Husbands and Knives
The pilgrims were not illegal aliens
Couch gag: The Simpsons and couch are in a pop-up book
Director: Nancy Kruse
Jack Black as Milo
Alan Moore as himself
Art Spielgelman as himself
Dan Clowes as himself
Maurice LaMarche as the jock
Synopsis: Marge opens a women’s only gym and becomes very successful, leading Homer to worry that she’s going to trade him in for a younger, fitter husband.
Discussion: There are many episodes where there’s two plots that deserve to have their own episode; this is one of them. There’s a cool new comic book shop in Springfield, run by the very cool Milo. He can play Guitar Hero and Dance Revolution at the same time as well as sing the Korean version of a Tom Jones song. Sigh, he’s so dreamy!
Unfortunately, Jack Black’s fantastic performance doesn’t last very long. It’s quickly overtaken by the main plot where Marge, feeling uncomfortable with a gym, starts her own gym for regular women and becomes very successful. About halfway through the ep, I was thinking that both of these plots deserve their own episode… but then I realised that the gym part was the episode. I’m disappointed that Jack Black’s role wasn’t expanded- it’s metaphorically left hanging in the air like a speech bubble from a Batman fight.
The main plot, Marge’s gym, works pretty well on its own. Homer becomes worried that Marge is going to trade him him for a younger, fitter husband and tries surgery to keep her. Everything up to the surgery is all good- we’ve seen Homer get fit a few times before and this time is equally amusing… right up until his dream and unsatisfactory ending. We all know Marge is going to keep Homer, but I’d have liked her to casually mention just one small change she had the doctor do. I dunno, a small tummy tuck or a sudden dislike of beer. Just something to shake up the episode a bit.
Beating up Comic Book Guy came off as lame instead of the awesome homage to comic book fighting it was supposed to be. A highlight is Marge on the treadmill complaining that everyone else is probably also having trouble with it, until she looks over to a group of people parodying OK Go’s ‘Here It Goes Again‘. Big thumbs up to that film clip (if you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend you watch it immediately).
The episode is amusing enough but I wish that Milo’s new store could have been expanded further into the episode.
Treehouse of Horror X
Director: Pete Michels
Dick Clark as himself
Lucy Lawless as herself
Tom Arnold as himself
Synopsis: Marge kills Ned Flanders with her car and the Simpsons are stalked; Comic Book Guy kidnaps Lucy Lawless to make her his bride; Lisa and Marge take a rocket to repopulate Mars after Homer fails to fix his plant’s Y2K bugs.
Discussion: Snore, another Halloween special. I think I’m jaded; as I started watching this, I kept thinking how uninspired it was. The only segment that is vaguely interesting is the Y2K bit. Yes, it’s really dated and no one under legal age remembers it, but it was a hugely interesting time. Hey, remember when we thought the world would end because of computer dates? I remember old people worrying about their toasters, and barcodes in UK supermarkets shut everything down. Brilliant!
I Know What You Diddilly-Idilly-Did is based on I Know What You Did Last Summer with elements from Weekend At Bernie’s. Marge hits Ned with her car, he dies and comes back to haunt them. Anyone who has seen the film will predict what happens. The werewolf bit is OK, it serves the purpose of narrative closure.
Desperately Xeeking Xena involves Bart and Lisa as superheroes saving themselves and Lucy Lawless from Comic Book Guy. That’s nice, dear. It’s very much done in a comic book style and is visually attractive, but boring.
Life’s a Glitch and Then You Die comes from hysteria surrounding Y2K. So, younger viewers, Y2K was a problem with computer dates. Computers back then used the last 2 digits of the year, so 00 would be 1900, not 2000. Conceivably, this date data could result in the failure of many systems- imagine you’re flying a plane at midnight when it clicks over to 2000 and computer systems all around the world plus your plane fail as timezones reach midnight. Fun, eh? So there’s some background. Homer is in charge of Y2K compliance, stuffs up and Earth becomes uninhabitable. A rocket with Earth’s finest is deployed to populate Mars but only Lisa and Marge are allowed onboard. Bart and Homer grab an unguarded rocket with mediocre celebs like Tom Arnold (who is a good sport) and Rosie O’Donnell. Despite being dated to a particular time, it’s probably the best segment.
Three Men and a Comic Book
I will not show off (written in fancy writing)
Couch gag: The couch falls backwards
Director: Wes M. Archer
Daniel Stern as narrator/older Bart (in the vein of The Wonder Years)
Cloris Leachman as Mrs Glick
First appearance of:
Comic Book Guy
Synopsis: Bart is saving up to buy issue #1 of his favourite comic book, Radioactive Man. He does odd jobs, saves pennies but doesn’t have enough. Martin is also trying to buy the comic but doesn’t have enough, and Milhouse has the exact amount of the remainder, so the three boys buy the comic book together.
Discussion: I’ve never really liked this episode, to be honest. It really sucks that the comic book was destroyed in the end. I know, I know, there’s a moral to the story and so on and so forth, but it feels like a wasted episode. It built up to a climax but didn’t really deliver. Bart’s meltdown was pretty good and maybe that could have been expanded so that he was the sole cause of the failure of the arrangement, not some random storm. The same scenario is echoed in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon, Howard, Raj and Leonard fight over an authentic ring from Lord of the Rings (I didn’t love that episode either).
The Wikipedia entry for this episode tells me this ep was the first to beat The Cosby Show in the ratings. Regular readers will note that The Simpsons was the antithesis to The Cosby Show, attempting to appeal to a wider and different audience. (If you’ve missed the story, check out my first blog post which gives a background).