Classic Simpsons Reviews: The “board with a nail in it” is some of the best satire I’ve ever seen.

3.7 Treehouse of Horror II (Lisa’s Nightmare, Bart’s Nightmare, Homer’s Nightmare)

In my epic review of all 26 “Treehouse of Horror” episodes, I placed The Simpsons’ second entry all the way up at number two, just behind the fourth.

It opens as the first “Treehouse” did, with Marge imploring parents not to let their children watch the show. She says, “Before last year’s Halloween show, I warned you not to let your children watch. But you did anyway.” That first time she did this happens to be my earliest memory of the series. It was some brilliant reverse psychology, and had five year old me forever hooked.

In “Lisa’s Nightmare,” Homer purchases a monkey’s paw in Morocco, which, of course, gets way out of hand (har har). Bart’s wish for the Simpsons to be rich and famous plays out perfectly, as all of Springfield quickly gets bored of the Simpsons and their merchandise being everywhere. It’s wonderfully self-referential and unfortunately prophetic, considering the Keith Richards of TV shows is somehow still on the air.

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“At first they were cute and funny, but now they’re just annoying.”

I happen to think this is the best segment in “Treehouse” history, and it’s because of how Lisa’s wish for world peace plays out. Her wish causes everyone on Earth to melt all their weapons, leaving the planet ripe for an invasion by Kodos and Kang. It seems like it’s going to be a straightforward, cynical message, but, as with so many Simpson parables, it skillfully wraps around itself at the end of the bit, with Ned getting the paw and wishing the aliens away, before Moe chases them off with a board with a nail in it. Kodos then prophesies that humanity will now build bigger boards with even bigger nails in them, eventually destroying themselves; Kodos and Kang won’t need to lift a finger. My God that’s a whole lot of nuance packed into one fast-paced bit.

I love how the writers make it so Lisa’s intelligence is every bit as able to be a source of hubris and naivety as it is to be a source of good. She wishes for world peace, and then you have Britain apologizing for the Falklands, with Argentina’s great reply, “Oh forget it we kind of knew they were yours.” The writers respect Lisa’s intellect but aren’t afraid to criticize her for being self-important. South Park tries to walk this line with Kyle, and with some success, but by comparison they and Family Guy sort of just shit on you for caring about anything.

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“I can do that but I don’t wanna” is an all-time great line, and one I say IRL all the time.

“Bart’s Nightmare” turns Springfield into a Twilight Zone-esque dystopia where Bart reads everyone’s thoughts and punishes those who don’t think positively. Extreme hilarity ensues. Marge’s “Oh good! The curtains are on fire!” = gut-buster. Krabapple’s “America was now discovered in 1942 by Some Guy and is now called Bonerland” = outstanding. 346 consecutive hours of Krusty = hysterical.

I love the way this segment captures how I feel around positivity police. Love. It.

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Laughed so hard as a kid it gave me an asthma attack. I remember that asthma attack.

“Homer’s Nightmare” is a Frankenstein parody with Homer as the monster and Mr. Burns as the Doctor. It’s funny enough with some nice Burns and Smithers banter, though nowhere near as sophisticated as the first two segments.

Best Segment: “Lisa’s Nightmare”

Best Moment: Moe fights off an alien invasion with a board with a nail in it.

Best Quote: “That board with a nail in it may have defeated us, but the humans won’t stop there. They’ll make bigger boards and bigger nails. Soon they will make a board with a nail in it so big, it will destroy them all.” -Kang

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