After a surprising and largely unsuccessful revival of the traditional tombstone gags, The Simpsons Halloween special XXIX invokes the spirit of the Great Old Ones to introduce 2018’s trilogy of terror. It’s Homer who ends up answering the call of Cthulu only to challenge the Priest of the Old Ones to an eating contest. It doesn’t end well for R’lyeh’s most famous resident.
Intrusion Of The Pod-y Switchers
“You know, my feelings haven’t dissolved yet, Lou.”
You have to admire the degree of effort it requires to take something as timelessly relevant as “Invasion Of The Body Snatchers” and somehow make it feel less topical even when you kick it off with a hackneyed reference to people’s addictions to mobile devices. In fact, the writers can’t help but draw attention to their own shortcomings using Comic Book Guy as an unironic self-critique. Again, it’s another parody that just stops rather than ends and when the most fun things in your supposedly funny story are references to other, funnier things (“Futurama”, “The Orville” and “Disenchantment” all get a nod alongside vintage “Simpsons” episodes) it’s probably time to have a good long think about whether you really had anything interesting or amusing to say about screen addiction (or “Invasions Of The Body Snatchers”) at all.
“Is there anything punching can’t do?”
Having suffered too many indignities to count, Lisa has finally snapped in this tribute to M Night Shyamalan’s “Split“. Now Yeardley Smith is no James McAvoy. There’s a reason why she’s the only main cast member who rarely voices anyone apart from her main role and so Lisa’s various ‘personalities’ tend to sound very, very samey. Little effort is made to differentiate them visually either, but that’s probably because there are no good ideas of what the various personalities are about. The dark source material doesn’t lend itself easily to parody and so the jokes are thin on the ground which probably goes some way to explaining why this story too just grinds abruptly to a halt.
“If you are currently egg-laying, or expect to be egg-laying, consult your palaeontologist.”
The elderly residents aren’t the only thing that feel old and tired about this years-too-late spoof of “Jurassic Park” and “Jurassic World“. It’s another example of taking a recognisable property, fitting it to a weak and unoriginal pun (the joke is lifted wholesale from “Naked Gun 33⅓”) and then doing very little but reskinning the existing characters to recycle the same old jokes that the series has, by this point, been trading on for decades. The great tragedy here, of course, is that “The Simpsons” already did this parody, 65 million times better back in Season 6’s brilliant “Itchy & Scratchy Land” episode.
The animation might be the best its ever been but The Simpsons Halloween Special XXIX is the perfect summary of everything which plagues the series’ recent writing quality.