A Fox censor simply named Fox Censor, sitting at his desk reading through the script and deleting things, proudly announces that thanks to his editing tonight's Simpsons episode is rated TV-G. But as he says this, a hand with a sword appears out of the on-screen rating icon and stabs him in the back repeatedly. Every time he gets stabbed, the rating gets higher. In the end, the rating is "TV-666" and Censor collapses dead onto the desk. Blood pours down the front to reveal the title, "The Simpsons Halloween Special VIII."
The HΩmega Man
In a parody of The Ωmega Man, Mayor Quimby generates a great deal of controversy over a "frog's legs" joke he makes about France and he refuses to apologize. Lisa becomes worried that France will launch an attack against them. Homer tries to reassure her by saying that they have a bomb shelter, but it turns out to be a cardboard box in the backyard. So, Homer goes to Herman's Military Antiques to look for a real bomb shelter. He is looking at the Withstand-inator when the French president launches a neutron bomb directly into Springfield. Homer, completely unharmed, emerges from the shelter and complains to Herman's corpse about the food. On the way home, Homer doesn't take notice to the lifeless town. At a green traffic light, he becomes annoyed because the person in front of him won't go. He gets out of his car and decides to handle things with a "little friendly punching". He punches the driver in the head, mistaking their head turning into dust for a sign that he 'still has it'. He then notices a newspaper headline that tells about the bomb that blew up Springfield, and he seems to be the only person to have survived. He misses his family, but he quickly gets over his loss and realizes he can do anything he wants. Homer takes this opportunity to dance naked in the church, when he is confronted by a band of Springfield citizens who have become mutants, but they prefer to be called 'freaks' or 'monsters'. They claim that they want to create a perfect world in which the mistakes of the past will be eliminated. This, of course, includes killing Homer. Homer flees in his car back home with the freaks chasing him in a type of zombie car. Upon arriving home, Homer is greeted by his family, who survived the blast because their house was protected by so many layers of lead paint. Seeing Homer reunited with his family, the freaks see the error of their ways. Ned Flanders hopes they can build a Utopian society where freaks and norms can live together in peace. Marge seems to agree at first, but she and the children open fire with shotguns that they were hiding behind their backs, killing all of the freaks. Homer and his family decide to take advantage of the nuclear holocaust and go and steal some Ferrari's.
Fly Vs. Fly
In a parody of The Fly, Homer buys a teleporter from Professor Frink at his yard sale. Bart asks if he can use it but, Homer refuses. That night, Bart tries to sneak Snowball II into the teleporter and at the same time, Santa's Little Helper jumps in. As the pets come out, Santa's Little Helper and Snowball II have been merged into two creatures. A fly lands on Bart's arm and thinking that he will become a superhero, Bart grabs the fly and steps into the teleporter. He comes out his normal head, but with the body of the fly and meanwhile the fly has his body. The rest of the family wakes up and sees Bart's body with a fly's head and decide that it must be Bart and accept him as their family. That night, Bart talks to Lisa and tells her what happened. When Lisa is in the kitchen fly-boy eats Bart and Lisa knocks him into the teleporter. Bart then appears in the living room normal. An very mad Homer grabs an axe and starts chasing Bart around for using the teleporter.
In a parody of The Crucible, the year is 1649 and the town of Sprynge-Fielde is witness to many witch burnings. Later in the church, the townspeople try to figure out whom to condemn next. People start accusing others and soon they erupt into chaos, until Marge intervenes. She tries to talk sense into the townspeople, but Moe accuses her of being a witch. Mayor Quimby assures her that she is entitled to due process which means she will be thrown off a cliff with a broomstick. If she is a witch she will be able to fly to safety, in which case the authorities expect her to report back for punishment. If she is not a witch, then she will fall to an honorable Christian death.
Lisa tries to speak on her mother's behalf, but to no avail and Marge gets shoved off the cliff by Wiggum's henchmen. As Reverend Lovejoy speaks to the mob about having done the Lord's work, they hear a cackle and all look up, stunned to see that a green-skinned Marge is flying on the broomstick, as she really is a witch. Marge then takes revenge on the town. She returns to her elder sisters Patty and Selma in their mountain lair close to Sprynge-Fielde. The sisters watch Ned Flanders and Maude Flanders talking about how the witches may eat their children, thus giving them the idea in the first place. The three set off for Sprynge-Fielde on their broomsticks. They knock on the Flanders' door and demand the kids. They put the kids in sacks and are about to leave, when Maude offers the witches gingerbread men instead. The witches like these better than the kids and let Rod and Todd go. Marge remarks that she wishes they hadn't eaten all those children before they got to the Flanders' house, before belching loudly. They go to each house, getting goodies in exchange for not eating the kids. As they fly off, the Sea Captain says that is how the tradition of Halloween started, with Maude Flanders' quick thinking leading to the Halloween we know today, and that "it was the story of the first Caramel Cod, I mean, Halloween.
The next year, the whole town is celebrating Halloween. Homer eggs the door of a house from which no candy was received. Lisa points out that it is their house. When everyone begins laughing at him, he accuses Lisa of being a witch, prompting the townspeople to proceed chasing her down the street.
"The HΩmega Man" was written by Mike Scully, "Fly Vs. Fly" was written by David S. Cohen and "Easy-Bake Coven" was written by Ned Goldreyer. Large portions of the "Fly vs. Fly" segment were cut, including the original ending where the fly also emerges from the teleporter, but is considerably larger and the Simpson family ride it to the mall.
The producers had trouble with the censors over several segments in this episode. The opening segment of the episode, which features Fox Censor the censor being stabbed to death and was pitched by David Mirkin, had a difficult time getting through the real life censors. They had issues with the size of the knife and the sound effects used. Originally, the TV-rating was supposed to stab Mr. Censor with a dagger, but FOX Network objected because it was too gruesome and was changed to a cutlass. The censors also objected to an unaired scene where Homer does his naked church dance on an altar (even though the church Homer is in—which is the one the family goes to on Sundays—does not have an altar). The scene was reanimated so that Homer was dancing naked in the front row.
This episode was the only Treehouse of Horror episode that was directed by Mark Kirkland. It was also the last episode Brad Bird worked on; he left the show to direct The Iron Giant. "Easy-Bake Coven" was storyboarded by Kirkland and the backgrounds were designed by Lance Wilder. Although Kang and Kodos make brief appearances in every Treehouse of Horror episode, their brief appearance in this one was nearly cut. David X. Cohen managed to persuade the producers to leave the scene in.
As with the majority of the Treehouse of Horror episodes, numerous cultural references are made throughout the episode. "The HΩmega Man" is an extended homage to film The Omega Man, which was one of Mike Scully's favorite movies as a child. In the same segment, Homer runs over Johnny and Edgar Winter while fleeing the mutants pursuing him, crying: "Die, you chalk-faced goons!", mistaking them as mutants as the Winter brothers are both albino. Homer also notices a calendar featuring Gary Larson's landmark comic strip The Far Side in a bomb shelter he is touring just before the bomb hits Springfield.
The title "Fly vs. Fly" is a reference to the Mad magazine comic strip "Spy vs. Spy", while the segment itself is based on the film The Fly. In "Easy-Bake Coven", the animators referenced the film The Crucible for many of their designs, and Edna Krabappel is wearing a Scarlet A, which is a reference to the novel The Scarlet Letter. The plot of the segment is loosely based on the Salem witch trials, while the title is a reference to the children's toy Easy-Bake Oven. The story also contains a brief reference to the Looney Tunes character Witch Hazel when Marge, Patty and Selma click their heels before flying away on their brooms.
In its original broadcast, "Treehouse of Horror VIII" finished 18th in ratings for the week of October 20-26, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 11.2, equivalent to approximately 10.9 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating King of the Hill.
"Treehouse of Horror VIII" won a Golden Reel Award in 1998 for "Best Sound Editing - Television Animated Specials" for Robert Mackston, Travis Powers, Norm MacLeod and Terry Greene. Alf Clausen received an Emmy Award nomination for "Outstanding Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore)" for this episode, which he ultimately lost. The A.V. Club named Comic Book Guy's line "Oh, I've wasted my life" as one of the quotes from The Simpsons that can be used in everyday situations.
- The Fox Censor holds the script for 5F02, the production code of the episode.
- Bauder, David. "Strongs series finish boosts NBC", Rocky Mountain News, p. 11D.
- "Past Golden Reel Awards", MPSE.org. Retrieved on 17 October 2007.
- Primetime Emmy Awards Advanced Search. Emmys.org.
- Bahn, Christopher; Donna Bowman, Josh Modell, Noel Murray, Nathan Rabin, Tasha Robinson, Kyle Ryan, Scott Tobias. Beyond "D'oh!": Simpsons Quotes For Everyday Use. The A.V. Club.
- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" at The Simpsons.com
- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" at the Simpsons Archive
- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Treehouse of Horror VIII" at TV.com
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See also: Halloween of Horror