THE SIMPSONS 23.03 ‘Treehouse of Horror XXII’

Bart goes alien, Ned goes "Dexter" and God chokes out Homer Simpson. No, seriously...

Blair Marnellby Blair Marnell

Episode Title: "Treehouse of Horror XXII"

Writer: Carolyn Omine

Director: Aron Ralston

A few weeks ago, there were rumors that "The Simpsons" was getting close to cancellation during the latest salary dispute between Fox and the voice actors. Although that issue was resolved with a two year renewal, there is no stronger argument for ending "The SImpsons" than the latest Halloween installment of "Treehouse of Horror."

For the first ten years or so, "The Simpsons" Halloween specials featured some of the most brilliantly hilarious episodes of the series; like Homer's misadventures with a time traveling toaster or Mr. Burns as Dracula. But as the series itself has suffered a creative drought, so too have the Halloween episodes become less special until they came to exist only as a shadow of the show's former glory.

Take "In the Na'Vi" for example; which was the third segment of this year's special. Here "The Simpsons" finally gets around to parodying "Avatar" — a movie picked to death by "South Park" and other series a year or two ago — which finds Bart and Milhouse on Rigel VIII, the home planet of Kang and Kodos from every other Halloween episode. As in "Avatar," Bart's human body is crippled and he only finds release in the alien body of a Rigelian and love with one of the native Rigelian females. It's almost a straight forward retelling of "Avatar" without the biting satire that made the film parodies of previous years so much fun.

To be fair, the cab driver joke and the line about an angry and bitter Bart being perfect for the mission were both pretty funny. But other than those two gags, most of the segment felt flat and lifeless.

The second segment, “Dial D For Diddly" starts off very promisingly with an overdue parody of "Dexter," as the righteous Ned Flanders is driven to kill by the voice of God. The best segment of the entire episode comes when Ned makes his normal routine look sinister and yet when he finally closes his hands to pray, he's actually holding a pair of severed hands. And good old Ned turns out to be particularly good at murder, especially when he does his best Road Runner impression. But just when it seems like the short is heading for some darkly hilarious territory, the voice of God turns out to be Homer urging Ned to murder his enemies.

I did get a chuckle when God himself shows up to choke out Homer and when Ned's dead ex-wife makes an unexpected appearance. However, the overall sequence was unfulfilling. 

The first segment was a wildly unfunny parody of "The Diving Bell And The Butterfly," which finds Homer paralyzed from a spider-bite and only able to communicate through a series of farts. Then he is bitten by a second spider which must have been radioactive, since it transforms him into a paralyzed Spider-Man; much to the consternation of the crippled former Spider-Men from "Turn Off The Dark."

I should mention that the opening sequence also had some promise, with Maggie as the baby alien popping out of Bart's chest and Homer's Dr. Manhattan costume. But in all honesty, it's amazing how tame "The Simpsons" has become over the years. This show used to be the "South Park" of its day. Now it's just showing its age and its no longer the cool TV rebel that it used to be.

Nothing can take the legacy of "The Simpsons" away from the people who made it great. However, the glory days of this show are far behind us.

Crave Online Rating: 3 out of 10.