For a couple of decades, “The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror” was an annual ritual in my household. Even after we weren’t watching the show regularly, we would tune in each October (sometimes November, when Fox pre-empted the show for post-season baseball) to see the yearly collection of horror and sci-fi parody shorts.
So we watched the show this week. And yes, this is another of those “‘The Simpsons’ isn’t as funny as it used to be” entries.
A quick overview:
The pre-credits “cold open” of the show might have been the most consistent of the stories in the episode. Set in Mayan times, Homer is about to be sacrificed but Marge saves him, thus dooming the Earth to destruction in … 2012.
The next segment, about the creation of a black hole (“Can we call it that?” Homer asks in a stage whisper) that swallows most of Springfield and transports it to an alien planet where the aliens worship everything that’s worthless. Good premise, funny visuals, totally flat punchline.
A parody of the “Paranormal Activity” movies follows and ends with Homer on the receiving end of a demon-Homer-demon threesome. Ugh. The only good part of the segment? Timelapse video, taken overnight like the “Paranormal” movies, of Homer peeing. And peeing. And peeing.
The final segment has Bart traveling through time, ala “Back to the Future,” meeting his parents when they were young. There’s a nice callback to Artie Ziff, the rich young nerd/suitor of Marge.
What I miss about the annual “Treehouse of Horror” episode:
The gravestones. I loved the ironic and sarcastic tombstones that the “camera” drifted past as episodes opened.
Kang and Kodos. Everybody’s favorite aliens are glimpsed at one point. But I sure wanted more.
The wrap-arounds and introductions. Remember how earlier episodes had wrap-around framing devices? And that introduction that had Marge taking the stage to parody the introduction to the original “Frankenstein?”
Is it too simple to say … the funny stuff?