Original Air Date: Sunday, October 6, 2013
Guillermo del Toro's Couch Gag
Okay, these 'Treehouse' intros definitely have their ups and downs, but good God, this has got to be the best intro I've seen yet. It is simply amazing the way it's put together, and it's all conceived by none other than Guillermo del Toro; a master of monsters. He brings a whole bunch of his own films into the mix while referencing a ton of other things. It's the 'Simpsons' Halloween opening of my dreams. Consider it officially bookmarked as my favorite.
It generally plays out as a take on the classic intro, but watch this breakdown of references from beginning to end: Zombie movies, 'Pacific Rim', 'The 7th Voyage of Sinbad', 'The Birds', 'The Shining', 'Hellboy', 'Blade II', 'Godzilla', 'Pan's Labyrinth', 'Mimic', 'The Phantom of the Opera', Cthulhu, Universal Monsters, several references to earlier 'Simpsons' moments and episodes, and that's about half of it. Even the Hypnotoad from 'Futurama' shows up here. And the beautiful thing about it is how well it all flows, and doesn't just feel like a jumbled mess. I am hearby awarding this episode with a "gimme" of one extra point to add to the overall percentage, just for this sequence alone. It's one of the best 'Treehouse' moments in the history of the show.
'Oh, the Places You'll D'oh!'
I almost hesitate to say it, but I actually loved this segment. The way it's put together as a farce on Dr. Seuss material works very well. The rhyming they use here isn't lazy at all, and quite creative, and the designs of the settings and characters are very reminiscent of classic Seuss animation such as 'The Cat in the Hat', which is what the segment is spoofing the most.
Taking place on Halloween night, the Simpson kids are home sick with the mumps and can't go trick-or-treating. But when Marge leaves to a costume party, the "Fat in the Hat" (aka Homer) shows up to give them all vaccinations, cure them, and have them tag along as he runs amok throughout Springfield. As the kids watch in horror, the Fat in the Hat commits crimes of all sorts including robbery and murder, but in the most casual of ways. It's some pretty dark humor, but a welcome change from the usual.
I'll be honest, I found this segment to be one of the very best I've seen in quite some time. It takes place on Halloween night, and parodies the Dr. Seuss material I loved so dearly as a kid. They were fun and innocent books of rhymes that fueled the imagination, and you could tell the writers took their time to not only study the material a little bit but write it well. When I saw what this was going to be, I was absolutely sure I'd have a strong dislike for it. I'm happy to say that I was pleasantly surprised by how fun this one was.
'Dead and Shoulders'
This one opens with Bart and Milhouse flying a box kite in a fly zone near the Springfield airport. We get a few dumb, but funny visuals here involving the aircraft flying in and out of the airport, but the laughs die off pretty quickly with the bizarre stuff that follows. Although this episode starts very strongly, there's something all too familiar about this segment, and it feels unoriginal.
Bart gets tired and instead of going home, chooses to keep his box kite in the air to keep being a brat. He does this by wrapping the kite string around his neck for an anchor. This immediately results in his decapitation, which leads to his head being sewn onto Lisa's body. This operation extends Bart's life but cuts Lisa's short. The catch is that Lisa still has full control. Bart is then lead to believe he may have to live a life of lame until one night while Lisa's sleeping, Bart figures out he can take control.
It's irksome to me that this literally could have been the follow-up to the way 'Treehouse III' left off. For those who don't remember, that was the episode that involved the nightmares, and Homer's involved the sewing of Mr. Burns' decapitated head to his shoulder. Homer then wakes up to find the nightmare was true, and there's a joke ad for "next week's episode" that carries on the story. This just felt like it took things in the wrong direction by doing exactly the same thing with two different characters.
'Freaks, No Geeks'
Hereabouts, the episode ever so slightly redeems itself with this parody of 'Freaks', taking place in a 1930s circus setting. Homer, as the egotistical strongman talks his lover, Marge the trapeze artist to marry Moe - the most hideous of the circus' side-show freaks. The reason; Homer learns that Moe has inherited and emerald ring from his grandmother on her deathbed.
At the wedding reception, the "freaks" (which include Lenny and Carl as the Pinheads, and Barney as the torso guy) accept them as one of their own, and things end on a different note here than in the original film. Also, far too rapidly. Basically it comes down to a big reveal that ends the episode so sharply that it almost kills what was otherwise shaping up to be a good segment. Although at the very least, it can be said that the scenery doesn't change 100%. If you know how 'Freaks' ends, it's actually kind of funny, but it still catches you off-guard. If you don't know 'Freaks', you'll just be lost at this ending, which further pokes fun at 'How I Met Your Mother'.
Up until that point, however, it's neat to see what they did with the characters for this segment as far as who portrayed who from the movie. I also enjoy the way its animated, reflecting the sepia tone we also saw in 'The Day the Earth Looked Stupid', and giving it those dark tones where necessary. This one's okay, but getting back to how it ends, it once again leaves me with not much to work with for a closing paragraph. The credits in this one actually come up so quickly, you almost wonder if they're playing a joke and there's more to it. But nope. It just ends.
Overall Episode Rating: 73%