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Posts tagged ‘Simpsons season 5’

Don’t mind me boys, just scrubbin’ me undies

Secrets of a Successful Marriage

Five days is not too long to wait for a gun

Couch gag: The family run together and explode into a fireball.

Director: Carlos Baeza

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: Homer signs up to teach an adult class on how to have a happy marriage. The class becomes bored so Homer starts spilling private things about his marriage. Marge is disgusted and throws him out of the house.

Discussion: I can’t believe we’re at the end of season 5 already! It has flown by so fast!

Anyhoo… there’s another marriage crisis in the Simpson household. Homer’s been spilling secrets that Marge doesn’t want people to know about, like she dyes her hair (scandalous!) or that she likes her elbow being nibbled. Homer ends up living in the treehouse and Moe drops by as a suitor for Marge.

It’s familiar territory with new twists. In Matt Groening’s original vision, The Simpsons is “realistic” situations, which includes marital problems. Marge and Homer have encountered problems in almost every season so far and always work through them at the end.

This time it’s a bit different. Homer is intentionally continuing to sabotage the relationship. Not because he wants to break up, but because he wants to earn the respect of his class. While he’s busily scrubbing away grass stains from his underwear, Moe comes a-knockin’ on Marge’s door. It’s the first time that Moe’s crush on Marge is shown.

Lisa and Bart have a subplot about a pink elephant balloon, but it’s lost within the main plot. Good episode, good choice to end season 5 with.

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I made a special cake for you to ruin

Lady Bouvier’s Love

I will not re-transmit without the express permission of the major league baseball. .

Couch gag: The family smash together and shatter

Director: Wes Archer

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Troy McClure

Synopsis: Grampa falls in love with Marge’s mother and is devastated when she agrees to marry Mr Burns instead.

Discussion: Something I’ve never realised about Marge’s mother: she’s really uninteresting. It’s like she doesn’t have a personality, she just says what needs to be said and that’s it. Maybe that’s why we don’t see more of her- she’s boring.

In fact, the whole episode is uninteresting. It’s like they writers put two old people together, ran out of ideas, threw Mr Burns in there and slid in a reference of The Graduate and called it an episode. There’s no memorable lines (I had trouble just finding one to title this post with!) and the subplot of Bart using Homer’s credit card to buy a lame animation cel is completely pointless.

The one highlight of the episode is the moody segment of Homer’s Love Advice to Grampa. That bit alone is worth watching the ep for. Otherwise, give it a miss.

It’s chowder! Say it right!

The Boy Who Knew Too Much

There are plenty of businesses like show business

Couch gag: The Simpson couch is part of the David Letterman show set

Director: Jeffrey Lynch

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: Bart skips school and witnesses an incident which goes to court. By testifying (releasing an innocent man), he’d be condemning himself to the wrath of Principal Skinner.

Discussion: To be honest, I don’t love this episode. There’s too many gaping plot holes for this to work. First, while I totally buy Bart truenting school, Principal Skinner’s almost superhero-like powers to track Bart down is just silly (I know, it’s a parody of Westworld). Secondly, although I buy Homer wanting a deadlocked jury in order to stay free at a fancy hotel, this subplot takes up far too much time, considering it’s not actually a subplot. Third, why is the waiter holding out on the truth? I get that he doesn’t want to be seen as a clumsy oaf, but surely a waiter’s reputation isn’t the whole motivation. Maybe an embezzlement subplot would be better: several characters mention what a jerk Freddy Quimby is, why not have the waiter sue him for all he’s got, just on principle?

We know Bart’s range of emotion includes guilt- we saw it last episode. Putting two similarly themed episodes back-to-back doesn’t work for me.

The highlight of the ep is the courtroom scene where Skinner and Homer mentally tell Bart “I know you can read my thoughts, boy” and Homer using glasses to make him appear wide awake when he’s actually sleeping.

Grease me up, woman!

Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song

I will not celebrate meaningless milestones

Couch gag: Homer pulls off the Fox watermark and the family stomp on it.

Director: Bob Anderson

First appearance of:
Luigi
Assistant Superintendent Leo
Uni-browed baby Gerald

Synopsis: Bart takes Santa’s Little Helper to school for a Show and Tell and the dog escapes, wreaking havoc. Unfortunately, it’s also the day for a visit from Superintendent Chalmers, who fires Skinner on the spot and Ned Flanders takes his place. Bart and Skinner become friends because Bart feels guilt at his part in Skinner’s sacking.

Discussion: Welcome to episode 100! *throws streamers*

In keeping with the “emotional attachment” that season 5 has brought to the characters, here we see Bart feeling remorse for getting Skinner fired. It turns out Bart does have feelings for someone other than family. Who knew??

Every kid remembers Show and Tell at school. I remember bringing in a snow globe with a duck inside… I didn’t have a geode like every kid in Springfield 😦 It’s actually a really inspired idea for Bart to take a dog to school and get Skinner fired. We don’t know much about Skinner at this point: he lives with his mother and is a Vietnam War veteran. Am I the only one thinking he’s a bit like Norman Bates, just waiting for the right moment to strike…? (This occurred to me because Skinner calls his mother “Mother”, just like Norman Bates. Yep, think about it.)

Anyhoo, after Skinner is fired, he and Bart strike up a friendship, mainly because it’s a law of physics that you can’t be friends with your teacher or principal. Skinner re-enlists in the army but misses the school and conspires with Bart to get Flanders fired.

Which brings me to: WTF is Flanders doing as principal? Another inspired idea because Ned doesn’t have a clue about anything except religion (which is ultimately his undoing), so he lets the kids run wild and Martin is locked in a cage doing his ironing and singing songs from Carmen.

A very well-written and executed episode, fitting for the 100th episode of the series.

But my mom says I’m cool

Burns’ Heir

The pledge of allegiance does not end with Hail Satan

Couch gag: The family bounce in as basketballs

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voice:
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz

Synopsis: Mr Burns comes close to death and decides he needs an heir.

Discussion: The plotline is a good one: give Mr Burns an heir and make him be Bart. The rest of it, well, I’m not loving. It just doesn’t seem to quite gel together even though all the pieces are there. Homer and Marge explore their options to get Bart back while Mr Burns tries every trick in the book to get Bart to stay. Maybe if Bart snuck out to see for himself what the family were doing, the emotional punch would kick-start the episode. But for me, it falls a bit flat.

Phil Hartman is, as always, a very welcome addition to the voice cast. Here he’s Lionel Hutz, attorney at law and also show repairer. When he loses the case to get Bart back from Burns, Marge remarks that they really should stop hiring him. Let’s hope he’s better at shoe repair than he is at law…

With $10,000 we’d be millionaires!

Bart Gets an Elephant

Organ transplants are best left to the professionals

Couch gag: The family’s eyes are unattached and the family pop them back in.

Director: Jim Reardon

First appearance of:
Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel

Synopsis: The family are cleaning the house when Bart answers a call from the local radio station and wins an elephant. The elephant, Stampy, proves to be far too expensive to keep so has to be sold.

Discussion: Between real life and what happens in TV shows lies the humour: the unrealistic reaction from a character is what makes something funny. Take this episode as an example. You’ve got Bart winning a radio contest and choosing the elephant over the $10,000 prize. Then you’ve got the radio station coming through with said elephant, and in between, you’ve got the Simpson family saying nothing about the practicalities of keeping a wild animal in their backyard. Lisa mentions the cruelty of doing so, but only after the elephant has come to stay.

So, the realism isn’t all there, but as we’ve seen, it doesn’t have to be. This is animation, which traditionally holds that the impossible can and does happen. It’s also a TV show, which doesn’t adhere to reality in any form.

Anyhoo… Bart has an elephant and Marge still has a messy house, messy backyard and messy suburb because Stampy likes to wander and destroy. Eventually the bills start piling up (similar to Lisa’s Pony) and the elephant has to be sold. It comes down to a wildlife refuge or a suspected ivory dealer (“Dad! I’m pretty sure he’s an ivory dealer. His boots are ivory, his hat is ivory and even that check is ivory!” To which Homer replies, “Honey, someone with a lot of ivory is less likely to hurt Stampy than someone with no ivory!” You can’t argue with logic like that…!) Eventually, in traditional narrative closure, Stampy is sent to the wildlife refuge where he immediately starts head-butting the other elephants because some animals, like humans, are just jerks.

You will be called Stitch-Face

Homer Loves Flanders

I am not delightfully saucy

Couch gag: There are two couches and the family split in two to sit on both

Director: Wes Archer

Synopsis: Ned wins tickets to the biggest football game on Springfield’s calendar and takes Homer along. Homer publicly announces Ned to be his best friend and embark on some wacky adventures.

Discussion: Well, it turns out that Homer’s friendship is harder to handle than his antagonism! Who knew? The premise of the episode is a good one: what would happen if Homer and Ned were friends and how could they become so? I guess Ned really is into football, why else would he call the radio to win tickets to the Pigskin Classic? But anyhoo…

This ep is full of great lines: Homer’s song at the game when Flanders buys him a nacho hat (“Nacho nacho man! I wanna be, a nacho man!”) and the Flanders kid scolding Ned for lying to Homer (“Lies make baby Jesus cry”). What a way to guilt trip your own father.

As the wacky adventures with the Flanders family continue, Lisa worries that this may be a permanent thing. It’s a self parody as there are arcs within the show that continue and plenty that don’t. The main one is Apu’s marriage and octuplets, but we’ll get to that later.

Today’s the day for Homer J

Deep Space Homer

couch gag: A fat guy is sitting on the couch and the family squeezes in beside him

Director: Carlos Baeza

Guest Voices:
Buzz Aldrin as himself
James Taylor as himself

Synopsis: NASA is concerned about the drop in ratings for their launches while Homer is annoyed at the televised launches and calls NASA to complain. Homer and Barney are shortlisted to become civilian astronauts in a bid to increase ratings, and Homer is the lucky one, winning by default.

Discussion: God bless NASA! Of course, civilian astronauts aren’t a pipe dream anymore. Anyone with a spare $20 million and a year of their lives can train for a space mission. But back in ye olde 1994, civilian astronauts were practically unheard of.

Wikipedia tells me that this episode was based around NASA’s Teachers in Space programme, which reached tragic infamy with the sad demise of the Challenger space shuttle in 1986. Homer’s stupidity places the shuttle in grave danger but in true Simpsons style, all works well in the end.

I like this ep. Not only because it’s space (one of my favourite subjects) but also because season 5 is much more story-based than previous seasons instead of a bunch of jokes thrown together. Buzz Aldrin lends his voice to give the episode some authenticity… and who doesn’t love Buzz?

 

Maaaaaaaaaaatlock!

Lisa vs Malibu Stacy

couch gag: A giant foot squashes the family

Director: Jeffery Lynch

Guest voice:
Kathleen Turner as Stacy Lovell

Synopsis: When Grampa realises his own mortality, he gives the Simpsons their inheritance so he can see them enjoy it. Lisa buys a new Talking Malibu Stacy doll and is offended by the demeaning things she says. Enlisting the help of the original Stacy designer, Lisa markets her own talking doll. Meanwhile, Grampa gets a job in an effort to feel young again.

Discussion: Whoa, there’s a lot of things to talk about with this episode. Let’s start at the beginning.

Abe realises his own mortality. It’s something we’ll all do one day. His “amusing antidotes” seem boring and tedious, but in fact are quietly hilarious. “Back in those days, turkeys were called walking-birds and we had a walking-bird for Thanksgiving…” Who can argue with old man humour like that?

Secondly we have the doll. Malibu Stacy has been seen before as one of Lisa’s favourite dolls and here she gets her own episode. Everything Stacy stands for is a spot-on satire of children’s toys and their marketing (I wonder why a Malibu Stacy movie has never been explored?) Toys often attempt to cash in on various trends at the time, explaining Achy Breaky Stacy, and with various levels of success.

Then there’s the main plot of the phrases uttered by talking Stacy. They are stereotypical shallow California girl sayings like “Don’t ask me, I’m just a girl *giggle*” and “Thinking gives you wrinkles”. Naturally, Lisa takes offense to these sayings as she believes that females are capable of being better people that what Stacy offers, so she enlists the help of the creator of the Malibu Stacy doll, Ms Stacy Lovell, with a plan to offer her own talking doll.

Stacy Lovell, voiced by the awesome Kathleen Turner, is able to get Lisa’s talking doll on the shelf. She’s now an alcoholic recluse with a string of ex-husbands such as Ken and Joe. Brilliant!

Lisa’s new sayings are positive affirmations for young girls, such as “Believe in yourself and you can achieve anything!” The doll also has favourable qualities from history’s most successful and brilliant women, making for a positive role model for girls. This is still relevant for today where media portrayals of “role models” such as Lindsay Lohan and Kim Kardashian may not be sending the right message to girls- as long as you look pretty and party hard, you’ll be successful.

Marketing wins again and ensures the failure of the talking Lisa Lionheart doll. Who can compete with Malibu Stacy with a new hat?

Lastly, Grampa is trying to fit in with the hip, young people and failing. He resigns from his job at Krusty Burger, realising his role as an old person is to complain about “all of God’s creations”.

The overall message of the ep is clear: positive role models are necessary in the world. I do disagree with Lisa’s statement that “you just can’t win against big business”. It may have been true in 1994, but technology has paved the way for all voices to be heard and The Little Guy to be successful.

Silly customer, you cannot hurt a Twinkie

Homer and Apu

I will not go near the kindergarten turtle

Couch gag: The family pop up from behind the couch

Director: Mark Kirkland

Guest voice:
James Woods as himself

Synopsis: Apu sells some expired meat to Homer, who becomes very ill. As a consequence, Apu loses his job at the Kwik-E-Mart and is replaced by actor James Woods, who is researching for a role. Homer and Apu travel to India to get Apu’s job back.

Discussion:
Whether igloo, hut or lean-to
Or a geodesic dome
There’s no structure I have been to
Which I’d rather call my home…

When I first arrived, you were all such jerks
But now I’ve come to love your quirks
Maggie with her eyes so bright
Marge with hair by Frank Lloyd Wright
Lisa can philosophize
Bart’s adept at spinning lies
Homer’s a delightful fella, sorry ’bout the salmonella
Homer: Hehe, that’s okay

Apu: Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?
Now here’s the tricky part
Oh, won’t you rhyme with me?

Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart?
Marge:  Their floors are sticky-mart!
Lisa: They made Dad sicky-mart!
Bart:  Let’s hurl a bricky-mart!
Homer: That Kwik-E-Mart is real – d’oh!
Apu:  Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? Not me!
Forget the Kwik-E-Mart
Goodbye to Kwik-E-Mart
Who needs the Kwik-E-Mart? Not me!
…Who needs a Kwik-E-Mart? I dooooooo

Such a catchy song to liven up the episode! Homer has given in to temptation once more and eaten things he really shouldn’t have. This time, it’s cost Apu his job, which is his heart and soul. Homer tries to make amends but ends up screwing it all up again. Throw in James Woods for good measure and you have yourself a classic Simpsons episode!

What I really like about this ep is that it’s focused on Apu even though Homer’s the one who caused all the trouble. This is really the first time Apu has been allowed to shine in a starring role instead of being a cameo figure within the town. The convenience store is where he belongs, it’s his life breath, his karmic role (“Karma can only be portioned out by the Cosmos!”) and to lose it, he loses a part of his soul. Plus there’s a catchy song which always brightens an episode.

In fact, I think this whole episode is cran-tastic!

 
 

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