Billboard: Fat Tony, Springfield: unsolved murder capital of the world
I want to secede but I don’t know which state I’m in
Couch gag: The Simpsons on a couch are being tattooed onto Marge.
Director: Mark Kirkland
Steve Carrell as Dan
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Alex Trebek as himself
Synopsis: Homer discovers his bowling buddy is a mob boss taking over from Fat Tony while he’s on jury duty. Lisa is severely anaemic and starts eating bugs instead of iron tablets.
Discussion: Is there a competition between the writers to make Lisa do increasingly inane things? First it was learning cursive writing, then gambling her college fund, and now she’s eating grasshoppers. I wonder if she’ll spend a whole episode reading aloud to old people?
The “star” of the episode is Dan, whom Homer knows from his bowling team (yes, the Pin Pals are still together). Dan is voiced by the extremely irritating Steve Carrell, who has been given these long soliloquies to override every other character. Instead of progressing the character’s descent into madness, these soliloquies end up being pointless stories of inane rambling which lend nothing to either the character nor the story. It’s like Carrell was given free reign over his part and told to ham it up and not interact with anyone else because it’ll cramp his style. What follows is an unbalanced platform which annoys the viewer (well, me anyway) and adds exactly zero to the episode.
On the other hand, Fat Tony, who is always a welcome visitor to the show, is relegated to not even second fiddle. That’s not a spot for Fat Tony! Why isn’t he employing spies to see what’s going on in his absence? Why doesn’t he appoint Homer to be his mob boss (stranger things have happened…)? But I did like that the jury, led by Fat Tony, did acquit Snake of whatever wrongdoing he was accused of this time.
There is exactly one amusing line, muttered by Bart in the first few minutes, but it’s so unmemorable that I’ve forgotten it already and it’s not worth me firing up the ep again to see what it was. I’d also really like to have seen a cameo from Rod and Todd, who hear about Lisa’s anaemia and tell her again that “iron helps us play”.