The Wandering Juvie
Couch gag: A Polaroid of the family lands on the couch
Director: Lauren Macmullen
Jane Kaczmarek as Judge Constance Harm
Charles Napier as the Warden
Sarah Michelle Gellar as Gina
Synopsis: Bart is sent to juvie after he’s caught performing an elaborate prank. Inside, he meets Gina, who forces Bart to escape.
Discussion: Kudos on having an episode with a plot! Sure, it’s nothing elaborate, but I’ll take it.
Bart meets Gina in juvie when they are forced to dance together. Gina, shackled to Bart, escapes and they begin life on the run. There are some really great moments in this ep, mostly involving Gina (brilliantly voiced by Sarah Michelle Gellar). Bart’s prank is a bit lame and probably on the very bottom of things that would land him in juvie, but the point is- Bart’s there. There are also some really good one liners in the ep; today’s blog title was a toss up between Bart’s “I think girls are icky pants” and the eventual winner, uttered by the Warden at the dance.
After discovering Bart is being beat up, Homer becomes a guard. There’s only one scene dealing with this and that’s all it needs, although perhaps Homer in his guard’s uniform at the end during the Mexican feast would be a nice touch (what did they do, bribe the Warden?) Gina is a nasty girl which begs the question of nature vs nurture. She seems vulnerable even when she’s not turning on the tears for show. A girl in tears is Bart’s weakness and he doesn’t play on it. Of course, she ‘fesses up at the end and Bart is free to go. All’s well that ends well.
Last Tap Dance in Springfield
I will not dance on anyone’s grave
Couch gag: The family swing in on vines but Homer hits the wall.
Director: Nancy Kruse
Synopsis: After seeing a movie, Lisa decides she wants to start tap dancing classes. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse are trapped in the mall after close.
Discussion: Another rubbish episode from season 11. Lisa has no rhythm for dancing, and enlists the help of Professor Frink to get shoes that keep her time. What? The subplot of Bart and Milhouse locked in the mall is really the plot that holds potential but even that gets on the nose when Chief Wiggum suspects a giant rat is the culprit for the mess.
Little Vicki is based on Shirley Temple, who declined the role. Little Vicki is perfect: she’s the perfect balance of jaded, successful and delightfully bitchy. I don’t think Shirley Temple would be nearly as perfect, or unbelievably bitchy anyway.
The movie that inspires Lisa is reminiscent of Strictly Ballroom and let me just say, Laura Mulvey would be so proud of this depiction- the Gaze is alive and well.
What I find most disappointing about this ep is that Lisa’s failure at dancing doesn’t faze her at all. We’ve seen Lisa be disappointed before; has she learned that she’s not good at everything? This somewhat contradicts narrative convention whereby characters are supposed to be tested but they don’t really change fundamentally.
I will not trade pants with others
Couch Gag: Maggie pops out from Marge’s hair
Director: Mark Kirkland
Tony Bennett as himself (singing the Capital City theme)
Tom Poston as the Capital City Goofball
Synopsis: At an employee’s invitation-only baseball game, the home team are heading for a record 27th loss. Crowd morale is low so Homer starts dancing to liven up the crowd. He’s a big hit and soon is dancing at every game. He is offered the chance to dance for the big leagues in Capital City so the Simpsons move there. Unfortunately, Homer’s act is unappreciated and the family return to Springfield.
Discussion: This is the second episode told in flashback, the first being ‘The Telltale Head’. It’s an effective narrative device because Homer is feeling a bit low and by the end of his story, told to the regular barflies at Moe’s, his confidence is boosted. There’s nothin’ like real friends.
There’s also a continuity error; in the first season episode ‘There’s No Disgrace Like Home‘, the Simpsons are met by Mr Burns and Smithers, who is holding a card. That card correctly named all the Simpsons, however in this episode the card lists Marge as “expecting”, having not been updated since Maggie was born.
I’ll be honest, I don’t love this episode. I don’t know if it’s because I’m from Australia and baseball isn’t a big deal here, or if there’s just something that doesn’t click with me. Perhaps it’s Baby Elephant Walk which grates on my nerves. In any case, there are redeeming features. Tony Bennett’s ode to Capital City is fantastic, plus we meet the Goofball for the first time (hereafter relegated to cameo appearances). Homer’s facial expressions and dancing are fun, too. I feel the episode drags a bit, never really getting to the point. Of course, I miss the baseball references as well because I have absolutely no knowledge of anything related to American baseball. Understanding references always enriches the episode, I think. I’m disappointed that Homer’s first performance was the one that got him fired; I’d like to have seen him have a good run and then something happens like a better mascot, a better dancer, someone a bit risque and more to the liking of the elite Capital City folk. Anyway, it’s not one of my favourites.