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One third of the classic Simpsons "Treehouse of Horrorses"
on 17 November 2003
When it comes to Halloween episodes the big three are "Roseanne," "The Simpsons" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" (although "BtVS" was always an every other year deal). You would think that the producers of these shows would have figured out that offering an alternative to splatter flicks as what to watch on October 31st that video/DVD packages of classic Halloween episodes would be an obvious choice. But you have to pick up seasons 2 and 4 (and wait for 6) of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," catch "Roseanne" in syndication, and deal with this limited offering from "The Simpsons." It is not often that you come across a DVD that could have increased its average rating by a star if it just had "Volume 1" as part of the title.
Actually, this really should be "Volume 2" of "The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror," because it offers "Treehouse of Horror" V, VI, VII and XII. Whatever the joke is here, I am clearly missing out on it. Why not V, VI, VII and VIII? For that matter why not I, II, III and IV? Is it because the first three seasons of the Simpsons are out on DVD? It is because Roman numerals confused the people making the decisions? To add insult to injury, these are bare boned discs. No commentaries, no features, no animated menus, just a some clips of Kang and Kodos (e.g., Kang on Jerry Springer). The episodes are great, but the bad faith effort here loses a star.
"Treehouse of Horror V" offers a take off on "The Shining," Homer traveling through time with the aid of a toaster in "Time and Punishment," and the school staff doing the Sweeney Todd and Mrs. Lovett bit with the students in "Nightmare Cafeteria." "Treehouse of Horror VI" offers killer billboards in "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores," Groundskeeper Willie as a Freddie Krueger clone in "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrance," and a computer generated Homer making it to the real world in "Homer3". "Treehouse of Horror VII" reveals that Bart's evil twin has been chained in the attic in "The Thing and I," Lisa creates a microscopic world as a science project in "The Genesis Tub," and Kang and Kodos replace Bill Clinton and Bob Dole in the election as "Mr. Kang Goes to Washington." We then skip ahead to "Treehouse of Horror XII" which has a gypsy curse destroying Homer's life in "Hex and the City," the Simpsons living in a computerized home in "House of Whacks," and the Simpsons' twist on Harry Potter in "Wiz Kids."
Of course, the rule of thumb here is what it always has been for "The Simpsons," which is that the more familiar you are with the original films and other pop culture elements being referenced in these episodes, the more you will enjoy them. I should add that these episodes have been "restored" for DVD, which means that the scenes cut for syndication are back in this time around. But the obvious lesson here is that each fall, when the World Series finally ends and FOX gets around to airing the Simpson's new "Treehouse of Horror" episode sometime in early November you should go ahead an tape it to keep for your Halloween enjoyment each year. Who knows when it will actually become available on DVD.