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

…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.

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.

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