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The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror

Having released the first three seasons of The Simpsons in big, fancy box sets, the folks at Fox are seeking to keep our interest alive (and our wallets open) with this slim disc titled The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror. A collection of four of the show's seasonal Halloween episodes, it's a reasonably priced sampling of the comic anthologies — although one wonders why Fox didn't either go all out and put all of the "Treehouse" episodes together in a box, or perhaps the first five or, well, something that makes more sense than this seemingly random sampling from seasons five, six, seven and twelve. Whatever their reasoning, the yearly "Treehouse" shows are always hilarious, spoofing classic films, literature, and TV shows, and placing the Simpsons cast in absurdly clever situations. Treehouse of Horror V presents the family locked away in a remote lodge for the winter as Homer goes slowly mad in "The Shinning" (Groundskeeper Willy: "Bart, you've got the shinning!" Bart: "Don't you mean the shining?" Groundskeeper Willy: "Shhh, boy! D'ya wanna get sued?"); Homer traveling backwards and forwards in time due to a malfunctioning toaster in "Time and Punishment"; and the children of Springfield Elementary falling prey to a cannibalistic Principal Skinner and Mrs. Krabappel in "Nightmare Cafeteria." Treehouse of Horror VI finds Homer stealing a 50-foot metal donut, unleashing the horrors of giant advertisements in "Attack of the 50 Foot Eyesores"; the children of Springfield being murdered in their sleep by a horrific, morphing Groundskeeper Willy in "Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace"; and in "Homer3," Homer attempts to hide from Patty and Selma by going behind a bookcase and enters an alternate dimension — where he's suddenly a three dimensional, computer-generated character. In Treehouse of Horror VII, Bart discovers his parents' secret, hidden in the attic — his evil twin brother, Hugo; in "The Genesis Tub," Lisa's science experiment creates a miniature microcosm whose people worship her as a god and invent a shrinking ray ( the "De-bigulator") to bring her into their world; and in "Mr. Kang Goes to Washington," aliens Kang and Kodos assume the identities of Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. Finally, in "Treehouse of Horror XII," Homer runs afoul of a gypsy who then curses the family in "Hex and the City"; Marge's new all-automated house goes haywire and tries to kill Homer in the Demon Seed/2001: A Space Odyssey parody "House of Whacks"; and Harry Potter gets a skewering in "Wiz Kids" when Lisa and Bart — students at Springwort's School of Magicry — tangle with evil Lord Montymort. Fox's DVD release offers bright, pristine full-frame transfers of the four episodes with Dolby Digital 5.1 audio. The menus are annoying and more complicated than necessary — after choosing an episode, the user has to navigate over to a separate area to choose "play" or audio setup options. And with the entire disc running just 85 minutes, why is there no "play all" option? The only extra is a three-minute clip montage showcasing Kang and Kodos. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor

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