Original Air Date: Sunday, November 3, 2002
A Séance for Maude Flanders
The episode opens with the Simpson family hosting a séance, trying to convince neighbor Neddy to contact his late wife, who was killed by a t-shirt gun back in Season 11. While Ned, Homer, Marge, Lisa and Maggie join hands, summoning Maude's spirit, Bart enters in costume, playing a prank. While everyone at the table looks terrified, Bart reveals himself only to discover that what's scaring everyone is the actual ghost of Maude, behind him.
The ghost of Maude then introduces the episode, honestly sort of forcefully. We then see the episode's title uniquely introduced as "The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror 13" as opposed to what it would regularly read; "The Simpsons Halloween Special XIII". That's the first time they used a non-Roman numeral AND the first time a Halloween episode is introduced as "Treehouse of Horror". Can you believe it took them 13 tries to match it? These episodes have always had the title "Treehouse of Horror" but are always introduced as "The Simpsons Halloween Special". Anyway, again, no couch gag. Just a lot of Homer screaming for some reason.
'Send in the Clones'
Although it's decently funny, this is another one that sincerely bothers me more than it should. It strays so far from anything Halloweenish that it's primary farce is the now pretty-well forgotten 'Multiplicity' from 1996. I wanna say it was even forgotten about by the time this aired, which meant they were really stretching for an idea.
This one capitalizes on Homer's laziness. He purchases a hammock from a street vendor that has the ability to clone. This results in Homer using it to his advantage, cloning a bunch of Homers to help around the house while he continues to be lazy. All goes well until one of them kills, resulting in Homer trying to get rid of them all. He drops them and the hammock in a field without thinking, and soon, there's a Homer clone uprising (guest-starring Peter Griffin from 'Family Guy' as well as oldschool Homer, which is at least a clever visual gag).
This one has a few laughs, but I just don't see it as a very strong one at all. There's not much Halloweenish about it, and there's about one thing that happens one could consider horrific - the exact same visual gag being done in 'Terror at 5 1⁄2 Feet', but better. Despite a giggle or two, this is easily one of the weakest Halloween segments in my book.
'The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms'
One might be surprised at this, but in actuality, I honestly kind of hate this one. To simplify, it just plain gets on my nerves. It opens with Bart and Lisa burying their goldfish. Lisa then stumbles on William H. Bonney's gravestone which reads "Gunned down, July 14, 1881. Aged 21" followed by a quote; "I dream of a world without guns". This prompts Lisa to do her activist thing and head a rally to ban guns from Springfield.
Once the guns are banned, a zombie Bonney bursts from his grave, only to reveal himself to be Billy the Kid. He, along with a handful of other zombie cowboys he calls the "Hole in the Ground Gang". They take the now defenseless town, and things get incredibly annoying with the amount of gunfire used. But Frink invents a time machine out of the blue, which Homer uses to go back and warn the town not to ban guns, lest the zombie cowboys take over.
It has a laugh or two, but all in all, it just feels thrown together and almost made up as it goes along. I can't quite explain what it is about it that truly bothers me, other than the annoying amount of gunfire. It may be because it's a zombie segment, and 'Dial Z for Zombies' is so hard to top, it may be the fact that it feels like a cheap attempt at doing a western themed segment while still fitting it into the Halloween theme. All I know is that it's an example of one of the segments I claim to have brought things for these Halloween episodes downhill.
'The Island of Dr. Hibbert'
Thank God for this segment in this episode. After the second segment, you start to wonder if this is the worst of the bunch. But then, they pull a parody of 'The Island of Dr. Moreau', bringing it to more of a full on monster movie farce, and some of the visuals and animals they match the characters up with here are pretty hilarious.
The Simpson family takes a vacation to the Island of Lost Souls, where they meet Dr. Hibbert, who runs the village resort. Unknown to the family, however, are the mad experiments happening on the island that involve turning the visiting humans into animals of some sort. This is where it gets fun, as so many animals fit so well with each character from Disco Shrew to a visual of Principal Skinner and his mother as a kangaroo and her baby in her pouch. While Homer finds the whole ordeal strange and disgusting, there's something about the newfound animalistic instincts the others gain they seem to want to embrace.
This is one I tend to enjoy when it's on, and I find myself quoting here and there. It's one of the more memorable segments from this era, and it really helps to bring the episode back up from the nosedive it seemed to be stuck in (at least for me). The episode as a whole is easily one of the weaker ones, but this segment could be clipped away, watched on its own, and I daresay you wouldn't miss a whole lot from the rest of it.
'The Island of Dr. Hibbert' ends with a funny gag involving Homer quicly second-guessing just how bad the situation on the island is. It then brings us up to Kang and Kodos' flying saucer, and having them discuss how the Island of Lost Souls looks just like their number 4 - clearly a take on conspiracy theories in general, and a good last laugh for Halloween episode number "unlucky" 13.
Overall Episode Rating: 47%