Milhouse of Sand and Fog
Couch gag: A pop-up menu appears after the family have sat down, and the unseen person chooses “Delete recording”.
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Synopsis: Milhouse’s parents look like they’re getting back together but Milhouse misses the attention, so he and Bart plot to break them up again.
Discussion: Unlike the previous two atrocities, this episode isn’t eye-stabbingly bad. In fact, it has moments where glimpses of Classic Simpsons shine through. Sadly those moments don’t last long, but hey! I didn’t want to stab out my eyes with a rusty spoon so it’s all good.
Milhouse’s parents have been separated since season 8’s ‘A Milhouse Divided‘. Now that they might get back together, Milhouse misses the extra attention he gets from both parents competing for his love, so he and Bart plan to break up the new couple. Cue Bart planting Marge’s bra to make Luann think Kirk has been cheating… but Bart didn’t realise his mother’s name is sewn onto the lingerie. Ooooh!
All of this is great- the plot works, it goes smoothly, there’s no reason to cry (unless you’re Milhouse and you have a remainder in your long division). Bart’s final prank to get his own parents back together is a bit stupid and cliched but I’m willing to forgive it because the rest of the ep is so different to what I’ve recently been subjected to.
Whether Luann and Kirk stay together is another story… Don’t look at me, I don’t know the answer. I’m beyond the limits of what I’ve seen previously (apart from the odd one here and there). And no spoilers either!
Couch gag: The living room is made of sand, which collapses as soon as the Simpsons sit down.
Director: Mark Kirkland
Synopsis: Moe’s bar is closed by the Health Dept, leaving Homer to remortgage the house to bring the bar up to Code. Marge takes over the business, gets a little too close to Moe and Homer struggles to win her back.
Discussion: The Simpsons works best when there’s heart in the episode. This ep is full of heart: Homer loves Moe’s bar but he loves Marge more, and will do anything to win her back.
There’s quite a few brilliant moments here: the opening sequence where Homer has finally paid off the mortgage, the funeral for Moe’s bar, Marge’s costume as a British dame running a quaint pub, Homer on the crane trying to catch the plane, a CGI sequence as a movie trailer for the fictional film Cards and Homer’s business card saying “Plus Size Butt Model”. All these make the episode better than average and show there’s still some (not a lot) life left in the old girl yet. For the record, I was convinced I hadn’t seen this episode before, but seeing Homer’s business card convinced me that I had- I know this because I used Plus Size Butt Model as a handle on a forum that I frequent.
There’s always been a subtext between Marge and Moe, even if Marge has never realised it. This episode explores Moe’s unrequited feelings for Marge, which is something different. Until now, there’s just been inferences and implications with no real substance, so I’m glad that finally, we have something tangible. Moe’s always been unlucky in love but generally he’s not a bad person… as long as he’s not sitting around feeling sorry for himself. That bit gets real old, real fast.
We know Homer really loves Marge, he’d do anything for her and his mission to follow Marge to Aruba to win her back is just plain lovely. It’s always the simple plots that work the best in this show. Marge’s final speech to Moe is also nice; I wondered if she was going to set him up with Selma?
I’m With Cupid
Hillbillies are people too
Couch gag: The family sit on the couch and hairdryers give them each a new hairstyle from another family member.
Director: Bob Anderson
Elton John as himself
Jan Hooks as Manjula
Synopsis: Valentine’s Day is approaching and Apu is determined to show Manjula how much he loves her. His extravagant displays of affection make the other men in Springfield look cheap and lazy to their wives.
Discussion: It’s a cute, sweet episode that doesn’t pretend to be anything else. Apu is married to the Kwik E Mart, working 7 days a week, 18 hours a day and Manjula is tired of never seeing her husband.With seven days to go before Valentine’s Day, Apu plans some very special surprises, culminating in skywriting over Springfield.
Elton John’s guest appearance is the highlight of the ep. It’s always funny when a celebrity pokes fun at themselves and Elton John is a good sport for allowing his animated self be locked into a dog carrier at Springfield airport, and for singing a special song to Manjula on the rooftop of Kwik E Mart. Aww!
The show has been focused on the Simpsons family a lot lately, something the writer tried to avoid in earlier seasons, feeling that the other residents of Springfield deserve some attention as well. Therefore it’s refreshing to see Apu and Manjula featured again.
All’s well that ends well: the women of Springfield, thanks to Homer for spoiling Manjula’s surprise, think their men have put the skywriting in place and presumably give their men some very special snuggles.