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Posts tagged ‘science vs religion’

Was mommy a monkey

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The Monkey Suit

Je ne parle pas Francais 

Couch gag: A series of family portraits from 2006-2013

Director: Raymond S. Persi

Guest voices:
Melanie Griffith as herself
Larry Hagman as Wallace Brady

Synopsis: After discovering the evolution exhibit at the local museum, Ned Flanders encourages creation to be taught in schools. 

Discussion: As I type this, there is a debate between Bill Nye and Ken Ham about whether creation is a viable option of origins in today’s world (I’ll post the link when it’s finished- it’s currently live and probably finished by the time most people read this). 

Anyhoo, the subject of science vs religion is not new to The Simpsons. We’ve seen Lisa getting her head around the angel fossil, for example. This episode doesn’t bring anything new to the table and although the ep was praised for “biting satire” and “encouraging critical thinking”, I don’t see it. What I do see is how the episode dodges all the main points of either point of view (POV). The central theme in the ep is Charles Darwin (something that Ken Ham is literally talking about as I type). Marge’s obsession with On the Origin of Species leads to her giving Homer a beer bottle in the court which somehow proves that Homer is related to a monkey, and to get Ned to admit it. 

Oh puh-leese! 

I get it, it’s supposed to be funny and satirical, but it comes across as a lame attempt to resolve the issue within the 20 minute constraints of the episode. Did we need this episode? No. It’s been done before, and sure, it’s a topical issue (particularly in Australian schools in 2014) but I don’t think The Simpsons is the correct place to be airing these sorts of issues. When you’ve got two polar opposites like Ned and Lisa, neither are going to budge on their belief systems so the episode cannot move forward nor add anything to the canon. 

Having said that, there is so much more that can be added. What I’d really like to see is Lisa vs Ned on say, the book of Leviticus. (If you haven’t read Leviticus, it’s full of gems.) 

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.

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