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Much Apu About Something

Director: Bob Anderson

Synopsis: Apu’s nephew Jamshed renovates the Kwik-E-Mart into a Quick & Fresh. Meanwhile, Bart retires from pranking.

Discussion:  The last time Apu lost the Kwik-E-Mart, we were treated to a tearful rendition of Who Needs a Kwik-E-Mart? and a delightful adventure where Homer and Apu went on an epic trek and got Apu’s store back. This time, we have Apu throwing a hissy fit, some hipster wannabe trying to bring the show into the 21st century and some pathetic garbage from Bart that the writers think is a prank.

As per usual, this episode makes little sense and contains nothing more than cheap laughs to fill 22 minutes. There is absolutely no substance whatsoever to this ep, making it the latest in a long line of WTF? episodes in which it’s pretty clear everyone involved with the show has given up.

OK, enough rambling from my high horse. Let’s talk plot. Apu’s store is destroyed, his brother Sanjay retires, leaving his majority stake to his son, Jamshed. How Sanjay scored a majority stake is a stroke of pure idiocy and lazy writing: Apu is addicted to scratch-and-win tickets (here in Australia, we call them scratchies). Anyhoo, Jay turns the store into a health food shop, Bart turns off the power, immediately sending the food to the depths of rotting hell, and everyone makes up and Apu regains control of his store. Yay.

It’s lazy, anticlimatic, and seriously boring. The ep relies on explaining jokes and giving voice to sight gags, which is a lazy formula proven to provide one more nail in the show’s coffin. Please please please can we just end it now?

Teenage Mutant Milk-Caused Hurdles

Couch gag: Homer watches an opening sequence called Laz-E-Rider, which pays homage to 80s TV shows.

Director: Timothy Bailey

Guest Voice:
Sofia Vergara as Ms Berrera

Synopsis: Homer buys milk with added hormones, which turn Bart and Lisa into premature teenagers. Bart has a new teacher and both he and Principal Skinner develop a crush on her.

Discussion: Sometimes the writers come up with a funny parody title but fail miserably to put any substance into the episode. This is yet another example. The ideas are disjointed; Bart has a cool new teacher, develops a crush on her (as does Skinner) and then the writers decide to make the title relevant by sending Homer to Apu to buy healthy milk.

There’s so much fun to be had with Lisa and Bart as teenagers! Bart grows a moustache, which turns out to be just weird. Lisa doesn’t even grow breasts! They’re missing some golden opportunities to have a lot of fun yet this ep falls completely flat. Sofia Vergara tries her best but just ends up another forgettable guest star.

What if Lisa developed feelings for a much older boy with a motorbike, got her period, grew breasts and had the urge to make out with Milhouse? What if Bart started having wet dreams, grew a mullet hairstyle (as seen in ‘Barthood’) and had the urge to make out with Milhouse? What if Ms Berrera stayed overnight at Skinner’s house? What if…?

There’s just so much fodder, and all of it missing from this extremely weak episode.

 

The Girl Code

Director: Chris Clements

Guest voices:
Kaitlin Olsen as Quinn
Stephen Merchant as Conrad

Synopsis: When Homer loses his job over Marge’s social media post, Lisa creates an app which warns users the consequences of their posts.

Discussion: What a mess! It’s a hodge-podge of half-arsed ideas thrown together to fill 22 minutes.

The first of the WTF? moments comes with Angry Ricky taking the recently-fired Homer home. Ummmmm, what? Who the hell is Angry Ricky and why is he the one kicking Homer out?

After that, it all seems to blur together. The whole coding class is a weird concept. I mean, sure, yay coding and yay female coders, but what? Suddenly the boys in the class are doing Crossfit?

And then… Homer goes back to the Greek restaurant where he worked at 14, washing dishes. He dances. And keeps dancing. And thinking he’s Greek. And that’s pretty much Homer’s “plot” for the rest of the episode.

Lisa’s plot also has little to offer. She goes a bit crazy and thinks the app is talking to her. What?

There’s nothing nice I can say about this episode. It’s just rubbish.

Why is grass green?

Barthood

Couch gag: The family appear rotoscoped; Homer complains and the family turn normally-animated again.

Director: Rob Oliver

Synopsis: Inspired by the 2014 film Boyhood, Bart grows up during the episode.

Discussion: Sorry for the delay in writing, it’s a mad mad mad mad mad time of year!

Anyhoo, Barthood traces Bart from a young child to a teenager. I haven’t seen the source movie so I can’t comment on themes etc. All I can tell you is what is in the episode.

I liked what they were trying to do. The concept of Bart growing up is a good one but poorly thought out. As another reviewer put it, “It was the same jokes with a different hairstyle”. The ep didn’t go anywhere; Bart felt Lisa got all the attention so he acted out… over the course of several years before the final, predictable conclusion.

It’s always nice to see a future episode, where they end up etc. These future episodes are always contradicted which has become half the fun. I’ve said it before and will say it again: Perhaps a good way to freshen the series is to advance the kids’ ages to permanent teenage years. There’s only so many times the innocence of a first love/kiss/crush can be explored for an 8 and 10 year old. The possibilities when dealing with Bart and Lisa as teens are endless. As for Maggie… well, it can still be a running joke that Maggie doesn’t speak, or the audience catches her before or after she’s spoken.

It was a cute episode, but could have been done better.

 

Paths of Glory

Couch gag: A parody of Yahtzee.

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Synopsis: Lisa follows in the footsteps of Springfield’s first female inventor. Marge and Homer think Bart is a sociopath.

Discussion: So, a Simpson wants to be an inventor… This time, Lisa decides to clear the name of Springfield’s first female inventor, Amelia Vanderbuckle, sent to an asylum more than 100 years ago.

Meanwhile, the diary of a homicidal maniac is mistaken for being Bart’s diary. It could have been a good storyline, if characters stopped explaining everything they’d just read and the concept wasn’t so poorly written. And clearly, it’s not Bart’s handwriting… But never let facts get in the way of a story (however lame the story might be). Marge gives Bart a sociopathic test… Let’s be honest, that whole scene is garbage: Thinking Bart is a dangerous sociopath, Homer and Marge let him do whatever he wants in a montage set to Black Sabbath’s ‘Crazy Train’. It’s nothing more than a muddled attempt at a subplot when the main plot takes up less than half the episode anyway. Did a drunk monkey type this script?

In any case, we’ve seen Lisa solving mysteries before, and done much better. Milhouse is a lousy sidekick sleuth.

Wait- why is Groundskeeper Willie wearing a bra??

Somehow the conclusion to this madness involves being drafted to the US Army and Lisa being right. Yawn. It’s a mishmash of half-arsed, badly executed ideas somehow smooshed together to make a “plot” (and I use the term very loosely). As the credits rolled, I was left scratching my head and wondering what the fuck I’d just watched.

I’m stuck in a Flandwich

Lisa with an S

Couch gag: A parody of Star Trek, couches surround a doughnut-shaped starship and destroy it

Director: Bob Anderson

Synopsis: Lisa makes her Broadway debut with an aging star.

Discussion:What can I tell you, folks? This sucked. The ep started well, with a Broadway-inspired song full of hope for tonight’s poker game. Homer lost to an aging Broadway star (and Moe’s new girlfriend), forcing Lisa to spend a month on the road. Something something something the show is cancelled and everyone hugs at the end. Or something, I stopped paying attention.

The plot of the episode is weak, with no guest star. Lisa’s fifteen minutes of fame parallels Bart as the I Didn’t Do It kid, but Bart did it better. This is a real snore fest.

Friend With Benefit

Couch gag: …doesn’t involve the couch. In a parody of Pixar’s short film Feast, Santa’s Little Helper gets fat and is sent to Fat Dog Hell with the promise of free pizza.

Director: Matthew Faughnan

Guest Voices:
Kristen Bell as Harper
David Copperfield as himself

Synopsis: Lisa meets a new friend who is rich, and interrupts people.

Discussion: If there’s anything that has true wisdom, it’s a show making fun of itself. This episode absolutely does. Carl notes that the “in thing”, by which he means a couple of years ago, is crowd funding.

So, in case no one has guessed yet, I’m Australian. Doe-Eyed Boys… sigh. Seriously, there are hundreds of Aussie wannabe actors in America, hire a couple to voice these kids. And did anyone notice that their music sounded a lot like Bart’s boy band? Oh wait, that’s referenced. PS, Wodonga is an actual town in VIctoria.

And yet again, Lisa is having trouble making and keeping friends. Yawn. At least this one isn’t making up stories set in a fantasy wonderland or gluing seashells onto the family car. She’s just rich and buys friends. Lisa’s stupid conscience gets in the way and she rejects her new friend Harper, who also has a nasty habit od interrupting Lisa. Yawn.

There’s nothing in this ep to hold any interest. Harper’s dad is just plain weird, Harper is obnoxious, the plot is thin. Maybe Bart could’ve fallen for her, they could have voted Harper off like an ep of Survivor, or a number of other wonderfully weird things could have happened. As it stands, it’s just another forgettable episode.

Treehouse of Horror XXVI

Couch gag: The kids are trick or treating when a horde of souls descends. The monstrous soul of Frank Grimes takes over Homer’s body.

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest Voice:
Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob

Synopsis: The annual Halloween episode, divided into three acts.

Discussion: Yay! It’s another installment of THOH, where The Simpsons parody popular culture and turn the event into a long-lasting memory. (Spoiler alert: epic fail)

Wanted: Dead Then Alive It’s what everyone has been wanting to see (apparently): Sideshow Bob finally kills Bart. Several times, too. He kills Bart, doesn’t know what to do with his life, reanimates Bart and keeps killing. It’s a total anticlimax for this scenario.

Homerzilla Homer as Godzilla in a parody. What? We’ve seen this before? Surely you jest! This time the parody focuses on Godzilla’s reboots, spin-offs and sequels that no one wanted to see. Just a heads up, it’s likely no one wanted to see this either. It seemed like the writers wrote 3 minutes, then realised they had 7 more minutes to fill and just wrote random words on the paper to make a “plot”. It was nonsensical and booooooooooooring.

Telepaths of Glory is apparently based on something called Chronicle, which I haven’t seen. Milhouse, Bart and Lisa are out hiking, Milhouse falls down a hole, Bart and Lisa follow, and somehow Lisa and Milhouse end up with telekinesis (not telepathy). It was interesting for about two minutes.

Unfortunately this episode SUCKED. It was badly thought-out, badly executed and the writing was lazy, returning to a bunch of characters expositing what just happened. It was non-sensical drivel that will be forgotten in minutes. Lazy effort from all involved. Yawn.

Welcome, seasonal customer

Halloween of Horror

Director:
Mike B. Anderson

Guest Voices:
Nick Kroll as Lem
Blake Anderson as Dickie

Synopsis: Lisa is scared at a Halloween event at Krustyland.

Discussion: This is the first Halloween episode to be canon and not a Treehouse of Horror. Lisa, excited to be old enough to attend a Krustyland Halloween event, is scared by the scene and becomes a Halloween recluse. Homer gets on the bad side of three weirdos who stalk him for the rest of the ep.

This episode was very up-and-down for me. There were some really good moments, such as the ‘Time Warp’-styled ‘Adults of Halloween’ which was both a great song (haven’t seen one of those in years!) and a funny look at the adults enjoying Halloween (and their coworkers, apparently…) The song was right: what is seen cannot be unseen. Thanks Chief Wiggum *shudder*

Anyhoo, Lisa’s fears were real and were explored well. She regressed to having a comfort toy while Homer admitted he’s lied more times than there are stars in the sky. There are elements of every scary movie ever made (I particularly liked the chilling nursery rhyme) and the pace clocked along without getting bogged down.

It’s not the best episode ever, but it is showing that the writers and production team are actually putting some effort into this season.

No one out-fats me

Puffless

Couch gag: The family are cars, which reverse park onto the couch. Maggie, as a monster truck, crushes them.

Director: Rob Oliver

Guest Voices:
Jon Lovitz as the cigarette
Yo-Yo Ma as himself

Synopsis: After discovering lung cancer killed their father, Patty and Selma quit smoking. Maggie befriends some animals.

Discussion: Maybe it’s the sleep deprivation talking, but I started out liking this episode. It really felt like a flashback to when The Simpsons was cool; Mr Burns and Grampa vying for Mrs Bouvier’s affections and her admission that she didn’t tell the twins about their father’s lung cancer because she thought their smoking made them look cool.

But then… Maggie. Sure, it’s hard to give Maggie her own storyline; there’s not much you can do with a one year old baby who doesn’t talk. It’s cute and I’m all for the return of Spider-Pig… but this just made it feel like half an episode. In ye golden days, The Simpsons often had two simultaneous, unconnected storylines with varying success. Maggie’s story was as complete as it could be whereas Patty and Selma’s story could have been developed a lot more.

It wasn’t a terrible episode (to my complete surprise!) but it could have been better. And… SPIDER-PIG!

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