The Simpsons, Season Seven, Episode Six, “Treehouse Of Horror VI”

I always enjoy how the “Treehouse” stories can do three different things with its three different shorts. “Attack Of The Fifty-Foot Eyesores” is one of the more deliciously satirical “Treehouse” shorts; there have been other satirical shorts, but I really love how this one explores advertising. Homer has always been susceptible to it, and in this case the plot is kicked off by him taking an advertisement too literally, which is both true to Homer and true to people in general, making it a great setup for a Tales From The Crypt horror story of the “punishing an annoying flaw with ridiculous fantasy consequences” variety – though of course in true Simpsions tradition, trying to resolve the moral failure does nothing to restore order. I also love how the problem is solved by taking a principle of advertising – if you don’t pay attention, it disappears – in a more literal direction. The fact that the stories have to be so short means the beats are slammed through so quickly that they don’t really have time to be subtle – or, if you prefer, frees the show up to be absolutely in-your-face about its points, no lingering on character beats, no need to be plausible, just letting the world operate by the rules it apparently does.

“Nightmare On Evergreen Terrace” is a more traditional film parody, riffing on Nightmare On Elm Street (and slightly warping Groundskeeper Willie to do so, giving him Freddy Kreuger’s puns). I haven’t actually seen those movies, so I can’t comment on how it takes on the series, but from the point of view of the show, it’s a chance for the horror shorts to lean in on the horror a bit; Martin’s death is gruesome, and Skeleton Willie genuinely freaked me out as a kid, all the moreso when they go into closeup of his molten eyes – though the hilarious final punchline was enough to kill my fear of him (“Come back! I left me gun on the seat!”). I also enjoy how it lets the series go off-style a little bit – Bart’s dream (predictably and hilariously) works exactly like the cartoons he watches all day, with impressionistic painted backgrounds as opposed to the hard lines and colours the show normally works with. And, of course, there’s the single satirical beat in how Willie’s death is caused by the bureaucratic/democratic mess that is the PTA. I always enjoy when a kids’ adventure is solved through cleverness like this, too.

“Hom³r” could have just been a spectacular demonstration of a new computer animation technology (about a month before the release of Toy Story), and it kind of is that, but it’s also fascinating as both an eerie mood piece and an expression of a common fantasy. Homer’s predicament is set off by literally trying to escape an ordinary bit of monotony, and I know from stories as old as Alice In Wonderland and as recent as Digimon Adventure that I’m not the only one who had fantasies of stepping through a mystery wall as a kid. The CG effects are also just generally creepy and alien; it obviously doesn’t help that Homer and Bart were designed to be rendered in 2D, but the whole environment is unsettling and alien in ways that still work decades after the computers used to render them are old enough to have crossed from obsolete to endearingly antique. I think it’s because the CG doubles down on making everything as ‘computery’ as possible. Homer is a stylised character exploring a world that’s even more stylised than he is, so the apocalypse he accidentally sets in motion can still feel terrifying. It also, of course, gives opportunity to make jokes about the ‘fabled third dimension’. 

Chalkboard Gag: N/A
Couch Gag: The family come in hanging.

This episode was written by John Swartzwelder, Steve Tompkins, and David S Cohen. Swartzwelder had previously worked at an advertising agency. Originally, Homer would have entered several different dimensions, but it was decided to cut the story down to something simpler. David Mirken directed the live action segment, and was very disappointed with the result. Bart’s model was based on the vinyl Bart dolls. 

“Attack Of The Fifty Foot Eyesores” is a reference to Attack Of The Fifty Foot Woman, with some Godzilla thrown in. Several of the mascots reference real mascots. “Nightmare On Evergreen Terrace” is, as said, a parody of Nightmare On Elm Street. Willies bagpipe spider is a reference to the same creature in The Goodies. “Hom³r” is a parody of the Twilight Zone episode “Little Girl Lost”. Homer’s 3D world has multiple references to math shit I’m honestly not smart enough to get or explain. A Utah Teapot is floating around the background. Homer references A Brief History Of Time by Stephen Hawking, and tries to explain his situation with the movie Tron. The apocalyptic vortex is a reference to the opening credits of The Black Hole.

Iconic Moments: “Lousy Smarch weather.”
Biggest Laugh:

0102

Lock your doors, bar your windows, because the next link to my Ko-Fi could destroy your house and eat your family. We’ll be right back.