Category Archives: Television

Halloween Postscript

Because I apparently bring this blog out of mothballs exclusively for Halloween fare these days*, I figured I might as well follow up on last year’s epic Simpsons Treehouse of Horror odyssey. If a bit late.

Treehouse of Horror XXVIII (2017)

Opener: There are no credits or couch gag in order to make room for “The Sweets Hereafter,” a marginally clever CGI short that’s practically a separate act of its own. The Simpsons family is depicted as sentient Halloween candy (except for Lisa as a nutritious apple) hoping to survive the night in the trick or treaters’ bowl. Bart as a Butterfinger is a neat in-joke (and also leads into a sick burn on the divisive chocolatey treat), but my favorite is Maggie as a ring pop.

Episode image with the Simpsons as candy

Stories: 1) The Exor-Sis (Maggie gets possessed); 2) Coralisa (Coraline parody using CGI that attempts to kinda-sorta look like stop-motion animation); and 3) MMM… Homer (in which the Simpsons patriarch accidentally discovers his own flesh is the most delicious meat of all).

Favorite quote:
Ned: “I’m afraid that little devil needs an exorcism!”
Rev. Lovejoy: “I’m afraid they didn’t teach me those at Pepperdine.”

Notes: Overall this is a ho-hum episode (the middle segment seems like a particularly wasted opportunity), but it does score some points for extra-cool stunt casting with the guest voices. I like that they invited Neil Gaiman himself to voice Snowball while skewering his work. But, in my opinion, the best call-out is when Ben Daniels (aka Father Marcus on Fox’s The Exorcist show) shows up to yell “Demon get out!” precisely three times at Possessed Maggie.

I think the gag mostly worked for me because I only just recently started watching season one of the re-envisioned horror franchise, and I’m enjoying it more than I thought I would. After suffering through a handful of episodes of both Minority Report (2015) and Lucifer, I felt tolerably convinced that Fox would just convert Exorcist into yet another generic police procedural. But happily it’s a little more interesting than that.

 

* Seriously, it’s been almost two years since my last non-Halloween post. I probably give the impression that Halloween is my favorite holiday, but it isn’t. I do like it a whole lot, but as a rather boring adult, I can never think of any cool ways to celebrate anymore. This year I didn’t even dress up to get a $3 boo-rito from Chipotle, which is how I phoned it in for 2016.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 26-27

Like most other Americans, I spent the last couple of days consumed with a different sort of nightmarish joke. But life and the days of November march on, and now that it’s ten days past Halloween, we need to wrap this up.

It felt good to laugh and get one last sweet taste of Halloween for the year. I even ate some candy — gummy bears — to mark the occasion. And The Simpsons managed to let me end on happy note by providing two mostly solid episodes. I’m glad I took this ride with you all.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 19-21

It only just occurred to me tonight (10 and a half hours into this roundup) that I could have made things interesting by collecting and crunching some Simpsons data as I watched. What percentage of Halloween segments focus on each character? How often are Kang and Kudos central to a plot rather than mere background? How many times does each character actually die onscreen? What a missed opportunity!

Well, I guess I could just start over.

Yeah, no.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 11-16

We’ve hit a bit of a rough patch. What say you, Groundskeeper Willie?

Picture of Groundskeeper Willie

We’re wasting more energy than Ricky Martin’s girlfriend.

Harsh, but probably accurate. This was not a great group of episodes, although it wasn’t a complete comedic dead space.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 7-10

A shorter batch tonight. My stamina is already waning. And yet so far I feel really engaged with this exercise. This is fun. This group reminded me that for such a topical show, The Simpsons can also feel extraordinarily fresh and relevant even two decades later. I tend to roll my eyes a little when people say stuff like that because I’ve never been quite the Simpsons devotee that many other people are. But sometimes a particular joke will reach out and shake you by the throat until you acknowledge the truth.

Not a single chuckle-worthy tombstone or framing device to be found tonight. I guess those are well and truly dead.

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Treehouse of Horror Roundup 1-6

In honor of All Hallows Eve 2016, I intend to revisit every single Simpsons Halloween special. Many I’ve seen countless times before, but many I’ve never seen at all. So this should be an interesting experiment… at least for me. However, because The Simpsons has been in continuous production for the majority of the years I’ve walked this planet and because I have a day job, I won’t really be able to dig deep with a lot of substantive commentary. And it will still take me most of this week anyway. I hope you enjoy this quick-and-dirty nostalgia trip anyway.

Opening title from the first Simpsons Halloween Special

Wait, are these not actually called Treehouse of Horror? Everything I know is a lie.

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Hello, Mr. King

Tomorrow night I will attend a Q&A event with Stephen King. He will perform a reading from his latest novel, Revival, and, if I’m very lucky, I will go home with a signed copy.

I’m terribly excited. In anticipation, I’ve been re-reading King’s autobiography (which is also a brilliant guide for aspiring authors), On Writing. I’ve also been thinking about my favorite movies based on his works. I’ve collected the following list. Keep in mind these are simply the titles for which I feel the greatest amount of affection, not necessarily the best examples of high-quality cinema.

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I’m all atwitter

On Tuesday night, I took a break from watching election results to catch an episode of a new sitcom, Benched. It’s essentially Scrubs with lawyers in a public defenders office, which makes it so perfectly right up my partner’s alley that it’s like scientists developed it in a lab exclusively for him. I enjoy it as well, so I tweeted my gladness to the universe.

I haven’t watched a @USA_Network show since Silk Stalkings went off the air. But I definitely like #BenchedUSA

Cut to Wednesday morning. My alarm goes off. I groggily check my email on cell phone. And then I bound out of bed, exclaiming “Jay Harrington retweeted me!” In fact, no less than three members of the cast of Benched (perfunctorily) interacted with me that night. I’m fully aware how lame it is that I’m excited. This is not a big deal. It’s kind of the whole point of Twitter. But still. This is the first time I’ve really understood the appeal of this particular social media tool. Theoretically, these people I watch on the television read what I wrote about them. Assuming it’s not just a single network intern responsible for re-broadcasting anything anyone says vaguely positive about the show.

So in honor of my first kind-of-sort-of brush with celebrity on Twitter, I’m reprinting here a tidbit I wrote a long time ago about a different Jay Harrington sitcom that I found endlessly appealing:  Better Off Ted. To this day, I mourn its cancellation. You know, people always like to compare The Big Bang Theory to Community, but I really think Better Off Ted demonstrates the better direct head-to-head comparison. It’s not just nerd humor, but the exact same type of nerd humor, and executed with a good deal more panache. And you can stream it on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Without further ado, my thoughts on Better Off Ted, circa January 2010: Continue reading