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TreeHouse 2
Directed by: Jim Reardon
Written by: Al Jean
Mike Reiss
Jeff Martin
George Meyer
Sam Simon
John Swartzwelder
Release date: October 31, 1991
Running time: 22 minutes
Available on: DVD
Treehouse of Horror II (Promo Picture)

"Treehouse of Horror II" is, as its title suggests, the second Halloween episode of The Simpsons, aired in the show's third season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 31, 1991 (Halloween 1991).[1] The episode was written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jeff Martin, George Meyer, Sam Simon and John Swartzwelder while Jim Reardon was the director.

The episode is presented in a similar format to the previous season's "Treehouse of Horror" and contains several similarities to the previous episode, such as Marge's opening warning, the tombstones in the opening credits and the appearance of the alien characters Kang and Kodos. "Treehouse of Horror II" was the first episode that employed the "scary names" idea, in which many of the credits have unusual names. The episode contains numerous parodies and references to horror and science fiction works, including The Twilight Zone, Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, The Thing with Two Heads and Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

SynopsisEdit

IntroEdit

"Hello everyone. Before last year's Halloween show, I warned you not to let your children watch. But you did anyway. Hmm. well, this year's episode is even worse; it's scarier and more violent and I think they snuck in some bad language, too. So, please, tuck in your children and... well, if you didn't listen to me the last time, you're not going to now. Enjoy the show."

When Marge, Lisa, Bart come back from Trick-or-Treating, they get a load of candy. Marge tells them not to eat too much or they'll get nightmares. They all scoff at her, but they do have nightmares.

The Monkey's PawEdit

Lisa's Nightmare

The Monkey's Paw is Lisa's nightmare. This story has the Simpsons visit Morocco, where Homer buys a mysterious monkey's paw that grants wishes but with great misfortune. Once back home (after Homer had to pay a two American dollar fine for attempting to smuggle souvenirs onboard the plane), the family begins to wish upon the paw. Maggie wishes for a golden pacifier, and Bart wishes for the family to be rich and famous. The pacifier seems to have no negative connotations, but the money and fame cause a public backlash to grow around the Simpsons, as they appear on everything from T-shirts to billboards for mammogram tests. Lisa wishes for world peace, but when Kang and Kodos see that the Earth is vulnerable, they conquer it, enslaving humanity. Homer then wishes for a turkey sandwich without any "weird surprises," which he claims is a wish that can't backfire. The sandwich appears to be perfect... except the turkey is a little dry. This 'abnormality' causes Homer to fly into a rage, before throwing the monkey's paw away. When Ned Flanders sees Homer throwing it out, Homer offers the paw to him, assuming that wishes with misfortunes will soon plague his neighbor. However, Ned's first wish (to get rid of the aliens) frees the human race and he's considered a hero. Shortly afterward, Flanders wishes for his home to become a castle, as Homer watches, seething.

After Lisa has her nightmare, she goes into Bart's room and wakes him up to ask if she could sleep in his bed. Bart tells her to get lost, so she offers him a candy necklace. He eats it and spits out the string, and tells her she can sleep with him. She climbs into his bed and thanks him. He replies,"less talk, more sleep." as he spends the last moment staring at the Krusty the Clown Jack-in-the-box on his night-table before falling back to sleep.

The Bart ZoneEdit

Bart's Nightmare - THOH

In Bart's nightmare, he is a boy who's able to bend reality with his mind, as well as read the minds of others, and he will turn anyone who thinks badly about him into a creature. The whole town lives in fear of him because of this, constantly forced to be happy and fulfill his every demand. Bart comes home from school and Homer and Lisa are watching TV. Bart demands to watch Krusty, after Homer refuses, Bart replaces the football on the TV with him and he smacks into the field post. When Homer comes back, he tries to bash Bart over the head with a chair. Bart reads his mind and turns him into a Jack-in-the-box. Upon discovering this, Marge takes them to see Dr. Marvin Monroe, who suggests that Bart and Homer spend more time together doing father/son activities. Homer takes Bart to a baseball game, fishing, shooting a BB gun, church, and to an amusement park. Bart becomes less mean as he has enjoyed the time with his father, and decides to turn Homer back to normal. Homer then gives Bart a fatherly kiss and Bart wakes up, horrified. This is a parody of It's a Good Life episode of the Twilight Zone.

After Bart has his nightmare, he and Lisa run into Homer and Marge's room and ask to sleep in their bed. Homer looks at the clock and comments that in 2 hours he will have to go to work.

If Only I Had a BrainEdit

Treehouse of Horror 2

In Homer's dream, he is fired from his job and he becomes a grave digger. He falls asleep in an open grave. Mr. Burns and Smithers are out looking for a brain, for their experiment to create the ultimate worker. They find Homer, and thinking he's dead, take him to their lab, remove his brain and place it into a robot. The robot then acts like Homer (clumsy and lazy), to Mr. Burns disappointment. Smithers convinces him to put Homer's brain back where it came from, but after this is done the robot falls on top of Mr. Burns, crushing his body. To save his life, Mr. Burns' head is sewn onto Homer's body. Homer wakes up from his nightmare, and realizes that Mr. Burns' head really is sewn onto his body.

A fake "next time on The Simpsons" bit is then shown, in which the Simpsons are eating breakfast. Lisa reminds Homer that that evening, the kid's school will be having an all-you-can-eat spaghetti dinner. Homer looks forward to it, but Mr. Burns reminds him that same evening, they will be attending the reception for Queen Beatrice in the Netherlands. Homer complains that he hates having two heads.

ProductionEdit

Al Jean by Gage Skidmore

The episode was executive produced and co-written by Al Jean, who also pitched the idea of having "scary names" in the opening credits.

"Treehouse of Horror II," the second edition of the Treehouse of Horror series of episodes, was written by Al Jean, Mike Reiss, Jeff Martin, George Meyer, Sam Simon, and John Swartzwelder. Jim Reardon was the director.[2][3] The episode is presented in a similar format to the previous season's "Treehouse of Horror", and contains several similarities to the previous episode, such as Marge's opening warning, the tombstones in the opening credits and the appearance of the alien characters Kang and Kodos. "Treehouse of Horror II" was the first episode that employed the "scary names" idea, in which many of the names in the opening and closing credits have unusual nicknames. The idea came from Al Jean, who was inspired by old issues of EC Comics.[4] Although the names quickly became more silly than scary, there have been a wide variety of special credits. For example, the director's name is given as Jim "Rondo" Reardon, a reference to his idol, Rondo Hatton.[5] The "scary names" became such a burden to write that they were cut for "Treehouse of Horror XII" and "Treehouse of Horror XIII", but after hearing complaints from the fans, Jean decided to bring them back.[4] The alien characters Kang and Kodos had been introduced the previous year. There was a debate about whether to include them in all Halloween specials after the episode; eventually, the writers agreed to make it a tradition.[6]

During the beginning of the segment "The Monkey's Paw", Hank Azaria faked some Arabic. Usually, the writers get inspiration for the Halloween specials from old horror stories, but recently, the writers tried to conceive of their own stories instead of creating more parodies.[7] Also, when the Moroccan salesman tries to warn Homer Simpson, saying "You'll be sorry", the animators forgot to move his lips. They only realized their error after the broadcast, so they decided not to change it.[8] While writing the segment, Sam Simon, one of the writers, wanted the fingers to go down in such an order so they would eventually have the middle finger sticking up. Once the animation would have been complete, however, they could not have gone through; Fox would have refused to air the episode. They had considered the alternative of deliberately blurring the middle finger themselves, but decided that Fox would have also refused.[9] For this episode, there were a lot of loop lines; for instance, the ending to "The Monkey's Paw" was added to the last second. As a result of the loop, they still retained Flander's old house next to his newly-created castle. In order to make the episode fill the time needed, the animators often extended the laughing time for Kang and Kodos.[9]

The second segment is based on The Twilight Zone television series episode "It's a Good Life."[10] That episode had also inspired the third segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie, which starred Nancy Cartwright in her debut feature film role.[11] The segment parodies the naration of The Twilight Zone, and the producers were pleased with Harry Shearer's portrayal of Rod Serling.[7] In addition, though it took a long time, the design of the monster version of Snowball II by Rich was greatly enjoyed by the producers, who thought it looked "just hideous, just right".[5] Bart's prank call Moe was thought of by John Swartzwelder, one of the writers; however, Hank Azaria detested the line.[6] According to George Meyer, the animation for when Bart sits up, screaming, was extremely tough, especially to make the mouthlines natural.[6]

In the third segment, Burns and Smithers go down to the lab during Homer's nightmare. The animators decided to make the animation a bit more impressive, and decided to do the concave and convex images of Burns and Smithers. Even though it was tough and took up more time, the producers felt that it was a necessary tour-de-force.[3] Originally, Homer's robotic voice was done post-animation in order to avoid stress on the voice actor. One of the writers who created the Davy Crockett joke thought it was so funny that he actually mimicked the actions of Mr. Burns putting on Homer's brain in the writing room; the producers thought that it was hilarious, so they decided to add it into the episode.[3]

Cultural referencesEdit

In the opening sequence of the episode, the Peanuts gang scurry by as trick-or-treaters, à la It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.[12] Marge's hair in the opening segment recalls Elsa Lanchester's character in Bride of Frankenstein.[12] The plot of Lisa's nightmare is a reference to W. W. Jacobs's short story The Monkey's Paw, and The New Twilight Zone episode "A Small Talent for War".[12][13] Near the beginning of the segment, Moroccan soldiers stop and search the Simpsons, finding souvenirs taped to Homer's body which he was attempting to smuggle out of the country. This is a reference to the opening drug-smuggling scene of the film Midnight Express.[5][10] A billboard advertisement with Bart saying "Get a Mammogram, Man!" can be seen. This was a meta-reference to Bart's popular slogan "Don't have a cow, man!"[3][13]

The plot of Bart's nightmare is a parody of The Twilight Zone episode "It's a Good Life",[10] which was remade as part of Twilight Zone: The Movie.[12] Jasper's transformation into a dog is a reference to the 1978 remake of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.[8] The scene in which Homer goes out with Bart during Bart's nightmare to spend time with the boy, as well as the music accompanying the scene, parody an old anti-smoking public service announcement, while the church layout was taken from a Norman Rockwell painting.[9]

Homer's nightmare is based on much of the film Frankenstein, and the end references The Thing with Two Heads.[10] While Mr. Burns scoops out Homer's brain, he hums the tune of "If I Only Had a Brain" which is sung by the Scarecrow in The Wizard of Oz. Burns also calls the robot that had Homer's brain a "clinking, clattering cacophany of colligenous cogs and camshafts", similar to the Wizard's line to the Tin Man: "You clinking, clanking, clattering collection of colligenous junk!"[12] In Homer's nightmare, The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson is broadcast on a TV.[10] When Mr. Burns puts on Homer's brain, he says "Look at me! I'm Davy Crockett", a reference to Crockett's popular image as a frontierman who wore a hat of raccoon fur.[3]

ReceptionEdit

In its original airing on the Fox Network, the episode had a 12.1 Nielsen rating and was viewed in approximately 11.14 million homes. It finished the week ranked 39th. It was the highest rated show on Fox the week it aired, tied with In Living Color.[14]

The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood praised the episode as "A marked improvement on the first, uneven Hallowe'en special. All three tales succeed, with Bart's nightmare of gaining awesome powers being perhaps the most successful".[12] Bill Gibron of DVD Verdict lauded the episode for having "wonderfully wild moments", especially "the parody of The Twilight Zone's 'It's a Good Life,' with Bart in the place of Billy Mumy's omnipresent monster". He gave the episode a score of 90 out of 100 a possible score.[15] DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson critiqued the episode as "not so hot their first couple of years", though he admitted that "the 1991 incarnation does top the original from 1990". However, he thought that "None of the three stories stands out as particularly excellent, though the monkey’s paw one probably works the best. Chalk up this episode as a decent Halloween set".[16] He thought the best quote was “Damn it Smithers, this isn’t rocket science. It’s brain surgery!"[16]

In 2006, IGN published a list of the top ten Treehouse of Horror segments, and they placed the third segment at number eight. They wrote, "'Treehouse of Horror II' contained three quality segments, but [the third] was easily the best. Featuring a story reminiscent to Frankenstein, this episode made us laugh from beginning to end with Homer's crazy antics. [...] The humor that is derived from the multiple movie and literary parodies was enough to leave a last impression on us as an audience - and who doesn't like a robot whose primary function is to find donuts?"[17] Writing for the Star Tribune, Neal Justin rated the episode as the one of his ten favorite episodes, writing, "The annual Halloween specials glow because all the rules are thrown out, never with more ingenuity than in this second installment."[18] The episode's reference to Midnight Express was named the 18th greatest film reference in the history of the show by Total Film's Nathan Ditum.[19]

The episode was nominated for two Primetime Emmy Awards: Outstanding Individual Achievement in Sound Mixing for a Comedy Series or a Special and Alf Clausen for Outstanding Music Composition for a Series.[20]

CastEdit

Voice actor Character
Dan Castellaneta Homer Simpson
Barney Gumble
Krusty the Clown
Groundskeeper Willie
Mayor Quimby
Kodos
Others
Julie Kavner Marge Simpson
Nancy Cartwright Bart Simpson
Kearney
Others
Yeardley Smith Lisa Simpson
Hank Azaria Moe Szyslak
Apu
Lou
Others
Harry Shearer Montgomery Burns
Waylon Smithers
Ned Flanders
Kent Brockman
Principal Skinner
Otto
Kang
Jasper
Eddie
Dr. Marvin Monroe
Others
Maggie Roswell Helen Lovejoy
Others
Marcia Wallace Edna Krabappel
Others

ReferencesEdit

  1. Treehouse of Horror II. TheSimpsons.com. Retrieved on 2010-03-20.
  2. Template:Cite book
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 Groening, Matt. (2003). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror II", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Jean, Al. (2004). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror III", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 Reardon, Jim. (2003). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror II", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Jean, Al. (2003). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror II", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  7. 7.0 7.1 Reiss, Mike. (2003). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror II", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Martin, Jeff. (2003). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror II", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Castellaneta, Dan. (2003). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror II", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Template:Cite book
  11. Template:Cite book
  12. 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). The Simpsons Hallowe'en Special II. BBC. Retrieved on 2008-06-24.
  13. 13.0 13.1 Template:Cite book
  14. "CBS predicts ratings victory for season", South Florida Sun-Sentinel (1991-11-30). 
  15. Gibron, Bill (2005-02-23). The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season. DVD Verdict. Retrieved on 2009-05-26.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Jacobson, Colin (August 21, 2003). The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season (1991). DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved on 2009-06-06.
  17. Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian (2008-10-28). Top 10 Segments from The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror. IGN. Retrieved on 2008-10-29.
  18. Justin, Neal (Friday, January 28, 2000). "Homer's odyssey - What a long, strange trip it's been for TV's longest-running sitcom, "The Simpsons." Here are 10 of our favorite stops along the way.", Star Tribune. 
  19. Ditum, Nathan (June 6, 2009). "The 50 Greatest Simpsons Movie References", Total Film. Retrieved on 22 July 2009. 
  20. Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search. Primetime Emmy Awards. Retrieved on 2010-03-20.

External linksEdit

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror

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See also: Halloween of Horror

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