I watch, and blog, and watch and blog and watch. It's the Simpsons every day!

Treehouse of Horror XXV

Director: Matthew Faughnan

Guest Voices:
John Ratzenburger as CGI Homer

Synopsis: Bart and Lisa attend school in Hell; Moe runs a gang and the Simpsons meet their former selves

Discussion: What the actual hell?? The past few ‘Treehouse of Horrors’ have been half decent and watchable but this year we’re presented with some half-arsed conceptual crap that may have sounded good in the writers’ heads but did not translate well on screen.

School of Hell sees Bart and Lisa transported to Hell, where they attend school and Bart actually wants to learn things. It sounds like a good idea but is so poorly executed (‘scuse the pun) that the segment is barely worth watching. Actually I only watched it for posterity.

A Clockwork Yellow has Moe as the leader of a gang which disbands once Homer leaves to marry Marge. I think Comic Book Guy says it best when he utters, “Even I forget what this is a reference to”. It was probably the most lamest of all lame parodies I have ever seen. The only thing I half smiled at was a reference to Kubrick wanting to re-shoot the sequence.

The Others has the original Simpson family (from the Tracy Ullman Show) “haunting” the house of the present-day Simpsons. I was hoping for some original content, as in funny stuff the “old” family did or said and a self-reference from the new family about how great the old days were and how funny they were back then… But no. New Homer falls for Old Marge and somehow they all die and become ghosts. What? The Simpsons as characters from other shows/movies was mildly interesting (especially as the minions from Despicable Me) but there’s really nothing to offer in this segment.

If I had to give a rating, I’d rate it half a star out of 5. It sucked more than my Dyson.

Super Franchise Me

Couch gag: A Parody of Cat Stevens’ Tea for the Tillerman album cover

Director: Mark Kirkland

Synopsis: Marge opens a sandwich franchise but loses out when a competing shop opens across the road.

Discussion: Wikipedia says this episode garnered “mostly positive reviews“. Did we watch the same episode? It’s easily one of the worst episodes in the entire series. Here’s why:

  • We’ve seen it before. Remember when Marge had a pretzel franchise? The only difference this time is that Homer doesn’t hire the Mafia to wipe out the competition.
  • While The Simpsons is well known for perpetuating stereotypes, a montage of Marge hiring the town’s most unemployable people is going from the sublime to the ridiculous. Shauna, Gil and Squeaky Voiced Teen do not add anything to the narrative as the family ends up serving all the customers themselves. Total yawn fest.
  • Why is Marge and some random franchise woman at Bart’s school anyway? If you’re going to introduce the main plot, make the meeting plausible. Maybe marge could have been stocking up on sandwich supplies, or making sandwiches at the tuck shop and random franchise lady is another mother. Come on, put some thought into it!
  • Enter competition. OK, so Cletus’ kids’ names are always amusing, and it makes sense for the whole family to be working there. But when we’ve seen Marge stressing over finding the dosh to open the franchise, and see Cletus et al open a store so quickly… where did they get the money? Mafia connections? And why are Springfielders flocking to eat roadkill?
  • Mr Burns wooing the cardboard stand up of Mrs Hubbard, who looks remarkably like a sandwich. It’s pathetic on so many levels.
  • There is no resolution to the plot whoatsoever. Homer gets bashed in his crotch. What? What if the Simpsons tried to sabotage the second store? Now that would be fun! But no, Marge and family go whimpering into the night after losing all their money (except their original investment) and life returns to crappy normal…
  • …With a weird chase scene at the end to eat up some more time because the main plot didn’t take long enough.

There is nothing about this episode that makes sense, is humourous, or deserves any praise whatsoever (disclaimer: I didn’t get the couch gag and had to look it up. Even then it was pointless, although I concede it was somewhat artistic and kinda cute although the Ralph-on-a-swing thing was waaaay more creepy than it should have been).

I’m calling it as one of the worst episodes in the entire series. It’s not only rehashing an old plot, it’s doing it with a whole lot less style.

I know how cereal works

Wreck of the Relationship

Couch gag: Homer saves Scratchy from being murdered by Itchy. Scratchy then spends several months living with the family but Homer grows tired of it and brings back Itchy to kill Scratchy.

Director: Chuck Sheetz

Guest Voice:
Nick Offerman as Captain Bowditch

Synopsis: Homer and Bart have a standoff over broccoli, so Marge enrols them both into a therapy session: a week on a boat.

Discussion: Apart from the obvious flaw that Homer has some sort of authority over his kids (especially Bart), this episode started off pretty well. Could this signal a return to good episodes?

Sadly, no. I would have preferred to watch half an hour of victims in the Shelbyville sinkhole, to be honest. Bart and Homer have tried bonding before and it was done much better. A week on a ship doesn’t have a lot to offer (Homer gets scurvy and spends the week sucking lemons and getting seasick?) so the execution of the story was deeply flawed and quite boring. it’s a shame because it has so much potential.

The subplot was something about Marge taking over Homer’s fantasy football team and something about people messaging her at church. What the hell was that about? My dog barks more sense that this plot.

Sadly, I don’t hold high hopes for this season. Being ever the optimist, I was hoping the creative team could do a little bit of Googling, see that bloggers are crucifying this show, and actively do something about turning it around. Just like the Relation Ship, that boat has long sailed.

I was using that car as pants

The Simpsons Guy

Director: Peter Shin

Synopsis: After getting an offensive comic published, the Griffin family leave town and their car is stolen just outside the Springfield city limits.

Discussion: Despite officially being a Family Guy episode, I thought I’d include this into the Simpsons blog. Because it’s my blog and I can do what I like with it.

Firstly, I’ve seen exactly one full episode of Family Guy and was so underwhelmed I’ve never bothered watching another. Furthermore, the only reason I watched that full episode was because I was reading an essay (related to The Simpsons) about the disconnected reality of Family Guy. Specifically, the episode where Peter Griffin ends up in court and a giant drink barges through the courtroom wall (incidentally, that ep is referenced in this crossover). So, I missed most of the FG references and was filled in by my boyfriend, who says it was perfectly FG.

My thoughts about the episode… wow. What a mess. There are so many WTF moments, I don’t know where to begin. Everything from Homer teaching Peter how to eat doughnuts to Peter and Homer drinking petrol and ending up as a porn film to the random appearance of Fred Flintstone as the Judge at the beer lawsuit. Seriously.

Sure, the Griffins visited Springfield, which apparently means an appearance by anyone who has ever done anything in Springfield. However, I really think Dr Nick greeting Santa’s Little Helper as Dr Dog, his assistant to surgery, is stupidly unnecessary and weird. The sequence where Homer and Peter are “sexy” car washers is just plain disturbing and should come with a warning for those who have just eaten.

Despite being a FG episode and me being mostly unfamiliar with how FG works, I still think the episode was weird and overly long. I understand FG sometimes has epic fight scenes and requires a suspension of reality, but this took it waaaay too far. A full ten minute fight scene between Peter and Homer was far too long and added nothing to an already thin narrative. Homer being squished under a UFO and coming back to life to joke with Peter about being parked behind him (or vice versa, I tuned out by that point) didn’t exactly fit the MO of either show. I don’t think the ep warranted an hour’s screening time, although this was self-referenced when either Peter or Homer (I forget which) said they’ll stay half an hour away from each other with crap in the middle. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Clown in the Dumps

Billboard: Jimbo: Send me your lunch money online

Spoiler Alert: Unfortunately my dad doesn’t die

Couch gag: A time travelling Homer ends up in a future episode, 10,000 years in the future. Directed by Don Hertzfeld

Guest Voices:
Sarah Silverman as herself
Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob
Jackie Mason as Rabbi Krustofsky
David Hyde Pierce as himself
Jeff Ross as himself

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Synopsis: Krusty is devastated when his father dies, and Lisa worries about Homer’s health.

Discussion: Welcome to Season 26, which premiered after almost a year of hype over which character would die. Let me just say that there was no hype whatsoever in Australia and the only mention I saw of a character being killed off was thanks to Dead Homer Society a couple of months ago. The day the ep aired, there was exactly one article over here about the disappointment at which character dies. Did anyone really think it would be a Simpson?

The ep begins with a Roast of Krusty, which I’m sure has been done before and like every other roast in history, is just plain mean and completely unfunny. You can’t hide your truth about someone behind “comedy”. Feeling down, Krusty seeks advice from his father but his father dies unexpectedly after approximately one minute on screen. Worst. Death. Ever. At least Maude Flanders had a tangible death. No sign of Homer “helping” Krusty move on from his loss, so that’s a positive. Then there’s some lame plot about Lisa worrying that Homer is about to die due to his obesity. What?

This is hardly a stellar introduction to yet another season which will likely rely on flab jokes and explaining said jokes. Shoving in a bunch of famous people in the first five minutes will not save the episode nor make one excited to see what the hell happens. Makes me wonder if the writers plan more than four seconds in advance.

Yellow badge

The Yellow Badge of Cowardge

Couch gag: The Simpsons and Matt Groening are at San Diego Comic-Con but all leave when asked if there’s another Simpsons movie.

Director: Timothy Bailey

Guest Voices:
Edwin Moses as himself
Glenn Close as Mona

Synopsis: Homer tries to pull off Springfield’s greatest fireworks show while Bart is wracked with guilt over letting Milhouse be beaten up during a race.

Discussion: This episode didn’t start badly, but quickly took a wrong turn into the dark woods and lost its way (much like Milhouse, actually). Milhouse was a shoe-in to win the school’s last day of term race but was beaten up by Nelson. Bart saw this and did nothing. And then there’s Homer making up stupid plans for the Fourth of July (as an aside, Guiseppe is correct about the right date being July 2).

The major problem with this ep is that it doesn’t go anywhere. Bart spends 15 minutes wracked with guilt and unsatisfactorily concludes his story with some shit and hopes the audience don’t notice. Homer’s plot is just plain boring, with some Grampa coward stories to fill up some time. Glenn Close is completely wasted in this episode; the viewer doesn’t catch any of what she’s saying. This goes against everything the mighty Hellfish episode stood for- an allegory into how lame both Grampa and the show have become. Milhouse is just as pathetic as ever, even to the point where he doesn’t remember what happened to him in the woods, thus buying a few minutes where Bart can pretend it’s all good.

It’s a terrible way to finish a season. And as of today, I’ve now finished all 552 episodes of the show. What am I going to do with myself?? I, like everyone else, will have to wait a month or so until Season 26 arrives, promising the death of a character. My hopes aren’t high.

And finally… what the hell was Milhouse doing drinking from the toilet???

pay pal

Pay Pal

Couch gag: The Simpsons are pawns in The Game of Life.

Director: Michael Polcino

Guest Voices:
John Oliver as Booth Wilkes John
Carl Kassell as himself
Peter Sagal as himself

Synopsis: Fearing Lisa will grow up without friends, Marge pays someone to befriend Lisa.

Discussion: The main point of the episode is lost between Homer’s behaviour at a party and wondering what happened to the charming new British neighbour.

The couch gag was a parody of The Game of Life, in which Homer and the Simpson family retrace their backstory as part of the game. I can only suppose this is intended for those unfortunate people who have accidentally tuned into this episode without ever having watched a prior Simpsons episode ever.

We begin with Bart watching Itchy and Scratchy on an ancient portable television. I admit, I laughed at ‘Catatouille’. I thought it was a real hark back to the golden days of the show-within-a-show and also because I love Disney, so any parody is going to be at lest mildly amusing. Skip to the adult party, where charming British host Booth Wilkes John (voiced by John Oliver) is hosting a murder mystery… until oaf Homer ruins the fun. Segue into Marge worrying about not having any friends, which obviously means Lisa is growing up without friends as well. Sure, Lisa’s friendships are short and fleeting, but she seems OK with this and even mentions in this ep that she’s better off without friends because it helps her focus.

In desperation, Marge pays someone to be Lisa’s friend. Because that’s what caring mothers on television do, with no chance of being discovered. The emotional heart of the ep is completely lost- I was hoping Lisa would go mental on her mother but all she did was feel guilty that she made her mother cry. Sure, seeing your mother cry is one of the worst feelings in the world, but still, Lisa going mental would be far better television.

In conclusion, this ep feels like it was patched together by 10 different people who couldn’t agree on what should be happening. One person runs out of ideas, so another is brought in until their 30 seconds of ideas is exhausted, then bring someone else in. Or else they had old scenes left over and decided to smoosh them together, kinda like smooshing ABBA songs into a musical. At least bring back Booth, who had so much potential!

Brick like me

Brick Like Me

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Synopsis: Homer dreams he’s stuck in a Lego world in order to keep his kids close to him forever.

Discussion: I love kids’ movies. I’m a huge Disney fan and, based on recommendations from everyone I know, I saw The Lego Movie. And hated it. Sure, it was well animated but it lacked the depth of story I’m used to in so many other films. It was like it was squarely aimed at brain damaged five year olds… or am I thinking of seasons 24 and 25 of The Simpsons?

In any case, I was so hoping this episode would be much more than just a gimmick, and it got halfway there. Homer, in Lego Springfield, starts hallucinating that he’s made of squishy meat and has flashbacks to playing toys with Lisa until he decides to leave the hard plasticy world and return to the one where he’s made of fleshy meat. I was willing to buy the story until Homer told Lisa he can’t stop her growing up. Seriously, he said that. Just because Lisa has been 8 for the past thirty years doesn’t mean she won’t grow up, apparently.

The mix of animation used, at first, seemed like they ran out of money and had to insert their regular animation into it, until it becomes clear that this is part of the story. Most characters from the show are represented in Lego, which is a welcome touch because everyone likes to see their favourite characters in a different light sometimes.

As for the story, I was underwhelmed. While I can appreciate the essence of what Homer was trying to do, it really only seemed like an excuse to throw around as many Lego sets and puns as possible. Homer, by self admission, doesn’t enjoy playing imaginary tea parties with Lisa so to have an episode set around building a mini Lego Springfield in order to spend more time with her… well, it’s been done before and much better. Remember Daddy-Daughter Days when Homer was betting on Lisa’s sports picks?And what about Bart? Surely he and Homer could have some real fun bonding over weirdo Lego sets.

Only around 4.5 million Americans watched this episode, proving that the average viewer cannot be sucked into watching a gimmick of a once-favourite television show. It’s a shame, really, but hey, you can’t blame the writers for trying any old gimmick.

what to expect

What To Expect When Bart’s Expecting

Billboard: Apu: Total Recall, all items tainted

You can’t play April Fool’s Day jokes on April 27th

Couch gag: The family take a trip through Homer’s body. Directed by Michael Socha.

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Guest Voices:
Tavi Gevinson as Jenny
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony

Synopsis: Disliking his art teacher, Bart performs a voodoo spell on her and she announces she’s pregnant. Soon, other women pay Bart for his services and they become pregnant too. Fat Tony then hires Bart to facilitate in getting his prized filly pregnant.

Discussion: This ep starts well enough: Moe and the other bar owners decide to spruce things up by staging a superhero drinking marathon. It’s just the kind of silliness that the show personifies. Unfortunately, then we descend into silliness that the show has become: Bart performing voodoo and the female residents become pregnant.

Even the welcome appearance of Fat Tony couldn’t save this episode. The utterly ridiculous horse plot was so pathetic it barely rates a mention, let alone half the episode. Not even that- the opening sequence was another filler, clocking in at over 2 minutes, and at the very end we’re “treated” to an ad featuring Sudsley for a new Duff product.

Just yesterday, I was musing to myself that the show was missing some musical numbers. I spoke too soon; this ep has a Les Miserables number which feels so forced and pathetic that it really has no place other than more filler.

Will someone PLEASE put this show out of its misery?

days of future future

Days of Future Future

Couch gag: The living room and couch are covered with bubble wrap and the family dance about to pop them before sitting down.

Director: Bob Anderson

Guest Voice:
Amy Poehler as Jenda

Synopsis: A sequel to ‘Holidays of Future Passed‘. Bart tries to get back with Jenda, Lisa’s marriage to Milhouse is strengthened by him becoming a zombie and Homer is forced to be a computer simulation for the rest of his life.

Discussion: We start out with Homer dying and being replaced by about 167 clones, all of whom meet tragic ends. Homer spends the rest of the episode living in a computer and/or a robot body. Yep.

Meanwhile, Lisa is married to Milhouse, who becomes far more interesting as a zombie. Yep. It’s almost self-referential to the show becoming “Zombie Simpsons“, a pale imitation of its glory years.

The most interesting part of this episode, and that’s not saying much, is Bart’s attempted reconciliation with his ex, Jenda, who is now dating an alien, from Aliens, named Jerry. Jenda has only been seen three times (if I remember correctly), which sorta negates Bart’s crush on Mary Spruckler. I’d prefer it if he married Sherri or Terri… but anyhoo.

There is nothing about this episode that makes sense, unlike ‘Holidays of Future Passed’ which was sweet and charming. The joke about Cretaceous Park (now named correctly) is kinda funny, and my boyfriend laughed at Ralph Wiggum’s stint as a cop, “Look at me! I’m fighting crime!” as he’s being swung around by Milhouse to hit the bullies.

Deservedly, it holds the record for the second-fewest viewers in the history of the show. A couple of days ago, I was writing about how interesting Bart and Lisa could be if they were allowed to grow up a bit. I guess I was wrong.

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