Spooktacular Sunday: The Simpsons’ ‘Treehouse of Horror XXV’

Screen capture from "The Simpsons" "Treehouse of Horror XXV." (Fox promo trailer)

WASHINGTON, October 17, 2014 – One of the most amusing things about being a TV critic is the annual fall arrival of eye-catching network promo packages ballyhooing new shows and new seasons.

Along with each watermarked and copyrighted preview DVD that arrives—festooned as usual with dire warnings about sharing with friends or pirating content for fun and profit—these packages frequently contain devilishly clever tricks, toys, and trinkets, all with series tie-ins.

Speaking of devilishly clever…

We’ve just viewed an advance copy of The Simpsons’ upcoming Halloween episode, “Treehouse of Horror XXV.” An annual TV trick and treat whose running title evokes memories of “Halloween XCI” and its numerous siblings, each off-the-wall Halloween episode of The Simpsons breaks the mold with surprises ranging from film and TV parodies to tons of rapid patter entertainment in-jokes.

In addition, some of these special episodes have embed animation surprises—visuals that vary considerably from the long-running animated comedy show’s long-established, primary color, two-dimensional style.

Problem is, we’re deathly afraid to tell you a whole lot about this year’s edition of “Treehouse of Horror.” Included in our DVD promo pack was a threatening and apparently authentic personal letter from those scary Rigelian space aliens, Kang and Kodos, admonishing critics to strictly avoid giving out episode spoilers.

Rare Wikipedia image of Kang and Kodos.
Rare Wikipedia image of Kang and Kodos. Beware the probe!

In addition to revealing that Kodos has inhabited the body of one of this year’s prominent U.S. Senate candidates—possibly the Senate Minority Leader—the letter warned this critic that Kang and his pal “will keep our eyes out for your review this year, with just a friendly reminder about the probe and the fact that we aren’t afraid to use it.”

We do fear the probe. We consider ourselves warned. But at least these space aliens aren’t threatening to behead us. (That’s the trademark of an entirely different tribe of space aliens.)

At any rate, we’ll try to be discreet while still giving you some idea as to what to expect this Sunday, October 19 at 8 p.m. EDT / 7 p.m. CDT on your local Fox Network channel when you tune in “Treehouse of Horror XXV.”

This year’s special episode sets its sights on a goodly number of classic horror films and characters, parodying them all in a dizzying array of jokes, one-liners and images that go by you so fast, you may miss some of them if you’re not paying attention.

As the opening credits roll, you’ll note that this episode boasts voiceovers by an amazing number of A-list stars, including Clint Eastwood (presumably without his empty chair), George Clooney (prior to his surprise nuptials), Kanye West (with ego fully intact), Morgan Freeman (or one of his numerous clones), Jennifer Lawrence (alas, fully clothed) and more.

Or not.

Again, things zip by so fast it’s impossible to know for sure how many of these voices are actually in the episode if indeed any are included at all. Kowabunga! Bart must have been hanging out with the script writers.

That’s about all we can tell you right now, except that Bart Simpson ends up having a hellishly good time and Lisa meets some really mean girls.

But we do have the following promotional clip from Fox:

Kang and Kodos (and their distant relatives Gidney and Cloyd) specifically forbade us to ID the central Stanley Kubrick film parody in this new Halloween episode. To avoid a close encounter with the probe, we’ll simply encourage you, as you cruise through Sunday’s show, to keep your eyes wide open so you won’t miss that magical Kubrick moment.

Happily, we can provide our readers with one trivia guessing game without risking a close encounter with the probe. The following screen grab from this year’s special episode was already posted at another site. So it’s not our personal fault, space dudes.

Take a close look and the image. Your challenge: Identify the vintage comic book character Bart has just fished out of a hole in space time.

Hint: Boomers will have a big advantage on this one.

The devil, you say. Who is this vintage comic book character Bart's just nabbed from another dimension?
The devil, you say. Who is this vintage comic book character Bart’s just nabbed from another dimension?


Sorry, no answer key right now. But if you remember to hit this column again on Sunday evening, we promise we’ll update it and reveal the name of this devilish little dude.

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Terry Ponick
Biographical Note: Dateline Award-winning music and theater critic for The Connection Newspapers and the Reston-Fairfax Times, Terry was the music critic for the Washington Times print edition (1994-2010) and online Communities (2010-2014). Since 2014, he has been the Business and Entertainment Editor for Communities Digital News (CDN). A former stockbroker and a writer and editor with many interests, he served as editor under contract from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and continues to write on science and business topics. He is a graduate of Georgetown University (BA, MA) and the University of South Carolina where he was awarded a Ph.D. in English and American Literature and co-founded one of the earliest Writing Labs in the country. Twitter: @terryp17