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"Treehouse of Horror X" is the tenth annual Halloween episode of The Simpsons, consisting of three self-contained segments. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on Halloween 1999, and was notably the last Treehouse of Horror episode to air in time for the holiday until 2009's "Treehouse of Horror XX".

SynopsisEdit

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Everyone is what they were in the previous Halloween specials (except Lisa).

In the opening scene, Kang and Kodos introduce a variety show, with a live audience consisting of aliens. While they tell jokes, canned laughter is played, but the audience appears unamused. The Simpson family sits on the couch, with Homer appearing as the jack-in-the-box from "Treehouse of Horror II", Marge as the witch from "Treehouse of Horror VIII", Bart as the half-fly mutant from "Treehouse of Horror VIII". Maggie is the alien/human mutant from "Treehouse of Horror IX" and Lisa is the victim of an axe murder. Lisa then asks what aliens have to do with Halloween, and Maggie, in Kang's voice, says, "Silence!", and disintegrates her with a ray gun.

I Know What You Diddily-Iddly-DidEdit

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Treehouse of Horror X

On a foggy evening with a full moon, The Simpsons are driving down a road until Marge accidentally smashes into Ned Flanders, killing him. The next day, Homer climbs to the top of his house with Ned's body, calling down to Maude in her front yard "Hey Maude! Look who's helping me clean the chimney! Maude replies "Oh, I'm so relieved! Whenever you go on one of your late night fog-walks I get so worried" Homer voices Ned, moving him like a puppet "Relax, I'm fine, but when I do die, I don't want any autopsies!". Maude then goes indoors when her pies are finally done. At the same time, Homer throws Ned off the roof, whose corpse lands on the dog house, Homer mutters "Oh, she missed it!". Homer dumps Ned's corpse in his house, waiting to hear Maude's horrified scream. Shortly after Ned's funeral, the Simpsons return home, Homer gloating about how easy it was to get away with murder and attempts to drive over Milhouse ("I never liked that little weiner Milhouse."), with Marge stopping him. The family then discovers that someone knows that they murdered Ned, writing "I know what you did" on their front door. Late at night, the Simpsons are sitting on the couch, when the phone rings. Homer answers it and a male voice says "I know you're alone." The voice turns out to be Moe, who was trying to call Maude Flanders, but mistakingly dialed Homer. A thunderclap fills the their living room with light, showing that the inside of the house is covered in the phrase "I know what you did". After a confrontation with a mysterious cloaked figure wielding a butcher's hook, the Simpsons flee their house. They get into the car but discover that its covered in the same phrase. They escape the figure but the car runs out of gas after Homer prays for God to save his life. As the figure closes in Homer tells them to hide in various places. He tells Marge to hide in an old abandoned amusement park, Lisa to hide in the pet cemetery, Bart to hide in the spooky roller disco, and that he will skinny-dip in the lake where sexy teenagers were killed exactly one hundred years ago. And the figure catches them. They then discover that Ned Flanders was their assailant. Ned was not killed by the accident and he tells them, by an incredibly coincidence, he had been bitten by a werewolf moments before Marge hit him, and werewolves are near impossible to kill. Lisa then puts together that Ned was going to kill them, and they all laugh. As the clouds drift past the moon, its luminous light engulfs Ned's body and he rips off his clothes as he is now werewolf Flanders. The family flees down the street while Ned mauls Homer to death, with Homer still mocking him "Ooow! Ah... (Flanders struggles to pack Homer into his mouth) eyes bigger than your stomach, eh wolfie? Heh heh... OWWW! Oh God, no!" The title and most of the plot is an obvious reference to I Know What You Did Last Summer.

Desperately Xeeking XenaEdit

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Marge takes Bart and Lisa to Springfield Elementary, where Chief Wiggum is running a portable X-ray machine to inspect children's candy. Whilst inspecting his son Ralph's candy, he tells them what the candy really contains "safe, safe, razor blade, syringe, oh white chocolate!" As Nelson's extremely bulky pillowcase of goodies is being scanned, the X-ray machine inevitably explodes. Before the explosion, Bart does not duck down to avoid it, and only stares in awe. Lisa stands up to try to get him to get down. The machine explodes, knocking Bart into a gym wall and Lisa into a book case, which collapses on top of her, much to Principal Skinner's horror, as Lisa's grades qualify the school for grants. The subsequent exposure to radiation gives Lisa extraordinary strength, allowing her to pick up the book case. Bart gains the ability to stretch any part of his body. They become a superhero duo, calling themselves "Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl".

In their first "adventure", Lucy Lawless addresses fans at a science fiction convention. Comic Book Guy, who has styled himself as a villain called "The Collector", kidnaps her using a magnet to attract her metal breast plate. Lawless goes to remove the breastplate, but when hundreds of fans raise their camera's to photograph her breasts she stops with a statement of "Maybe later." He takes her to his lair, where he puts her in an aluminized PET film bag for "safekeeping" and imprisons her in a room of other similarly-captured celebrities such as Yasmine Bleeth and Tom Baker. Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl burst into The Collector's hideout, but he manages to knock Clobber Girl out with a working phaser gun that was fired only once to prevent William Shatner from releasing another album. He wastes all his remaining shots on Stretch Dude, who splits in half and does somersaults to avoid the rays. The Collector hurls his empty raygun at Stretch Dude, hitting him on the forehead and knocking him out as well. He suspends the drowsy duo over a vat of bubbling Lucite, slowly lowering them towards certain doom and mocks them "Goodnight Retch Dude & Slobber Girl. Sweet screams!". Lucy Lawless, still in her plastic restraint, lures the Collector over by pretending to be attracted to him. When he's close enough she grabs his lips and then attacks him with Kung Fu moves. Stating that he fell for a "ruse so hackneyed, it would make Stan Lee blush!", the Collector grabs his limited edition double edged lightsaber from Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace and ignites the blades. Lucy reminds him that he has removed it from its original packaging and it is now no longer a collectible. He backs away in horror and plummets into the vat, eventually emerging to strike a dramatic death pose (imitating a Lorne Greene pose from Battlestar Galactica) before the plastic hardens around him. Lawless flies Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl home to safety on her back. Clobber Girl is confused, and points out that Xena can't fly. Lucy responds that she isn't Xena; she's Lucy Lawless. This explanation satisfies Clobber Girl and the trio fly away to a reprise of the 'Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl' theme tune.

Life's a Glitch, Then You DieEdit

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On December 31, 1999, Dick Clark celebrates his New Year's Rockin' Eve in Springfield instead of Times Square. Homer, the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant's Y2K compliance officer, confidently declares that he fixed every computer at the power plant. Unfortunately, Homer didn't fix his own computer, which creates the computer virus that spreads rapidly to other systems all over the world. As Dick Clark's New Year's ball drops and hits "1998", the computer display reads "1900". Within minutes, Dick melts to death (he is shown to be a robot) and chaos breaks out as airplanes crash, appliances explode, malfunction and turn evil, including the Springfield Revolving Restaurant's Sit 'n' Rotate room dislodging from its stand and flying off, presumably into space. A widespread looting soon begins and as the family roams the streets observing the damage (including traffic lights that shoot multi-colored beam blasts), Krusty's pacemaker sets itself to hummingbird speed and he collapses in front of them. A letter in Krusty's pocket states that a rocket is being populated with humanity's "best & brightest" and will be launched shortly in an effort to preserve human civilization on Mars. When they reach the shuttle, Homer unsuccessfully attempts to bluff his way on board (claiming to be the piano genius from the movie Shine), but the armed guard recognizes Lisa as having a seat reserved on the craft, knowing that she's the ship's proofreader. Lisa is only able to take one parent with her, and she quickly chooses Marge, who then takes Maggie along. Homer and Bart soon find a second, unguarded rocket nearby and climb on board just before it launches. However, they quickly notice that this ship is filled with Ross Perot, Dan Quayle, Tonya Harding, Al Sharpton, Courtney Love, Spike Lee, Tom Arnold, Pauly Shore, Rosie O'Donnell and Dr. Laura and the like: it is deliberately set for a collision course with the sun. Unable to bear the short trip to oblivion with the B-list celebrities, Homer and Bart eject themselves into the vacuum of space, where they sigh in relief as their heads swell up onscreen and explode offscreen while the rocket heads towards the sun.

ProductionEdit

"Treehouse of Horror X" was directed by Pete Michels and written by Donick Cary, Tim Long and Ron Hauge. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on Halloween, 1999.[1] "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did" was conceived and written by former staff writer Cary. In the DVD commentary for the episode, Cary said that he came up with the segment after watching the 1997 horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer. "I had just seen the movie and I was like, 'Hey, there you go.'" he said.[2] While Flanders serves as the segment's antagonist, the role would originally go to Grampa,[3] who would chase Homer inside a roller disco. While Grampa does not appear in the segment, the Springfield Roller Disco is seen during the Simpsons escape from Flanders.[2] Despite serving as writer for the segment, Cary left the series after finishing the first draft in order to work on the animated Austin Powers series, which never came to fruition. In his absence, the writing staff rewrote the last quarter of the segment and added the revelation that Flanders is a werewolf.[2] In order to dispose of Ned Flanders' corpse, Homer throws his body into Flanders' house. After he is finished, he says "That's the end of that chapter", a phrase that Cary often uses in his everyday life. "That's just something that comes up a lot in my life is when no matter if it's a good or a bad thing, just move on" he said. "Desperately Xeeking Xena" was written by staff writer Long. At the beginning of the segment, Milhouse is seen wearing a plastic smock with a picture of Radioactive Man on it. The scene was based on an experience in Long's childhood; "I asked my mom for a Batman costume. And I got a smock that had Batman on it and said 'Batman'. It was very dispiriting" he said in the episode's DVD commentary.[4] "Stretch Dude & Clobber Girl"'s theme song was written by Long and composed by Alf Clausen. During the sequence, Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl are seen assaulting Saddam Hussein, the fifth President of Iraq. According to Long, the writing staff had a "passionate" discussion about whether the duo would be attacking Hussein or Iranian religious leader and politician Ruhollah Khomeini during the sequence.[4] Scully quipped that Hussein was chosen because "he was always asking to be on the show."[1] The segment features New Zealand actress Lucy Lawless as herself. According to Long, Lawless was very happy with the segment's script. She was especially fond of the speech she gives to The Collector, in which she mentions that she was very tall as an adolescent.[4] Lawless was directed by Scully, who commented that she was "terrific".[1] In an interview with the Hungarian online newspaper Origo, Lawless said that her part in the episode was the best experience she had guest-starring for a show. "It was really funny when the Comic Book Guy kidnapped me", she said.[5]

"Life's a Glitch, Then You Die" was written and conceived by Hauge. In DVD commentary for the episode, Hauge stated that, when writing the segment, he knew it would not age well. "I was aware of it at the time, that it wouldn't last forever" he said, "But I wanted to capture that moment."[6] According to director Michels, the rocket which transported the "best and brightest" of the population was drawn to resemble a popsicle.[3] The Simpsons' staff had a lot of trouble finding a guest star for the second rocket, and the only person who agreed to participate was American actor Tom Arnold. In the episode, Arnold is depicted as an annoying, "not-so-great" celebrity. Although he was mostly in on the joke, Arnold did "bust [the staff's] chops" a little bit when recording his lines. "He would say a line and then they'd yell cut and he'd look over at me and take a shot at me" Hauge said.[6] Still, Hauge found Arnold's performance "fantastic"[6] and Scully said that he was a "good sport".[1] The segment also features television personality Dick Clark as himself. A few months after the episode aired, Hauge discussed the segment with Clark in a Fox studio. According to Hauge, Clark said that the episode gave the "biggest response" he had ever gotten from anything he had ever done. "After the career that he had in television for so long, just to give him a highlight was a highlight for me" Hauge said in the episode's DVD commentary.[6]

Cultural referencesEdit

The opening segment, which shows Kang and Kodos attempting to entertain an audience of aliens, was "born out of [The Simpsons' staff's] love" of comedy teams like Martin and Lewis and the Smothers Brothers.[1] The plot of "I Know What You Diddily-Iddily-Did" is based on the 1997 horror film I Know What You Did Last Summer.[2] At the beginning of the segment, the Simpsons are seen escaping from a group of vampires. Holding a package of Sugar Sugar Crisp cereal, Homer starts singing a jingle about the cereal. Sugar Sugar Crisp is a reference to the breakfast cereal Golden Crisp, while the jingle Homer sings references "Can't get enough of that Golden Crisp", a jingle sung by Golden Crisp's mascot Sugar Bear during advertisements for the cereal. According to Scully, the series' staff had a lot of trouble clearing the song for the episode. "Apparently, they didn't want the tune [...] used in this context" he said in the episode's DVD commentary.[1]

Although there is a fictional Marvel comics character called Collector, Long did not base The Collector on him. While carrying Lawless with an electromagnet, The Collector says "Care for a Rolo, sweet Xena?" The reference was included because the writing staff were given free Rolos at the time.[4] In The Collector's lair, several celebrities are seen stored in aluminized PET film bags. Some of these include The Simpsons' co-creator Matt Groening and Tom Baker, who portrayed the fourth incarnation of the doctor in the British science fiction television series Doctor Who. "There are several Doctor Who actors but Tom Baker is the one we always go with" Hauge explained in the episode's DVD commentary.[6] Other captives include actress Yasmine Bleeth, Gilligan from the series Gilligan's Island and Spock and Seven of Nine from Star Trek.[7] The segment also features the series' first reference to Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace, when The Collector uses a mint-condition of Darth Maul's double-bladed lightsaber.[8] Because the episode was written before the film's release, the writers did not know "how bad it was gonna be" and therefore did not include any "obligatory shot" at the film.[4] As he dies, The Collector poses as Lorne Greene's character Commander Adama in the science fiction series Battlestar Galactica.[4]

Hauge based "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die" on the hysteria involving Y2K, a digital problem that occurred the night into January 1, 2000.[6] Humans escaping an unsavable Earth in rockets is a reference to the 1951 film When Worlds Collide.[7] In a scene in the segment, several celebrities, including actor Mel Gibson and former Major League Baseball player Mark McGwire, can be seen waiting in line for the first rocket.[3] They both guest starred as themselves in two earlier episodes from the season.[9][10] Others in the line include businessman Bill Gates, director Ron Howard, former President Jimmy Carter and basketball player Michael Jordan. Those on the doomed ship include actor Pauly Shore, politicians Ross Perot and Dan Quayle, singer Courtney Love and figure skater Tonya Harding.[7]

TriviaEdit

  • "Treehouse of Horror X" is the last "Treehouse of Horror" special to premiere in October, save for season 21's "Treehouse of Horror XX".
  • Up until Treehouse of Horror XXIV, this is the last Treehouse of Horror to date with a couch gag.
  • When Ned got attacked by the wolf in the bushes, his cries sounded feminine - possibly a reference to "Bart of Darkness", in which his girlish squeal was confused for Maude's.
  • After transforming into a werewolf, Ned still says "Diddly" after growling.
  • "Desperately Xeeking Xena" coined the term "A wizard did it".

Release and receptionEdit

In its original American broadcast on October 31, 1999, "Treehouse of Horror X" received an 8.6 rating, according to Nielsen Media Research, translating to approximately 8.7 million viewers. The episode finished in 34th place in the ratings for the week of October 25-31, 1999.[11] Following the episode was a rerun of "Treehouse of Horror IX", which was originally broadcast the previous year.[12] In 2000, "Treehouse of Horror X" was nominated for a CINE Golden Eagle Award, which it ultimately won.[1] It was also nominated for a Golden Reel Award in the category of "Best Sound Editing - Television Animation", which it lost to the SpongeBob SquarePants episode "Mermaid Man & Barnacle Boy".[13] On October 7, 2008, "Treehouse of Horror X" was released as part of The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season DVD set. Mike Scully, George Meyer, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Ron Hauge, Donick Cary, Tim Long, Matt Selman and Pete Michels participated in the audio commentary of the episode.[1]

Following its broadcast, "Treehouse of Horror X" received positive reviews from critics. In his review of The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season, Colin Jacobson of DVD Movie Guide wrote "Even in the series’ crummier seasons, the staff always seems to come up with a good Halloween episode", and that "Treehouse of Horror X" "continues that trend".[14] Of the three segments, Jacobson found "Life's a Glitch, Then You Die" to be the weakest. He wrote "[...] other than a good ending, it simply doesn’t have a lot going for it" and added that it is the most dated of the three.[14] He continued, "'Diddily' offers a fun horror spoof, and 'Xena' is a terrific superhero bit with plenty of cleverness."[14] DVD Talk's Ian Jane gave the episode a positive review as well. Considering it to be one of the season's best episodes, Jane wrote "This one, like so many that have come before and since, is a great blend of horror movie parody and Halloween themed fun in Springfield."[15] In 2007, Seb Patrick of Noise to Signal included "Desperately Xeeking Xena" in a list called "The Ten Best Treehouse of Horror Vignettes". Although he disliked Bart and Lisa's part in the segment, Patrick wrote that it "earns its stripes by being perhaps Comic Book Guy's finest hour".[16] He also praised the segment's references, as well as Lawless' line "A wizard did it", a phrase used to explain continuity errors.[16] In 2009, The Collector's marriage proposal to Lawless was included in "Line-O-Rama: Comic Book Guy", a compilation of what IGN considers to be The Comic Book Guy's best lines.[17]

ReferencesEdit

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Scully, Mike. (2008). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror X", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 Cary, Donick. (2008). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror X", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Michels, Pete. (2008). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror X", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 Long, Tim. (2008). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror X", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  5. Gábor, Apats (June 14, 2010). "Lucy Lawless: Annyi kardom van, hogy tele van velük a ház" (in Hungarian). Retrieved on July 17, 2011. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 Hauge, Ron. (2008). Commentary for "Treehouse of Horror X", in The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Template:Cite book
  8. Chernoff, Scott (2007-07-24). "I Bent My Wookiee! Celebrating the Star Wars/Simpsons Connection", Star Wars.com. Retrieved on 28 August 2011. 
  9. Beyond Blunderdome. The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on July 20, 2011.
  10. Brother's Little Helper. The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on July 20, 2011.
  11. Associated Press (November 4, 1999). "Quick end to series wounds NBC's ratings", Sun-Sentinel, MediaNews Group, p. 4E. Retrieved on July 17, 2011. 
  12. "Today on TV", The Deseret News, Jim M. Wall (October 31, 1999), p. S03. Retrieved on July 17, 2011. 
  13. "Past Golden Reel Awards", Motion Picture Sound Editors. Retrieved on July 19, 2011. 
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Jacobson, Colin (November 19, 2008). The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season (1999). DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved on July 19, 2011.
  15. Jane, Ian (November 1, 2008). The Simpsons - The Complete Eleventh Season. DVD Talk. Retrieved on July 19, 2011.
  16. 16.0 16.1 Patrick, Seb (October 31, 2007). The Ten Best Treehouse of Horror Vignettes. Noise to Signal. Retrieved on July 19, 2011.
  17. Schedeen, Jesse (July 29, 2009). Line-O-Rama: Comic Book Guy. IGN. Retrieved on July 19, 2011.

External linksEdit

The Simpsons Treehouse of Horror

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See also: Halloween of Horror