In between releases of the season box sets, Fox has decided to keep the interest alive and the money rolling in by releasing four similarly themed Simpsons episodes on one disc. This time around they've turned their attention to the ever popular Halloween Treehouse of Horror specials.
To the uninitiated these specials are made up of three mini-episodes with totally bizarre scenarios and brilliant spoofs of films past and present. But don't worry, they're not at all scary so you should be able to manage watching them from the sofa rather than behind it.
Treehouse of Horror V
When Mr. Burns asks Homer and his family to look after a lodge for the winter, to make sure he does the job properly he disconnects the television and removes all the beer. So with these temptations out of the way its only a matter of time before Homer goes mad and attempts to kill his family in The Shinning.
When a toaster gets repeatedly, and mysteriously, stuck on Homers hand he decides to fix it in a manner only he could do - by turning it into a time travelling machine. In Time and Punishment homer travels backwards and forwards in time with each journey altering the future in subtle ways. Although this is not a complete Simpsons episode, this is in far my most favourite episode ever and has me in stitches every time I see it.
Finally, in Nightmare Cafeteria Bart and Lisa discover that with cafeteria funds low, Principal Skinner has started serving up the students for lunch. As the staff get fatter and the number of students fewer in number, its up to the pair to stop Skinner before they end up in the blender.
Treehouse of Horror VI
When Homer steals a giant metal donut from an advertising icon during an electrical storm he unwittingly unleashes their wraith as the icons come alive and set about demolishing Springfield. In Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores no one is safe, and with a fifty foot metal donut in the living room its only a matter of time before someone comes knocking.
When groundskeepers Willie is killed in an accident at school he vows revenge so in Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace he returns from the grave to invade the dreams of the school children. Again, it is up to Bart and Lisa to save the day whilst all around them are being murdered in their dreams.
Whilst attempting to avoid an evening with Patty and Selma homer hides behind a bookcase only to discover the route into another dimension. In Homer3, Homer enters a 3-D world of computer animation and, in true Simpson form, soon lays waste to this strange and wonderful land.
Treehouse of Horror VII
If you thought Bart was just a mischievous little imp with a zest for life, then perhaps there's a more sinister reason behind it. In The Thing and I Bart comes face to face with his evil twin brother Hugo who lives in the loft and is only given fish heads to eat.
With an exhibition looming at school Lisa is desperate for her science experiment "will cola rot a tooth?" to succeed. However, in The Genesis Tub she manages to create a miniature world whose tiny population revere her as a God and invent a shrinking ray to bring her to their world. Naturally, Bart the destroyer is on the war path.
When Homer is kidnapped by aliens he unwittingly gives the aliens an idea on how to conquer the world. In "Mr. Kang Goes to Washington" aliens Kang and Kodos assume the identities of Bill Clinton and Bob Dole and wait for America to vote one of them into the White House. With Homer the only hope for mankind you'd better start learning Martian.
Treehouse of Horror XII
When the Simpsons visit a gypsy it doesn't take long for Homer to wreck her office and ruin her career. So in "Hex and the City" it only seems fair that the gypsy returns the favour by placing a curse on Homer and everyone he loves. There's only one thing for it, they've got to find an Irish imp to remove the curse.
Marge is offered an opportunity she just can't refuse in "House of Whacks". A super computer is installed at the Simpsons house which prepares all the food, does the washing and analyses just about everything going on in the house. Unfortunately, it has taken a shine to Marge and attempts to kill Homer and take over as the love of her life.
It's Harry Potter tribute time in Wiz Kids. Bart and Lisa are students at the school for wizards and, as usual, Bart hasn't been doing his homework and when asked to turn a frog into a handsome prince he manages to produce a ugly frogman which keeps vomiting over everything. Never the less, his insubordination has not gone unnoticed by the evil Lord Montymort.
The menu is a static and boring affair with each episode selected via an extremely annoying menu system. Although each episode is clearly visible, to select a particular episode from the list you have to navigate through each of the "Play", "Setup" and "Chapter Selection" options before highlighting the next menu. This soon becomes rather tedious, unless of course you play the disc on your computers DVD-ROM and select the option directly.
Yet again, Fox feel that it is unnecessary to supply a "Play all" option. Come on guys, its about time you got with the programme. With an average running time it would be more than feasible to sit and watch this disc in one sitting, and with collection of gems it is sure to happen more often than not. It becomes quite annoying to keep having to select an episode, especially via the hideous menu system.
The extras can hardly be classed as ground breaking with only a short "featurette" on those loveable aliens Kang and Kodos. Although it is just another collection of clips, with some of their finest moments still missing or cut short, it is still the best set of character profiles so far.
Whilst these episodes will ultimately overlap with the box-sets there are still a few occasions when these discs become more attractive to the casual Simpsons viewer. From its introduction in season two, the Simpsons Halloween specials are guaranteed to be one of the highlights of the season. By having four of these specials on one disc you'll be overloaded with mirth and merriment.
This disc has to be the best in the collection so far. The only question would have to be the strange selection of episodes. With the first special appearing in the season two box-set and specials V, VI, VII and XII on this disc, what happened to the ones in between? Answers on a postcard...
- Kang and Kodos Finest Moments