Classic Simpsons Reviews: “Treehouse of Horror” dares to be intelligent.

2.3 Treehouse of Horror

The Simpson kids tell three spooky stories in the first of five hundred Simpsons Halloween specials.

Marge’s “This episode isn’t for kids” opening is delightfully charming. It’s also my earliest vivid memory of the series. I remember seeing this when it first aired and being positively giddy about still getting to watch it. Five year old me was hooked from then on.

Clever reverse psychology, Simpsons writers. Clever.

“Bad Dream House” is a pedestrian take on the tired and frankly racist “house on an ancient Indian burial ground” trope. This bit really hasn’t aged well; the line, “This kitchen could use a woman’s touch” is particularly embarrassing, especially considering how the show criticizes domesticity and gender roles in “The Crepes of Wrath” (season 1) and “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey” (season 5).

“Hungry are the Damned,” though, has aged like a fine scotch. Oh my word. The Simpsons get abducted by aliens, who feed them like kings, fattening them up. Lisa gets suspicious, and finds a cookbook which seems to be on how to cook humans. The ensuing bit with space-dust obscuring the actual title is as funny 25 years later as it was when it first aired. I vaguely remember my classmates in kindergarten talking about this bit.

Kodos & Kang are one of The Simpsons‘ best creations.

More than any show I’ve seen, The Simpsons is fantastic at giving you many laughs per minute while also conveying meaningful parables. Fear and mistrust undo humanity in “Hungry are the Damned,” and I love that Lisa is the agent of this message, as it speaks to how the very intelligence and sophistication that make us human can also make us beasts.

Lisa reminds us how reasonable prejudice can seem.

The Simpsons’ take on Poe’s “The Raven” is fantastic. I wish more TV shows did things like this. Like when South Park just up and decided to do Great Expectations. It was awesome. Of course Trey Parker and Matt Stone added robot monkeys, because South Park, but that’s the beauty of animation.

The sophistication of early Simpsons was something to behold.

Best Moment: “How to Cook For Forty Humans.”

Best Quote: “Well if you wanted to make Serak the Preparer cry, mission accomplished.” -Kang

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