Treehouse of Horror XIII

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"Treehouse of Horror XIII"
The Simpsons episode
Treehouse of Horror XIIIb.jpg
Promotional artwork for the episode showing the family as animals in the third segment.
Episode no. 292
Production code DABF19
Original air date November 3, 2002
Showrunner(s) Al Jean
Written by Marc Wilmore (Part 1)
Brian Kelley (Part 2)
Kevin Curran (Part 3)
Directed by David Silverman
Guest star(s) Maggie Roswell (as Maude Flanders).
DVD
commentary
Al Jean
Brian Kelley
Kevin Curran
Matt Selman
John Frink
Dan Castellaneta
Yeardley Smith
David Silverman

"Treehouse of Horror XIII" is the first episode of The Simpsons' fourteenth season, as well as the thirteenth Halloween episode. The episode aired on November 3, 2002, three days after Halloween. It is the second Treehouse of Horror to have a zombie-related segment, and the last Treehouse of Horror to have three separate writers credited for writing three stories (starting with "Treehouse of Horror XIV", only one writer is credited for writing the three stories).

In the episode, Homer buys a magic hammock that can create duplicates of anyone who lies in it in "Send in the Clones"; Lisa's call to end gun violence resurrects undead outlaws in "The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms"; and Dr. Hibbert invites everyone in Springfield to his island resort where everyone is turned into half-man, half-animal mutants in "The Island of Dr. Hibbert".

Plot[edit]

The Simpson family and Ned Flanders hold a séance in the hope of communicating with the spirit of Maude Flanders. Bart tries to trick Ned by dressing up as Maude's ghost, but the real ghost of Maude, now a demonic spirit, appears instead.

Send in the Clones[edit]

In a parody of Multiplicity, Homer walks into the backyard to lie in his hammock, which soon collapses. He purchases a new one from a passing vendor, who warns him that it carries a curse. Disregarding this, Homer lies down and discovers that the new hammock can produce clones of anyone who rests on it. He inspects the first clone and notices that it does not have a belly button.

He begins making and using clones to do all of his chores, which include helping Marge choose an outfit, visiting Grampa to listen to one of his rambling war stories, and play a baseball game with Bart, Lisa and Maggie. Although things are going well with Homer and his clones, the clones are soon revealed to be more stupid than he is. One clone takes on the challenge to kill Ned Flanders by cutting off his head with a chainsaw after Flanders asks Homer if he can have his chainsaw back. Shocked by Flanders' wrongful and scary death, Homer immediately decides to get rid of the clones and the hammock. He bundles them in a truck and takes them to an isolated cornfield.

When they arrive, Homer asks if anyone knows the way home. When three clones raise their hands, Homer shoots them, then abandons the rest of them, along with the hammock, presuming that none of the clones are smart enough to get anywhere without him. The living clones soon use the abandoned hammock to make an army of Homer clones, many of which are mutations, including The Tracey Ullman Show version of Homer (right down to inviting everyone for "frosty chocolate milkshakes"), a faceless Homer, a morbidly obese Homer, a Homer with thick, black glasses, and Peter Griffin from Family Guy. The "clone army" immediately consumes all of Gil Gunderson's crops and Gil himself, then attacks Springfield and destroys all of its buildings, except for Moe’s Tavern, which reports record business. US army officials gather in the Mayor's War Room, and determine that the clones will have eaten up America by the next day. Lisa then thinks of a solution to solve the problem, after getting the idea from Homer, who became upset when he found an empty doughnut box. She suggests that several helicopters hook gigantic, sprinkled doughnuts on cables and have the clones chase them into Springfield Gorge, luring the Homer clones to their doom.

In the end, Marge is glad to have her husband back, but is shocked to find that the Homer she has is a clone and the real Homer was the first to die when all the clones were thrown off the cliff due to his obsession of donuts. Marge worries over the real Homer's death, until the clone Homer gives her a backrub.

The Fright to Creep and Scare Harms[edit]

Bart and Lisa are at the Springfield Cemetery, mourning the loss of their pet goldfish, Goldie, who had always been there for them between August and October. Lisa inadvertently discovers the grave of William Bonney, a man who was killed at a young age by gun violence. According to his epitaph, he dreamed of a world without guns. In his memory, Lisa starts a gun control crusade, which makes Springfield 100% gun free — even the police no longer possess guns. The town is now defenceless, causing the corpses of William "Billy the Kid" Bonney and his cohorts, "The Hole in the Ground" gang (Frank James, Jesse James, the Sundance Kid — without Butch Cassidy, as they are "not joined at the hip" — and Kaiser Wilhelm II, who is obviously not a cowboy but claims he is) to rise from the dead. The gang starts wreaking havoc on the town, until Professor Frink invents a time machine, which Homer uses to go back in time to stop the gun ban and destroy the zombies. Homer tells the citizens of Springfield to shoot at the zombies' graves, causing them to rise up and flee. Lisa feels guilty about banning guns, because sometimes they are the answer. Suddenly, a more futuristic Homer comes in to warn them about guns that have destroyed Earth in the future. He is then shot by Moe, who has had enough of all this nonsense and plans to use Frink's time machine to find some "caveman hookers".

The Island of Dr. Hibbert[edit]

In a parody of H. G. Wells's The Island of Dr. Moreau, the Simpsons head out on a trip to "The Island of Lost Souls", where they find Dr. Hibbert running the island's resort. Marge says there were rumors he has gone mad. While the family is there and have a dinner with Professor Frink, who transformed into a turkey as the main course, Marge has a feeling that things are not as they are supposed to be consequently leading her on an investigation of the island, and resulting in her capture by Dr. Hibbert. She is then transformed into a blue humanized panther (or possibly a giant cat). She returns to her room and has violent, animal sex (literally, scratching all of his back with her claws) with Homer. He soon after realizes that she has been mutated, then asides that he should have realized this during the sex.

Homer then embarks to find a cure for Marge's condition, but encounters Ned Flanders, who has also been mutated into a cow-centaur, in need of a milking. After Homer reluctantly milks him, Flanders takes him to meet other Springfield inhabitants who have also been turned into mutants, including Bart (now a spider), Lisa (now a eagle) and Maggie (now an anteater, who is nearly eaten by Lisa until Homer intercedes). Homer, initially appalled at what everyone has become, eventually embraces the concept of being a mutant animal who does nothing but eat, sleep, mate and roll around in its own filth upon realizing how well it fits in with his personal lifestyle. The segment ends with a contently mutated Homer in the form of a walrus, and the rest of the Simpsons and Springfield mutants lounging aside the resort’s pool, intending to spend the rest of their days on Dr. Hibbert’s resort.

A deleted scene features Homer (as a walrus) giving Marge (as a panther) a back scratch. Marge then coughs up a hairball and Dr. Hibbert, immediately begins planning on changing the animal hybrids back into humans.

Ending[edit]

The entire Treehouse of Horror XIII episode concludes with an appearance by Kang and Kodos, observing that Dr. Hibbert’s skull-shaped island resembles their alien number 4.

Production[edit]

This is the first "Treehouse of Horror" special to be called "Treehouse of Horror" instead of "Simpsons' Halloween Special" in the opening or title sequence.

This is also the first episode to use the digital ink and paint as a proof of concept, which led to the decision to have The Simpsons' animation converted from traditional cel to digital ink and paint. It was a good episode to test technique on due to the cloning sequences which required many different layers of animation for each of the clones.[1] According to Al Jean, in the dub for the scene where Homer is being cloned Matt Groening said "let's just throw a couple screams in there", and sound archive locator Norm supplied them. The effect coming out of the hammock is meant to resemble a Xerox light.[2] This was one of two years that did not feature special Halloween names of The Simpsons staff in the credits. Al Jean said that to some people, the names took up so much space across the screen that the result was a "green smear". They were brought back due to popular demand.[3] The image of Homer strangling Homer was pitched in the writers room by one of the audio commentators.[2]

Because Nancy Kruse served as assistant director in this episode, director David Silverman was granted enough time to do his own animated sequences for the episode - including a Grandpa scene and a Frink scene. It was one of the last episodes in which he both directed and animated.[1] The scene where the Homer clones fall into the gorge was supposed to be a reference to a similar event in the season two episode "Bart the Daredevil", but the idea was dropped due to time constraints.[4] In preparation for the song sequence, David Silverman spoke to show composer Alf Clausen to write music for the team to animate ahead of time, to ensure the timing of the build-up and the song itself was working.[1] Kevin Curran watched all the different film versions of The Island of Doctor Moreau before making his segment.[5] The scene where the eyes eat the other eyes in the third segment was pitched by David Mirkin after the table read.[4] After realising they had to populate the island with characters, the team hurriedly drew up many new designs for the animal-equivalents (based on similar features the character had to an animal) and sent them off to get animated.[4] Kang and Kodos were not originally in this episode, but they were later added in to keep with the tradition of including them, whether a whole segment or a small cameo devoted to them.[4]

Cultural references[edit]

The segment titles are based on "Send in the Clowns", The Right to Keep and Bear Arms, and The Island of Doctor Moreau.

The AV Club notes "The episode begins with an attempt to summon the spirit of Maude Flanders, who was bumped off in [a] previous season’s highly publicized 'Alone Again, Natura-Diddily'."[6] The site also says "The locust-like swarm created in the segment [Send In The Clones] owes as much to the Michael Keaton vehicle Multiplicity as any real-world cloning concerns".[6]

In the crowd of clones in Send in the Clones, Peter Griffin from Family Guy, a Homer with glasses and a Homer drawn in the same design as he had appeared on The Tracey Ullman Show in 1987 appear alongside normal Homers.[7] In regard to Peter Griffin's appearance, Skwigly says this is "a sly dig at the likeness of the two characters".[8] The Simpsons staff noted that it was a joke at how Family Guy was a clone of their show. There was originally going to be a second joke involving Family Guy, but as the show had recently been cancelled, the staff of The Simpsons didn't want to "kick 'em when they're down", they cut it.[4]

Billy The Kid, Jesse James, and Kaiser Wilhelm II appear as the zombies in the segment The Fright To Creep And Scare Harms.[7] At one point in the writing process, John Lennon was also part of the gang.[4] Ride of the Valkyries, Apocalypse Now, and Dr Strangelove (the war room scene) are referenced.[4]

Critical reception[edit]

Treehouse of horror XIII has met with mostly positive reviews. On IMDB, the episode has a rating of 7.3/10 from 457 users.[9]

Send In The Clones and The Fright To Creep And Scare Harms were listed as number 8 and 9 respectively in The AV Club article ‘You said we’d be greeted as liberators!’: 10 anxiety-reflecting Simpsons Halloween segments. It said "Season 14’s “Treehouse Of Horror” is steeped in timely concerns, ripping inspiration from the headlines", noting that “Send In The Clones,” in which Homer clones himself, "followed the U.S. Congress’ second failed attempt to pass a comprehensive ban on reproductive human cloning."[6] The AV Club also noted that The Simpsons reveled in zombie tales (in season four’s Pet Sematary/Night Of The Living Dead hybrid, “Dial ‘Z’ For Zombies,” and “The Fright To Creep And Scare Harms” from season 14") many years before it became the vogue again with "Walking Dead-mania".[6]

The Island of Dr. Hibbert appeared in a list of 11 most disturbing Treehouse of Horror segments from The Simpsons by Blastr. The site noted: "The effect is as oddball as a convention hall full of Simpsons-cosplaying furries. Dr. Frink's turkey death scene is rivalled only by the creepy scene where Homer has to milk cow-centaur Flanders."[10]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Silverman, David. (2002). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror XIII", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  2. ^ a b The Simpsons staff. (2002). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror XIII", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  3. ^ Jean, Al. (2002). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror XIII", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g The Simpsons staff (2002). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror XIII", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  5. ^ Curran, Kevin. (2002). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror XIII", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  6. ^ a b c d "‘You said we’d be greeted as liberators!’: 10 anxiety-reflecting Simpsons Halloween segments · The A.V. Club". Avclub.com. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  7. ^ a b http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0763041/trivia?ref_=tt_trv_trv
  8. ^ Henderson, Steve (2013-07-19). "Family Guy set to meet The Simpsons. Again.". Skwigly. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 
  9. ^ Treehouse of Horror XIII at the Internet Movie Database
  10. ^ "11 most disturbing Treehouse of Horror segments from The Simpsons". Blastr. 2009-10-19. Retrieved 2014-01-20. 

External links[edit]