Episode 5 - Treehouse of Horror III
16 June 2011
Synopsis: Three more stories told by people at the Simpsons home during a Halloween party. "Clown Without Pity" sees an evil Krusty doll try to kill Homer. "King Homer" is a parody of the King Kong movie with Mr Burns leading the expedition and using Marge as bait. "Dial 'Z' For Zombies" sees Bart dabbling with magic and accidentally causing the dead to rise.
The Good: The Treehouse series really lets the writers off their leashes so they can satirise without the restraint of an actual reality based plot. And boy does that pay dividends here. This is as close to sketch comedy as you will see on a sit com with each short scenario set in motion and then the punchlines come firing out at a tremendous pace.
"King Homer" may be the best Treehouse story every produced. The parody of the movie is complimented perfectly by ‘casting' Burns, Marge and Homer in the lead roles. Mr Burns is already well established as both old fashioned and an uncaring fiend, so he slips into the role of ruthless promoter from the 1930s without a stretch. Meanwhile making King Kong slow and dim is an easy laugh and having Marge be predisposed to love him worked out nicely too. I will try not to just describe the whole skit shot for shot but:
We start with Marge applying to come on the voyage to which Smithers comments "I don't think women and seamen mix." At this point we've only had hints of Smithers' true preferences so this was a far more outrageous line than it might seem now. Burns leads the voyage out to Ape Island and uses Marge as bait. He then tries to throw a gas bomb at King Homer which lands at his feet (owing to Burns' lack of physical strength) stunning him and causing him to stagger around singing "I was walking in the gas one day." Homer is soon captured and brought back to Broadway where he is chained up on a large platform on the stage. When the curtain goes up the whole crowd reacts with genuine astonishment (just as they did in the movie). Barney then stands up and exclaims "Look at the size of that platform!" King Homer breaks loose and begins killing people. We cut to a disconsolate Mr Burns who with utter sincerity bemoans "I'm dreading the reviews I can tell you that." King Homer is unable to climb the Empire State Building equivalent owing to his bad diet and he marries Marge instead. We cut to a church where King Homer is ludicrously dressed in wedding gear, towering over the assembled guests. An usher then asks a monkey entering the church "Are you with the bride or groom?" Animated in black and white to complete the movie parody this was just laugh after laugh after laugh. Of course it may not be to your tastes but as a 6 minute movie parody it was exceptional.
It's also worth noting that the setup for that story was this outrageous exchange:
Bart: "Grandpa, why don't you tell us a story? You've led an interesting life."
G: "(Angry) That's a lie and you know it! But I have seen a lot of movies."
The first story "Clown Without Pity" was also pretty good and played on the clichés of old horror films. Homer rushes out to buy Bart a birthday present and for some reason chooses to go to the Springfield "House of Evil." The store owner hands Homer a talking Krusty Doll but warns him that the doll is cursed. There follows a brilliant exchange where the store owner keeps warning Homer of the curses resting on the doll and the accompanying free frozen yoghurt until Homer is bored and confused. Once the doll is in Bart's arm Grandpa calls out from the side of the room that the doll is evil. It's a classic horror movie moment until Marge points out that he said that about every birthday present to get attention. The doll does indeed turn evil and begins attacking Homer. The repair man has to be called in eventually and cuts through all the clichés by pointing out that there is a switch on the back of the doll which can be turned from EVIL to GOOD. Again the sketch-comedy levity of that conclusion was pretty funny.
The final story was the weakest as Bart calls forth zombies and Homer has to fight them off as they search for the spell to reverse things. The occasional line was solid though with Barney eating flesh just to fit in and Homer shooting Flanders without knowing he was a zombie.
The Bad: Otherwise though the zombie story lacked the punch of the others. I guess zombies taking over radio stations just to groan and moan is somehow too silly an idea. The zombies refusing to eat Homer's brain because it was too small was also a dumb joke too far. The conclusion was in a similar vain as the Simpsons saved the day but then sat down to spend hours in front of the TV - zombie-like.
Best Joke: There were a bunch of decent jokes I just couldn't include in my review. The best one though I already have which for me was the sheer cheek of Barney exclaiming "Look at the size of that platform!" when King Homer was revealed. The unveiling of Kong to a packed Broadway theatre is one of the most important and iconic moments in the movie and to use that genuine shock and awe for the dumbest joke imaginable was fantasic.
The Bottom Line: This showcases the writers at the peak of their satirising powers and really marks the Treehouse episodes out as something special.
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