Treehouse of Horror XXIII
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Jon Lovitz as Artie Ziff
Synopsis: A black hole destroys Springfield and takes its residents to another planet; Marge’s deal with the devil comes back to haunt her (literally); Bart goes back to 1974 and prevents Homer marrying Marge.
Discussion: This is one of the best Halloween episodes in the history of the show. The parodies are well done enough as to make it obvious, but not so over done that the essence of the plot is compromised just by having Simpsons characters in the exact same plot as the original source.
The opening sequence takes place in Chitzen Itza, where Homer is being fattened up, ready to be sacrificed to appease the gods. Moe is sent in his place by a scheming Marge, condemning the world to be destroyed in 2012. It’s original and has many amusing moments.
The Greatest Story Ever Holed sees Springfield opening its version of the Large Hadron Collider, which creates a small black hole. Lisa discovers it and takes it home where the rest of the family throw things into it until it’s big enough to swallow the whole town and all the residents. Everyone and everything (except Maggie, whose pacifier killed the black hole) is taken to an alien planet where the inhabitants are celebrating ordinary stuff. Again, this segment is really well done and great fun to watch, even though the science is extremely dodgy.
UnNormal Activity is a parody of Paranormal Activity. Homer sets up several video cameras to record the mysterious goings on while the family sleep. At the end, Maggie is kidnapped by the unseen presence, who is revealed to be a Moe-demon, whom Marge had made a deal with thirty years previously. It’s a good segment, not just rehashing the plot of the PA movies but putting a Simpsons spin on it to make it seem more original, if that makes sense. There’s elements here that work well without having the Simpson family rehash everything about the original source.
Bart and Homer’s Excellent Adventure is a parody of Back to the Future while the title comes from a similarly-themed film, Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure. Bart travels back to 1974 to buy a comic book, but finds himself at Springfield High School in the detention room where Homer and Marge first met. However, Bart causes a fight between them and they don’t fall in love. In the future, Marge has married Artie Ziff and Bart is Bartie Ziff. They are very rich, and it’s a future that Bart is willing to live with. But then Marge realises she should have married Homer anyway and all is returned to normal.
Overall, it’s one of the better Halloween specials with plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and fun to be had. I’m not usually a fan of the specials, but I’d happily watch this one again.