It’s time to kick off the DTSFT Halloweeeeeeeeek!
I am obsessed with The Simpsons – and I don’t mean “Oh I watch it and like it” NO GOD DAMMIT! I mean it’s my favourite TV show ever, no exceptions. In particular, the Treehouse of Horror episodes have come to be some of my favourites, so with our Halloween theme for the week leading up to October 31st, I thought I’d countdown my top 15 Halloween episodes and moments across all 25 seasons of the show. They’re in a rough sort of order, and the reason why they’re my favourite isn’t necessarily that they’re the scariest or the funniest, but just that they’re my favourites, okay? Okay. Here are my choices for 15 to 11….
15. Bart’s Nightmare (Treehouse of Horror II)
In the wrap-around story, Lisa, Bart and Homer all have nightmares after eating too much of their stash of trick-or-treating candy, each one taking up one segment of the episode. Lisa’s is the monkey’s claw fable, while Homer dreams that Mr Burns uses him in an experiment that goes wrong and ends with Burns’ head grafted on to Homer’s body alongside his own. But Bart’s Nightmare makes it into the top 15 because of its great homage to the Twilight Zone episode ‘It’s a Good Life’; Bart has telekinetic powers that have the people of Springfield in the grip of terror, worried that a single negative thought about him will spark him off. The teachers change the answers on tests to suit what he has written, The Krusty Show has been running for days, and his prank-calls to Moe are less inventive…
The ending of the episode is one of my favourites. Tired of Bart’s behaviour, Homer plans to knock him out, but Bart pre-empts this and turns Homer into a jack-in-the-box. This actually improves their relationship as the two enter counselling and spend quality time together, and when Bart gives Homer back his body, the two share a loving moment, at which point Bart wakes up. That’s what makes it so funny – being close and telling Homer he loves him is Bart’s REAL nightmare.
– Homer struggling to tuck Bart into bed just using his teeth
– Bart’s idea of a more interesting cat is one that can breathe fire and has an umbrella for a tail.
– Jasper as a dog
– The answers on Bart’s test.
14. The Island of Dr Hibbert (Treehouse of Horror XIII)
With no real explanation, the Simpsons are spending their vacation on ‘The Island of Lost Souls’, which is apparently owned by Dr Hibbert. From the start, things aren’t what they seem; Groundskeeper Willie has a sort of wolfman vibe when he comes to collect their bags, and the roast that Dr Hibbert serves them resembles a certain Springfield scientist. Marge investigates but is ambushed by Dr Hibbert who turns into a sort of half-cat, half-woman creature. Homer only realises that she’s a cat after sleeping with her, and when she runs off he too goes to investigate and finds Flanders, who now has the bottom half of a cow. Flanders leads him to a cmapfire around which all of Dr Hibbert’s freakish hybrids are holding a meeting, and Homer becomes one of them. It’s just a brilliant and well-executed idea, especially the choice of animals made for each character – Selma is an elephant, Patty is a rat, Snake is a ….skunk (go figure), and Moe is a frog. Chief Wiggum, of course, is a pig.
– Dr Hibbert “He may try to slobber on your crotch” Homer “Hey, I’ve been around Scotsmen”
– The island shaped like a ‘smiley face’
– Marge’s ‘House of Pain’ joke
– Homer “I’ve never seen you use your tail like that”
– Flanders “C’mon, Homer, all I’m asking is for you to yank my teats and harvest my milk!”
– Homer “Hibberts turned you all into guinea pigs!” Luigi “We prefer Italian Americans”
13. Bart Simpson’s Dracula (Treehouse of Horror IV)
The segment where they just “threw something together with vampires”, this is one that I wasn’t going to include but my brother seemed surprised when it wasn’t on my list, so I’ve changed it to include this one. The Simpsons are invited for dinner at Mr Burn’s mansion in… PENNYSYLVANIAAAAA! And something’s different about him; from his ‘queer’ hairdo, to the strange red liquid that he serves at dinner, Lisa is suspicious of Mr Burns and investigates with Bart. They find his basement filled with coffins, where they are surrounded by vampires and manage to escape – only Bart can’t resist another ride on the ‘Super Fun Happy Slide ’ and ends up in the clutches of the undead. He is returned to his family as a vampire, and he tries to turn Lisa, who warns Marge and Homer. They successfully stake Mr Burns (after Homer’s initial attempt at stabbing him in the crotch), but when they return home, Grandpa Simpson is a vampire, and it soon transpires – in what can only be described as the single greatest plot twist in the history of television – that Marge is the head vampire. The episode ends the family wishing us a happy Halloween, before singing the tune of ‘Hark The Herald Angels Sing’ as snow falls inside the house. Of course it does.
– Homer “Vampires are make believe, like elves, gremlins and eskimos!”
– Homer’s dirty neck rag
– Homer: “Oh, Lisa, you and your stories! “Bart is a vampire” “Beer kills brain cells” Now let’s go back to that…building thingy, where our beds and TV…is”
– The various vampire film references, including Salem’s Lot and Dracula (1992)
– The plot twist, of course – Marge, who’da thunk it?
12. Life’s A Glitch, Then You Die (Treehouse of Horror X)
I know people think that The Simpsons started to go down hill from about season 10, but it still had that classic Simpsons charms. On the eve of Y2K, Homer sets the world into a meltdown by forgetting to fix his own computer. Planes fall from the sky, traffic lights go crazy and a Lady Remington attacks Marge. THAT WAS A GIFT, DAMMIT. As The Simpsons wander through the town, they find out that there’s a spaceship taking Springfield’s best and brightest away from Earth to start a new life. Lisa’s name is on the list, and while she, Marge and Maggie enter safely, Homer and Bart and left to fend for themselves. Finding (and this is one of my favourite details) an ‘unguarded’ spaceship, they strap themselves in and breathe a sigh of relief, only to find they’re surrounded by the likes of Courtney Love, Spike Lee, and ARGH! Tom Arnold! The best bit is when Rosie O’Donnell comes along and starts a sing-along of ‘The Trolley Song’, which is just too unbearable for Homer. He and Bart eject themselves from the plane, and as their heads swell up and they’re about to die, they both let out a sigh of relief.
– Homer struggling to make up a fake name for himself as ‘the piano guy from Shine’, opting for ‘Shiney McShine’
– Krusty’s pacemaker going haywire
– Dick Clark’s human exterior disintegrating as his robot form goes into meltdown
– The way Lisa chooses Marge over Homer without a single though – cold but so funny.
– “Hey look, there’s another spaceship” “And there’s nobody guarding it”
– “The sun? That’s the hottest place on earth!”
– Tom Arnold and the peaches
11. Nightmare Cafeteria (Treehouse of Horror V)
Treehouse of Horror V is often cited as one of the best in the Halloween series, and it indeed it had two entries in this top 15, the second of which will come later. But Nightmare Cafeteria just misses out on the top 10 for no particularly reason. Let’s crack on. Budget cuts and overcrowding lead Principal Skinner into devising a grisly solution to the two problems – serving unruly kids as school dinners. The teachers soon become fatter and clearly have a taste for human flesh, and start putting children in detention for the smallest of disruptions in class. When the numbers dwindle to just Lisa, Bart and Milhouse, they attempt to escape but find themselves trapped by the teachers and it doesn’t end well, despite Groundskeeper Willie’s best efforts to help them.
– Üter being turned into ‘Üterbraten’
– The Grade F meat being served in the cafeteria, which is ‘mostly circus animals, some filler’
– Üter going back for a second helping of Sloppy Jimbo “Das ist gut, nein?”
– “After all, Isn’t there a littler Üter in all of us? In fact you might even say we just are Üter and he’s in our stomachs right now!”
– Milhouse just plummeting into the blender without even being pushed, so stupid and unexpected, very Milhouse
– Mrs Krabappel’s reading choice…
Stay tuned on Saturday for the countdown from 10 to 6!