Couch gag: Homer is a soccer goalie trying to fend off soccer balls.
Director: Lance Kramer
Johnny Mathis as himself
Albert Brooks as Dr Raufbold
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Synopsis: When Bart is bullied at school, Marge outlaws bullying in Springfield. The Flanders boys try to see the good in Homer.
Discussion: Johnny Mathis as a guest star? Who the hell remembers Johnny Mathis?? And what’s with the Puberty Demon?
Anyhoo, Marge is on another crusade, this time to outlaw bullying in Springfield. Cue townspeople in various situations getting arrested under the new law interspersed with Homer annoying the Flandererses.
Albert Brooks returns to The Simpsons, this time as a doctor of some sort who hosts a group for bullies where they talk about their feelings and possible circumstances which led them to being a bully. Nothing is mentioned about the original bullies; Jimbo, Dolph and Kearney.
Yet again we’re rehashing old ground with no satisfying conclusion. Albert Brooks has had some cracker appearances on The Simpsons but here, he sounds tired and bored. Homer’s big epiphany that he hates Flanders because he’s better than Homer is hardly a surprise. It feels like the writers got to the table read, having not had an actual reason for the situation (over the past 28 years…) and someone’s dog farted out Scrabble letters spelling out “he’s better than me”. There are echoes of the opening scene from Wreck-It Ralph where the baddies sit around coming to terms with being the Bad Guy… but far less convincing let alone entertaining. For some filler right at the end, we have Otto’s hallucinations. Oh boy.
It’s a weak plot, weaker script and weaker still performance. The show is tired and way past its use-by date. This episode managed just 2.77 million viewers in the US; I imagine the numbers here in Australia will be abysmal (for comparison, our highest rating show of the year would attract about 2.5 million viewers).