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

Posts tagged ‘Simpsons season 2’

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.

Working is for chumps

Three Men and a Comic Book

I will not show off (written in fancy writing)

Couch gag: The couch falls backwards

Director: Wes M. Archer

Guest Voices:
Daniel Stern as narrator/older Bart (in the vein of The Wonder Years)
Cloris Leachman as Mrs Glick

First appearance of:
Comic Book Guy
Radioactive Man
Fallout Boy
Mrs Glick

Synopsis: Bart is saving up to buy issue #1 of his favourite comic book, Radioactive Man. He does odd jobs, saves pennies but doesn’t have enough. Martin is also trying to buy the comic but doesn’t have enough, and Milhouse has the exact amount of the remainder, so the three boys buy the comic book together.

Discussion: I’ve never really liked this episode, to be honest. It really sucks that the comic book was destroyed in the end. I know, I know, there’s a moral to the story and so on and so forth, but it feels like a wasted episode. It built up to a climax but didn’t really deliver. Bart’s meltdown was pretty good and maybe that could have been expanded so that he was the sole cause of the failure of the arrangement, not some random storm. The same scenario is echoed in an episode of The Big Bang Theory, where Sheldon, Howard, Raj and Leonard fight over an authentic ring from Lord of the Rings (I didn’t love that episode either).

The Wikipedia entry for this episode tells me this ep was the first to beat The Cosby Show in the ratings. Regular readers will note that¬†The Simpsons was the antithesis to The Cosby Show, attempting to appeal to a wider and different audience. (If you’ve missed the story, check out my first blog post which gives a background).

Mmm, horse doovers

War of the Simpsons

I will not do anything bad ever again

Couch gag: Everyone is squeezed off except for Homer.

Director: Mark Kirkland

Synopsis: Marge and Homer throw a party but Homer gets very drunk and behaves very inappropriately. To save their marriage, Marge books them into the church-run marriage retreat held by Catfish Lake. Homer hears tales of the legendary General Sherman, a 500 lb catfish who lives in the lake, and tries to catch it. While their parents are away, Bart and Lisa throw a party and take advantage of Grampa, who is babysitting.

Discussion: Poor Marge. She puts up with so much from Homer and even when trying to save their marriage, Homer keeps screwing it up. The dangling carrot this time is a very large catfish, which, to Homer’s credit, was caught accidentally. Marge seems to have forgotten her own drunken behaviour at Mr Burns’ soiree back in season 1. Sure, Homer is somewhat flawed… but she loves the big doofus anyway.

And for those playing along at home, General Sherman is in the Android Simpsons’ Logo Quiz.

Mrs Krabappel, you’re trying to seduce me

Lisa’s Substitute

Couch gag: The Simpsons run in and the couch is gone.

Director: Rich Moore

Guest Voice:
Dustin Hoffman as Mr Bergstrom (credited as Sam Etic)

Synopsis: Lisa’s teacher, Miss Hoover, is diagnosed with Lyme disease and a substitute teacher takes the class. Lisa becomes enamoured with him as he expands her mind and teaches her to live her life to the fullest. Meanwhile, fourth grade elections are being held for Class President. It’s between Martin and Bart, and although Bart is the popular choice, no one has voted.

Discussion: Who remembers the impact of substitute teachers? Here are the two most memorable ones from my own childhood. Miss Southern was a substitute for my fifth grade teacher, who was having complications with her pregnancy and had to stay home. Miss Southern was amazing. She was the kind of teacher you didn’t want to stuff around with; she was nice, understanding, and gave us lollies at the end of the week (back in ye olden days when obesity wasn’t a problem). We were allowed to talk in class as long as we got our work done, and if we finished early, we could write a story to be hung on the back wall. We had her for a week before she was moved to another class (my sister’s class, actually. They had Miss Southern for about 6 months before she returned to my class for the remainder of the year). Miss Southern was young (if I recall correctly, 24) and her boyfriend regularly had flowers delivered to our classroom for her. She gave us personal Christmas cards and glowing report cards because all of us, even the “naughty” kids, liked and respected her enough to do the work. She was awesome and I often wonder what happened to her.

In contrast, there was also Mrs Austin. She was a bitch. If she caught one person talking, the whole class would stay behind during recess, lunch or after school. She was mean. When the bell rang, she’d demand, “Ignore it!” even though our tummies were audibly grumbling. She never praised anyone for anything and her voice was a monotonous tone which drawled through words like she was dragging them uphill against their will. Whenever I had her (which was often, since she was the first on call whenever a teacher was sick throughout my entire primary school years), I’d go home in tears, wishing she’d die before we had to endure her again. I never wonder what happened to her. Maybe her poisonous personality sucked the life from her insides and she crumpled to death, having nothing left to sustain her.

Mr Bergstrom loves to teach. He sees value in educating the next generation (I believe the children are our future…). His easy opening style, inviting the children to make fun of his name reminds me of my high school maths teacher whose name was Mr McMath. He also invited us to make fun of his name and he was always willing to hear if we thought we had a new one (we never did).

Homer’s parenting skills are also put to the test and he wins with all three kids. I like this episode because there’s something inherently awesome about having a new character voiced by someone very famous with references to his most popular films (apparently Dustin Hoffman was sceptical about being in an animated show so he used a pseudonym). The only bit I feel which lets the episode down is Miss Hoover’s explanation of “psychosomatic”. It just doesn’t fit with the rest of the episode. But anyway, this is one of the best eps from season 2, it just clicks with the audience and it’s one of those episodes that everyone remembers.

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.

That’ll be $18.50, bwana

Old Money

I will not grease the monkey bars

Couch gag: Grampa is asleep but woken by the Simpson family

Director: David Silverman

Guest Voices:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz and Troy McClure
Audrey Meadows as Bea Simmons

First appearance of:
Professor Frink

Synopsis: Abe meets Bea Simmons and they begin a romance. Tragically, their romance is cut short when Bea dies, leaving all her money to Abe, who interviews everyone in Springfield to see who deserves it the most. Eventually he decides to donate it to the retirement “castle” for improvements as well as the Beatrice Simmons Memorial Dining Hall.

Discussion: Awww! Grampa finds a new love, seemingly securing another chance for happiness. This is another episode not focusing solely on the Simpson family, instead letting the viewer in on the retirement scene in Springfield. Jasper, whom has been seen in many previous episodes, is named in this one, as well as Grampa’s name being revealed as Abraham.

Personally, I thought this ep dragged a bit towards the end. Grampa’s decision as to where to put his new money just took forever. However, he did have some great lines and really rounded his depth as a character. It’s still a very sweet episode and mostly enjoyable. My grandfather recently passed away so at times it cut a little too close to home but hey, that’s the essence of all good media.

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.

No pantamumime either

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

I will not sell land in Florida

Couch gag: Maggie pops out from Marge’s hair

Director: Wesley Archer (credited as W.M. “Bud” Archer)

First appearance of:
Mona Simpson (in flashback only)
Herb Powell

Guest Voice: Danny Devito as Herb Powell

Synopsis: When Grampa has a mild heart attack, he takes the opportunity to tell Homer he has a half brother out there somewhere. Homer tracks down Herb Powell, who has made his fortune in car manufacturing. Herb wants to give Homer a car, but Homer doesn’t find anything he likes, so Herb tells Homer he’s welcome to design his own car for all the Homers in America. The resulting car is a spectacular failure, causing Herb to lose everything to bankruptcy.

Discussion: Completely by coincidence, last night I watched Twins, also starring Danny Devito around the theme of finding a long-lost brother. That’s about where the similarity ends- Homer J. Simpson is no Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Again with the themes of family and Homer being a loser, we see just what’s important in the Simpson world. Grampa… well OK, Grampa isn’t the finest example, wishing he’d kept the millionaire son instead of Homer, but Herb is happy to accommodate his new brother and his family (until they send him bankrupt, of course). We also see a glimpse of Abe Simpson’s past as he relates the story of a one night stand with a carnival worker, resulting in the birth of Herb. We also meet Grandma Simpson, told in flashback during Homer’s birth. (For Simpsons Log Quiz fans, Mona Simpson is her name… and how much does she look like Mary Bailey??)

Wikipedia tells me that this episode is based around car failures, none of which I have any clue about, since I am not a car person. I drive one, that’s it. According to the article, Nancy Cartwright, who voices Bart, was impressed with Danny Devito’s performance and speculates that the character was written with him in mind: even though Danny is an accomplished actor and probably has the same amenities as Herb (e.g. swimming pool, screening room etc), family is what’s most important. Warning: Deep Thought! We’re born with nothing, we die with nothing… except family. We came into this world from a family, no matter how screwed up they were, and when we die, our family mourn for us. Maybe we create a new family along the way… This episode sums it up nicely.

She’s a heifer, plain and simple

Principal Charming

I will not belch the national anthem

Couch gag: The couch pops out like a sofa bed

Director: Mark Kirkland

First appearance of:
Groundskeeper Willie
Hans Moleman

Synopsis: Marge tells Homer to find a man for her sister Selma, and Homer chooses Principal Skinner. At the introductory dinner, Skinner sees Patty first and pursues her. After a series of disastrous dates and knockbacks for a goodnight kiss, Skinner falls in love with Patty and asks her to marry him.

Discussion: Maybe I’m getting senile in my old age, but I don’t remember this episode at all. Anyhoo… Here we have Skinner’s first-seen attempt at falling in love. Until this episode, he’s been a bit of a loner (except when hanging out with his mother) so we’re seeing another side of him. He even turns a blind eye to Bart’s hijinks as Bart is suddenly an extension of his growing love for Patty. I don’t buy Patty’s reason not to marry Skinner, but for her to marry him this early in the series would destroy the twinship and future storylines, but surely a better excuse could have been found?

It’s also the first episode not to focus solely on the Simpson family, instead focusing on secondary characters of Skinner and Patty. It’s a great episode, the depth of characters really brings out the talents of the writers and cast. Also watch out for references to films such as Vertigo and Gone With the Wind.¬†

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!”)

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