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Smoke on the Daughter

Couch gag: Wile E Coyote paints the couch, the family crash into it and Maggie “meep-meeps” like the Road Runner

Director: Lance Kramer

Synopsis: Marge encourages Lisa to become a ballet dancer, while Homer takes revenge on raccoons who have stolen his secret jerky business.

Discussion: If I start snoring, just poke me gently in the ribs.

We begin today’s train wreck of an episode with the Simpsons lining up for the last book of the Angelica Button series, a parody of the Harry Potter series, along with the midnight releases of new books. This sequence is dead on the mark, but unfortunately the ep declines quickly after it. Marge sees an ad for a new ballet school and auditions, but finds she’s a bit long in the tooth to be a ballerina, however Lisa has perfect posture and is accepted as a paying student.

Firstly, we’ve seen Lisa-as-dancer before. Tap-a, tap-a, tap-a! Secondly, the main plot of Lisa becoming addicted to cigarette smoke (although she’s never actually seen smoking one) doesn’t really execute the point it’s trying to make. In ye olden days before it was public knowledge that cigarettes would kill you (although the cigarette companies and doctors knew), ciggies were marketed to women to keep their bodies trim. If you’re smoking, you can’t be putting sweets in your mouth and sweets make you fat. So there’s some precedent to the young ballerinas smoking.

However, Lisa’s addiction begins with her believing that smoking is making her a better dancer. It’s a premise I just can’t buy into, and smoking is such an emotive issue as well. I feel like the writers were heavily censored in the making of this episode and can’t really say all the things they wanted to. As a result, the episode feels half-arsed.

Then we have Homer’s subplot. He’s secretly making beef jerky but the business model collapses when his basement is raided by raccoons. Eventually the raccoon saves the ballerinas from their smoking addiction… but otherwise it’s a pointless subplot which adds nothing to the ep. There’s nothing remotely entertaining about this subplot although it does serve as a cute little bonding session between Homer and Bart.

I didn’t like the episode. It’s a rehash of previous episodes (i.e. Lisa dancing and Marge being a stage mother) with an extra stupid plot of childhood cigarette addiction. Maybe it is a big problem in the US, but in Australia cigarettes are tightly regulated and heavily taxed which makes smoking unattractive to children in Lisa’s age group. But above all, I just don’t buy the premise that smoking is making the dancers dance better. Without believing the premise, you can’t believe anything else about it.

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