Saturday, March 18, 2017

Treehouse of Horror

Episode Number 7F04 (#216)
Created by Matt Groening; Developed by James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Sam Simon
Executive Producers James L. Brook, Matt Groening, Sam Simon
Starring Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, and Harry Shearer
Special Guest Voice James Earl Jones

Bart, Lisa and Maggie are up in the treehouse telling each other scary stories for Halloween. Unimpressed with Lisa's tale, Bart tells two of his own--a story where the Simpsons buy a cursed house and a story where the Simpsons are abducted by aliens who might be trying to eat them. Lisa follows up Bart's stories with a reading of Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" which Bart doesn't find scary at all. The kids go to bed sure they will have no trouble getting to sleep. Meanwhile, Homer had been eavesdropping on them the whole time and is now too scared to go sleep. As Marge turns off the light, Homer laments to himself that he "hates Halloween" as a wolf howls in the background.

written by John Swartzwelder; directed by Wes Archer

The Simpsons have just bought a beautiful older home for pennies on the dollar. Unfortunately, the walls bleed, there's a vortex in the kitchen, and there's a disembodied voice telling Bart, Lisa, Maggie, and Homer to kill each other. Marge just wants to leave but Homer convinces them to sleep on it and see how they feel about their cursed house in the morning. Marge gets fed up after finding her family circling each other with knives in their hands in the middle of the night. They then discover the ancient Indian burial ground in the basement and Marge tells the house that they live there now so it'll just have to get used to it.

The house ponders this for a bit but opts to destroy itself rather than live with the Simpsons. "You can't help but feel a little rejected," Lisa says as they walk away.

written by Jay Kogen & Wallace Wolodarsky; directed by Rich Moore

The Simpsons are outside, barbecuing, with Homer putting way too much lighter fluid into the grill. After an amazing fireball, an alien spaceship appears and beams each of the Simpsons up. They soon meet their tentacled abductors, Kang and Kodos, and all they want to do is please the Simpsons and they do that by stuffing their faces full of the finest cuisine.

Lisa begins feeling suspicious about the Rigilians and she should because they are acting rather suspicious. After finding a book titled "How To Cook Humans", it's soon discovered that it's a book called "How To Cook for Forty Humans" and the Simpsons are returned to Earth for distrusting the aliens.

written by Edgar Allan Poe and Sam Simon; directed by David Silverman

In a direct adaptation of Edgar Allan Poe's classic poem, Bart is portrayed as the raven while Homer is the lead character. James Earl Jones narrates. The story follows a raven harassing a man who is lamenting the loss of his beloved Lenore. Demanding to know what the raven is doing and why it is there, the raven only replies "Nevermore!", driving the man insane.

Random Observations

  • This was the first episode that showed me what you could do with animation. "The Raven" segment really impressed and got me interested in Poe, eventually buying his complete works and reading every single word of it. Great inspiration in those pages. I highly suggest picking up a copy.
  • This is also the very first Treehouse of Horror which would become an ongoing Halloween event every year. The episode gives the writers, directors and producers freedom to do stories they can't normally do in an average episode.
  • When the movers are done moving the Simpsons into their bad dream house, Homer tips them a dollar. "A buck," the mover says. "Glad there's a curse on this place."
  • Marge goes into the kitchen and notices a swirling thing in the wall. "Homer? What's this thing in the wall?" The casual delivery is great. There are some amazing line reads in this episode that shows that a lot of what made The Simpsons one of the greatest shows on television is the voice acting. It's very rare to have a voice cast this amazing and it's one of the few voice casts where everything is perfect--you can't change the actor and still have the same effect.
  • The family is about to leave the house and Homer is trying to convince them to stay: "It's a fixer-upper. What's the problem? We get a bunch of priests in here..."
  • The house is telling the family to grab a weapon and kill each other. Lisa is told to grab a butcher knife which is in her bedside table.
  • Sure, the house may be built on an ancient Indian burial ground, but the graves all look untouched.

  • Lisa, after the house destroyed itself: "It chose to destroy itself rather than live with us."
  • I've always loved how much lighter fluid Homer sprays into the grill. I love the callback to this scene years later in "Lisa the Vegetarian."
  • Kang: "Grow large with food." Another great line and great read.
  • Kang and Kodos get over a million channels on their spaceship but HBO still costs extra.
  • Homer opens his chamber door to reveal "...Darkness there, and nothing more." Bart: "You know what would've been scarier than nothing?"
    Lisa: "What?"
    Bart: "Anything!"
  • Lisa, after Bart is unaffected by Edgar Allan Poe: "It was written in 1845. Maybe people were easier to scare back then."