The Simpsons: “Treehouse of Horror XXX” Review

For the past 30 years, we’ve been able to count on The Simpsons to deliver spooky satire at Halloween.  Their “Treehouse of Horror” series is one of the longest continuously running annual traditions that still remains.

Given that this episode also happened to be their 666th, it was cause for extra celebration.  Does it fall victim to what many consider to be the overall decline of the series, or does this special episode recapture the magic of the past?  Let’s take a closer look at “Treehouse of Horror XXX”!

The Omen opening definitely should have been its own full story!

Even before the three stories begin, we’re treated to an opening sketch which takes on The Omen.  Maggie happens to be the antichrist and they hit all the marks with people hanging themselves at her birthday, and Flanders trying to kill her with the daggers of Megiddo in a church.  While this sequence may only be a few minutes long, it’s somehow more entertaining than everything that follows!

“Danger Things”

In a story about alternate dimensions, the weirdest thing is seeing Nelson and Martin in the same group of friends!

The story begins with Milhouse getting lost in the “Over Under” and the town of Springfield trying to find him.  As Lisa psychically transports herself there, Homer follows with a flame thrower and they discover that this alternate universe is better than their own and decide to stay there.

After Stranger Things took the world by storm, it was only a matter of time before they got the official Simpsons treatment.  Seeing the title card and hearing that iconic 80’s synth music was fun, as were a lot of the visual gags.

Unfortunately, most of the jokes felt really forced and flat.  Aside from Chief Wiggum asking what actual year they were supposed to be in, a sharp critique of how Stranger Things merely exists in “the 80s”.

“Heaven Swipes Right”

While the episode may be lacking overall, brief moments like this gave us jokes as good as the series used to be.

In a parody of Heaven Can Wait, Homer dies at a ball game, but discovers that it was a mistake, and the Heaven isn’t as efficient anymore after being sold to Google.  They return him in a very fit body, which he promptly runs.  So to make up for this, he keeps dying and inhabiting new bodies, including Superintendent Chalmers and Moe.

Most of the humor in this story comes from Homer just being Homer, rather than trying too hard to parody the source material.  And it works much better here than it did in “Danger Things”.  The joke about Homer dying when he opened up his paycheck as a public school employee was pretty hilarious, even if it wasn’t entirely accurate (superintendents typically make bank, compared to teachers).

“When Hairy Met Slimy”

It wouldn’t be Halloween without Kang and Kodos. But we’ve seen much better from them.

In their third and final parody of the episode (fourth if you count the opening), we see Selma falling in love with Kang.  Homer helps them escape to another planet, as he’s every motivated to get Selma out of his life.  Much like the first story, most of the humor comes from trying to mimic the original film (The Shape of Water), rather than providing sharp commentary on it.

And that’s the overall issue with this special.  In the old days, these stories could be great parodies, while still providing a strong narrative and sharp, witty jokes.  This trio of horror tales felt more like a collection of jokes strung together into a skeleton of a plot.  There are a few legitimately funny moments, but sadly this great milestone doesn’t achieve the greatness the series once had in its first decade.

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