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Posts tagged ‘Mr Burns’

What is that, a river otter?

Friends and Family

Billboard: Dr Nick with a chainsaw: Tell me what, and I’ll cut

I will stop losing 50% of my NFL lead-in

Couch gag: An off-screen finger taps the Simpsons through a smart phone but Homer is too fat so he’s whacked on the head to render him unconscious.

Director: Lance Kramer

Guest voices:
Alison Janney as Julia

Synopsis: Mr Burns decides he wants a family. Let the auditions begin!

Discussion: …What?

Mr Burns finds Professor Frink’s VR headgear and decides that the Simpsons sans Homer would be the perfect virtual reality. Cue a bunch of random scenes thrown together featuring the family in green-screen technology and Homer at Moe’s.

What makes classic Simpsons classic is the storytelling. Here we have a ton of montages with no end product- there is no point to seeing Homer washing his underwear in the dishwasher. Living in a virtual world should be perfect fodder to see what Mr Burns tick… However all we end up seeing is Mr Burns turning the shower knobs on for a hot shower. Really? With a lifetime of memories to relive and a whole world to explore, Mr Burns wants to pretend to have a hot shower. Yawwwwwwwwwwwn!

Meanwhile, Homer is naked and meets the back neighbour Julia, voiced by Alison Janney who is clearly reading from a script while wishing she was somewhere else.

This episode is lacking cohesive narrative, any form of direction and very poor performances. Have the actors finally realised this is a pointless exercise with a biiiig paycheque?

There’s two distinct plots here which could have been so much better. Julia’s friendship with Homer could have been so much better! Instead there’s two minutes smooshed somewhere near the end where Marge gets angry at Homer’s friendship. Had the episode focused on this, it would have been watchable. At the heart of every great episode is the family coming together after a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, this episode lost its direction altogether.

 

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Don’t give me that kiss of death, you black widow

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The Mansion Family

Class clown is not a paid position

Couch gag: Bart and Lisa are grown-ups, while Marge and Homer are the kids.

Director: Michael Polcino

Guest voice:
Britney Spears as herself

Synopsis: Mr Burns plans a visit to a Mayo Clinic, and hires the Simpson family to take care of the mansion while he’s away.

Discussion: International waters? What the hell??

Let’s start from the beginning. Mr Burns is awarded the Springfield Pride Award for being the oldest citizen (in much the same way as Stephen Bradbury won gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics) and decides he might need a medical checkup. Due for a good performance, Mr Burns entrusts his mansion to Homer while he’s away. Hey, I can’t think of a better reason why Mr Burns would turn over care to Homer!

Good times ensue, Homer makes a general mess of the mansion while the social consciences of the family, Marge and Lisa, complain.

Mr Burns’ medical is going well and he has every disease known to man but they are in perfect balance, leading Burns to believe he’s indestructible.

The episode falls down when Homer decides to have a party. Moe’s not allowed to sell beer before 2pm so Homer et al go into international waters and have their party there. What. The. Hell. Cue pirates, a ridiculous ending and Homer having a cry that everyone listed in the credits is rich (not as rich as they should be, of course).

The third act of the ep reminds me of the film Pirate Radio (known to Aussies as The Boat That Rocked), but far more stupid. The laws governing international waters are complex and steadfast, but as this is a TV show, it’s perfectly fine to ignore facts; they just get in the way of a good story anyway!

Britney Spears appears as the co-host of the Springfield Pride Awards and introduces herself as “teen sensation Britney Spears”. Remember when Britters was innocent and cute? Yeah, me too.

Won’t someone please stop the farting

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Monty Can’t Buy Me Love

I have neither been there nor done that

Couch gag: The family start dancing and the lounge room is revealed to be a circus (we haven’t seen this one since season 6’s ‘Fear of Flying‘) 

Director: Mark Ervin

Synopsis: Monty brings over the Loch Ness Monster to make people love him. 

Discussion: This is actually a very good episode! If it seems like I’m surprised, it’s because I am: this is about the time where I start to get a bit jaded about the brilliance of the show. Yet here’s an ep which ticks all the right boxes, even if the ending does seem a bit out of place. 

Based on Richard Branson and Virgin Megastores, Arthur Fortune’s new Fortune Megastore has landed into Springfield and the residents just love this new kind of billionaire. He’s fun, down-to-Earth and gives away free cash just because he can. Monty, desperate for the same love and adoration, tries to emulate Fortune’s success and winds up stealing the Loch Ness Monster (affectionately called Nessie) in order to be loved. 

Everything works until the final part. One is able to see the Nessie stunt in good humour, part of the episode, but after that it’s a bit sketchy. Nessie ends up working in a casino. What? Nessie is a good-natured beast so there’s no point making her into a monster that Burns can manipulate to do his will, similar to “release the hounds”. Burns’ casino has been torn down so he can’t use her as the star attraction. So what do you do with the Loch Ness Monster once she’s won the hearts of Springfield’s residents? Clearly, I have no better answers than the writers, but the current ending of Nessie watching the pokies in a casino just doesn’t cut it. Other than that, it’s a fantastic episode. Shame. 

If I’m not a safety whatchamajigger, I’m nothing

Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk

The Christmas pageant does not suck

Couch gag: As the family approach, Santa’s Little Helper growls to keep them away

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voice:Phil Hartman as Horst and the stock broker

Synopsis: Feeling trapped by the power plant, Mr Burns decides to sell it to a German consortium. Homer loses his job.

Discussion: I suppose this episode is about the loss of the American Dream, where solid US businesses are sold to overseas investors, ruining the lives of American workers (or in this case, worker). But on the other hand, selling the power plant allows Mr Burns to have some free time, but without the power to inflict tyranny, he’s unhappy.

I find myself really enjoying the Mr Burns episodes. This one falters in the last five minutes by losing pace though. The highlight of the episode is Homer’s Land of Chocolate fantasy (“Mmm… half price chocolate!” even though he’s surrounded by it) and Bart’s rendition of Teddy Bear’s Picnic at Moe’s Tavern is also very funny.

The relationship between Smithers and Mr Burns is explored in this episode; Smithers’ unwavering allegiance to Mr Burns as well as Mr Burns’ reliance on Smithers for every day things. There are several allusions to Smithers’ sexuality which is a running joke in the series and work well here.

I got a job as a blood-letting tech dude

Blood Feud

I will not sleep through my education

Couch gag: The couch falls through the floor.

Director: David Silverman

Synopsis: Mr Burns desperately needs a blood transfusion and only Bart has the same rare blood type. Homer expects riches to be poured upon the family but receives only a thank-you card. Homer takes matters into his own hands as Mr Burns grapples with his near-death experience.

Discussion: This episode has some great quotes in it. For example:
Homer: Hello, my name is Mr Burns. I believe you have a letter for me.
Mail guy: OK Mr Burns, what’s your first name?
Homer: I… don’t know.

Homer’s motivation through the episode is greed, while Bart doesn’t really have a motivation other than doing what he’s told. Bart is also happy with the eventual reward, an Olmec head. It’s really the first time we see Mr Burns’ vulnerability and health issues, although he has appeared quite weak in earlier episodes. What really shines here is Homer’s sarcasm and lengths he goes to in order to prevent Mr Burns seeing his sarcastic letter. The final scene in which the family sit around the Olmec head discussing the moral of the story is also really well done; it goes against everything a half hour family sitcom stands for. TV’s standard formula is problem -> crisis -> resolution -> moral (or lesson learned). So by the Simpson family not having a moral (even though there’s a resolution), it’s taking the mickey from other half hour sitcoms.

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.

We asked you not to spit over the side

Bart Gets Hit By A Car

I will not sell school property

Couch gag: Everyone is squeezed off except for Homer

Director: Mark Kirkland

First appearance of:
Lionel Hutz
Dr Nick RivieraUn-named blue-haired lawyer

Guest Voice:Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: While skateboarding, Bart is hit by Mr Burns’ car. Bart dies, however the devil says Bart is not due to return for almost a century, so Bart wakes up in hospital. While Dr Hibberd says Bart will be fine, Lionel Hutz asks for the opinion of Dr Nick Riviera, who claims Bart is quite unwell. The Simpsons take Mr Burns to court but the case falls apart when Mr Burns, attempting an out-of-court settlement, overhears Marge speak the truth and Mr Burns’ lawyer calls upon her to testify under oath. Homer now sees Marge as the woman who lost him a million dollars but realises that he loves her more than ever.

Discussion: Classic Simpsons! It seems whenever a Simpson is injured, they die for brief moments but just like a cat with nine lives, they always bounce back. There really are some great scenes in this episode, such as Bart and Mr Burns’ differing accounts of the accident, Bart’s escalator ride to Heaven, the introduction of Lionel Hutz and Dr Nick Riviera and the make up scene in Moe’s Tavern right at the end. Both Lionel and Dr Nick become semi-regular characters, although Lionel is never seen again after Phil Hartman’s tragic death.

The major theme of this episode is greed. To Homer, a million dollars (even shared with Lionel Hutz) is the largest amount of money he’s ever seen. To Mr Burns, a million dollars is a drop in the ocean, but that doesn’t mean he wants to give it up. Marge’s morals are the downfall, money is worthless if you have to lie to get it. Lisa, of course, is also on the money when she asks Mr Hutz if he’s a shyster. For the most part, Bart seems indifferent to the proceedings. Sure, a million bucks would be nice but when it doesn’t eventuate, he’s cool with that too.

Hold me, Smithers

Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish

I will not Xerox my butt

Couch gag: The couch pops out as a sofa bed.

Director: Wes Archer

Synopsis: Bart and Lisa are fishing when Bart catches a fish with three eyes. A reporter happens to be at the scene, sees that the lake is next to the nuclear power plant, and puts two and two together. Mr Burns’ reputation falters, especially when the plant then fails an inspection. Drunk and depressed, Mr Burns follows Homer’s suggestion to run for Governor, thereby creating all the laws he likes and his plant won’t be breaking any. Mr Burns’ campaign is doing exceedingly well until the night before the election, when he has dinner with the Simpsons in order to attract last minute support from voters.

Discussion: This episode features several references to the film Citizen Kane, but even if you haven’t seen the film (heed my warning, it’s as boring as all hell) you’ll be able to enjoy the fun. Mr Burns decides to run for Governor in order to bend some laws and pass his own nuclear power plant instead of spending the $56 million to fix it up (of course, a political campaign would probably cost about that… details, details).

Bart’s infamy is growing; when a nosy reporter snaps some pictures of Bart holding the three-eyed fish (affectionately called Blinky by Mr Burns in a hilarious attempt to explain the process of Darwin’s theory of natural selection using an actor), Bart adds the newspaper clipping to a scrapbook. Astute viewers will notice on the opposite page is an article about a vandal decapitating the statue of the town’s founder, Jebediah Springfield. However, at the family dinner with special guest Mr Burns, Bart uncharacteristically has very little to say. Instead it is Lisa who struggles with her conscience to ask a pre-prepared question instead of the burning question on her mind.

In short, the episode satirises American politics as well as highlighting environmental issues. Nuclear power is a controversial issue and although Blinky was an invention at the time, a real three eyed fish was discovered in 2011.

For those playing Android’s Simpsons Logo Quiz, Mary Bailey sure looks a lot like Homer’s mother…

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