As a guy whose comic sensibilities have been shaped by The Simpsons as much as by anyone or anything else, writing reviews for the present day Simpsons can be something akin to punching Homer repeatedly in the face—you know his extra layers of skull are going to keep you from ever knocking him out, but it’s no fun beating on a defenseless, out-of-shape slob. (Yes, I am the TV critic equivalent of Drederick Tatum in this analogy.) So when a new episode comes out that is genuinely, unqualifiedly, no-joking-around great, I get suspicious. I examined my reaction to this episode pretty damned carefully, wary of being accused of overrating it like the first sip of grainy, lukewarm oasis water.
Nope. It’s great.
Sure, it being great raises the question of why The Simpsons can’t be great again—and I maintain that there’s nothing stopping that from happening—but that’s a complaint for another time. “Halloween Of Horrors” is a great episode of The Simpsons, regardless of the era.
From my AV Club review:
It’s a sweet, funny (especially thanks to the prime Homer-ism “I may not be the smartest dad, or the bravest, or the smartest…), and moving moment, and it’s just what Lisa needs to come up with a plan (they use Homer’s massive stash of holiday decorations to signal for help), and to finally give up Tailee so that Homer can light the bottle rockets they need to call for help. Yeardley Smith hasn’t won an Emmy for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance since “Lisa The Greek,” but she has never been better than here, Lisa’s emotional arc in the episode giving Smith the best chance in years to show what depths she can bring to her most famous role. Handing over the one thing she’s clung to to make the world safe, Lisa’s line, “This ratty piece of polyester has been soaking in face oil for eight years. Light him up. Goodbye, Tailee” is, in Smith’s delivery, everything you need to know about Lisa Simpson in just a few words. It’s Lisa, and Smith, at her best.
Contrary to popular (commenter) belief, I love The Simpsons. Episodes like this help remind me why.