622. Treehouse of Horror XXVIII

Original airdate: October 22, 2017

The premise:
“The Exor-Sis” is an Exorcist “parody.” “CoraLisa” is a Coraline “parody.” In “Mmm… Homer,” Homer becomes a cannibal when he discovers the most delicious flesh is his own.

The reaction: Segment one was pretty disposable. Everyone and their dog has done an Exorcist parody at this point, with the spinning head and projectile vomiting. I guess the funny part is supposed to be that it’s a possessed Maggie with Kevin Michael Richardson’s voice. I miss James Earl Jones. Then again, FOX has that Exorcist TV series, so maybe this is just corporate synergy. Segment two features some pretty excellent looking CG animation mimicking the stop motion look of the original film, which is nice to look at, but story-wise, there’s not much going on. It felt like the disappointing Tracey Ullman segment from a few Halloween shows ago, where each family member goes off to kill themselves/get buttons sewed on their eyes for no real reason one after another. Segment three opens with a disclaimer from Lisa to warn how disgusting the following story will be, which definitely perked my interest as to what this show feels it needs to forewarn. And yes, Homer repeatedly cutting off limbs and body fat until he’s a hobbled amputee was pretty nauseating. I can at least give this show credit for actually getting a visceral reaction out of me, and for being the first actually chilling element of a Halloween show in I don’t know how long. But tonally it didn’t feel like it struck the right balance; I’d rather they had gone even creepier with it instead of setting the montage of him eating himself to happy music, and the resolution of him going to therapy with Marge over it. The best Treehouse of Horrors balanced scary and funny effortlessly; the whole family having their skin ripped off and twisted inside-out was shocking, but seeing them immediately don hats and canes and sing A Chorus Line made for an epic finale. Homer’s carcass being fed to people the world over? I don’t know what to make of that ending. Is it funny or disturbing? Or both?

Three items of note:
– The opening is another CG segment with the Simpsons as candy bars in a bowl fearing being taken, until eventually they’re the only ones left in the bowl and are left on a top shelf to rot. Then they feast on the suicidal Easter bunny or something. I didn’t really get what they were doing. Was this meant to be a take on Sausage Party or something?
– The ending of the Coraline segment is kind of strange. Normal Homer strangles Button-Eye Bart, causing him to lose his head as shown above. Then Button-Eye Homer retaliates but ends up impaling himself. This throws Button-Eye Marge into a rage, who transforms into an evil spider similar to Other Mother from the film. But after that, we cut back to the normal world to see the two families are now living together, with Homer hanging with his two wives. Then Button-Eye Homer shows up acting as regular Homer’s errand boy. How did this come about? There’s clearly some narrative connective tissue missing.
– When the family returns home, Homer answers the door in his newly hobbled state, looking almost emaciated in his torso. When Bart asks him why he’s got oven mitts on, Homer says he wants to look more elegant after watching Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Being served the sitcom set-up, Bart delivers the punchline (“Elegant? With your waistline? I don’t think so.”) You can almost hear the laugh track. This type of hacktacular comedy writing isn’t anything new for this show now, but in this context, it feels even stranger considering Bart’s looking right at his now extremely slim father. It’s out-of-character and makes no sense in its context, but I guess the joke was just too great to resist.

One good line/moment: The CG animation on the Coraline story was fun to watch, the designs and the detail were pretty spectacular. Though my enjoyment took a slight hit at the start thanks to Lisa’s first line on entering this new world (“For a Halloween show middle segment, this is amazing!”) Pat yourselves harder on the back, will you, guys?

13 thoughts on “622. Treehouse of Horror XXVIII

  1. Man, what a let down. It started out quite strong with actually doing a horror movie parody, but the jokes went on for too long. Homer’s song to Maggie just kept going and I really felt like the picture that shot himself at that point. Then it got better again, only for the ending to be so god damn stupid.

    The Coraline segment also started out decent (although it lost me when Maggie did the barfing scene), but also went to shit in the end.

    I have no idea what the deal was with the last story, but it dragged on for way too long, was boring and stupid. The writers are clearly out of ideas and have no idea what to do anymore. Why not actually do a Halloween parody? They’ve never done one of those. Nor have they done Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Thing, They Live, Alien, Christine, Psycho, etc.

    Anyway, I ended up washing the taste of this episode out with THoH’s V and VI.

  2. I dislike CG animation in any form (except when it makes sense, like Toy Story, where the plastic look was perfect for toys), but at least here kept me interested, somehow. I already forgot everything else, though. I’m not even sure if I watched it all.

    About that “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” “joke”: when I watch ZombieSimpsons I find myself wondering when they will decide to add laugh-track. I mean, it’s not that this show has anything to do with The Simpsons by now; they changed everything, from the characters to the stories, to the look, to the animation; heck, it is already that kind of show the ClassicSimpsons used to mock, so what have they got to lose adding a laugh-track? It’s pretty obvious the writers desperately need them to point out a joke and hope for laughs.

  3. This one at least felt like a trio of horror-ish stories.

    The last one in particular was probably the most disturbing one the show did in ages. Too bad it goes downhill fast once Marge finds out about it and goes the “marriage crisis” route.

  4. I know this doesn’t mean much, but this was the best TOH since XXV. All three segments had something worthwhile, and at least they made “parody” of good movies.

  5. The Mmm Homer segment is by far the most visually disturbing thing ive seen on this show. All three segments were terribly written, naturally (The Coraline parody has no transition to the ending), but at the very least the last one got to me. Even if it was in a very basic way.

  6. As Mike has pointed out more than once, the biggest problem is characters not reacting to the insane situations as real people would. They simply react with some kind of one-liner. It completely kills any shock/horror/thriller element to the segment, and the one-liners aren’t funny.

    I got a laugh after Lisa leaves other world learning she would need to sew buttons over her eyes to stay there. When she arrives home, Homer immediately shows up to tell her he killed a snake with her saxophone. Smash cut to Lisa in other world saying, “Give me the buttons.”

    I was really annoyed when Lisa plays music with the other family. She exclaims they’re all musically gifted but no one is better than her. I really hate this super-insecure Lisa. It’s like they took Lisa from “Lisa’s Rival,” cranked the insecurity even higher, and just declared that that’s her character now.

  7. I’m pretty sure the opening bit was meant to be a Sausage Party parody. The odd thing is even though the film came out last year it still feels like this joke came out too late. I know it takes around an year for an episode to be completed but I think the parody is simple enough that they could have written it in 2015 without having to see the movie to make sure they got it right.

    Also another weakness I just realized about the opening is that all of the jabs at Butterfingers don’t really make sense unless you know of the Simpsons history with the candy bar. Without that knowledge it just comes across as the Simpsons attacking the brand for no real reason.

    The best part of this episode as you mentioned was the CGI bits in the other world. I particularly liked the alternate designs. Kind of makes me wish they would reboot the Simpsons in a different art style.

      1. Eh, it was like 25 years ago by this point, so I’d guess that there is a generation of adults not aware of it

  8. Glad the reviews are still coming. Sorry for the lack of construction to the comments. There’s only so many ways I can say “Wow, that sounds terrible.”

    1. In response to your Butterfinger comment (which for some reason I can’t reply to) the Simpsons actually continued their Butterfinger partnership until 2001. So while it hasn’t been 25 years since the last Simpsons Butterfinger commercial it has been at least 16 years now, so there’s a good chance that a lot of viewers are either too young to have seen the Simpsons Butterfinger commercials or are old enough but just don’t remember them.

  9. I feel like the Butterfinger jabs are the Simpsons trying to win back the sponsorship without realizing both Butterfinger and itself are past their peak of popularity and winning them back is like winning a twenty year old pack of Cheetos Asteroids in a school contest.

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