My Mother the Carjacker
Couch gag: The family decays and turns to dust
Director: Nancy Kruse
Glenn Close as Mona Simpson
Synopsis: Grandma Simpson returns and is exonerated for her crimes in the 60s.
Discussion: Yawn. We’ve seen this all before: Grandma comes back, ends up on the run and disappears for another few seasons. Hopefully, this time was the end and we’ll never see her again. She’s become the Sideshow Bob of the series: every appearance is the same old thing with the same old tired tricks and storylines.
Homer, trying to win his own shirt for finding a hilarious headline, discovers a secret message from a mysterious person, who turns out to be his mother. They reconnect, she’s still on the run, and Homer tries to relive his childhood with his mother. In other words, exactly the same thing which happened the last time they reunited. Whereas the season 7 ep ‘Mother Simpson’ was sweet and poignant, this one is just retreading old ground. There’s nothing new here.
Sadly, I think this is the state of things to come: same old, same old. It’s sad, Mona is such an interesting character who doesn’t mind bonding with a dependent son yet she’s treated to the exact same thing each and every time.
Treehouse of Horror 14
Director: Steve Dean “Morbid”
Jerry Lewis as Frink Sr
Jennifer Garner as herself
Dudley Herschbach as himself
Oscar De La Hoya as himself
Synopsis: Homer becomes the Grim Reaper; Prof Frink wins a Nobel Prize and reanimates his dead father; Bart and Milhouse buy a stopwatch that stops time.
Discussion: I’m not normally a fan of Halloween episodes, but I quite enjoyed the three stories of this one.
In ‘Reaper Madness’, Homer becomes the Grim Reaper in much the same fashion as Tim Allen became Santa in The Santa Clause. Life is good until he’s handed the death order for Marge, so he does what any normal person would do and tries to trick God by using Selma instead. It’s a pretty good segment, highlighted by the use of Yakity Sax, which is known to Aussie and UK viewers as the Benny Hill Theme (and recently used in ‘A Star is Born Again‘).
‘Frinkenstein’ is another gem. Professor Frink is awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics and dearly wishes for his deceased father to witness the occasion, but there’s a problem: Frink Sr was partially eaten by a shark whilst testing blood-based sun lotion. Frink Jr reanimates his father, who then harvests organs from others. It’s all bloody and messy and doesn’t stop even at the awards ceremony. Voiced by the legendary Jerry Lewis, Frink Sr is a fun character. He’s mean, but when harvesting organs he becomes a villain you can’t help but love, like Freddy Krueger.
Bart and Milhouse buy a magic stopwatch in ‘Stop the World, I Want to Goof Off’. This stopwatch has the ability to stop time for the world except for the person/s holding the watch. Cue mischief and mayhem… until they break the watch. I’m not entirely satisfied with the ending in which Lisa tinkers with the fabric of time, sending the Simpson family into all sorts of weirdo characters and situations, but up until that point, it’s a fun segment.
It’s about this season where I stopped watching and don’t remember a lot of episodes. This is one of them. I’ve probably caught a few of these ones on TV at various times but I haven’t gone out of my way to watch them. So, this is where the journey really begins: watching episodes I’ve not ever seen before.
Moe Baby Blues
Couch gag: The Simpsons are made of gingerbread and Homer takes a bite out of Bart.
Director: Lauren MacMullen
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Synopsis: After catching Maggie from a car accident, Moe bonds with her.
Discussion: Aww, Moe finally has some meaning to his life and it’s in the shape of a little baby named Maggie Simpson.
Whilst this episode doesn’t compare to the early episodes, there’s a sweetness to it, plus it’s quite surprising that someone like Moe can bond so effectively with Maggie. There are some hilarious visual gags in the ep: when the Simpsons are first entering the Botanic Gardens and Lisa cracks up at the garden (also the title of this blog post), Moe playing bar with Maggie instead of the traditional tea party, and the orange wedges that ultimately give away the fate of little Maggie.
The storyline declines when the Mafia get involved and turns this ep into another “WTF?” moment. However the quip made by Homer makes up for it:
Moe: We have to go into Little Italy.Homer: I’ll get our little passports.
It’s not a particularly strong finish to the season but it is highly enjoyable. There’s a certain poignancy to the Moe-Maggie relationship, although we know Moe has a heart; we’ve seen him reading Little Women to homeless people before. Poor Moe does seem to be continually left out and ridiculed so it’s nice to see something good happening to him.
The Bart of War
Sandwiches should not contain sand
Couch gag: The Simpsons are picked up by a giant baby, who drools on them.
Director: Michael Polcino
Synopsis: Bart and Milhouse wind up in rival activity groups.
Discussion: …What the hell did I just watch? Like yesterday’s episode, this one made little sense with no point. The premise isn’t very clear, but I think it has something to do with Bart and Milhouse having negative influences on each other and needing to be apart. of course, this would be funnier if the judgment was handed down by Judge Constance Harm, but as it is, we’re left with Marge muttering something about something with Bart and Milhouse joining rival groups.
After that, I’ve got no idea what happens. There’s some dialogue, something about laxatives, and before I can collect my thoughts, there’s the Canadian national anthem and the end credits. What? This ep is unfocused, no storyline and completely devoid of anything remotely rational. God help me if season 15 onwards is anything like the past two episodes.
Brake My Wife, Please
Couch gag: The Simpsons have their photo taken in a novelty cardboard cutout.
Director: Pete Michels
Jane Kaczmarek as Judge Harm
Steve Buscemi as himself
Jackson Browne as himself
Synopsis: Homer loses his license and Marge feels unappreciated when driving him around and running his errands.
Discussion: Screwed if I know what this episode was about. Something about Homer being a jerk and Marge stressing. Throw in a couple of absurd musical numbers and you end up with a confused look on your face and a subtle gladness that the atrocity is finally over.
There are no redeeming features to this episode. No classic lines, no discernible plot, and even the three guest stars are out of place; they feel shoved in at the last moment in a vain attempt to bring a pulse to the dying show. It’s one of the worst episodes thus far simply because I got to the end and thanked the Lord it was over. What the hell was that about? No, really, someone please tell me because I have no idea.
Old Yeller Belly
My pen is not a booger launcher
Couch gag: The Simpsons parody Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper
Director: Bob Anderson
Stacy Keach as Howard K. Duff VII
Synopsis: Santa’s Little Helper becomes Suds McDuff, the new mascot for Duff beer.
Discussion: Hehehe, unitard.
Today’s Simpsons ep finds Homer in a spot of trouble and Santa’s Little Helper, ever the faithful companion, chickens out (or was that a turkey?), leaving Homie to be saved by the cat. Blah blah blah, the dog becomes the lovable new spokesmodel for Duff beer, and is reclaimed by his former owner, some greyhound racing guy. Yes, beloved viewers, scandal has hit The Simpsons.
Maybe it’s because I had very little sleep last night, but I really enjoyed this episode. It’s full of great lines (my notebook of possible blog titles is full of gems from today’s ep) and Bart’s opening night of his new treehouse is so frickin’ funny, it deserves its own awards night. Hmm, maybe I do need more sleep…
This episode could not have been done better. Everything aligns perfectly to propel the story forward: yesterday’s episode where Homer writes ‘Everybody Hates Ned’ was so disjointed and weird. However, the writing is tight, hilarious and brilliantly worked together to create a fantastic episode. And who doesn’t love Duffman? He’s a peripheral character but we see a different side of him- gold star for you if you can work out his maths problem too.
Dude, Where’s My Ranch?
Couch gag: The Simpsons are mimes
Director: Chris Clements
David Byrne as himself
Andy Serkis as Cleanie
Jonathon Taylor Thomas as Luke
Synopsis: After Homer writes a popular song about Flanders, he and the family head to a ranch to get away from his success.
Discussion: This episode was controversial because it was claimed that Usher’s song ‘OMG’ was a lot like Homer’s Christmas carol. If you haven’t heard the comparison, you can find it here.
Unfortunately that’s pretty much the only bit worth talking about in this unfortunate episode. Threatened with legal action over the family singing Christmas carols, Homer decides to write his own and comes up with a song about how annoying Ned Flanders is. It’s a catchy song and it takes the world by storm, so much so that Homer & fam decided to skip town and stay at a ranch.
After this point, it’s safe to turn off. The ep descends into every cliche known to man with a token gust voice and some square dancing. Lisa falls for a cowboy named Luke and is jealous when another girl enters the picture. Naturally, the girl is Luke’s sister. Snore.
Everything after the first ad break is a shocker. Despite winter and Christmas in the first scene, it’s not mentioned nor seen again. I guess writing, recording and distributing songs does take a long time, which might account for the change in seasons… but really, continuity is not a strong point of the show so I shouldn’t really be criticising. It’s a weak episode, story-wise, but Homer’s song really is catchy and it’s a shame it’s not made more use of.
Three Gays in a Condo
couch gag; The Simpsons are deep fried, placed on the couch and salted
Director: Mark Kirkland
Scott Thompson as Grady
Weird Al Yankovic as himself
Synopsis: Homer convinces himself that the only reason Marge married him was because she was pregnant, so he moves in with a couple of gay guys to sort out his life.
Discussion: Here we have an excuse to parade around every gay stereotype and joke known to man, however I don’t think it’s done in an offensive way. It’s just how gay people are portrayed in the Simpsons universe. It’s almost like gay characters are one big homogenous character who all present the same characteristics, facets of gayness that only the audience understands.
For some reason, Homer has convinced himself that his entire marriage has been a sham and Marge only married him because she was pregnant was Bart. Somehow, the entire chronicle of the series has escaped Homer’s memory (and, I assume, the audience as well). Despite this universal amnesia, Homer moves out and seeks shelter with Grady and Julio, who painstakingly point out just how gay they are to Homer. Apparently, Homer’s marital amnesia extends to John, whom at one point, Homer was convinced was going to teach Bart to be gay. Or maybe Homer really did get over his homophobia. Who knows?
The point is, the premise doesn’t make sense. It’s a ploy to throw in depressed bedfellows (the residents of Kirk Van Houten’s abode pining for their failed marriages) and every gay “joke” in the book. Weird Al’s parody love song to win Homer back lacks any humour in it whatsoever.
It’s a lackluster episode, whichever way you look at it. It has potential to be a really funny, biting satirical look at marriage… but it fails miserably. All this episode really offers is Homer getting drunk… repeatedly.
‘Scuse me While I Miss the Sky
Couch gag: Homer waterskis over sharks and when he lands on the couch, it is revealed sharks have his legs.
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Eric Idle as Declan Desmond
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Synopsis: A documentary filmmaker comes to Springfield Elementary. Bart tries to be cool by stealing a hood ornament and Lisa protests about light pollution over the town.
Discussion: Forgive me for being jaded about this episode; another variation of a theme. Lisa is on yet another crusade for science and Bart is causing trouble while attempting to be cool.
What would make this ep more interesting would be Lisa deliberating on say, Obler’s Paradox. Bart’s attempts to get in with the cool kids is passe at best… and since when have bullies been “the cool kids” anyway? Mr Burns should have been ecstatic to have perma-noon lighting over the town, this is what the townspeople fought against way back in the Who Shot Mr Burns? episodes. Yet the only shot on Mr Burns in this ep is him looking adoringly at the night sky (well, to be technical, there’s also a shot of Burns and Smithers looking at the sky and Smithers does the yawn-and-stretch-arm-around-the-shoulders bit). Maybe his cold fiscal heart has softened somewhat over the course of 300+ episodes…
Let’s talk about Sideshow Mel. I get it, he’s a peripheral character by definition, but what if we had a whole episode about him? We know nothing about Sideshow Mel yet he’s often given the best one liners in an episode. He’s obviously intelligent. There’s no need for him to follow Sideshow Bob’s storylines (been there, done that) but surely something can be made up for him?
Couch gag: The Simpsons are in a flip book
Director: Mike B. Anderson
Synopsis: Inspired by a motivational speaker, Homer seeks to become owner of the nuclear power plant.
Discussion: This is another episode which takes a while to get to the point, and the point isn’t that fantastic. I’m sure we’ve seen this before (and not just because it was on TV last week). Homer has been high up in the power plant ranks before and never appreciated it, but apparently still yearns for the rich life working his fingers to the bone and neglecting his family.
The main thing about this ep is that it makes sense… but there’s no plot. Homer takes out a canary, the legal owner of the factory, and becomes CEO and soon regrets it. It feels like A Christmas Carol but the punchline is Mr Burns trying to seal Homer in a mausoleum. Considering Mr Burns is physically weaker than the canary, this scene elicits a chuckle. Also worthy of a chuckle is Maggie dancing to Tom Jones’ Sex Bomb: perhaps is the ep was made today, Maggie would be twerking.
It’s quite sad to say that the ep is “not bad” only because it’s plotless. It feels stale, we’ve been here before.