It’s another leadenly ‘topical’ opening for this Simpsons Halloween Special as Homer attempts to vote in a hilariously rigged satirical version of the 2008 Presidential Election. Ah, nothing like looking back at complacent comedy from the vantage point of 12 years later.

Untitled Robot Parody

“Now that we are not fighting each other, we can team up to enslave your planet.”

The Simpsons Untitled Robot Parody

One of those Simpsons Halloween tales that’s funnier in concept than it ends up being in execution. It’s Bart who sets things in motion this time with another unwelcome bout of meanness to a family member; a trait which was becoming all too common in the series by this point. With the Michael Bay movies there for the taking, this toothlessly tame and generic spoof feels like a lazy letdown. The robot names are conspicuously risque for little pay-off (“Three-way” and “Sex Toy” indicate the general level of effort), some of the voice performances are a series low and the ending is as unsatisfying as it is abrupt.

How To Get Ahead In Dead-vertising

“Hey hey kids! Your old pal Krusty’s gonna teach you five new words: unlicensed use of my image!”

The Simpsons How To Get Ahead In Dead-vertising

The second story brings a marked improvement, from it’s on-point “Mad Men” opening titles to its satirising of the rampant commercialism of using the likenesses of celebrities. This is another of those rare “Treehouse Of Horror” tales which probably could have sustained a whole episode. As it is, it feels a bit rushed and the heaven-sent ending is something of an awkward tonal shift but it holds together pretty well.

It’s The Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse

“All pumpkins are racist. The difference is I admit it.”

The Simpsons It's The Grand Pumpkin, Milhouse

Some nicely observed spoofing of the “Peanuts” cartoons eventually segues into a sharper trolling of Halloween traditions themselves. Milhouse makes for a good Linus substitute and Homer’s brief moment as Snoopy is inspired but this vignette saves its best gags for the Grand Pumpkin’s horror at how his brethren are treated by the townsfolk.

Simpsons score 7


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