Treehouse of Horror XXIV

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"Treehouse of Horror XXIV"
The Simpsons episode
THOH XXIV.jpg
Promotional poster
Episode no. 532
Directed by Rob Oliver
Guillermo del Toro
(only opening sequence)
Written by Jeff Westbrook
Showrunner(s) Al Jean
Production code RABF16
Original air date October 6, 2013 (2013-10-06)
Chalkboard gag "All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy" (written on the board by Bart and scrawled on the walls by a deranged Stephen King)
Couch gag A horror-themed opening directed by Guillermo del Toro, featuring classic and contemporary horror and science fiction monsters and movie references, ending with Lisa falling through a hole à la Alice in Wonderland and ending up in the end sequence to del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth.

"Treehouse of Horror XXIV" is the second episode of the 25th season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons, and the 532nd episode of the series. The episode was written by Jeff Westbrook and aired on October 6, 2013 on the Fox Network.[1]

Plot[edit]

Opening sequence[edit]

The episode's couch gag, conceived by film director Guillermo del Toro, is a mash-up of horror movies and TV shows, including all of del Toro's own films, ending with Lisa falling through the couch, dressed as Alice from Alice in Wonderland, and getting brainwashed by The Hypnotoad from Futurama, then happening upon a palace room in a send-up of the end of Pan's Labyrinth.[2]

Oh, the Places You'll D'oh![edit]

It is Halloween night in a Dr. Seussian take on Springfield. The Simpson children are home with the mumps and unable to go trick-or-treating. Once their mother Marge (in a Catwoman costume that every other woman—and The Comic Book Guy—is wearing) leaves for a costume party, they are visited by The Fat in the Hat (Homer) who gives them vaccinations so he can take them out to get candy for them and beer for him. However, instead of helping the children get their treats, he takes them on a casual rampage of death and destruction: blowing up Mr. Burns' mansion and feeding him to a homeless shelter; robbing Moe and skinning him; robbing Apu and forcing him to spend time with his wife and children; killing two DMV workers (Patty and Selma) and tossing car licenses to people waiting in line; blowing up town hall while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask; and committing "aggravated Flu-Fluffel-cide". The children are alarmed at those events and manage to elude him with the aid of several animals; a Barney Gumble-esque camel, a Krusty-esque bull, and on the wings of the Mexican Bumblebee Man. However, Fat is waiting for them when they get home and gloats that he will never leave them right before baby Maggie stabs Fat in the chest with his own umbrella. Marge comes home, unaware of what happened, and the children fake their mumps by stuffing the collected candy in their mouths and have turned the Fat in the Hat into a rug.

Dead and Shoulders[edit]

In a parody of The Thing with Two Heads, after getting decapitated during a day of flying his box kite in a fly zone near the Springfield airport, Bart is surgically attached to Lisa's body in order to extend Bart's life and cut Lisa's short. Though the two eventually get along, Bart learns that he can control Lisa's body while she is unconscious and resolves to get rid of her to have total control. Unfortunately, the attempt on the sawmill results with Bart transferred to Selma's body (who needs a karaoke partner) while Lisa is grafted onto Krusty (who needs a comedy partner for an upcoming act).

Freaks, No Geeks[edit]

In a parody of Freaks, at a 1930s' circus, the self-serving strongman Homer gets his lover trapeze artist Marge to marry sideshow freak Moe after learning of the emerald ring he inherited from his mother on her death bed. At their wedding reception, the other "freaks" announce that they accept Marge in spite of her being a "normal" outsider (even though Marge claims she is a freak because she has one blue eye and one pale brown eye). After finding Homer attempting to poison Moe's wedding wine glass, Marge kicks him out of her trailer. Homer is then cornered by the freaks with weapons as they advance on him with the intention to mutilate him into a freak like them. The scene then cuts to the present, where it is revealed that the whole story was told by a "Duck Man" Homer of how he met Marge.

Production[edit]

Guillermo del Toro guest directed the opening sequence for this episode.

In October 2013, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Guillermo del Toro spoke about directing the opening of the episode, saying: "The Simpsons titles are so iconic and yet they've never been riffed in this vein. I really wanted to land the connections between the [show's] set pieces and the titles and some of the most iconic horror movies, and intersperse them with some of my stuff in there for pure joy. For example the idea that Ms. Krabappel could be outside the school with Alfred Hitchcock which is a reference to the sequence in The Birds that happens outside of the school in Bodega Bay. To use Chief Wiggum as the Cyclops from Harryhausen, dipping the [Lard Lad] donut in a water tank, to have the nuclear spill from Mr. Burns' plant create zombies — all of this stuff seems to make sense to interconnect. If Homer really gets a radioactive isotope, he could turn into a reaper from Blade. Or the famous shot that is always in the titles — Maggie driving and then you pull back and there's Marge driving, right? But in this case Maggie is driving, and she's driving the car from the horror movie from the 70s called The Car, which is one of my favorite guilty pleasure B-movies. And what if Lisa is in the music class, but she's in the music class with every Phantom of the Opera ever made? It was a unique opportunity."[3]

He also explained he was inspired by Mad magazine to cram as many references in the opening as possible, saying: "They would try to cram so many references in. You as a kid could spend an afternoon on your bed with your magnifying glass going through a frame of Mad magazine and finding all these references to this and that. I integrate[d] Lisa falling through the couch like Alice in Wonderland but in the dress of the girl from Pan's Labyrinth, and instead of landing next to the giant toad in Pan's Labyrinth, she lands next to the Hypnotoad from Futurama. At the last minute I wanted to put a Mexican wrestler in there, but [casting producer] Bonnie Pietila said to me, "We've got to go! We cannot keep adding and adding stuff."[3]

Cultural references[edit]

"Oh, the Places You'll D'oh!" is a spoof of the Dr. Seuss book The Cat in the Hat, while the title is a parody of the title of another Dr. Seuss book, Oh, the Places You'll Go!. Another Seuss character, the Lorax, also makes an appearance in the episode, where he is seen promoting an SUV.[4] Marge goes to attend a Halloween party in a Catwoman costume.[5] Whilst taking the children out to get treats, the Fat blows up the town hall wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, a reference to the film V for Vendetta. When Homer, as the cat, is killed, he requests that he not be portrayed by actor Mike Myers.[4] "Dead and Shoulders" borrows the premise of the 1972 movie The Thing with Two Heads, which starred Ray Milland and Rosey Grier.[4] At the end of "Dead and Shoulders" and at the beginning of "Freaks, No Geeks", Selma makes Bart help her sing "Mockingbird" from the 1994 comedy Dumb and Dumber.[4] It is also implied that Lisa is a fan of the My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic character Rainbow Dash.[4] She talks in her sleep saying "Rainbow, oh Rainbow!", to which Bart responds "Oh no, not the pony dream again!".[4] "Freaks, No Geeks" is a parody of Tod Browning's classic 1932 horror film Freaks.[4] At the end of the third story, a mutilated duck creature Homer is seen telling his children that was how he met their mother, which leads into the theme song from the show How I Met Your Mother.[4]

Reception[edit]

The episode as a whole received generally positive reviews, while Del Toro's opening sequence was critically acclaimed. David Hinckley of the New York Daily News gave "Treehouse of Horror XXIV" three stars out of five, writing that "'Treehouse of Horrors' remains an honorable tradition, and if nothing else, it reminds fans that they don't have to wait for South Park to get some good old-fashioned animated mayhem."[6] Dennis Perkins of The A.V. Club gave the episode a B, saying, "After the season-opening Homeland parody storyline in last week's episode and a "Treehouse of Horror" for its second, we have yet to see exactly what this season has going for it as The Simpsons soldiers on for its 25th season, as these premise-heavy episodes haven't left much room for character. Next week will be the real test, but for now, I'll take these first two installments as cause for hope."[4] Tony Sokol of Den of Geek wrote that the episode was "nearly a classic". He felt the third segment was the best and wrote that "When The Simpsons commit to a joke, they commit."[7] Teresa Lopez of TV Fanatic gave the episode three out of five stars, saying "It was an enjoyable episode, but still, the necessity of scheduling the Halloween special so early makes it hard to get into the spooky spirit of things."[8]

The episode received a 3.0 rating and was watched by a total of 6.42 million people, this made it the most watched show on Animation Domination that night beating American Dad!, Bob's Burgers and Family Guy.[9]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Simpsons Episode Guide 2013 Season 25 - Treehouse of Horror XXIV, Episode 2". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  2. ^ Bryan Enk, "Ay Caramba! Decoding the Horror Movie References in Guillermo del Toro's 'Simpsons' Opening," Yahoo! Movies, http://movies.yahoo.com/blogs/movie-talk/aye-carumba-spotting-horror-references-guillermo-toro-simpsons-213318712.html
  3. ^ a b Lee, Stephan. "'The Simpsons': Guillermo del Toro on 'Treehouse of Horror XXIV' opening | Inside TV | EW.com". Insidetv.ew.com. Retrieved 2013-10-06. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i Perkins, Dennis. ""Treehouse of Horror XXIV" | The Simpsons". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  5. ^ Chan, May. "‘The Simpsons’ Recap: ‘Treehouse of Horror XXIV'". Celebrity Cafe. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  6. ^ Hinckley, David (4 October 2013). "'The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXIV': TV review". New York Daily News. Retrieved 6 October 2013. 
  7. ^ Sokol, Tony. "The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror XXIV, Review". Den of Geek. Retrieved 7 October 2013. 
  8. ^ "The Simpsons Review: One of Us". TV Fanatic. 2013-10-06. Retrieved 2014-01-14. 
  9. ^ "Sunday Final Ratings: ‘Once Upon a Time’ & ‘The Simpsons’ Adjusted Up + Final NFL Ratings & Unscrambled CBS". Tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com. 2013-09-29. Retrieved 2013-10-08. 

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