Tag Archives: Binge Watching

Treehouse of Horror Episodes to Distract from Despair of Spending Halloween Alone

October is here and with it another entry in the Simpsons’ 30 year Treehouse of Horrorcollection, a Halloween tradition, and a highpoint in an otherwise uninterrupted downward spiral into the holiday season.

These are best episodes to make you sentimental for a time before you worried about which utility to let slide for the month, when you were certain true love came to everyone, and you didn’t depend on medication just to get out of bed in the morning.

Why spend Halloween alone. Join the first family of animation for a midfall marathon of the macabre.

  1. Treehouse of Horror XII

Hex and the City

Homer runs afoul of a Gypsy bringing death and destruction to everyone around him, and you thought your life was cursed.

House of Whacks

No need to stew in your own emotional juices. Let the Pierce Brosnan voiced Ultrahouse 3000 draw you a bath.

Wiz Kids

Remember when that first Harry Potter movie hit theaters? Oh what a sweet summer child you were, thinking you’d grow up to be a big rock star, plucking on that Squier Bullet Stratocaster, composing Rolling Stone interview answers in your head. Best not think about how J.K. Rowling is racking in the billions while you still can’t carry a tune.

9.Treehouse of Horror IX

Hell Toupee

You could spend your evening debating which friends would be brave enough to speak at your funeral or you could let Homer’s living toupee clear your mind of that self-destructive ideation.

The Terror of Tiny Toon

Bart and Lisa find themselves trapped in an episode of Itchy and Scratchy. A premise that shouldn’t seem too far-fetched considering how much of your life is spent living vicariously through your TV.

Starship Poopers

You and Maggie Simpson have something in common, when Maggie discovers something in her genetic inheritance has made her into a monster.

  1. Treehouse of Horror X

I know what you Diddly-Iddily-Did

Do you ever feel guilt stricken for something your haven’t done? Have you ever internalized a nauseating shame for a mistake you only thought of making? Well, before you crack under the weight of your self-imposed standards consider that you have yet to be involved with a hit and run.

Desperately Seeking Xena

Remember Xena Warrior Princess? Remember 90s primetime TV? Remember Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Remember The X-Files? Remember your idea for that couples’ costume you never got to wear, because you couldn’t find anyone willing to dress as Agent Scully? Well, maybe this cute little super hero spoof will take you mind off of your debilitating loneliness.

Life’s a Glitch and then You Die

Remember the dawn of the millennium when your gravest concern was the Y2K virus? When you thought moving to the city would broaden your romantic possibilities. Remember how you stayed in writing poems to coup with the days’ rejection while your friends wandered into romance like it was nothing? Whatever happened to them.

  1. Treehouse of Horror VIII

The HΩmega Man

You know how you walk that streets at four in the morning and imagine you’re the last person on earth? Homer finds himself in that exact situation, yet he approaches it with a smile on.

Fly vs. Fly

Have you ever felt so small, so insignificant that you felt like a nonentity in your own story? Well, in this episode Bart turns into a fly and he’s still the center of attention.

Easy-Bake Coven

Remember when you went on a shoplifting spree and stole a pentagram necklace from Spencer’s Gifts, a deck of tarot cards, and a book on Witchcraft from Walden Books? Remember when you told your friends you were Wiccan, then The Crafthit theaters and you threw all that in the broom closet? Well, now crystals and tea leaves are in fashion, but you no longer believe in anything.

  1. Treehouse of Horror VI

Attack of 50-Foot Eyesores

Remember that Halloween party where everyone hit on your girlfriend and she left without telling you where she was going. Lard Lad is here to drop a nostalgia bomb on that painful memory.

Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace

You’ve had so many dreams about dying that you know for certain if you die in a dream you’ll still have to go to work in the morning.

Homer³

When Patty and Selma visit without warning Homer answers the call of the void and phases out a existence. Do you ever wonder if there’s a parallel universe where your circumstances would be better? Do you find your eyes wandering to dark voids searching for a way home? That’s not normal.

  1. Treehouse of Horror III

Clown without Pity

With the success of It: Chapter 2 and Jokerbad clowns are really having a moment. Perhaps you can take comfort in the fact that no matter how bad it’s gotten you’ve never resorted to clowning.

King Homer

Do you ever feel like King Kong when you develop feelings for someone? A big lumbering fool imposing yourself on another person.

Dial ‘Z’ for Zombies

The Simpsons find themselves pursued by a horde of unrelenting zombies with no regard for their personal space. Kind of like the Halloween parties ragging throughout your apartment building. Here you are trying to enjoy a little Treehouse of Horrormarathon, but you can’t hear the TV with all the footsteps rushing up the common stairs, blaring subwoofers, and drunken banter on the lawn.

  1. Treehouse of Horror II

The Monkey’s Paw

If you had four wishes what would they be?

  1. A living wage?
  2. A rent controlled apartment?
  3. Cast more people in roles that are usually reserved for pets?
  4. Or to simply remain functional as long as possible without another outburst?

It’s a Good Life

Endowed with God-like powers Bart forces everyone in Springfield to think happy thoughts for fear they’ll be turned into hideous monstrosities. A fear you should already know a lot about.

Frankenstein

If you’re like a lot of people you hate the way you look, but do you ever wonder if you’d feel any better if your brain was transferred to another body?

  1. Treehouse of Horror VII

The Thing and I

Have you ever harbored deep suspicions that you were someone else’s evil twin?

The Genesis Tub

How could God be all powerful, all good, and leave your life in the state it’s in? Perhaps we’re all mold in a petri dish for a second grader’s science fair project.

Citizen Kang

Are you constantly refreshing CNN’s main page asking, “Is he impeached yet? Is he impeached yet? Is he impeached yet?”

Let Kang and Kronos beam you back to a simpler time when campaign seasons were far less emotionally exhausting.

  1. Treehouse of Horror IV

The Devil and Homer Simpson

When you see depictions of hell on screen do you ever get the nagging suspicion that you’re watching the coming attractions for your ultimate end? You should.

Terror at 5½ Feet

Have you ever felt like there was a gremlin on your shoulder cracking your skull open, crossing your wires, and ripping out all your good parts?

Bart Simpson’s Dracula

Do you ever think you’d have an easier time transitioning into life as a vampire than your neuro-typical peers? You don’t eat right, you only go out at night, and you already think of yourself as a parasite.

  1. Treehouse of Horror V

The Shinning

The ghosts in the Overlook hotel targeted Jack Torrance because his alcoholism and unchecked anger left him vulnerable to their influence. Do you ever get the feeling you’d be the target in a similar scenario?

Time and Punishment

You know a thing or two about time travel fantasies. You’re always wondering what might’ve happed had you met with a guidance counselor, hadn’t worked a fulltime job while taking a full course load, gotten on academic probation, and taken a break from college. If only you’d gone back to get a bachelor’s degree instead of trying to turn an unpaid internship into a career. If only you’d kept your LinkedIn notifications on and let your hypercritical friend have a peek at your resumé. Then maybe you’d have been financially attractive enough to someone who wanted children.

Then you’d have gotten the full Halloween experience. Your kids would look on with admiration as you carved pumpkins into their favorite cartoon characters. They’d roll their eyes at your attempt to recite catch-phrases in costume. They’d match your enthusiasm for trick or treating and come to appreciate your ability to carry two pillowcases stuffed with candy at once. But alas, here you are watching The Simpsons.

Nightmare Cafeteria

Budget cuts have forced Springfield Elementary to resort cannibalism. Kind of like how your long bouts of selfcare are eating away at the time you have left to turn this whole thing around. Maybe next year. Yeah, it will be warmer outside. You’ll have met some new people. They’ll have invited you to some Halloween parties. Pop culture will have provided you with better costume ideas. This year you’ll stay in with The Simpsons, but next year, next year you’ll be a whole new person.

Continue reading Treehouse of Horror Episodes to Distract from Despair of Spending Halloween Alone

The Ultimate X-Files Halloween Marathon

No October is complete without a healthy X-Files binging session, but rather than trying to plow through all 11 seasons might I make some recommendations?

S11 E8 Familiar

In 2018 The X-Files went full creepy pasta with one of its darkest episodes to date featuring a kids show icons that bears more than a passing resemblance to Slender Man, a Satanic Tinky-Winky, and the creepiest song on this side of Elm Street. Despite those modern trimmings this episode is classic X-Files. Mulder and Scully investigate a small town murder only to find themselves in the middle of an angry mob fueled by black magic.

S11 E4 The Lost Art of Forehead Sweat

Mulder and Scully meet a man who claims he’s been their partner throughout the entirety of the series and that he’s been erased from their memories by a weaponized version of the Mandela Effect.

This episode asks is reality subjective? Does it bend to the whim of whoever perceives it? Are shadow forces conspiring to alter our collective memories? Are there alternative universes where every possible outcome is happening, or is the Trump administration full of shit about everything?

Great line, “Confuse the Twilight Zone with the Outer Limits? Do you even know me?!”

I’d argue this is the funniest episode of the series. I’ve played the alien ambassador segment near the end of the episode out of context for dozens of my friends. It always gets a laugh.

S10 E3 Mulder and Scully Meet the Were-Monster

Werewolf movies like American Werewolf in Londonfollow a tight formula: person gets bitten, feels emboldened by their newfound animalistic confidence, gives into their instincts, comes close to hurting someone they love, and chooses to go out in a blaze of glory. This episode puts a fresh spin on the formula by asking: What would happen if a cryptozoological creature got bitten by a human? Would it have a sudden compulsion to put on clothes, get a job, and exaggerate about its sex life?

Rhys Darby, the “Swear Wolf” from What We Do in the Shadowsgives another brilliant comedic performance, as does X-Files super fan comedian Kumail Nanjiani.

This episode is a must watch for fans of Charlie Kaufman’s Human Nature, or Kaufman films in general.

S9 E13 Improbable

What better way to memorialize the late great Burt Reynolds than to watch the episode of The X-Files where he played God? Reynolds, as God, tries to lure a serial killer to the light by using numerology to explain the forces that govern the universe. This is one of the better Mulder-less episodes giving the intuitive Agent Reyes a moment to step into the spotlight.

This episode is worth watching for the scene where God explains the heap of compact discs in the trunk of his car. “I love all music, but I prefer the stuff that lasts.”

So classy.

S7 E12 X-Cops

Hot on the heels of The Blair Witch ProjectThe X-Files took a stab at the found footage genre by using the format of network sibling Copsto do it. Mulder and Scully are investigating a monster that preys on mortal terror. They run into a patrol officer with a film crew in the back of his overturned squad car. Soon the agents find themselves giving the public a window into the paranormal.

S6 E15 Arcadia

Mulder and Scully are sent undercover to investigate a disappearance in the scariest place yet: a gated community. Mulder doesn’t take the assignment all the seriously, playing the role of husband with adolescent enthusiasm. “Women get in here and make me a sandwich.”

In the X-Files community there are “shippers” and “non-shippers.” We shippers spent years wanting to see Mulder and Scully in a relationship. Here we’re taught to be careful what we wish for.
“Mulder, whoever taught you how to squeeze a tube of toothpaste? Toilet seat, third warning.”

“Scully, the thrill is gone.”

S5 E12 Bad Blood

When Mulder drives a stake through a suspect’s heart Scully arrives to find the suspect’s fangs are fake. Now the agents have to get their stories straight.

When TV shows last too long they inevitably do an episode exploring the Rashomon effect. Several characters recount the same event from their own slanted perspectives. Usually it’s one of the weaker episodes relying on the same tired formula. Here it’s one of The X-Files strongest.

Scully sees Luke Wilson’s as a tall dark and handsome man of the law. Mulder sees him as a buck toothed hick who says, “Y’all must be the guv’ment people.”

This is one of the funniest episodes of the series and a great initiation episode for people who’ve never seen the show.

S4 E2 Home

A lot of people think NBC’s Hannibal was the most hardcore show on network TV. Hannibal, please.

This episode is of The X-Files is the stuff of legends. Fox refused to air it upon its completion. When it did air (late one Halloween) it was the first episode of the show to be broadcast with a “Viewer Discretion” warning. This hour of television veers into dark, hard R rated, David Fincher territory, featuring: tumor encrusted mutants, death traps, and something under the bed that you’ll have to see to believe. If you’re composing a list of things you can’t believe were shown on network television start here.

S3 E20 Jose Chung from Outer Space

Usually The X-Files took the alien abduction phenomenon of the 90s deadly seriously. Here the series lets loose and makes fun of all the abduction lore clichés.

This is The X-Files at its most meta and self referential: from the stop motion Cyclops in the sputtering UFO, to the chain smoking aliens, to the brilliant send up of regression hypnotherapy’s power to “unlock” memories.

Featuring Charles Nelson Riley as a Kurt Vonnegut-esque satirist and Jesse Ventura and Alex Trebek as men in black.

S3 E4 Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (or just Clyde Bruckmanon streaming)

Mulder and Scully are called in to investigate the murders of a string of psychic mediums. The agents find themselves disposed by the local authorities when Mulder runs afoul of a TV Psychic the locals have called on for help. Mulder happens upon his own psychic, a man who came to his abilities obsessing over the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly and the Big Bopper. To make things stranger it turns out the killer may be a medium himself. It’s psychic against psychic in the final mind bending confrontation.

Honorable Mentions:

S6 E14 Monday

It’sGroundhog’s Day with Mulder and Scully and a bank robbery.

S6 E2 Drive

When Break Bad series creator Vince Gilligan told AMC he wanted Bryan Cranston for the role of Walter White the network was hesitant. At the time Cranston was known as the quirky father from Malcolm in the Middle. Gilligan used this episode of The X-Files to change AMC’s mind. In it Cranston plays a desperate man who forces Mulder to drive him at a constant speed for fear that something in his head will explode.

S2 E4 Die Hand Die Verlezt

The X-Files has done several episodes exploring the Satanic Panic of the 1980s, but this is the episode where the show went all in. It has everything: a summoning ritual in the woods, repressed memories of cult activity, and a Satanic teachers association.

S5 E5 The Post-Modern Prometheus

Mulder and Scully wander into the plot of a 50s B-movie, complete with a dramatic lightning, a mad scientist, and a Cher impersonator.

S6 E6 How the Ghosts Stole Christmas

It’s Mulder and Scully versus pop psychology when ghosts try to convince them to kill themselves on Christmas Eve.

S2 E20 Humbug

The agents investigate a series of murders in a traveling freak show. This episode is notable for appearances by Jim Rose, the Enigma, and Michael J. Anderson from Twin Peaks and Carnivàle.

S4 E7 Musings of a Cigarette-Smoking Man

“Life is like a box of chocolates. A cheap perfunctory gift that no one ever asked for.”

The X-Files puts a dark spin on Forrest Gump by inserting the Cigarette-Smoking man into a series of historical assassinations.

S2 E24 Our Town

The agents investigate a meat processing plant with a secret ingredient that certainly isn’t love.

S5 E10 Chinga

When Stephen King writes for The X-Files you better believed he’s going to tell a story about a cursed doll. “Time to play!” Continue reading The Ultimate X-Files Halloween Marathon

How to Make Your Book As Bingeable as a TV Show

Confessions of a Serial Binge Watcher

I keep a disciplined writing regiment, but every so often I hear the siren call of television. I’m not the type of person to watch any show that happens to be available. The shows that satisfy my fiction addiction need all the right elements. When I find one that does I fall into a Netflix vortex until the season is done.

I plowed through Marvel’s Jessica Jones in one weekend. Binge watching became part of my routine. I woke up with my tablet on my pillow, opened Netflix, and brought it into the bathroom while I brushed my teeth. I set it on the table as I ate my cereal. When I got on the bus to work I resumed watching on my phone. When I came home I put Jessica back up on the big screen.

It wasn’t that I was a chronic couch potato so much as Jessica Jones was just that good of a show. Let’s talk about the psychology of what makes a good story so binge worthy and how novelists can use the techniques of found on TV to write something readers will have trouble putting down. Continue reading How to Make Your Book As Bingeable as a TV Show