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

Archive for March, 2013

Me lose brain? Uh oh!

So it’s come to this: A Simpsons Clip Show

No one is interested in my underwear

Couch gag: The Simpsons have the wrong heads and have to swap them around

Director: Carlos Baeza

Synopsis: After an epic April Fool’s Day stunt by Bart, Homer falls into a coma and the Simpsons recall moments accounting for Homer’s various injuries.

Discussion: Cue the spooky music! Today (according to Australian time) is April Fool’s Day, 2013. This episode first aired April Fool’s Day, 1993. This is by coincidence, of course… or is it?

Thankfully, I don’t have to go through all the episodes referenced in this episode, someone has already done it on Wikipedia. About half the episode is made up of clips from previous episodes with some new footage added as well. Not only the pranks and hospital but an extended sequence in which Homer falls down the gorge several times.

There’s not much to say- this is a clip show and I’ve already blogged the major points. The premise of an April Fool’s prank is inspired and works well as it creates a good segue into Homer’s injuries and the family’s responses of not spending more time with him or not being a good kid. One of the highlights is the 32 D’oh! sequence which really breaks the monotony of being a straight-forward clip show. God bless David Silverman.

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Dental plan! Lisa needs braces

Last Exit to Springfield

Mud is not one of the 4 food groups

couch gag: The couch turns into a monster and eats the family

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest Voice: Dr Joyce Brothers as herself

Synopsis: The power plant’s union leader has gone missing so Homer fills the role. Lisa needs braces, but a dental plan has been scrapped so the workers strike until the issue is resolved.

Discussion: I think much of this episode‘s meaning is lost on younger kids (except maybe Paul Howes…) so the writers have done a good job in making a couple of memorable line in order to get kids understanding what’s going on. Hence the “Dental plan! Lisa needs braces” line which everyone know has stuck in their heads (sorry about that).

The real standout of the episode is Lisa’s dream while under gas to get her braces. Lisa in the sky (no diamonds though) has obvious references to a certain Beatles film, and is whacky and colourful and breaks up the density of the union strike. Lisa’s protest song as the workers are striking is also a highlight, then Lenny requests Classical Gas just for something different.

One last point: mud may not be one of the “four” food groups, but chocolate is so Happy Easter!

Alice’s adventures through the windshield glass

Duffless

Goldfish don’t bounce

couch gag: The family run past the cel and go back to sit on the couch, where Maggie awaits.

Director: Jim Reardon

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure

Synopsis: After being caught drink driving, Homer is forced to become sober for a month. Meanwhile, Bart ruins Lisa’s science project and she develops a new one to prove her brother is dumber than a hamster.

Discussion: Homer without beer is like a fish without a bicycle (or something). We’ve seen Homer drunk in countless episodes (sorry, I’m not going back to actually count them. Do that yourself and start your own blog!) and his favourite place to be is Moe’s Tavern. This episode deals with what happens when you take beer away from Homer… and sometimes, it’s just not pretty.

Meanwhile, Lisa’s science project with the hamster vs Bart is excellent. She examines each with a series of tests to see how they will react. It seems that Bart is indeed dumber than a hamster. Who knew? Milhouse’s project (“Behold the wonders of gravity!”) is impressive only that he can’t get a slinky to slink down a plank of wood. Bart’s eventual winner of the hamster looking cute in an aeroplane (the hamster doesn’t actually fly it) is also a standout moment which really pisses Lisa off.

If you have a look on Dead Homer Society‘s blog now, you’ll catch A Day in the Life of Yeardley Smith, who voices Lisa. Well worth the viewing if you’ve got 8 minutes to spare.

I keep my pants on in this version

I Love Lisa

I will not call the principal “Spud head”

Couch gag: the family dance and are joined by a circus

Director: Wes Archer

Synopsis: The second grade are making Valentines and Lisa drops one in Ralph’s basket because he had no others. Ralph mistakes this as being a real romantic interest and gives Lisa everything she wants.

Discussion: This is one of those episodes that thrive off a single quote: I choo-choo-choose you. As soon as you say it, everyone knows what you’re talking about and the pain of Ralph’s rejection at the Krusty anniversary special. Of course, the latter is heightened by Bart who has taped the show and can pinpoint the exact moment when Ralph’s heart is ripped in two…

Most of us have had a crush on someone and some of us had little presents delivered to our door by people who had a crush on us. Ask my sister about the kid who left presents at our door and rode up and down the street waiting to see if we’d found it yet. It was so cute! Anyhoo, this ep explores Ralph Wiggum as a full character. He was introduced in Moaning Lisa but his relationship to Chief Wiggum was not established til now. He’s also seen as a “magnificent” actor (according to Selma, or is it Patty?) but lacks intelligence; he isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed. This is probably the most depth we see to Ralph, from here on in he’s just a dimwitted ploy to get cheap jokes (but I’m not complaining, he’s hilarious).

This is a cutesy episode where one is gunning for Lisa to speak her truth that she doesn’t really like Ralph, but yet gunning for Ralph because he’s going to be crushed. Bart pausing the tape is sadly funny and both emotions are captured separately on screen by Bart (amusement) and Lisa (sadness and empathy).

 

Hey Homey, I can see your doodle

Brother From the Same Planet

The principal’s toupee is not a frisbee

Couch gag: The couch and wall spin around, leaving a new, empty couch

Director: Jeff Lynch

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as: Tom, Nelson’s dad, sports commentator, TV announcer

Synopsis: Homer forgets to pick up Bart from soccer training so Bart calls Bigger Brothers to find a new father figure. Jealous, Homer volunteers to be a Bigger Brother and spends some time with the disadvantaged Pepi. Meanwhile, Lisa is battling an addiction to the Corey hotline.

Discussion: I’d like to have seen more of Pepi. He’s got the potential to be a really good character but it’s just not developed properly. On the other hand, Tom is fully played to all his strengths, which doesn’t really amount to much. he’s very much a one dimensional character with limited possibility although the fight scene between him and Homer is excellent.

Phil Hartman voices several characters through the episode and his voice still makes me sad 😦

(Just a short blog today, the computer keeps giving me hints that it really needs to do some updates)

Just close your eyes and think of MacGyver

Selma’s Choice

I will not yell “She’s dead” during roll call

couch gag: the family are ensnared in a net before reaching the couch

Director: Carlos Baeza

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

First appearance of:
Jub Jub the iguana
Surly from the Seven Duffs

Synopsis: When great-aunt Gladys dies, her video will tells Patty and Selma not to die alone.Selma takes Bart and Lisa to Duff Gardens, where they both get into trouble and Selma admits to Homer that she just doesn’t cut it as a mother.

Discussion: “I am the lizard queen!” proclaims Lisa after she’s drunk something she’s not quite sure is water. I suppose one could argue it’s also symbolic of Selma’s descent into accepting her failings as a parent.

It’s good to see another Patty and Selma-centred episode because although the Simpson family are the stars of the show, they are easily able to adapt into peripheral characters to allow others in the limelight. This isn’t entirely true for this episode; Homer is ill which splits the narrative into two parallel plots. While Selma’s busy with the kids at Duff Gardens, Homer is recovering from food poisoning and making Marge happy (nudge nudge, wink wink).

This episode has undertones of seriousness while still providing the funny stuff. Lots of women feel their biological clock ticking; sometimes there’s no maternal nudge and that’s OK.

The scenes within Duff Gardens are definitely the highlight though, and don’t detract away from the central themes of loneliness and parenting while still allowing Bart and Lisa to do what they do best- be kids.

It’s a great episode with some of the best lines in the series. Homer’s brain suggesting “legend of the dog-faced woman” and he cracks up is something we’re all guilty of. Thinking inappropriate thoughts is just another joy of being human.

I call the big one Bitey

Marge vs the Monorail

I will not eat things for money

Couch gag: The Simpsons sit on the couch, and all of Springfield sits in front of them.

Director: Rich Moore

Guest voices:
Phil Hartman as Lyle Lanley
Leonard Nimoy as himself

Synopsis: Mr Burns is caught illegally disposing nuclear waste and ordered to pay the city $3 million. At a town meeting, it’s decided to spend the money on a monorail instead of fixing Main Street’s potholes.

Discussion: I’ve always thought of this episode as the afterglow of Homer’s Triple Bypass, which, as mentioned, is my very favourite episode. However, this episode does have its merits. It’s hard for the residents of Springfield to resist an idea presented in song, so when shyster Lyle Lanley pitches the monorail idea with a catchy song, everyone’s on board (no pun intended).

The storyline is very Simpsonsy and elements don’t make sense, but that’s just part of the charm of the show. I’ve always thought the eclipse was a bit meh and doesn’t fit with the overall tone of the episode. Doughnuts saving the day is an inspired idea. Homer as conductor… well there really wasn’t any other way this could go, was there?

Overall, it’s not a bad episode. The first half of it is definitely the better half though.

Remember your hippopotamus oath

Homer’s Triple Bypass

Coffee is not for kids (as the writing gets more illegible down the board)

Couch gag: The Simpsons are tiny

Director: David Silverman

Synopsis: Homer’s heart is on its last thump and requires a coronary bypass operation, but it’s very expensive so the family hire a cheaper alternative.

Discussion: This is my favourite episode of the entire series. Everything about it just works, from the inside look at Springfield’s bad cops to the appointment of Dr Nick Riviera because the family can’t afford the $40,000 bill for the operation.

Within the show Bad Cops, Chief Wiggum is seen calling in a crime to 742 Evergreen Terrace. In this episode it’s Snake’s house but later the address is given as the Simpsons’ address. Up til now, there have been differing addresses assigned to the family, all in Evergreen Terrace.

The ep is a direct dig at the state of US Healthcare, which is unaffordable for many residents. The Simpsons can’t afford their regular doctor to perform the surgery so they opt for the slightly dodgy Dr Nick Riviera, who promises any operation for $129.99. He watches a tape on how to perform the heart surgery but someone has taped over it with a talk show about people who look like things. Luckily Lisa has read all about the surgery and is able to guide Dr Nick through it.

There are so many great lines in this episode but the best line from the series has to be Dr Nick’s chat when he begins surgery:
The knee bone’s connected to the something
The Something’s connected to the red thing
The red thing’s connected to my wristwatch…

 I’d love to hear your favourite episodes, leave a comment below.

Can’t sleep, clown will eat me

Lisa’s First Word

Teacher is not a leper

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voice:
Elizabeth Taylor as Maggie

Synopsis: Waiting for Maggie to say her first word, Marge recounts Lisa’s first word.

Discussion: In another flashback episode, we learn about Lisa’s birth. We’ve previously seen the circumstances of Bart’s birth, and here’s Lisa’s turn. Maggie gets her turn in a future episode.

The ep is chock full of cultural references about living in 1983. The series finale of M*A*S*H has just occurred, the Olympics are around the corner and Homer and Marge need a bigger home to house their growing family. Bart becomes the oldest child and learns that he isn’t the baby of the family anymore. He’s a brat even as a two year old which provides some of the episode’s better moments. Lisa herself is sweet and ever so cute!

Upon original screening, a big deal was made about the famous actress voicing Maggie’s first word, which also happens this episode. The actress was revealed to be Liz Taylor. Now, I just don’t get it. It’s one word, Liz probably got a massive pay cheque for it, and you can’t even tell it’s her. Big whoop. It served as nothing more than hype in an attempt to boost the ratings. It seems to have worked: Neilsen ratings show about 15.5 million people watched this episode on original screening. Compared to about 14 million for the previous episode and 13 million for the next episode, this one is the standout in terms of ratings for the season.

I love this episode. It’s cute and funny and full of memorable lines. I’m very excited because tomorrow is my absolute favourite episode… but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Mr Plow is a loser and I think he is a boozer

Mr Plow

A burp is not an answer

Couch gag: The couch is missing so the family crowd onto a footstool

Director: Jim Reardon

Guest Voices:
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure
Adam West as himself
Linda Ronstadt as herself

Synopsis: Homer buys a snow plow but has competition from Barney, who has bought his own plow.

Discussion: Firstly, in the interests of keeping things consistent, I’ll be using the American spelling of plow (UK/Australian spelling would be plough).

Secondly, this is one of those episodes that everyone remembers. For me, there was no other contender for the title of this post except Barney’s jingle, as sung by Linda Ronstadt. Who’s singing that jingle in their heads right now? There are a couple of other great lines from the episode, including Barney’s “Come back, diaper! Come back!” as he gave out flyers to passersby. “Kiss my asphalt” was another great line, muttered by Homer as a retort to someone telling him not to scratch her asphalt.

One of the great things about The Simpsons is that it doesn’t have to make sense. There are several scenes which break the laws of physics but are hell funny anyway, such as Homer balancing the truck by moving the radio needle. If you’ve read my first post about how the Simpsons is more “real” than other animated shows, this episode (and many others) harks back to ye olden days when animation did whatever the hell it felt like doing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that- one of the best things about the show is that the characters don’t age. As with so many other shows, when the kids start growing up, they become less cute so the producers pull in random cute kids to fill the void and it never works. Although ratings for the Simpsons have dropped significantly (check the ratings for this episode on Wikipedia as opposed to episodes from say, the twentieth season), it’s not because the kids have outgrown their cuteness. Well, that’s my theory anyway. (For the record, I am in complete agreement with Dead Homer Society that the show has long outlived its greatness and deserves cancellation. Of course, it would be very sad because this show now spans an entire generation (i.e. there are people who have never lived in a world without The Simpsons) but hey, let’s face it, if even diehard fans are over it, it’s time to pull the plug.

But, I digress. Mr Plow is a fantastic episode for many reasons. It has catchy music (and I am a sucker for musical episodes!) and a storyline about best friends who aren’t Bart and Milhouse. Win-win.

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