I can not think of a better way to kick this blog off than by writing about my favorite show of all time: The Simpsons. Since I am going with the cliche Halloween theme this month, I selected The Treehouse of Horror episode. Other than Its The Great Pumpkin Charlie Brown, there might not be a better Halloween viewing tradition. Although there have been twenty-three installments, I focused on the very first one, in all its groundbreaking glory.
The episode first aired on October 25, 1990 and was part of the second season of the show. This episode was originally just titled “The Simpsons Halloween Special“. The “Treehouse of Horror” name came along with the second annual installment of the special. It has been a yearly tradition of yours truly ever since. It set the standard for all the other “Treehouses” to follow, by having three separate Halloween related stories. The three for this particular episode were titled Bad Dream House, Hungry are the Damned, and The Raven.
“Hello, everyone. You know, Halloween is a very strange holiday. Personally, I don’t understand it. Kids worshipping ghosts, pretending to be devils. Things on TV that are completely inappropriate for young viewers. Things like the following half-hour! Nothing seems to bother my kids, but tonight’s show—which I totally wash my hands of—is really scary. So if you have sensitive children, maybe you should tuck them in early tonight instead of writing us angry letters tomorrow. Thanks for your attention.”
That is the warning we get from Marge as the program opens. Hard to believe, but, The Simpsons was considered controversial at the time. In fact, I can remember as a child not being allowed to watch the show. Like many other millions of kids, I watched it anyway, and I turned out just fine. At least I think so.
The episode was filled with classic humor that we have all come to love about The Simpsons. In Bad Dream House the family moves into a house that is haunted. The house tells them to get out or they will die. They eventually try to reason with the house that they can all live together. The house asks them to go outside so it can think about the prospect. It chooses to destroy itself rather than live with them. It is a strong start to the special, but in my opinion, Hungry are the Damned is the true gem of the three. Not only is it hilarious, it is also the first appearance of Kang and Kodos, the space aliens. The Simpsons get abducted by the aliens and are spoiled with food and entertainment (like Pong). Lisa finds a cookbook (How to Cook for Forty Humans) and the family mistakenly think the aliens are trying to fatten them up so they can eat them. “Well, if you wanted to make Serak the Preparer cry, mission accomplished,” Kodos tells them. As punishment, the Simpsons are returned home instead of reaping unimaginable rewards. The Raven is Lisa reading the famous Edgar Allan Poe classic tale. Homer is the main character, Bart is the raven, and Marge is Lenore. It is a pretty good spin on the poem.
The fact that the first Treehouse of Horror was so well received is the reason it is still on to this day. It is no secret that the glory days of The Simpsons are well behind us, but people that have stopped watching the show usually try to catch the yearly Treehouse. I can not recommend these specials enough (especially the ones from “the golden age” of the show). Actually, I can not think of any current sitcoms that even make Halloween themed episodes anymore. All the more reason to appreciate “the good old days” and enjoy watching the greatness of The Simpsons.
Thanks for reading. I hope you enjoyed it. Any and all feedback is greatly appreciated.