Original Air Date: Sunday, October 18, 2009
A Tribute to Universal Monsters
In a fitting tribute to the 20th Halloween episode, things open up with Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, Dracula and the Wolf Man all emerging from wherever they are and getting together to roam the streets of Springfield on Halloween night. But when they come across the local bullies who make fun of their clothes (or "costumes") they figure out that they're lame and yesterday's news. They then head into Halloween Headquarters costume shop to update their costumes to represent pop culture of today.
The monsters then head to the Simpson house to attend a Halloween party, using a bottle of booze for entry. Each of them start interacting with Springfield's single women - Dracula with Edna Krabappel, the Mummy with Selma, the Monster with Nelson's mother and you don't see much of it, but the Wolf Man with, I think, Lindsay Nagle. At this point the monsters wives come to crash the party and punish them for lying about going out to kill children. Homer tries to interfere, but is decapitated with his head landing in a punch bowl, and his eyes crossed out as the X's in the title 'Treehouse of Horror XX'.
'Dial "M" for Murder or Press "#" to Return to Main Menu
Once again we have a segment I have to give them quite a bit of credit for based on its execution as a whole. This one is a parody of various Hitchcock films that include a mixture of 'Psycho', 'Strangers on a Train', 'North by Northwest' and 'Spellbound'. The primary focus on a film is 'Strangers on a Train', however, while things like 'Psycho' are mostly referred to in music.
When Ms. Hoover announces her choice to represent the class at the National Reading Roundup, she chooses someone who isn't Lisa, causing Lisa have a bit of an outburst. She's sent to detention where she meets up with Bart, who suggests a "criss-cross" plan in which the siblings "prank" each other's teachers. But while Lisa simply ding-dong-ditches Krabappel, Bart takes things just a tad further by killing Ms. Hoover, revealing that he has a much darker side than Lisa imagined. Now Lisa may need to take matters into her own hands, protecting herself and others from Bart's potential threat.
While it does a rather good job at spoofing Hitchcock, there's not much that tops how it ends. I won't spoil it, but it's dark enough that it adheres to the basic regular Hitchcock twist you'd generally see in his films. It fits what they're trying to do, and it's actually even kind of shocking. I'm not sure I'd count this one among my all-time favorites, but its certainly solid, and with the Hitchcock theme, it fits Halloween quite well. Some shows, like 'That 70's Show' have done the Hitchock blend better, and 'High Anxiety' is a great Mel Brooks film that does the same (probably the best example of one of these), but this one still holds its own for a short segment. Bravo.
'Don't Have a Cow, Mankind'
In what I believe is now the third zombie-related segment for a 'Treehouse' episode ('Dial Z for Zombies'/'The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms'), Krusty the Clown introduces the world to a new Krusty Burger which has been made from the meat of cows who eat other cows. Reporter Kent Brockman is the first to try the burger, but quickly turns into a zombie, starts attacking other people, and "28 Days Later" (the primary parody here), the zombie virus spreads throughout Springfield. The Simpson family, however, survives the ordeal.
One day, when Bart gets sick and tired of the limited food they have to eat, he escapes the barricaded house to eat a hamburger that has been left out in the open. It turns out that Bart seems to be immune to the virus, however, and the family tries to et him to the "safe zone", established in Shelbyville. Along the way they meet one other survivor, Apu, who didn't fall victim to the plague due to being a vegetarian and armed to the teeth as a convenience store owner. It's all right, but it's still no 'Dial Z for Zombies'. For as many zombie segments as they may release, that one probably just won't be topped.
This one, however, does become a second-place entry as far as the zombie segments go. I like the spoof on '28 Days Later', and the whole Mad Cow thing, which could have come from 'Zombieland' if the film wasn't released earlier the exact same month. Consider it another strange "Simpsons Prediction" in a way. Anyway, it's not bad, I just wish the end solution wasn't so gross. I won't spoil it, but the idea of what it takes to protect themselves from the zombies is honestly pretty nasty, and is played for gross-out laughs. So that does bring it down just a touch from what it could have been,
'There's No Business Like Moe Business'
This one is a parody of 'Sweeny Todd: The Demon barber of Fleet Street', and the segment is presented as a stage musical. It's a cool and original idea, but I'm not sure it totally pays off. It starts off with Moe, lonely about not being able to meet women on account of his ugliness. Furthermore, he's jealous when he sees Homer and Marge together in their loving relationship.
When Moe leaves the taps unattended, Homer stumbles over for some free beer, ut falls down a hole onto the microbrew pipes which impale him, killing him. After this, Moe's beer obtains the secret ingredient of Homer's blood that makes the beer feel warm, cozy and friendly, and people keep coming back for more. This includes Marge in the constant hope that her husband will come back, although Moe tries to steer her away from that idea so he can get with her. Really, it's just a drawn out version of a scenario that lends itself to Moe's obsession with Marge, which has been a constant in the past.
I give this segment mild credit for its original take on a spoof, and trying something new. But all in all, I actually find this one sort of boring, despite a few funny lyrics in the songs. There's just not enough going on in this one to really save it for me, and the idea to make it in the style of a Broadway musical really takes away any sort of threat any characters are facing. This is another one that feels a bit last-minute slapped together, and it's just not all that funny to me. But perhaps it's a treat for others as something they've never done before, all the same.
The 20th Halloween show ends with a small musical number that celebrates the milestone. This is all done by the cast members of the pay as well as the audience, but it is all interrupted when Kang shushes the audience only to point out Kodos has fallen asleep - presumably due to boredom. The credits then roll with a more upbeat and broadway sounding theme, which somewhat takes away from Halloween, but does manage to fit with the last segment just as well. Hey, at least it's not the 'Perfect Strangers' anthem again.
Overall Episode Rating: 60%