• Welcome to Talking Time's third iteration! If you would like to register for an account, or have already registered but have not yet been confirmed, please read the following:

    1. The CAPTCHA key's answer is "Percy"
    2. Once you've completed the registration process please email us from the email you used for registration at percyreghelper@gmail.com and include the username you used for registration

    Once you have completed these steps, Moderation Staff will be able to get your account approved.

  • TT staff acknowledge that there is a backlog of new accounts that await confirmation.

    Unfortunately, we are putting new registrations on hold for a short time.

    We do not expect this delay to extend beyond the first of November 2020, and we ask you for your patience in this matter.

    ~TT Moderation Staff

America's Favorite Non-prehistoric Cartoon Family - The Simpsons Thread

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Sideshow Bob's Last Gleaming

I don't smoke. I very rarely drink (and I generally don't like it). I don't do drugs hard or soft (I tried some pills last year but they made me feel slightly off rather than euphoric in any way). But I feel I have my vices. I managed to lose 60 pounds over the course of a year and a half but it is hard because I like food and given the opportunity I will eat until I don't feel good. I'm also something of a screen addict, on my phone a little too much. And as a kid, there was nothing I liked more than watching TV, even when there was very little good on. I feel like that's not uncommon for kids of my age but times have changed and I feel like the opiate of the masses moved from radio and movies to TV to the Internet (frankly, I don't think religion was ever REALLY on the table). As a kid I remember thinking that the Internet must be inherently better than TV because you are forced to read and Interact with it but frankly I've found more issues with the Internet than with TV. Even more than TV, the Internet is wedged deeply and necessarily into our world, which makes it a little scarier, even for all the good its done. But its easy to see why at the time TV seemed like the nadir of culture, especially in the 90s, simultaneously a time of positive and negative change on TV, a mix of trash "bread and circuses" shows and the rise of a higher quality breed of television such as The Sopranos, Twin Peaks and, hey, the Simpsons.

In this episode, Sideshow Bob is increasingly irate with television, believing it to be a scourge on society. While doing prison cleaning work at an air force base, Bob manages to escape and steal an atomic bomb. During an air show, Bob reveals he is holding Springfield hostage: end television in the city in all of its forms or the bomb goes off. Meanwhile, the Simpsons kids, who are at the air show, manage to find Bob but can't stop him from detonating the bomb when he discovers Krusty has been using an emergency channel to continue to perform. Luckily, it turns out the bomb was a dud, but undeterred, Bob kidnaps Bart and plans to ram a plane into the isolated shack he's been broadcasting from. Again, Bob didn't take into account that the aircraft he was using, the Wright Brothers' original plane, isn't capable of crumpling even an old shack and Bob is dragged off by the police.

There have been five Bob episodes by this point but this is the first one where Bob kind of feels like the lead, even while in the antagonist role. I'm pretty sure we spend more time with him than the Simpsons and Bart and Lisa interrupting his plans are almost incidental. Seriously, if you were to take Bart and Lisa out of the equation, Bob may have gone free by not leading the cops to him but in both major moves he makes he is completely undone by his own incompetence. And its even funnier since he is so arrogant, such as when he snidely mocks the simplicity of the harrier jet before crashing it instantly. And we are in an era where Bob's revolutionary stance against TV is understandable if you were able to extend those feelings to modern social media, it works. The episode is very funny and is a broad but searing take on America's TV addiction.

Its an interesting episode to view in light of the Social Media age, where people on social media are talking about how social media was a mistake. Ironic? Yeah but not inaccurate. Social media is deeply important in this age but mismanagement, abuse and it heading in harmful directions both intended and unintended certainly have caused damage to the fabric of society. A similar issue can be leveraged against TV in the 90s, with TV being able to warp our views of reality. Supposedly, people were dreaming in black and white more in the era of black and white TV and movies and dreaming in colors more in the era of color TV. OK, citation needed and I don't feel like looking it up. Its a thing I heard but maybe this is a "we eat 8 spiders a night" thing. But it does feel plausible. I think it had a serious effect on how reality itself is viewed. But Bob's concerns are obviously less humane and more classist. Not that I can't relate; the television that he's raging against is incredibly crass and there's much more of that than any quality TV in the world of the Simpsons. He just can't abide people's enjoyment of "bad" TV rather than a genuine concern of society's mental health. He's rather just murder everyone than let them enjoy Vanessa Redgrave on a motorcycle.

This episode is a fun lowbrow parody of lowbrow culture in the forms of TV and an air show. The writing itself does feel a bit superior to the "rubes" but its easily forgivable because it is very funny and Bob's upper class posturing is also constantly undermined ("Are you getting lots of bugs in your mouth too?" "...yes. *ptew ptew*"). It isn't a subtle parody but that's kind of the point, making the Simpsons (both the family and the show) feel even dumber than usual to tell a funny story about TV. But probably the plot point that feels the most relevant is Krusty deciding to put on a show to get "100 percent of the audience" despite the fact that it could result in the town's destruction... and he's doing it in the desert, where he might not be effected. With social media deciding ONLY THIS WEEK to really give a shit (out of necessity) after over four years of crap its allowed, to me, Krusty comes across as extra callous than usual. But thankfully, as tough as things are right now, I don't think the living envy the dead.

Jokes I missed before:

There's a couple sections taken off for syndication but one I have a stronger memory of. The one I don't.

"I want to meet the first female stealth bomber pilot. During the Gulf War, she destroyed 70 mosques and her name is Lisa too."
This is weirdly both very much in and out of character for Lisa. I feel like Lisa is a character who would accept one form of progress in a regressive field but even then bombing mosques feel like a line way too far for Lisa. And yet, I also appreciate how insanely dark this joke is and how very pointed it is about what qualifies as a hero. But also, also, there are probably a lot of awful viewers who missed the joke of this and even then is a VERY rough bit. I feel like it's "Kirk burned down the cracker factory and killed Luann's dad" dark, with some race stuff thrown in. Its... a lot for me to unpack emotionally and stuck with me through the viewing.

Other great jokes:

"Just think Lees, that's our pickle brine burning Sideshow Mel."

After a list of Bob's crimes.
"But what I'll mainly remember is the laughter."

"I renew my objection to this pointless endevour; informally now and by affidavit later."

"The state's not paying you five cents an hour to stand around so get busy."
"Oh, I'll get busy. I'll get very busy indeed. HahahaHAHAHAHAHAHA!"
"Hehehe. You still got it, Bob."
Some funny social commentary tucked into the set up of a great joke.

"Say, did somebody say 'box kites'?"
"NO."

"The common box kite was originally used as a means of drying wet string."
There are made up Simpsons facts I sometimes wish were true.

"By the way, I'm aware of the irony of appearing on television in order to decry it, so don't bother pointing that out."
-- signed, the writers.

"Our city will not negotiate with terrorists. Is there a city nearby that will?"
"No need sir. We'll find that headcase than Garfield finds lasagna... Sorry. My wife thought that was gangbusters."
R. Lee Ermey is great at angry but he's also surprisingly great at being kind of pathetic.

"Free and easy, Lees. There's nothing like an unfurnished basement for pure comfort."

"And what makes your voice high?"
"Tight, binding underwear?"

"And former President Ike Eisenhower. 'Let's get biz-ah!'"

"Don't you see? That would be taking the easy way out."
"I agree."
Good joke and awesome villain power move.

"Well, if it isn't my arch-nemesis Bart Simpson... and his sister Lisa, to whom I am fairly indifferent."

"I should have known you were too smart to fall for that."
"What kind of smart? Book smart? Because there are plenty of people who are book smart but it takes a very special kind of genius--"
I love Bob channeling Lisa here.






"Now you boy."

"If the tennis rackets don't get you, the pool skimmers will!"


Other notes:

The episode was written by Spike Ferensten who I mostly remembered as a guy with a late night Fox talk show that no one ever watched. He also wrote for Seinfeld, including classics like The Reverse Peephole and The Soup Nazi and the Puerto Rican Parade which... well, we won't be seeing that one again any time soon.

I like how Marge seems not on board with the whole episode.

I like the non-joke but silly misdirect that you think Bob snuck out the window that's clearly open but he's hiding in a little trashcan.

Man, that Goya joke certainly feels odd through the lens of history since they seemed to take a stance against immigrants a few years ago.

You just know that Krusty spent at least a minute of screen time trying to catch the scorpion with tongs for the Stingy and Battery show.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
Somewhat famously, the guy behind the actual restaurant being parodied in the Soup Nazi episode banned Seinfeld after it aired.
 

MetManMas

DNM-123
(He, him)
On Sideshow Bob going missing...

The Simpsons knew just how corrupt and broken the police system is.
 
Last edited:

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular

I remember when DVDs used to be a big deal. It wasn't just the new format. It was deleted scenes. Director's commentary, Extras. Well, these days, as much as I am interested in what artists have to say about their work and what inspired it, I'm generally not interested in commentary. Usually deleted scenes are deleted for a good reason and can usually be found on the Internet anyway. But in the old days of a little over 10 years ago, it made it worth buying movies like This is Spinal Tap. But before that was a norm, you didn't have a good chance of seeing these weird little missing moments from movies and TV. Which made the 138th episode spectacular stand out at the time.

In this episode, Troy McClure hosts a celebration of the 138th episode featuring old clips from the Tracy Ullman Show, answers questions from viewers, and brings us alternate and deleted scenes animated but not used in episodes.

This is the episode that seems to crack the code of how to make a good clips show and that the show, with two more clips shows, promptly forgot. The writer and director are using pseudonyms (Penny Wise, Pound Foolish) but the writers should be proud of making a very funny clips show. So what does this one do better than the others? Well, if you actually look at clips used in the actual show, there aren't that much and a lot of the ones that are get used to set up some pretty great jokes. The other clips? Ones from the Tracy Ullman show, which, at the time, were a lot harder to watch. I'm pretty sure the Tracy Ullman show wasn't airing in many places and didn't appear on home video, so this was stuff without easy accessibility. Then we get deleted scenes that no viewer got to see until this episode. And many of them are pretty great jokes worth quoting.

The other solution is the framing device: a cheesy TV special. Troy McClure is usually a comedy gold character and this episode is no exception. Both Hartman's wonderful performance and some very good lines are very funny. Even the clips from the regular series are better chosen, in part because it is funny but also in part because most of them are used to set up a joke with a good pay-off, such as all the implying of Smither's homosexuality leading to a bait and switch completely dodging the point of the question (despite the answer being clearly obvious). The segments are self-deprecating to the show but more successfully than the "put a hat on it" jokes of the previous two clips shows.

It is a shame they never used this format for the next two clips shows. Each subsequent one has a musical number that while not making the clips shows much better, makes it worth it because at least we can enjoy them in isolation. But I wouldn't have minded seeing more deleted scenes and such. Of course, I'd be just as glad to have new material but if there is a clips show mandate, I think this is amongst the best, certainly for this show and maybe in the medium's history in general.

Jokes I missed before:


Other great jokes:

The joke I used for this thread's title.

"Old favourites you can't see in syndication."




"HAHAHAHAHA. They haven't changed a bit, have they?"

"As wacky as those kids were, they were no match for Captain Wacky, later renamed Homer."



I love that every viewer letter is from a university professors and they only ask the most basic-ass questions.

"Get outta mah office!"
"Of course what Matt meant to say, according to his attorneys..."

"The real deal with Smithers is he's Mr. Burns' assistant. He's in his early 40's, is unmarried and currently resides in Springfield. Thanks for writing!"

"If you said Bleedin' Gums Murphy and Dr. Marvin Monroe, you are wrong, they were never popular."

"You've got some attitude, mister."

"Ah, oh, that's better. I can ride a bike again."

"Rules for draw and stud poker?"
"What a pity Mr. Bond."
"But I can't lose. I never lose. At least tell me the details of your plans for world domination."
"Hahaha. Oh, I'm not falling for that one again."

"Bart, stop pestering Satan."

"Well, I didn't win, here's your pizza."
"But we did win."
"That's OK, the box is empty."


"If that's what they cut out, then what they leave in must be pure gold."

This is such a WEIRD bit. Also, I hope Richard is doing well. I worry about him.

"Last summer, all of America was trying to solve the mystery of who shot Mr. Burns. Then they found out it was the baby. *cough*"

"Yes, right before I shot Jasper. Hm, I was busy that night."

"Yes. the Simpson has come a long way since an old drunk made humans out of his rabbit characters to pay off his gambling debts. Who knows what adventures they'll have between now and the time the show becomes unprofitable."

Other notes:


There's a term we aren't ever going to see again. While using it as a joke doesn't work, I do find it cool that Springfield has a LBGT+ prom in the mid-90s.

I love Matt Groening's bizarro EC Comics-style resume.

Having Matt Groening as a right wing crackpot feels like a commentary about being let down by our creative heroes that the writers didn't intend.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Marge Be Not Proud

Did everyone have a good Christmas? I'm sure it was weird for a lot of you, especially if you are close to your family. Luckily, my province was at yellow during the Christmas times but my sister's kids were both sick and with my dad pretty vulnerable even to small colds, we scuttled plans to go up North and had a virtual Christmas. But my parents and I spent a week at the family cottage and I spent a lot of time with my mom. I guess I think of myself being like my dad but I tend to do more things with my mom. On Christmas, we watch movies (Dad seems to have little patience for Christmas classics, so we watch Its a Wonderful Life or Miracle on 34th Street on our own), do a big crossword and most years take her to Christmas mass (she's pretty thankful because while I never explicitly express my atheism, she knows church is not my thing). Its a time of closeness for the family but I feel me and mom are the ones most on the same page around Christmas time.

In this episode, Bart is dying to own or at least play the hottest new video game Bone Storm. While looking longingly at a copy, Bart finds an opportunity to shoplift himself a copy from the local "Try n Save" but it stopped by security, who lets Bart go with a very serious warning that he should never come again. Bart, fearing getting in trouble, manages to hide the evidence of his misdeed but things take a turn when the family heads to the Try n Save he stole from to get a family picture. Bart is caught (ruining the family photo) and admits his crime, which shakes Marge to her core and she fears she doesn't know how to relate to him. Worried that his behaviour is a result of overmothering, Marge tries to be a little more hands off. Bart, meanwhile, fears he's lost his mother's love and Marge's distant behaviour makes him feel like he's losing her. Feeling like a black sheep of the family hurts Bart and he decides to go back to the store. Marge sees Bart coming home hiding something over his coat and confronts him, only to learn Bart returned to the Try n Save to get her a present: a picture of himself to make up for the ruined picture from before and the two reconcile.

I think Marge Be Not Proud might be the show's finest moments. The show is good with some emotional beats when it wants to be but this episode is one of the most emotionally engaging. I remember thinking this one was hard to watch, even more than the cringey ones, simply because its one of the most heartbreaking. We definitely see the Simpsons family having tough times in their relationship, but this is probably the one that feels... weirdly real, even as ridiculous as the jokes can be. Its also great in construction: Bart spends act two afraid of getting caught and getting yelled at by Homer and Marge or even go to Juvie. But to Bart, the end result is much worse: he sees he's shaken his mother's faith in him. Marge is a character who loves her son a LOT and despite (in fact, because of) them being opposites in the same way Homer and Lisa are, their stories yield some powerful crops but none more than this.

I think this is easily the most heartbreaking episode. When Marge arrives in Bart's room and instead of giving him the tuck in express, her silly song that she has for the kids, she just gives him a flat "Good night," I'm fucking gutted. I even caught something I never noticed before I think is a great touch that makes it all the more heartbreaking; Bart is going through the motions of thinking tuck in time is lame but its clear at this point he wants it. It would be a relief. And he does this.



He untucks himself in anticipation. The fact that it is met with coldness of a mother who just doesn't know who this guy is anymore crushes me. Its perfect. The story is that Marge isn't even "beyond" angry. He's in shock. She say Bart do something that, despite all his mischief and mistakes where he needed help, she couldn't imagine that her son would do this. She still loves her son but she's questioning if she even knows who he is. But Bart is worried that he's lost his mother's love, which is a terrifying and upsetting thing to imagine. Even as clever and reliant as Bart can be, he's still a vulnerable sweet boy who need a lot of help and he knows it. There are so many Christmas episodes that can retell a classic or make up a fun caper but I put it to you that this is the best Christmas episode of anything ever, a beautiful heartbreaking story of a mother and her son. There are so many details I love about it: Bart hanging out with Milhouse's mom just to feel close to a mom. The way the snow wanes as the episode goes on (its not a green Christmas, but the snow feels sloppy and light rather than pristine and abundant). Its so good.

And to top it all off, it is very VERY funny. Like, I remembered a lot of the good jokes but there are some I completely forgot that just slayed me (including Homer's rant that turns into a police academy rant). Like, its still an episode of heartbreak but it also has some of the strongest jokes of the series as well. The Mortal Kombat parody doesn't feel timeless (not even that it aged badly so much is allows you to specifically carbon date the episode's air date) but everything else about it does, including Marge's sweet cluelessness towards what her son wants. Also, Lawrence Tierney, who apparently was a creep, a jerk and a generally difficult player to work with, manages to turn in a great performance as Don Brodka, perhaps the show's best one off character (yes, that includes Hank Scorpio!). Its weird to think he wanted to put an accent on the guy because it sounds like Tierny is delivering his lines as if he is living them, as if he's not in on the joke yet is OF THE JOKE. There is no bad line and every use of him is great. He also provides an appropriate tension. So many characters we are used to are buffoons but while his lines are silly, the threat he gives of just ruining things for Bart aren't. This feels like the writer managed to drag up every uncomfortable experience with a curmudgeonly and unreasonable authority and condensed it into Don Brodka, a man who is having a tough day with his crackers and peanut butter spread.

Lokii stated that the peak of the Simpsons was Mother Simpson and while I certainly feel it to be an extremely game competitor, I feel like this episode might be the one. The best and most powerful episode. But who knows, maybe rewatching the series will make me rethink it. But if there's a better one, my estimation of what is already my favourite TV series will rise to even greater heights.

Jokes I missed before:

Oof, that's a rough joke.

Other great jokes:
"Brought to you by ILG, selling your bodies chemicals after you die and Little Sweetheart Cupcakes, a subsidiary of ILG"

"When I was your age, I wanted an electric football game more than anything in the world... and my parents got it for me and it was the happiest day of my life. Good night."

"If loving my kids is lame, then I guess I'm just a big lame."
Why does this weird line work so well. Kavner is so good in this one emotionally but man can she sell comedy.


"Maybe if I stand next to the game looking sad, someone will feel bad for me and buy me one."
THEY HAVE A WINDOW INTO MY LIFE!

"Don't do it son, how's that game going to help with your... putting."
I love the stiltedness of the read and that Lee Carvalo's objection is not ethical.





"You don't want to come to my store, catfish?"

"Oh sure, now he's just a little boy stealing little toys. But some day he'll be a grown man stealing stadiums and... quarries."

I chuckle to these episodes I've watch a million times but this made me laugh out loud.


"Mom! Bart's smoking!"
I love that Milhouse has a Bart strategy.

"I asked the clerk which is the game every boy wants."
Uh-oh. That's how I ended up with a Sega Master System.


Play the real game.

Other notes:

If you missed it, here's the story of Lawrence Tierny on the show. The amazing thing is he's only there for 40 minutes.

I feel like I keep forgetting my due diligence to going over how the opening of the episode reflects the main body. A lot of episodes do good work. In this case, its a cheesy holiday special powered by corporations, working in contrast to less happy episode we will watch and material desires that fuel the catalyst of the story.

I could go for a marshmallow filled with hot chocolate.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Team Homer

I don't really do any team sports but I definitely get the appeal, especially for adults. Its pretty hard to make friends when you are an adult so being able to have a team you can meet with once a week to do stuff with probably feels pretty good. I do play Gloomhaven with friends online once a week but while I enjoy it, its not the same. Unfortunately, there are probably a lot of people who can't do their team sports right now (assuming they are good, responsible people) but until then at least we can live vicariously through cartoons.

In this episode, Homer and Moe head out to do some bowling but find they can't on League night. There they meet Apu, who is in a similar boat and decide to start a team (adding in Otto, who is there by happenstance). However, the League fee is expensive and Homer reluctantly decides to ask Burns. Luckily for Homer, Burns is whacked out on ether and happily gives him the money in a delusional state. Homer and his team take a supportive stance and move up in the League standings with their strong game and sense of teamwork. However, when Burns realizes that his money is used to sponsor the team. Burns confronts the team but instead of dropping the boom on them, he insists on joining the team. Homer can't say no and while Burns is surprisingly sweet to his team, his bad plays risk the team's chance at winning the championship. The team opts to oust Burns but before they can, Burns moves his team with specially made team jackets. Through a mix of skill and luck, Homer's team wins, though Burns decides then to betray the team and take the trophy for himself. Despite that, Homer and his team are still proud of their friendship.

After a very emotionally and thematically rich episode, Team Homer is a little shallow by comparison. Its a pretty simple theme about teamwork and friendship. That's not to say its without exploration of the idea of wanting to accomplish something as a team and enjoy time with friends but while I think it is there, it isn't dug into very deeply. But that's OK, because it is just a plain old funny episode. After the emotional roller coaster of the last episode, it feels nice to have a bit of a palate cleanser (and one I don't have too much to say about. I CAN GO TO BED EARLY TONIGHT!)

I do like that until the end, Burns isn't actually villainous. His money allows him to enter the team but he never intentionally bullies the team, which wouldn't be hard to do for him, and simply wants to be a part of something. The show never says "Burns is a sad, lonely guy" or anything, just that despite his evil, he really enjoys friendship and has far more concern with that over winning. It would be hard enough for Homer to kick Burns off the team but it becomes harder for everyone when Apu and Moe see Burns being a true nice guy. Homer's team is both a good team and one that is kind and supportive of each other. When Burns joins, the latter remains but the fun is sucked out in losing some talent for them, meaning they finally need to decide what is more important. Its a fun little dynamic for the episode and good to hang some solid jokes from.

Lets also not forget the b-plot: school uniforms in Springfield Elementary. Its another story of conformity in school and we get to see Principal Skinner's ideal school where children are zombies being prepared for jobs in processing facilities. This is another "mistrust of authority" plot the show does so well where we see that school isn't a place of nurturing, it's putting people in a mold. It leads to a lot of visual and sound gags that are great and makes Mad Magazine an unexpected voice of rebellion.

Jokes I missed before:



Other great jokes:

"The Mad Magazine Special Edition. They only put 17 of these out a year."
"Boy, they're really socking it to that Spiro Agnew guy again. He must work there or something."

"Those magazines create a dangerous amount of laughter."

"Well, I'm better then dirt-- well, most kinds of dirt. Not that fancy store-bought dirt. That stuff's loaded with nutrients. I can't compete with that stuff."
Hank Azaria really does stuff with this line read.

"He never gives money to anyone. Just last week I asked him for $1,500."
"For what."
"Oh, I gotta get the third degree from you too?"

I've had a similar experience. If you are ever in Hokkaido, PLEASE try soup curry (NOT CURRY SOUP).

I love the reveal that Burns is just poking Homer in the eyes.

"I'm going to get your Lucky Charms."
"Oh no, my brains."

I like Marge's surprising interest in Otto's bowling skills.

"I don't remember writing a check for bowling."
"Sir, that's for your boweling."
"Oh, yes, that's very important."
"Yes sir. Remember that month you didn't do it."
"Yes. That was unpleasant for all concerned."

Pops Freshenmeyer is a funny name.

"I have a much uglier word for it sir.... MISAPPROPRIATION!"



"I love that sound."

"Oops, lost a nail. Well, that's leprosy for you."

"You're it."
"Now you are the one who is it."
"Understood."

"Smithers, that precision assault popped it back into place. Thank you masked stranger."

"I must make a similar threat with my name in place of Moe's name."
Its good Azaria is done with Apu but he definite did some good line reads. In particular, in this one he makes it sound like the sentence is over and there's still one more word.


Other notes:

I want to say "oops, goof, Ralph is just hanging out in Bart's class." but really, that's a Ralph move.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Two Bad Neighbors

Part of the initial Simpsons hotness was how "naughty" the show was by comparison to other family sitcoms at the time. My parents let me watch the show but I had a cousin whose parents did not. I knew a teacher IN HIGH SCHOOL who had a dislike for the show because of the "underachiever and proud of it" shirt (and she wasn't an old teacher, either). And it was such a big deal, even then-president George Bush commented on it, poopooing its naughty demeanor and lamenting the days of the Waltons. In an end credits bit tacked onto a rerun, Bart states "hey, we're a lot like the Waltons; we're also waiting for the end of a depression." Snap. They also had Marge write up a defense of her family to Barbara Bush that felt just right.



Its a weird little pop culture moment in America. By 1996, The Simpsons transformed from a flash in the pan fad to a TV institution in a mere seven years. Its a weird time to dredge up an old grudge.

In this episode, the house across the street from the Simpsons is sold... to former President George Bush. Homer is already bothered by his presence since Bush stole a bit of thunder from Homer with his arrival. But things get worse after Bart irritates Bush so much he gives Bart a spanking, leading to Homer and Bart to declare a prank war on Bush. It eventually leads to a fistfight between Bush and Homer in the middle of the street and seeing the spectacle he's made of himself, Bush finds himself forced to apologize to Homer and leaves town, only to be replaced by a President much more Homer-friendly; Gerald Ford.

If you went into this one expecting some sort of searing commentary on Bush the man and his legacy, then you are in for a disappointment. The episode is the lightest of roastings and a gentle teasing, at best. That's not to say it isn't funny. Its a funny episode. I even think it has something to say about the old war of words, albeit not anything particularly trenchant. Its simply a ribbing and a riff of the once newsworthy event. There are definite a lot of potshots and they are funny but its all stuff that I wouldn't be afraid to say to the man in person, not even because I don't like him but its hard to imagine the jokes as something that would anger a person unless they had the thinnest of skin.

I think the episode is pretty knowing of this fact. Its a playful episode that purposefully riffs on old sitcom plots, particularly Dennis the Menace. Bart is in the Dennis role and while he's much more intentionally mischievous than that character, this is some low level Bart mischief by this show's standards. But likes needling the former president, taking advantage of his wife's giving nature and generally busting his balls but compared to the fact that he got Milhouse on the FBI's most wanted list, this is Bart being a good boy. Though it eventually breaks out into a full on fist fight, the whole episode feels like a family sitcom, down to some extra sitcommy music in the first act.

The episode's primary goal is nothing more than to have fun antics and make jokes about the former President. But I do think they have some things to say; the corporal punishment feels like it reflects how Bush's complaint was a longing for the "old days" while we are reminded that some things sucked about the old days. I feel like it also is saying the president getting in a fight with a cartoon show is more likely to make him look bad than the silly cartoon show. This isn't particularly deep and I'm wondering what demons if any the show is trying to exorcise of this beef or if this was just a crazy idea they had for sweeps week and did their best to build a story around this silly idea. And sometimes it is funny to harken back to a day where politics wasn't so toxic that you could poke gentle fun at a President who, lets face it, was one of the architects for the horrible mess our world has become. Note: I've not done research on specifics, I just feel most presidents seemed to have a hand in it, with the conservatives hands being just a wee bit bloodier.

Jokes I missed before:
A lot of political ones (and there are still ones flying over my head, though I get the gist of the joke from context) but my favourite;

"Grover Cleveland spanked me on two non-consecutive occasions."

Other great jokes:


"Who ya talkin' to, Homer."
"The guy who doesn't live here."

Homer impassioned defense of his "Ayatollah Assahola!" T-shirt.

"I guess you could put a lot of nice things in there."
"NO NED! JUST CANDY! $90!"

Me shopping.

"Hey, Disco Stu doesn't advertise."

"Hey, that Ayatollah thinks he's better than America. Is he right?"
"BOOOOOOO!"
"Yes."

"Ahem, Disco Stu likes disco music."

"Its nice to be among good, average people with no particular hopes or dreams."

"I guess you might say he's barking up the wrong Bush."
"There it is, Homer. the cleverest thing you've ever said and no one was around to hear it."

"Since I achieved all my goals as president in one term, there was no need for a second. The end."

"Then he makes fun of the way I talk (probably)!"

"Excuse me sir, were are you going."
"I'm going to punch George Bush in the face."
"OK, sir, is he expecting you?"

"The boys probably just want a letter of recommendation."

Other notes:

Man, I'm looking at the rest of the season and it seems like pure gold from here on in, but I am curious how well Lisa the Iconoclasts message of "the evils of the man doesn't matter if his legacy does good stuff" works in the current era.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Not so much a joke in and of itself, but I love that Bush feels that opposing teenage alcoholism is the kind of stance that he needs to get fired up about.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Scenes from a Class Struggle in Springfield

I rarely have to dress up to go anywhere but I do have a nice suit. I spent well over $1,000 a few years ago for a suit to wear to a family friend's big birthday party in a hotel. Unfortunately, I don't get to use the clothes very often and this year I wore it to a special family dinner just to get some use out of it and feel like I'm doing something special. But most of the time, I look at my clothes and say "I like them but I'm not fashionable. Sometimes I wish I looked cool." Most of the time, I'm happy wearing comfort but who doesn't want to look impressive and want to wow people.

In this episode, Marge stumbles upon a Chanel suit in an outlet mall and treats herself to it. Wearing it out on an errand, Marge meets a girl she vaguely knew in high school who is impressed with her fashion. She invites her and her family to her country club and Marge manages to make a good impression. She goes again but one of the club members teases her wearing the same suit again. Marge uses her sewing machine to repurpose the suit in a stylish way but while it looks impressive, the club member mocks her for wearing a "mangled Chanel suit". Marge's new friend offers to sponsor the Simpsons for membership in the country club and Marge tries to repurpose her suit again only to accidentally destroy it. Marge then decides to buy a new suit worth thousands and is angry at her family for their nature. Eventually, Marge realizes that she'd rather have the comfort of family rather than stressing about having to keep up appearances.

The Simpsons are often specifically placed as the lower middle class and while the show eventually more or less drops the family having to scrimp and save, the family is still constantly trying to find ways to better their financial standing. This episode is about the family not looking to increase their financial standing but Marge trying to increase their social standing. Its obvious if Marge didn't end up with Homer, she probably would have been a lot more successful, if not financially than at least in terms of accomplishing a goal. While she is proud, rightly, of her work as a wife and mother, she's also often aware of other paths that she never took. An artist, an actress, a cop. Obviously, she finds she can still be these things, though some of them she realizes that while she might meet the potential, she has a reason to return to her unglamorous life. But in this episode, she gets accepted by people she long assumed where her social betters and she wants to show she has what it takes to fight in.

The episode doesn't have too much politically to say about class, though the upper class people she meets are clearly a bunch of Karens who, like the Parks in Parasite, are nice but cluelessly entitled. The only overtly mean one is a Dorothy Parker clone who seems more interested in being scene as cutting rather than being mean with a greater purpose. Usually, stories like these are about Homer wanting to be someone through fame, accomplishment or money with Marge finding joy in where they are. But here, Marge is getting noticed by someone who was vaguely aware of her in high school and gets the chance to be seen as just as impressive. In trying to keep up a look, Marge finds herself contemptuous for a time of her own family's failings until she is reminded they aren't failings, they are what make them great.

As a comment on class... I'm not sure. Like, there are some things we can all think our fine: some times class can alter values. Being mean in the name of class sucks. I feel like though it is not the intended lesson, someone could see Marge's final decision as "Stay in your lane." But while I don't think I have a complete handle on what this one is trying to say in regards to the relationships between the classes, my takeaway is there are some games not worth playing, particularly if it makes you lose track of the things you love.

As for the b-plot of Homer playing golf... its pretty good.

Jokes I missed before:
Hey, now I know who Dorothy Parker is.

Other great jokes:

"I know a genuine Panaphonics when I see one. And look, there's Magnetbox and Sorny."

"It features: two pronged wall plug, pre-molded handgrip well, durable outer casing to prevent fall-apart."

"It wouldn't be right to buy something just for me. Now if it was a suit we could all wear, maybe..."

"Fill it up with petroleum distillate and revulcanize my tires post-haste."

"Lisa, you know I don't like you using the word 'hotbed'."

"Of course, there was a terrible mess, but Iris didn't mind cleaning it up."

"I didn't order a boloney sandwich, I ordered an abolone sandwich."

"Don't ask me, I'm just hair. You're head stopped 18 inches ago."

I like that Tom Kite went through that whole thing just to yell at Homer for stealing his clubs.

"Oh, don't worry Marge. Her idea of wit is nothing more than an incisive observation humourously phrased and delivered with impeccable timing."

"I wonder if this Homer Nixon is any relation."
"Unlikely, sir, they spell and pronounce their name differently."

"At times like this, I guess all you can do is laugh."
*stares into space forever*

"I hope she didn't take my attempt to destroy her too seriously."

"I pickled the figs myself."

Other notes:
I wanna watch Parasite again. Right now.

"Did you know that Lincoln and Kennedy had the same handicap?"
Is this a really dark joke about how they both had holes in their heads or am I reading too much into it?

Hey, a woman writer AND a woman director in this one. Is this a first or did I miss it when it first happened?
 
Top