One year ago: Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein
The annual Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons have become a Halloween tradition, even if Fox does inexplicably wait until after Halloween to air them, more often than not. I have fond memories of watching the very first one, and many subsequent ones in the years since then. Watching the older episodes has become an essential part of my run-up to Halloween, so it's only natural to present to you my ten favorite Treehouse of Horror segments!
No list of the greatest TOH segments would be complete without this tale of alien abduction and hidden motives. This was our introduction to the venerable duo of tentacled aliens Kang & Kodos, who have appeared in ever single Halloween episode of the series. It all began here, in one of the show's finest moments.
Dial "Z" for Zombies
When Bat and Lisa accidentally raise the dead, the family has to fight back as Springfield is overrun with zombies! Includes the classic exchange: "Dad, you killed the zombie Flanders!" "He was a zombie?"
Homer learns firsthand that the Devil is bad news when he sells his soul for a donut. Turns out the Devil is none other than Ned Flanders("It's always the one you least suspect!"), and he selects the jury of the damned when Homer is granted a trial to fight to keep his soul. Unfortunately, they've hired Lionel Hutz to defend him, so it'll be an uphill battle at best. Plus, Homer has to spend the day in Hell in the meantime!
Mayhem ensues when Homer is hired as caretaker to Mr. Burns's mountaintop hotel for the winter. Cut off from civilization, and left with no beer and no TV, Homer is filled with insane murderous rage. The family's only hope is that Bart can summon help with his "Shinning." A dead-on parody of Kubrick's classic The Shining, and damned hilarious.
Kang & Kodos encounter a stumbling block in their plans to take over the Earth when they learn an election is occurring next week. Abducting presidential candidates Bob Dole and Bill Clinton, the aliens take their place so that whoever wins will rule the country, and from there, proceed to take over the rest of the world. This is probably the finest hour for Kang & Kodos.
When France launches a nuclear bomb at Springfield, Homer is the only survivor. The only normal survivor, that is, as many of the town's residents have been horribly mutated by the radiation. After interrupting his nude dancing at the church-- don't ask-- the mutants hunt Homer relentlessly.
Desperately Xeeking Xena
Bart and Lisa acquire superpowers, and they swing into action when Lucy Lawless is kidnapped by the Comic Book Guy-turned-supervillain the Collector. This one remains one of the biggest fan-favorites, and supplied several classic lines and moments.
Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace
Groundskeeper Willie mysteriously vanishes, and begins turning up in the dreams of Springfield's children to torment them. With all the town's adults trying to cover up what happened, it's left to Bart, Lisa, and Maggie to deal with Willie on his own turf.
This parody of the old Twilight Zone episode where Shatner is the only one who sees a creature on the wing of a plane finds Bart in a similar situation: on the way to school, Bart keeps seeing a Gremlin trying to sabotage the bus so it will crash. No one else can see the creature, so Bart is believed to be insane. The pace in this one is relentless, even for one of the Halloween episodes, and includes one of the better twist endings.
Time and Punishment
Homer tries to fix the toaster, and accidentally turns it into a time machine. traveling to a number of different timelines, he struggles to get back home. Along the way, we get glimpses of some truly hilarious alternate timelines, including one in which Ned Flanders is the undisputed master of the world!
Fox is actually airing this year's Treehouse of Horror episode before Halloween; it's coming on this Sunday, the 30th. Don't miss it!