|"Treehouse of Horror XX"|
|The Simpsons episode|
Promotional image for the episode
|Episode no.||Season 21|
|Directed by||Mike B. Anderson|
|Written by||Daniel Chun|
|Original air date||October 18, 2009|
Mike B. Anderson
"Treehouse of Horror XX" is the fourth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season. It first aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 18, 2009. This is the twentieth "Treehouse of Horror" installment, containing three self-contained stories: In "Dial "M" for Murder or Press "#" to Return to Main Menu", Lisa is forced into a Hitchcock-esque murder scheme by Bart; in "Don't Have a Cow, Mankind", Springfield is once again overrun by zombies thanks to Krusty Burger's latest sandwich; and in the Sweeney Todd parody, "There's No Business Like Moe Business", Moe the bartender bleeds Homer dry to create the perfect microbrewed beer. An estimated 8.59 million viewers tuned in to watch the episode.
Traditional horror movie characters such as Frankenstein's Monster, the Mummy, the Wolf Man, and Dracula roam the streets of Springfield on Halloween night. After they are teased by Dolph, Jimbo, and Kearney, they get new, more modern costumes from a Halloween store. They then go to an adult Halloween party thrown by Homer and Marge, but are soon confronted by their wives, who are angry that their husbands lied about going out to kill children tonight. Homer tries to intervene as the wives begin to assault their husbands, only to be decapitated, and his eyes are then replaced with two red x's, the title of the episode then appears onscreen.
In a parody of Alfred Hitchcock's films, Lisa wants revenge after being sent to detention by Ms. Hoover for disrupting class as she claims another student topped her through a tutor. Bart hatches a "criss-cross" plan and tells Lisa that if she pulls a "ding-dong ditch" on Mrs. Krabappel, he will do the same to Ms. Hoover. Lisa thinks this means ringing the bell at Mrs. Krabappel's apartment and leaving. However, Lisa soon learns that Bart meant for her to kill Mrs. Krabappel (and dump the corpse in a ditch), as he has killed Ms. Hoover. Bart attempts to coax Lisa into killing Mrs. Krabappel with a paper cutter, but she refuses. Eventually, Bart decides to blackmail her into it with help from Willie, who would frame Lisa for the decapitated Skinner to honor his side of the "criss-cross" in which Bart killed Skinner. Realizing that Bart would frame her for these incidents, Lisa tricks him into believing that she was submitting at his will only to get a knife from his hands and attempts to kill Bart in self-defense, beginning a chase sequence. Bart finally finds shelter at a crowded playground carousel, but is left at Lisa's mercy when the other children leave to get ice cream. Lisa, however, recognizing that she would not be better than Bart, says she will never be a murderer, and attempts to throw the knife away. The knife cycles out of control and ends up nailing Bart in the head just as Mrs. Krabappel appears, pleased at his death. Despite her shock for accidentally killing Bart, Lisa agrees that it is better this way and she and Krabappel walk away smiling, leaving the murdered Bart to spin around on the carousel.
Krusty the Clown introduces a new version of his Krusty Burger, the Burger2, made from cattle that have eaten other cattle in their feed. Upon eating a burger on live television, Kent Brockman begins to comment on the taste before turning gray, red-eyed, and cannibalistic, starting a chain reaction of people getting attacked and eaten. Twenty-eight days later, Springfield has become overrun by zombies called munchers. The Simpsons are established to be one of the few survivors.
One day, Bart, tired of eating fruit, escapes from his family's barricaded house and eats one of the tainted burgers, but turns out to be immune to its effects. Over the phone, a besieged Dr. Hibbert tells them that Bart's immunity may be the key to developing a cure to the muncher epidemic and that they must bring Bart to a so-called "safe zone" outside the city. The Simpsons are attacked after a failed attempt to sneak out but are saved by Apu, driving an armored off-road truck. Apu explains that he was never infected because, as a vegan and a Hindu, he is morally opposed to eating anything that was once an animal, and, as a convenience store clerk, he is "armed to the teeth" in case of a store robbery or a zombie apocalypse.
The group tries to leave Springfield, but Apu crashes the truck on top of a pile of smashed cars. Apu goes to push the car off the pile, but the Simpsons drive away thinking Apu sacrificed himself, when he actually wanted the Simpsons to wait for him. After Apu is killed by the munchers, the Simpsons drive on but run out of gas, walking the rest of the way to the safe zone. During their journey, Homer is bitten by Mr. Burns, thus turning him into a muncher himself. The family decide not to kill him in the hopes of finding a cure. They reach the safe zone, where Bart – being immune to the virus – is worshiped as the "chosen one". However, the people there believe that cannibalizing Bart will save them from the virus. The Simpsons think of another solution: vaccinating the remaining populace by having Bart bathe in their food before eating it.
In a parody of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, in which is presented like a Broadway musical, Moe is lonely and upset that he does not have a girlfriend and is jealous when he sees Homer and Marge together. When Homer falls into the basement of the bar and is impaled by the microbrew pipes, his blood becomes the secret ingredient in Moe's new beer. Everyone loves this new beer, saying that it makes them feel warm, secure and cozy on the inside. Moe uses this to his advantage and woos Marge, tricking her into thinking that Homer came out of the closet as a homosexual and left Marge, when in reality, Homer is slowly dying from losing blood. Homer emerges, alive, despite being impaled by Moe's microbrew machine, hurls Moe (represented as a dummy) across the room, and reunites with Marge.
Then, the whole audience except for Kang and Kodos gather onstage and conclude the episode by singing "Number XX" Where Kang then shushes the audience, gesturing at Kodos, who has fallen asleep with the playbill over his helmet.
The first segment includes parodies of the Alfred Hitchcock films Psycho, Strangers on a Train, North by Northwest, and Spellbound, as well as a reference to the film Vertigo (in particular the Vertigo effect). The main theme from Psycho by Bernard Herrmann is used extensively during the first part. The title of the segment takes its name from the film Dial M for Murder.
The second segment is a parody of the 2002 British horror film, 28 Days Later, and the 2006 science fiction film, Children of Men. The title of the segment takes its name from Bart's catchphrase, Don't have a cow, man.
The title of "There's No Business Like Moe Business" is a parody of the song "There's No Business Like Show Business" from Annie Get Your Gun. The episode was inspired by the 2007 film Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street.
In its original American broadcast, "Treehouse of Horror XX" was watched by 8.59 million viewers and was the most watched of Fox's Animation Domination, ahead of American Dad! and The Cleveland Show. The show was the fourth most watched episode on Fox after House, The OT, and Family Guy in the 18/49 rating.
Robert Canning of IGN praised the episode, saying "it was a fine addition to the series' Halloween specials". He enjoyed all of the stories, and said that the Sweeney Todd segment was "a nice treat". He also said that the airing of this Treehouse of Horror episode before Halloween, the first time that this had happened in ten years, "[had to] count for something". Screen Rant called it the best episode of the 21st season.
Catholic League president Bill Donohue issued a press release in response to the segment "Don't Have a Cow, Mankind," taking issue with the line, "What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their savior?" Donohue stated, "mocking the heart of any religion always crosses the line, and mocking the Eucharist does it for Catholics. They know this at Fox, which is precisely why they did it."