Fan Audio Commentaries for the first six Treehouse of Horror episodes of The Simpsons!

Hey hey! In the spirit of the ghoulish season, we have recorded six separate commentaries for the first six Treehouse of Horror specials of The Simpsons. These are our first commentaries for TV episodes, so it’s been quite a jolt moving from 90 minute plus tracks to 20 minute ones! You can listen for free or download as an mp3 via the link on the right! Enjoy!

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The Real Ghostbusters Episode 19: Cry Uncle (1987)

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So we’ve already met Ray’s Aunt Lois, a perfectly amiable (if slightly annoying) lady who, among other things, suffered from spiritual headaches (don’t we all?) so now it’s time to hello to Egon’s Uncle Cyrus.

He’s a complete numpty.

Why? He doesn’t believe in ghosts. Seriously, does this man not know who his nephew is and what he does for a living? How can ANYONE on the same planet the Ghostbusters occupy not believe in ghosts? The guys have legitimised the existence of spooks, spectres and whatnot – surely their exploits have made the news worldwide, surely the universe that The Real Ghostbusters exists in is one where ghosts are a simple matter of fact.

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Yet despite all of that, man-of-science Cyrus thinks it to be all nonsense. He’s on his way to see Egon, but the guys are too busy on the job, blasting lots of nuisance ghosts around the city – Egon is such a mathemagician that he has successfully deducted the precise moment Cyrus will be arriving, but the job at hand proves so distracting and time-consuming that the guys arrive back knackered at HQ only to discover Cyrus already there waiting, having been stranded at the airport and clearly not very happy. Now I’ve jumped ahead a bit, as we’ve already spent some time in this episode with Cyrus as he waits for the guys to arrive as Janine and Slimer keep him company. Janine is already furious with Slimer because the little s#%$ has swiped her lunch, and his decision to hide in the water cooler (‘I hope for your sake that you haven’t done THAT before!’) only leads in disaster as Cyrus has a drink from same device. True, Slimer has already leaked out, but he’s sure to have left some, erm…leavings inside that thing. Bleurgh. By the way, if you look at the screen grab above, you’ll see there’s a cup of a rather famous soft drink sitting on Janine’s desk. A soft drink that, coincidentally, owned Columbia Pictures at this point. Animated product-placement? It’s not as though you can even let the makers off the hook for accidentally leaving a product on the set at the time of filming.

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When Egon arrives he feels awfully guilty, and it’s obvious that Cyrus is the disapproving type, so the others do the thoroughly decent thing and big up our favourite bequiffed buster, going on about how many ghosts he’s just trapped, while Peter tries to be an exceptional host  by introducing Cyrus to everyone in such a frenzied way that in his madness he slips up and says that Winston’s a doctor, even when he’s not. Never mind, he’s on a roll. Cyrus is being a real stick in the mud though, saying that this HQ is not the right environment for his brilliant nephew, that he should be in a sterile, efficient workplace, that dressing up in costumes as a glorified exterminator is below him and above all else, ghosts aren’t real. Still, no time for that boring stuff – there’s a disturbance at the ‘garment district’ – what better way to show boring old Cyrus what a hot shot his nephew is by taking him along to a bust with real ghosts!

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Well it would be a good thing except there’s no ghosts on-site – instead, in a not-at-all-stereotypical depiction of female consumerism, the disturbance turns out to be a pack of ravenous, portly middle-aged women beating the crap out of each other over who gets the best bargains in the latest clothes sale. Ha ha. And the voices of the women don’t appear to be that of women at all, sounding more like the voice Terry Jones puts on as the mother of the Messiah in Life of Brian. I guess no women during the making of this episode were prepared to sell out their gender so brazenly by committing themselves to such cheap shots.

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Then all of a sudden a disembodied green hand prods Ray’s shoulder, stroking it, even. Now Ray really, really seems to like this, closing his eyes and looking as content as a cat. What’s odd is just who exactly did Ray think was doing this to him? Maybe he and the others have an agreement on how to relieve stress during the job at times like this. Anyway, Ray opens his eyes, sees the ghost hand, freaks out, pushes past Cyrus to escape and ends up knocking his glasses off in the process, stepping on them for good measure. And guess what? Cyrus is now completely blind, which means he’s not going to see all this spectral evidence occurring before his very useless eyes. Why is it that in cartoons (and very bad films) that people who wear glasses aren’t merely short-sighted or long-sighted or partially sighted or whatever, no, they are absolutely, 100% BLIND. I wear glasses, and yet if I took them off, I wouldn’t turn into bleedin’ Mr. Magoo or someone like that. Grrr. Anyway, the pack of real ghosts get done over – Peter handles one wearing a coat by quipping that even though the ghost wears it well, their attire could do with some alterations. ZAP!

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So, with no evidence to prove that Egon is a legend, Cyrus comes right out and asks him to come back to his laboratory so that he can assist with his research. No sale, right? Except that Egon made some vague promise years and years back about always being on call for him if he was ever needed. So bye-bye. Yep, that’s it – we cut to the next morning and Egon has already left, without a farewell or anything! Maybe he was just upset? Still, seems a bit overly dramatic, a bit, oh… end-of-act 1-ish, you know? Janine finds Egon’s goodbye note and cries her eyes out, while the show’s sad theme sounds a notch higher in pitch than usual, strange.

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So here we are in Act 2, and Janine does that thing in cartoons (and bad movies) where the phone rings and she answers it with ‘Egon?’ although we know in all these cases that the person on the other end is never, ever the person whose name is splurted out before anything approaching a ‘hello’ is uttered. Never, ever, ever.  Instead, it turns out there’s a disturbance in Central Park – poltergeists. Poltergeists are mischievous little sprites, tying Ray’s shoelaces together, smacking Peter on the head and whatnot. Amazingly, it turns out that the guys are absolutely, thoroughly useless without Egon – they can’t even, you know, catch ghosts without him. This is a bit surprising – true, Egon’s the genius, but two of the remaining three are actual scientists (although as we all know, Peter never studied) and you think the three combined would have picked up some experience and expertise along the way.

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But no, they resort to fleeing in Ecto-1 and to find Egon, during which there’s a really odd bit where Peter pulls a goofy grin that the others can see in the rear-view mirror. Cue this:

Ray: I don’t like the way he’s smiling.

Peter: Hey guys, trust me.

Winston and Ray: Trouble!

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What was that all about? It doesn’t matter. In fact, it’s quite a brilliant non-sequitor, and I thought this moment was oddly hilarious as a child. So, they arrive at the lab (1500 miles away!), where Egon has been lumbered with some truly menial duties like feeding rats! Ray expresses the group’s need for Egon. Winston seconds that. Janine thirds it. And she says it in a way that should be impossible for Egon to resist. Eventually, they decide to get Cyrus to go along with it by saying that they need Egon to help them with ‘their final case’. Utter twaddle, but Cyrus buys it, though when they all return to New York he decides not to accompany them to Central Park when they arrive in New York, which kind of spoils everything. So why the hell did he come back with them in the first place? Impossible man.

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So they trap the poltergeists (the less said about Peter’s baseball references the better) thanks to Egon, and it’s time to go home. Oh. Meanwhile, back at HQ, Cyrus is given a guided tour of the building, which culminates in a trip to the Ecto-Containment Unit, where unbelievably, he starts pushing loads of random buttons like some bored school pupil and not like, oh… I don’t know, a proper scientist, which he’s meant to be. He ends up opening the door to the Unit, to which Janine, very, very deadpanly says: ‘I really wish you hadn’t done that’. The unit goes crazy, opens up a crack, and hilariously, a mini-version of the STAY-PUFT MARSHMALLOW MAN floats out, complete with goofy theme tune. Now what the hell is he doing in there? Didn’t the guys destroy him in the first film? I remember it well. He exploded and went everywhere.

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Now we have already seen Stay-Puft in an earlier episode, but that was a dream version of the Big Guy that was made real, so it didn’t count as a proper return. In other words, his appearance in ‘Cry Uncle’ doesn’t make sense. I didn’t care. I was absolutely thrilled to see him show up. I guess that his immediate, hilarious comeback as a very small version of himself makes sense because he’s bigger than the Unit itelf (though not its interior, which has a kind of Tardis thing going on as we’ve already seen). Not before long though he inflates to immense size, which is captured on-screen with a funny camera pan right and whiplash backtrack. Just watch it, it’s really odd. Thing is, how’s he going to get out of the building? He’s somewhat bigger than the front door, you know? Don’t worry, it turns out he can just fade in-and-out through the building, so at least there’s no damage.

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The guys show up (note the rather cool shot from below Winston as he steps on the gas to get to HQ), and see the Big Guy in all his fearsome splendour, comment on his size, and try to trap him, but he’s too big for the traps. They don’t consider crossing the streams again, but they barely got away with that last time, so it’s best they think of another plan. So they link all their traps together, nail him with tripwire and everybody’s happy. A bit of an easy dispatch to be honest, but the episode only had a minute left, so what can you do? Also, I can only presume that the four separate trapped parts of Stay Puft reform inside the containment unit once he’s put inside, as he’s back in tip-top condition when we see him again in a later episode.

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Cyrus is bowled over by the unavoidable facts before his bespectactled eyes, and releases Egon from his promise. He raises a cup of water for a toast, but Slimer’s INSIDE the cup, clearly having enjoyed another snooze in the cooler. Ray shouts ‘FRY HIM!’ and the guys intend to do so. No such luck. Slimer appears in the next episode, bigger, bluer and in more multiplied form than ever before. Damn.

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