Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Simpsons: "The Simpsons Halloween Special II"(A.K.A. "Treehouse Of Horror II")

Premiered October 31, 1991

Dammit, Smithers, this isn't rocket science, it's brain surgery!
- Mr. Burns

I wish for a turkey sandwich on rye bread with lettuce and mustard. And... and I don't want any zombie turkeys, I don't want to turn into a turkey myself, and I don't want any other weird surprises, you got it?
-Homer Simpson

We open with a special "warning" from Marge Simpson that the Halloween episode isn't suitable for younger viewers.

Marge (dressed as the Bride of Frankenstein), Bart (an executioner), Lisa (a totem pole) and Maggie (a witch) have come home after night of trick or treating. Marge says they can have only one piece of candy, because eating candy late at night causes bad dreams. The kids (and Homer) ignore her, all the candy is gobbled up in seconds.

We get a series of vignettes, each representing one of their nightmares:

Lisa dreams that her family is vacationing in Marrakesh, Morocco, where Homer approaches a street vendor. He sees a monkey's paw and wants to buy it. The paw will grant its owner four wishes. The vendor cautions him, saying it will bring misfortune to the Simpsons.

Homer ignores the warning and buys the paw, they bring it home and they all take turns making wishes:Maggie wishes for a new pacifier and gets it. Bart wants wealth and fame for the Simpsons, the wish is granted. Suddenly, they have cash appearing all over the house and the Simpsons are best selling recording artists. They're given VIP treatment wherever they go, but many citizens of Springfield quickly get tired of hearing about the Simpsons. Lisa wishes for world peace and gets it. Soon, all nations are working together and all weapons are destroyed. This lack of weapons is noticed by Kang and Kodos, two aliens who are monitoring Earth. They decide that the lack of weapons makes Earth the perfect planet to conquer! The monkey's paw has doomed the world! But Homer has one more wish. Will he use it to save the world or waste it on something selfish?

In Bart's dream, a Rod Serling-esque narrator tells of an omnipotent being who rules Springfield and the world. The being turns out to be Bart Simpson! Bart can read their minds and everyone is forced to cater to his every whim, especially Marge and Homer. His parents finally tire of Bart's oppression and Homer tries to kill him. Before he can do so, Bart
transforms Homer into a jack-in-the-box. Marge decides Bart has gone too far and takes him to Psychiatrist Marvin Monroe. Dr. Monroe says the root of Bart's evil is Homer's failure to bond with his son. Can Homer be a better father as a jack-in-the-box than he was as a human being?

In Homer's dream,he's caught sleeping on the job. His boss Mr. Burns directs his toady Smithers to fire Homer immediately. Burns thinks Homer can be replaced with a robot he's been (secretly) constructing. But he needs a brain to place inside the robot body.
Desperate for work, Homer gets a job as a grave digger. After hours of digging, he falls asleep in the grave.

Burns and Smithers are out grave robbing and mistake Homer for a corpse. When they notice he isn't dead, Smithers bludgeons him to death with a hammer. They cut open Homer's head and place his brain inside the robot.

But Burns' plan backfires, the robot still retains all of Homer's bad habits, like laziness and an obsession with donuts. His robot is a failure, Burns decides to return the brain to Homer (who isn't dead) and kicks the robot...which has disastrous consequences!

J.A. Morris says:
In case anyone who reads this hasn't seen "The Simpsons Halloween Special II", I I didn't want to spoil the endings of any of the nightmares.
For two decades running, the Simpsons Halloween episodes have been highlights of the Fall TV season. Some of the best episodes of the series have been Halloween shows, this one is no exception. It's filled with nice homages to classic horror and scifi. Bart's nightmare is a parody of a "Twilight Zone" episode, as is Lisa's wish that all wars come to an end. Mr. Burns' screams "it's alive" when his robot moves, an obvious (but fun) reference to Universal's "Frankenstein" movie.
The fame and fortune followed by a public turning on the Simpsons (in Homer's nightmare) is a parody of the Simpsons mania of the early 90s (the Simpsons were "meta" before most of us knew what "meta" meant).
And the opening credits show the Peanuts gang in their "ghost" costumes from "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown".

But "The Simpsons Halloween Special II" is more than just a collection of pop culture references, it's a classic in its own right.

My rating:
4 jack o'lanterns

RigbyMel says:

One cannot possibly go wrong with a Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween episode at this, the spookiest time of the year.  I always enjoy each new installation of the "Treehouse of Horror" every year,  but I find that my favorite installations tend to come from the early years of the series, such as this one.  (Whether this preference is due to being younger and more impressionable when the earlier episodes first aired, I do not know.)  
I think my favorite vignette from this episode is Lisa's nightmare, which is based on "The Monkey's Paw", a famous horror story by W.W. Jacobs.   Huzzah for intelligent, spooky television fun!

My rating:
4 jack o'lanterns

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