The Simpsons "Treehouse of Horror XXI" Reaction

I've gotten used to "The Simpsons" annual Treehouse of Horror episode airing way after Halloween, but a full week is really pushing it. Still, I tuned in hoping that this edition would be better than last year's, and it was, but not by much.

The first sketch had some promise when Bart and Milhouse found the "Satan's Tale" board game, but instead of thrusting the two boys into some dark depiction of Hell, it brought all the other board games to life. What followed was a lame Jumani takeoff (about 14 years too late) that tried to evoke the memories of "Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores", but instead was just a series of half-baked jokes about the board games of our childhoods, strung together in a really weak story.

The second sketch featured Marge and Homer on a boat when a mysterious man drifts along. They think he might be trying to kill them, but as it turns out, he wasn't. The whole thing was kind of tedious, until Homer went on a semi-accidental turned intentional murderous rampage. His horrible murder puns were just about the only thing in the seven-minute bit that made me laugh.

The last part was a Twilight spoof. The less said about it, the better. It's like they weren't even trying.

Part of me wonders if the "Treehouse of Horror" format -- with the three seven-minute mini-sodes -- prevents the show from being better. It's like the writers know they're not really going to be able to develop a reasonable narrative, so they settle for tepid jokes that rely on referential humor. Then again, just two years ago, they had a pretty good one, so maybe they're just in a slump.

For more coverage of the 2010-11 television season, visit the TV Reviews home page