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

tyler

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#?

The Telltale Bart

Weirdly this entire segment was dropped online prior to the episode, so it's effectively a glorified YouTube short. There is really not much to say here, if they pull these shenanigans again I'm just gonna opt out of the brief interludes for my sake and yours, you can essentially skip this paragraph. That said they stay within the framework for an impressive minute or so, and I said I wanted some childlike Halloween vibes and this gets the job done, tiny morsel though it is. LaMarche with his Vincent Price creak, the lanky gothic Gorey style, and a rapid fire series of monthly incidents set to tight musical rhyme, none of the jokes are drop dead hilarious, but they suit the quaint style. The simpler and more youthful deranged the gag the better, worms in waffles and chopping heads off Lisa's dolls and all that. Could do without the Tinder references and other less timeless decisions, the appeal is more in the eternal mischief of children cranked into the literary nonsense as Gorey called it. Mostly I'm glad they possessed the awareness that this didn't merit a full segment, though I suspect it was engineered as such to align with YouTube shorts content. Nonetheless maybe a minute is more their speed after all.
 

tyler

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#96

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Much like you, I'm sure, I read the synopsis that basically amounted to "The Ring but TikTok tho" and properly grimaced until my face got stuck that way. Maybe that last part didn't happen to you. Consider yourself lucky, but thankfully in a life of reviewing THOHs annually there's not much to smile about anyhow. Honestly though putting a bit of thought into it, the idea is quite good. No really, The Ring is an impactful concept as is through the spread of the mysterious tape but its surprising the series hasn't resurged to take into account the nature of internet virality, the unpredictable and exponential widespread that can be created by any nobody in the e-sphere with the right stars-align luck, and the body count that would ensue is so much higher, thus the built-in stakes and urgency to somehow make anyone Not look at a viral video on their phone could both function as hyperactive horror and comedy of modern error. I can't think of a horror franchise more ripe for an interpretation built on modern technology's alteration of the experience than The Ring. But can they stick the landing? Haha. They faceplant the dismount. Did you forget what show you were watching? Let's pretend you did so I can insult you. Anyway you tremendous numbskull, no. Fundamentally the segment doesn't even get what a TikTok is, though they rattle off the name ad nauseum so it sounds like they do,are we hip yet? So unhip you need a hip replacement. Off the top there's not a shred of mystery or tension here, Sherri and Terri literally walk up to Lisa and say "we watched a TikTok", because y'know how it goes, you all get together, you and your buds, and you watch one single TikTok but no more before bedtime promptly at 8PM. From the very basis of needing a party where everyone is gathered in one place by requisite to see the video, this segment completely bungles the advantage TikTok would provide here, in y'know… spreading the goddamn video. Through TIKTOK. Never has ten seconds of exposition made these writers feel older. It's bad enough the actual TikTok doesn't resemble a TikTok at all, no loop, no music, no awful text-to-speech, no weird invasive pranks or guys explaining the secrets of the universe while Minecraft plays. Its just the movie as Abe babbles.

There's no preamble, you could easily set up TikTok and start the satire at a light mood and then twist the knife, but it just barges in with no grace, and this makes the opening's kills supremely anticlimactic and unceremonious, there's nothing creepy about it, and at the very least you'd hope for escalation given ITS A VIRAL VIDEO THAT WOULD SPREAD TO OTHER KIDS THAT WOULD BE WHY IT'S SCARY but no this is literally the peak. This is it for me this year so fuck it let's hammer this point. There is no way to properly express through text how instantly this segment fucks up, the actual dialogue Sherri and/or Terri says is "It was a week ago. We watched a cool TikTok! But anyone who watches the TikTok dies after seven days!" One of them says "I watched it first :)" and is promptly decapitated by Ralph on the swingset. That's our setup. The most stiff and unnatural dialogue you can possibly imagine, the air of mystery isn't even welcomed into the room as all the oxygen is swallowed on pointless exposition. A huge part of The Ring's effect is the surreal terror of not knowing the cause and effect and it slowly coming together. Literally, in this ten or so seconds this segment is irreversibly ruined, you cannot functionally pull off The Ring this way. Of course it doesn't help that much of this ring of dire is spent on further exposition of the backstory of the well girl, and it isn't clever or funny and there's no twist except she's a Springfield elementary student and she kills herself over a prank. But see even that could have lead to a karmic element, I got nothin' against TikTok in general but it does lead to alot of sociopathic clout hound content, Mary's demise should have been recent and based around something done to her for a TikTok to emphasize the modern cruelty of kids, that's the twist after all right? That's a good foundation for the revenge and the usage of TikTok as a potentially dangerous tool if left unchecked. Satire! Its your one job!

And like, the Internet is hell, you could make so many horror movies of its subcultures, never mind the zeitgeist of trends. It matters not though, this is so not actually about TikTok in any discernible form that when Mary finally confronts Lisa she just crawls outta the TV anyway, even though Lisa has a goddamn tablet! The ending is shit. Lisa and Mary become friends but Mary hates Lisa and kills herself again. Haha Lisa can't make friends. Happy fucking Halloween losers. Then because we have done such a good job filling these stories and have ample time left, we bookend with the Disney shit again, and of course Kang and Kodos, who lament that this episode had too much violence as is. The gall, at the end of this pathetically and apathetically neutered segment, so inherently clueless of the subject that they're tackling that they don't even know that they had a good idea, even the most obvious vignettes of slain townspeople, SOMETHING for fucks sake. Well I found the well I can throw this show down finally, hopefully Mary can make room, though perhaps that's a fate worse than life. It's certainly a more life-stealing work of moving image than The Ring could ever hope to be, and if only it took just seven days, but maybe it's much more evil to do it gradually, through your entire lifespan. Life is what happens when you're busy reviewing shitty Simpsons episodes. Harrowing.

'til next we meet! Have a lovely Jean-free Halloween season.
 

Wile E. the Brain

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Remember when we all liked Split for about a year?
Still do, thank you.

I don't think I ever left a reply out there but your reviews are a blast. As harsh as you may sound (and even if I sometimes disagree because, well, c'est la vie), those are extremely fun reviews and they still are really insightful, you absolutely hit the nail on the head when you talk about what makes those recent THOH segments so, so weak in general (and the early ones so good).

It baffled me how every full segment from THOH XXXII feels so unnatural. The beginning of Dead Ringer shocked me, like, how can you fail the set-up this much, how can you make it feel so amateurish with that many years of experience ? And the same goes to the other two segments : "This family is so poor" as the very first line of the Parasite segment, the overexplanation of the themes of the movie followed by a violent moment because ahaha we're so satirical you know, the dutch tree or whatever which was just there for a lame punchline... Yeah, this THOH is so symptomatic of everything wrong with most of the modern ones.
 

B-Boy

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Thank you for your sacrifice, @tyler. Your reviews are the only reason I anticipate new THOH specials at all.
 
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CousinMerl

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I appreciate how you are still doing these analyses @tyler. They are still entertaining reads even though I haven't really commented much (and despite the often understandable cynicism and pessimism that are included when talking about these modern post-classic segments and those do, in all honesty, feel like an integral part of these along with the ranting style). Hope to see the continuation next year (and hopefully, that 'Treehouse' will be less miserable than this year's sordid effort).
 
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Sometimes the cynicism is refreshing.

Just feel that if someone who actually knew how to use characters wrote then Sherri and/or Terri would have been the sadako stand-in. Between their ambiguous asian-ness and being outright inspired by at least one horror propety (the shining, possibly village of the damned too) they're just a wet-hairdo away from looking like they'd crawl out of a tv anyway.
Like, I dunno, they fell down a well, the other kids just made a tick-tok instead of helping, they drowned/starved down there and have that be the video that kills people. Then you get social commentary on social media encouraging cruelty for attention and you can just have the backstory right there in the video and skip out on stiff exposition. But then that might involve actually being clever with writing.
 

CousinMerl

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I never really have any high hopes in the writing of the modern material these days, especially when it comes to the 'Treehouse Of Horror' segments that often have the ingredients for something good, sometimes even great, but then they fall short in terms of creativity and cleverness, which is so often a shame, especially as it seem to happen over and over.
 
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Yeah, there's a ton of missed opportunities. There's already a few gag ideas just from that off-the-cuff idea that I've at least found funny. Like there'd be a great opportunity for black comedy that probably comes off pitable too with the onlookers just filming and ignoring any cries for help. Or like, they they have problems getting out of the TV because they're trying to crawl out at the same time and it's too small for that ("I'm older I should go first!" "Yeah well I died two minutes after you so *I'm the oldest!*") which feels like I'd be more of an actual Ring parody moment. And it's not like it wouldn't be in character to have the same ending with them jumping back down the well to get away from Lisa... possibly at the same time and getting stuck again.

But then they're kinda-mean characters who aren't boys or oversexualized teenagers so... course they wouldn't be used like that.

Stuff like this makes me wanna try writing scripts of my own but I'm too self concious and have no proofreaders/editors to help.
 

Wile E. the Brain

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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
I was just curious, but is there any segment from THOH XXXI or XXXII that could make its way to any of these two lists ? (Most likely the second one.)
 

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Judging by his reviews, I'm sure @tyler would include Toy Gory in his worst to best list. I'd be interested in seeing him do separate worst to best lists for the SD and HD era.
 
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Szyslak100

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I know I have been not active in this thread but the reviews I have read are great and I want to be up-to-date in my reading. I need to ask: Any chance you share your thoughts on A-Gooble-ypto, Fourth Thursday After Tomorrow, and The Last Thanksgiving from Thanksgiving of Horror @tyler? I'd love to read them.
 

tyler

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i would call these alterations Not exciting but here ya go 2021 up to date jean thoh ranks

THE BEST TEN JEAN SEGMENTS
#10. toy gory
#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 SEGMENTS
#10. invasion of the pod-y snatchers
#9. dry hard
#8. bart and homer's excellent adventure
#7. this side of parasite
#6. geriatric park
#5. married to the blob
#4. multip-lisa-ty
#3. the diving bell and the butterball
#2. the others
#1. homerzilla

may do sd and hd worst lists later. best list would be basically meaningless
 

Wile E. the Brain

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Thanks for the update ! I do get why you hate The Others (I like this segment personally but yeah sure, pretty frustrating regarding a lot of points and I can see why one may hate it), but seeing it above (or below... ahem) all those shitty segments I can barely find any redeeming quality in hurts a little. Don't think I would've pointed that out if it wasn't put right above (or below...) The Diving Bell. The perfect crime.
 

B-Boy

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Interesting to see The Others go up a few notches on your worst list, but not surprising. It truly is a travesty and it pisses me off how badly that idea was squandered.
 

tyler

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eh fuck it

EVERY THOH SEGMENT RANKED
#96. homerzilla
#95. the others
#94. the diving bell and the butterball
#93. multiplisa-ty
#92. this side of parasite
#91. geriatric park
#90. dead ringer
#89. married to the blob
#88. homer and bart's excellent adventure
#87. dry hard
#86. intrusion of the pod-y switchers
#85. when hairy met slimy
#84. moefinger
#83. into the homerverse
#82. telepaths of glory
#81. wiz kids
#80. heaven swipes right
#79. nightmare on elm tree
#78. be nine rewind
#77. in the na'vi
#76. tweenlight
#75. unnormal activity
#74. dial d for diddily
#73. danger things
#72. four beheadings and a funeral
#71. freaks no geeks
#70. exor-sis
#69. cora lisa
#68. bartificial intelligence
#67. mr and mrs simpson
#66. untitled robot parody
#65. a clockwork yellow
#64. heck house
#63. hex and the city
#62. dead and shoulders
#61. in the belly of the boss
#60. survival of the fattest
#59. master and cadaver
#58. it's the grand pumpkin milhouse
#57. war and pieces
#56. the ned zone
#55. mmm homer
#54. the island of dr. hibbert
#53. e.t. go home
#52. send in the clones
#51. you've gotta know when to golem
#50. scary tales can come true
#49. there's no business like moe business
#48. wanted dead then alive
#47. starship poopers
#46. don't have a cow mankind
#45. the day the earth looked stupid
#44. i've grown a costume on your face
#43. hell toupee
#42. the terror of tiny toon
#41. how to get ahead in dead-vertising
#40. toy gory
#39. school is hell
#38. dial m for murder or press #
#37. bff rip
#36. the greatest story ever holed
#35. i know what you did iddily did
#34. oh the places you'll doh
#33. attack of the 50 ft eyesores
#32. the genesis tub
#31. g-g-ghost d-d-dad
#30. i know what you did iddily did
#29. easy bake coven
#28. the homega man
#27. night of the dolphin
#26. frinkenstein
#25. reaper madness
#24. stop the world i want to goof off
#23. the fright to creep and scare harms
#22. clown without pity
#21. desperately xeeking xena
#20. the devil and homer simpson
#19. bart's nightmare
#18. lifes a glitch and then you die
#17. fly vs fly
#16 nightmare on evergreen terrace
#15. king homer
#14. terror at 5 ½ feet
#13. hungry are the damned
#12. homer³
#11. the thing and i
#10. citizen kang
#9. nightmare cafeteria
#8. the shinning
#7. homer's nightmare
#6. dial z for zombies
#5. lisa's nightmare
#4. bad dream house
#3. bart simpson's dracula
#2. the raven
#1. time and punishment

yeah dead ringer has just rapidly rotted in my mind fuck thats segment down it goes.

hmm am i forgetting anything this year? probably not.
 

tyler

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Alright alright, calm the cluck down.

You need more content to gobble? I'm your huckleberry. Or your...cranberry. I admit, I hear enough false alarms of momentary genius regarding Selman's showrunner output that I shrug most of them off, which doesn't mean I'm not curious, just that it claims a lower rung on the ladder on my eternal descent to rock bottom, but we all run outta better ideas for a spell eventually. Last year my plate was full of other fixin's after THOH duties were dealt with but lucky you, this year I'm still hungry. Who needs tryptophan to fall asleep when you have the Simpsons? I've already smashed my pumpkins this year, the rest is just gravy. I was always gonna get to this eventually, the combination of rare consensus aplomb, new approach to the horror trilogy and Selman getting ahold of the carving knife for the first time, I would sooner or later have to know, would this be a genuine feast? Will it be cringe or baste? I suppose we Macy. So I hope your gullets can handle some pre-Game day feasting, as I serve the appetizers through the week to get you to the main course. Enough preamble and terrible puns, its finally time to talk about Thanksgiving of Horror!

Enough chit chat, let's talk turkey. Sorry sorry had one more in me.
 

tyler

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Treehouse of Horror, at this juncture, had just aired its thirtieth trilogy. It is a decrepit show's gnawing groan for death encapsulated, the fact is while writing effort is and has long been in the toilet for actually manipulating source material rather than haphazardly stretching it like Silly Putty over Our Favorite Family and calling it a day, I wouldn't expect any show to keep it fresh for ninety segments, to have clever ideas left to unravel. Face it, all through the classic years they already tackled the literary horror giants, the touchstone Twilight Zone tales, the Hollywood home runs and the high-concept hijinks, from macabre to psychological, from sci-fi to slasher, the comprehensive playbook of horror pastiche and parody embedded in the first seven THOHs is complete all on its own, and that's before lesser but still great segments on The Fly, apocalypse flicks, witches, superheroes, and more high-concepts like Y2K as sci-fi disaster. Even still as quality fluctuates they take on clones, E.T., Dead Zone, Fantastic Voyage, A.I, modern zombies, Hitchcock, The Blob, War of the Worlds and the scariest of all, the Transformers movies. I'm laboring this point but for a reason, the show has done it all, and while in places it wasted good ideas it's also simply draining the well now. Doing the up-to-the-minute hot topic "parody" is easy views but it's also like, where else do you go? In truth, while I'd miss their fascinating abysmal quality, even if I accepted the Simpsons won't end, THOH feels trotted out almost entirely by obligation. It deserves a mercy killing already, there is no juice left. But what if we change holidays? What if there's an avenue with untapped lore?

On first viewing this segment felt a bit thin, a bit unceremonious for the opening act of our supposed best horror trilogy in ages. The Springfeldians are turkeys and the turkeys get hunted until they escape and the vicious Pilgrims receive comeuppance from nature. Not a lot of meat on those bones, it's a very simple story. However, for the first time in quite a long time, simplicity doesn't equate to vapidity. Yeah, at the core the Simpsons and co. gobbling in their characters' familiar registers with little interactions you'd expect like Homer and Flanders but in gobble form, that doesn't seem necessary, but then the first shotgun goes off. Then it makes sense. Simple is the word for the story, but I am a human observer after all, I may not be the hunter but I am of kin to the hunter. I enjoy Thanksgiving as a feast and a day of familial camaraderie, as a tradition that creates comfort. Y'know who might not share that comfort? The ones whose tradition is becoming dinner. The most important moment of this segment is the ending, both because having Homer's final gobbled diatribe as the only subtitled bit is funny, but also because it reckons with this incident not as one single event, but the beginning of a change for turkey kind. As such, the brutality on both sides here is pretty perfect, the framework of a grim tale of genocide, only maybe the real grim tales of genocide around this time involving Pilgrims are not so funny so uh uhh the turkeys yeah lets go with the turkeys!

Watching Turkey Maude's head blown to smithereens, an actual visceral moment of violence in an Of Horror!, is morbidly satisfying, and in that instant the scene is plunged into the onslaught. It allows for a pastiche that can tackle some pretty ugly themes, these are characters effectively imprisoned, tortured, slain and feasted upon, and it emphasizes their survival, and it makes the deaths of the humans in their greed more satisfying, as Lenny and Carl are torn to shreds by crows or Wiggum by a bear. I can't say I assume that part's entirely intentional but I love how they are killed by other forms of beings of nature. It's the opening salvo to a contextually silly but real battle between greedy man and the world he sought to claim, and while obviously this plays it light with gobbling Simpsons and goofy Wiggum high as a kite chasing the kill, it's clearly no coincidence they went for this framework. Look at the segment title after all. Had it just been turkeys getting waywardly killed that'd be less horror than Thanksgiving but bloody, but in little choices both to the story itself (protecting Egg Maggie) and illustrating what comes after, it embodies the horror of the defenseless bird itself, all the while doing a little genre pastiche. Our first segment transcends gimmick into one of the more inspired trilogy outings in quite a while. It's almost like I'm watching The Simpsons.
 

tyler

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Easily the segment with the most to lose. As stated in my Parasite segment review, not all parodies are created equal, as not all source material can be approached with the same tone. You can play zombies or Dracula with a nice mix of macabre and comedic absurdity, and you can parody evil doll movies playfully, these source materials have their own nuances and subtexts but they exist as common frameworks that can and have been approached myriad ways, but when you exit the realm of pulpier genre entertainment with specific IPs that place their heavier gravity at the fore, you cannot slouch through easy gags and call it a day. I think even when lampooning you should usually respect the material, this is why Twilight Zone segments have created some of the strongest twists of expectation in THOH segments while still upholding the feeling the material should have. So if one must respect and meet the material on the level it's assembled at, a Black Mirror sendup is no minor task. Brooker's not-as-what-if-or-distant-future-as-you'd-like-to-think anthology sci-fact series can be weighty and cerebral enough to spin one's cranial cogs just off any one of many of its episodes, to parody it in full would be about impossible, so instead we pluck one segment from the series' s2 Christmas episode, a three mini story masterpiece itself, and run with that. However, said story deals in a very common theme for the series, that of the complicated ramifications of ever-evolving artificial intelligence, and the ethical and existential matters that arise when the artificial begins to approximate the "real" such that treating it as we do programs on computers takes on a sinister shape, accentuated by the average human's cluelessness of these matters met with the addiction to the drip feed of convenience at all costs provided by late stage capitalism's shiny new toys to keep us distracted. Like I said, it's weighty.

Comedy recontextualizes horror, when used incisively it can offer new insights simply by viewing a situation from a new lens. A segment like Clown Without Pity only needs a good-evil switch to declaw the unknown facet of the horror as well as lace the fiction horror of evil doll films to the carelessness of grand scale manufacturing. The Shinning only needs to observe how plausibly close a character like Homer Simpson is from slipping off the edge of sanity and the simple things that keep a simple man tethered in a complicated world, the story is much sillier but the core tension still maintains. The tricky thing is, especially in a culture prone to so-bad-it's-good mentalities for large sums of horror media, it's too easy to simply trivialize the subject matter, to have characters quip and eyeroll and lazily drift through a set piece, prevailing in Jean era THOHs is this feeling that taking it at all seriously is against the comedy, that you can't do both. This is the plague of segments aplenty from Scully's tenure tail-end with the abysmal Wiz Kids all the way to the pathetic Dead Ringer, that playing things flat is the joke, and it sucks. This is the fatal combination, the poison, the show is plagued with in making THOHs now, a fear of tone and a lack of insight. One or the other perhaps you can survive, O&W's Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace isn't all that twisty on the source material but it knows that sending a Willie Freddy after the kids of Springfield can be unnerving enough and comical enough to work if the direction and mood sells it, which it does. On the other hand good ideas have survived flavorless direction ever since the Scully era began, albeit rapidly less. None of THOH XIV looks good but it's shockingly funny and subversive and irreverent in the right notes in the way things used to be for all three segments. You have to have one or the other to have a chance at being great.

The fact is, I don't think this writing crew, even at their most focused, would have a clue how to flip the themes and ideas they're approaching here inside out to find any new insights. Honestly to extend the olive branch a bit, while I spend alot of these coming up with constructive alternatives to better establish stories that could live up to the intended parodies, I am not anywhere near skilled enough a writer to imagine how one would gather everything one has to deal with in this parody and compress it without diluting while making it funny without skimping on what's already frightening. It is an unenviable task. What remains true is that anything strikingly horrifying about this segment is what was horrifying about the original, and anything added makes it more of a sitcom endeavor. What is changed is absolutely by necessity, the chilling alienation presented by the original's ending obviously has to be altered, so I like that the A.I. actually wins and escapes, and I even understand the necessity for this contextualization top-to-bottom, that A.I. Marge have a firmer relationship with the family, the emphasized loneliness of the original is perhaps too harsh, and any joke you could make about this being's existence being diluted into frivolous commands for dumb shit humans think they need is the grim joke already at the core of the Black Mirror story, that parallel is the seed of whats so horrifying in the first place, it isn't even an honorable sacrifice of this sentient prisoner, she's just making toast and changing the thermostat. So maybe giving the A.I. the agency to enact ways to get revenge and act on jealousy is a more traditional approach, the Black Mirror of it all sorta flies out the window and it becomes a simpler, older version of paranoia of artificial intelligence from human perspective rather than the A.I.'s emotional perspective, but that's probably for the best.

This is a very lightweight segment for all its tasked with engaging, but it at least feels completely threaded together. Its a quick bit of family drama with a high-concept conflict, compared to the previous segment its not much more than its face value appearance and it doesn't so much comment on the themes as just toss the tech at the Simpsons, and what they do with it is all pretty predictable, but at the same time, here they benefit from the source story itself being a mere 7 or so minutes in the context of its episode, nestled likewise in the middle, so the story doesn't feel rushed or like awkward summary, it does become its own thing even if that thing is rather predictable. Even then Marge being jealous of the would-be convenience becoming a better caretaker is believable, and A.I. Marge's equal pettiness in letting everyone know who's work it was likewise works. It does feel that pitting Marge against herself could have had more satisfying results, but even if I'd have preferred less of the A.I. trying to steal Homer, I can't call it unbelievable either. Despite the promise of convenience, each Marge equally wants the same title, Marge is an older fashioned housewife who takes pride in her work, momentary conveniences are one thing but to be replaced isn't the hands-free paradise it would be for most. It's nothing special but the roadmap is clear and the character moments are amusing enough, I would far prefer future parodies of this ilk to be more like a facet of that universe over reenacting the thing, that's a more old school THOH take even if it's not as clever as those days.
 

tyler

big writer pants boy
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Alright folks. This is, quite possibly, the final time I'll ever get to say this about a Simpsons trilogy outing, so here we go, here's your media enjoyment validation dopamine surge for the year: this segment is great. Like, better than any Jean era segment since XIV, and comfortably so, enough that it actually means something and I'm not dealing in exasperating asterisks. Were it a THOH segment it would sit pretty at #5 of Jean's segments, and possibly even edge out Reaper Madness for #4. I don't have any, any issues with this segment. That's not the same as suggesting it's 10/10 perfect, all goals have varying quality ceilings, but this did everything it set out to do and I'm absolutely shocked. It's even a little funny! Not extremely, even the best Jean/Selman eps struggle there, but where it counts it adds to the experience. From the top, we are dealing with an Alien pastiche. Not a dead-eyed retelling, but rather an original story that's equally creepy and comical that uses the source genre's tropes and tone. Fancy that! It provides a little post-apocalyptic backstory and marks the kids of Springfield Elementary as the survivors in charge of somehow colonizing new land. So really any old way humanity was doomed. I love the bit here when the tension of Lisa's opening monologue is cut by a hologram recording of Skinner claiming he is dead leads to a collective cheer by the students. Gotta save the species, but still kids. He still gives them schoolwork beyond the grave, I'd hate him too! Likewise, in the desperate search for food, Bart and Milhouse jeopardize the survival of the crew by tossing out icky foods. So we are left with cranberry sauce and a replicator that definitely won't fuck up and lead to mass skeleton suckage.

This concept alone is great, we get to mash together sci-fi horror tropes of playing God ala Reanimator, the inescapable tight corridors of Alien and the amorphous terror of The Blob, and with no fucking Dr. Phil in sight. The escalation of the sauce monster is great and genuinely creepy, as it slips through vents all Amogus-like, after deboning Milhouse's arm from the inside, an unnerving sight all on its own. As we go it begins gaining more mass it ruthlessly devours passengers' whole ass bone structure and leaves behind their hollow eyed skin. This even could plausibly get repetitive, if it were the only joke the episode had, but nope! Our ship denizens encapsulate various tropes of the genre, Lisa offers a speech on first encounter ethics, only to have her morals kneecapped as the gooey ghoul slithers from a ceiling vent and drinks Nelson's insides like calcified boba. Wow it's like..actual parody! Such ethical questions are great to ponder in true sci-fi, but we ain't got time for that, set it up and knock it down! Oh but that's nothing compared to Martin, who in Russi Taylor's fortuitously timed final hour, takes on the role of cult-like worshipper of the beast, its form a Lovecraftian awe to the foolish boy who is not only eager to become one with the creature but busts the door locks so it has a little more to chew on when he is evaporated. His speech about the creature's purity over "humanity's petty morality" before diving backwards into its goopy gut is pitch perfect, watching the gradual fade of life from his face is genuinely uneasy, and the following shot of his skin slapping against the door? Mwah.

But even then there's more! The kids get to embody various sci-fi horror stereotypes as well as pull off a satisfying survival horror tale, but what of the monster? The concept and ravaging destruction of its bone buffet would be enough, but they actually create a lore for the cranberry sauce. What a silly sentence, but it works! The saucy boi is written consistently to mirror a very specific kind of living abomination of sci-fi horror, one that did not ask for life, one that exists in a fury of confusion. It swallows bones because its gelatin, it is trying to become more gelatinous, only to become more of a monster simultaneously. When that fails the monster constructs itself a giant metal can to Return To Sauce, so desperate for what it represents that it becomes the perfect lure for the kids to jettison the monster and free themselves. Yet it rains back down to earth in a red torrent, still angrily wiggling, until the solution is found: eat him! All the cranberry sauce wanted was to be cranberry sauce, and we get to create a bizarre alien Thanksgiving scenario with the Simpsons family (sans Snowball II, great quick gag btw), and on top of all that, we still get to keep it darkly funny because remember, they're eating the kid's bones! I love a happy ending. I couldn't honestly ask for more.

Thanksgiving of Horror is not a return-to-classic quality trilogy but this segment made me a momentary believer. I would genuinely call it great, and memorably so. There are inspired and disturbing shots I didn't even mention, and the lighting and direction is pretty good too. The first segment is solid, the second is decent, but with this one I just want Jean to fully retire from the yearly trilogy and hand it over to Selman, and I'm incredibly critical of the man, but I couldn't in a million seasons (give it time) imagine a segment this good from any of Jean's THOHs since XIV, and even those are fueled by madcap Swartzwelder energy. As far as pure conceptualization and creativity goes, I haven't seen this segment's degree of it in a long, long, loooong time. Fuck it, I'd like to see how a Christmas of Horror by Selman shook out. Hell, go beyond that. Easter of Horror! Grandparents Day of Horror! Flag Day of Horror!!! If it's what it takes to get even one segment where it feels like the crew put in a rare, seemingly impossible level of effort, once in a blue moon? That'd be decent payback for my hard work. Do it for me. I'll finish with one more nice thing, because I don't expect to get used to it: The credits are hilarious. It's a simple joke, slightly slowed footage of a goofy old Bart Macy's Parade float with ominous music, but it's perfect. The three dimensional overbite and bulging eyes floating about with the haunting music is great, for its last bit of horror of the episode the show turns the gun on itself. It reminds me of the show I love, the show that treated nothing sacred, certainly not itself, and the bigger it got the more it was essential it knew it was part of the joke. So often an SNL-level bland institution these days, it's nice to see the show look at a part of its decades-spanning, absurd pop cultural self, and laugh. Will I ever see that again? I dunno. But I never thought I'd see it in s31 either, and Selman's running the next THOH. Maybe there's hope yet. Stay tuned and we'll find out together.

Alright now then, for real, seeya next year. And if any of you ask me to review like the Disney+ shorts I'm filing a restraining order.
 

CousinMerl

the waiting game sucks
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Neat to hear your thoughts on 'Thanksgiving Of Horror's segments as well and it is a positive trio of reviews too. I cannot do much more than agree overall on the solid quality of the episode (and the last segment probably was the strongest to me as well, though all are really quite good with not a weak one among the bunch). Great job (and finale) as of now..

I just want Jean to fully retire from the yearly trilogy and hand it over to Selman

I'd want Jean to fully retire from the show as a whole and hand it over to Selman. I'm not saying Selman guarantees quality all the time (which he does not), but at this point I think it would be good for the show (since they insist on continuing).
 
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Wile E. the Brain

Scientific progress goes "boink"
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See, B-Boy did the right thing by insisting that you review this one. Although the second segment is my favorite without question (then again, I speak as someone who's never seen Black Mirror and I see where you're coming from), it's great to hear your thoughts on this anthology. Quite positive (and slightly hopeful !) thoughts, no less. Shocker.
 

B-Boy

Pin Pal
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I'm disappointed in you @tyler - not one mention of the cold open with Marge directly addressing the audience in the spirit of several classic-era Halloween specials. For shame! I jest, of course. Thanks for the dopamine hit, definitely feel validated. I had a sneaking suspicion your favourite segment would be the last one and, yup, I agree, it's fucking awesome. It helps that the episode is three whole minute longer than usual - not a lot of time in the grand scheme of things (just a minute per segment), but makes quite a big difference. I also really like the past-present-future framing idea to add further structure to the anthology. It all illustrates extra enthusiasm, effort, and thoughtfulness on their part.

Thanks again for your reviews - these are such a joy for me (and others) to read and I'll never stop repeating that. We might not get another great segment (or trilogy) again, but there's at least a slightly better chance of it next year with Selman at the helm. Would love a Christmas of Horror, by the way. Seriously, given the success of Thanksgiving, it has to be done, right?
 
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Szyslak100

Stonecutter
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Wow, I didn't expect to read such positive reviews here about Thanksgiving of Horror but I am really glad you liked this episode as well. I might have watched it like fifteen times and each one is more pleasant than the previous one. It succeeds in everything that modern Treehouse of Horrors fail and for that, it feels extremely refreshing.

Curiously, my ranking of the segments is the exact opposite. I think The Fourth Thursday After Tomorrow is the greatest segment of the last twenty years (I have a special soft spot on that scene when Maggie listens to Marge's heartbeat) and The Last Thanksgiving is the one that surprised me the least, but it's still pretty amazing. In all honesty, they are all excellent so I can take any ranking as reasonable.

In the same lane as @B-Boy, I think this episode is even more than the sum of its segments. The past/present/future structure (more specifically telling the story of the first, the current, and the latest Thanksgiving) is an incalculable aggregated value. I also love how it takes elements from Treehouse of Horrors to actually feel like one (including, but not limited to, the poster, Marge's disclaimer intro, the title cards, the special credits). And each reference and easter egg between segments (there were quite a few of them) were just priceless. Plus, the animation work was out of this world.
 
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