Treehouse of Horror VIII
"Treehouse of Horror VIII" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' ninth season and first aired on the Fox network on October 26, 1997. In the eighth annual "Treehouse of Horror" episode, Homer Simpson is the last man left alive when a neutron bomb destroys Springfield until a gang of mutants come after him, Homer buys a transporter that Bart uses to switch bodies with a housefly, and Marge is accused of witchcraft in a Puritan rendition of Springfield in 1649. It was written by Mike Scully, David S. Cohen and Ned Goldreyer, and was directed by Mark Kirkland.
The HΩmega Man
In a parody of The Ωmega Man, Mayor Quimby generates controversy after making an offensive joke about France. After refusing to apologize, the French president launches a neutron bomb directly into Springfield. Homer had been inspecting a bomb shelter he was considering buying from Herman's military surplus store. After the blast Homer emerges from the shelter and seems to be the only person in town to have survived. Sorrowful at first, he quickly cheers up once he realizes he can now do whatever he pleases. After a spree of doing just that, Homer is soon confronted by a band of Springfield citizens who have become mutants. They say that they want to create a perfect world in which the mistakes of the past will be eliminated - including Homer. Homer flees in a hearse and arrives at his home where he finds that his family survived the blast because their house was protected by its layers of lead paint. and a cardboard box deemed a bomb shelter by Homer. Seeing Homer reunited with his family, the mutants see the error of their ways. They hope they can build a Utopian society with the Simpsons, but Marge and the children kill them with shotguns that they were hiding behind their backs. The family then head off to steal some Ferraris.
Fly vs. Fly
In a parody of The Fly, Homer buys a matter teleporter from Professor Frink's yard sale. Bart asks if he can use it, but Homer refuses. That night, Bart tries to sneak Snowball II into the teleporter and at the same time, Santa's Little Helper jumps in. The pets come out of the machine as a creature with a dog's head at one end of its body and a cat's head at the other. A second creature with a tail at each end of its body emerges shortly afterwards. A fly lands on Bart's arm and thinking that he will become a mutant superhero, Bart grabs the fly and steps into the teleporter. He comes out with his normal head, but with the fly's body whilst the fly has his body. The rest of the family wakes up and sees Bart's body with a fly's head and decide that it must still be Bart and accept him as he is. The real Bart tries to convince the fly into going back into the teleporter, but the fly attempts to eat Bart, who later enlists help from Lisa. The fly overhears their conversation and chases Lisa into the kitchen where it tries to kill her. Bart tries to stop the fighting, but is quickly eaten by the fly. Lisa then sees this as an opportunity to undo the process and pushes the fly into the teleporter. Bart comes out the other end, now with his head back on his real body. Homer then pulls out an axe, making it appear that he is about the destroy the machine, but then angrily chases Bart around the house for messing with it.
In a parody of The Crucible, taking place in 1649, the town is witness due to many witch burnings. In the church, the townspeople try to figure out whom to condemn next. People begin accusing others and soon they erupt into chaos, until Marge intervenes. She tries to talk sense into the townspeople, but Moe accuses her of being a witch. Quimby assures her that she is entitled to due process which means she will be thrown off a cliff with a broomstick; if she is a witch she will be able to fly to safety, in which case the authorities expect her to report back for punishment. If she is not a witch, then she will fall to an honorable Christian death. Lisa tries to speak on her mother's behalf, but to no avail and Marge gets shoved off the cliff. They look and see that a green-skinned and black-haired Marge is flying on the broomstick revealing that she really is a witch and a naturally evil one who vows to conquer the whole entire town. She returns to her elder sisters Patty and Selma in their mountain lair; she is sad because they had forced her to leave her family. The sisters watch Ned and Maude Flanders talking about how the witches eat children, which gives them the notion to do just that. They knock on the Flanders' door and demand their sons. Before they leave, Maude offers the witches gingerbread men instead. The witches like these better than the children and let Rod and Todd go. They go to each house, getting goodies in exchange for not eating the children (though they already actually had eaten some beforehand). As they fly off, the Sea Captain says that is how the tradition of Halloween and trick-or-treating started. The scene then jumps to the following year in the same town where everyone is dressed in costumes and comparing treats. Homer and several others egg a house for not responding, until Lisa points out that it is their own house, making everyone laugh. Homer then accuses her of being a witch and everyone starts to chase her in the moonlight.
"The HΩmega Man" was written by Mike Scully, "Fly Vs. Fly" was written by David X. Cohen and "Easy-Bake Coven" was written by Ned Goldreyer. Large portions of the "Fly vs. Fly" segment were cut, including the original ending where the fly also emerges from the teleporter, but is considerably larger and the Simpson family ride it to the mall.
The producers had trouble with the censors over several segments in this episode. The opening segment of the episode, which features Fox Censor the censor being stabbed to death and was pitched by David Mirkin, had a difficult time getting through the real life censors. They had issues with the size of the knife and the sound effects used. Originally, the TV-rating was supposed to stab Mr. Censor with a dagger, but FOX Network objected because it was too gruesome and was changed to a cutlass. The censors also objected to an unaired scene where Homer does his naked church dance on an altar (even though the church Homer is in—which is the one the family goes to on Sundays—does not have an altar). The scene was reanimated so that Homer was dancing naked in the front row.
This episode was the only Treehouse of Horror episode that was directed by Mark Kirkland. It was also the last episode Brad Bird worked on; he left the show to direct The Iron Giant. "Easy-Bake Coven" was storyboarded by Kirkland and the backgrounds were designed by Lance Wilder. Although Kang and Kodos make brief appearances in every Treehouse of Horror episode, their brief appearance in this one was nearly cut. David X. Cohen managed to persuade the producers to leave the scene in.
As with the majority of the Treehouse of Horror episodes, numerous cultural references are made throughout the episode. "The HΩmega Man" is an extended homage to film The Omega Man, which was one of Mike Scully's favorite movies as a child. In the same segment, Homer runs over Johnny and Edgar Winter while fleeing the mutants pursuing him, crying: "Die, you chalk-faced goons!", mistaking them as mutants as the Winter brothers are both albino. Homer also notices a calendar featuring Gary Larson's landmark comic strip The Far Side in a bomb shelter he is touring just before the bomb hits Springfield.
The title "Fly vs. Fly" is a reference to the Mad magazine comic strip "Spy vs. Spy", while the segment itself is based on the film The Fly. In "Easy-Bake Coven", the animators referenced the film The Crucible for many of their designs, and Edna Krabappel is wearing a Scarlet A, which is a reference to the novel The Scarlet Letter. The plot of the segment is loosely based on the Salem witch trials, while the title refers to the Easy-Bake Oven. The story also contains a brief reference to the Looney Tunes/Chuck Jones character Witch Hazel when Marge, Patty and Selma click their heels before flying away on their brooms, and to Bewitched when Marge's sisters refer to Homer as "Derwood".
In its original broadcast, "Treehouse of Horror VIII" finished 18th in ratings for the week of October 20–26, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 11.2, equivalent to approximately 10.9 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating King of the Hill.
"Treehouse of Horror VIII" won a Golden Reel Award in 1998 for "Best Sound Editing - Television Animated Specials" for Robert Mackston, Travis Powers, Norm MacLeod and Terry Greene. Alf Clausen received an Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)" for this episode, which he ultimately lost. The A.V. Club named Comic Book Guy's line "Oh, I've wasted my life" as one of the quotes from The Simpsons that can be used in everyday situations.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Treehouse of Horror VIII". BBC. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- "Treehouse of Horror VIII". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- Scully, Mike (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Cohen, David X. (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Kirkland, Mark (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Bauder, David (October 31, 1997). "Strongs series finish boosts NBC". Rocky Mountain News. p. 11D.
- "Past Golden Reel Awards". MPSE.org. Retrieved 2007-10-17.
- "Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search". Emmys.org. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
- Bahn, Christopher; Donna Bowman, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan, Scott Tobias (2006-04-26). "Beyond "D'oh!": Simpsons Quotes For Everyday Use". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2008-08-02.
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- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" at The Simpsons.com
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- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" at TV.com