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

Archive for May, 2013

Gotcha, you TV hatin’ mutant


Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming

Wedgies are unhealthy for children and other living things

Couch gag: The family are sea monkeys who sit on clams and watch an open treasure chest

Director: Dominic Polcino

Guest voices:
Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob
R. Lee Erney as Colonel Hapablap

Synopsis: Sideshow Bob threatens to detonate a nuclear warhead on Springfield if they do not turn off their TV signals.

Discussion: Cue the obligatory Bob episode for the season. Here we see Sideshow Bob planning to destroy Springfield because he’s sick of television and wants it gone forever. Krusty has taken over the Emergency Broadcast System to stay on the air. The nuke was a dud so Bob’s new plan is to kill Krusty, Bart and himself in a kamikazee mission.


This ep parodies many films about the Cold War so younger viewers (as well as those not familiar with Cold War flicks) will miss most of the references (Thank God for Wikipedia, eh?) The ep was written by a freelancer but extensively re-written; perhaps this is the reason it feels disjointed. Bob is far too wordy this time, his plan is even more stupid than his other ventures, but there is enough jokes to keep the ep moving. There are a couple of highlights such as Milhouse pretending to fire a plane’s weapons at his parents and Lisa’s sneaky plan to let the police know Bob was hiding in the Duff Blimp.

Overall, this isn’t the best Bob episode. It feels forced, especially when Bob and Bart are in the Wright brothers’ plane which can be caught at walking pace. It feels very much like a last minute rush to get an episode- any episode- on the air (despite the several months of production it actually takes).


No door is gonna keep me from meddlin’


Mother Simpson

Couch gag: The family are placed on the couch by a bowling arm, as if they were bowling pins

Director: David Silverman

Guest voices:
Glenn Close as Mona Simpson
Harry Morgan as Bill Gannon

Synopsis: Homer fakes his death in order to get out of helping his workmates clean up the highway. His long-lost mother, believing he is dead, reappears at the cemetery and is reunited with her son.

Discussion: Just when everyone thought Granny Simpson was dead, she’s back to honour her son, also thought to be dead. Aww! It’s actually a very sweet episode with an ending that is certain to make most people a bit teary. Or at the very least, appreciate their own mothers.

While I’ve always found Mona’s sudden rebellion a bit weird and weak, her life as a fugitive is inspired. Killing off Mr Burns’ germ warfare program enforces the characters of Burns as a heartless, greedy, empirical man who won’t let anything stand in his way of world domination. Thankfully, he’s never met Pinky and the Brain… Anyhoo, Mona’s been living on the run for 27 years and Homer thought she died when he was a kid. There’s very few moments of Homer and Mona making up for lost time (well, it’s only 22 minutes they have to play with) but they’re funny and special. Lisa has obviously inherited her smarts from her grandmother, and they too share a special bond. Bart’s contribution is to calculate interest on presents he’s missed out on for the past 10 years. Marge is unsure of her new role as daughter-in-law to her mother-in-law but after hearing Mona’s story, the family are supportive.

The final moments are some of the sweetest in Simpsons history. Mona escapes FBI detection after being identified by Mr Burns and Homer stays with his car long after she leaves. There are no words, and none are needed.

Overall, it’s a slightly above average episode. I’m not a fan of sentimentality so for me, this is where the ep falls down. Homer’s handstands while crying, “Look at me, mom!” and “Mom! You’re not looking!” rings so true as anyone with kids (or babysitting) will attest. It’s sad to lose Mona again after only 20 minutes, but she will be back.

Gas, brake, honk. Honk, honk, punch.


King Size Homer

Indian burns are not our cultural heritage

Couch gag: The family are wind-up dolls that are malfunctioning.

Director: Jim Reardon

Synopsis: Homer decides to gain weight so he’ll qualify for disability and be able to work from home.

Discussion: This is one of those memorable episodes. Say any quote and people know immediately what you’re talking about. There are so many fabulous quotes:

Lenny: It’s like a lottery that rewards stupidity.

Dr Nick: Did you go to Hollywood Upstairs Medical College too?

Bart (visualising himself as fat): I wash mahself wif a rag on a stick.


Bart: I think it’s ironic that for once, dad’s butt prevented the release of toxic gas.

For me, this is the best episode so far of season 7. Homer’s weight gain is full of brilliant jokes such as the scene in Dr Nick’s office where he recommends eating Pop-Tarts instead of bread in sandwiches. Marge’s reaction is realistic; she feels less attracted to him while Lisa worries about his health. Pure, classic Simpsons.

P.S. I’m not very techy, but I had to download a program called Snag-It for uni. It’s brilliant and very easy to use. I apologise for the quality of the pic in this post, it’s the actual video file I’m watching and not Snag-It.

Take that, ya lousy dimension!

Treehouse of Horror VI

Couch gag: The family are hanged by nooses over the couch. Maggie sucks her pacifier.

Director: Bob Anderson

Guest Voice:
Paul Anka as himself

Synopsis: In the first segment, giant advertising icons wreck Springfield. The second segment is a parody of A Nightmare on Elm Street involving Groundskeeper Willie. Homer is transported to the 3rd dimension in the third segment.

Discussion: Although I’m not a fan of the Halloween episodes, this one is by far the best. In particular, Homer3 in which Homer is suddenly transported to the third dimension when he hides behind a bookcase for Patty and Selma’s visit.

‘Attack of the 50ft Eyesores’ is based on the premise that advertising will stop working (or in this case, destroying the town) if you stop looking at it. With help from a catchy jingle, the townspeople stop looking at the giant icons and the icons die. Man, I wish all advertising was easy to ignore!

‘Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace’ is clearly based on the adventures of Freddie Krueger, with Groundskeeper Willie as the loony killing kids in their sleep. It’s actually pretty good, has some very good moments. My favourite is when Willie is on fire and bursts into the school meeting but is forced to wait because Mr Van Houten has the floor. I just love that bit.

Homer3 is the best one, in my opinion. Homer is rendered in animation that wasn’t seen at the time production. Nowadays every animated movie uses this style, but back in 1995, it was still new. And of course, it’s really cool to see Simpsons as 3D characters. I hope one day that the creators will fully render this into actual 3D (the one where you need glasses) and perhaps show it in front of a movie at the cinema, like they did with The Longest Daycare.

You don’t win friends with salad

Lisa the Vegetarian

The boys room is not a water park

Couch gag: The family are painted by robotic paint guns.

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voices:
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure
Paul McCartney as himself
Linda McCartney as herself

Synopsis: When the family go to a petting zoo, Lisa falls in love with a lamb and realises eating meat is ethically wrong.

Discussion: In one of the few permanent character changes, Lisa stays a vegetarian after this episode. It’s the first time a character has a significant turning point and stays changed. Apparently, it was a condition of Paul McCartney agreeing to the guest spot that Lisa remains vegetarian for the rest of the series. It’s not a bad thing; vegetarianism is a growing phenomenon (although it was considered a bit weird at time of production) and having a culturally significant TV show approve and endorse the practice wasn’t going to hurt.

However, I do feel that the point of vegetarianism is lost underneath Lisa’s crusade to tell everyone else how wrong it is. It’s one thing to inform people, it’s entirely different to push your beliefs. Homer and Lisa are equally responsible for doing this, leading Lisa to run away from home, where she meets Apu, who is vegan, and Paul & Linda McCartney, also vegan. Whether Lisa becomes vegan is unclear at this point, but it seems she does. 

It’s a great episode. The imagery of the lamb at the petting zoo is usually a key motivation in people becoming vegetarian and is used effectively here. The other side of the coin is shown with the family’s conga line, chanting “You don’t win friends with salad!” and even Marge is caught up because it’s just so darn catchy. Homer’s BBBQ is a hit with the townspeople even after the pig-de-resistance suffers an unfortunate end at the hands of preachy Lisa.

Overall, it’s one of the best episodes of the series. I think it’s great that Lisa remains a vegetarian and loses her preachiness about the ethics of animal rights. Inform, don’t preach. Perhaps she can go on to teach Ralph at Bovine University…

You can flash-fry a buffalo in 40 seconds

Bart Sells His Soul

I am not a lean mean spitting machine

Couch gag: The family drive around the lounge room in clown carts. Beep beep!

Director: Wes Archer

Synopsis: After getting into trouble at church and a chat with Milhouse about having a soul, Bart sells his to Milhouse for $5. When weird things start happening, Bart wants to buy back his soul. Meanwhile, Moe turns his tavern into a family restaurant.

Discussion: Oh my freakin’ ears! Bart’s genius is at play again when he produces a hymn for church which sounds like “rock and/or roll” – Iron Butterfly’s In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, except Bart has it sung as “In the Garden of Eden“. (The story is actually pretty interesting, it’s apparently a mondegreen. Also listen to the full version, it’s pretty cool).

Anyhoo, Bart and Milhouse talk about souls as they spend their punishment cleaning the organ pipes “befouled” by playing this music. Bart doesn’t believe the soul exists, so sells his to Milhouse for $5. Strange stuff happens after Bart sells his soul- the cat doesn’t like him, automatic doors don’t open when he approaches, he has no breath to fog glass and he dreams everyone else has a soul and he doesn’t. Blah blah blah, Lisa has bought his soul and gives it back.

Meanwhile, Moe had turned his tavern into some sort of creepy family restaurant. I say “creepy” because Barney’s right; the dank is gone from the bar. It’s brightly lit, Moe wears a smile and your meal is free is he ain’t smiling when you get the cheque. Trouble is, some kids are being a pain in the butt and Moe loses his cool, sending families scurrying away from the restaurant and Moe turns it back into a bar.

Firstly, the soul plot is pretty good. Who hasn’t wanted to buy or sell a soul? Imagine having that kind of power! Mwahahahaha! The theme of souls isn’t new to The Simpsons; There’s a ruling that Homer’s soul belongs to Marge after Homer sells his soul to Satan (played by Ned) for some doughnuts in one of the Halloween episodes.

Secondly, I’m not a huge fan of Moe’s family establishment and subsequent breakdown. I can’t put my finger on it exactly- maybe it doesn’t fit with the major storyline, maybe it’s just not done well, maybe I don’t think you should mess with an iconic place like Moe’s Tavern. I don’t know, but I don’t like it.

Overall, it’s a great episode… as long as you focus on Bart’s soul and not the Moe bits.

Welcome to your new home, neglectarinos

Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodly

No one wants to hear from my armpits

Couch gag: The Simpson family appear in a Brady Bunch-style opening, then run to the centre square which contains the couch.

Director: Susie Dietter

Synopsis: Homer surprises Marge with a gift certificate to a day spa. While they’re away, Bart and Lisa have mishaps at school, leading Child Welfare to place all the Simpson kids under the care of the Flanders family.

Discussion: What would life be like if you were a Flanders? Sunshine (but not after 7pm), lollipops (sugar-free and plain flavoured) and rainbows (as long as a homosexual person wasn’t wearing them).

The Simpson household is a work in progress, just like all our homes. Bart caught head lice from Milhouse’s new pet monkey, Lisa bit her tongue and lost her shoes, and Maggie is caught drinking from the dog’s water bowl. Enter Child Welfare to take the kids to a foster home… the Flanderseseseses!

In a game of Bible questions, Bart and Lisa fail to answer a single question. Clearly they’ve not been paying attention in Sunday School or church. Or perhaps Ned is asking obscure questions? In any case, the Simpson kids are getting baptised! (Saved at the last moment by Homer, of course).

I actually think this episode is well done. A series of mishaps conspires to make things look really bad, and the kids end up in the anti-Simpson household with the ultra boring Ned Flanders. Anyone for cucumber slices with cottage cheese?

This ep also does something interesting: it focuses on the Simpson family without them being a full unit. They’re displaced; Marge and Homer are sent to parenting school and the kids are obviously with the Flanders flock, yet the ep is still focused on them being a family unit. It’s well done and I can forgive the schmaltzy ending.

Up and Atom!

Radioactive Man

“Bewitched” does not promote Satanism

Couch gag: The family are faxed out of the couch

Director: Susie Dietter

Guest Voices:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz
Mickey Rooney as himself

Synopsis: A film version of Radioactive Man is being filmed in Springfield and Milhouse is chosen to play the sidekick, Fallout Boy.

Discussion: Milhouse doesn’t want to be a star. Big whoop. I can’t help feeling that this episode could have used a bit more kick. The town taxes the hell out of the movie makers, Milhouse doesn’t want to audition but does anyway and gets the part before becoming disillusioned with it all and running away. Enter former child star Mickey Rooney to get the show rolling again and the viewer is left wondering, “What the hell just happened?”

Say the ep went in a different direction and Bart took over Milhouse’s role, in heavy makeup so no one would notice. Eh? I think that would be funny. Then you could have a bit where the Hollywood producers have a whinge about deception and making something of something else. Something like that, anyway.

Anyhoo, as it stands, Milhouse doesn’t want to audition. So many unanswered questions: How did he end up in the audition room? Why didn’t he cry and give up the very first day? Why weren’t his parents being “backstage parents” and pushing him to do the job from the sidelines? Why was Mickey Rooney there?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m a big Andy Hardy fan, but what has he done since WWII? Get Macaulay Culkin in to portray a washed up child star, or better yet, Troy McClure.

I just think this ep had so much potential, and it fell flat.

You shot who in the what now?

Who Shot Mr Burns, Part 2

I will not complain about the solution when I hear it

couch gag: The family line up for their mug shots

Director: Wes Archer

Guest Voice:
Tito Puente as himself

Synopsis: After a couple of false arrests, the identity of the would-be assailant is revealed.

Discussion: OK, it was Maggie. Game over, thanks for playing.

You have to hand it to the writers, everything was there and they could have easily written a less popular character out of the show by jailing him/her for life, or just for the episode since there’s very little story arcs that carry through the series (but we’ll get to that later). Instead, they’ve chosen Maggie, who has no real motive other than Mr Burns was trying to take her lollipop and she took the opportunity to “accidentally” fire Mr Burns’ own weapon when it fell from the holster. If you’ve got a better solution, leave a comment below. Personally, I think Grampa would have been a good choice. He and Burns could be swapping war tales and the gun could fire while they were showing off.

Sure, the solution is disappointing, despite Maggie’s shifty eyes at the end, implying it may not have been an accidental shooting. But hey, it’s an ending and will be re-visited in future episodes. Oh, and welcome to season 7!

Your lamp’s running away! So long, lamp

Who Shot Mr Burns? Part 1

This is not a clue… or is it?

Couch gag: The family run against a repeating background

Director: Jeffrey Lynch

Guest voice:
Tito Puente as himself

Synopsis: The school is found to have oil underneath it, but Mr Burns steals the oil and blocks the sun, giving the residents of Springfield plenty to be angry about.

Discussion: To date, this is the only 2 part episode. It’s also the season cliffhanger for season 6. The episode borrows the title from ‘Who Shot J.R.?’ plot from Dallas which kept viewers guessing over the hiatus. It shares similarities: Mr Burns and JR Ewing have a lot of enemies, who was the one who fired the shot?

In this case, the culprit wasn’t revealed until after the US summer, leaving fans to wait about 4 months to ponder the question. According to Wikipedia, there were competitions and websites dedicated to deducing the answer and discussing clues (and the clues are there if you look for them). Here in Australia, no such thing existed, we were left to read articles from magazines about the cliffhanger, and by the time Part 2 aired here, it was pretty much a well-known fact who shot Mr Burns.

Anyhoo, everyone in town hates Mr Burns. He’s robbed the school of much-needed money, his oil rig has forced the closure of Moe’s tavern, he’s fired faithful manservant Smithers, Groundskeeper Willie has lost his job because of Mr Burns, and then there’s that little thing where he’s permanently blocked out the sun to increase the town’s consumption of energy. After the shot is fired and Mr Burns collapses on the sundial, Marge remarks that everyone in town is a suspect, and she’s right. I’m assuming if you’re reading this, you already know the answer, but let’s pretend we don’t know and we’ll discuss the solution tomorrow.

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