Treehouse of Horror IX
"Treehouse of Horror IX" is the fourth episode of the tenth season of The Simpsons. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 25, 1998. This is the ninth Treehouse of Horror episode, and, like the other "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, contains three self-contained segments: In "Hell Toupée", Homer gets a hair transplant and is possessed by the spirit of an executed criminal; in "Terror of Tiny Toon", Bart and Lisa are trapped in a special, extremely violent episode of The Itchy & Scratchy Show; and in "Starship Poopers", Marge reveals that Maggie is the product of a one-night stand with the alien Kang.
"Treehouse of Horror IX" was written by Donick Cary, Larry Doyle and David S. Cohen, and directed by Steven Dean Moore. "Terror of the Tiny Toon" includes a live-action segment starring Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford. Jerry Springer and Ed McMahon also appear in the episode, voicing themselves, while Robert Englund provides the voice of Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series. The episode also features Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series while various characters visit the talk shows Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and The Jerry Springer Show.
In its original airing on the Fox Network, the episode had an 8.6 Nielsen rating. In 1999, composer Alf Clausen was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for his work on the episode.
Snake is arrested for smoking inside the Kwik-E-Mart. Chief Wiggum explains that this is Snake's third strike, so he will be executed in accordance with the three strikes law. Before hauling Snake away, Chief Wiggum helpfully points out that Apu, Moe, and Bart are all witnesses; Snake vows to kill all of them. Snake is executed in the electric chair on World's Deadliest Executions, hosted by Ed McMahon and proudly broadcast on Fox. Chief Wiggum then sends the body to the hospital to be carved up for organ donations and Barney calls out "dibs on the liver".
Shortly afterward, Homer visits Dr. Nick, who transplants Snake's hair onto Homer's head. When Homer goes to sleep the following night, it plants its roots in Homer's brain. With the hair controlling his mind, Homer murders Apu by drowning him in his own Squishee machine. The next day, Homer goes to Moe's Tavern, where he removes Moe's heart with a corkscrew. Bart realizes that the other two witnesses have been killed, and Homer vows to protect him. Homer locks himself and Bart in a room, but Snake's hair takes control of him. Homer starts to try to kill Bart with a sledgehammer. Bart begs Homer to fight the hair and, after a struggle, Homer rips the hair off his head. The hair tries to smother Bart (like the Facehugger) but Homer defends his son by punching the hair.
Wiggum bursts through the door with the intention of arresting Homer for the murder of Moe (not being able to say Apu's last name, he settled for just the murder of Moe). Homer states the hair is the killer, which makes a jump for the window. Wiggum opens fire and the hair is shot dead. Maggie picks up the hair and lays her head on it as a cushion. Chief Wiggum states "now that's a bad hair day" every one laughs at the joke except Marge who reminds everyone that two well known people of Springfield have been murdered, only to suddenly get the joke, and everyone laughs until the end of the segment. The segment also hints at the film Shocker, where Snake is executed via electric chair, comes back from the dead through his hair, and uses mind-control on Homer to exact revenge.
The Terror of Tiny Toon
Marge forbids Bart and Lisa from watching the Itchy & Scratchy Halloween special, even going to the lengths of taking the batteries out of the remote control. When Marge leaves, Bart finds a small piece of highly unstable plutonium in Homer's toolbox and hammers it into the remote's battery slot. When they use the remote, the kids actually enter the world of Itchy and Scratchy after they accidentally press the Enter button while Lisa tries to get the remote control from Bart. They watch Itchy decapitate Scratchy and use his head as a jack-o'-lantern. While the two laugh, Scratchy's head asks why Bart and Lisa are laughing to which Itchy replies that they are laughing at his pain. Because of this, Scratchy reattaches his head and forms a partnership with Itchy to "teach them a lesson". Back in the Simpson house, Homer enters the living room and watches the show. Bart and Lisa go through life-death situations such as Itchy lighting up a cannon while Scratchy loads it with various weapons. Homer decides to change the channel, and Bart, Lisa, Itchy and Scratchy wind up on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. Afterward, they end up back at Itchy's house and urge Homer from inside the TV to use the remote to get them out. While Homer is figuring out which button to press, Itchy and Scratchy unleash a hose full of piranhas at Bart, which eat away at his body until it is a skeleton (although his head remains uneaten). Homer finally picks the right button and zaps them both out and Lisa then presses the rewind button to return Bart's body to normal. Unfortunately, Itchy and Scratchy also escape from the TV into the real world, armed with axes. At first, the family is scared, but realize how small the two characters are (the size of a regular mouse and cat respectively) and decide to keep them as pets. Itchy ends up in a hamster cage and Scratchy has fallen in love with Snowball II. However, much to his terror, Marge says he has to be neutered.
Marge discovers Maggie's first baby tooth, which appears to be a sharp fang. Maggie later loses her legs and grows green tentacles. Maggie's pacifier sucks contact the alien duo, Kang and Kodos. They arrive at the Simpson house, coming to retrieve Maggie. Marge reveals that Kang is Maggie's real father and Homer calls Marge an intergalactic space hussy. Marge retells the story: Kang and Kodos abducted her while she was doing laundry, selecting Marge for a cross-breeding program. She says the aliens used mind-control techniques on her. In reality, the entire process consisted of Marge and Kang sitting on a couch, Kang quoting terrible pick-up lines only to suddenly pull a "look-over-there" and use a ray which impregnates Marge as she looks. She recalls that nine months after the abduction, Maggie was born.
Kang and Kodos demand that the Simpsons give Maggie to them, and Kang and Homer start to fight over Maggie until Bart stops them and tells them there is only one place where something this bizarre can be resolved: The Jerry Springer Show, where Kang gives Marge a bouquet of flowers and Homer attacks him. When an audience member criticizes Kang for not manning up and being a real father to Maggie, Kang vaporizes her, as well as the rest of the audience and the film crew. During Jerry's "final thought," Maggie attacks Jerry Springer (resulting in him cursing at the baby and dying) and Kang and Homer continue fighting.
After leaving the studio, Kang and Kodos threaten to destroy every politician in Washington unless given Maggie. Marge and the Simpsons slyly imply that the aliens could not possibly destroy every politician, and as they fly off to do so (with Bart adding to get Kenneth Starr). Homer tells Maggie it is time to go home, Maggie takes her pacifier out of her mouth and surprises her family by saying, in Kang's voice, "Very well, I'll drive!" before giving an evil laugh. Then, during the ending credits, Maggie says in Kang's voice, "I need blood".
Like the other Treehouse of Horror episodes to that point, the segments of "Treehouse of Horror IX" were credited to different writers. "Hell Toupee" was written by Donick Cary. "Terror of Tiny Toon" was written by Larry Doyle. "Starship Poopers" was written by David S. Cohen and was the last writing credit he ever received for the show. The episode continues the Treehouse of Horror tradition of having the credits re-written as "scary names". David S. Cohen's executive producer credit is "David 'Watch Futurama' Cohen" is a reference to the show Futurama, created by Cohen and Matt Groening, which premiered the following year.
"The Terror of Tiny Toon" includes a live-action segment starring Regis Philbin and Kathie Lee Gifford of Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. The segment was directed by Donick Cary. In the sequence, Itchy, Scratchy, Bart and Lisa fall into a pot of soup that Regis and Kathie Lee are making. The soup splash was created by dropping an item into the pot, then adding the animated characters over it. The taping of this segment took longer than expected, so a news broadcast that was to take place had to be moved to another studio. Jerry Springer also guest stars in the episode as himself. His lines were recorded by Julie Thacker.
Much of the animation in "Hell Toupée" was worked on by assistant director Chris Clements. Moe's death scene was originally more violent, but it was toned down at the request of Mike Scully. The animators looked forward to working on "The Terror of Tiny Toon" because they were fans of Itchy & Scratchy.
In "Starship Poopers", there is a shot of sound waves emanating from Springfield. At one point, there is a shot of North America and it appears that Springfield is located in Louisiana. The mystery of the location of Springfield is a running joke in The Simpsons, and a number of fans assumed that Louisiana was where the family lived. However, the animators had drawn the waves so that there were coming from the center of the screen, and they never intended to have them emanate from a specific location. In one scene, Marge is abducted by Kang and Kodos, who lasso her then pull her into the ship. According to David Cohen, it is a running gag that Kang and Kodos' abduction methods are never the same. Maggie has a line at the end of the episode, where she sounds like Kang. She was voiced by Harry Shearer.
Poochie from the Simpsons episode "The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show" is seen during the "Terror of the Tiny Toon" segment. Also, the title of the segment "Terror of the Tiny Toon", is a reference of the Animated television series Tiny Toon Adventures, as well as the movie The Terror of Tiny Town. The couch gag features Freddy Krueger from the Nightmare on Elm Street film series and Jason Voorhees from the Friday the 13th series. Freddy is voiced by Robert Englund, who portrayed the character in eight films. Two talk shows appear in the episode. Bart, Lisa, Itchy and Scratchy accidentally visit Live with Regis and Kathie Lee, while the Simpson family and Kang appear on The Jerry Springer Show. The title of the third segment, "Starship Poopers", is a reference to the film Starship Troopers. David X. Cohen is credited as "David 'Watch Futurama' Cohen". Futurama, an animated science fiction sitcom also created by Matt Groening and executive produced by Cohen, premiered on Fox in 1999.
In its original airing on the Fox Network, the episode had an 8.6 Nielsen rating and was viewed in approximately 8.5 million homes. It finished the week ranked 35th. It was the fifth highest rated show on Fox that week, after two games of the 1998 World Series, a World Series pre-game show, and Ally McBeal.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote, "Another collection of horrors, of varying degrees of wit. The Itchy and Scratchy one is by far the best, and Starship Poopers is only really amusing once the Jerry Springer segment begins." Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide gave the episode a positive review saying "The series usually rises to the occasion of its Halloween episodes, and “IX” doesn’t disappoint. Each of the three stories satisfies, as they offer a lot of clever, amusing moments. "Toupée" is probably the best, though, as it’s the most creative of the bunch. While funny, the other two can be a bit predictable." Kay McFadden of The Seattle Times wrote that the episode is "certainly not on a par with that all-time doppelganger classic, "Treehouse of Horror VII", [...] still, No. 9's dialogue is sharp and there's reassuring continuity to such beloved institutions as Itchy and Scratchy."
In 2008, "Starship Poopers" was named the tenth best Treehouse of Horror segment by IGN. They wrote that "While [it is] not the best Kang & Kodos segment, "Starship Poopers" delivers consistent laughs and a great ending, as Kang & Kodos vow to destroy all the politicians in Washington (to the Simpsons' delight) and Maggie creepily laughs and says, "I need blood." In 1999, composer Alf Clausen was nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series for his work on the episode.
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- "Treehouse of Horror IX". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2010-10-30.
- Gimple, Scott M.; Matt Groening (December 1, 1999). The Simpsons Forever!: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family ...Continued. HarperCollins. pp. 50–51. ISBN 978-0-06-098763-3.
- Cary, Donick (2007). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror IX", in The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Hauge, Ron (2007). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror IX", in The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Cohen, David X. (2007). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror IX", in The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Moore, Steven Dean (2007). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror IX", in The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Scully, Mike (2007). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror IX", in The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- "Ho-hum series still puts Fox on top". South Florida Sun-Sentinel (The Associated Press). 1998-10-29.
- "The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season (1998)". Dvdmg.com. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
- McFadden, Kay (1998-10-29). "The Simpsons still deliver house of everyday horrors". The Seattle Times.
- Iverson, Dan, Goldman, Eric, Zoromski, Brian (October 28, 2008). "Top 10 Segments from The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror". IGN. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
- "Primetime Emmy Award Database". Emmy.com. Retrieved 2010-08-28.
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