer has a great line when he pulls beside the bus.

Homer: Hey Marge, I found all this stuff at the dock. It was just sitting in some guy's boat.

Part Three, on paper, looks be a pretty standard vampire episode, but there are too many great lines from this episode to count.

 
Burns: “Welcome, come in! Ah…fresh victims for my ever-growing army of the undead…”

Smithers: “sir, you have to let go of the button…”

Burns: “Oh! Son of a bitch!”
            
 *

Lisa: Dad, don't you think there something a little off about him.

Homer: Yeah, his hairdo is so queer.

Vampire Burns: I heard that!

Homer: It was the boy!
            
 *

Lisa: “Mom, Dad! Mr. Burns is a vampire, and he has Bart.”

Bart: “I’m right here. Hello father, hello mother, I missed you during my   uneventful absence.”

Homer: “Oh Lisa, you and your stories. Bart is a vampire, beer kills braincells…now let’s go back to that building-thingie where our beds and TV is.

Overall Grade: A-/B+.

***


IX




Hell Toupee is the first entry of this Tree-house, and it begins with one of the best individuals segments. Snake is sentenced to death due to Springfield’s Three-Strike Rule and his hair is donated to a transplant program after the execution. Homer’s line, while watching the execution on Fox, is just one example of why this episode is so great.

“The chair!? How come they only do crucifixions during sweeps?”


Homer is first on the transplant list, and Dr. Nick performs the operation at his clinic, the Back Alley Medical Group. Unbeknownst to Homer, his new haircut leads him to become possessed by Snake’s spirit. Snake begins to eliminate the witnesses to his crime, exacting revenge for his execution. The murders of Apu and Moe provide a great many jokes. Even Kent Brockman gets on the bandwagon, in his segment about Apu.



Kent: “and the fluffy kitten played with that ball of spring, all through the night…and on a lighter side, a Kwik-E-Mart clerk was brutally murdered last night.”

Cut to Wiggum

Wiggum: “I’m afraid we don’t have any leads, but I believe it is safe to say, Apu did not suffer.”

Lou: “Looks to me like he suffered a lot Chief.”


I don’t want to take up the entire time talking about the first part of this episode. Comparatively, the rest of the episode is almost on par with the first part. Tiny Toons ( Lisa and Bart are transported into Itchy and Scratchy’s world) and Starship Poopers (Maggie revealed as a spawn of Kang) each have their moments, making this a solid episode.

Overall Grade: B+.


***

XI

Not a complete waste of an episode, as it does have its moments. The first episode, Ghost Dad, is rather forgetful, as Homer has to perform a good deed to get into heaven. The second episode is a standard fairy-tale spoof, with a spattering of laughs here and there. Moe’s cameo in Scary Tales made me laugh. The last episode deals with Lisa’s love of dolphins, which leads her to her own Free Willy moment as she tries to save Snorki from a life of captivity. Lenny’s lines from the third part of this episode almost makes up for the lackluster first two.


“Alcohol and night swimming…it’s a winning combination!”
 
“Uh-oh, sharks! The assassins of the sea…oh no, you’re not sharks, you’re dolphins, the clowns of the sea.”

The dolphins embark on a war of conquest, intent on taking out their anger upon Springfield for their former imprisonment in Sea World. Snorki leads his brethren to victory and the former townspeople are banished to the ocean. Kang and Kodos make a cameo at the end of the episode, but like much of this episode, their appearance is wasted.




Overall Grade: C-

*** 

 VII
"The Thing and I" 

Why is Bart evil? The first segment of Tree-House VII sets out to explain this very question. An appearance by Dr. Hibbert is welcomed, and the ending of this segment gives the entire episode a glowing seal of approval.




"The Genesis Tub" 

Lisa seeks to study the effects of cola upon tooth enamel, and ends up creating universe of tiny people. After Bart realizes her project is much better than his, he tries  to destroy her tiny town. The denizens of the petri dish, far more advanced than the Simpson universe, send their ships to attack him. The appearance of a debigulator, and the discussion of the feasibility of a rebigulator, take this episode to another level. Watch it.

 

"Citizen Kang"

A political spoof, so spot on that no show to date has been able to usurp its position. Citizen Kang works on so many levels, that any other Kang and Kodos episode pales in comparison. Must watch.




***


XV





"The Ned Zone"

Ned aquires psychic powers after a serious hit to the head. He sees the destruction of Springfield after touching Homer, and tries the entire episode to avert it. The picture below should illustrate his level of success.



"Four Beheadings and a Funeral"

A tale of Victorian England, following the slayings of Jack the Ripper. Not bad, but it isn't particularly funny. The part with Moe as the Opium dealer does fit pretty well.



"In the Belly of the Boss"

The Simpsons travel inside of Mr. Burns. It sucks. That is all. If you want to see an episode like this, go watch Parasites Lost from Futurama season 3.




Overall Grade: C-



***

XVI

This entire episode is such crap, I shall not waste your time in explaining anything but the broad outline. "B.I.: Bartificial Intelligence" is a parody of A.I,  "Survival of the Fattest" is taken from the Most Dangerous Game, and "I've Grown a Costume on Your Face" is just a you are what you wear episode. All wastes of time. Skip it.
  

Overall Grade: F



***

XXI


"War and Pieces"

Bart and Milhouse stumble upon a board-game called Satan's Path, and it causes the world to come alive. Simpson's does Jumanji, and news-flash, it sucks.



"Master and Cadaver"

Homer and Marge take a mystery man (played by Hugh Laurie) upon their boat, and it doesn't work out, for his benefit or ours. Skip it.



"Tweenlight"

A Twilight spoof that isn't as bad as actually watching Twilight. The only good part of this episode comes from this segment, but is it worth watching crap to get a few laughs? I guess so.




Overall Grade: D

***


XXII




"The Diving Bell and Butterball"

Homer is paralyzed by a spider-bite, and proceeds to write a novel via farting. Not that funny, or heart-warming. Diving Bell and the Butterfly was great though.





 "Dial D for Diddly" 

Ned begins to commit murders, believing that he is following God's orders. A few funny moments are found in this, but the overall execution is flawed. Skip it.



"In the Na'Vi" 

Avatar spoof. Not much more to be said. If you liked Avatar, you might find this funny. I didn't though. Skip it.






Overall Grade: D-/F

***

XXIII


"The Greatest Story Ever Holed"


A black hole destroys Springfield. I wish it had started with this episode. Skip it.





"UNnormal Activity"

This Paranormal Activity spoof takes way too long to get going, and then falls flat. Skip it.
 

"Bart & Homer's Excellent Adventure"


Bart goes back in time and inadvertently comes between Marge and Homer falling in love. Almost any flashback/time-travel episode after season 10 falls flat, and this fits the bill. Not all episodes can be Holidays of Future Passed.

 

Overall Grade : D-/F

***

V


"Well, it was a long trip, but we are almost there."

"Homer, did you remember to lock the front door of the house?"
 "DOH!"

The Shinnin' is the first entry to Tree-House V, and it has remained one of my favorite segments through everything else that has come since. This may be my favorite at times, but it constantly shuffles with A Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace and Homer(cubed).


"Don't be reading my mind between 4 and 5. That's Willy time!" 





The second segment is entitled Time and Punishment, and is every bit as funny as Crime and Punishment is depressing. I will always remember what my father told me on my wedding day,

"If you travel backwards in time, don't touch anything!"




The third segment takes place largely at school, with Bart and Lisa facing imminent death at the hands of the teachers and Principal Skinner. Now let's check on those free-range children.



Overall Grade: A  

***

VI 








The best. Simply Put. Every single segment of Tree-House VI knocks it out of the park. For the greatest consistency amongst any of the 23 Tree-Houses of Horror, I have awarded Tree-House VI full points.

Overall Grade; A+