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Posts tagged ‘Lisa’

You can use facts to prove anything that’s even remotely true

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Lisa the Skeptic

I will not tease Fatty

couch gag: Three men are sitting on the couch, wearing towels and putting water on a fire to create a steam room. The family come in (also wearing towels) and are turned away.

Director: Neil Affleck

Guest voices:
Stephen Jay Gould as himself
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: When a new mega-mall is being built in Springfield, Lisa protests that the site has been home to fossils. She stages a dig and finds what appears to be an angel skeleton, giving the townspeople a boost of religious belief.

Discussion: Ya know, I never really liked this episode until fairly recently. I thought the ending was stupid but now I can see just how genius it is. In fact, the whole episode is really well crafted in three distinct acts.

In the first act, Lisa finds the angel skeleton on the site of the mega-mall. The show has a habit of taking a scene and twisting it so that it is almost completely irrelevant to the rest of the episode. It doesn’t happen here: the construction of the mega-mall is crucial to the storyline and the eventual solution.

In the second act, Homer is profiting from the angel. The angel is draped with Christmas lights and Homer is singing a theme song whilst collecting 50 cents from the townspeople who want to see the angel. Lisa maintains her stance that it is not an angel and takes a sample to Professor Gould for tests.

The third act sees the angel move to a hill with the message, “The end comes at sundown”. At sunset, the residents gather around the angel in preparation for The End.

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The angel is revealed to be a giant marketing ploy for the grand opening of the mega-mall.

It’s a good episode with a strong storyline that we haven’t really been seeing so far in this season. Although attempting to reconcile science and religion, it leaves it open-ended as it should (it will be revisited in a season 19 episode though). As long as you don’t get too absorbed into the religious bits, it’s an ep worth enjoying.

For no reason, here’s Apu

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Lisa’s Sax

I no longer want my MTV

Couch gag: Homer is a Russian nesting doll and each family member is inside him.

Director: Dominic Polcino

Guest voice:
Fyvush Finkel as himself, playing Krusty

Synopsis: Homer and Marge recount the story of how Lisa got her saxophone.

Discussion: Despite being a flashback episode and having a musical number, this ep just ain’t working for me. It’s cutesy and has a lot of good bits, but there’s just something niggling at me that makes it not quite work. Perhaps it’s that it feels stitched together, stretched to fit time, covering a lot of old ground (even though it doesn’t- we’ve hardly seen anything of the Simpson kids as toddlers).

Lisa’s saxophone is an integral part of the character and through this episode, it’s revealed that the instrument was to encourage Lisa to use her intelligence and nurture her academic gifts. Bart’s first day at school doesn’t really add to the story but it’s cute but kinda explains how and why he became a brat (if there’s such a thing as the nature vs nurture thing). The central plot is good, it’s just that you can definitely tell the episode has come up short on time so they’ve tried every trick in the book to lengthen it. Like when you do an essay and you’re 200 words short so you just throw in a random paragraph that doesn’t really fit…

Mrs Krabappel, you’re trying to seduce me

Lisa’s Substitute

Couch gag: The Simpsons run in and the couch is gone.

Director: Rich Moore

Guest Voice:
Dustin Hoffman as Mr Bergstrom (credited as Sam Etic)

Synopsis: Lisa’s teacher, Miss Hoover, is diagnosed with Lyme disease and a substitute teacher takes the class. Lisa becomes enamoured with him as he expands her mind and teaches her to live her life to the fullest. Meanwhile, fourth grade elections are being held for Class President. It’s between Martin and Bart, and although Bart is the popular choice, no one has voted.

Discussion: Who remembers the impact of substitute teachers? Here are the two most memorable ones from my own childhood. Miss Southern was a substitute for my fifth grade teacher, who was having complications with her pregnancy and had to stay home. Miss Southern was amazing. She was the kind of teacher you didn’t want to stuff around with; she was nice, understanding, and gave us lollies at the end of the week (back in ye olden days when obesity wasn’t a problem). We were allowed to talk in class as long as we got our work done, and if we finished early, we could write a story to be hung on the back wall. We had her for a week before she was moved to another class (my sister’s class, actually. They had Miss Southern for about 6 months before she returned to my class for the remainder of the year). Miss Southern was young (if I recall correctly, 24) and her boyfriend regularly had flowers delivered to our classroom for her. She gave us personal Christmas cards and glowing report cards because all of us, even the “naughty” kids, liked and respected her enough to do the work. She was awesome and I often wonder what happened to her.

In contrast, there was also Mrs Austin. She was a bitch. If she caught one person talking, the whole class would stay behind during recess, lunch or after school. She was mean. When the bell rang, she’d demand, “Ignore it!” even though our tummies were audibly grumbling. She never praised anyone for anything and her voice was a monotonous tone which drawled through words like she was dragging them uphill against their will. Whenever I had her (which was often, since she was the first on call whenever a teacher was sick throughout my entire primary school years), I’d go home in tears, wishing she’d die before we had to endure her again. I never wonder what happened to her. Maybe her poisonous personality sucked the life from her insides and she crumpled to death, having nothing left to sustain her.

Mr Bergstrom loves to teach. He sees value in educating the next generation (I believe the children are our future…). His easy opening style, inviting the children to make fun of his name reminds me of my high school maths teacher whose name was Mr McMath. He also invited us to make fun of his name and he was always willing to hear if we thought we had a new one (we never did).

Homer’s parenting skills are also put to the test and he wins with all three kids. I like this episode because there’s something inherently awesome about having a new character voiced by someone very famous with references to his most popular films (apparently Dustin Hoffman was sceptical about being in an animated show so he used a pseudonym). The only bit I feel which lets the episode down is Miss Hoover’s explanation of “psychosomatic”. It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the episode. But anyway, this is one of the best eps from season 2, it just clicks with the audience and it’s one of those episodes that everyone remembers.

Are we the most pathetic family in the universe?

Bart vs Thanksgiving

I will not do that thing with my tongue

couch gag: The family rush in to find Grandpa asleep on the couch.

Director: David Silverman

Synopsis: It’s Thanksgiving. Lisa has made a beautiful centrepiece for the table featuring heroines from America’s past. Trying to find room for the turkey, Bart flings the centrepiece into the fireplace, breaking Lisa’s heart. Bart is sent to his room, but he runs away with Santa’s Little Helper. When he returns, he has a heart-to-heart with Lisa and finally apologises to her.

Discussion: Ah, Bart! It’s a typical Bart stunt to make room for the “real” centrepiece of Thanksgiving, the turkey. But in a moment of a collective gasp, the centrepiece bursts into flames as does Lisa’s heart. It’s sibling rivalry at its finest, along with the touching moments on the roof when Bart finds that centre of guilt and truly apologises to Lisa. Aww!

Both the Bouvier and Simpson families are represented here. Marge’s sisters and mother have come for dinner as well as Grandpa Simpson. Mrs Bouvier has laryngitis but is willing to risk her voice to put Marge down at every opportunity. Patty and Selma are kind in comparison. It’s exactly the awkward family situations many people find themselves in over the holidays (obviously, here in Australia we don’t have Thanksgiving, but there are plenty of other holidays for awkward family moments).

As with any holiday-themed show, there’s the Real Meaning of Holiday scene, where various members of the show do some soul searching and find that special meaning. However, for the viewer, that scene is probably Kent Brockman’s broadcast from the homeless shelter where Bart found some free grub. At that moment, the viewer is to be grateful for family and food. Mr Burns’ wasted food is another example; be thankful for what you have. Let’s face it, holiday specials are supposed to be meaningful, and this episode pulls it off perfectly.

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