Original Air Date: Sunday, October 7, 2012
That Mayan Calendar Thing
Some of us may remember 2012 as one of the primary examples of a world-ending prediction. I confess, I don't really remember how it was determined (I think they ran out of dates on the Mayan Calendar?) but the world was supposed to end back in 2012. Hell, Roland Emmerich even made a disaster movie about it happening. Anyway, 'The Simpsons', knowing better, decided to bring a sense of humor to the whole thing with this intro.
A Simpson character-fueled, ancient Mayan civilization decides they need to sacrifice someone to the Gods. Wiggum says they've been fattening someone up on purpose for the sacrifice, and that someone is Homer. But when Moe comes to collect Homer fo said sacrifice, Marge seduces him and tricks him by putting a bag over his head, and sending him out for a beheading, claiming it's the "Room of Pleasure". This beheading leads to the destruction of the world on Halloween night, 2012.
Once again, we have an opening that completely dates itself with its subject matter. It may have been all right for the time, but even then, the portrayal of the Mayan Gods is is this weird, twisted, superhero fashion, and I'm just not sure I get it. It's not without a laugh or two, though. One scene involves a Mayan God hurling the Lard Lad Donut into space, just missing Kang and Kodos' ship, and it was so out of the blue I got a good chuckle. But all in all, it's pretty "old news" by today's standards.
'The Greatest Story Ever Holed'
To really appreciate this one, you're gonna have to go ahead and check your brain at the door. It doesn't really make sense, but isn't without some solid visual gags nonetheless. It opens on the activation of Springfield's new Particle Accelerator. The money put into it was suggested by Lisa, taking away a potential new baseball stadium. When Frink throws a switch, a whole bunch of nothing happens, and the townsfolk who turned out to witness this event all turn on Lisa.
After everyone leaves, two particles collide with each other and make a miniature black hole. It approaches Lisa, and Lisa is able to guide it with a stick to her house for safe-keeping. The family learns about it real quick, and Lisa has to convince them that throwing trash into it will make it bigger, and that will result in catastrophe. In proper Simpsons fashion, however, the family (namely Homer and Bart) just keeps dumping stuff into it. It's not long before things start to get out of control, and it floats around town, sucking in everything in sight.
I'm not the biggest fan of this one as far as the concept goes. It's just a little too out-there for my liking. But honestly, some of the visual gags are kind of hilarious. This includes Bart shoving Krabappel into the hole out of nowhere, and Homer trying to pet the black hole and getting his fingers warped. There's even a bit where Comic Book Guy throws Disney's 'Black Hole' into the hole, providing a solid rip on their new owners that they were unaware of at the time. It's actually a decent segment, despite a lot of scientific improbability involving the hole, itself.
In this parody of 'Paranormal Activity', Homer sets up cameras to record some strange occurrences that have been going on within the household. As the segment plays out, it tackles various parodies of the first two 'Paranormal Activity' films, namely the fast-forwarded footage, stopping only to play out whatever creepy event is happening. For a while, they have something great going, but its second half just plain weakens an otherwise great idea.
It turns out that their tormentor is a demon who was summoned by Patty and Selma when Marge was a little girl. The demon shows up and grabs the twins by their necks, and they plead to Marge for some help. Marge asks the demon to come back for them later, but the deal is that when he comes back, he's also coming for her "favorite" child. I won't spoil much more but the leads to Homer making a whole new deal and the end result delivers a good laugh, despite the latter half of this segment being otherwise fairly weak.
Again, it bothers me that they really had something going here. All of the found footage stuff takes a bit of a back seat in the second half, and the overall parody just loses its luster. It would have even been interesting for them to play with some other found footage films, and just play with the subgenre. I'll give it credit for giving me a genuine chuckle at the tail end, but if they had stuck to a straight up 'Paranormal Activity' farce, I would have enjoyed it so much more.
'Bart and Homer's Excellent Adventure'
In yet another example of stepping super far away from anything to do with Halloween, here we have a farce on 'Back to the Future' that makes no damn sense. Although I'll credit it for providing an interesting slice of nostalgia, referencing the episode 'The Way We Was' from Season 2 (1991), it's just not enough to save it.
It opens with Bart trying to by a comic book for the original price of 25 cents. However, as comics go, it was worth its original price in 1974 and is now marked at $200. Exiting the Android's Dungeon, Bart sees Frink arrive in a time machine after a successful test. He carelessly gives Bart his car keys to hold on to, and Bart heads to '74 to check out that comic. He also stumbles upon his parents in high school and disrupts their "love at first sight" moment, soon discovering that if his parents never get together, he might actually have it better. He keeps them separate, heads back to 2012, and it turns out that he's the son of Artie Ziff now. How that could possibly work, genetically, I have no idea.
Anyway, it does have a semi happy ending, but all in all this is easily the weakest of the three. Much like 'Un-Normal Activity', they had a solid idea here, but they only followed through half way. The first half is fine, but the second half is just plain weird, out of the blue, and takes away from the farce completely. The difference between the segments brings it down even further as at the very least, 'Un-Normal Activity' fits the Halloween theme of the episode. This is honestly just a 'Back to the Future' parody, and nothing about Halloween, horror, of even thriller enters into it. Everything just ends after this segment as well, so once again I don't have much of a closing for this episode. But as a whole, I can at least say it wasn't terrible.
Overall Episode Rating: 53%