I watch, and blog, and watch and blog and watch. It's the Simpsons every day!

Posts tagged ‘Marge’

P.S. Forgive the lateness of my reply

Brush With Greatness

I will not hide behind the fifth amendment

Couch gag: The couch tips over and Maggie lands on a cushion

Director: Jim Reardon

Guest Voices:
Jon Lovitz as Professor Lombardo
Ringo Starr as himself

Synopsis: When Homer becomes stuck in a waterslide at Mt Splashmore, he decides it’s time for a diet. While looking for athletic equipment in the attic, Bart and Homer find Marge’s paintings of Ringo Starr, painted during her high school days. Marge is encouraged by Lisa to enter an art class and she wins first prize for her portrait of Homer. Meanwhile, the Mr Burns Wing is due to be dedicated and Mr Burns hates all his official portraits, so commissions Marge to paint his portrait.

Discussion: This is an all-round great episode. The plot starts in one direction, then leads into another and takes another twist to end up somewhere completely different to where it started out! This style of writing is a hallmark of the show and does get overused in some episodes, but is completely appropriate for this particular episode. It’s one thing that leads to another in order to tell the story, and having Marge as the central character is well-deserved. So often, she’s the background character, the wet blanket in the family. No, you can’t do this, no, I don’t approve of that… but here we discover her hidden talent and passion for art (something which is carried throughout the series) and her own chance at greatness when she’s selected for the Mr Burns portrait. Mr Burns’ reaction to the portrait surprises me, he normally dislikes his vulnerabilities shown in public. Maybe he does understand that he is a mere mortal after all?

In October 2008, Ringo Starr announced he was too busy to answer mail or sign any memorabilia. I think it’s really rude to tell your fans that anything they send you will be “tossed out”. Fair enough, you’re busy, you’ve got a lot of projects happening (even if they won’t get you to the dizzying heights you once knew) and you don’t have time to personally answer mail… but this is sending a clear message that you have no time for your fans (who got you there in the first place. Without fans, you’re nothing.) End rant.

It’s my metabamobilism

The Way We Was

I will not get very far with this attitude

Couch gag: The couch falls through the floor when the family sit on it

Director: David Silverman

First Appearance of:
Rainier Wolfcastle (as McBain)
Artie Ziff
Principal Dondelinger

Guest Voice:
Jon Lovitz as Artie

Synopsis: When the TV breaks, Homer and Marge relate the story of how they met.

Discussion: This is the first episode where we see Marge and Homer’s life before they married and had children. It messes with linear time, so don’t try to keep up (it’s a bit hard to keep track when the entire Simpson family remain exactly the same ages for 30 years).

This is another episode in which the viewer is all about “awww!” Despite knowing how the story ends (married with 3 children, in case you hadn’t gotten that far), Homer and Marge’s romance seems doomed from the start. She’s smart and political and Homer is smoking in the bathroom with Barney. After Homer admits he’s not really taking any French classes (negating the need for her to tutor him), Marge tells him she hates him and accepts a prom invitation with the school nerd, Artie Ziff.

Although it’s typical boy-meets-girl-boy-loses-girl stuff, it works for the Simpsons. Firstly, the viewer already knows they end up married. Secondly, it was Marge who realised the error of her ways without Homer needing to do anything to win her back. It’s refreshing not to have a rehash of some stupid teenage romance movie (although if The Notebook had been released before this episode, it could have played out differently).

Favourite scene: Homer in the car singing to ‘The Joker’ (“Some people call me Maurice, woo woo!”)

The screwballs have spoken

Itchy and Scratchy and Marge

I will not pledge allegiance to Bart

couch gag: the couch is missing

Director: Jim Reardon

Synopsis: After watching Itchy & Scratchy cartoons, Maggie hits Homer on the head with a mallet, causing injury requiring him to take the week off work. Marge concludes the cartoons are inducing Maggie’s violence and takes steps to reduce the violence in cartoons. As a result, Itchy and Scratchy become best friends and the cartoons are showing loving actions, such as sharing lemonade on the porch. Bored kids turn off the TV and go outside to play. Michelangelo’s masterpiece, David, tours Springfield and Marge is asked to protest about it but she feels art is not the same as violent cartoons and refuses to protest. Cartoons violence returns and kids return to the TV.

First appearance of:
Roger Meyers Jr (spelled Myers in this episode)
Sideshow Mel

Discussion: Let’s face it, censorship and violence are huge issues. Wikipedia tells me that the writers tried not to take sides in this episode, which I think they’ve done a fair job with. The majority of people watching violence are not going to take that violence into the real world, and we’re desensitised to graphic violence, but should it be censored by The Powers That Be or should we self-censor? If you know something will offend you, change the channel.

The principle of censoring brings me to one of my favourite topics: the Production Code (also known as the Hays Code). For those unfamiliar with the Code, here’s the 101: The Code was developed in 1930 and rigidly enforced until the 1960s, abandoned altogether in 1968. Under the Code, there were a number of acts not allowed to be shown (or implied) on screen. Sex, violence (unless the Bad Guy got justice), homosexuality, childbirth etc all were banned (for a full list, see here). If your movie did not adhere to the Code, it was not allowed to be shown to the public, end of story. In the 1960s, studios began pushing the envelope and eventually the Code was abandoned in favour of letting individuals decide for themselves what is appropriate viewing. We still use this system today (Australia is slightly different than the US with our ratings, but the principle is the same).

The scene where Maggie hits Homer is a parody of Hitchcock’s Psycho. The music from the infamous shower scene, the camera angles, the iconography of Homer pulling the cloth and the red paint spilling all echoes this film (even though the film was black & white and the “blood” was chocolate syrup). Psycho was filmed during the Production Code era so actual violence wasn’t allowed to be shown. In that shower scene, the knife is never seen to strike Marion Crane. Blood is never shown on her body, only running down the drain. The enforcers of the Code watched and rewatched that scene many times in order to allow it to be shown.

But I digress. Marge’s attempts at censoring the cartoons echoes not on the Code’s enforcement but the many individuals also attempting censorship on network television’s various atrocities. My own opinion is one of self-censorship. If you know something will offend, don’t watch it. (Don’t get me started on the brouhaha of religious groups when they all sat down to watch Ellen’s coming-out episode and then protested because it was offensive).

My heart and my hips cry ‘Proceed!’

Life on the Fast Lane

Couch Gag: None

Director: David Silverman

First appearance of:
Helen Lovejoy

Guest Voice: Albert Brooks as Jacques

Synopsis: It’s Marge’s birthday and Homer buys her a bowling ball, even though she’s never been bowling in her life. A handsome French stranger at the bowling alley offers to be her teacher, with mutual flirtation. Eventually Marge realises she must choose between them and surprises Homer at work.

Awwwwww! Marge is feeling unappreciated by Homer, and who can blame her? Most people in a relationship at some point or other have fantacised about another person. Marge has been a wife and mother for so long that she’s forgotten she’s a desirable female. Enter Jacques: a handsome French guy willing to show her everything she wants to know about bowling and the spicier side of life. Oh well, if you’re going to do it, you may as well choose someone classy (although I suspect she may hold a candle for Lenny…) Lisa and Homer feel Marge slipping away from the family, but it takes Bart a little longer. As usual, it all works out in the end and the Simpson family go on being the world’s most popular yellow-skinned family.

This won’t be the last time Marge has a better offer: her high school boyfriend will give her an offer she (almost) can’t refuse, Mr Burns develops a crush on her as does Moe. But that’s all in the future…

An interesting fact I read on wikipedia about this episode (so it must be true) is that the exterior of Barney’s Bowl-a-rama was designed by Eric Stefani, brother of Gwen and fellow member of No Doubt.


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