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

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I’ve never eaten at Boston Pizza, but I sometimes walk past one when they have the ovens and the pizza musk can be smelled from outside.

You know the smell you get when walking past a bakery?

Imagine the exact, complete opposite.
 

Purple

(She/Her)
It's really weird how many radically different types of pizza you get in New England in general and how it's not at all regional enough to even really say like [city] style pizza. Except I guess "New York" style but really, New York style pizza is just the comic relief minion everyone else fights for a season before the real villains get properly introduced.
 

Mightyblue

aggro table, shmaggro table
(He/Him/His)
CO style pizza focuses a lot more on the crust; it's a really puffy crust around the rim that you then put condiments on, usually honey or something else sweet. So the pie sauce and toppings are usually chosen as a compliment to that.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I don't know whether you'd call it a specific "style" but a lot of pizzerias in my home province are Greek run. I don't know what effect it has on the way it is made, if any, but a lot of pizza places also sell "donairs", a kind of gyro-esque treat with a sweeter sauce (similar to Japanese mayo). The biggest Canadian Maritime chain is even called "Greco".

Oh, and since we've passed the 10 season mark, I'm going to be slowing down my output... to a mere 4 episodes a week. Apologies for my laziness.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Beyond Blunderdome

Its always disappointing when someone you are a fan of turns out to be a monster. I was definitely a fan of Mel Gibson. I really enjoyed his movies but after discovering what we know about him now, it kind of casts a pall over the great works he's been involved with, such as the Mad Max movies and, heck, Maverick (I liked that one). Frankly, I'm never stable about how I want to engage with the work of an artist who turns out to be a creep. Like, I think I have less of a problem going back to Mad Max than his other works for reasons I'm not sure of. Perhaps despite being the lead, it is very much George Miller's "vehicle" (this might be why I think I might be able to go back to Baby Driver, despite featuring TWO monsters). But even the ones I feel I can return to have a taint on them. I can still get some enjoyment, but now there's a bitter, acrid taste. A nagging in my brain. I can watch again but it will never be as good. The quality of the work might be the same but it is impossible for me to ignore how the real world informs my taking in of the art.

In this episode, Homer and Marge get movie tickets to a special sneak preview screening of a remake of Mr. Smith Goes to Washington directed by and starring Mel Gibson. Everybody likes the movie except Homer, who finds it dull, and when Mel, who is already nervous about the lack of action in his movie, reads Homer's review, he invites him to Hollywood to try to fix it. Eventually, the two come to the mutual decision that the ending needs to be changed and end up creating an ultra-violent and offensive finale. The studio executives freak out and try to destroy the film but Homer and Mel work to save it. Eventually they succeed but the film is universally panned.

Going in, I remembered this as an episode that was funny but had an unfortunate focal point. Its not QUITE as bad as the Michael Jackson episode in every respect but it is in most respects a much weaker episode than I remember. The message and satire aren't very compelling, fewer jokes land than I remember (though there are some really good ones) and like a LOT of episodes about how great the guest star is (a tone that never really works for a show that is supposed to be pretty cynical about fame, authority and hero worship), it looks pretty bad in retrospect. There's a bit when he talks about how he's TOO beloved that people don't want to be critical of him and cops don't give him a ticket when they pull him over. Its almost perfect in its "This don't look good." As much as I don't want to give Mel kudos, he is doing some decent joke delivery (certainly compared to some other movie stars asked to play themselves) with a lot of the problems laid at the feet of its fawning script. It feels like the fawning is intentionally absurd but fawning is still fawning and it looks even worse knowing what we know about him.

The message seems to be mocking the idea of focus groups and letting a loudmouth rando like Homer decide the direction of the picture with some weaker subversion being it is the creative force rather than the business side leading the film astray. I feel like focus group jokes were kind of big at the time (MST3k had a segment related to their own woes in making their movie in this regard) with the message of the folly of trying to please a large demographic of people rather than simply making something artistically complete. But as a cheeky subversion of this premise, it's comedy is a bit more miss than hit with some tired Hollywood jokes ("Now where is that kid with my latte") and weird non-jokes ("We're lesbians!").

There are other ideas that I think the episode looks to explore but kind of... doesn't. Homer doesn't want to look at a film with a real critical eye, he just wants a distraction and I think the episode, while mocking Homer's buffoonish taste, might have an interesting idea that its completely OK to just enjoy a movie for the basest, stupidest reasons like car explosions. Some people just want escape and have different ideas. But while this idea bubbles up, there's not a lot there and I would like to see an episode exploring the idea that shallow enjoyment is still valid and that some people aren't seeking "art", they just want fun and how the ideas can crash against each other. But instead, its more a generic and unfocused parody of Hollywood. I suppose it also doesn't help that the adventure is about the sanctity of a remake that seems like people want to be slavishly echoing the original, which, generally, seems like the exact wrong way to do a remake. I mean, I'm pretty sure the general consensus is to repurpose old ideas to forge a new identity instead of a dull echo. But maybe it makes sense that the Simpsons would value the latter at this point.


"Does the opening scene mirror the themes of the episode" watch 2021:

Yes, I think. Homer watches a commercial that tries to appeal of his sense of humanity but instead he only responds to his basest desires (a free gift)

Jokes I missed before:
Less a joke but I finally checked out the dialogue in the scene where Homer fast forwards it. Clearly, this film had problems before Homer jumped aboard.

Other great jokes:
"Good evening, I'm Edward Christian, assistant VP of finance and distribution at Polystar Pictures."
"Dang, I should have brought the camera."

"Also with me tonight are the dynamic duo William Milo and Robin Hanna who greenlighted all of Shaquille O'Neill's movies including Kazaam! How's the popcorn guys."
"Needs salt!"
*Uproarious laughter*

"At least the Jimmy Stewart version had the invisible rabbit who ran the savings and loan."

"Hollyood here we come! Hollywood here we are!"
"Quit doing that Mom."


"This is worse than Godfather III."
"Whoa, let's not say things we can't take back."

"Movies aren't stupid. They fill us with romance and hatred and revenge fantasies. Lethal Weapon taught me that suicide is funny."
"That really wasn't my intention."
"Before Lethal Weapon 2, I never thought there could be a bomb in my toilet. But now I check every time."
"Its true, he does."

"Wait a minute, he's just a dummy."
"Yeah, but he sells tickets."
*long pause to soak in a very stupid joke*
"Let's go."

"Will you tell me the rest of the plan?"
"It's your plan from Braveheart. Your army mooned the enemy until they could take no more and surrendered."
"No, they didn't. They attacked us in a horribly bloody battle, remember?"
"Actually, I didn't see it but on the poster--"

"When did we stop rooting for the man with the flame thrower or the acid shooting gun of some kind."
"I blame the Internet and the return of swing music."


Other notes:

I don't think Homer driving an electric car into the ocean is too stupid for Homer but the logical consistency of Homer's reasoning is lazily not there even for this show. There has to be a joke or even an anti-comedy bit to explain it and "Relax, its an electric car" doesn't cut it on the latter.

Homer calling Marge his property is a little too gross for a "clueless oaf" joke, a fact more pointed that he's telling this to Mel Gibson.

"We're lesbians!" is such a bizarre non-joke. I can't tell if the writers were jazzed if they could finally say "lesbian" or if they were thought they were sticking it to the couple for... being too conspicuously lesbian, maybe?

Not quite a transphobic joke but in the same ballpark very nearby is the show having a joke about Marge confusing "Judge Judy" with a man. So I'm going to say "three for three" at this point in the bad LGBTQ+ takes run in this series.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Nah. I think if the director does something, generally that's going to make me more likely to quit the art. Though I still am a fan of the films of Hitchcock.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Brother's Little Helper

As a boy, I had ADHD and had a lot of trouble in school. Eventually, I was put on Ritalin, which I finally stopped taking in early university. For the first four years or so, taking it had a zombifying effect on me and while I paid more attention, it acted as a downer, leaving me feeling somewhere between emotionally numb and just sad a lot of the time. Eventually the effect of the Ritalin became more stable but noticable as I became older. I didn't need it as much but I could feel an effect so I kept taking it. By university, I was already engrossed enough in lessons that I could pick, I figured correctly I didn't need it. It was something my parents struggled with: they wanted me to be emotionally happy and well but they also wanted me to be able to actually do well in school. I'm not certain if they would make the same decision based on the effect it had on me but its probably easier to say they wouldn't than do that and see a different kind of suffering in school. And based on my personal experiences, I'm not myself sure what decision I would make.

In this episode, Bart's misbehaviour reaches a new height and Skinner gives the Simpsons an ultimatum: Bart gets expelled or he tries a new drug to help treat ADHD. Marge is eventually able to try to get Bart to try the drug, Focusyn, and Bart finds himself improving almost immediately. Bart is not only studying harder, but he seems driven and ambitious. However, when Marge and Homer return home from an outing, they return to find Bart unhinged and seemingly delusional. He becomes convinced that Major League Baseball is spying on everyone. Eventually, Bart escapes loaded on Focusyn on a mysterious mission. Bart steals a tank and eventually Bart fires it into the air, knocking out a satellite. It turns out Major League Baseball IS spying on everyone and is off the drugs, now taking Ritalin.

Some episodes age well and some not so much. Brother's Little Helper fits into a weird middle spot that is both. The obvious problem is its portrayal of Bart as now having paranoid delusions (which turn out to be true) induced by the drugs that feels insensitive to people who have real mental issues that might be caused by drugs. Weirdly, the part that aged better is it turns out Bart's paranoia is founded and it is more prescient since he is paranoid about what we now call data mining, which is something we should all be more concerned about. In the middle ground is a discussion about giving children powerful drugs to help them, which the show makes errors on but raises interesting points.

Interestingly, I believe it is around the same time that South Park had an episode where all the kids are given Ritalin with the conclusion being "kids don't need drugs because the problem is that they are just being kids." I haven't done all the research on ADHD but I know that like many South Park takes, this is a bad and certainly extremely simplistic take. But I do think it is something, from personal experience, that needs to be discussed. I like that in this episode, Marge wants to discuss it with Bart and though she talks Bart into it with "guilting" said "guilting" is pretty deft from her, placing the decision in Bart's hands while letting him know that she feels it will help. Then Marge has to contend with being responsible with Bart's current state and her desire to see Bart helped brought him into a bad place thanks to her trust in the drug company. Its an interesting journey. Homer, meanwhile, is mostly in the episode just to offer wacky asides and barely be a character. I kind of prefer this to him straight up being a jerk but it still makes him look like an albatross on Marge as a parent. Homer might have always been the kind of guy to "throw a whisky bottle at the referee." but I feel like he used to have genuine concerns about things, even when they were misplaced.

So I kind of have weird, conflicting feelings with the drug based on my personal experience. I think it is something that works and I'm definitely not anti-Ritalin. My experiences have been better than a lot of other peoples and I read that it can increase psychosis amongst some peoples and other harsh effects. For me it was zonking me out and that's a Hell of a thing to ask a child to do to themselves but not treating ADHD or denying it is also incredibly unhealthy. In this episode, it's a little weird; it seems like an excuse to send Bart on a wacky spree, which... yeesh not a good look. But at the same time, I don't know if the episode is anti-medication (unlike South Park, the episode does seem to make it clear Bart needs some kind of serious intervention before he starts the drugs) but I think using it to make a "crazy Bart" episode is a bit irresponsible. There's a much more nuanced episode in here speaking to my experience but I think that it is also something season 11 Simpsons isn't quite able to handle.

"Does the opening scene mirror the themes of the episode" watch 2021:

Still trying to sort through that. Obviously it quickly dives into Bart having ADHD and being unfocused. I guess maybe the idea that the tools used to help people can be used in destructive ways.

Jokes I missed before:
The squalor index

Other great jokes:
Despite my complaints, this is a pretty funny episode and despite my concerns, I like it more than I don't.

"Principal Skinner, what would you say is the most important fire fighting tool? Would you say prevention?"
"Oh, absolutely, Lisa. That and the sand bucket."

"You're not going to start any fires, are ya?"
"In our house, we call them uh-ohs."




I love the choice to have Krabappel act to Bart's good behaviour like it was a jump scare.

"Did you know that most people use 10% of their brain? I am now one of them."

"I'm not a 'Time Burglar'."







I liked the exchanges between the two army guys in the shower.

"I'm sure I'm alive but why?"

"What a day! First the drinking fountain squirts me and now this."

"No. Stop. Think of the Children."

"Not the church! Jesus lives there!"

"Not the sky! That's where clouds are born."

Other notes:

No real transphobia in this one. Sideshow Mel is in a dress but that isn't the joke so much as a "joke" within a scene on the Krusty the Klown Show. It does have a joke that implies extreme ignorance on Marge and Homer's part in regards to homosexuality, which Marge thinks is "cute".

BTW, while I have feelings on Ritalin, I admit they aren't particularly educated and mostly anecdotal. I would love to hear takes from people more educated than I on the subject.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
From my experience working at a pharmacy, my main takeaways are 1) how did The Simpsons manage to afford a new, brand-name controlled substance and 2) eating all those handfuls of Focusyn in one scene would definitely have killed Bart.
 

Ludendorkk

(he/him)
I've been struggling all my life with convincing people the mental illness I struggle with is real, up to and including being denied medical care by doctors, so as far I'm concerned any media encouraging people to see ADHD as "not real" is fucking garbage that has measurably made my life worse, so put in in the bin
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Unlike South Park, I don't think this one is trying to convince anyone that it isn't "real" (though the words ADD/ADHD aren't actually used, "hyperactivity" is) but it is one of those questionable "fear of the medication" episodes and I feel Bart's reaction to it is definitely problematic in presentation.

EDIT: Also an issue is a joke that implies that the drugs effect could be replicated "with regular exercise."
 
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Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
King of the Hill had a similar episode around the same time, where Bobby is misdiagnosed with ADHD because he was on a monumental sugar rush.

Ritalin was in the zeitgeist in the early 2000s, I guess.
 

Ludendorkk

(he/him)
Unlike South Park, I don't think this one is trying to convince anyone that it isn't "real" (though the words ADD/ADHD aren't actually used, "hyperactivity" is) but it is one of those questionable "fear of the medication" episodes and I feel Bart's reaction to it is definitely problematic in presentation.

EDIT: Also an issue is a joke that implies that the drugs effect could be replicated "with regular exercise."

In my experience the result is exactly the same, people don't grasp the "nuance" (which I think is basically meaningless anyways).
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?

When I got to university, I began writing for the student paper, a job I really enjoyed. I got to get free video games and CDs to review them. Now its not that I didn't work hard, but I feel like I probably didn't do a particularly good job, if only because I consider myself a better (amateur) critic today. One of the things was I also liked to write snarky stuff when the opportunity hit. I was a big fan of MST3k and Mike Nelson wrote of book of humourous movie reviews and I wanted to do something similar. Now I still like to write funny (or "funny") little essays about silly pop culture but I feel that like my focus is getting the wit after the reflection rather than simply trying to lead with it. My want to like things is greater than my enjoyment of trying to be witty. Oh, I do like the latter but even then, I want to enjoy things on a certain level, even if is not the reason that was intended.

In this episode, Homer ends up at a tour of the local paper and gains attention for his love of food. With the current food critic retiring, the editor suggests Homer try out. He does but writes an embarrassingly bad article. Lisa helps him write a new one and ends up becoming his ghost writer. Homer loves his work but soon finds that his fellow critics confounded by his lack of discernment. Homer, deciding to impress his fellow critics, begins arbitrarily giving EVERYONE bad reviews. Lisa, growing tired of Homer's smug superiority, quits as his writer. Meanwhile, Homer's reviews have made him the target of the chefs of Springfield, who send an assassin after him with a poison pastry. Homer survives the attempt but gets his comeuppance at the hands of the restauranteurs and assorted townsfolk.

I feel a lot of comedies that deal with critics (and some poorly written dramas) are often more interested in presenting critics as impotent losers who use their work as some sort of power trip. Even some of the better movies in this regard, like Ratatouille, might feature more nuance but at the same time it tends fall into a similar trap. This episode has that element too but interestingly it is written by Al Jean, co-creator of The Critic, who's title character is a bit pretentious but is a mostly positive character in how he approaches his work: though he is hard to please and has a cruel wit, he wants to be pleased and takes his work seriously. Al Jean has made a lot of decisions I don't agree with as the series showrunner ("What can you do?") but this is actually a pretty decent episode and I think it helps that he does believe in the job of critic that it doesn't come off as a series of putdowns on the internet types the show already was trying to dunk on for commenting on the show.

Not that its a particularly innovative journey. Once again, Homer stumbles on a job. But this time, he is extremely unfit for it. He has the passion but completely lacks all the proper skills. Obviously, there's the ability to articulate his thoughts and ideas, which becomes Lisa's job. But Homer also is easily able to dislike something as much as he likes it. In all honesty, from what we see of the restaurants of Springfield, most probably do deserve bad reviews. Terrible ones in fact. But its clear that Homer isn't interested in deserve so much as finding another avenue to stroke his own ego. I'm sure that Jean and the writers were aware of how this is easy to compare to, say the Internet reviews at the time. But thankfully, the episode spares us a lot of that so it sidesteps feeling like one big gripe.

Overall, this one is just an OK episode. It doesn't do something offensively wrong, thankfully. There aren't even any transphobic jokes in this one. But it is very much an episode more joke centered than emotion or theme centered. And that's fine. A lot of jokes work. Some work great. And you have Ed Asner doing a pretty good job in a small role. Its never going to be a top tier but it makes for a fun little treat until a better one comes along.

"Does the opening scene mirror the themes of the episode" watch 2021:

Not really. I guess Skinner suggests people pair up and we next see Homer and Lisa but I think that's just a coincidence mostly.


"If he's so smart, how come he's dead?"

"No please you got to help old Gil. What can I do for you? Dance for you? But you wouldn't even see-- All right, I'm dancin'."

"Who here reads Mary Worth... Let's move on."

"I wouldn't want to be married to her. I mean again."

"I'll have you know I wandered off from the tour."
I feel like a lot of these jokes are very much Homer in cruise control but a lot of these still work for me. I just like his unearned confidence that this statement gives him some sort of authority where there is none.


"We make a good team. A groin-grabbingly good team!"

"Wait a minute, there was no cane in Citizen Kane."
But I feel like there has to be, even if it was just incidental. This feels like a reason to rewatch it.

"This is Garth Tralawny, TV critic."
"Why you! You made them cancel Platypus Man."
"Homer! This is our theatre critic, Audrey Beaumont."
"And the Cosby Mysteries. That show had limitless possibilities."

"Nine thumbs up, what the Hell is that?"

"Marge, I'm sorry, but your cooking's only got two moves... Shake and bake!"
"You like Shake and Bake! You used to put it in your coffee."


Sadly, we kind of need a bee-filled atmosphere again.




Other notes:

I feel dumb for not noticing that, in his one line, the TV critic has a "gay voice".

I'll be honest, I feel like there are some episodes I've seen around the same quality that I've been harsher on if only because while they might all put comedy about character, this one doesn't get too mean and Homer's a jerk in a way that's fun to watch than just being a fucking drag by being too unpleasant. A little of that balance goes a long way.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
I will say that Homer presents everything I look for in a critic, and what I strive for myself in offering reviews;
Everything is excellent
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Treehouse of Horror X

I remember Y2k. I don't think I ever bought the fear of some kind of computer apocalypse that people kept talking about but I'm only human. I did have moments of doubt. Frankly, its weird to be writing about such an apocalypse scare during a genuinely dangerous time that some people seem downright desperate to ignore. We are on what feels like what is close to the other side but at the same time, the covid virus will still remain with us in mutated forms and with poor behaviour and habits, it is easy to backslide. Not to mention that due to some awful leadership, some countries are living through a real nightmare. Some people have said this is the year they need feel good pop culture and I understand that. But frankly, in these times, horror is still a good genre. It can be an escape or it could be a way to process the nature of human weakness that remains with us.

In this episode, three more Halloween tales. In the first story, a parody of I Know What You Did Last Summer, Marge accidentally kills Ned Flanders in a road accident and believing no one would ever believe it was an accident, decide to fake a natural death. After the funeral, the Simpsons receive messages stating that someone knows their secret who is revealed to be Flanders, who survived due to in fact recently becoming a werewolf. In the second story in a general parody of superhero fiction, Bart and Lisa get into a radioactive accident on Halloween and get super-powers. They end up battling Comic Book Guy (as the villain The Collector) but lose, only to be saved by Comic Book Guy's kidnapping victim Lucy Lawless. In the final story, a parody of Y2k hysteria, the Y2k bug causes the Earth's machines against humanity. Lisa and Marge end up escaping in a rocket, though when Bart and Homer try to do the same, they realize they are stuck with celebrity losers headed for the sun.

After witnessing firsthand the downturn, I was delighted to see this episode's stories are all pretty funny and well-conceived. The first one's choice of parody, I Know What You Did Last Summer, seems like it could like later episodes where a more recent film is parodied (like the parodies of Split, Chronicle and The Shape of Water). But those are usually pretty much Mad Magazine satires without much thought, checking off boxes on a list. I Know What You Dididily-iddily Did instead keeps it simple and aside from the broadest plot details and Flanders outfit, it doesn't really try to parody the forgettable slasher. Instead, its a generally parody of the common thriller plot of someone threatening a murderer with the truth.

The second story, Desperately Xeeking Xena, has very little to do with Halloween, which would definitely become increasingly common in the series (most confounding: a parody of The Diving Bell and the Butterfly). But its still a delight and easily the highlight of a pretty decent episode. The writers get to let their geek flags fly with nerdy references but also allows Lucy Lawless a pretty good comedic turn. I've only scene scattered Xena episodes and was a little ambivalent on it, not really into its broad campy comedy but finding some of its emotional beats a little more effective than I expected. Nonetheless, I was more in Team Buffy, which sadly feels like the losing team in recent years. Anyway, this story is easily the most fun.

The final story is the weakest but still pretty fun. Life's a Glitch and Then You Die is definitely a flashback to a moment in pop culture. The fear and excitement of the new millennium felt palpable, even if it was just a bunch of numbers. Even if technically it meant nothing, such a milestone felt like something mankind would need to reflect on. King of the Hill actually had a pretty decent episode about it. Family Guy... well, that's mostly remembered for a Gary Newman slam and not much else, putting it heads above in the memorability department than other episode. There's not too much going on in the Simpsons take save for goofiness and some celebrity mocking. Thankfully, in retrospect, most of their targets still hold up, except Spike Lee, someone people seemed really down on at the time for reasons I don't know. Maybe his female characters lack proper development but since when was THAT an issue for the 90s? I will say, Tom Arnold's self-mockery is the highlight of the segment.

Other great jokes:
"I can't believe we escaped from those horrible vampires."
"But it was worth it to get back our Super Sugar Crisp cereal. ♩Can't get enough of that Sugar Crisp.♬"
"I'm having a hard time seeing. Homer, did you remember to put the foglights in?"
" ♬I guess I forgot to put the foglights in♪!"

Dan Castellaneta sells whispering to Flanders corpse about his plan.

"Bart, spooky roller disco!"

"Well well well, if it isn't the cutest little police officer in Springfield."
"You know we have feelings too, chief."

"She's been crushed... and so have the hopes of our mathletics team."
"Hold the funeral poindexter."
"*gasp* Poindexter?"





"XENA NEEDS XEX!"

"Wait a minute, Xena can't fly."
"I told you, I'm not Xena. I'm Lucy Lawless."
"Oh."

"I warned you the lord wouldn't stand for your mini-skirts and Beatle boots."
"I've resisted these for 25 years, why did I wear them today?"

"Well, look at the wonders of the computer age now."
"Wonders Lisa... or blunders?"
"I think that was implied by what I said."
"Implied, Lisa... or implode?"

"I mean, my shows weren't great but I never tied anybody up and forced them to watch. And I could have because I'm a big guy and I'm good with knots."

Other notes:

Wrong Maude Flanders voice sounds weird. Not worth killing her ugly, though.

One of the musicians in the ambiguous hair metal band is clearly modelled after Harry Shearer's Derek Smalls.

So... What we Nelson doing in the school on New Year's Eve?
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
An obligatory note, because I'm a pedant: Y2K was a serious problem that took tons of effort by hardworking people to fix. Obviously the big dramatic things that people feared weren't going to happen: planes falling out of the sky and nukes going off were either fixed very early on or never really on the docket; but small-scale issues that would have been devastating on an individual level were a real threat right up until the final moments of 1999. Things that wouldn't be noticed until it was too late. Think along the lines of "what happens when someone's tightly-scheduled medication is suddenly scheduled for a date that never comes." I think that the global narrative of covid unfortunately will continue to draw a lot more parallels with the story of Y2K: a serious problem arises, mass panic ensues, some truly heroic people work very hard to fix it, and then the general public is convinced that it was never really a problem to begin with and mock the people to whom they may owe their lives.

Also: Randy Newman. Gary Numan was the IN CARS guy.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I mean, I feel like this is less pedantry and more a salient point to clear up some misconceptions (certainly on my part) that have notable mirrors to today's issues. Maybe the second part is but I don't like being wrong about people names but thanks for the correction.
 

Daikaiju

Rated Ages 6+
(He, Him)
While I do know Y2K was a legit issue, my larger fear was people who might go bugnutz at the slightest hint that things were going to go haywire.
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
(creepy voice): I know you're alone.
Homer: Wh-who is this?
(creepy voice): Is this Maude Flanders?
Homer: No, it's H-homer.
Moe: Oh, hey, Homer, it's Moe. I must've dialed the wrong number.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
E'i e'i (Annoyed Grunt)

My father grew up on a farm and I got to visit my grandparents on occasion in Manitoba. As an indoorsy kid used to the comforts of the suburbs, farm life was often a little too quiet for me but we definitely got to do cool things like riding around on an ATV, catching garter snakes various other things. Apparently, my grandfather had to do a lot of innovating and engineering on the farm, using his wits to create chicken pluckers and other tools. This is something my father, who went onto become an engineer, took to heart. Even recently it inspired him to get a homemade lift made for him to help with mobility issues rather than buying a $5000-7000 lift. As for me, I've never been mechanically inclined but I appreciate that work like farming that requires self-sufficiency requires a level of ingenuity and problem solving.

In this episode, Homer watches a movie and is inspired to challenge people to duels in order to solve his problems. Unfortunately, when someone takes him up on it, he threatens him with a gun duel, causing Homer to flee with his family. Homer decides to hide out at the farm where he grew up and become a farmer. Homer guys all sorts of different seeds, plants them and hopes for the best but nothing happens. Homer adds plutonium, hoping that like in vintage science fiction, the plants will grow to super size. It doesn't work but sprouts do begin to slowly grow. At first it seems like tomatoes but after a taste, the Simpsons discover that the tomatoes and tobacco have crossbred and resulted in what Homer called Tomacco. The tomacco's addictive nature causes it to sell like hot cakes and has them approached by a cigarette company, hoping to take advantage of the legal soft area of such a new product. Homer plays hardball but that evening, Homer's entire crop is devoured by farm animals save for one plant. Homer tries to protect the plant but the farm is attacked by super-addictive and now feral animals, which causes Homer to lose the plant. Homer returns home, loses the duel and eats some pie.

E'i E'i (Annoyed Grunt) is an episode I'd call pretty weak but I don't hate it. For one, there's lots of tepid humour BUT there are some good jokes embedded in there to be sure. There's also very little cringe in this one. No transphobic jokes or particularly bad takes. Homer is a jerk but not to the degree where he is actively bullying anyone, instead being an oaf who makes some unilateral decisions that messes up their lives. Again. Frankly, given the choice, I can sit through a more all around generic episode easier than one that might have stronger jokes but also a less likable Homer. But overall, this one is still completely missable.

"Homer becomes a farmer" is probably the most generic logline for an episode I can think of and the episode doesn't seem to be doing much to sell it in terms of theme. The opener is pretty funny for ridiculousness and the horror movie finale makes things a little more fun but I don't think its an episode with a lot to say. Oh, it has some bits about the evils of the tobacco industry but I think it actually avoids saying something interesting that would have been interesting about modern day farming and getting in bed with big, unscrupulous companies but its almost all exclusively surface with little actual insight.

I will say that I do like that finale. Its not just the general horror movie vibe but it also feels like a horror morality play out of EC Comics or the Twilight Zone where Homer is protect his last vestige of for his greedy dreams as the very evil he created encroaches upon him. If anything, I think we could have spent more time on this element but its not too surprising that the show spends a lot more time on the second acts "general farm humour". A lot of it is weak but considering this episode was probably sold as "Homer the Farmer", the writer Ian Maxtone-Graham, probably felt he had to wring a lot of comedy out of putting the Simpsons in that setting. Instead, I feel like we were robbed of a bigger gonzo horror story with a moral bent.

"Does the opening scene mirror the themes of the episode" watch 2021:

A bit. I feel like it echoes a recurring theme through the episode that movies and pop culture has given Homer an unrealistic expectation on how pretty much anything works.

Jokes I missed before:
A lot of the credits in the Poke of Zorro. Curtis "Booger" Armstrong is actually a pretty undersung character actor.

Other great jokes:


"Oh, why did I have to slap a guy who says 'sah'."

"Oh, honey, I had the worst nightmare. This glove kept slapping people and I was getting blamed."



"Plutonium? Gee Homer, isn't that kind of risky? I guess you're right. It's not."


"But didn't Grasshopperus kill Chad Everett?"
"Only because he tried to reason with him."

"Oh, Daddy, this tastes like Grandma."
Holy Moses! This DOES taste like Grandma!"

"Dad, its a tobacco company. They make billions off of the suffering and death of others."
"Lisa's right Dad, they can afford a lot more."
"No! I--"
"I'm with Lisa, let's take them to the cleaners."

"You're about to launch a terrible evil on the world, you've got to destroy this plant."
"I know, honey, but what can I do as an individual? I wouldn't know where to begin."
"Just burn that plant right now and end this madness."
"I wish I could make a difference Lisa but I'm just one man."
"Grrr."
"I agree, but how?"

Other notes:
The Saving Private Ryan cola ad feels very The Critic but when Lisa lampshades the offensiveness of the premise reminds me of that time Pepsi tried to use Black Lives Matter to sell Pepsi. This is a thing that completely happened.

I think I've vaguely known about the Scarlet Pimpernel but his deal, guy who anonymously saves rich people from the rebellion during the Reign of Terror (I might be getting this wrong), feels like it aged weird.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I was just doing my dishes when it hit me that this is the same plot of the HP Lovecraft story "Color Out of Space". It's the same damned thing and I only just got it. I think it bumps it up a little bit but makes me wished the writer leaned into it more.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
The main thing that stuck with me, when watching this episode, was the scene at the end, when the corporate people fly away, but are attacked by the adicted animals. I remember them looking pretty scary.

In general, this is the first season that I watched while it first aired. It was also the first time, that I was disappointed by the show, on a regular basis. Not that I actively disliked the episodes, but they always felt somewhat off. Maybe it hit harder, because I had higher expectations. Exactly because it was the first season that I saw during the initial run.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder

As someone who looks after two kids for my sister sometimes I do worry that I am missing out on their development or missing what they want. Both kids often want to tell us things but are not always easy to understand and they tend to get frustrated when they can't get through to us. Sometimes their communication abilities are amazing. My niece has some developmental issues in communication but on occasion she can surprise with an unexpected complex sentence. My nephew, meanwhile, can remember surprising amounts and he surprised us by singing us the alphabet from beginning to end with ease. They have amazing abilities but I'm concerned that I am missing areas of growth and underestimating their potential.

In this episode, after a bad day at work Homer bowls a perfect game at bowling and becomes a local celebrity. But celebrity is fleeting and Homer soon faces an existential crisis when he realizes this. Worried that his life has peaked, Homer decides to dedicate his life to something else and chooses to make it Maggie. But Maggie, already ignored by Homer, is largely indifferent to him. Homer tries to win her over but all his plans fail. After an attempt to take her to the ocean, Homer almost drowns but it saved by Maggie, making Homer realized that he is loved by her.

This episode is a bit better than I remember but overall, this is another completely disposable episode. There's theming from beginning to end: Homer feels chewed up by life, feels unimportant, bowls a perfect life, feels important, realizes that the one accomplishment doesn't keep the feeling going together, spends time with Maggie who he made to feel unimportant and finds the consequences. In terms of structure, that's a great start. The one thing missing is the show misses that by making someone else feel special, it makes you feel special. Otherwise, its well considered. We have seen episodes focusing his failing as a father before but I feel like this is an angle that hasn't been dug into enough, especially for someone who can be as self-obsessed as Homer where he can actually acquire adulation through work and spending time rather than waiting for one perfect moment.

One of the wisest lines in Adventure Time is "Such is the cruel physics of love -- that those who crave it most will repel it and only the dang rich get richer". Homer is a man who is full of love but is also full of cravings that often get in the way of him remembering to give his big love. I think this episode is actually kind of good in the set up, with Homer discovering that this one perfect moment isn't a wave he can ride on forever. The latter half is a good idea but I don't think the episode sells the emotional punch of Homer realizing how estranged he is from a little baby. Like, the bread crumbs are there with Homer actively not spending time with his daughter but all the Homer spending time with Maggie stuff is ineffective, leading to a limp episode.

I think the trouble really begins when Homer attempts suicide. This isn't the first episode for Homer to do this but Homer's Odyssey WAAAAY back in season one worked hard to sell Homer being at the end of his rope and in a very bad place. This goes from Homer kind of mopey to trying to kill himself and all it really does is act as a cliffhanger, and not a very good one. Its bad but more than that its when the show loses its emotional anchor and it never regains it during the act when the show REALLY needs to be pulling at our heartstrings. Instead, its a series of tepid skits and finale that never quite brings things together. Its not like this is a "BAD" episode but that's just in the same way a C isn't a failing grade. Its nothing to be proud of, either.

"Does the opening scene mirror the themes of the episode" watch 2021:

Mostly that Homer is sleeping through his own life, missing a lot.

Other great jokes:
"I can't get in trouble if I can't see you."
"I'm afraid he's got us, sir."


Kids, today we have to talk about Krusty brand Chew Goo Gum-Like Substance. We knew it contained spider eggs, but the hantavirus-- well, that really came out of left field. So if any of you have experienced numbness or comas, send proof of purchase and five dollars to "Antidoe, P.O. Box 14--"



"Why won't they come over here? I'm so lonely."



"You ruined the act! I'll kill you!"
"He'll do it! I'm not the first Teller!"

"Burt Reynolds apologized to the Pope and promised to replace the windshield."
"Burt Reynolds, class act."

"I say it's time to put this one-trick pony out to stud!"
"Woo-hoo! First stop, Maude Flanders!"


"Well, this is a different zoo, featuring animals you've never heard of."
"Daddy, we're missing the fantastipotamus. She only sings twice a day."

"If you tie a string around your finger real tight, you can make it turn purple."
"I can see I'm not needed here."


Other notes:
Should have known this was an Al Jean episode from the non-sequitur "angry New Yorkers" gag.
 
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