Original Air Date: Sunday, November 5, 2006
A Tribute to 'Tales from the Crypt'
In one of my personal favorite openings, things kick off with the theme music and general into to the classic anthology series, 'Tales from the Crypt'. In place of the regular mansion is Burns' mansion, and as the camera heads down the spiral staircase (one of the most memorable sections of the intro), the cameraman falls down the stairs, ending up in a crypt where Mr. Burns pops up, posing as the Crypt Keeper, and introduces the show.
Off to the side, a zombie Smithers compliments his puns, but even further off to the side, you hear Moe complaining while standing in an iron maiden, stating that listening to them is more torturous than the actual torture. Smithers then closes the iron maiden on Moe, whose blood drips out onto the floor, spelling 'Treehouse of Horror XVII'. Moe even comments on how smart his blood is for using the roman numerals.
'Married to the Blob'
While Homer and Marge are making out in the back yard, a meteor crash lands right next to them, unveiling a strange blob that Homer dubs a "space marshmallow". Not even caring about where it came from or how it tastes, Homer the eats the "space marshmallow", which in turn sends his appetite into a runaway train.
As the segment progresses, Homer continues to eat everyone in sight. This includes a montage with music and lyrics by Sir Mix A Lot, parodying his own song with 'Baby Likes Fat'. Essentially, it's just a 'Simpsons' take on 'The Blob', making Homer's uncontrollable eating habits the main focus. Dr. Phil McGraw makes a guest appearance here as well, trying to talk to him about obesity. At first it feels a bit crow-barred in, but at least he lends himself to the segment instead of having someone show up just to be recognizably famous.
This one's actually pretty funny to me, but the concept almost makes you wonder what took them so long to make it happen. I mean, Homer Simpson as The Blob practically writes itself. But there are several solid visual gags, including a 50-foot Lenny, not getting any attention. I'm pleased to say it doesn't end as abruptly as anything from the last episode, and the ending returns to being one of humorous darkness. It's basic, and feels a bit late to the party, but enjoyable all the same.
'You Gotta Know When to Golem'
In a parody of 'The Golem', the segment opens with Bart and Milhouse attending a live recording of 'The Krusty the Clown Show'. There's a hilarious visual here involving seeing what Krusty looks like in HD, but I daresay that's about where this segment peaks. Anyway, as they go to leave, Bart decides to go backstage to complain about a Krusty clock that shoots acid in your face.
While exploring Krusty's prop room, he stumbles on a statue Krusty tells him is the Golem of Prague; legendary defender of the Jewish people. Krusty recaps the tale of the Golem's origin, including the premise of the Golem performing any task someone would write down on a piece of parchment, and put in its mouth. Bart takes this and rolls with it by giving him the task of coming to his house at midnight that night. The Golem obliges, and Bart soon uses him to his advantage, especially on the school playground as protection.
However, what starts out actually kinda cool takes a downward tumble once Lisa gives the Golem the task to "speak", resulting in Jewish comedian Richard Lewis' voice. There are some decent laughs here, but you can feel things really start to teeter. Then by the end, Fran Drescher shows up to voice a female Golem the male Golem falls in love with. It just turns into a whole thing about Jewish comedy that feels like it's trying too hard. For me, this is one example of a segment that starts strong and ends weak. While it's still not exactly not terrible, I'm not exactly a fan of it... But I do have fond memories of Richard Lewis.
'The Day the Earth Looked Stupid'
In a 1938 version Springfield, the town is fooled by the very real and infamous Orson Welles 'War of the Worlds' broadcast. As with much of what really happened that fateful Halloween night, the people of Springfield burst into a mass panic. They all make fools of themselves until level-headed Lisa comes along, informing them all that it was a hoax. Once their guard is down, in a twist, Kang and Kodos invade the Earth for real, and that's about all there is to it.
Voice actor Maurice LaMarche lends his voice here to play Orson Welles. People of my generation may know him best as The Brain from 'Animaniacs' and 'Pinky and The Brain'; a character who as actually based on Welles. This may be the first time in 'Treehouse' history that celebrity guest stars really got poured into a full episode, as opposed to just being one-offs, as the case usually is. LaMarche's impression of Welles is rather spot on, too, and he's one of my favorite parst about this episode - me being a bit bias about the Halloween classic that is that radio broadcast. It has actually become tradition for me to listen to it every year for the past few years.
This segment moves pretty damn quickly, and parts of it admittedly feel pretty thrown-together. But there are several gags that just work for what it's trying to portray. My favorite example is when Welles is describing what the martians are doing, and the sound effect guy can't take it anymore, holding up a sign that says "screw you". It's another one I meet right in the middle, because for as much as I love the farce they are pulling off here, I have to admit that it's really not the strongest either. In fact I think other people would probably get a bit less out of it than I do. If you enjoy that old radio broadcast, it's worth a look, but if you just find it old news and boring, you won't get much out of this.
As the episode ends, we do see that Kang and Kodos have taken over the Earth successfully. However, as they look over a destroyed Springfield, three years after the attack, there's actually a neat twist in which Kang and Kodos were meant to be liberators, there to rid the Earth of weapons of mass disintegration. The camera pans out on the destroyed Earth, and 'I Don't Want to Set the World on Fire' by The Ink Spots plays. The credits then roll with a different and more chilling Halloween theme than we're used to, adding some atmosphere to its closing we haven't seen for a while.
Overall Episode Rating: 53%