S2 E3: “The Simpsons Halloween Special”

Anyone from a species that has mastered intergalactic travel, raise your hand.” – Kodos.

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Written by: John Swartzwelder, Jay Kogen, Wallace Wolodarsky and Sam Simon.

It’s a measure of the confidence that The Simpsons writers had in the universe they were building that they could completely subvert those rules this early on for the “Simpsons Halloween Special,” which like the album The Beatles is the actual proper name for this episode.

Held together by a framing device – Bart & Lisa telling scary stories in the treehouse – that led the subsequent series its name, this first Halloween special was a masterpiece, chock full of spot-on references (“Kodos” and “Kang”), hilarious lines (“Quit throwing your garbage into our dimension”), and new takes on classic horror tropes (“Quoth the Raven, ‘Eat my shorts’”).

No wonder this obvious experiment became an beloved institution. Once the writers realized they could do this every year, they went full bore, and in subsequent years, it only got weirder, and for awhile, because of FOX’s domination (and near ruination) of post-season MLB, they often started the whole season with the “Treehouse of Horror,” knowing it was a natural hook for a new season.

I’ll betcha that people who have long given up tuning into The Simpsons every week still check out the yearly Treehouses of Horror, if for no other reason than to see how they’re going to shoehorn in Kang and Kodos that year.

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