As a rule, I am positively predisposed toward the Treehouse of Horror episodes. For one thing, Halloween is my favorite holiday. And for another thing, the Treehouse episodes let the writers cut loose and take bizarre flights of fancy, which is always fun. Plus the structure means that no single story is going to drag out for very long and risk outwearing its welcome.
For once, it aired BEFORE Halloween.
The first segment topically mocks the "end of the world" Mayan 2012 doom predictions. (Although, in a weird example of life imitating art, a guy really did eat cricket fajitas this week. P.S. he died.)
Incidentally, this also kicked off a fun little expansion pack in The Simpsons Tapped Out iPad/iPhone game where you have to collect pieces of the Mayan statue and invoke a Mayan god who wanders around Springfield, and also Homer gets a fun Mayan outfit. I like this! The Tapped Out game is not particularly exciting as a rule, but it is relaxing in the way that a zen rock garden is relaxing.
In the first story proper, Lisa strong-arms Springfield into building its own Large Hadron Collider, and - just like everyone predicted - it creates a black hole. Lisa warns everyone not to feed it, Gremlins-style, but no one can resist the opportunity to get rid of their garbage, failures, and Ralph Wiggum.
The second story starts out as a riff on Paranormal Activity, and ends up as a deal with the devil. (Recalling one of the finest Treehouse of Horror segments ever made, "The Devil and Homer Simpson," where Ned Flanders plays Satan and Homer can't stop eating his doughnut head.)
And in the final story, Bart goes back in time to the 70s. We get to see Bart inserted into vintage Simpsons visuals, which was done even more deftly than Family Guy's recent "travel back in time to the first episode" episode. It also has Marge follow what might have been her original destiny, which was to marry the rich yet obnoxious Artie Ziff. This one doesn't have much going for it, but it gives props to the show's hard-core fans, which is always nice.
One of the best parts of the episode might be the plethora of Homer Simpsons at the end. So many Homers, so little time! I recognized most of them, but some (like Goth Homer) seem to have been created just for the episode. (Unless I'm missing something?)
Overall, another fun Halloween romp.