[7.7/10 on a post-classic Simpsons scale] This is definitely one of the better post-classic “Treehouse of Horror” installments. You have a clear weak spot in the middle, but otherwise this one is full of fun stories and fun bits.
I loooooove the “Kang and Kodos vs. baseball” opening. It was not only cathartic for Simpsons fans who had to wait out the interminable MLB post-season to get new episodes, but the bits about the doldrums of the game are hilarious. Likewise, I enjoy the “accela-ray” ending the totality of existence in a fun zoom out sequence. It honestly may be the best post-classic THoH opening the show’s done.
The A.I. parody is probably my favorite, if only because it’s the only segment that tells a full-fledged story. The tale of Bart falling into a coma only to awaken to meet his robotic replacement whom the family has taken a greater shine to is good shorthand emotional motivation. The show has tons of fun with the various robot gags and related wordplay. (I particularly like the way Sarcastic Man “boots up” the little android.) The episode also plays with the beats of its source material while putting its own Simpson-y spin on them. A definite winner.
That’s what makes the second segment, about Burns hunting various Springfield residents, so baffling. There’s some decent jokes about the folks lured to his hunting compound being oblivious, but once the hunt actually starts, the jokes plummet in quality and even get pretty racist in parts. Plus you have a series of useless bits from Terry Bradshaw shoehorned in that justs make you want to put your face in your hands. This segment is the reason this one isn’t rated higher.
But the last segment helps make up for it. This is really more of an extended sketch than a genuine story, but the premise of everyone in Springfield becoming their costumes is good fodder for comedy. There’s some funny lines (“Burn her!...gift certificate!”) and some amusingly horror-y physical comedy (see: headless Homer’s inability to drink beer). The closer with Dennis Rodman is a little weird, but otherwise it’s an amusing segment.
Overall,this is part of what I remember as an uptick in quality in season 17. I hope my memory’s correct, and it extends to other parts of this one!