Kill Gil Volumes I & II
Frankincense is not a monster
Couch gag: The Simpsons are in a bauble on a Christmas tree, while the animals are lying in front of a fireplace.
Director: Bob Anderson
Elvis Stojko as himself
Synopsis: After losing his job on Christmas Eve, Gil moves in with the Simpsons.
Discussion: This insanely stupid episode is right up there with the very worst of the entire series. There is exactly one highlight: the unique opening sequence in which the town in covered with Christmas snow.
I take notes during the show, things I want to mention and lines for potential use as blog titles. I have exactly two of those lines written down, and neither deserves special mention. The title of this post was very nearly “What the fuck did I just watch?” The picture included in this post is from the very end of the episode just to prove I watched the entire 20 minutes without stabbing my eyes out with a pen (there’s a reason I don’t keep forks in my room, you know).
Nothing in this ep makes sense, except for Marge feeling sorry for Gil on Christmas Eve when he sells a toy to Lisa which was meant for the boss’ daughter. That part makes sense. The Grumple stalking Homer throughout the year and Gil suddenly getting a job that he’s been waiting for, does not make sense. Gil is not an interesting character to begin with, and him mooching off the family for 11.5 months is equally uninteresting. Marge not being able to say NO to him is the most pointless plotline in the history of the series.
Don’t watch this episode. Just don’t.
Tis the Fifteenth Season
couch gag: The family fly in as various Japanese anime characters
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Synopsis: Branded as selfish for buying an expensive gift for himself, Homer learns the true meaning of Christmas.
Discussion: Cue the Christmas episode where everyone learns the true meaning yadda yadda yadda and then it’s a group hug while singing a Christmas carol. Super.
As I write this, it’s two weeks until Christmas 2013. The original air date was December 14, 2003- almost exactly 10 years ago. Spooky eh? Anyhoo, Homer buys himself an expensive yet pointless present, watches A Christmas Carol parody on TV and decides to do some selfless deeds. Ned gets jealous (but not as jealous as his son, who is jealous of girls because they get to wear dresses) and tries to outdo Homer’s good deeds by giving everyone in town a gift. Homer steals Christmas because Lisa informs him that Buddhists like herself believe attachment to material things causes sadness. Obviously stealing presents makes people unhappy, there’s yet another riot in Springfield, the presents are returned and everyone sings. The End.
It’s a typical Christmas episode with the highlight being Homer’s Grinch-style song as he steals the presents. Throw in a few lines about Jesus, the phrase “the true meaning of Christmas” and a carol: hey Presto! You’ve got yourself a stock standard Christmas episode.
Having said that, it’s not that bad. It’s a mish-mash of every Christmas cliche you can think of in an era where the writers clearly don’t care about what they’re writing anymore (and I hear it gets so much worse). It’s nice to see Lisa enjoying the holidays instead of lecturing people about material attachments, but then again, that’s already been done…
Skinner’s Sense of Snow
Science class should not end in tragedy
Couch gag: The family are in a football tackle and Maggie emerges to make a touchdown.
Director: Lance Kramer
Synopsis: Bart, Lisa and the kids of Springfield are trapped by snow, and overthrow Skinner to run the school.
Discussion: This is a really good episode. It’s a little bit Lord of the Flies when Bart overthrows Skinner, but this is something fresh and quite original considering some of the rubbish we’ve been seeing from season 12.
There are moments of animated magic, so the ep is not quite down-to-earth, but still, there’s elements in there that fill me with hope that this isn’t the end of the good episodes. There are some classic, memorable lines such as “I’m tired of taking orders from G.I. Jerk” and “You’ve slapped your Willie for the last time!” as well as the quote chosen for the title of this post.
It’s also nice to see Homer and Ned bonding as they try to save the kids, as well as some good work by Nibbles the Hamster. In fact, this episode feels nothing like Christmas; if they hadn’t mentioned it at the end, I’d forget all about it.
Miracle of Evergreen Terrace
Rudolph’s red nose is not alcohol related.
Couch gag: The Simpsons are in a snow globe.
Director: Bob Anderson
Alex Trebek as himself
Synopsis: Bart accidentally sets fire to the Christmas tree and presents, and hides the evidence under some snow, telling his family and the police that a burglar stole everything. The townspeople give money to the family and Bart eventually comes clean about the whole thing, angering the townspeople.
Discussion: I’m undecided on this holiday treat. Bart has ruined Christmas before, so it’s really retreading old ground, but at the same time it’s retracing the issue of family togetherness and the spirit of Christmas… until the townspeople steal everything from the family as payback for the money donated and spent.
The residents of Springfield are generally very kind, but also quick to react when there’s a scam going on. Scaaaaaam! Taking back the Simpsons’ possessions is a fitting way to end the episode; the other Christmas episodes end on that warm, fuzzy feeling one expects from Christmas themes. There’s nothing really wrong with that, and one could argue that the family running around fighting over a washcloth exemplifies the Christmas spirit “as long as you have your family!” but really, we know it’s all about the presents, especially when you’re a kid.
So Bart usually screws up Christmas, this time the whole family are feeling the pinch. They’re receiving hate mail, fruit thrown at their windows and graffiti on their car. This is somewhat unusual; usually Bart’s actions only affect the family. I’d expect Lisa to casually mention the Buddhist principles of happiness not coming from material possessions, but I guess the anger of losing a yellow sweater clouded her brain…
Marge Be Not Proud
I will stop talking about the twelve inch pianist
Couch gag: Homer pulls the plug and the family are sucked into the drain hole
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure
Lawrence Tierney as Don Brodka
Synopsis: There’s a new video game but Bart can’t afford it. He steals it from the local department store and Marge is bitterly disappointed.
Discussion: This episode tackles a serious issue – shoplifting. It’s back to the family-centred themes and deals with much more than the crime itself. There’s Marge’s disappointment in Bart’s behaviour (every kid knows that disappointment is far worse than anger), Bart wanting to be a bit more adult but hating the treatment when he gets it, feeling left out of the family unit and wanting to make up for the hurt by doing something lovely and surprising for his mum for Christmas.
Season 7 so far has tackled some big issues, however they’re done in classic Simpsons style and not taken too seriously. This ep, while having classic moments such as Bart switching the answer machine tape to ‘Camp Grenada’, is definitely more serious but still shows the nice ending along with a cute scene from Bart’s Christmas video game (not exactly the one he wanted…)
This ep is a highlight of not only season 7 but the whole series. It reminds the viewer that The Simpsons isn’t just memorable lines and silly antics, it can also tackle everyday issues in a way that makes them feel less like a lecture but still have the strong message that shoplifting isn’t cool.