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Havana Wild Weekend

Billboard: Cletus’ Thanksgiving turkey eggs! Get to love it before you eat it

Being right sucks (This was the first ep to air after Trump won the election)

Couch gag: The family are sitting atop Mt Olympus, but Lisa is missing. She emerges from Homer’s head and Homer uses Maggie’s dummy to close the hole in his head.

Guest Voices:
Stacy Keach as HK Duff
Deb Lacusta as Isabella

Director: Bob Anderson

Synopsis: Grampa feels young again during a trip to Cuba.

Discussion: Hindsight is everything… I watched this episode the week Fidel Castro died. It puts an interesting angle on US/Cuba relations in the aftermath.

We start with a parody of Shark Tank called Vulture’s Nest. It was mildly amusing however it descended quickly when Grampa peed on the rug.

Oh dear God! This is another Grampa-feels-old-then-young episode, but set in Cuba where they can be free to make as many cultural jokes and stereotypes as they like. There’s no actual plot, just a set of random “jokes” set into 20 minutes.

Give this ep a complete miss.

There Will Be Buds

Director:Matthew Vaughan

Synopsis: Milhouse’s dad clings to Homer’s friendship.

Discussion: This ep skips the intro and head straight into the “story”. Homer is forced into a friendship with the town loser, Kirk van Houten. It reeks of the Homer-Ned friendship episode, but way more lame. Homer doesn’t want to be friends with the weirdo. That’s it.

I honestly don’t know what to say about this episode. It wasn’t bad per se, just boring as hell. Or as the cool kids say, shit af. The highlight is Homer and Kirk’s Bro song, which garnered a giggle or two.

On the upside, it was one of the more rounded plots seen in recent years, so I can’t complain about that. Sure, it didn’t contain any depth or layers that are discovered with each viewing, but considering some of the tripe the writers have been dishing up for the past ten years, this is a definite pass mark.

 

Intimate but heterosexual

Trust But Clarify

Billboard: Beware Rigged Voting Machines

The first episode of the second 600

Couch gag: Homer sees his family and world as cubist art.

Guest voices:
Dan Rather as himself

Director: Michael Polcino

Synopsis:
Kent Brockman is fired after admitting he didn’t do any of the things he claimed to do. Homer is jealous that someone else got a promotion. Bart and Lisa investigate the new candy by Krusty.

Discussion: The beauty of South Park is that they have a turnaround of two weeks, so whatever is happening in the world can be made into a brand new episode in a fortnight. With The Simpsons, the turnaround is about six months. Even so, the jokes are so old I rode them to school before dinosaurs were invented. I did notice a small insert where late late late late night talk show host Jimmy Jimmy tousled Brockman’s hair…

Kent Brockman is hard on his luck after admitting he hasn’t done anything he’s said he’s done, like the killing of bin Laden. Lisa and Bart are investigating the latest Krusty candy and trying to enlist Kent to get somewhere. Meanwhile, in a deja vu moment of Marge buying a Chanel suit, Homer buys a new suit to emulate the guy who got the promotion over him to impress Mr Burns.

This episode was written by regular voice actor, Harry Shearer. You’d think someone involved with the show would know what a decent episode entails, and write to their strengths. Instead, this is a mish-mosh piece of garbage that left me scratching my head as to what was actually going on. This episode had no plot whatsoever, instead just throwing characters around with no conclusion. There’s potential for some really interesting stories and scandals involving Krusty and his new candy, but instead it’s waylaid by Kent taking back his old job for no reason other than the episode was finished.

There’s really nothing to like here. The episode was too short, none of the three plots were satisfying in any way and the cultural references were way behind the times.

It’s a particularly weak effort in all aspects.

 

 

 

 

Treehouse of Horror XXVII

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest Voices:
Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob
Drew Carey as himself
Sarah Silverman as Rachel
Donald Fagen as himself
Judith Owen as 600 singer

Synopsis: The Simpsons’ annual Halloween episode. Also their 600th episode!

Discussion:
Planet of the VR couches: The past three episodes have featured VR glasses… Just sayin’.

Dry Hard: When a drought hits Springfield, Mr Burns organises a Hunger Games style battle where the winner has a day of aquatic fun. This segment is worth it just to see Mr Burns’ homage to Flashdance. I actually quite enjoyed this segment even though I loathe the source material.

BFF RIP: Lisa’s best friends die and she blames the deaths on her imaginary friend, Rachel. It’s predictable and not terribly good, but Homer’s imaginary friend Sgt Sausage is pretty funny.

Moefinger: Moe turns out to be a spy and needs Bart to avenge Homer’s death. I like that the ol’ Love Tester is seen. However, the rest of the segment is pretty stupid.

At the end of the ep, there’s a Bond-inspired song in tribute to the 600th episode. They say in hell, they make you watch all the episodes back to back.

 

The Town

Director: Rob Oliver

Guest Voices:
 Bill Burr as Townie
Michael Chiklis as Handsome Quarterback
Rachel Dratch as Bostonian Doctor
Doris Kearns Goodwin as herself
Dana Gould as Murphy

Synopsis: Something about a football game and Bart barracking for a Boston team.

Discussion: …Really?

The premise of this episode is hate: Homer takes the family on a hate-cation to show them the worst the city has to offer. It’s brilliant in that this episode also shows the worst the series has to offer. What terrific irony!

This ep is full of insults and offensive phrases, some of which aren’t even intentional. I’m not sure what this episode is about other than to make fun of the Bostonian accent. I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning hidden in here, but I’m having trouble isolating it. Ultimately, it’s just another Simpsons family outing which doesn’t make sense.

Friends and Family

Billboard: Dr Nick with a chainsaw: Tell me what, and I’ll cut

I will stop losing 50% of my NFL lead-in

Couch gag: An off-screen finger taps the Simpsons through a smart phone but Homer is too fat so he’s whacked on the head to render him unconscious.

Director: Lance Kramer

Guest voices:
Alison Janney as Julia

Synopsis: Mr Burns decides he wants a family. Let the auditions begin!

Discussion: …What?

Mr Burns finds Professor Frink’s VR headgear and decides that the Simpsons sans Homer would be the perfect virtual reality. Cue a bunch of random scenes thrown together featuring the family in green-screen technology and Homer at Moe’s.

What makes classic Simpsons classic is the storytelling. Here we have a ton of montages with no end product- there is no point to seeing Homer washing his underwear in the dishwasher. Living in a virtual world should be perfect fodder to see what Mr Burns tick… However all we end up seeing is Mr Burns turning the shower knobs on for a hot shower. Really? With a lifetime of memories to relive and a whole world to explore, Mr Burns wants to pretend to have a hot shower. Yawwwwwwwwwwwn!

Meanwhile, Homer is naked and meets the back neighbour Julia, voiced by Alison Janney who is clearly reading from a script while wishing she was somewhere else.

This episode is lacking cohesive narrative, any form of direction and very poor performances. Have the actors finally realised this is a pointless exercise with a biiiig paycheque?

There’s two distinct plots here which could have been so much better. Julia’s friendship with Homer could have been so much better! Instead there’s two minutes smooshed somewhere near the end where Marge gets angry at Homer’s friendship. Had the episode focused on this, it would have been watchable. At the heart of every great episode is the family coming together after a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, this episode lost its direction altogether.

 

Monty Burns’ Fleeing Circus

Billboard: Why are they hitting themselves? How to bully-proof your kid. (By Nelson)

This arm needs Tommy John surgery

Couch gag: An Adventure Time themed alternate opening.

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Yay! It’s the season 28 premiere! Whoda thunk that we’d still be alive to see season 28??

For those playing The Simpsons Tapped Out, the basic storyline was already previewed over the past week as a mini event hit our games. For those with a life, the town’s Lard Lad building is replaced and the new-look statue causes widespread destruction. The Simpsons ask Mr Burns to rebuild the town and he agrees, on one condition: he’s allowed to showcase Springfield Follies at the Springfield Bowl.

Sure, it’s a flimsy  and recycled premise (remember A Star is Burns?), but that’s what we’ve come to expect from this show. There’s also strangely placed, nonsensical scene of a beach party in the nuclear plant… But anyhoo.

Nothing in this episode makes sense. There’s no plot, just nonsensical scenes and dialogue. The flashback to Mr Burns’ childhood is simply ridiculous and explains nothing. Honestly, I think the major clue is in the power plant party scene with the song ‘Because I Got High’ playing.

Sideshow Mel summed it up nicely when he pleaded for a murder of crows to pluck out thine eyes.

 

Orange is the new Yellow

Billboard: Apu holding wilted roses with the caption: “Wilted Mother’s Day roses, 1% off”

Milhouse does not live below the puberty line

Couch gag: Animation of instruction of how to put together a couch, Ikea style

Director: Matthew Faughan

Synopsis: When Marge allows Bart to go to the park unsupervised, she’s hauled away to jail.

Discussion: I like the premise of this episode. I like that it’s a parody of Orange is the new Black and I like that Marge is in charge.

Unfortunately, it’s really boring. It tries so hard, but falls waaaay flat. The writers have tried to give Marge a holiday from the family by being in jail but she did it already at Rancho Relaxo, with better results.

The family are looked after by Flanders, but Homer and Bart still find a way to mess it up. Marge misses her family. There’s a cow in the tornado. Yawn.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lot better than 60% of this season’s episodes, but it’s still a total yawn fest. It’s the kind of smooshy ending ones expects from a season finale but the zing is long gone.

Thank God that season is over, but I don’t hold high hopes for season 28. Sigh.

Simprovised

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Synopsis: Homer faces his fear of public speaking by forming an improv troupe. Meanwhile, Bart is jealous that Ralph has a better treehouse than he does.

Discussion: Let me preface this by saying I’m in Australia, where not only do we get “new” episodes months after the US, in instances like these we’d probably only get one episode if I was to wait for free-to-air TV. However, I’m lucky enough to have access to both improvised episodes, so here we go. I literally have no idea what to expect.

Homer overcomes his fear of public speaking by getting into the improv scene, which should be freakin’ hilarious, but falls way, way short.

Bart’s plot wasn’t any better. I did like the Treehouse of Horror: The Complete Collection joke but this was severely underused. There’s so many ways it could have gone but it didn’t.

The story was pretty thin…and flawed. Homer has never had an issue speaking in public before but hey, let’s just look past that like we do every other inconsistency.

For an episode about comedy, it’s not that funny. There were a few minor laughs along the way, such as Wiggum raiding the evidence cupboard for Ralph’s birthday present and releasing the therapy hounds.

The two three-minute “live” segments featured actual calls from real people and only proves one thing: Dan Castellaneta is terrible at improv.

Groan.

 

To Courier With Love

Billboard: Nelson vandalising a Paper Towel ad so it reads Pooper Towel.

Dirty clothes are not a Mother’s Day gift

Couch gag: The family break through the back wall, revealing they are on a football field.

Guest voices:
Jay Leno as himself

Director: Timothy Bailey

Synopsis:

Discussion: Lisa inexplicably finds an antique car in the garage, Homer sings a cute song, Marge cries. So begins another Simpsons episode.

Anyhoo, the Simpsons end up in Paris after some weird exchange with a dodgy travel agent and becoming a courier.

This ep is as predictable as um, something predictable. Within five minutes, I was facepalming and wishing I was sitting on a warm tropical island drinking cocktails served by a topless Matt Damon.

Wait, where was I? So the family lands in Paris and set a snake free. The two French guys could be the same ones Bart stays with waaaay back in season 1… In fact that would have made a far more interesting episode. Bart could catch up with them and finally get revenge.

Instead we’re forced to watch Homer and Marge taking a romantic stroll while Bart feeds starving supermodels and Lisa complains about something no one cares about while French versions of Chief Wiggum, Eddie and Lou arrest Homer.

Sigh.

It’s not quite a rusty-spoon-in-the-eyes episode, but it’s still utter garbage. Avoidance level: 9/10.

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