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Posts tagged ‘Simpsons season 10’

Knife goes in, guts come out

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Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo

I’m so very tired

Couch gag: The family are sucked down the back of the couch and are shredded like paper.

Director: Jim Reardon

Guest voices:
George Takei as Wink
Gedde Watanabe as Waiter
Mako as Battling Seizure Robot
Keone Young as Sumo Wrestler

Synopsis: The Simpsons take a vacation to Tokyo but lose their money and have to appear on a Japanese game show to win tickets home.

Discussion: Let’s not mince words: this episode sucks. Whenever the Simpsons travel to another country, they end up offending practically everyone there. Apparently this ep has never been aired in Japan because it is considered disrespectful (the scene in question is when Homer throws the Emperor into a container of used sumo thongs). Those lucky Japanese aren’t missing anything.

Homer is particularly disrespectful of everything Japanese, except the toilet which recommends a restaurant called Americatown. The game show is a fairly good parody of real Japanese game shows (has anyone seen Takeshi’s Castle?) and the Simpsons are able to fly back to America, after a mild Godzilla attack.

This is one of the worst episodes in the series. There’s a fine line between satire and parody and this ep fails on both counts. It is offensive. There is some humour in the beginning of the show, showing dated technology such as those coloured Apple computers and floppy disks. But as the family land in Japan until the end of the show, it’s just rubbish.

Stop looking down my blouse, Copernicus

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They Saved Lisa’s Brain

No one wants to hear from my armpits

Couch gag: The couch is sunk by a passing iceberg

Director: Pete Michels

Guest voice:
Stephen Hawking as himself

Synopsis: Lisa is asked to join Mensa when she writes an open letter to Springfield about their buffoonery during a gross-out contest. Meanwhile, Homer uses a voucher for an erotic photography session. 

Discussion: Taken at face value, this episode isn’t fantastic. When viewed with a bigger understanding of current society and the emphasis placed on celebrating stupidity, this ep is brilliant. 

Embarrassed by the town’s gross-out contest and subsequent riot, Lisa pens an open letter encouraging residents to better themselves. The Springfield chapter of Mensa, comprising Comic Book Guy, Skinner, Dr Hibbert and Professor Frink, invite Lisa to join. After the mayor runs away, Mensa start ruling the town but disagree on several points. 

Having a high intellect comes at a cost, apparently. Not everyone shares the same vision for an Utopian society but some of the rules the literati make are plain silly. Which is, of course, the whole point. Enter Stephen Hawking, who is brilliant as himself. Hawking is a good sport, he will poke fun at himself (as he’s also proven by appearing on The Big Bang Theory) and continue his quest to popularise science. Wonder if they tried to get Marilyn vos Savant on the show too? 

Special mention must be made to Homer’s photo shoot. Some of the best shots in the entire series come from this shoot. Originally I was going to use the shot where Mensa members are dressed for the Renaissance, but I just couldn’t resist Homer being sexy. I use a lot of Homer-centred shots, just because he often has the best poses. 

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. 

Children, children, future, future

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The Old Man and the C Student

Loose teeth do not nee my help

Couch gag: The Simpsons’ lounge room houses Springfield’s resident as a movie theatre. Homer plods his way to the couch behind everyone.

Director: Mark Kirkland

Synopsis: When Bart loses Springfield’s right to host the Olympic Games, he and the class are sentenced to “voluntary” work. Bart winds up at the old folk’s home and takes them on a trip to remember. 

Discussion: Although a favourite with the critics (and probably my sister too), I don’t love this episode. Springy and the elementary school kids singing are great. Bart rightfully loses the right to host the Games  when he presents some racist jokes to the panel. After that, it gets a bit weird. 

It may be an accurate reflection of how we treat old people: locking them away in homes with volunteers to keep them amused (and re-dubbing old movies to something nicer for the sensitive folk), but that doesn’t mean it’s funny. Bart taking the old folk out on a boat, which sinks and is bounced up by Homer’s flushed springs: what? It ties the two plots in nicely but apart from that, it’s all a bit too old and cliche. 

Lastly, we’ve already had an episode called ‘The Old Man and the...” which saw Mr Burns and Lisa form a partnership. All this combined, plus the old jokes that are the old folk, make this ep seem like well-trodden ground. 

You put the beer in the coconut and throw the can away

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Mom and Pop Art

A Trained ape could not teach gym

Couch gag: The Simpsons ride the couch a la Dr Strangelove

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest voices:
Isabella Rosselini as Astrid
Jasper Johns as himself

Synopsis: Homer’s attempts at building a BBQ pit go horribly wrong, but is seen as art by stereotypical pretentious artists. 

Discussion: I’m not arty at all, but I enjoy this episode. Homer’s failed BBQ pit becomes the centrepiece for his “outsider” art and he becomes an overnight success. 

It’s not fair that Marge is an artist yet her work has been long overlooked and Homer’s anger at the BBQ pit becomes an instant art success. But that’s life both in reality and in the Simpsons world- you don’t always get what you work so hard for. 

Isabella Rosellini is perfect as the hoity-toity Astrid, with famed artist jasper Johns appearing as himself. The beauty of working in animation means the guest stars don’t even need to be in the same country to record their lines. Wikipedia says Jasper recorded his lines over the phone. 

Again, this is a fresh look at a theme in the show: Homer being celebrated for doing stupid stuff but in a way that feels new and exciting. Overall, it’s a great episode and shows the superiority of season 10 over the disappointing and stale season 9. 

Those half pint slaves are exodusing

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Simpsons Bible Stories

I can not absolve sins

couch gag: The floor is littered with banana skins, which the family slip on and land on the couch

Director: Nancy Kruse

Synopsis: During a hot morning at church, the Simpson family fall asleep and dream they lived in biblical times.

Discussion: This is a trilogy-episode in the style of the Halloween episodes. The Simpsons fall asleep in church (oh come on, who hasn’t?) and dream they are characters in a biblical story. Each story is from the Old Testament: Adam and Eve’s exile from the Garden of Eden, Moses parting the Red Sea and taking the Israelites with him, and David’s victory over Goliath. 

This is a great episode. It’s fresh, funny, and tells bible stories is a way that is largely inoffensive to religious types plus puts a Simpsons spin on itFlanders as God, the unicorn dying, Skinner as Pharaoh and Ralph Wiggum killing Goliath Jr are all part of the fun. Just when you think the show is going downhill fast, along comes something like this to liven it up again. 

The ending is interesting. Having realised that everyone has left church and they are the only ones, they go out into the world while the Apocalypse is happening. The Flanders family ascend to Heaven and Lisa begins to, until Homer pulls her down. Interesting that Lisa is the one to ascend- her ideas and skepticism about religion don’t exactly align with biblical teachings. It was evident in the Angel episode and will become more apparent soonish with her decision to become Buddhist. Anyhoo, maybe this was meant ironically. There is some debate among fans about the ending, whether it is canonical or not. Personally, I think it’s obviously not canonical. The Simpsons-world didn’t end and the Flanders appear in many more episodes. Plus, Lisa’s ascension into Heaven is most probably ironic and definitely doesn’t fit into the canon. 

He called me Greenhorn, I called him Tony Randall

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Maximum Homerdrive

It does not suck to be you

couch gag: The family have reversed ages: Marge and Homer are the kids while Bart and Lisa are adults. Maggie appears as a doll held by Homer. 

Director: Swinton O. Scott III

Synopsis: When Homer engages in an eating contest with a trucker named Red, Red unexpectedly dies and Homer takes over his trucking duties to deliver a shipment on time. Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa buy a doorbell. 

Discussion: I’m not sure how I feel about this episode. The beginning is very good, Homer as a trucker is good, truckers using an automatic driving device… WTF? Similarly, the subplot of Marge and Lisa buying a doorbell. OMG. A doorbell. This is right up there with missing feet from an egg craft box. Whoa, too much excitement! Tone it down, please.

Red Barclay is one of those characters that only appear once yet everyone knows who they are. In this case, it’s probably because he died after eating a steak the size of a boogie board and a whole lamb as well. Plus he’s an all-round nice guy. It’s noble of Homer to take on Red’s trucking duties, which brings me to my next observation: Who has more jobs, Homer or Gil? 

Anyhoo, this ep has a very similar title to that of the Max Power episode ‘Homer to the Max‘, which was only a few episodes ago. It makes things a bit confusing when two similarly named eps are in the same season, but I shouldn’t be complaining about writing ideas. I know that later seasons are so poorly done… but we’ll get to that later. 

Now, please enjoy Carpenters with ‘Close To You’. God bless you, Karen Carpenter. 

And ooga booga to you too

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Make Room for Lisa

I do not have diplomatic immunity

Couch gag: Firemen, holding the couch, catch the Simpsons except for Homer, who lands on the floor

Director: Matthew Nastuk

Synopsis: Homer desecrates the Bill of Rights, leading a telecommunications company to help repay the debt buy building a cell tower on the Simpsons’ house. Lisa’s room becomes HQ and, mad at Homer, offers an afternoon to bond so they can see each other in a new light. 

Discussion: We’ve previously seen Lisa and Homer attempting to bond, and this episode doesn’t add much to that theme. It also doesn’t add much to the theme of Stupid Things Homer Does While Drunk. Remember how in the TV show Friends, each episode was named The One Where… ? Imagine if The Simpsons was also like that: The One Where Homer Gets Drunk… And Destroys The Bill of Rights So A Telecommunications Tower is Built and Homer And Lisa Do That Sensory Deprivation Thing. 

This ep is a mishmash of different ideas all jumbled into a convoluted “plot” of 20 minutes and doesn’t really achieve anything. Each part on its own is fine, but together it is a jumbled mess. It’s like the writers had a bunch of ideas, a central theme and tried to knit it all together. Unlike a patchwork quilt, it doesn’t look pretty.

Homer gets drunk. Standard fare. He screws up, big time. Also standard fare. Lisa feels left out. Standard fare. They try to bond and weird things happen (which the I-Ching says wouldn’t happen for another 6 months). Everything turns out OK in the end. 

I’m just not feeling the love for this ep. The central theme is Homer and Lisa bonding, but it’s a really long way to get there and doesn’t deal with the other issues fully. Bart and Lisa forced to share the same room should be hilarious, yet that’s not explored. Bart, rocking on a squeaky chair, says, “That’s what I do in my room” and Lisa is shown with her sax on the bed. A good reply would be for her to pick it up and remark, “Well, I play my sax in my room!” Instead there’s a clicking pen contest between Homer and Bart. 

The subplot is Marge picking up cell phone conversations via the baby monitor. That can be a hilarious A plot on its own yet it’s not fully explored either. Bart and Milhouse’s prank is good, but could be fleshed out a bit more. 

Overall, it’s an average episode. The elements are all there, but not meshing together as well as they could. 

 

Out of my way, nature!

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Marge Simpson in: Screaming Yellow Honkers

Grammar is not a waste of time

Couch gag: The family sit on the couch which turns into a rollercoaster seat. 

Director: Mark Kirkland

Synopsis: Marge is forced to attend classes for her road rage, but winds up needing that anger to save the family from rhinos. 

Discussion: Yep, you read right: Marge needs to channel her road rage to save her family from rhinos. 

The episode starts well. We all remember and love the Canyonero from ‘The Last Temptation of Krust‘ when Krusty sold out and started endorsing the SUV in order to gain some quick dosh. This time, Homer buys a Canyonero, not realising he’s bought the F-series which is intended for a female market. Marge uses the car to do her shopping, decides she likes it and uses it all the time, leading to some road rage and an anger management class. 

The highlights of the ep are: Marge calming herself down in the carpark when Agnes and Kearney refuse to move, the Canyonero song, road rage class and the ability to fit 32 grocery bags in the back. Lowlights include: the entire third act. Rhinos? Really??

The short film shown at road rage class is a perfect vehicle (‘scuse the pun) for Troy McClure, however this was produced after Phil Hartman’s death. His absence is noticeable. You can really imagine Troy saying, “Hi, I’m Troy McClure. You may remember me from such road safety films such as ‘The horn is for honking’ and ‘Red lights mean stop’…” Instead we have a forgettable character of um, what’s her name? Constable woman talking about stuff. Add Curtis E. Bear, the courtesy bear, who is actually one of the better one-time characters in the season, and you’ve got yourself some average laughs. 

Don’t just gasp, read it

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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

Guest voices:
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. 

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