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'The Simpsons' Halloween is Annual Grisly, Usual Smart
October 25, 2015  | By David Hinckley
 

The annual "Treehouse of Horrors" episode of The Simpsons (Sunday, Oct. 25 on Fox, 8 p.m. ET) raises a life-or-death question.

Why is The Simpsons still alive?

And since a blunt question deserves a blunt answer, this is it: because even when you're sitting there groaning "Oh, no, not The Simpsons again," you laugh.

"Treehouse" makes that laughter particularly easy since it's divided into several segments, allowing the creators to zip into the joke, tell it and move on.

The best is Homerzilla, in which a supersized Homer Simpson rises from the ocean to terrorize everything that moves on land.

This gets grisly, of course, since a truckload of the old ultra-violence provides much of the fun in "Treehouse."

Well, that's half-truth. It could also be argued that much of the fun comes from imagining the glee with which The Simpsons is still written, all these years later.

Homerzilla, for instance, morphs into a quick and brutal satiric riff on the cynical way the entertainment industry does business.

It also might not be a stretch to suggest someone in the writers' room was aware of Sharknado when this segment was crafted.

Back to the gruesome part that goes from zero to 60 in the first segment wherein Sideshow Bob sets out to finally kill Bart (top).

He does, too. Several times. Burns him to ashes. Chops him up into sausage.

But Bart has the trump card. He's a cartoon, and cartoons have a long and solid history of being flattened into pancakes or blown to bits and miraculously reconstituting themselves with one magic stroke of the pen.

Sideshow Bob's real value to the audience, meanwhile, lies in his incidental jokes about the likes of T.S. Eliot, Games of Thrones, and students who sit in a seminar Googling the answers.

With a half hour and multiple segments, the jokes roll fast -- and half the jokes aren't even in the animation. They're in the credits. Of course, most of those are probably inside jokes we civilians don't get, but we can admire the spirit.

In fact, that's probably why The Simpsons is still alive. Matt Groening and his people probably figured that according to all the normal rules of television, they should have been dead years ago.

So they're playing with house money, essentially, and how can that be anything but fun?

The rest of us are just along for the vivisections, er, the ride.


 
 
 
 
 
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