The Real Housewives of Fat Tony
Couch gag: The family are pictured on the cover of a VHS video tape in a video store, which is then demolished.
Director: Lance Kramer
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Synopsis: Selma married Fat Tony but is heartbroken when she discovers he has a mistress. Meanwhile, Bart has a keen nose for truffles.
Discussion: While the critics panned this episode, I actually quite enjoyed it. Just like Sideshow Bob stepping on a rake, Selma’s marriages are a running joke in the series, and this time she’s hit the jackpot with a marriage to mob boss Fat Tony. It’s a life she can quickly become accustomed to living, with daily manicures, spa treatments and assorted other perks.
Naturally, all Selma’s marriages must come to an end and this one ends when she discovers she’s not actually his wife, just a mistress. It still seems like a good life for Selma, lots of mistresses snuggle in luxury with none of the wifely responsibilities. Seems like a win-win to me.
Anyhoo, the subplot of Bart finding truffles is weak. There’s no plot other than Lisa eating the truffles because vegetarian food is so boring. Big deal.
Although there’s no memorable jokes or scenes, it’s an episode worth watching just to see the interplay between Marge, Homer and Selma (especially when Homer tries to sneak a perve on Selma’s boobs). The family dynamic could have been a little better thought out, but overall it’s a fairly solid episode (relatively speaking, of course).
Billboard: Snake offering luxury cars missing one window, with the proviso “No Cops”.
Candy canes are not elf bones
Couch gag: Various Springfieldians are depicted on an advent calendar, ending with the Simpsons on their couch.
Director: Ralph Sosa
Jon Hamm as FBI agent
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony and Fit Tony
Synopsis: Homer, imprisoned for bribery, is sent to infiltrate Fat Tony’s gang.
Discussion: You’d think a mob-related episode where Homer is a snitch would be most entertaining. Unfortunately this ep doesn’t live up to its premise. While I’m always glad to see Fat Tony, he’s not quite the character we’ve come to know and love, and Homer’s performance doesn’t really hit any good points.
The premise for Homer going to jail is flawed, but then again I can’t think of anything better. Getting Homer to infiltrate Fat Tony’s mob is a really good idea, which falls flat pretty much as soon as the idea is floated. I kept waiting for something to happen but it never did. And then, to really insult the viewers, they kill off Fat Tony and replace him with his stressed cousin, Fit Tony! WHAT THE HELL???
There’s nothing about this episode that convinces me I should have wasted twenty minutes watching it. The premise is a very good one, who wouldn’t want to see Homer infiltrate the mob? The execution (if you’ll pardon the expression) is lame. There’s too much focus on a friendship between Homer and Fat Tony, much like his friendship with Clancy Wiggum a few eps ago. We want to see some action! Less crying, more dying. More mob plots, more initiation, more nitty gritty. As it stands, it’s just lame and gets worse (yes, that’s possible) when Fat Tony is killed. Really?
Chief of Hearts
Billboard: Mr Burns: Death and Taxes, two things I avoid
This counts as gym and art class
Couch gag: Comic Book Guy eats a four course meal where all the meals resemble a member of the Simpson family.
Director: Chris Clements
Jane Kaczmarek as Judge Constance Harm
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Synopsis: Homer and Chief Wiggum become best friends. Meanwhile, Bart becomes addicted to a game called Battle Ball, but Marge and Skinner believe he’s dealing drugs.
Discussion: Who knew that making Wiggum and Homer best friends would be so boring? Back when Bart and Ralph were friends, they got up to awesome adventures. But Homer and Clancy? Most of their friendship is while Wiggum is unconscious or they’re tied in the back of Fat Tony’s car. Either way, it doesn’t make for interesting viewing.
Speaking of uninteresting viewing, let’s just forget Bart had a subplot. It’s just stupid and instantly forgettable.
I think the episode starts well, but quickly dissolves into comfortable territory without pushing any boundaries. I’m surprised the Wiggum-Homer friendship hasn’t been explored previously. It starts off promisingly enough, showing a depth of character in Wiggum that we don’t normally see; he’s actually very lonely. His wife Sara has her own thing and he admits to Homer that he doesn’t have any friends. This is about as deep as it gets. He guilts Homer into staying, which immediately ruins the friendship, leading down a path which is predictable. It’s almost like Fat Tony has a cameo here; he’s kidnapped the pair and sits in the back seat muttering nonsense while Wiggum MacGuyvers a plan to get out of the trunk. There’s no soul to the ep, and viewers can see right through it.
Unfortunately, because the episode never lives up to its promise, it’s only just mediocre. There’s no great laughs, there’s a few good lines (I’m not talking cocaine here), and the first few minutes are the best. Such a shame.
The Twisted World of Marge Simpson
I am not licensed to do anything
couch gag: The couch is a Whack-a-Mole game; Homer is hit with the mallet.
Director: Chuck Sheetz
Jack Lemmon as Frank Ormond
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Synopsis: Marge buys a pretzel franchise but it’s not doing well, so Homer steps in and asks the Mafia for help.
Discussion: This is a somewhat unusual episode: Marge is part of an investment club but is kicked out for not wanting to take high risks with their money. At a franchise fair, the investment club and Marge each buy food franchises, in direct competition with each other.
We’ve all been there: our greatest dreams fall to the wayside because… well, just because. Marge’s scene at the kitchen table where she tells the kids to aim low strikes a chord with everyone. As kids, we’re encouraged to have great dreams and the reality is, most of us are just going to have average lives doing average things. It’s a heartbreaking scene.
Of course, Homer hates to see his wife sad. Enter Fat Tony, who turns the town into a pretzel-loving mecca… with a cost that Homer has conveniently forgotten to tell Marge about. I just love Fat Tony. He’s sarcastic and a little bit naive; Homer doesn’t usually catch someone out yet Fat Tony fell for it.
I’m going out on a limb here and am not going to criticise the ending. Because Fat Tony and his gang have stopped everyone else’s food franchises in the town, the investment club hire their own Japanese mafia to fight Fat Tony and his cronies. How else are you going to end it? Have Marge give all the money to the mob? Fat Tony cripple Marge for not paying? Kidnap Homer until Marge pays the money? Nah, bring forth the Japanese mafia!
Homie the Clown
Next time it could be me on the scaffolding
Couch gag: The family are sitting on nothing and the couch assembles itself on their laps.
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Dick Cavett as himself
Johnny Unitas as himself
Synsopsis: Krusty is in heavily in debt and opens a clown college to pay his gambling bills. Homer becomes enamoured with the idea and becomes a Krusty representative, which has pros and cons.
Discussion: There are so many good scenes in this episode that it’s easy to forgive the overdrawn climax. Homer is mistaken for Krusty and uses it to his advantage, until Fat Tony hunts him down for non-payment… and everyone knows you have to pay your mob bills.
For me, the standout scene in Homer making a circus tent from his mashed potato. It’s a parody of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (which, coincidentally, I watched this week). I just think Homer looks so cute concentrating on the potatoes with his tongue hanging out. Krusty lighting his cigarettes with rare objects, such as issue #1 of Superman comic, also draws a laugh. When this ep was produced, Bea Arthur was still alive, prompting more laughs when Krusty wants to send a dozen roses to her grave. It falls a bit flat when Krusty and Homer end up in the mobsters’ den doing tricks so they won’t be killed.
Fat Tony is always a welcome guest star, Joe Mantegna nails the voice and character perfectly.
Bart the Murderer
High explosives and school don’t mix
Couch gag: The Simpsons form a human pyramid on the couch
Director: Rich Moore
Legs & Louie
Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony
Neil Patrick Harris as himself playing Bart Simpson
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz
Synopsis: Bart’s having a miserable day and ends up meeting mobsters, who offer him a part time job. When Bart gets into trouble from Principal Skinner, the mobsters have a meeting with Skinner and he goes missing. Skinner is presumed dead and Bart is put on trial for the murder. Just when it looks like Bart will be found guilty, Skinner appears in the courtroom to tell his tale of survival after being trapped under a pile of newspapers.
Discussion: What starts out as a really bad day just doesn’t get better for Bart. This episode is chock full of great moments: the trip to the chocolate factory (“Kids! Be sanitary!”), Bart’s aptitude for mixing cocktails, Homer’s meeting with the mobsters, Bart’s trial and the horribly inaccurate made-for-TV movie starring “TV’s Doogie Howser” as Bart. It’s just a really good episode- well thought out and well executed (no pun intended).
The characters of Fat Tony and his cronies, Legs & Louie, are inspired additions to the Simpsons cast. They are the dark underbelly of the town and although they present themselves as good guys, they are delightfully seedy without being unnecessarily harsh or mean. Sure, they’re mobsters, but they’re also truly likable characters. After all, it’s no crime to steal a loaf of bread to feed your starving family, even if you have a large family who don’t like bread, they like cigarettes and you’re selling them at a price that’s practically giving them away…