The Heartbroke Kid
Couch gag: The Simpsons are thrown in a trebuchet
Director: Steve Dean Moore
Albert Brooks as Tab Spangler
Synopsis: After eating too much junk food from the school’s vending machines, Bart is sent to fat camp and the family are forced to take in backpackers to foot the bill.
Discussion: Ah, vending machines! I remember when my high school replaced the water bubblers with Coke vending machines. Back in ye olden days (those blissful mid-90s), obesity wasn’t an issue and the only thing people worried about was the effect of sugar on one’s teeth. Still, when those machines went in, no one kicked up a fuss… until kids started putting blu-tacked 5c coins together to resemble a $2 coin and broke the machine…
Anyhoo, Springfield Elementary has new vending machines which have healthful-sounding names but are actually packed with all sorts of addictive garbage. Bart gains a lot of weight because of it and is sent to fat camp. Welcome back Albert Brooks, who was The Simpsons‘ first guest voice and hadn’t been on the show for about 10 years when this originally aired. Brooks voices the director of the fat camp, where Bart cheats (who wouldn’t?) and is forced to see how his parents are paying for his weight loss.
And here’s where it all gets a bit silly. Marge and Homer are running around cleaning up after German backpackers and Homer sings the original German version of 99 Luftballons. What? Tab Spangler is a character who doesn’t seem well-rounded. He’s making comments to clarify earlier comments and then backtracks- he’s not a straight talker which is what the show needs.
On their own, each plot could probably work but tying them together makes the ep feel disjointed and missing some zing.