Al Jean, show runner for The Simpsons, previewed this season's upcoming Halloween episode and more sci-fi spoofs in future episodes. The annual Treehouse of Horror features three stand-alone segments that satirize horror and sci-fi movies.
"I was just editing it today, and I thought it looked great," Jean said in an exclusive interview on Aug. 6 in Pasadena, Calif., as part of the Television Critics Association fall press tour. "There is a black-and-white segment. More than anything else it's a satire of Strangers on a Train, where Bart and Lisa are both mad at their teachers. So Bart says, 'You get revenge on mine, I'll get revenge on yours.' So Lisa plays a prank on Mrs. Krabappel and Bart cuts the head off Lisa's teacher. Then she's very upset."
Sci Fi Wire previously reported Jean's description of a 28 Days Later spoof where tainted Krusty Burgers turn the town into zombies. That appears in this year's Treehouse. The final segment is a show-stopper.
"Then we have the first musical Halloween segment," Jean said. "Moe discovers that by mixing Homer's blood with his beer, it becomes more popular. So he's got Homer connected to a Microbrew in his basement. We have original songs, and the toughest thing when I was editing it was to get the two minutes out to make it short enough for air, because everything was playing so well."
Since the segment is only approximately seven minutes long, Jean said the five songs featured will be fairly short numbers.
In other upcoming episodes, popular movies get skewered Simpsons-style. "We have a Transformers-type movie," Jean said. "The Simpsons go to Israel, and there's a movie playing called The Reformers where the robots can't fight each other because it's the Sabbath. So they power down and start davening."
Future episodes will also feature cameos from characters introduced in The Simpsons Movie. Jean was noncommittal on possible Spider-Pig cameos, but he said the medicine woman who gave Homer his epiphany vision returns.
"They go to Vancouver because Homer and Marge are part of the U.S. mixed curling team for the Olympic demonstration medal in curling," Jean previewed. "Homer runs into the medicine woman."
Ever since The Simpsons Movie opened in 2007, Jean has dodged talks about a sequel. He continues to do so, citing the daily commitment to the TV series. "Switching to hi-def was very rewarding but a lot of work," Jean said. "This season we're actually going to air 23 shows, plus I'm involved a little bit with the special that Morgan Spurlock's doing, so that's a lot for one year."
Spurlock is filming The Simpsons' 20th-anniversary special. Jean wanted him to take an unorthodox approach, similar to what Spurlock has done with documentaries like Super Size Me and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden?
"We wanted him to be like the world's biggest fan, just looking into any crazy ramification that the show has had in the world," Jean said. "I think people kind of know how the show is done. We didn't want a ponderous sort of behind-the-scenes thing. We wanted something where you really look at the funny, odd things. There's a cult in England that supposedly worships Ned Flanders. I'm not kidding. It's a real thing. That sort of stuff is what we wanted in the special."
The Simpsons airs Sundays on Fox.