Burning Down the Treehouse: Some Idiot Reviews Ninety THOH Segments in Thirty Days

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#89

cFBpoGX.png


Fun fact: the reason Farnsworth from Futurama is in the quick scroll-thru of Homer's initial body options is because the character the protagonist takes over in the original movie is surnamed Farnsworth. Neat right? Only the finest research for you fine folks. Anyway, Heaven Can Wait isn't a horror movie, but it is enough of a supernaturally leaning comedy that it could lead to some exciting antics or inspired body swap gags. The way I see it there's two ways this could shake out effectively: you could give it to a single alone character like Moe and have their body leaps be an opportunity to mend their life, the original movie's concept leads to its football fanatic protagonist coming in to millions of dollary-doos and using that on his passion, so Moe could use it on idunno, time travel technology for caveman hookers? It would be less glamorous means but you could set that up and have the gallery of bodies picked off as each scenario towards his goals goes wrong.

Or, do it with Homer if you must, but give Homer his own millionaire life swap and have him and his low ideals and schlubby ways crater the entire thing in an instant, a bit like the first Herb episode. Homer wouldn't have a clue what to do with that money, and his chance at fortune would not last, nor would it ultimately phase him. From said disaster, we have him being given new bodies as he keeps ruining things for others, if you're a millionaire, you must be at the helm of something big and be responsible for others after all. Make Homer such a disaster that Heaven hesitates to give him more chances but it's too late to rescind their magical offer. There are two vital throughlines here: character arcs that suit their owners and punch a hole in the premises' good intentions by giving them to the bozos of Springfield, and a kinetic gallery of body swaps that connect together and affect each other, more than just a detached slideshow of character gags but a story woven through the chaotic folly and the damage in its wake. Yes I realize I pretty much rewrote the outline of this thing twice in full. I could write my college thesis on Treehouse of Horror at this point.

Anyway it does none of that, it is in fact a lazy series of character gags like Homer as Chalmers pranking Skinner or Homer as mr Teeny or...oh thats it thats all of them. Well the one with any semblance of inspiration is Homer taking some rando football boy body - perhaps meant to mirror Warren Beatty's lead character in Heaven Can Wait - and ruining it overnight, that's a start towards my suggestion but its an isolated joke and nothing more, it feels much more like easy stereotype humor this way, as opposed to a springboard for more. We wrap with Homer as Moe, kinda weird, and Moe as Maggie asking to suck on Marge's tits. Lovely. Boy this is a pretty short paragraph right here and this is the part actually about the segment we got. How bout that huh? Yeah.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 27, 2012
Messages
1,342
Location
In the corner
Eh the random guy wasn't much of anything. Really, Chalmers is the only one they really did anything with. But then for a pretty great idea, I feel it needed a lot longer to really hit any potential. It's a good example of the typical intro+three-story structure hurting those ideas. Especially the long intros.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#90

AgQr1uf.png


well folks, here we are. eighty nine reviews later, the end of our lovely halloween experience, and i've thumbed through just about every page in this godforsaken tome and surely contracted terminal brain damage in the process. i wanna say thank you for sitting here with me in this increasingly ramshackle treehouse, you've been so nice and supportive that i'll even be sure to alert you when it's time for you to jettison yourself from the premises as i slip this here spare match into this tank of gasoline and hopefully kill the beast that lives within this foliage fortress and also now within me, but before i perform the necessary immolation, we have one last chapter to regale, and in fitting form, the unceasing onslaught that is the jeanhouse of bore-ors ends for now not with a bang, but with a...oh wait it is a bang, but it's a gross icky bang, so that works too.

it really is such a shame that this show prevents me from pulling a worthy finale by yanking me by my shackles through the doldrums i've marched so many times i could walk the path blindfolded. i should've hired a nerd, fuckin' paid a nerd to construct an algorithim to review these hd era movie parodies, given how unavoidably repetitious they are, lest i create any illusion that satisfaction lies at the end of this road, when all that that lies ahead is the next as-of-yet still darkly shrouded path of three more inevitably disappointing experiences. then again, ain't that just perfectly pin-point poetic? what more would this deserve? is this a review of this shape of water parody or a review of one man's trudge through eighty nine segments trying to reckon with number ninety in a way that means anything? it's far more interesting as the latter for me, but i know what i advertised so let's try and do both.

throughout this journey i've felt a great dissatisfaction with my ability to establish a firm ruleset for what makes a good parody, and at times i've espoused rigid viewpoints that necessitate absolute adherence to the source's point as a baseline, and while i've done that mostly as a key, a tool to understanding what potential may lie in failed product, i must assert it isn't mandatory. after all, the simpsons set the standard for top shelf parody that takes its own path, forges a perception based on their characters, creates absurdist tapestries defanging formative horror touchstones while still adhering to their core value. the truth is parody is as powerful as the weapon firing it, and the simpsons for a blissful eightish years was a show that could create great episodes of such a massive variety, tackling all manner of characters, current events, classic film, sitcom tropes, staples of americana such as deep seated beliefs and religious structures, it could go meta, get deep, get cinematic, get controversial, or get silly on a level unforeseen, sometimes to a degree only known properly as swartzweldian.

it went places, like australia and new york, but also abstract, conceptual and exciting places. a simpsons that can do all of that can change the rules over and over again with little worry that trust would waver, so a simpsons that can do all of that can do parody in all of those ways. a simpsons that can't? well i suppose then its the critic's job to rewrite the rules, and i've done my best to do so in many ways, i've suggested new outlines, i've observed potential subversions, i've dug deep into characters to identify the right paths to take, i've analogized and i've given benefit of the doubt to new ideas to express the reason for their failure, but even then, i am just not as good as i'd need to be to give you the real answers. there's a sentiment about critics, that we write about art because we aren't good enough to make it, and while i resent that petulant notion, in this case i will admit, you're damned right i'm not as good as the classic simpsons staff.

i will never be john swartzwelder, vitti, meyer, mirkin, o&w, x cohen, keeler, daniels, forrester, collier, scully, kogen and wolodarsky, sam fucking simon, conan o brien...maybe i could be donick cary? minus the unibrow anyway. to this assertion you may say, well you don't have to be as good as the classic simpsons writers to know why it sucks now. you're right, anyone can say Oh that shit was booty yo frfr, but to really understand how far the show has fallen you have to intimately understand as a writer what made it so great, and i've done my best to approximate it, but i can only do so much at my level, and im inevitably gonna miss some possibilities. thus, here's one last repetitive ass review, you're welcome:

y'know what i'd been thinkin' about this week regarding this segment? had it been an original idea i'd actually find it pretty funny. selma, ever dissatisfied with her single status and running the well dry of springfield's eligible bachelors, finally snaps and gives up on human men, and takes her amorous ways beyond earthkind entirely. a gross sexy interstellar pulp smut I Married A Space Alien style segment mashing together another lonesome selma story, a new take for a thoh, and a kang and kodos story with actual meat on its bones, if they'd pitched this any of the years until this i'd have applauded them for the creativity and wondered what weird wild places they could take it. alas, it is but one final movie parody nail in a coffin so full of nails it's more nails than coffin, and i do wish that didn't have to be a death screech for the concept, but i think you and i and all of us know better by now. let's do this one last time folks, say it with me, all together now: this. is. not. parody.

the shape of water is essentially about prejudice and acceptance of individual identity/sexuality set against a monster-as-man/man-as-monster throwback genre horror homage, and it won a fuckin' oscar somehow, THE oscar even, presumably that's why its even here. selma is wooed by massive green globular alien kang instantaneously, and maybe that'd feel more like a funny expression of her desperation and less like hustling to the funny credits - i never did talk about the names. next year? - if the rest didn't feel equally rushed and truncated, bouncing from a single scene montage which is against the law pretty sure, quickly to the escape scene near the end of the movie, another instance of shortening a film and making it feel incredibly eaten away at that reminds me how amazing "the shinning"'s achievement was, while this just feels like trash compacted vignettes of greatest hits of the source movie with none of the charm or love or substance.

i can accept that they didn't go the angle of dealing with the heavy topics of prejudice, but even playing the material as just the concept doesn't function because their relationship barely feels established or explored, we spend so much time on copied scenes and uh kang with an infinity gauntlet, and then the scifi sex puns of course, that there's no room left in the carcass for a goddamn heart. patty wanting selma not to leave could have been a nice way to bring it to earth, but that becomes said sex puns so uh Nope. even the element of monster-vs-man uses mr burns as our villain keeping kang captive, obvious but would be fine, except they don't even give him like a funny reason for having kang. don't you punk bitches write jokes for a living? all in all, it's just a...nother brick in the wall, but the brick is bad thoh segments and the wall is...well i guess its a wall of bad thoh segments. that's what roger waters was talking about pretty sure.

how's that for an ending? lackluster? well if the shoe fits. honestly though, ive had fun. treehouse of horror, like all simpsons surrounding it, started as a brilliant and sophisticated series with equal opportunity for parody, homage, and good old fashioned character stories, and while it's certainly lost its luster to be exceedingly charitable well past it being too late, it was once so good that i think there's value in understanding what went wrong. in a sense, this series was a last hurrah, my best attempt at reviewing the entirety of the simpsons as an arc through the form of thoh reviews, an all encompassing analysis that reveals that the highs and lows of thohs inevitably reflect what they exist within. the way i alleviate addressing the intense repetition of the failures is by truly appreciating the potential for successes, the simpsons proved that one show could tell any and all stories it wanted just based on what an impressive foundation it set to be explored and how open it was, and i hope if anything more than entertain you with my dumb wordplay and my creative swearing, ive proven that its a show that to this day doesn't simply have to fail, its failures are deep and systemic, but that so many of its wayward concepts can be theorized as valuable says to me its a show that still could have had much left to do. all i can do is write the what if, and scrutinize the chosen path.

so yeah, that's our story. you may just find my crispy burnt up zombie poking upon the wreckage of this soon-to-be-smoldering treehouse this time again next year, but until then uh idk stay hydrated i guess lol. thank you so much for reading, it means alot to me, no matter how inane the project, this was challenging but very productive and alot of fun, and i hope it helped put you in the halloween spirit, or at least gave you a passive chuckle on the workplace toilet. see you next time and remember: if you ever travel back in time, don't step on anything because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can't imagine.

i hope you all have a happy halloween!
 

B-Boy

Pin Pal
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
675
Location
Australia
Many thanks for this mammoth effort, Tyler. It's been a real joy to read your posts and it was all worth it for the Pink Floyd reference at the end. If your soul hasn't been irrevocably maimed by this experience, I'd certainly love to see you revive this thread a year from now with three more posts, but I reckon you could be forgiven for wanting to end it here. Endings are good. Endings are important. Endings are meaningful. Zombie Simpsons hasn't ended and is neither of those things.

Anyway, thanks again for the best contribution this forum has seen in many a year.
 
Last edited:

owo

hutz is my waifu
Joined
May 19, 2019
Messages
169
Location
:3c
too burnt to really say much but i'll miss checking up on these every day

dissecting zombie simpsons is fun for the whole family, 24/7, all year round
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
and lastly, my favorite part, ranks!!!

CLASSIC ERA SEGMENTS RANKED WORST TO BEST
#21 attack of the 50 foot eyesores
#20 the genesis tub
#19 clown without pity
#18 bart's nightmare
#17 king homer
#16 the devil and homer simpson
#15 homer³
#14 terror at 5 ½ feet
#13 nightmare on evergreen terrace
#12 hungry are the damned
#11 citizen kang
#10 nightmare cafeteria
#9 the thing & i
#8 homer's nightmare
#7 the shinning
#6 lisa's nightmare
#5 dial z for zombies
#4 bart simpson's dracula
#3 the raven
#2 bad dream house
#1 time and punishment

SCULLY SEGMENTS RANKED WORST TO BEST
#15. wiz kids
#14. hex and the city
#13. starship poopers
#12. scary tales can come true
#11. the terror of tiny toon
#10. house of whacks
#9. hell toupee
#8. the homega man
#7. easy bake coven
#6. i know what you diddily-iddily-did
#5. g-g-ghost d-d-dad
#4. night of the dolphin
#3. life's a glitch, then you die
#2. desperately xeeking xena
#1. fly vs. fly

TOP NINE JEAN SEGMENTS WORST TO BEST
#9. school is hell
#8. dial m for murder or hit # to return to main menu
#7. bff r.i.p.
#6. the greatest story ever holed
#5. oh, the places you'll doh
#4. reaper madness
#3. frinkenstein
#2. stop the world, i want to goof off
#1. the fright to creep and scare harms

THE WORST TEN (JEAN LETS BE HONEST) SEGMENTS
#10. invasion of the pod-y switchers
#9. dry hard
#8. geriatric park
#7. dial d for diddily
#6. bart and homer's excellent adventure
#5. married to the blob
#4. the others
#3. multip-lisa-ty
#2. the diving bell and the butterball
#1. homerzilla
 

CousinMerl

the waiting game sucks
Joined
Oct 24, 2006
Messages
8,499
Location
Spittle County
It's been a good and interesting journey for sure. You made it to the end (at this point, at least). Solid effort and job done with this.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
Well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well well, look what time of year it is. That's one well per season so far, so if that felt extraneous, think about how I feel, and if only I could toss the series down one of those thirty two wells and release this curse but I signed a blood oath in 2019 and I'm frankly terrified of getting on 2020's bad side. God, I really reviewed ninety of these bloody things, these literally bloody things, in one single ill-advised September. Yes, September because doing these closer to the wire would have been murder, and I'm not tryna be anybody's seasonal campfire tale, The Blowhard Who Postulated To Death. Off to a good start this year and I only have three segments to go but call me Luke Skywalker in The Last Jedi cuz I'm milkin' baby. Anyway hello, welcome back? If you missed it, please read and thumb every single one of these reviews I worked very hard on them thank you. But enough shilling, it's the scary time of year! Y'know, the whole thing. Haha 2020 joke very original me thank you me.

Honestly though, and surely this will vary, but in a year where months of events have swirled together into an horrid gruel that has essentially has been shoved down the gullets of the unwilling by the millions, where March and July and September all tasted about the same, as soon as October 1st hit I seized it, because goddammit it's about time we get to dictate our disturbia for a spell. The holidays help keep me sane, tradition keeps the ruthless amorphous existence sponge known as time in a sort of parallel to the sentimentality of the mind, and in a shitty frightening year like this? I welcome the ghosts and cats and spooky bats, and I even welcome watching a ninety-first, ninety-second and ninety-third Treehouse of Horror segment. We all need our creature comforts, and what better creature to get comfy with than the devil you know. Hopefully you'll get a little kick out of it too, even if I end up in the likely space of derision, either way it goes, apologism or the begging for its demise, the true horror of the Simpsons' refusal to die has Stockholm Syndromed into me a fondness with its familiar stench, and no amount of mask wearing or social distancing is gonna make it better so I may as well embrace this particular ailment. Lets dig through the still smoldering rubble of the treehouse and see what gifts the jerks in Tower One (Jean's writing room) have left for us.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#91

Khys1jX.png



First off, I'm foggy on whether or not I even addressed the cold opens previously but I'm definitely gonna nope out of this one. It's what you'd expect, as preachy as it is hypocritical and clueless, and yes I saw that fuckin' Bernie babies shit from the last one and you can kiss the leftmost part of the left cheek of my leftist ass you troglodyte shitlibs. To be fair though these political THOH opens are never much more than insanely preachy and on-the-nose but scrolling an entire list of things Trump has done and slapping Homer blathering over it and calling that comedy is a joke, y'know in the way that its Not actually a joke, a joke in the bad way not the comedy way like you want from jokes, especially when its blunt they'd never do the same for their guy in a million elections. Fine though the fourth horseman carrying the THOH XXXI sign is cute. Sign gags: They're still sometimes funny! Anyway boo no politics happy silly cartoon comedy time! I'll start with my most prevalent itch, and that's this animation. I credit the show for consistently attempting new animation for THOHs but this is much like Cora-Lisa a very incongruent style. Actually this time it's easier to diagnose because they seem to have taken the classic 3D Homer and Bart designs from Homer³ and transferred that to all involved, and that sort of early computer graphics style was charming when it was the limit but now it looks about as clunky as any older video game that attempts a 3D transformation of a 2D character, all the meat and fat is in the right places I suppose but it looks quite bulbous, maybe some characters just weren't meant for 3D. Greater issue though is down to the pure texturing of the models, which just does not ring Pixar at all. Referring back to Cora-Lisa, a key issue there artistically was that, for some reason, the animation didn't even seem to attempt to replicate the texturing or framerate of stop-motion puppetry, and here the same issue applies to at least the former, though that causes the latter to stick out even so. Toy Story is an easy one to do in fact, the emphasis on the toys was because of the graphical limitations to make realistic people at the time, but what carried over as they developed was the sincere details, the sheen of their plastic and the fabric of their clothing, they looked and moved like toys would, I can still distinctly picture Woody's flailing gangly run so perfectly in my mind because that is exactly how a toy with those not-built-to-actually-walk legs would have to shamble about. That's the beauty inherent to an idea like Toy Story, the parallel of boundless imaginative possibilities and the necessary limitations to create a believable internal logic for the characters so the toy world has its own unique life to it. That's the magic. The Simpsons doesn't really seem to get this, the toys have the exact same sterile mushy and blurry look as the humans do, and they move the exact same. There's cute gags like headless Malibu Stacy and Krusty using a piece of Hot Wheels track as a whip but when it comes to those careful details regarding the character movements they simply don't feel like toys.

Yet, despite both that and a general desire for a little more creativity in the toys themselves, this idea is actually very good. Maybe my expectations are dwelling in the basement such that any genuine idea is surprising but no honestly, broken down, this is a classically Simpsons parody of a familiar property. How the fuck right? Toy Story is a sweet wholesome tale about a boy named Andy and his toys, but what if the boy was Bart Simpson, massive hellion and force of chaos to his belongings? Honestly this writes itself, and as such the initial montage is a bit too obvious even if it works character-wise, it's silly but it makes you think oh the entire joke is gonna be Bart making the toys suffer instead of the warm and fuzzies, a toy torture porn of sorts, which would barely make the toys the protagonists at all, and would feel a bit blunt and edgy if thats where it began and ended. After all, "cute thing but violent" is just too easy a parallel and we aren't in the mid-00s binging Newgrounds shorts and Happy Tree Friends anymore. That is what I felt, and alot of it is just things like Radioactive Man, who has blood and guts for some reason again toy logic where is it, exploding like a grape in the microwave. Seriously, don't put grapes in the microwave. I know I know, what would I need to do that for anyway Tyler? Who is out here eating hot grapes? I'm just lookin' out for you, and for your microwave. Now don't say you didn't learn nothin' today. Anyway, the first half or so that is essentially what you get, some cute toy gags, some brutal toy demise, but credit where it's due they actually swerved it on me. The twist here is multiple layers of satisfying, part because we get to see the tables turned on Bart so the horror of the episode as it were goes from the agony of the toys to their revenge. Actually this alone is kinda a great idea for a movie, a Child's Play type flick but rather than the doll be fueled by an evil spirit (or an Evil switch as in the funny Simpsons parody….or Child's Play 2020 lmao), the doll is turned to the side of depravity as a means of survival in the life of a kid so ruthless, and there's no goin' back. It's alot like the surprisingly fucked up way the toys handle Sid in Toy Story, except these sad souls have to Live with Bart, so yeah they'd go a little nutty, so we get that angle too, innocence gone on all sides. Then though we reach the actual twist, where they turn Bart into a talking doll with a pull string. This is great because of course its poetic justice, and because it's a clever way to "kill" Bart, but it's also genuinely effective at being creepy, because Bart is made the only toy lacking autonomy and is instead now the puppet of his victims. When the Randy Newman parody song first popped in I let out a hefty groan, it was just way too explicitly like "GET IT? DO YOU GET THE JOKE???", but when it came back over the disturbing images of a dead-eyed Bart being exposed to such toy tortures as being fuckin' drawn-and-quarted by toy ponies? Yeah fuck it, I laughed. That actually might be the most proper mix of actual comedy and horror the show has nailed in ages, and it's done without any extraneous gibbing or edgy violence in general, instead it's quietly fucked up as most good horror is. So...this segment is a clever subversion of the source material that finds a shocking twist that is appropriately disturbing but still darkly funny and spins the evil doll genre and Toy Story at the same time. Huh. 2020 you jus' fulla surprises. Had the animation done its job proper I don't think I'd have had much negative to say at all. The inevitable cringy one-liners aside ("Dont Ask Dont Mattel", sweet mercy), this was pretty inspired. Now if you'll excuse me, I am suddenly experiencing a craving for Specifically hot grapes.
 

Captain Wacky

Junior Camper
Joined
Mar 29, 2018
Messages
197
Location
Seasons 9 - present
The show, at least in its Jean-era incarnation, has a tendency to increasingly accentuate its own banality with each passing season (if not in a rigidly linear pattern), a trend I was pleased to discover a rare subversion of within this segment in the form of the "macabre Randy Newman pastiche" gag, which both contains more inspired subversion on the source material (beyond the broad, leaden conceit of 'haha it's Randy Newman but screwed up!' with little else to offer in further layers of perception and parody) and is cemented into a more fittingly disquieting context than the limp, shoehorned "You've Got an Enemy in Me" (sigh) in "Angry Dad: The Movie". I heavily doubt we're hailing in a second 'golden age' at this stage of the show's existence, but it's reassuring to consider that, beneath the flat assemblage of poorly-conceived cliches and lame references constituting the HD era, there lies some vestige of redemptive creativity and vitality occasionally emergent in segments such as these.

But that notwithstanding, excellent analysis as always, tyler - your criticisms carry a bracing readability and piercing attention to narrative and aesthetic detail which elevates them to a powerfully incisive inspection on one of the most powerfully incisive nuggets of 1990s media, as the consistently high quality of this thread (particularly when surrounded by the obligatory endless 'Scully vs. Jean' and 'best season' threads, although I'm not discounting their inevitable potential for forging breeding grounds for interesting discussion) testifies. I salute ye.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#92

6AXZVso.png


The Simpsons has kinda time and time again fumbled the opportunity to lampoon the easily lampoonable MCU, and the superhero franchise boom in general. Maybe they've been squeamish because the last time they veered towards the world of superheroes in a THOH short it ended in well...you know. Given the s11 segment that acts as exception to the rule of their handling of the subject matter, its easy to get the sense that their knowledge of the comic book world ends at Saturday morning cartoons, and a full episode like Homer The Whopper sure does nothing to assuage this. If the Simpsons is gonna persist, and its gonna, I think it owes to its viewers the ability to properly engage the most impactful elements of the zeitgeist its ever attempting to take down a notch. Then I endure a segment like this, and I take everything back and hope they never bother again. To be fair, this is hardly a parody of Spider-Verse itself so much as a wholesale lifting of its high concept, but that concept seems to have been mistaken by the writer's room as inherently brilliant. Spider-Verse is in fact so burdened by specific context that its success is a genuine triumph, both in shouldering self-assuredly a fourth-wall-bulldozing meta narrative about the absurdity of interwoven comics themselves, and in managing such a meta story without seeming too arrogant about it, in a world full of rib-nudging SELF AWARE MEDIA which feels increasingly slimy and gross and like an executive tailor-making the most dashing little facsimile of self-deprecation or some illusion of going against the grain, concealing the reality that "the grain" is whatever said execs say it is if it works, and boy does it. The reason for this particular success story, I'd say, is because the eccentric variety of characters directly reference some of the more bizarre strands of the multi-series Spider-Man franchise, it's a commentary on itself without being so winking because the characters still feel genuinely real, and thus each character even at its most stereotypical can transcend being nothing more than that.

The Simpsons has existed so long that it could probably find a clever take on this that unravels its own absurd inconsistent franchise universe, but instead it seems to just go for versions of Homer that are so vaguely different that its inconsequential, and yet so definitely the same that why even bother? More than anything, this is a retread of Send In The Clones, myriad Homers wreaking havoc simply by being Homer and increasing the rate at which Homer-like things are done, except with even less of a twist than that one. It is almost astonishing how exactly they landed the needle between uninspired stereotypes and uninspired Homer jokes, so that nothing really comes through at all. Some parts seem to be direct parallels to Spider-Verse, Anime Homer and Noir Homer and such, whereas others are things like Disney Princess Homer and 8 Bit Homer and Hanna Barbera Homer. With what info I have just given, I would bet my actual human life on you being able to predict every joke in this, gun to my temple, knife to my throat, I am confident in this. I really don't understand why these choices, for the ones that parallel Spider-Verse the universe context is missing so we just get the most obvious slightly raspy noir voice and the Anime caricature of someone who saw a rerun of Astro Boy once at 4am when Adult Swim was airing at and went "got it! thats anime!", and the rest is no less boring and predictable, from the shoddy Disney princess number to the horribly lame Mario-Bowser with Burns' parallels. Then pair with that jokes about beer and bowling that I'd call recycled only then they'd have made it into the bin where they belong by now, and you have an utterly lifeless affair. Its something of a deceitful conceit really, attempting to let its concept and the exposition thereof float it to safety and obfuscate the fact that just because the stereotypes are ostensibly eclectic in ensemble doesn't mean the jokes are new at all. Above all else, if they're gonna do this just to flex Dan's voice acting talents, which he does possess, at least have some fun with it. The Snagglepuss voice? Really? An awkward high pitched guy-doing-girl voice? The most ramshackle low-rent comedy club in the world would boo you off for such aggressively lame impressions if they can be called that. It isn't written to Dan's strengths, and really while I allow for the loosening of the definition of "Halloweeny", this one's really pushing it. Sure the narrative device, so called, is sci-fi, but none of the resulting events are even slightly so until the ending, and even then they just sorta prove that the beginning and ending of their understanding of the idea is "multiverse clones haha". If the best your idea can muster is "oh the bowling alleys are ruined too many balls in the gutters", go back to the drawing board. Ironic, so many Homers and they all strike out.
 

B-Boy

Pin Pal
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
675
Location
Australia
The Simpsons has existed so long that it could probably find a clever take on this that unravels its own absurd inconsistent franchise universe.

This is what I had hoped to see in XXV's The Others, but, yeah, nup. The Simpsons can now barely examine and subvert other material let alone itself. I think I said this a year ago, but It's almost like the show deliberately avoids commenting on itself beyond masturbatory fourth-wall breaking references to "look how long we've been on the air, aren't we amazing?" and "remember this past episode? Do ya, huh, do ya?" even when the perfect opportunity presents itself because, well, to do so would be to tacitly admit how far it's fallen from its counter-cultural roots and how every assertion to the contrary from those working on the show (here's lookin' at you, Jean) is nothing more than empty marketing spiel rather than a sincere conviction.

Super glad you're gifting us three more of these reviews, Tyler. I'm envious at how good they are - makes me realise how deficient most of the rest of us are. :P
 
Last edited:

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#93

sgfCbSm.png


Goodnight Moon? Nah mothercucker, NIGHT NIGHT MOON. Did Jean hear the word "parody", mistake it for "parity" and just roll with it for two decades? Honestly the scariest thing in this segment was me hearing Grey DeLisle replacing Russi Taylor for the first time. No disrespect to Grey but it's much too uncanny, and it really just feels like Jeaner Googled "voice actors" and picked one of the only gals already prominent. What was Tress busy? ANYway, a segment as barebones as this needs to achieve one of two goals: provide the thrills, or provide some semblance of a character throughline to ground the absurdity. You can also do both if you're good, which Happy Death Day achieved swimmingly, nothing spectacular but it found a place for lessons learned amidst the butchery. If you don't wanna do that, then you gotta really deliver on the kills. I don't expect full-bore full gore from the Simpsons by and large but creative or comedically satisfying kills would suffice. I can appreciate a lowbrow segment and have done so before, but if you're gonna slink into the muck you better go all the way down and never submerge, the best slashers and trash horror in general get this. Sadly, this segment is pretty much a non-starter on both fronts, as the kills are mostly shocking only in how safe they are, and even the most violent one of Nelson careening into a woodchipper is so unsatisfyingly staged that it kinda seems like the only joke the writers had was the increasing implausibility of the ways the deaths happened rather than getting creative with the deaths themselves, only that's something the movie already did, because this concept is inherently ridiculous, plausibility is immediately defenestrated in favor of making the cartoon nightmare of its circumstance as absurd as it is inescapable, and the Simpsons version is honestly way more tame.

The most grisly moments are when the kids opt to kill others to save themselves, and I know this is a Halloween segment but it's kinda weird how they just don't care at all. Actually, it makes the core pairing here even more confusing; We get Lisa and Nelson together which is a rare parallel that can be fun dynamically due to what opposites they are, but here it feels utterly incidental, Nelson waywardly murdering to fix the time loop could be good if set against Lisa desiring a more humane way, even if said way doesn't exist in the end forcing her to have to do it, give it a little psychological angle. Working back from that, we could really zone in on Lisa's ungratefulness for her parent's attempt at a nice party and use that to assemble the Groundhog Dayian story where she has to find in her the thankfulness that she has them at all. We literally have a line about needing to find Nelson's lost dad as a throwaway, but that is the parallel, that Lisa has to see what she has that he doesn't. Each death could be a consequence of her continued rejection of this til she reconciles it with Nelson. Granted my rough draft here doesn't answer why Nelson is looping then, but then neither does the show seem to except to give her a partner. I mean killing Gil fixes her loop by keeping her alive the first time...I guess? Except she avoided that death? I don't remember the resolve of Happy Death Day but I do know that here Nelson has nothing to do with the story. CBG explicitly states they must work together using their individual special skills, and then in the next scene Nelson lobs a goddamned cinder block at Gil's head. Now I'm all for, 100,000% for murdering Gil, but when Lisa gets back and does a little line about learning to appreciate the time you have or some such platitudinous piffle, it just doesn't work, as a line towards her family about her frustration with her lame parties, and it's the only time she talks directly to them the entire segment. So emotional resonance checkbox is a big whompin' red X, and as per usual the flat and toneless skits of aimless violence aren't even inventive enough to warrant a delicately lifted eyebrow, it's all so tepid and useless and not scary at all. "Be Nine, Rewind", said me, hoping to leap back in time to season nine so that when Jean walks back into the writing room come s10 I can ambush him and bean him in the head with a mallet, and hopefully that will stop my own personal time loop hell where I'm forced to keep writing about the Simpsons.


Seeya next year :^)
 

Captain Wacky

Junior Camper
Joined
Mar 29, 2018
Messages
197
Location
Seasons 9 - present
Godspeed, tyler. Yet more of your perennially high-quality analysis here, particularly your assessment of the specific flaws governing the Jean era's wearily long-standing vacuity, which I often feel articulates the crushing beiger-than-beige malaise of his interminable tenure more illuminatingly than the 'it's bland' blanket statement often used by fans - I won't deny that the Jean era is entirely bereft of creative raw concepts and notions of unique character dynamics and introspection (given that such a feat would be virtually impossible given the era's nineteen-year duration), but the show itself appears almost entirely uninterested in conveying these concepts in a narrative format or examining the potential comic and narrative opportunities said concepts may provide in favour of merely hammering the limply-conceptualized tentpoles of their ideas around a collection of anemically bloated, story-diverting 'gags', cheap, groan-worthy references and puns and shoehorned, self-congratulatory renditions of its own broad cliches (marriage crises, how do I love thee? Let me count the rehashes...) effectively leading to the televised equivalent of 22 minutes of a vague, disintegrating idiom of the Simpsons wandering its own uninhabited shell in evasion of conveying any of the uniquely flippant energy, pragmatic, nihilistic wit and strikingly human characterizations of its towering past incarnation in favour of a series of loosely-connected setpieces trivialized into fundamentally incidental 'stuff that happens' by their own broad neglect of detail and originality, even as basic narrative priorities. That being said, as long as Jean Simpsons continues to trudge into its own corporately-imposed televised oblivion, there will always remain analysts willing to debunk its bone-deep sterility, and, suffice to say, you've definitely earned your place in that pantheon, as sobering and unenviable a task as plowing through modern Simpsons critically is.

Al Jean's hammer-induced fate post-S9 will forever swim in the perpetual wackiness of my collective subconsciousness.
 
Last edited:

B-Boy

Pin Pal
Joined
Dec 18, 2007
Messages
675
Location
Australia
Now won't you pleeeaaassseee do the Thanksgiving of Horror shorts? :P

Excellent work as always, Tyler. I'm already looking forward to the next three. I'm glad there was one short that was worth the effort this year.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
It never ends. Truly, consider for a moment the error I have made in this. What if by, say, my thirties, I finally get my shit together, steady income, independence, a sharply directed compass for navigating reality. Then, October rolls around, and I have to delay a dinner party with fellow normal humans because THOH XXXIX is about to drop and Selman and friends just found out about The Lighthouse. The segment is called "The Millhouse". Yes I agree it's very confusing indeed, but I'm sorry I can't make it, can you possibly reschedule the funeral? Yet it remains my duty, to pretend that a cartoon is an affront to God, to come up with new inventive words that mean "poopy" and "not good", to become your exceedingly niche AVGN once per year, because what's a more nightmarish costume for someone who takes critical analysis perhaps too seriously to be trapped in than the ANGRY CRITIC!

And why not be comedy angry? The Simpsons has more seasons than I have remaining brain cells, and each time I return to this Ground Zero, the exponential fumes go and JFK another. So as these 33 candles encircle the wreckage and the accursed incantation yoinks me from my unholy slumber, my frittered being gnashes in combative fury. I cry unto the godless celestial void, have I not suffered enough? Have I made my impulses and desire to excite and entertain even the most miniscule audience into my unresting penance? Might this be that "hubris of man" shit I hear so much about? Am I to eternally remain entangled in the spiderweb of this Twilight Zone script of a life for all eternity? Would it have been better to join a Bob's Burgers forum perhaps? Who would I be now…

Yet, it is my duty. Those six manchildren are counting on you! Why you've thumbs downed enough jaundiced film parodies to be the Roger & Ebert of your field! You made it through a year and a half of COVID and the Donda rollout unscathed! Perhaps it never ends, but you only grow stronger as they wither in age!! Take heart young soldier, through all tepid satire we shall overcome!!! Thus, phone gripped in hand like Excalibur, staring down a diminished but not yet vanquished near-hundred headed beast, I resume my destiny. After all, It's just another pesky Cerberus like last year, how hard could it...what's that? There's how many segments this year?
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#?

Barti I guess.


Okay so the promotional hooplah for this THOH asserted that instead of the typical triple threat we would be witness to a full pentagram of harrowing tales. This was frankly hysterical to the weathered Simpsons cortex of this malnourished brain, having spelunked all the way to rock bottom of this pit (shoulda dug up, stupid), I am all too keenly aware how incompetently and unenthusastically this show tends to piss away seven minutes now, parody isn't just a lie, its like an active mockery. Like oh you wanted a parody? How 'bout a pair o' deez nuts, ya sesquipedalian dork. So given that a coherent or even discernibly drafted subversion of spooky sources couldn't be expected in seven minutes, what better way to hydroplane into failure than to extend the number of segments and throttle the most frail microbe of potential from each's crying soul as quarter-cocked pseudo-segments five car pile-up into each other as my job is made easier, gleefully guffawing at the mass casualties, as you do. Unfortunately as Simpsons promo goes, it was a false narrative. Right from "segment one", the realization is that what we are actually dealing with is your typical three axe structure with two fleshy vestigial connective tissues weaving them together ever so slightly. "Barti" does not even contain a title card, which was the criteria I eventually decided for numbering these, it runs the general length of your THOH cold opens expected of the tradition and indeed finishes with the gloriously ugly XXXII of the title card. Seriously that awkwardly distending mass of numerals is just starting to say it all. I contest this whole charade, but if the Simpsons demands these be considered with the same importance of the usual feast, I'll add a bit more to my plate, just don't be surprised when it's left fully regurgitated. You are what you eat after all, so let's spew some half-hearted repetition.

This one isn't hard to figure out. The Simpsons is a proud product of Disney now, as soulless now in fact as its seemed for two decades, now blatantly the product Jean has iron fist conveyor belted and shamelessly listed Emmy wins for to prove its false worth for ages on end, it's the fate it deserves, but as such the show has been getting kid gloves playful with Disney property "satire", or just plain asskissery in standalone crossover shorts I'd have to add a new much higher Patreon tier to ever be convinced to touch. This is no exception, now able to reenact classic WDAS movies to their corrupted heart's content, pronounced con-tent. "Barti'' is, surprise shock and also awe, not much of a parody, but it also barely seems like it's trying to be. Recent THOHs have embraced a new shortcut to the wow factor allegedly expected of a THOH by playing with eclectic animation styles, such as the toy and Coraline segments, or returns to the CGI of Homer³, and while this is more of a blend of HD Simpsons with early WDAS style, it's still pretty much the whole point. What's that? Jokes? But look how special we made the drawings! Nothing but the best* for our hallowed tradition. As far as violence goes we get to blow up Milhouse, always a bonus, but Bambi's mother doesn't die here, and there's some impaling but no blood. So it's actually less violent than Bambi. Happy Halloween? The only reason you're here is the style mimicry. So how is it?

They certainly gave it an effort, it's no Bambi but that's an unfair bar regardless of which sad Western animation studio I'm assessing, so don't expect anything stunning, but they brought the autumnal landscape's palette down to Earth appropriately, toning down cartoony vibrancies, emphasizing strewn about pumpkins and burnt orange leaves. The character movements are that extra bit more expressive and rubbery, though the bulky HD style makes some of the fluidity still awkward. It's something, but it doesn't last long. The main characters are absolutely hideous, though Milhouse Thumper is an amusing visual. Also when Burns shows up he's not in Disney style at all so yeah A for effort guys. What you get besides the style is an extremely obvious spoof of Disney musical numbers, wow did you know Disney movies have death in them??? Just like THOH! Almost like that's meant to mean something, but the deaths are just a quick pan across the woodlands as various critters meet their demise, and only sometimes. They emphasize the parallel between "wholesome" Disney and gruesome death but then cut away as the most violent splatter is about to happen. Possibly the joke, but hard to bypass when the rest of the segment doesn't follow through with this idea. The tragic deaths of Disney moms etc played for cruel joke would at least be a discernible gag, ramp up the cutesy music as the violence grows, expand the parallel into the ridiculous. Why would Disney get mad at that, it's not a new observation, but you could have some fun with the stylistic parallel. They seem scared to make any real moves with their overlord's properties though, so instead it's just very ugly Bart Simpson Bambi. It's ostensibly a more ambitious opening but by having a cold open have the same core issues full segments do now it just accentuates how doomed this already feels. I dunno I'm reviewing an opening all to appease the promo. Perhaps it is I who is doomed. Whatever, onto the actual show.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#94

gjokXsK.png


Alright good, The Simpsons got the terrible American remake of Parasite out of the way relatively quickly so we can just as a country not remake it again now right? Imagining a hypothetical person who is so subtitlephobic that they will only ever know this story through modern Simpsons' mucky filter and getting angry at them. Fuck you, fake person. Now I am becoming more and more of an avid film consoomer these days but fact is I am still rather sluggish and often miss the curve on things, and thus I have not yet seen Parasite, despite full intent to. God, beaten to the punch by the Simpsons on tackling a piece of pop culture, I will be atoning for my sloth for many millennia in the afterlife. I get it though, this was a fascinatingly unique case where a prestige horror film got ubiquitous praise such that it nabbed the Best Picture Oscar, which is an empty symbolic virtue signaling gesture by a group of anonymous elderly freaks who occasionally prop up something progressive by one metric or another by obligation to create enough illusion to defy the #OscarsSoWhite controversy while still mostly entertaining the status quo no I did not forgot Green Book hell I barely have let Crash go. What was I saying? Oh yeah. Parasite was pretty big. Regardless of the why of its spread it clearly resonated with people already, and while even just a year passing feels like losing grip of that hype train, maybe aiming for a Best Picture of the same year for a segment is a bad idea in general given the unavoidable elapsed time without more time to assess if a thing has earned true longevity culturally, it's a fair target due to that unique opportunity. But who are we kidding? Before Jean even got his greasy mitts on the gears this show was struggling to even make fun of Harry Potter, and since then has limped through The Exorcist, Twilight, Dead Calm, Paranormal Activity, The Kingsman, and you know I could go on. This isn't about track record though. These are not complex films, they contain foundations of genre horror that could be lampooned without needing to get into the messy weeds of allegorical subtext, let alone of socio-political nuance. Even when they wore The Shape of Water's slimy, fishy corpse for a few minutes, they could pare that down to the Black Lagoon monster bangs Selma outing that it becomes, there's a sinew of genre that you can shortcut with. There's no shortcut here. This is fucking Parasite, and even as someone who hasn't seen the film, the little I know is pretty clear; THE HOUSE IS SOCIETY DOE, its a film explicitly about the class structure, about lower class warfare against itself, about how human suffering begats human suffering in these conditions and how that creates an indignation that needs a target, and in Society that target is that which we can know, the villains in high towers are too distant for us to see their string pulling, we see foremost the ugliness of our fellow sufferer, and for the sake of survival we attack. Probably missing alot but I bet I did better than Chrissy Teigen. Oh and The Simpsons. Whatever the difference is now.

This is not a light topic and it's not a topic you can playfully breeze by, certainly not one you can respectfully expect to just mime with the fucking Simpsons cast and call it a day. The things that come off so unacceptably flat here come off so uniquely so. Merely replicating schlockier fare with the cast with no new insight is annoying, but having the Simpsons passively rattle off chunks of story beats and character exposition from such a clearly narratively complex and invested movie with nothing to comment but literally "what if it was the people of Springfield who did this", feels like it breaches some previously unspoken limit. As bad as the rampant neoliberalizing of this film was through the lens of celebrities and memes consequential to that, at least misunderstanding it, violently so, is some tangible form of interpretation. This feels like more than just lazy writing, there's a disrespect of the cinema and ego of the show in tandem that's quietly enraging here, like they really think you can just stuff these characters literally anywhere, change nothing whatsoever, offer zero comedic perspective, and that's enough. We're the Simpsons don't you know! What if Homer say D'oh but in explicit metaphor of poverty! Every joke in this is an aside or some cheeky sitcomming of the scenario, because these idiots wouldn't have the first clue how to approach this, and its not an easy task to make comedy of heavy themes especially ones that are so explicit and laced through every experience on screen, let alone satirize that, but that's why most wouldn't have the ego to try, or to pretend to try. They bluntly explain the film to their basic understanding which drains limited time with exposition,they even use Mel to yell at you that it's an allegory. You can't even call the bluntness the joke because most of its just desperately explaining the film in the least inspired way possible, like they couldn't think of a single way to show this through character actions or god forbid, comedy. Do you know how embarrassing it is to watch the Simpsons have no clue how to make social satire funny? What are you anymore. This moves so fast and mindlessly and it offers not a single second of its own contribution to the conversation, it has an exact total of nothing to say, and as not new as this is, the gall in this case is an offense. Stay the fuck in your lane, you opportunistic vultures. Bar lowers again, I'm missing terrible substanceless segments that at least jacked off aimlessly through lower brow horror, like the Split segment sucked but so did Split. Remember when we all liked Split for about a year? We tried for ol' M. Night we did. Pretending to care: a higher bar than some can clear.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
Joined
Mar 4, 2013
Messages
11,873
Location
water valley, ms
#95

aU8DJhA.png


Okay instantly, pleased to see the treehouse utilized as a vessel for tale-telling again, I was never purely against the move towards less Halloweeny segments because y'know, after awhile you exhaust the Draculas and Frankensteins and all and you gotta play with time travel, sci-fi or Y2K or whatever, or even movie parodies beyond that space, the issue was never the material outright, but it did cause the show to drift away from that macabre charm of the holiday's spirit, you miss the trick or treating and the tombstones and the Night Gallery and all that, and to return to that core, huddled in the treehouse at night filling it ethereal tales aplenty, there's a fondness to that, though call me an old man but telling scary stories by phone light just ain't the same. It's too white a light! You want one of those flashlights that even at full battery has like a yellowish hue, like it was a piece of shit from purchase but that's a vibe. Our shit worked worse and it was better! In this essay I will. Anyway, my expectations are clearly in a sewer with the C.H.U.D.s because this being an original enough segment with a silly horror monster and vague Halloween vibes made it tolerable. That doesn't mean it was good though. Okay upfront, I have one great big confusion here: We start with Bart frightening Lisa and Maggie with a story, and they scuttle off as he laughs. I like the detail of Lisa still being squeamish to scary things, but after this creates the impetus for Homer to whack the tree, this sibling opening is totally abandoned. Why? We so explicitly return to the treehouse with kids being kids and that uneasy feeling in the air, why not stay there? Have Bart somehow through gleefully spooking his sisters big bro style cause an incantation on the tree, and have him and Milhouse stuck in the tree met with the karma of being the unknown hostage of the rampaging monster as he gathers his hordes, trying to stay quiet, met with the fear he created for Lisa as the story gets too real. That way the tree as holder of the treehouse maintains this dark ironic twist in its sentience, and maybe Lisa is the one to stop it somehow and thus conquers her fear in the moment in said process. It keeps the Halloween vibe the whole way, down to being within the focal point of the kids and their experience.

Look I'm not a storyteller so if I can conceptualize this it's not brain surgery, but for some bizarre reason this story has no real victim or consequence until the swift and stilted ending. Alot of it is just uh, tree jokes? Yeah that's the ticket guys, the thing thats the scariest about a living breathing fucking mass of sharp wooded arms and stomping stumpy feet? It's that he's a tree. These designs aren't bad either, the trademark overbite feels like the wrong call, they should feel more alien, but there's still a sense of weight to them, very ahem lumbering, but it hardly matters because on the road to conquest it mostly just makes tree jokes with other trees. Yeah, really scary. Or never mind scariest, how about funniest? We have a Groot joke, Xmas tree jokes, Tree Rollins whose name is Tree you see, and a joke where Audrey II calls himself a...ugh…"trans plant", and says he identifies as a tree. Crawl into a volcano and stay there. What the fuck is this is buffoonery though, feels like we aren't even staying on task, at best there's a bent of the environment taking revenge but the episode fails to emphasize this properly from the open and barely shows it after, and even if that were the case, I just keep looking, as the treehouse dangles emptily from the head of the beast, utterly confused by the freebie not taken. You need not even take my idea wholesale, but just adding Bart spooked out of his wits would make writing this easier, it creates stakes to make the confrontation with the town matter, it makes the monster imposing, and it gives us a lens with which to view the horror and absurdity and create the comedy in a direct way that illustrates it as the scenario it is. Nah but see Groot is a tree and this tree is also a tree. We got a tree with Dutch elm and it speaks Dutch! Yo Arbor Day, that's funny right? Yo that's not a tree that's a FAMILY TREE, you jesters you! A perfect metaphor really. The treehouse of horror. Once full of spirit, now empty, lifeless, rigid, and they can't be bothered to fill it with anything.
 
Top