We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch. What say you, Groundskeeper Willie?
Harsh, but probably accurate. This was not a great group of episodes, although it wasn’t a complete comedic dead space.
Simpsons Halloween Special XI (2000)
Couch gag: An awesome parody of The Munsters.
Stories: 1) G-G-Ghost D-D-Dad shows what would happen if Homer died; 2) Scary Tales Can Come True, in which Bart and Lisa confront a litany of dark fairy tale creatures; and 3) Night of the Dolphin or “Free Willy re-envisioned as a horror movie.”
Favorite quote: “Whoa, whoa, whoa. I’m just trying to get in. I’m not running for Jesus.”
Notes: This has nothing to do with anything, but I still regret that the Munsters reboot never gained enough traction to move past the pilot. I really liked that pilot.
Simpsons Halloween Special XII (2001)
Couch gag: No couch. Just a super-weird opener at Mr. Burns’ mansion and the Simpsons clan dressed up as the Flintstones.
Stories: 1) Hex and the City (Homer is cursed by a gypsy); 2) House of Whacks (Marge converts their house over to an Pierce Brosnan-voiced AI system); and 3) Wiz Kids (Harry Potter parody).
Favorite quote: “Well, I am missing the back of my head. You could cut me some slack.”
Notes: Kind of weak overall. No spooky nicknames. Weird.
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror 13 (2002)
Couch gag: N/A
Frame: It’s back! Barely. Now in the form of a séance to contact the deceased Maude Flanders, although it doesn’t really amount to much.
Stories: 1) Send in the Clones, which has essentially the same plot as Multiplicity; 2) The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms (Dumbest. Name. Ever), which has a nonsensical (and probably NRA-approved) plot about a lack of guns leaving Springfield defenseless to an undead Billy the Kid; and 3) The Island of Dr. Hibbert (mutants on an island).
Favorite quote: “Disco Shrew can still boogaloo.”
Notes: No spooky nicknames again. Don’t tell me they’re taking those away. Noooo! But they also finally switched over to titling it Treehouse of Horror (with an Arabic rather than Roman numeral for the 13). I don’t know if I can cope with all this change. Particularly since none of this is all that funny.
The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror XIV (2003)
Couch gag: N/A. Although there is a pointlessly violent opener just in case you accidentally meant to turn on Family Guy.
Stories: 1) Reaper Madness, wherein Homer accidentally becomes Death; 2) Frinkenstein (Professor Frink’s daddy issues get resolved through reanimation); and 3) Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off (Bart and Milhouse can stop time).
Favorite quote: “You know, Dr. Herschbach, our jobs are actually not that different.” “I disagree.”
Notes: OMG, if you’re going to lift from your own knock-off, why don’t you just cast Norm MacDonald as the voice of Death and have done with it? But at least the spooky nicknames and Roman numerals are back. Thank goodness.
Treehouse of Horror XV (2004)
Couch gag: I think we’ve entered a phase where couch gags are considered passé, and instead we need to invent the most ludicrously high-concept opener we can think of. For example, what if Kang and Kodos had an 80s-style sitcom?
Stories: 1) The Ned Zone (Flanders has Stephen King-esque premonitions of death); 2) Four Beheadings and a Funeral (Jack the Ripper plus Lisa as Sherlock Holmes with a side of Mr. Burns in an opium den); and 3) In the Belly of the Boss (The Simpsons get miniaturized and go inside Mr. Burns’s body to save Maggie – it sort of makes sense in context).
Favorite quote: “This mysterious Hindu is clearly responsible for the murder. Lock him up ‘til we find someone darker, boys.”
Notes: Nope. An episode does not succeed through punny segment titles alone. Try harder, Simpsons.
Treehouse of Horror XVI (2005)
Couch gag: N/A. Again. But at least this time the super-random opener is the best part of the show with a surprisingly timely reference to the Cubs in the World Series.
Stories: 1) Bartificial Intelligence (an A.I. parody); 2) Survival of the Fattest (Mr. Burns hunts the deadliest game), and 3) I’ve Grown a Costume on Your Face (Springfield residents transform into their costumes).
Favorite quote: “This network will show a dozen gruesome murders, but I bet they cut to commercial before these two begin the tender act of love… I spoke too soon Haha! There they go!”
Notes: Ending tonight’s binge on a vaguely positive note. Some good gags, but still kinda meh.