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

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Eight Misbehavin'

I'd be lying if I said I didn't want fame. I want to be seen. I want to be loved and respected. I want people to know my value. But what we want isn't what we need. Fame, like capital F fame, can really mess you up. Most of the really famous people I can think of, the kind that really earned it, seem to be unhappy with it. And child stardom often leads to some people either becoming fucked up or result in fucked up life experiences. I don't think we were meant to experience so much adulation from such a large group. Its the small scale love that is the most powerful and meaningful. But I still want fame.

In this episode, Apu and Manjula decide to try for a child. They end up getting pregnant but the birth results in octuplets. The birth results in a sudden rush of fame and gifts that the couple take advantage of for their family's well-being. But when nonuplets are born, the Nahasapeemapetalons are left in the lurch and struggle with day to day child rearing. It is then when they are approached by a mysterious man who turns out to be a zoo owner who wants to showcase the kids in exchange for childcare, a health plan and other perks. Though hesitant, the couple feel compelled to agree but are horrified that it isn't just an exhibit, its an exploitative, crass freakshow. Apu and Homer frees the kids from the zoo and Homer makes a deal with Larry for a humiliating show in exchange for letting the octuplets out of their contract.

As is evident, Apu episodes, even with good elements, aged pretty poorly. It definitely goes far beyond white actors playing non-white characters. Jokes are often very specifically about Apu being Indian. He calls his wife "curry face" and "chutney butt". And this episode unfortunately continues that down to the premise. After all, India is heavily populated country so of COURSE Apu is going to have a ridiculous amount of kids. So, yeah, very bad optics. The very premise of the episode is a very bad look. But is there anything beyond that?

Well, I'll say what lies beyond that is more interesting than good. It is an episode about a certain kind of celebrity and the idea of exchanging security for privacy. Its also about hard parental situations and the fact that the Nahasapeemapetalons don't have Simpsons-level vague financial security and despite Apu's steady job, they are surprisingly vulnerable. Their fame is the only thing protecting them, first as being an anomaly and brief news story, then as a zoo act. It would be easy to judge a parent for doing that but without assistance and a proper support network, it can be hard to get by. And this is explored a bit in the episode. But then its dropped. The couple plan simply to muddle through and get by somehow. The idea that the couple are willing to spare their children some screwed up exploitation in favor of braving a harsher reality sounds nice but it feels a little hollow, like they just needed the episode to end now.

So it is an episode that is... mostly not great. Not "terrible" but not great. The episode's premise is pretty bad but if you want to watch anyway for some decent jokes, there are a few. Also, I'm still mulling over the nature of the plot where a non-white family's children are being put on display and its a lot to take in both are "maybe this is powerful unintended satire" or "this is... just in bad taste". Hey, the episode's guest stars are pretty good. Sitcom creator Garry "call me Garry" Marshall and "Eddie Munster" Butch Patrick both appear. Patrick isn't given a lot to do but his lines are delightfully silly. Garry Marshall has a good voice and sells his lines. That's mostly what's going to stick with me.

Other great jokes:


"Everyone at school picks on the popli kids. Even I do. I just hate them so much.

"Kids are the best, Apu. You can teach them to hate what you hate. And they practically raise themselves with the Internet and such."

"Could you be anymore... HELLO!"

Homer's role play script scene is good. Somehow, not on youtube.

"I'm sterile, right baby doll?"
"Yes, dear, from the nuclear plant."
"Beeeautiful."

"I dare you to look at a kangaroo and not laugh."

"They're usually funnier."

The Baron is the best part. I love that the show has a baby for the express purpose of being hated.

"Quiet! You're breaking character!"

"Some are real. Some are just robots filled with venom."

Other notes:

Yet another "Oops, wrong kind of Indian" joke from Homer. Siiiiiiiiigh.

Everyone slipping Manjula fertility drugs without her knowledge is pretty fucked up, huh?

Ever make a decision you know is wrong. Like click on a youtube video about Apu just cause your kind of curious if the guy is either going to talk about coming to terms with realizing a character they love is racist or if it is a defense because Hari Kondabolu "didn't get it". I didn't watch... 45 minutes of video but I skipped around enough to see it was mostly the latter. I have things I could have done. Not all curiousities need to be satisfied, stupid.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Take My Wife, Sleaze

I'm an easily intimidated person. Not even by "tough" folks. Just anyone. I'm always afraid of mere constructive criticism or just being yelled at. I'd love to see myself as someone tough and cool when push comes to shove but my flight instinct is pretty strong in the face of a genuine threat. I get the desire to look cool and rebellious but I also have an instinct to do what I'm told that the world has proven repeatedly is wrong. So I pretty much get why someone would want to appear tough and how that can lead to a toxicity of the soul in trying to emulate a superficial strength rather than understanding what strength really is.

In this episode, Homer wins a motorcycle at a dance contest at a 50s diner. He falls in love with his bike and after seeing a 50s biker picture, he decides to form a biker gang, the Hell's Satans. The Hell's Satan provide mild inconvenience for Springfield but are pretty harmless. However, Homer gets a picture of the gang for a biker mag and ends up attracting the attention of a real biker gang... The Hell's Satans. Upset with Homer for using their name, they torment the Simpsons for days before heading out... with Marge. Homer hunts her down while Marge slowly reforms the gang. Eventually, Homer catches up and beats the gang's leader in combat and he and Marge return home while the Hell's Satans try to apply for jobs to improve their lot in life.

This is another Swartzwelder episode and like Bart Carny, it seems to be another episode about Homer obsessing about a life-style far less comfy than his current lot in life. This one feels less like its a classist punching down even though there's a similar mirroring... that while Homer romanticizes their lifestyle, really, they just want what they have. The Carnies and the Hell's Satans both steal a part of Homer's life... the Carnies steal Homer's home while the Hell's Satans steal his wife. But the Satans are presented as lacking in the kind of life guidance that Marge provides. By the last act, they become adorably dumb and sweet in trying to better themselves. The Carnies are baddies through and through but the Hell's Satans are people who didn't realize they could acquire Homer's life through the right approach. OK, its not realistic but I'm not too surprised Swartzwelder wrote this one if that's the message.

I think around this time Swartzwelder had an idea of Homer being a person who doesn't realize how good he has it and wants to prove himself impressive by imitating people who would much prefer to be in his shoes. I do think there's some potentially interesting class insight but Swartzwelder is more interested in generic "lowlives" and how its ridiculous to envy this life. But this still feels a little nicer than Bart Carny just by making the biker's a bunch of goofs. This is certainly helped by the casting, with the always game John Goodman AND Henry Winkler as biker toughs. They are people who seem like they want to be nice but are so inundated with violence, they literally try to solve clothing stains with it.

Structurally, its another weird one. Very little is happening in act one save for comedy and Homer getting a bike. I feel like rewatching a lot, there are a lot more going on to what I thought were unrelated first acts but now we are in the stage where act one is just there to fill some time with comedy. I do kind of get it: after watching Cartoon Network shows that can tell a satisfying story in half the times as the Simpsons, why not pad the rest out with jokes. But the padding tends to make things a little lumpy. Overall, its better than the last few episodes but mostly due to Swartzweldiantm humour and not so much being an insightful episode of television.

Jokes I missed before:

OK, holy shit, I did not pay attention to this insane song that is used in the episode before. Listen to the lyrics. All of them.


This insane song was written FOR THE SHOW by guest musicians NRBQ, which is why it is so cheezy and insane and weird. This feels more like a bit I'd expect from Arrested Development.

Other great jokes:

"Plus, you'll meet a dog who can't predict anything."

"Then three other things."


"Actual year may vary. Consult a calendar for actual year."

"That was a two-part episode."

"Church dismissed."
I just love to say things are dismissed.

"When will you teens learn to be uncool like everyone else?"

"How am I down $1000?"

"He's got a broom!"

"The gang is wanted in eight other states and we have a saying around here: let Michigan handle it."

"I've tried everything to get the blood and puke stains out. I've tried hitting them, I've tried yelling at them."

"Plus I think Rod and Todd are watching."
"No we're not."
Those are creepy kids.

"And the first step is an eye-catching resuME."
"I believe it is pronounced REsume."
"Actually, both are acceptable."

"Mrs. Simpson, I killed my pencil."
"Broke. You broke your pencil."
"I broke him."



Other notes:

Harry Shearer and Hank Azaria really make the "Christ Punchers" bit work with Azaria casually dumping something more awful than the previous suggestions and Flanders being taken aback. I mean, its not "inspired" and is pretty simple but I find it really works for me.

Hey, maybe not an extended bit where the bikers say she is not in danger of being sexually assaulted because she is not seen as attractive.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Grift of the Magi

I feel like I was never the right age to be the target for one of the HUGE Christmas toys except one... the NES. Sadly, instead I got the Sega Master System, which was the Lee Carvello's Putting Challenge of system options. I don't think its actually a bad system but it wasn't the system I wanted and the one game I had was a puzzle game with penguins and eggs. But our family generally wasn't chasing the big ticket item of the season. When the Tickle Me Elmo craze happened, it was a weird novelty and I didn't realize this was an echo of the similar Cabbage Patch Kids craze of the 80s. I don't know if this pattern will be broken by COVID but I suspect we aren't far from once again seeing "aghast" videos about Black Friday this year coming.

In this episode, Bart temporarily ends up in a wheelchair and the school finds itself railroaded into a sketchy building project for accessibility thanks to Fat Tony. Sure enough, the project is a money suck scam and the school is bankrupted by the mob. Eventually, the school is saved by Kids First Industries, who replace actual scholastics with a focus on toys. Lisa eventually learns that the kids are being used to group create a brand new toy for the Christmas season: Funzo. Lisa confronts Kids First Industries who confess the truth easily, as they've already gotten what they wanted. But Lisa makes a second discovery... that Funzo isn't just a toy built on the bones of the education system but it is also designed to take out other toys. Lisa and Bart get Homer to steal the Funzo's around town in order to save Christmas, which they do, then have a conversation about capitalism's place in society with Gary Coleman.

The Grift of the Magi is the fourth Christmas episode and of the first four it is the weakest. It also might be my favourite episode of the season so far. It is genuinely good. There's a lot to point to in terms of plot holes. How long it takes to make and market a toy. The fact that someone would definitely have opened up a Funzo before Christmas. The fact that the toy destroying feature doesn't make sense of giving Funzo a notable advantage instead of causing people to be pissed about Funzo. But that's OK. It makes more sense when viewed as sort of a fairy tale logic and metaphor. Its fine for plot points not to make sense in terms of literal events sometimes as long as it works in the grander sense. It doesn't hurt character or meaning. Its just some silly stuff that exist alongside a solid episode.

Now it is definitely weaker than a lot of the other Christmas episodes. The other episodes took the Holiday to explore some heavy emotions like shame, guilt and fear but this episode is different: a silly ride with a very cynical view of how America treats the education system and how capitalism uses us all. Springfield Elementary essentially collapses after Lisa even mentions doing the right thing, domino effect-style and Springfield's education winds up in the hands of predatory Lindsay Nagel and the ironically named Jim Hope, played ably by Tim Robbins in a role that reminds me of some others where a pretty big name plays a generic brown-haired marketing opportunist, like Brendan Fraser and Stephen Webber. It doesn't make sense for Funzo to "kill" other toys but as a metaphor for the cutthroat nature of business hiding inside a "cute" exterior, its perfect.

So its not as good but its still doing a lot right. And it is also very funny. It feels like the first episode I've liked this season without a caveat, There are better, but its pretty good. Gary Coleman's character is a non-sequitor but he is nonetheless very funny. There are lots of extended bits I like. The only cringe is early on when there is jokes about being "fruity" where Homer is STILL worried about Bart being gay, I guess. Apart from that, I has a point of view, a thing I feel becomes more muddled as the show goes on (lots of gesturing towards one but they feel the need to just say them following disjointed plots). It is mistrustful towards private enterprise when it encroaches upon our schools, as it should. Of course, the focus is much more on the gags and they are pretty solid all around. And isn't that the greatest gift of all? No. Love is. Why did you think #1 was funny gags? That's a stupid thought

Jokes I missed before:

That Homer's Funzo song was a reference to Tiny Bubbles.

Other great jokes:

"Aw, the zoning disk is warped."
Until the Simpsons gave up and just made knock off brand jokes, they used to do some funny fake board games and then have exactly ONE thing wrong with them to make them unplayable. It was a great time.


Ralph is a great actor.

"Valencia? These are juice oranges!"





"Uh, is this going to be like one of those horror movies where we open the door and everything's normal and we think you're crazy but then there really is a killer robot and the next morning you find me impaled on the weather vane? Is that what this is, Lisa?"



"The spirit of the season entered their hearts."
"Let's just agree that the commercialization of Christmas is, at best, a mixed blessing."

That Moe suicide joke is a funny to me but also fucking dark.

Other notes:

I love the touch that Funzo uses "vous" in basically the same way as Ms. Piggy.

Clarence Clemmons also appears as the narrator at the end. He's, like a music guy, I guess. He worked with Bruce Springsteen.

But you might know him like this:


I love the way he says "Tuxedo pants."

What you talkin' 'bout, everyone!
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Little Big Mom

Sometimes I need to lie to the kids I look after. Little things. You know, empty threats like "OK, I'm going without you" when the littlest is dawdling. I don't like using it. It works but it also upsets him a little. But getting the kids to do things is nearly impossible. They have more power than they realize. I'd never make a promise about a reward that I wouldn't keep but a minor unrealistic threat to get them to move along is sometimes needed. I don't like it and I always hesitate to use this tactic, as I much prefer honesty but herding cats is pretty darn hard.

In this episode, the Simpsons go skiing and Marge breaks her leg in an accident. While she's healing in the hospital, Lisa decides to take over her responsibilities but finds it nearly impossible to get Bart and Homer to pitch in. Completely stressed out, she ends up concocting a plan to make them think they have leprosy, telling them cleaning up will help clear it. Instead, Bart and Homer flee and end up convincing Flanders to send them to a leper colony. Marge and Lisa straighten everything out and the Simpsons have a vacation at the colony.

Going into this one, I had a feeling that I was going to find this to be a weak one. I was actually surprised that this one has a pretty decent first act with some classic lines. The entire first act is also entirely disposable in terms of plotting. But maybe that means the plot itself is disposable and the whole episode should have been sketches about the Simpsons skiing. The main plot isn't AWFUL but it feels like even the very specifics of the character dynamics haven't happened before, we've seen "Marge-less Simpsons" a lot.

There is a narrative throughline. The problem is, and this is a problem I have with later Simpsons, the throughline trails off with no real definitive final stamp. There's nothing conclusive reached and it doesn't seem like they are interested in getting us to ask questions of what we just saw. It is more like the episode peters out so goodbye. I remember Dana Gould has stated that writers on the show are not expected to get too precious with their scripts, as it goes through a big writer's room treatment. Part of me thinks this can be good early on (collaborative writing can yeild good results) but that it also means episodes that might have had more of a point get twisted out of the initial shape. I think this might have been meant to be about the guilt of parents lying to their kids. It does start that way, even baked into Marge trying to secretly give to goodwill. But I feel like there's no solid core and it feels a very shallow approach to a relatable situation.

Homer is, again, kinda sucky in the episode but thankfully its in a less awful way than some other episodes. Like, he never quite crosses that line into emotionally abusive like in Make Room for Lisa, despite the fact that episode had a "means well" Homer and this one is actively being a pain in the neck. Its another episode I can see a lot of interesting potential for either something emotional (I'm not taking poignant but rather relatable) or thoughtful about the nature of parenting. I believe it was Ebert who said "review the movie you saw, not the one you wished to see." But its hard when they dangle a more appealing episode in front of me. Still, its perfectly watchable and even better if you bow out at act one.

Jokes I missed before:

John Wayne having a guest appearance in the TV when Bart and Homer are watching... comedic domestic abuse.

Other great jokes:


"Get her! She's doing something!"




"Is this seat taken?"
"I think that's an armrest."

"Who's Disco Stu?"
Excellent low key callback.

"You're here to rest. If you want the window cleaned, just push the call button."
"Oh, I don't want to be a bother."
"Wouldn't bother us, it just turns up you're morphine."
"Oh, so it does."
"Stop pushing that!"

"Look, they're rusted through!"
"It's an illusion."
"No its not!"

Other notes:

They got the actual "You've Got Mail" guy to say "You've got leprosy."

Whoever is doing Lucy has a hilarious cigerette-y stage whisper.

Wrong sounding Maude is so weird. I mean, its not reason to kill her off nasty in a few eps, but still.
 

Ghost from Spelunker

BAG
(They/Him)
This is one of my favorite post-golden era episodes. Maybe the plot is sort of trash, but there so many perfect jokes that it's always a blast to watch from start to finish.

"Nuh-uh, say it in Snowboard."

"That ought to hold it."

"I can't believe she went home with those guys."

"You're wasting thousands of dollars of interferon!"
"And you're interferon with our good time!"

"You stay away from Lenny."

"Hello, Lollipop Island? There's a little girl here who had too many sour balls!"

"Hey, stay away from the drums! That's my bit!"

"You don't think he could be at another bar, do you? Because I couldn't take that. (Sobs) I just-don't hang up on me..."

"Yay! Imagination Christmas!"
(Marge and Lisa don't try to hide their reaction)


 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Faith Off

I gave up on religion long ago but I do see a beauty in it. I certainly don't like people using it to justify prejudices or general shittiness. Heck, based on American politics, the "meaning" of a religion's teachings are so malleable that it barely seems to have any meaning at all. Whatever you wish to believe, one can twist themselves into pretzels in order to view it in a way where you don't have to do any soul searching and instead make it serve oneself and proclaim that selfishness is REALLY about helping society. Do you know what really helps people? Helping them.

In this episode, Homer accidentally gets a bucket on his head and can't get it off. When the Simpsons accidentally wind up at a revival show run by a faith healer, he uses Bart as a prop in "healing" Homer. The healer convinces Bart to give faith healing a try and Bart does, to rousing popularity. Bart loves the attention but when Bart's "healing" indirectly sends Milhouse to the hospital, Bart decides to quit. But he's forced to try once more to help a football player win a game so his father isn't killed by a mobster. Bart seems to pull off a miracle, the game is won and Homer is saved.

This is yet another one where I feel like it is very close to being a much stronger episode if they injected a little more care into it. Its not that its a bad or sloppy episode, its just a bit shallow. The general message is one I can get behind: Bart gets into the miracle working business but mostly to serve himself but then he does a "real" miracle when it is about really helping someone else rather than grandstanding. I appreciate that this isn't Bart looking to make money but instead its about Bart being a showman showered in attention, which I'd buy. This feels like a solid first draft but I feel like the Simpsons writing room stopped workshopping towards a more well-rounded and satisfying story and more towards its comedy. And this is a funny enough episode but not so much that I wish it didn't pass on its opportunities. Bart's last act return to faith healing doesn't feel like we are taking an emotional ride with the character and more lurching towards the last plot point.

Again, this isn't a bad episode. I feel like the recurring theme at this point is "this isn't bad, I just see more potential than is exploited". But there is a fair bit of good. Quite a few good gags, including a gross one at the climax I appreciate. And the initial idea makes sense. Spiritual episodes about Bart make a lot of sense because he doesn't see himself as spiritual and sees religion as something he sometimes believes in (depending on the episode) but if he does, he's looking to exploit its rules. This actually makes a lot of sense: Christianity, at least in North America, seems pretty punitive, so much so they made a pretty great sitcom dealing with how stupidly simplistic that is. I feel like earlier episodes examined the idea of religion as a series of rules versus a guide for personal betterment. Profundity is no longer the interest of this series, for the most part.

Oh, hey, Don Cheadle is in this episode. He's pretty great as Brother Faith, the slick but maybe semi-sincere faith healer Bart meets. It is weird to have a quasi-positive faith healer on a show where general authority, religious or otherwise is something to be deeply mistrustful of. I really can't think of a faith healer as anything other than a predator using belief to prey upon people willing to believe. But it is understandable to want to make a fun faith healer because that kind of showmanship is pretty entertaining. And it makes sense for Bart for that to be an entry point into religion. He's a showman at heart and it is effective at getting people's attention. But like Bart as a faith healer, its a little lacking in substance.

Other great jokes:

"Yep, because of me all dorms now have security forms."

"I think I know that guy. He ran over the dean five years ago. Punch up that picture. Now age that picture five years."

"Good work. Now let's see whose having sex in the library."
"Aw, they scrambled it."


"God gave you the power."
"Really? Hmm... I would think he would want to limit my power."



"Hey, I'm doing the best with the material I have."

"Did you have to salt the Earth so that nothing would ever grow again?"
"Hehehehe yeah."

"Is he killing that guitar, daddy?"
"Yes, son."

"Big game fever is reaching a fever pitch as the fevered rivalry between Springfield U. and Springfield A&M spreads like wild-fever. This is writing?"
"I’m sorry Uncle Kent; I lost my thesaurus."
"'My thesaurus' … you’ll lose more than … In preparation for the big game, Springfield Stadium has caught additional seating capacity fever."

"Oh, you're only calling us a cow college cause we were founded by a cow."


"I guess I'll have to see someone else about my crippling depression. Y'arr."
"Wow. And I thought he had it all."

On Homer's tribute to hazing float.
"Wait, wait, I have a float, too. Listen up cause I have to explain a lot of it."


Other notes:

"Does anyone need that much porno?"
Welcome to the internet, Marge.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Mansion Family

I was brought up in the middle class life but I've definitely had some advantages. Due to my father's job there was a lot of travel and when I was 12-13, I spend 10 months in Thailand. While there, we ended up living in a suburban area and ended up making friends with some very rich neighbors. The neighbors took us to some cool places, including a weekend at a hotel and about $25 worth of quarters to spend at the arcade, which is a pretty big deal when you are a kid. But also, as a kid, its easy not to recognize the level of generosity and how fortunate one is to be pampered to such a degree. And it is easy not to be grateful if you don't.

In this episode, Mr. Burns wins a Springfield Pride Award for oldest Springfield resident, causing Mr. Burns to decide to go get a medical check up in the Mayo Clinic. He decides to get Homer Simpson to housesit and the Simpsons immediately get comfortable, Homer especially. Homer feels entitled and Marge keeps trying to remind him that he will have to give it up when Burns returns. Homer decides to have a one big bash to cap things off and is inspired to take Burns' yacht to international waters for a daydrinking party catered by Moe. However, the yacht is stolen by pirates. Burns' forgives Homer pretty easily and Homer returns home, upset to return to his life of financial mediocraty.

Another episode written by Swartzwelder and I feel like I was a bit hard on his last few but this one is one of the stronger ones of the season (my favourite is yet to come and might be a controversial choice. Or maybe not. Anyway, I like it.) But this one is one of Swartzwelder's stronger outings as of late and I think it is interesting that it is one that seems to be both embracing his personal libertarian philosophies and pushing against it. See, it mocks Homer for feeling entitled to a wealth he never earned but also mocking Homer's hubris for thinking his wealth will protect him in a world with no rules, as it turns out a rule-less world isn't a kind one. But maybe looking back, the latter is actually something that is common to a lot of these later stories: romanticizing being free of laws and putting on airs of freedom until it turns on you.

Unlike Bart Carny and Take My Wife, Sleaze, HOMER is the "lowlife" in this episode, recklessly taking full advantage of Burns' goodwill. Those other episodes have Homer admiring people who have "freer" lives than him, romanticizing their lives when all they want is what he has. Homer is not appreciative of what he has. But the script is flipped here, Homer is now the mooch and the parasite while Marge is trying to be responsible. Even in the end, Homer learns very little and he feels like he deserves Burns' life based on nothing at all. Of course, Burns also doesn't deserve Burns' life but the episode is mostly downplaying Burns' evil in favour of medical old man gags.

But the last act ties into the other side of Swartzwelder's pet themes of this era, discovering that freedom from the rules means freedom from certain protections. Homer isn't in trouble when he's causing havoc in the Burns manor but instead when he wants even more freedom and creates a mini-"paradise" of lawlessness with monkey knife fights. Then he discovers that at the end of the day, he's completely vulnerable to people who can just take. Of course, the episode, being a later one and a Swartzwelder one, is much more invested in a gag-fest and that's what it is. And a solidly one at that. But it also can't help containing some ideas about Homer wanting and feeling like he belongs in a certain lifestyle that he really doesn't.

Other great jokes:



My favourite bit is him passing to absolutely no one. Unfortunately, this cuts out Chapman's attempt to save Huey Long.

"Who's that fellow who always screws up and creates havoc?"
"Homer Simpson, sir?"
"Yes. The way I figure it, he's due for a good performance."

"Social security number: naught naught naught naught naught naught naught naught two. Damned Roosevelt.
Cause of parents' death? Got in my way..."










"Perhaps we should pay them a visit."
"A deadly visit?"
"Let's just play it by ear."

"They got my bus pass. THEY GOT MY BUS PASS!"

"Aw, we're going to die and I didn't taste cantaloupe."
"You ain't missin' much. Honeydew is the money melon."
Good line but I think I disagree, That said, if you have bad versions of either, I completely get turning on them. Sometimes they seem proper fresh but are flavourless.

"Furious George! What have they done to you? Smithers, he's going to need most of your skin!"

Other notes:

As soon as I saw "Springfield Pride" I thought "Man, these are going to be some unfortunate gay jokes, right?" and it wasn't.

Hey, Britney Spears, who is going through a re-evalution and people pointing out society kind of did her dirty.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Interesting True Fact;

I have a little toy of Britney Spears from this episode courtesy of a blind-bag of Simpsons Guest Stars I got in a Christmas stocking.

Kind… kind of low on the list of TV Show merch I enjoy having on my toy shelf, but it’s still among it!
 

Büge

Arm Candy
(she/her)
"Aw, we're going to die and I didn't taste cantaloupe."
"You ain't missin' much. Honeydew is the money melon."
Good line but I think I disagree, That said, if you have bad versions of either, I completely get turning on them. Sometimes they seem proper fresh but are flavourless.
I understand cantaloupe is quite good sprinkled with a little salt.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Saddlesore Galactica

I love movies and shows about competitive sports and games but in real life, sports was generally something I never got into. I did do Hap Ki Do for a year but I wasn't particularly competitive, instead focusing on self improvement. I get the appeal of competition but I guess I don't have the drive to get to whatever gets you to the next level. Interestingly, my sister was... sort of the same and also not at all. She was athletic and loved sports but after a few years always left it for a new one. She liked the act of learning but was less interested in honing. She's even been to the Canada games but it seems like for her talents, she only had the drive to learn. I think to keep going takes a certain mentality and strong-headedness that I might not possess... or utilize.

In this episode, the Simpsons end up taking care of an abandoned horse, Duncan, when no one else will. In order to pay for it, they turn it into a race horse and then give it a tough attitude in order to have a winner's spirit. However, Duncan makes enemies in the racing world... the other jockeys, who turn out to be a race of subhumans. Bart and Duncan win the race anyway and the Simpsons fight against the jockeys and win.

Saddlesore Galactica is a WWWWEEEEEEIIIIIIRRRRRRRDDDDDD episode. Thematically, there is something going on between the a and b plots. The b-plot is basically about Lisa being pissed off because her school band lost a school band that didn't follow the rules to the letter and won. Meanwhile, Bart and Homer teach a horse to win by playing as dirty as possible in order for him to find his place in the racing world. But while a theme is there, this feels like an episode with extreme apathy to its themes in fair of a completely wacked out left turn in the last act.

See, narratively, it is pedestrian: that the other jockeys try to force Bart and Duncan to fall in line. The weird part is making them basically elves and brownies and making that weird ass element pretty front and center while most dips into next level unreality are for one off jokes like Leonard Nimoy teleporting away. Its a bold choice and it feels like a writing room "Hail Mary" play when something in the last act didn't work.

And... I kind of love it. Its the strongest element in the episode, yielding some real laughs from me. It comes with a complete musical number and the gags about jockey's being fairy tale creatures keep coming. Much of the episode is pretty disposable but I quote this section a lot. The musical number is one of my favourites from the show and the best in a long while (unless you count the Stretch Dude and Clobber Girl theme). Looking back, I feel like Futurama was actually better at the musical numbers overall but this one works. So basically while Little Big Mom was the one where you could quit after act one, this one you could basically skip straight to act three. You won't be missing much. I understand people finding the increased unhinging from reality as a bad thing, just as it unhinged from its emotional core but frankly, I don't mind the former and this episode's deviation is a delight.

Jokes I missed before:

OOOOOH, the horse is named Duncan... as in dunkin', because he's a diving horse.

Other great jokes:


This man has the most tragic eye.

"Play 'You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet'."
"We just did."
"Whatever."


Using this again after the boom is dropped is perfect.

"At least you don't have to feed anything I bought at the fair... well, except the mop."



I love that Marge and Homer just roll over laughing at their own fantasies.



"That's my third monocle this week, I must stop being so horrified."

"I don't know who to vote for."


"I'll deal with those murderous trolls."
"Huh?"
"I mean, I'll deal with those murderous trolls."

"Might this be the start of a terrifying planet of the horses? In this announcer's opinion, yes. And away I go."

"We'll give you gold!"

Other notes:
Fun fact: Only female horses race.

I would love drain buggers. And maybe the mop that eats? If its not picky, it could be useful.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
Realistically, I know The Simpsons had already done such crazy stuff as fighting off an army of killer amusement park animatronics with flash photography and relocating the entire town 'cuz Homer flooded it with trash. Still, "jockeys are fae" is the kinda plot twist I would expect more from a Futurama ep.

But that's really the thing, though. The Simpsons went from being one of the only (major) names in animation targeting an older audience to inspiring a lot of other cartoons and spawning a successor series of sorts set in wackier realities. It's not hard to see how going all Captain Wacky with things is The Simpsons' way of keeping the people who were moving onto stuff like South Park and Family Guy (and eventually Adult Swim) watching their show.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
I really like the laissez faire delivery from whoever's playing Clinton at the end.

"That's a pretty lousy lesson."
"Hey, I'm a pretty lousy president."
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Alone Again, Natura-Diddly

Flanders is a character who is one of the most interesting characters in the series. For much of the series, he's a good man in a hopelessly flawed world. He was given depth but at the same time, much of the show became more outsized. He's the "religious character" but in his roots, he was actually the yuppie character. His religious was similar to his financial advantages: to present him as a contrast to Homer in every way in terms of morals, good temperament and fortunate life. But things change. While they've worked to evolve the character, but the nature of the show also means a lot of characters are more broad than complex. Flanders' as a fundamentalist bully is a lot less interesting to me as the show goes on, especially after seeing a man who can smile through a lot of personal anguish. Speaking of...

In this episode, a visit to the race track ends in tragedy when Maude dies in an accident. Flanders, Rod and Todd have a hard time coping but Homer just wants to help. Months later, Homer arrives on Flanders door with a dating video and Flanders eventually takes him up on it. But each date turns out to be a nightmare and Flanders feels like he's losing his faith. However, at church, he meets a beautiful Christian singer whose words speak to him and he decides to go on.

This is one I have a lot of mixed feelings about. First off, Maude got done dirty. The fact that Maggie Roswell temporarily quit the character and is replaced with Marcia Gaven who... sounds wrong in the role. Like, super wrong. Anyway, killing her feels like sour grapes. Maybe it isn't. Maybe realizing losing the actress, the writers saw possibilities in the tragedy of the death of a major (well, minor.... well, present) character. But that brings me to my second point: having Homer accidentally responsible for her death feels a little nasty. I think there's a world were you could do that well but I think you'd need to spend AT LEAST a full episode unpacking the idea of what it means to be accidentally responsible for a death or living next to the man who indirectly caused her to die. Its... a lot and the show doesn't care. Its just a means to an end but this feels like it proves what Grimey (as he liked to be called) was trying to tell the people of Springfield: that this man is a nightmare. This is an episode that actually tries to be somewhat heartfelt so despite Homer trying to comfort his neighbor, it feels very callous and nasty.

On the other hand...

There are some very funny jokes here. Homer editing a dating tape for Ned yields some great comedy. Lots of one off lines. I like Ned's dating nightmares. Some of the FASTCAR stuff is good (the Simpsons eventually started to get too lazy with parody titles for its own good but FASTCAR is so dumb its kind of beautiful). Its not without merit as a comedy. Granted, there is a disconnect in trying to make this a "dumb but well-intentioned" Homer episode while he is very responsible for Maude's death but if one can compartmentalize that element, Homer trying to be sweet to his neighbor while also trying to excuse himself for stealing his lawn sprinkler is some good stuff.

As for the meat of the episode... its not BAD. It really wants to deal with Flanders coming to grips with a very serious loss. Maude really isn't important to the episode. Her absence is. Its about those she left behind and I have mixed feelings on that: I think there's a realism to that but it also is a bit of another disservice to the character, as the show literally says "her main character trait was that she was there." Cute meta-joke but we are also trying to take Flanders' sadness with a certain amount of weight and aside from everyone being sad, I think there are other avenues in exploring what an absence looks like. But I guess my other issues are that 1) there is a valiant attempt but season 11 Simpsons doesn't do genuine emotions as well and 2) I feel like what this episode does is at least two or three episodes worth of story. I think on a technical level, it doesn't feel unwieldy or overstuffed but instead I think the problem is Ned grieving, Ned trying to date and Ned starting to truly doubt could have more room to breathe. Granted, more masterful writing could in theory intertwine them into an emotional 23 minutes but... well, this era's strength as silly gags, sadly. I think there are still a few surprisingly potent emotional beats left in the tank but the Simpsons as a grounded show swarming with magic robots is over.

Jokes I missed before:

All this time I missed that Ned put "Flanswered" in his one man-Scrabble game.

Other great jokes:

The line delivery of "Send me to Maude" always works on me.

"You just winged him, now he's a unitarian."



"Do you even have a job anymore?"
"I think its pretty obvious that I don't,"

"There are other wipes beside star wipes."
"Why have hamburger when you can have steak?"


"The place is full of eligable bachelors: John Wayne, Tupac Shakur, Sherlock Holmes..."
"Now Sherlock Holmes is a character."
"He sure is."

I like that Marge still thinks potatoes are the best.

Other notes:
I don't understand what throwing the used dice in the acid is a reference to, assuming its not a non-sequitor.

The Rachel Jordan stuff didn't work for me. Who's Rachel Jordan? My point exactly.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Missionary: Impossible

I've been fortunate to travel a lot as a young man. When I was 7, I spent a month in Japan and when I was 12 years old I spent 10 months in Thailand. I think it really help broaden my horizons. But I don't think it was until much later that I realized my ignorance in how to properly accept cultural differences at certain points. I'm (mostly) not talking about "ugly American" stuff, but I've said, done and thought things I'm not cool with now. I think my intentions are largely good but good intention don't excuse bad takes or behaviour.

In this episode, Homer ends up making an enemy of PBS after defrauding their pledge drive and after asking Reverend Lovejoy for help, he sends him to a Microatian island as a missionary. Homer does not like being stuck in a place without TV or beer but eventually decides to dive into his work when he realizes his family is proud of him and Flanders is jealous. However, Homer's ignorance towards religion makes Homer pick another tact: introducing a casino to the island. Almost immediately, the casino ruins paradise and Homer decides to start making things right by building the chapel the previous missionaries never finished. The chapel is finished by soon the island is destroyed by an Earthquake and Homer falls, seemingly to his death. His fate is uncertain as Fox interrupts the episode for a pledge drive.

Oooh, boy. This one is a pretty racist episode. Taking place in the South Pacific in the fictional Micronesia parody Microtia, it features broad island native stereotypes. The episode is pretty knowing of this but I feel like in a move both using and somewhat adjacent (depending on the joke) "ironic" racism, it tries to lampshade it, assuming it will be cool with the joke is supposed to largely be about that. The problem with "ironic" racism is that it feels like an excuse to use stereotypes to comment but also to indulge in a way that "cheekily" allows the writers to get away with it. Homer is the ugly American but the racism doesn't just come from his ignorance but also simply the way these characters are often presented and joked about, like Qtoktok choking on a chicken bone when we assume he is using a foreign language word.

The episode is definitely on the side of the islanders and is pretty anti-missionary. Its about the idea of someone stridently coming in to another culture under the assumption they can improve it with the proper religion. Craig and Amy, the previous missionaries, casually mention ridiculing away most of islanders' beliefs and though they were digging a well, it seems that they've done very little to help. Homer, of course, is worse and tries to help in a way that makes things worse. The basic message seems to be about arrogant colonialism and assumptions of cultural superiority being an ugly thing.

But while the episode's message is one I can get behind, the way it is presented is less cool. Its unfortunate, because I feel like a common complaint in the season for me is poor exploration of a theme. In this episode, I feel like it is something that is mostly done right but it also comes packaged with unfortunate stereotypes for its made up island. It is also an episode where I remember it being funnier. There are some good jokes in the episode but it isn't just that the problems interfere with my enjoyment (and they do), but there are simply fewer great jokes than I remember. There's good jokes in the PBS segment but its actually not quite as funny as I remember. I do appreciate the full circle comedy ending that interrupts the narrative. After all, even though the story doesn't have an ending, I do feel like its kind of complete in other ways, for better AND worse.

Jokes I missed before:

The Pink Floyd reference in the toad licking scene.

Other great jokes:

"The mother's the voice of reason."

"Not hard to see why it's England's longest running series and today we're showing all 11 episodes."


"Yeah, its a real ghost town in there."

"I don't even believe in Jebus."

"First of all, forget everything you learned in missionary school."
"...done."

"Are you enjoying your ox testicle?"
"Yes, very much so."
"Are you sure you wouldn't rather have a coconut? They're delicious."
"No, I'm good."

"How can ace be one and eleven? What kind of God would allow that?"

"Well, I may not know much about God but I have to say we built a pretty nice cage for him."

Other notes:

Other racist joke is giving Yo-Yo Ma a stereotypical "Asian" way of speaking.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Pygmoelion

I've never been happy with my looks. I don't think I look "ugly" but I don't think I look "handsome". On rare occasions I have been complimented on my looks (mostly by students) that makes me feel good but when I look in the mirror, I mostly just see the flaws. I feel a little better now that I've lost around 60 pounds but regardless, I'm not terribly confidant in myself all around. I'm sure its not uncommon feeling, not unlike not liking the sound of one's own voice (I also don't like that, either). Frankly, I don't know if it matters that I am "handsome" so much as I wish I knew people liked what I look like.

In this episode, Moe wins a bartending contest and the prize is his face on a calendar. Unfortunately, when Moe gets the calendar, he finds a sticker on his face, covering up his ugly visage. Sensitive about his looks, Moe decides to get plastic surgery. The surgery is successful and Moe finds himself incredibly handsome for the first time. He decides to get revenge on the people who wronged him which leads him to a soap opera producer who called him ugly. Moe arrives only to get cast in a key role and ends up becoming popular and following his long held acting dream. Moe is happy until he reads that he's getting killed off and decides to spoil a years worth of stories. Moe is kicked out but not before learning the death was merely a dream sequence. An accident returns Moe's face to normal and he returns to his old life.

I won't go as far as to say Pygmoelion isn't about anything but it feels "about something-lite". The gags are paramount, though we are given a lot of sympathy to Moe in the episode. That's what I like about a lot of Moe episodes, that while he's in many ways pretty scummy, Hank Azaria and the writers can do a good job at making him somewhat sympathetic when they want to and his deep sadness can strengthen an episode. I think it helps here, in an episode that is light on insight in what it means to be "handsome" and "ugly".

Not that there isn't none. Carl talks about "look good outside/unhappy inside" but that's not what we see here. What is inside is a lifetime of bitterness from Moe, which ends up poisoning his dream job (and ironically lands him the job in the first place. Moe is moved to like what he sees in the mirror but right after, he's eager to rub it in the faces of those who wronged him. It can be an understandable instinct but living well is the best revenge and there's every indication that, at least for a while, Moe could have lived well thanks to the confidence and popularity of his looks. So it isn't the deepest episode but at least there is some character insight into Moe's tragic flaw that goes beyond his looks and even his gruff demeanor; that he's still living with a lot of vitriol in his heart that causes him to burn some bridges when he could have been using the opportunity to move to a new job.

Overall, Pygmoelion lacks depth but it is funny and after two episodes that have made some critical errors, it is nice to see an episode that where the mistakes are much more small scale by comparison. The strongest element in the episode, aside from Moe's sadness at his looks and occasional joy (again, Azaria and the writers do well with this) is definitely the soap opera itself. Its wonderfully ridiculous and strangely not far off from what soap operas were in the 80s and 90s. Aliens, demonic possession and all sorts of weird crap wasn't uncommon, to the point where eventually one writer famous for adding all that stuff in soaps went onto make "Passions" a show full of witches and dolls come to life. What little we get is hilarious and while the Simpsons had often done some great soap jokes before, there's lots of comedic value to be wrung from the show on the Simpsons "It Never Ends". Frankly, its my favourite part of a perfectly cromulent episode.

Other great jokes:

"Now, fresh from his appearance before the house subcommittee on teenage alcoholism... DUFFMAN!"

"Duff Beer is brewed from hops, barely and sparkling clear mountain... what?"
"Goat!"
"Uh... close enough."

I love that Milhouse's dad is just pushing a laundry cart... where to exactly?

This is more for the first bit of this...

"I died on the operating table, didn't I?"
"Yeah, but only for a minute. Its a funny story, I'll tell you about it sometime."

"Oh, shut up you windy old hack."
"And that's another thing, you have to stop calling me that."


"with Gabriella DeFarge as Gabriella St. Farge
Allegra Hamilton as Sister Bernadette and Roxy Monoxide..."

"Cleo, Cleo, you've brought music to my heart, but this relationship can never work. I'm a doctor and you're a 5,000 year old mummy I brought back to life."
"But I love you, Tad, and together we can burn all the cities of the Earth."
"It's against hospital regulations, dammit. And Clive Dancer's just waiting for me to slip up."


"As a child I was bitten by the acting bug. Then it burrowed under my skin and laid eggs in my heart. Now those eggs are hatching and the feeling is indescribable."
"Yeah, I know what you mean. Our dog has that."

"Then I get in a sky diving accident and have to be rushed to the... graveyard!?"



"... And only then do we discover Prof. Galloway's half-sister is plotting to take over International Perfume and Wine."


Other notes:

Oh, and there's a subplot about Maggie's balloon. Yep. It sure is in the episode.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
Today I found forum posts from twenty years ago complaining about a running gag that I hadn't even realized was a running gag! Behold, Homer's pennants:













These are all from seasons 10 through 13! I've just never noticed how often they went back to this well before (possibly because the joke isn't very good).
 
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