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

Posts tagged ‘Santa’s Little Helper’

King of Six Packistan

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Old Yeller Belly

My pen is not a booger launcher

Couch gag: The Simpsons parody Lunchtime Atop a Skyscraper

Director: Bob Anderson

Guest Voice:
Stacy Keach as Howard K. Duff VII

Synopsis: Santa’s Little Helper becomes Suds McDuff, the new mascot for Duff beer.

Discussion: Hehehe, unitard.

Today’s Simpsons ep finds Homer in a spot of trouble and Santa’s Little Helper, ever the faithful companion, chickens out (or was that a turkey?), leaving Homie to be saved by the cat. Blah blah blah, the dog becomes the lovable new spokesmodel for Duff beer, and is reclaimed by his former owner, some greyhound racing guy. Yes, beloved viewers, scandal has hit The Simpsons.

Maybe it’s because I had very little sleep last night, but I really enjoyed this episode. It’s full of great lines (my notebook of possible blog titles is full of gems from today’s ep) and Bart’s opening night of his new treehouse is so frickin’ funny, it deserves its own awards night. Hmm, maybe I do need more sleep…

This episode could not have been done better. Everything aligns perfectly to propel the story forward: yesterday’s episode where Homer writes ‘Everybody Hates Ned’ was so disjointed and weird. However, the writing is tight, hilarious and brilliantly worked together to create a fantastic episode. And who doesn’t love Duffman? He’s a peripheral character but we see a different side of him- gold star for you if you can work out his maths problem too.

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Dogs wag their tails for hours after they die

Dog of Death

I saw nothing unusual in the teacher’s lounge

Couch gag: Homer lies on the couch and the family sit on him

Director: Jim Reardon

Synopsis: Santa’s Little Helper needs an operation and the family all sacrifice something in order to raise the money needed. After the operation, the family blame the dog for them going without and the dog, feeling unloved, runs away.

Discussion: Losing a pet is never easy, and most people would do anything they can to save their beloved pet. However, making sacrifices such as enduring chub night (“Chub night? I don’t even know what that is!”) and having free haircuts at barber college make the family resent the dog, but when the dog runs away, they realise they love him after all. Aww!

There are loads of cultural and self-referential references in the episode, but what really stands out is the realism of the situation. For those who read the first blog post,  this is what the writers aimed for: even though it’s an animated show, it misses the “cartoonish” behaviour such as jaws dropping etc and brought realism to family television. (Coincidentally, this episode also trumped The Cosby Show in the ratings, also a goal for the network.) Many families don’t budget for sudden expenses, including when a beloved pet is taken ill (pet insurance is totally worth it, by the way). Although this episode has a happy ending, the first act will bring up many emotions in people who have ever lost a pet.

Of course, the other main theme of the ep is Mr Burns’ possession of the dog and teaching him to be one of the Hounds who are released to terrorise anyone silly enough to knock on Mr Burns’ door. And let’s face it- who hasn’t wished they had hounds to release when some undesirable knocks on their door? (Do Not Knock stickers are also totally worth it, by the way). Santa’s Little Helper recognising Bart just before tearing him to bits is just the sweetened ending the episode deserves. Because let’s face it- we all love our pets.

Blah blah blah blah, blah blah

Bart’s Dog Gets an F

I will not sell school property

Couch gag: Snowball and Santa’s Little Helper jump on the couch with the family

Director: Jim Reardon

Guest Voice: Tracey Ullman as Emily Winthrop, dog trainer

Synopsis: Lisa has the mumps and Santa’s Little Helper attends obedience school because he’s chewing everything in sight.

Discussion: Let me preface this by saying I was woken far too early this morning by my own dog. See, I live near a dog park and in summer, people like to walk their dogs insanely early in the morning to this dog park. My dog barks at them. A few things popped into my head as I was watching today’s episode, but did I think to write them down as I went along? Of course not! (Methinks I need a nap…)

We’ve all had dogs like Santa’s Little Helper, even if it’s only for brief periods. My dog, Jasmine, was a terrible puppy. Insanely cute, she would nibble on furniture, steal my underwear and hide under the lemon tree with them because she knew I couldn’t reach her there. Even now, if we leave food scraps lying around (i.e. easily accessible in the bin) she’ll wait til we’re in bed before helping herself. The barking thing, well, that comes with the territory (she’s a Maremma Sheepdog, that’s what they do).

But, I digress. Lisa’s mumps allows a subplot of making a Bouvier family quilt, which is then destroyed by the dog. The real turning point is when the dog destroys Homer’s expensive new shoes (Assassins, no doubt based on Nikes in the early 1990s. Even in Australia we wanted those shoes, but they were hideously expensive here, something around $300 if I recall correctly).

There are similarities between Bart and his dog. They are taught and taught and yelled at and disciplined yet don’t seem to get the message. But the episode wouldn’t work if Bart was the one doing the destruction- Marge and Lisa would never forgive him for ruining the family quilt (even if it was an accident). So despite the flaw where the dog has never behaved badly before this episode, the dog is really the only character capable of pulling this off.

In another cultural reference (and this episode is full of ’em), Dr Hibbert is sitting in his family home resembling a scene from The Cosby Show, which was airing opposite The Simpsons at the time. For more about the Cosby-Simpson battle, see the post from the first episode. Also keep an eye out for a brief mention of Ms Botz, who is apparently on the run again.

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