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

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.

…if you get my diddly

Fland Canyon

Billboard: Mayor Quimby surrounded by female silhouettes. “Assistants wanted. Must be pretty and soft slapper. No dudes.”

Dad swears he’ll get his taxes in soon

Couch gag: A Disney inspired couch gag by Eric Goldberg… until Bart ruins it all.

Director: Michael Polcino

Synopsis: Ned wins a trip to the Grand Canyon and takes the Simpson family as well.

Discussion: This ep wins my heart with a Disney themed couch gag. After that, there’s actually a couple of funny jokes. I can see influences from early episodes, especially Bart and Homer’s fight with rattlesnakes and scorpions. OK, so the timeline is all wrong but hey, any excuse to bring back Maude.

What the episode lacks in plot it makes up for in visual jokes. It’s actually a refreshing change to see the story speak for itself instead of letting the characters explaining everything. The animation is also really well done; the beauty and expanse of both the Canyon and the Milky Way is nicely captured.

It’s another Ned-Homer bonding scenario which belongs up there with the best of them. It doesn’t do anything for the canon, it’s rather pointless and doesn’t continue any sort of story, but at least I don’t wanna stab my eyes with a rusty fork.

How Lisa Got Her Marge Back

Billboard: Kirk Van Houten holding up his jumper; “Punch me in the stomach for $5, cash only”

Never lose a bet to Bart Simpson (Skinner is writing)

Couch gag: The Simpsons wake up in space from their pods and Homer is only a skeleton.

Director: Bob Anderson

Guest Voice:
Andrew Rannells as himself

Synopsis: Marge admits she doesn’t like Lisa’s jazz playing. Meanwhile, Bart feels he has lost part of his identity when no one falls for his pranks.

Discussion: Firstly, what the hell are Archie characters doing there?!?

Secondly, yawn! How many episodes have we seen where someone finally admits they don’t like something another family member does and that family member tries to make things right? (Don’t answer that, it’s rhetorical.)

Annnd cue the flashback. Sigh.

This is just lazy writing and lazier execution. It’s like the writers have gathered all the thrown-out “jokes” and ideas deemed not good enough, sticky-taped them to a script and sent it to the voice actors. At one point, Lisa lets out a long sigh (when viewing the Broadway-style shows in Capital City); that’s exactly my sentiments when viewing this rubbish.

In the loooooooooooooooong history of the show, there are stellar episodes, terrible episodes and episodes like this: the absolute bottom of the barrel.

Never mind the terrible Marge-Lisa plot and the worse Bart-Maggie plotline, the Bad News Bears scene is possibly the most painful scene ever in any single episode of the show. Yikes! I just… ergh, just make it stop.

My personal recommendation is: instead of watching this episode, a more enjoyable experience would be to walk barefoot over red-hot coals then over a floor full of strewn Lego pieces.

Stop your Smithering

The Burns Cage

Billboard gag: Apu advertising Easter eggs. “They never go bad because they were never that good”.

If Villanova doesn’t win, we lose everything.

Couch gag: Homer types family emojis plus a couch on his smartphone, earning a reply “Meh. I don’t get it.”

Guest voice:
George Takei as himself

Director: Rob Oliver

Synopsis: When Smithers realises Mr Burns doesn’t return his affections, Homer finds Smithers a boyfriend. Springfield Elementary’s new production is Casablanca, starring Lisa as Ilsa.

Discussion: What, Smithers is gay?!? Colour me shocked!

Let me begin with a rant. Much of the humour with the Smithers/Burns relationship comes from a not-so-secret understanding of Smithers’ sexuality, such as his fantasy sequence of Mr Burns floating through the window or his copy of ‘It’s Raining Men’. Having Smithers officially come out is a “well duh!” moment plus it adds nothing to his character or the continuing narrative. The audience is well aware of Smithers’ affections towards Mr Burns even if Burns himself is completely in the dark. The producers have previously joked that Smithers is not gay, he’s Burns-sexual.

Having said that, the episode begins with Smithers singing a melancholy ditty about his unrequited love. It’s actually a really sad song which sums up everything perfectly. After this, there’s a few jokes which are actually amusing (whoda thunk it?) Annnd then the episode descends into Moe explaining a long-standing narrative point (“Yeah but Burns doesn’t dig Smithers!”) and Homer using the internet (or rather, a gay dating app) to find Smithers a boyfriend. This whole scene feels like the writers needed to explain what was about to happen because the audience is clearly stupid.

Comic Book Guy dressed as Hello Kitty, lol.

Sadly, there’s no actual motivation for this episode other than the writer wanted a gay-themed episode for his son’s benefit.

The B plot in this travesty is Lisa’s school production of Casablanca. Compared to the series’ other productions such as Planet of the Apes or A Streetcar Named Desire, this pales in comparison and the Bogart homages are just… weird.

The ep ends with Smithers and Milhouse in Moe’s Bar talking about the thrill of the chase, with Moe setting off to find gold a la The Treasure of the Sierra Madre.
Yep, more homage.

All in all, yet another disappointing entry into the Simpsons canon. Am I surprised? No. There’s a lot of good material here, wasted on substandard writing and retconning Smithers. Sure, it’s happened before, most notably with Principal Skinners being ousted as Armin Tamzarian… and look how that turned out: that ep is widely thought to be the point where the show jumped the shark.

The Marge-ian Chronicles

Director: Chris Clements

Guest Voices:
Jon Wurster as Barry
Tom Scharpling as Paul

Synopsis:

Discussion: This week’s ep starts with Flanders having chickens while Homer and Bart steal their eggs. It’s not actually a bad start. I had high hopes, based purely on this start. But before too long, it descends into what we’ve come to expect from latter-season Simpsons: lame jokes and characters explaining what they’re doing.

Somehow this leads to Lisa volunteering to be on a mission to Mars. Now, I’m a big space nerd and I looooooove everything about Mars. I was hoping Matt Damon would be a guest voice… but that’s not to be. Oh well.

Anyhoo, Lisa’s going to Mars. Marge follows Homer’s parenting/relationship advice, which inevitably leads to adventures only a dysfunctional family could endure.

It’s not actually too bad. I really like the idea. I like the mind-fuck each family member lures each other into. It’s not fully explored, and there’s a lot of times when they all explain exactly the joke or situation, but it’s still not a bad romp. It’s not very often we see the family being together anymore, and what better place than a Martian training camp to bring out some cabin fever?

This ep feels like it’s had a lot of thought about it. The dialogue could be tighter, however the angry exchange between Lisa and Marge contains a few crackers which made me smile (close enough to laugh-out-loud). Although far from a quality episode, it’s a lot closer than I care to remember. At the heart is the mother-daughter relationship, which Lisa and Marge haven’t really explored in a really long time. It’s also a near-satirical look at the interplay between stubborn family members and how even a small problem can turn into a situation no one is prepared for.

We have stink lines!

Lisa the Veterinarian

Couch gag: The couch fantasises about the TV… wink wink nudge nudge.

Director: Dan Vebber

Guest voices:
Michael York as Dr Budgie

Synopsis: After saving a raccoon at the pool, Lisa decides to become a vet.

Discussion: While it was interesting to see Springfield’s men rolling naked in the snow, it added nothing to the story. And Nelson lamenting that Lisa’s “first”  kiss was with a raccoon? Excuse me, I do believe Lisa and Nelson have kissed. Just sayin’.

Cue random scene where Wiggum offers Marge a job as a crime scene cleaner. Huh?

Interested in taking care of animals, Lisa becomes an intern at a vet’s office where her first duty is re-stinking Barney’s pet ferret. Pay attention, this is cutting edge stuff. Sure, Lisa being a vet is a natural progression, and I’m surprised this hasn’t been explored earlier, but Lisa walking around lamenting that her job isn’t that exciting is boring for the rest of us as well.

Her mentor, Dr Budgie, seems like he should have a secret. #spoileralert, he’s just as boring as he appears.

In fact, this whole episode is just as stupid as it first appears. Marge has a job, Lisa likes animals… Yawn.

I also feel like Nelson’s part was originally much bigger and better, but cut for whatever reason. Right now it appears Nelson’s just wandering through each scene with a seemed-witty-to-the-writers remark and disappears again, ready too wander through the next scene in his rented underwear.

Finally, there’s an epiphany from Marge and Lisa, a big hug, and a montage of Nibbles the hamster. Aww.

 

 

Gal of Constant Sorrow

Couch gag: The Simpsons are recreating a football game.

Director:
Matthew Nastuk

Guest voices:
Kelsey Grammar as Sideshow Bob
Bob Boilen as himself
Kate McKinnon as Hettie
Natalie Maines as Hettie’s singing voice

Synopsis: Bart takes in a homeless woman while Homer attempts to rescue Snowball II from inside the walls.

Discussion: We start with Homer and Marge, then Homer and Lisa, thoroughly explaining what’s going on before a bunch of scenes that don’t make sense. One minute Homer is fixing a loose tile, the next minute, the cat is locked inside a wall. Similarly, one minute Bart is housing Hettie, the next, it’s three weeks later and she owes Bart money.

Forgetting the basics of story-telling narrative, I feel the character of Hettie is underused. The story is supposed to be about helping the world see more than a bedraggled singer, but gets stuck in drudgery. For example, Lisa is trying to convince Mr Largo to help put on a concert, but Mr Largo winds up admitting his love for music has died. What? Predictably, Lisa and the town are let down by Hettie’s admission of being a drug addict and not showing up to the concert.

…And Homer is still chasing the animals inside the wall.

Providing Hettie’s singing voice is the lead singer from the Dixie Chicks. Her voice is indeed really lovely, but doesn’t suit the character or the songs she’s singing. Maybe it’s a satire of Susan Boyle? In any case, there’s probably a very sweet moral to the story, but I didn’t see it. This episode is another disjointed effort from a lacklustre team.

Like M&Ms with hope

Love Is in the N2-O2-Ar-CO2-Ne-He-CH4

Hershey Kisses do not drop from Cupid’s butt

Couch gag: Homer dreams the couch has abandoned the family and they fly to Iraq to bring it back. When he wakes, Marge has left him because he spends too much time on the couch.

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voice:
Glenn Close as Mona

Synopsis: Professor Frink attempts to solve the mystery of women and tries to make himself more attractive to the opposite sex. The oldies at the Retirement Castle have been taking new pills which make them hallucinate.

Discussion: My boyfriend just called me the Grumpy Simpsons Reviewer. Hmm, maybe I should change the title of my blog…

Anyhoo… Here’s the annual Valentine’s Day episode. It’s so highly improbable that it’s not even funny. The nurse at the retirement castle suddenly decides when and how much meds to give the oldies. Professor Frink gets a girlfriend, or rather, several girlfriends and he’s dissatisfied. Grampa’s stealing kisses from the mechanic and Homer is explaining all his “jokes”, but then acknowledges he’s explaining them.

I feel like these are both half-arsed stories which lack any thought, let alone any suitable conclusion. It would be nice for Frink to find love with an actual human woman and not some weird android. Frink having threesomes is an idea worth exploring. I get the sense that the original concept was to show one doesn’t have to change one’s self in order to find love (which is different from sex, BTW) but this fails miserably. Surely there’s some hot science woman lurking in Springfield? Even if she’s on a weekend conference and they continue the romance long-distance.

As for the story with the hallucinating oldies… WTF? There’s no story here at all! It’s just a bunch of oldies dancing with their imaginations. It’s more incoherent than this post! There’s absolutely no substance to it at all and, unsurprisingly, has a totally stupid conclusion (in the loosest sense of the word). It would be nice for Grampa to be alone with his memories, including some charming ones of Mona. Mona makes a rather short appearance in this ep which is pretty wasteful. Mona is a lovely character with a lot of heart and an unfinished story (IMO). Yet she’s only on screen and sanitised for a blink of an eye. Ergh.

Neither of these stories worked. It wasn’t just that they were ill-conceived and executed, the whole concepts were bad right from the very beginning. Please, put some thought into it! I beg you.

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