Treehouse of Horror VIII

Last updated
"Treehouse of Horror VIII"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 9
Episode 4
Directed by Mark Kirkland
Written by Mike Scully
David X. Cohen
Ned Goldreyer
Production code5F02
Original air dateOctober 26, 1997
Episode features
Couch gag The Simpsons sit on the couch. Metal shackles restrain their wrists and ankles and a metal cap comes down on all of their heads. The family writhes in pain as they get shocked by electricity. [1]
Commentary Matt Groening
Mike Scully
David X. Cohen
Mark Kirkland
George Meyer
Matt Selman
Episode chronology
 Previous
"Lisa's Sax"
Next 
"The Cartridge Family"
The Simpsons (season 9)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"Treehouse of Horror VIII" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons ' ninth season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 26, 1997. [2] 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 X. Cohen and Ned Goldreyer, and was directed by Mark Kirkland. [1]

<i>The Simpsons</i> American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening

The Simpsons is an American animated sitcom created by Matt Groening for the Fox Broadcasting Company. The series is a satirical depiction of working-class life, epitomized by the Simpson family, which consists of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. The show is set in the fictional town of Springfield and parodies American culture and society, television, and the human condition.

<i>The Simpsons</i> (season 9) Episode list for season of animated series

The Simpsons' ninth season originally aired on the Fox network between September 1997 and May 1998, beginning on Sunday, September 21, 1997, with "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson". With Mike Scully as showrunner for the ninth production season, the aired season contained three episodes which were hold-over episodes from season eight, which Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein ran. It also contained two episodes which were run by David Mirkin, and another two hold-over episodes which were run by Al Jean and Mike Reiss.

Fox Broadcasting Company American television network

The Fox Broadcasting Company is an American free-to-air television network that is a flagship property of the Fox Corporation. The network is headquartered at 1211 Avenue of the Americas in New York City, with additional offices at the Fox Broadcasting Center and at the Fox Television Center in Los Angeles.

Contents

Plot

Opening

A Fox censor named Fox Censor is sitting at his desk going through the show's script, censoring some things and explaining to the audience that the episode is rated TV-G with no violence or anything explicit. As he continues talking, a hand reaches with a cutlass from the rating and stabs Fox many times with the rating changing from G to PG to 14 to 21 to MA to TV-666. Fox falls on his desk dead and his blood spells the name of the episode.

The HΩmega Man

When Mayor Quimby makes an offensive joke about France, and refuses to apologize, the French president launches a neutron bomb directly into Springfield, killing everyone except Homer, who 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 survive the blast, but he is soon confronted by a band of hostile Springfield citizens who have become mutants. Homer flees back home where he discovers that his family survived the blast because their house was protected by its layers of lead paint. Marge and the children kill the mutants with shotguns that they were hiding behind their backs and the family head off to steal some Ferraris.

A neutron bomb, officially defined as a type of enhanced radiation weapon (ERW), is a low yield thermonuclear weapon designed to maximize lethal neutron radiation in the immediate vicinity of the blast while minimizing the physical power of the blast itself. The neutron release generated by a nuclear fusion reaction is intentionally allowed to escape the weapon, rather than being absorbed by its other components. The neutron burst, which is used as the primary destructive action of the warhead, is able to penetrate enemy armor more effectively than a conventional warhead, thus making it more lethal as a tactical weapon.

Homer Simpson fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Homer Jay Simpson is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta and first appeared on television, along with the rest of his family, in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Homer was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his father, Homer Groening. After appearing for three seasons on The Tracey Ullman Show, the Simpson family got their own series on Fox that debuted December 17, 1989.

Marjorie Jacqueline "Marge" Simpson is a fictional character in the American animated sitcom The Simpsons and part of the eponymous family. She is voiced by Julie Kavner and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Marge was created and designed by cartoonist Matt Groening while he was waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on Life in Hell but instead decided to create a new set of characters. He named the character after his mother Margaret Groening. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three seasons, the Simpson family received their own series on Fox, which debuted December 17, 1989.

Fly vs. Fly

Homer buys a matter transporter from Professor Frink. That night, Bart sees the family pets inadvertently go through the transporter together and he steps into the teleporter with a fly on his arm, thinking that he will become a mutant superhero. He comes out with his normal head, but with the fly's body whilst the fly has his body. Bart enlists the help of Lisa. However, she is chased by the fly and cornered in the kitchen. 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 and angrily chases Bart for using the device.

Teleportation is the theoretical transfer of matter or energy from one point to another without traversing the physical space between them. Teleportation, or the ability to transport a person or object instantly from one place to another, is a technology that could change the course of civilization and alter the destiny of nations. It is a common subject in science fiction literature, film, video games, and television. In some situations teleporting is time traveling across space.

Professor Frink fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Professor John I.Q. Nerdelbaum Frink Jr., or simply Professor Frink, is a recurring character in the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria, and first appeared in the 1991 episode "Old Money". Frink is Springfield's nerdy scientist and professor and is extremely intelligent, though somewhat mad and socially inept. Frink often tries to use his bizarre inventions to aid the town in its crises but they usually only make things worse. His manner of speech, including the impulsive shouting of nonsensical words, has become his trademark.

Bart Simpson fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Bartholomew JoJo "Bart" Simpson is a fictional character in the American animated television series The Simpsons and part of the Simpson family. He is voiced by Nancy Cartwright and first appeared on television in The Tracey Ullman Show short "Good Night" on April 19, 1987. Cartoonist Matt Groening created and designed Bart while waiting in the lobby of James L. Brooks' office. Groening had been called to pitch a series of shorts based on his comic strip, Life in Hell, but instead decided to create a new set of characters. While the rest of the characters were named after Groening's family members, Bart's name is an anagram of the word brat. After appearing on The Tracey Ullman Show for three years, the Simpson family received its own series on Fox, which debuted December 17, 1989.

Easy-Bake Coven

In 1649, the town is witness 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. After being shoved off the cliff, Marge flies up on the broomstick revealing that she really is a witch and vows to conquer the whole entire town. She returns to her sisters Patty and Selma. 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, but before they leave, Maude offers the witches gingerbread men instead. The witches like these better than the children so they go to each house, getting goodies in exchange for not eating the children. As they fly off, the Sea Captain says that is how the tradition of Halloween and trick-or-treating started.

Witch-hunt search for witches or evidence of witchcraft, often involving moral panic, or mass hysteria

A witch-hunt or a witch purge is a search for people who have been labelled "witches" or a search for evidence of witchcraft, and it often involves a moral panic or mass hysteria. The classical period of witch-hunts in Early Modern Europe and Colonial North America took place in the Early Modern period or about 1450 to 1750, spanning the upheavals of the Reformation and the Thirty Years' War, resulting in an estimated 35,000 to 100,000 executions, with the most recent estimate at 40,000. The last executions of people convicted as witches in Europe took place in the 18th century. In other regions, like Africa and Asia, contemporary witch-hunts have been reported from Sub-Saharan Africa and Papua New Guinea and official legislation against witchcraft is still found in Saudi Arabia and Cameroon today.

Moe Szyslak Fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Morris "Moe" Szyslak is a recurring character from the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Hank Azaria and first appeared in the series premiere episode "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". Moe is the proprietor and bartender of Moe's Tavern, a Springfield bar frequented by Homer Simpson, Barney Gumble, Lenny Leonard, Carl Carlson, Sam, Larry, and others.

Mayor Quimby fictional character from The Simpsons franchise

Mayor Joseph Fitzgerald O'Malley Fitzpatrick O'Donnell The Edge Quimby, nicknamed Diamond Joe, is a recurring character from the animated television series The Simpsons. He is voiced by Dan Castellaneta, and first appeared in the episode "Bart Gets an F". Quimby is the mayor of Springfield, and is a composite parody of U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy and certain other members of the Kennedy family who have entered politics.

Production

The opening segment of the episode had a difficult time getting through the (real-life) censors. THOH8censor.png
The opening segment of the episode had a difficult time getting through the (real-life) censors.

"The HΩmega Man" was written by Mike Scully, [3] "Fly Vs. Fly" was written by David X. Cohen, [4] and "Easy-Bake Coven" was written by Ned Goldreyer. [3] 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. [4]

Mike Scully American writer and producer

Michael Scully is an American television writer and producer. He is known for his work as executive producer and showrunner of the animated sitcom The Simpsons from 1997 to 2001. Scully grew up in West Springfield, Massachusetts and long had an interest in writing. He was an underachiever at school and dropped out of college, going on to work in a series of jobs. Eventually, in 1986, he moved to Los Angeles where he worked as a stand-up comic and wrote for Yakov Smirnoff.

David X. Cohen Television writer

David Samuel Cohen, better known as David X. Cohen, is an American television writer. He began working on Beavis and Butt-Head, has written for The Simpsons, and served as the head writer and executive producer of Futurama. Cohen is a producer of Disenchantment, Matt Groening's series for Netflix.

The producers had trouble with the censors over several segments in this episode. The opening segment of the episode, which features Fox Censor (pictured on the right) being stabbed to death, was pitched by David Mirkin and had a difficult time getting through the real-life censors. They had issues with the size of the knife and the sound effects used. [3] Originally, the TV-rating was supposed to stab Censor with a dagger, but Fox objected because it was too gruesome and was changed to a cutlass. [5] The censors also objected to an unaired scene where Homer does his naked church dance on an altar. The scene was reanimated so that Homer was dancing naked in the front row. [3]

David Mirkin American film and television writer, director and producer

David Mirkin is an American feature film and television director, writer and producer. Mirkin grew up in Philadelphia and intended to become an electrical engineer, but abandoned this career path in favor of studying film at Loyola Marymount University. After graduating, he became a stand-up comedian, and then moved into television writing. He wrote for the sitcoms Three's Company, It's Garry Shandling's Show and The Larry Sanders Show and served as showrunner on the series Newhart. After an unsuccessful attempt to remake the British series The Young Ones, Mirkin created Get a Life in 1990. The series starred comedian Chris Elliott and ran for two seasons, despite a lack of support from many Fox network executives, who disliked the show's dark and surreal humor. He moved on to create the sketch show The Edge starring his then-partner, actress Julie Brown.

Cutlass Short, broad slashing sword

A cutlass is a short, broad sabre or slashing sword, with a straight or slightly curved blade sharpened on the cutting edge, and a hilt often featuring a solid cupped or basket-shaped guard. It was a common naval weapon during the early Age of Sail.

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. [5] 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. [4]

Cultural references

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. [3] In the same segment, Homer runs over Johnny and Edgar Winter while fleeing the mutants pursuing him, mistaking them as mutants as the Winter brothers are both albino. [3]

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 . [4] In "Easy-Bake Coven", the animators referenced the film The Crucible for many of their designs, [5] and Edna Krabappel is wearing a Scarlet A, which is a reference to the novel The Scarlet Letter . [4]

Reception

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 . [6]

"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. [7] Alf Clausen received an Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)" for this episode, which he ultimately lost. [8] 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. [9]

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References

  1. 1 2 Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Treehouse of Horror VIII". BBC. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
  2. "Treehouse of Horror VIII". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2007-10-24.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Scully, Mike (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 Cohen, David X. (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. 1 2 3 Kirkland, Mark (2006). The Simpsons season 9 DVD commentary for the episode "Treehouse of Horror VIII" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. Bauder, David (October 31, 1997). "Strongs series finish boosts NBC". Rocky Mountain News. p. 11D.
  7. "Past Golden Reel Awards". MPSE.org. Archived from the original on 2009-03-17. Retrieved 2007-10-17.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  8. "Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search". Emmys.org. Archived from the original on 2009-02-15. Retrieved 2007-10-24.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. 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 . Archived from the original on 2008-07-09. Retrieved 2008-08-02.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)