Our reviews of Christmas With The Simpsons (published October 30th, 2003), The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (published September 19th, 2001), The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season (published December 15th, 2003), The Simpsons: The Complete Fourth Season (published July 12th, 2004), The Simpsons: The Complete Fifth Season (published February 23rd, 2005), The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (published August 29th, 2005), The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (published January 16th, 2006), The Simpsons: The Complete Eighth Season (published August 21st, 2006), The Simpsons: The Complete Ninth Season (published January 22nd, 2007), The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season (published August 29th, 2007), The Simpsons: The Complete Thirteenth Season (Blu-Ray) (published September 6th, 2010), The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season (Blu-ray) (published December 19th, 2011), The Simpsons: The Complete Fifteenth Season (published December 24th, 2012), The Simpsons: The Complete Twentieth Season (Blu-Ray) (published January 21st, 2010), The Simpsons: Bart Wars (published June 30th, 2005), The Simpsons Christmas 2 (published December 24th, 2004), The Simpsons Gone Wild (published December 8th, 2004), The Simpsons: Kiss And Tell (published March 29th, 2006), The Simpsons: The Complete Twelfth Season (published September 9th, 2009), and The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season (published December 22nd, 2011) are also available.
"Whoa! This is an intense acid flashback!"
Next to It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown, The Simpsons' Treehouse of Horror is the most anticipated treat of the Halloween season. But beware boys and ghouls. Fox has pulled somewhat of a trick on us, an unsuspecting buying public.
From the opening credits of October 25, 1990's episode "The Treehouse of Horror," it was clear the world had found a new Halloween icon. "Bad Dream House," "Hungry are the Damned," and "The Raven" are three brilliantly crafted tales capturing the best elements of The Twilight Zone, Outer Limits, and Alfred Hitchcock Presents, injecting them into the Simpsons' universe. Providing the ultimate freedom to the series creative team, all bets were off and anything was fair game. The end result is an animated masterpiece that will live on for generations.
As the years went by, the staff would attempt to raise the bar set by their predecessors—and amazingly, they did. Year after year, the writers would draw upon centuries of historical and pop culture references to craft some truly unforgettable Simpsons moments, including the annual return of Springfield's favorite alien beings, Kang and Kodos. Despite the occasional dud, the Treehouse tradition remains strong as must see holiday viewing.
That's the treat. Now here's the trick. Borrowing a page from the Warner Brothers marketing handbook, Fox has seen fit to include only four of the series' 13 Treehouse episodes—and not even the best ones at that.
"Treehouse of Horror V" (original airdate: 10/30/94)
"Treehouse of Horror VI" (original airdate: 10/29/95)
"Treehouse of Horror VII" (original airdate: 10/27/96)
"Treehouse of Horror XII" (original airdate: 11/06/01)
If the idea was to release a collection, why not include Treehouse V-XIII? Or go one better and create a collection of all 13 episodes? As a fan of the series and the Treehouse artistry, I would have preferred seeing a more well thought out product, if not a complete collection. Perhaps once the series ends, Fox will reconsider.
Presented in 1.33:1 full frame, the transfer is remarkably good. Having been subjected to syndicated reruns for quite some time, the source material has been returned to its original glory, free from grisly grit and grain, with shockingly vibrant colors, eerily deep dark blacks, and little evidence of dastardly digital enhancement or terrifying tampering. The full range of the enhanced Dolby 2.0 stereo track is used only sparingly, as evidenced in "Time and Punishment" and "Homer3." However, it does serve well to spotlight the spectacular scoring of composer Alf Clausen, whose work on the series now rivals the legendary Carl Stalling, the lord of Looney Tunes.
One final disappointment here is the afterthought inclusion of any substantive bonus features. Why Fox even included a three minute montage of Kang and Kodos clips defies explanation. If you are going to do that, why not compile a clip fest of every Halloween and horror reference ever made during the series previous 14 seasons? Fox could have also easily included the original "Treehouse of Horror" along with its respective commentary released with Season Two—or go the extra mile and produce a quick retrospective on the genesis and evolution of this annual event. Again, we can only hope these things will be considered at some point down the road.
Any diehard Simpsons fan is likely to have the entire "Treehouse" collection recorded on VHS. There is absolutely nothing here that would warrant spending $14.95. My recommendation is to hold onto that videotape until the entire collection is available. For everyone else, if you and your family were looking to supplement your Halloween viewing material, a rental would be quite appropriate. Just don't buy it.
The Simpsons and their creative team are found not guilty and free to create as many "Treehouse" episodes as they so desire. However, Fox marketing is hereby sentenced to spend the next 25 Halloweens watching Halloween is Grinch Night until they fully understand their poor decision making.
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Scales of Justice
• Kang & Kodos Clip Montage (3:00)
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