Original Air Date: Tuesday, November 6, 2001
Mr. Burns' Halloween Set-Up
This episode opens with a pretty sweet doozy of an opening. Mr. Burns is getting Smithers to hang up his prized bat Halloween decoration atop a weathervane during a thunderstorm. While on the ladder, Smithers loses his balance and falls, sliding down a cable, directly into a fuse box and electrocuting himself. This blows up a tower on Burns Manor, sending it crashing into the Burns family crypt, unleashing a few coffins that all crash upright into the front of the mansion and open up individually.
In the meantime, the Simpson family are trick or treating, and as they approach Burns Manor, they see the carnage that just happened. This sends them running and screaming for their lives as they cartoonishly run through the front gate, slicing themselves into pieces as they run. Burns then gives the simple bat decoration all the credit for scaring people off. Once again, this is all in place of the regular couch gag. The episode's surprisingly late air date had to do with Fox's contract with the World Series, taking place from October 27 - November 4.
'Hex and the City'
While exploring Springfield's Ethnic Town, the Simpson family stumbles into a fortune teller's shop. Homer, in his oafish ways, ruins the shop by being clumsy, and as a result, the Gypsy fortune teller curses him to bring bad luck to everyone he loves.
The following day, Marge's hair starts to grow everywhere else on her, Bart's neck stretches out, Lisa grows horse legs and hoofs, and Maggie eventually turns into a half ladybug. The curse carries through to his friends as well, and he finds out that his only hope is to capture a leprechaun who will curb the curse. The leprechaun in question is a pretty rough Irish stereotype, and they take it pretty far, making the voice sound like someone doing an impression of a drunken Irishman.
There is something presently uncomfortable about this one in the sense that it just doesn't care. This is also way before the public eye was open a little more about the Roma, or as most would know them, "Gypsies". So it hasn't aged particularly well when you consider society today, but it does have a moment or two. While the title is a clear farce of 'Sex and the City', the general plot seems to loosely be based on Stephen King's 'Thinner'. This one has always just kinda beeen "there" to me, and I don't think much of it when it comes to memorable Simpson Halloween moments.
'House of Whacks'
When a salesbot visits the Simpson house, it proposes a state of the art house-cleaning system called "Ultrahouse". When setting it up, they are able to choose different voices from Standard to Matthew Perry (as himself), Dennis Miller (voice unknown) and Pierce Brosnan (the big guest star on this episode). The whole situation is essentially as though they have a 'Star Trek' computer that can do just about anything for the household.
All is well for a while, but eventually the super-intelligent house computer starts to develop a thing for Marge, and even watches her bathe while providing her with the perfect atmosphere. This ultimately puts Homer in danger, as the house decides it's time to off Homer in order to move in on his wife. Soon, Marge and the kids find themselves facing off against their own house, which may or may not have killed off Homer already. It's creepy enough that it just fits the Halloween vibe of the episode.
This one's a parody combination of 'Demon Seed' and '2001: A Space Odyssey', both featuring the idea of a corrupt, super-intelligent computer. It's kinda funny, and Pierce Brosnan's classy British voice adds a little something to it. I was never the biggest fan of this segment, but I can't deny that there's something about it that has grown on me a little bit over the years. It's just silly, overall, and ends on a lighter, funnier note that turns the tables of terror on the robot, leaving you with a decent laugh.
It was only a matter of time until 'The Simpsons' did a farce of 'Harry Potter'. This particular parody was done between the publications of 'Goblet of Fire' and 'Order of the Phoenix' as well, so interestingly enough, there were only four books at the time this was done, and its pretty impressive to see what they came up with, considering the lack of three future books to come.
The segment opens with the Simpson kids sitting down to breakfast, where we learn pretty fast that Lisa is the brainy wizard out of the two, while Bart's a bit of an underachiever. At school, this is further proven by a hilarious frog-to-prince trick, where Lisa makes a perfect "Prince Charming" while Bart creates a horrible abomination that basically looks like a nightmarish Muppet frog that can't stop puking all over itself. It's very gruesome, yes, but it always gets a laugh from me due to how over-the-top it is.
Meanwhile, the evil "Montymort" (Mr. Burns) and his snake, Slithers (Smithers) see Lisa's skill through a crystal ball, and plan to kidnap her in an effort to suck out her brainy essence, and use it for his evil ways. I still remember this one feeling like a bit of a treat when I first saw it, because it had been a while since they did a full on popular movie farce. With so much to work with in a less than 10-minute period, they pull it off pretty well, and it's fun to think about the magical shortcuts the Simpson kids take - like turning back the clock five minutes when they're going to be late for school. All in all, it's quite enjoyable, funny, and even caters to 'Harry Potter' fans at least a little bit.
Once the credits start rolling, the episode cuts to a guest trailer in the studio parking lot. Pierce Brosnan, the leprechaun and the frog prince abomination all emerge from the trailer with fruit baskets. They walk over to Pierce Brosnan's fancy sports car, and the leprechaun tricks him into giving him and the frog rides home. It's a funny little gag to throw over the end credits, and it takes the place of the usual Simpsons Halloween theme music.
Overall Episode Rating: 60%