Everyone knows that The Simpsons is well past its prime (and has been for more than a decade), but every year the show's writers get a chance to spill some blood in Springfield during the annual "Treehouse of Horror" Halloween special. And every year I get excited about it, even though I know it will be "just okay." After all, "Treehouse of Horror" has run once a year for 22 years now—it's one of TV's greatest traditions, like the Times Square ball drop on New Year's Eve or the Detroit Lions getting blown out at home on Thanksgiving.
This year's episode, "Treehouse of Horror XXII," featured an opening sketch followed by three stories, and it got progressively worse or better as it went on, depending on how much you like farts. Pretty much par for the course. So let's see how each story did and give it a candy grade based on performance.
The kids returned from a night of trick-or-treating with bags full of candy, only to see Marge swap the sweets for items you get at the dentist. Homer was supposed to donate the candy to a Candy for Troops campaign, but drove off to the desert to feast on it instead. He ended up with his arm trapped under a rock in a 127 Hours spoof, and soon Homer was chewing off his limbs because the bag of candy was juuuuuust out of reach. It was a good start for the episode, and I particularly enjoyed watching Maggie pop out of Bart's chest as a baby alien and Homer gnawing off the wrong limbs. Good stuff, but probably only because it didn't need a middle or end.
Candy Grade: Not bad. Sweettarts and fun-size Milky Way bars. No mint-flavored Aero bars, though. Have you had a mint Aero bar? They're the BEST. This is not up for debate.
The Diving Bell and the Butterball
I found this sketch to be simultaneously awesome and terrible because I have the maturity of a 6-year old and the intelligence of an average man. It started off parodying one of the best foreign films of the last ten years, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly—a touching and imaginative movie about a man who learns to communicate despite being unable to move anything but his eyelids. Homer found himself in a similar position after being bitten by a spider, but instead of blinking, his communicated by farting. And farting. And farting. Despite realizing that it was completely stupid, I secretly giggled every time Homer pushed methane. Hey, you're either all in or you're not. At one point Marge hushed Homer's butt, which was funny, but the sketch took a bizarre turn when Homer suffered another spider bite and became a paralyzed Spider-Man, swinging around Springfield and stopping crime despite not being able to move. I commend this sketch for saying "F**k it" and going completely absurd. But really, how did this make it to air?
Candy Grade: A head of lettuce. Because that would be a pretty weird thing to get on Halloween, and this sketch was bizonkers.
Dial D For Diddly
Seeing Ned Flanders go on murderous rampages is never dull. Like "The Diving Bell and the Butterball," "Dial D for Diddly" seemed like it started with half an idea and got all the way to three-quarters of an idea by the time it was done. Homer pretended to be God and commanded Flanders to kill his enemies, so Quimby ended up dismembered, Mr. Burns had his head cut off, Snake got stoned to death in a museum, Patty and Selma were squashed, Wile E. Coyote-style, and Sideshow Bob met his end via newspaper headline. The tone was all over the place, and ultimately, God killed Homer because he was Satan's servant, or something like that. There were also Taxi Driver and Dexter references, plus a strong smell of crack emanating from the writers' room.
Candy Grade: A Giant Gobstopper. Started off good, but got boring very quick. But we couldn't just spit it out because we'd made a commitment.
In the Na'Vi
An Avatar spoof that came about two years too late. This sketch had no redeeming qualities and should be erased from the minds of all Simpsons fans immediately. Couldn't it have at least squeezed in a Terra Nova joke?
Candy Grade: Whatever is the worst candy on the planet. Smarties?
Another Halloween, another "Treehouse of Horror." What did you think?
Follow TV.com writer Tim Surette on Twitter: @TimAtTVDotCom