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Saga of Carl

The Saga of Carl

Couch gag: The Simpsons are sea creatures who are eaten by the three eyed fish, Blinky

Director: Chuck Sheetz

Guest voices:
Sigur Rós as themselves
Jóhanna Sigurðardóttir as herself

Synopsis: Carl, Lenny, Moe and Homer win the Springfield lottery but Carl disappears with their winnings, leaving the other three to figure out where he went and why.

Discussion: Wow, what a pointless waste of time. This episode had exactly zero point to it and exactly zero interest to anyone with half a brain.

The first few minutes were enough for me to start watching the timer to see how long I had left of this inane mess of “plot” (and I use the term loosely). After the gang won the lottery, I thought the ep might be picking up… but no, Carl disappears and I found myself not caring where he went or why he nicked off with the money.

Next thing you know, they’re in Iceland, tracking down Carl. Blah blah blah, a few montages, characters voicing the narrative in case the audience fell asleep and missed it, the money’s gone and Carl’s family are A-OK. Whatevs.

Apart from not caring about the reasons behind Carl’s disappearance, the actual reason is also fairly pointless and probably doesn’t warrant an episode by itself. Although, it does seem like the animation team got a kick out of non-Springfield scenery so I guess the ep was a bonus for them. Pity about the rest of us.

Fabulous Faker Boy

The Fabulous Faker Boy

Billboard: Skinner looking guilty, Agnes looking mad; “If you haven’t sent your mother flowers, it’s too damn late!”

This school is not falling apart (chalkboard crumbles after writing)

Couch gag: Done by the Robot Chicken gang, all the residents of Springfield are “cheap PVC” action figures. Homer races Otto and once he’s back on the couch, the chicken from Robot Chicken is waiting.

Director: Bob Anderson

Guest Voices:
Bill Hader as Slava
Jane Krakowski as Zhenya
Patrick Stewart as Nuclear Power Plant Worker
Justin Bieber as himself

Synopsis: Skinner suggests Bart should take up music as a way to channel his creative energies, while Homer loses his last two head hairs so he’s bald.

Discussion: Look, I really liked this episode. It is light on plot but hey, we’re overlooking all sorts of stuff lately. What this ep does offer is a multitude of great lines, such as:
“Pasty power- activate!” -Homer
“My wife has never seen my head naked”- Homer
“A cowboy hat means you’re compensating for a small penis” – Rich Texan
“Every good booger deserves flicking” – Bart learning a mnemonic for piano scales

As an added bonus, there are two laugh-out-loud moments. One is Professor Frink offering to teach Bart a very unique instrument and the other is Moe’s dodgy label paste. I also liked Justin Bieber’s 2 seconds of screen time, and the disclaimer that the rest of the episode is Bieber-free.

There’s probably supposed to be some underlying subplot in the Marge-Bart mother-son bonding dynamic but it doesn’t work. It’s barely squished into the very end and scuttled over in favour of Bart revealing he’s not that good at the piano after all. Marge teaching the Russian guy to drive should be amusing, but it’s not, despite the Putin jokes.

There’s a lot more that could have been done to refine the episode but as it stands, it’s one of the best from this season (which really isn’t saying much).

Whiskey Business

Whiskey Business

Couch gag: The Simpsons are carved from ice and Grampa turns up the heat.

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Guest Voices:
Tony Bennett as himself
Sonny Rollins as himself
Kevin Michael Richardson as Cop With A Secret
Ron Taylor as Bleeding Gums Murphy (archive)

Synopsis: Moe wants to end his suffering but is saved by Homer, Lenny and Carl. Marge takes them all to Capital City where Moe gets a new lease on life. Grampa is supposed to be looking after the kids but takes a fall and Bart looks after him. Lisa complains that her favourite jazz musician is now a cheap hologram.

Discussion: Wow, so many things to say about this heap of shit, where do I start?

First, why are there three plots? None are strong enough to hold an episode on their own but as a group, they suck just as badly. Moe’s story is so depressing even I thought about ending it… watching the ep that is, not suicide. Lisa’s plot is… well, what? It was unimaginative and uninspired but I did like the reappearance of an old friend in Bleeding Gums Murphy. But where did the hologram get the song he sang for Lisa about Bart??? And then there’s Bart looking after Grampa. Snore.

Moe has tried several things in order to become a better person, and has dabbled with becoming rich and famous. Those episodes were far superior to this one, in which he stumbles around in a new suit (hello, Marge wearing Chanel) and the world is his oyster. Yawn. After the first few minutes after they’ve all been to Capital city, Marge disappears from the episode except for very, very brief moments like answering the front door. No one seems to notice that Lisa is missing for most of the ep.

The Simpsons works best when there’s familial bonding, but Bart and Grampa just isn’t doing it for me. The only highlight of this relationship is when they’re racing Grampa’s meds along a slide.

The real stinker of this episode is a hologram Diana, Princess of Wales and assorted other dead people such as Albert Einstein and Ghandi. Diana raps about DVDs and Blu-Ray. Whoa. Low point for the series.

There’s nothing to be proud of in this episode except to say, I watched it and lived to tell the tale.

Pulpit friction

Pulpit Friction

Couch gag: The Simpsons parachute onto the couch, breaking it and requiring a new one, which segues into the episode.

Director: Chris Clements

Guest Voice:
Edward Norton as Elijah Hooper

Synopsis: The new preacher in town is getting up some residents’ noses so Bart pranks him in order to make him leave town and get Reverend Lovejoy back.

Discussion: Sometimes I read the critics’ reviews of an episode and think, “I’m sure they’re pulling at straws just to make people invest 20 minutes to watch this pile of steaming excrement”.

Today’s episode was one such pile. The only mildly interesting thing about it was that the couch gag led directly into the plot for the first time in the series. RIP couch. Let’s have a minute’s silence to remember all the good couch gags. In fact, take the minute’s silence and stretch it out to 20 minutes so you don’t actually have to watch this episode at all.

The new couch brings a horde of bedbugs, which quickly infest the town and Edward Norton rocks up as a cool new preacher man who links the Bible with popular culture and makes Homer the new deacon. Add in some pointless crap about Marge’s wedding dress being lost at the dry cleaners and this is what passes for an episode these days. Yawn.

There’s nothing about this episode that works. It’s a flatline episode which not even the defibrillator concept of Ed Norton can revive. RIP Simpsons

What animated women want

What Animated Women Want

Couch gag: A Breaking Bad style opening credits where Marge cooks a batch of blue cupcakes. Walter White and Jesse Pinkman are watching from their couch.

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest stars:
Bryan Cranston as Walter White
Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman

Guest voices:
Wanda Sykes as the school therapist
George Takei as Akira

Synopsis: Homer tries to win back Marge’s affections (again) while Lisa is attracted to Milhouse for being a bad boy.

Discussion: I suppose the episode would have worked a whole lot better if Marge and Homer’s marriage was rocky once a season instead of every second episode. Homer utters at the beginning that he’s taken his marriage for granted for years, however their marriage has gone through tough times four times this season alone. This time, Homer tries to save the marriage with sushi before trying a “snuggle dungeon” based on kinky shit from Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes, because we want to imagine Homer and Marge having kinky sex on a swing.

Meanwhile, Milhouse is nasty to Lisa with unexpected results: she likes him for it. This is probably the most interesting part of the plot, but lacks Lisa’s over analytical mindset for it to work completely. We already know she likes bad boys, having an unending crush on Nelson, so Milhouse turning bad is really the only surprising thing about this plot line.

One reviewer said the highlight of the ep was the anime sushi’s adventure in Santa’s Little Helper’s intestines. It’s pretty sad when the highlight is talking fish being shat out. I suppose Milhouse impersonating Brando was OK, but it did nothing to lift the ep out of mediocrity.

Dark Knight Court

Dark Knight Court

Billboard: Herman’s Antiques (and guns)

Jesus’s last words were not “TGIF”

Couch gag: The family are eggs placed carefully on the couch, but Homer sits on them.

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest Voice:
Janet Reno as herself

Synopsis: Bart is on trial by youth court for allegedly putting eggs into the band’s horns. Mr Burns becomes a superhero called Fruit Bat Man but Smithers is actually paying off the “criminals” whom Mr Burns “saves”.

Discussion: I think Moe said it best when he uttered, “Oh man, this is so painful”.

Bart is blamed for a prank in which the residents of Springfield were covered in eggs. It seems like the kind of thing Bart would do, only he protests his innocence and the matter goes to youth court, held in the school gym. This plot would have benefited from being a real mystery, but we’re left with a shady courtroom “drama” that no one actually cares about, and by the time the real culprit is discovered, who cares?

Meanwhile, Mr Burns rediscovers comic books and finds a superhero just like him: a reclusive billionaire. So he decides to do some good and become Fruit Bat Man. Lame. Again, this plot could have been done oh so much better! Mr Burns as a bumbling superhero while Smithers stages crimes? It’s a great idea, but executed really poorly and lost between the ‘main’ plot of Bart’s trial. Neither story has any time to develop properly, although at this stage of the series I am unsure whether either plot could be developed properly: it seems as if the writers have either hired work experience kids (or monkeys at typewriters) or they’ve simply given up and pull ideas out of their arses for each episode.

Either way, this episode is yet another disappointment in a season that was better left imagined and not produced.

Black eyed please

Black Eyed Please

Billboard: Cletus’ road kill diner: it’s fender pickin’ good!

I’m sorry I broke the blackboard (Written on a whiteboard)

Couch gag: Designed by Bill Plympton, the Simpsons are in the dark threatening each other with weapons but when Maggie turns on the light, they are revealed to be ordinary objects. As the family sit on the couch, Maggie shoots off a tommy gun.

Director: Matthew Schofield

Guest Voices:
Tina Fey as Ms Cantwell
Richard Dawkins as himself

Synopsis: Ned punches Homer in the eye and wants Homer to do the same. Lisa has a new teacher who doesn’t like her because she’s pretty.

Discussion: Yet another pointless entry in The Simpsons season 24. Ned hits Homer and, according to the bible, deserves an eye thumping of his own. And Lisa’s teacher hates her. Call the media, Lisa’s upset and Homer’s a jerk.

There’s nothing of substance in this episode. Well, that’s not entirely true- there is a substance which triggers the punching. It’s not the first time Homer has partaken of the wacky weed, but this time he’s enjoying it with Ned’s parents, who haven’t really been seen except for ‘Hurricane Neddy’ in which Ned explores his childhood and discovers he’s angry at his parents. It’s nice that they’ve all matured enough to have breakfast together.

Meanwhile, Lisa’s teacher is voiced by the normally amusing Tina Fey, who is completely wasted (and not the good kind) in this ep. Ms Cantwell is a bully, revealed to do so because she thinks Lisa is pretty and is jealous of her. Well, I guess this is one substitute Lisa’s not falling in love with…

Neither plot is particularly interesting, although I would have liked to see Bart make Ms Cantwell’s life a bit more painful for a bit longer. Also the sequence in which Ned goes to his Personal Hell is quite amusing.

Other than that, I’m really only jabbering on to fill up space. This episode really doesn’t need much said about it. Yawn.

Gorgeous Grampa

Gorgeous Grampa

Couch gag: The Simpsons do the Harlem Shake

Director: Chuck Sheetz

Synopsis: The Simpsons discover Grampa’s secret past as a glamorous professional wrestler.

Discussion: Right, well. Now that The Simpsons have effectively ruined a complete historical canon of their story, we can look past all that nonsense and see that Abe Simpson used to be a despised pro wrestler sometime in the 50s.

The episode starts well; Homer is inspired by a reality show where people go through storage lockers and find stuff worth a few thousand dollars. Rocking up to the local storage auction, the Simpsons find boxes full of lady wear and makeup, all labelled with Grampa’s name. Thinking Abe is gay and has been hiding it, the family encourage him to live the life he should and find a male companion.

But then something goes wrong: the episode peaks far too early and then falls completely flat for the next ten minutes as Abe tries to recapture past glory, taking Bart with him.

The only glimpse of former brilliance is Mr Burns’ song about what a high to be loathed. It almost reaches the heights of other great songs from the show but it still manages to fall face first in a puddle of excrement.

But, as the first ten minutes are so enjoyable (once you get past the dodgy timeline), this ep rates a whopping “average” compared to the rest of the drivel we’ve seen so far this season.

hardly Kirking

Hardly Kirk-ing

Couch gag: A knight chops off Marge’s hair and Homer’s head

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Synopsis: After an accident with epoxy, Bart shaves Milhouse’s head so he looks like his dad. Meanwhile, Homer becomes a whiz at finding hidden objects.

Discussion: Paiiiiiiiiiinfulllllllll

Yes boys and girls, the subplot of this ridiculous tale is Homer finding hidden objects, first in books and then around the house. Now there’s a valuable skill to add to his resume.

The main plot has sooo much potential yet all the boys do as adults is vote and get into a jazz club. Remember when Bart got his driver’s license and took the kids to the Wod Fir? That was imaginative. This is plain boring and seriously stupid.

I really can’t think of anything else to say about it.

love is a many splintered thing

Love Is A Many Splintered Thing

Billboard: Springfield Isotopes Spring Training tickets still available.

I was not nominated for “Best Spoken Swear Word”

Couch gag: All the Simpsons have Moe’s face and sing The Szyslaks, then Maggie/Moe informs the audience that the show has already been cancelled.

Director: Michael Polcino

Guest Voices:
Zooey Deschanel as Mary Spuckler
Max Weinberg as himself
Robert Caro as himself
Benedict Cumberbatch as the British Prime Minister in Love Indubitably and Severus Snape

Synopsis: Mary Spuckler is back in town after her failed bid at modelling and she’s keen to start things afresh with Bart.

Discussion: For about two minutes, I was actually interested to see where this was going. Mary appears at Bart’s school again with romantic intentions. I was hoping to see an epic classic Simpsons episode about love and betrayal… and then nothing happens. Something about Marge and Homer having problems and Mary breaking up with Bart. It’s not that the plot is hard to follow, there’s just no plot to begin with.

The episode, like so many others this season, is unfocused and tries to cram as much crap as possible into 20 minutes before attempting a last minute effort to tie up all the loose ends. Oh, Marge and Homer haven’t reconciled by the 19th minute? Let’s just stuff a pathetic conclusion to that story and bring back a Woody Allen impersonation.

There’s really no reason to bother watching this season, let alone this episode. I think the only good line in the whole ep was when Bart opened the front door, Homer’s only wearing his tighty whities and says, “Thank God I wore the underpants with the hole on the side!” and wanders off, showing the viewer that he does indeed have a hole in his underpants. If that’s the best joke of the whole episode, you know something’s gone very, very wrong.

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