Original Air Date: Sunday, October 26, 1997
Taking a Stab at Fox Censors
We open things up with a humorous look at the Fox Censor. He's going through the script, crossing this and that off, saying "no" repeatedly. The real laugh comes from us seeing him laugh pretty hard at something, but continuing to cross it out, pointing out that they may just be a bunch of hypocritical jerks. For the record, they had trouble getting this gag to go through, but eventually the censors really did manage to meet them in the middle and allow it... changing the weapon from a daggar to a cutlass because... more cartoony?
The censor rates the film "TV G", deeming it safe for watching. But the rating pulls a sword and starts stabbing the censor in the back, repeatedly. With each stab the rating gets stricter and stricter, until it reaches "TV 666", and the censor dies in a bloody mess that spells out 'The Simpons Halloween Special VIII'. We then cut to the couch gag, showing the family run to the couch, only to be electrified, execution style.
'The HΩmega Man'
This segment opens up with Mayor Quimby cracking an offensive joke about France. This causes the French President to launch a nuclear missile at Springfield. Meanwhile, the threat has Homer shopping for a new bomb shelter. He finds one, and while testing it out, the nuke hits, killing seemingly everyone except for Homer.
When Homer comes out of the bomb shelter, he eventually comes to realize that he's the last man alive, and takes the opportunity to do a bunch of crap he could never do while everyone was still around - including watching a movie alone in a theater (I don't blame him for wanting to do this) and dancing naked in a church to Edwin Starr's 'War (What is it Good For?)'. Soon, however, Homer finds out he's not quite alone, as many Sprinfieldians have transformed into hideous mutants.
This one is an obvious farce on 'The Omega Man'; apparently one of writer Mike Scully's favorite movies as a kid. Going bac to the Fox censor thing for a second, there were several edits to this whole episode in production, including Homer's naked church dance. It was originally supposed to happen on the altar, but that was too overboard. Overall, I find this one just okay. It saves itself with some pretty hilarious moments, but it goes from fun to "meh" by the end. I never was a big fan of the ending of this one. It feels a bit forced.
'Fly vs Fly'
This is definitely one of the better segments of this era, while things just started to teeter in quality. This is a 'Simpsons' take on 'The Fly', leaning more towards the original film in concept in which a scientific experiment goes awry, transforming the scientist into a small fly, and the fly into a scientist in a head-swapping situation.
It all starts here when Homer buys a matter transporter at Professor Frink's yard sale. Homer uses it to his advantage, living way too easily. He uses it to get up the stairs, to get beer from the fridge, and even tries to use it to go the the bathroom, but not before Marge stops him. Bart asks to use it, but Homer warns him of the consequences of not being careful. Bart ignores him, of course, when he decides it would be a great idea to bring a fly with him into the transporter, hoping to become some sort of superhero. The results are just like in 'The Fly'. Bart becomes a small fly with Bart's head, and the fly's head ends up on Bart's body.
I actually get a lot of laughs from this one, as it plays on so much. The noise the fly makes is so cartoonishly grotesque it's hilarious, and it even gets kinda gross, which may or may not be a little nod to the 1986 film, I'm not sure. Apparently there was another big edit here where the fly was supposed to be big, and the family rode it to the mall. I think I'm kinda glad that got cut, because this works well for what it is. The segment even ends in classic Simpsons Halloween fashion when we see the consequences of Bart's actions take place. But don't worry, he lives... I think.
This is another one I tend to meet in the middle. It's just okay, but I can't really deny that it's one of the more Halloween-feeling segments we've had in a little while. This one takes place in 1649 Springfield where witch burnings are commonplace, and of course, the witch tests are ridiculous. In this case, they get pushed off a cliff. If they are good, Christian people, they fall to their deaths, but if they're witches, they'll fly to safety but have to report back for execution.
Long story short, this all happens with Marge, and it's revealed that she is a witch along with her sisters, Patty and Selma. Marge flies back to the cave in which she and her sisters dwell, and contemplate what to do. They look into their cauldron and see Ned Flanders mention the witches eating their kids. They figure it's a good idea, and head out to start feasting on the children of the village. This all soon turns into the origins of Halloween as the witches go door to door asking for treats once "boneless" gingerbread children are offered up instead.
It ends with a funny dark joke, but it's neat to see them make a segment that's actually about Halloween, and not just a spoof. It happens more as time goes on, but I believe this was the first. A lot of the village design was modelled after 1996's 'The Crucible', and there's a nod to 1995's 'The Scarlet Letter' using Edna Krabappel - a pretty solid visual gag. It's not laugh out loud funny to me, but it's decent, and a very weird first for these Halloween specials considering this is Halloween episode #8. But does it also mean they're running out of ideas?
The whole episode ends with the Sea Captain reading from a book, telling the story of the last segment, but at first mistaking it for the story of the first caramel cod as opposed to the story of the first Halloween. Of course, most of us know that's not how any of it went down at all, and there's a far more interesting history behind Halloween. The internet is jam packed with sources on the subject, but I enjoy 'The Halloween Tree' for a good visual representation of some of the cultures behind Halloween.
Overall Episode Rating: 73%