Original Air Date: Wednesday, November 1, 2000
A Simpson Tribute to The Munsters
This episode opens with a 'Munsters' parody, featuring the Simpson family coming out of the house as 'Munsters' characters from the classic hit TV series. Once the family is all out of the house, an angry mob attacks, brutally killing all but Lisa in various ways off-camera. Lisa then walks away from the scene, whistling, as though she didn't see anything. It's a pretty funny intro, and takes the place of the regular couch gag.
The first segment very loosely parodies 1990's 'Ghost Dad', but really by title only. The Simpson family is having their morning breakfast, when Homer reads his horoscope, saying very specifically that he would die that day. Tossing it aside, he heads to work, and spends his day avoiding a lot of close calls, and mocking the horoscope for its prediction - that is until he eats a bit of broccoli and chokes on it.
Homer then meets St. Peter, who informs him that in order to get into Heaven, he has to do one good deed on Earth. He's sent back as a ghost, and sets about his mission, screwing up all of his attempts and providing some decent laughs as it goes on. The thing about this segment I like is the abrupt punchline at the end which may or may not feel like a cop out to some, but I can't deny I get a laugh from it.
This one's actually not too bad, but it only barely fits into the Halloween theme with Homer's ghost. There are much worse, there are much better, it's a very middle-of-the-road segment for me. It certainly relies on humor more than horror. That doesn't sound like it means much for something like 'The Simpsons', but several past segments have had their horror edge to them. This is just straight comedy, and it works as a long set-up to a hilarious conclusion (at least in my opinion).
Scary Tales Can Come True
In a parody of Grimm's Fairy Tales, the Simpson family lives in a pumpkin-shaped cottage as poor village peasants. Once Homer loses his job as the village oaf, the family finds themselves in dire straights, resulting in Homer abandoning Bart and Lisa in the fairy tale forest, where everything in it is mentioned in Lisa's book she takes with her.
Bart and Lisa find themselves dodging a few fairy tale fates, including a Moe-like troll under a bridge and the Three Bears. This all eventually leads to them coming across an old hag and a gingerbread house, and for whatever reason decide to suddenly trust their guts on this stranger. The siblings enter the house, and find themselves in the 'Hansel & Gretel' situation, where the witch intends on eating them. Meanwhile, Marge sends Homer back out to find the kids, as they could have sold them instead of just abandoning them.
It all ends with Homer coming to the rescue (kind of) as well as a hilariously weird twist that sees Bart and Lisa back home safely because the food shortage they face gets solved. The funny thing about it that springs to my mind is that this problem is in no way solved using the food and candy from the gingerbread house. It's worth it though, just for a wildly WTF visual. I actually find this one pretty passable as well, if not a bit over-the-top at times. At the very least, it's a neat idea.
Night of the Dolphin
The funny thing about this segment is that out of the whole episode, it seems to be the most popular, but I can't really tell why. It's just as passable as the first two for me, but if I had to say one was a bit weaker, it would probably be this one. On the other hand, apparently Matt Groening says this segment is one of his all-time favorites, which is saying a lot.
It all starts when Lisa releases a dolphin from captivity, parodying 'Free Willy'. As a result, however, this Dolphin (apparently a king in his world) calls on other dolphins to rise up and take over the human race, banishing us to the water while they take over the land. Why? Well, according to Snorky (Harry Shearer's normal voice) dolphins once lived on the land, and they are ready to rise up and take it back. I always just found the whole concept of this one too dumb, although it has some solidly funny visual gags going for it.
This one is a parody of 1973's 'The Day of the Dolphin', in which scientists attempt to teach dolphins to speak English. We can see some other clear parodies throughout the segment as well, including 'The Birds' and 'Jaws' among other cultural references. This one's kind of fun as well, but shows an odd balance for the episode as a whole - it's not altogether Halloweenish, but it's close enough. It's altogether entertaining, yet nothing really stands out.
'Treehouse XI' is about as average as you can possibly get with these Halloween episodes. None of it really sucks, the humor keeps it on track. In one last joke for the episode, Kang and Kodos finally make their appearance, complaining about not being in the episode at all. They finally do get a call for a gig, but it's for Old Navy, and one of them mentions that "work is work". This was back at a time when Old Navy's ad campaign was just about everywhere, so it was a fitting gag for the time. All in all, this one is surprisingly more passable than I remembered it, and I have to confess that I'm starting to wonder if some of these are growing on me over time.
Overall Episode Rating: 60%