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

yama

the room is full of ghosts
"It's like Speed 2, but with a bus instead of a boat!"
So it's like the Bus That Couldn't Slow Down?
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Simpson Safari

I've been fortunate to do a lot of travelling in my youth. My father was a university professor who also did consulting in the field of forestry, which took us to countries like Japan, Australia and Thailand. I have travelled to other countries for work myself but I certainly don't travel as much as I used to. There are so many places I would love to go and one of my favourite things about travelling to other countries (ESPECIALLY Australia) was having the chance to see different animals and landscapes that I wouldn't get to see otherwise. The fact that there are so many places I will never have the opportunity to see before I die bums me out. I wish I could vacation in as many places as low-income family the Simpsons.

In this episode, the Simpsons discover an old box of animal crackers in their house that had a winning token for the grand prize: a trip to Africa. The parent company honors the contest and he Simpsons take a trip to Tanzania. While there, they take in the sights and after an evening with a Maasai tribe, ending up feeling from a hippo and getting lost in the wilds. Eventually, they are rescued by chimp researcher Joan Bushwell and help her fight off what the Simpsons assume are poachers... but who turns out to be Greenpeace. They reveal Bushwell, has been exploiting chimps in her diamond mine. She ends up buying off the Simpsons with diamonds for silence and the Simpsons fly off richer.

Going in, I was worried. How poorly has this thing aged in terms of representing Africa? The answer is... somewhat. But maybe less than you think? But still somewhat. So on the plus side, despite the fact that Homer only speaks of Africa, the creators decided to keep a level of specificity, setting the story in Tanzania and a little bit in the neighboring country of Zambia. Apparently, the represent the Maasai tribe the Simpsons accurately... except for the practice of lip-discing and neck-ringing, which they do not have. But there are some more jokes using the natives as archetypes rather than characters (witch doctor worrying about the Simpsons, the menacing indigenous people actually being very friendly and nice). I'm also not sure the Simpsons is the show equipped for satire of Africa's problem with dictators, though its pretty surface level dumb gags.

Where the show really shines is when it gets away from doing cultural specific (and cultural vague) gags and instead just gets zany with its intentionally inaccurate portrayal of nature, where the silliness of writer John Swartzwelder is at its strongest. The bagboy strike in the first act also has some great gags and the last act has some legit great jokes. I know @Lokii has mentioned being really put out making the Jane Goodall analogue a villain but this never really bothers me, mostly because this doesn't feel like a take down or even intended disrespect so much as the writers enjoying a weird "what if". Mostly, I feel like its... fine, with most of the best jokes being about some chimp (or monkey, according to Homer) hi-jinx and dumb action movie logic.

The episode is far from perfect in a lot of respect but to a certain respect, I do feel like there is a conscience effort to be a little less shitty than a lot of the "Simpsons are going to _____" episodes. The problem with them often is that as Matt Groening said, there is an intended misrepresentation of whatever country they are in based on a distinctly American view of said location. I believe he said something akin to "it might as well be The Simpsons are going to Mars". Its often knowing misrepresentation, with shorthand being used for joke set ups. But even when sometimes the jokes are meant to mock the American viewpoint, it can utilize ironic racism, which is usually just racism in a veneer of "we don't REALLY think this, right?" I don't think Simpsons does it in the "quantum state" of South Park or the Internet or Family Guy where is seems like it is trying to impress people who agree racism is dumb (but like racist jokes) and also straight up racists. But even in trying to subvert, the show is no stranger to falling into the same trap. I love the Simpsons but growing up means admitting there are stories the show's predominantly (though not exclusively) white boomer writing staff is prepared to handle. Still, Simpson Safari somewhat better in this respect and has some classics Swartzwelderisms.

Jokes I missed before:

When Homer sings in mock Swahili (sigh) it starts to turn into part of "Good Morning Sunshine".

Other great jokes:

"My doctor says and my garage mechanic agrees."

"I don't know if it matters, but it was a Time Magazine. Does that matter?"
Me, at the doctor, giving useless details.

"Sir, please, I've already bagged it by color and each items discovery by man."

"No bagboys are going to stop Lenny from hosting a casual get-together."


"Boy, I can taste that get-together now..."

"Homer, did you tip Kitenge?"
"No, he did not."

"Hippos hate water."


"Being eaten by a crocodile is just like going to sleep... in a giant blender."

"You think they settled that bagboy strike yet?"

"Wow, Dad, how did you do that?"
"It's a flower."

"Hey, maybe he'll lead us to bananas."
"Or more mouthwatering monkeys."

"And I love your sensible ponytail."
"Thank you. See, Jojo? SHE likes it."

"What is it, Pointy?"

"Somebody light this monkey!"

"She's one of the ten richest chimp researchers in the world."

I love the cinematic "Diamonds" moment and undercutting it with the reveal that most of the Simpsons happily accepted her offer.

Other notes:

Apparently, Dana Gould was so impressed with Homer being appeased with a rubber stick, he had to ask Swartzwelder how he came up with it. This is where Swartzwelder admitted he wrote Dog Homer (though there's still some jerkass Homer in there).

Its weird we live in a time were evil has co-opted red baseball caps, Mac Tonight and the number 88.

The foley is weird on the giant acid-spewing spider. Why does is sound like it needs to be oiled?"

I love how without bagboys, people are apparently unable to USE BAGS.

Worth noting: that one video above has a moment where Kitenge sings a song in Swahili. On Disney Plus there isn't a translation while it seems in some reruns there are for what is apparently a real song of protest. I don't have much of substance to say, save I wish they kept the translation.

I feel the ending could be seen as a commentary on Americans choosing personal comfort over taking a moral stance over his fellow man (or chimp). So there's that.
 

Lokii

It's always time for burgers
(He/Him)
Staff member
Moderator
know @Lokii has mentioned being really put out making the Jane Goodall analogue a villain

Yeah, this was the episode that I decided the show wasn't for me anymore. I already had a bad taste in my mouth with kooky plot and a series of jokes that were too silly to land, but the show deciding to turn it's satirical aim on Goodall for basically no reason other than they had written themselves into a corner struck me as beyond crass. That was twenty years ding-dong years ago though, maybe if I revisited it now it wouldn't chafe like it did back then, but I've never really felt the desire to re-evaluate.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Meanwhile in the future

Season 22 is on a real upswing for the shows overall quality; it’s got a marked decrease in the overall meanspiritedness of the past dozen years of the show, and jokes that are solid enough that I’m laughing more often than not.

It’s going more for wacky hijinks more often than emotions, but I don’t really mind that; they’re playing to their obvious strengths this way.

That being said, the Christmas episode ended with a joke about Moe accidentally performing cunnilingus on a live action Special Guest Star Katty Perry which… sets a really weird-ass tone.
 

yama

the room is full of ghosts
"When Homer sings in mock Swahili (sigh) it starts to turn into part of "Good Morning Sunshine".
Fun fact: the song he sings along to is by a musician from Benin, about 6000 kilometers away. I want to say the song is in Yoruba. I've heard her play live once but she didn't sing that specific song.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Trilogy of Error

I love it when a show has a gimmick episode. The problem is, a lot of the gimmick episodes lack a sense of uniqueness. Musical episodes, time loop episodes, different point of view episodes. It feels like the point of a gimmick episode is to play with the format and some still do but I feel like a lot of shows are overly satisfied with just doing the thing. But with some cleverness, even the heavily used formats for a gimmick can feel unique. And when a show has gone as long as the Simpsons, if never hurts to mess with the formula to shake things up.

In this episode, we see the same day through three perspectives. Through Homer's, we see him losing his thumb in an accident and getting increasingly desperate to get it re-attached before its too late. Through Lisa's, we see her trying to get to school on time to get her "grammar robot", Linguo, to the school science fair. Through Bart's, we see he and Milhouse stumbling onto a stash of fireworks, only to get in trouble with the mob. The day culminates in all stories coming together, with Homer getting his thumb re-attached by Fat Tony's henchman Legs, a former mob doctor, for Lisa's science fair.

The episode ends with Mr. Teeny screaming (in chimp talk) that the episode made no sense. And this is somewhat true. There's a lot that really doesn't make sense. Why is Martin mocking Lisa about losing first place when the science fair seems completely confined within Ms. Hoover's class? How did Homer get to the scene of the falling action so fast? And... actually, those are seriously the only thing that concerns me. I guess maybe Linguo being sentient for a gag but whatever. But the episode, which probably mapped out carefully by the writers almost certainly has a lot of things that don't work out if you map them out. The thing is, that's OK. Plot holes are fine if you can cover them up or distract from them properly. That's part of the game of writing. Otherwise, you are just writing to appease Cinema Sins and NO ONE WANTS THAT. A plot hole is NOT a sin. Its just a thing that exists in storytelling and you can handle it well or poorly.

And this episode... is actually pretty strong to me. I wouldn't put it among the funniest but its got some good lines. But more than that, its an episode that is clearly having fun with its gimmick. I feel like it could only get SO ambitious, with the writers trying to get their ducks in a row and laying joke seeds that will pay off as we backtrack a scene through other characters stories. Those scenes usually don't harvest HUGE laughs but they make for a fun experience while watching and that counts for a lot. Its a very fun episode. And it also feels lean. That's weird for the show. Often in this era, the show can flabby and underdeveloped. There aren't a lot of greater themes in this one (save for the obvious one in all stories that tell tales through multiple perspectives, how lives intersect), more of a fun structure for the show to play in.

I will also say, I've been complaining a lot about Homer being mutilated but it actually doesn't bother me here. That's because most of the time, its been working on Itchy and Scratchy logic where Homer can survive any injury and here the characters are VERY concerned with Homer's injury. Its what a third of the episode is about. True by next week he may as well never had the injury but he does care in this episode. Compared to the time a badger took his tummy flesh, this has... weight sounds like it is something emotional but it does matter. I do also appreciate that some of the directly connected moments often work as jokes on their own before the scene expands, like Chief Wiggum seeming to accidentally get some informants killed, and for us to learn the informants are Bart and Milhouse. So maybe there are things that don't "make sense" in the episode. But it holds up well enough that it doesn't all have to. Its just fiction, and as long as it "feels" like a solidly built house, it is.

Other great jokes:

"Say Dad, wanna go see my project for the school science fair?"
"No Lisa *wink* But it sure beats eating this crappy breakfast *wink*"

"You'll burn for this. Burn in jail!"

"Inflammable mean flammable? What a country."
Got to agree with Dr. Yakov here.

"Oh my God, its 11:15. We've been spinning for hours."

"Is it a dead body?"
"Its cooler than a million dead bodies!"

"Wow, sacks! BURLAP sacks!"
Nancy Cartwright REALLY sells Bart's excitement here.

"Hey, Chief, can I hold my gun sideways. It looks so cool."
"Hehehe, sure. Whatever you want, birthday boy."

"Hootie and the Blowfish?"
"Yeah, its cheaper than blank tape."
Usually, this kind of pop culture takedown doesn't work for me but something about it hit me in the right way.

Other notes:
Mueslix/Juicelix feels like the show really losing the difference between ironically dumb humor or just dumb humour.

As an ESL teacher, my feeling is that Lisa's grammar robot isn't taking into account that different dialects have different rules and at best is low key classist.

We are getting into an era of empty parody, though. The Run, Lola, Run element is limited to a sound cue, despite the fact that I kind of remember the internet telling us this episode would be a Run, Lola, Run parody. According to wikipedia, this is actually more similar to Go, a movie I've never seen. It any good?

Via wikipedia
In the original draft, the second act would have portrayed Lisa traveling on the short school bus and meeting children with amusing disabilities, but it was deemed "too radical" at the time
And also shitty. Like, SOOOO shitty.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Muniz seems like good people. He went into racecar driving, music and finally olive oil. Also, he has had sever concussions so he literally can't remember a lot of working on Malcolm in the Middle and Bryan Cranston actually has called him from time to time to remind him of the times they shared on set.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I'm Goin' to Praiseland

The last time I went to an amusement park was somewhere in Korea, but I can't remember exactly where (near Busan, maybe?). It was one that was both a bit chintzy but also pleasant. Some decent rides but there was a somewhat dirty veneer. Not a sleazy or skeevy one, but simply very weathered and lived in. But in my mid-30s, the fun of the rides isn't nearly as appealing as the people I spent time with. Amusement Parks are kind of beautifully weird to me, maybe life in microcosm: a desire to escape into a world that makes our fantasies come true but no matter how good it is, its easy to see the cracks beneath the surface. And those cracks can be charming or damning or maybe a bit of both. Its a beautiful thing to want to make dreams come true but the beauty is lessened a bit by monetizing it.

In this episode, Flanders tries to prove to Rachel, a woman he has a crush on, that he's over Maude only to scare her off. Realizing he needs help getting over Maude's death, Ned asks the Simpsons to help clean house on reminders of Maude. The Simpsons leave little behind save for an old sketch book that reviews Maude was dreaming of creating a Christian amusement park. Ned is inspired to make her dream come true with hard work and help from the Simpsons and the community. Finally the park, Praiseland, opens with rides, concessions and games but despite initial community support, people are turned off by the bland, preachy park. Just when everyone is about to leave, a novelty Maude mask begins floating and Skinner has a vision, convincing everyone in town there's a miracle afoot. However, Flanders eventually learns that what people are experiencing is actually a gas leak and Ned and Homer end up tackling sickly orphans to prevent them from accidentally igniting it. Praiseland is financially and reputationally ruined and closes. Flanders meets Rachel again who helps him make a major move to getting over Maude.

I'm Goin' to Praiseland is sort of a mid-tier episode in terms of comedy but I actually like it a fair bit simply because I actually feel like there is a lot going on here. Flanders is still in the throws of Flanderization but MOST of these worse elements are missing. Less impressive is him acting like a real Hitchcock-inspired creep (as in both Psycho and Vertigo), to the point were its attempt to make Flanders look much more like a creep than intended and kind of hurts the character's sweet likability, which the episode is banking on. But I actually feel the episode is about two interesting things that dovetail well together within the narrative and on a structural level its very neat, even if on a comedic level it's a B/B-.

The first element is about Flanders' sad inability to move on. It causes him to act like a creep in front of Rachel which, again, also goes beyond "quirk" and more "Jeez, why did Rachel return at the end of the episode from this nightmare?" His passion for her remains and his desire to honor her causes him to put his heart and soul into a project to honor her... and it all goes wrong. The project was doomed because while everyone involved seems moved by Ned's passion, the actual place created isn't really for anyone but Ned, making it akin to a weird vanity project. I mean, he has creepy Maude masks, intentionally flavourless foods and weird games no one can really play. He wanted to share Maude with the world but instead turned his mania into a debacle that eventually disgraces her memory and values and by that point, that's when Ned finally is ready to move on from her.

The other feels like it is about the nature of an amusement park, a world that is supposed to be a sort of magical, fun escape. Flanders isn't like Krusty, trying to monetize people's desires, he genuinely wants to make a wonderful world that people can share and accept the values of. But people can't share his vision of what an amusement park is, which alienates people who are looking for real fun. That's when the park does what all parks are supposed to aim for: create a fantasy escape. Problem is that as Flanders monetizes it, even if its for a good cause, it turns out to be literally toxic, hurting people with its vision of heaven. I feel like its a pretty well-constructed take on amusement park in general. In the end, the Praiseland episode is just OK but I respect a lot about what it wants to say and do and that it is actually a pretty lean, focused episode with character and a tiny bit of heart. But also Ned being a creep. C'mon, Ned.

Jokes I missed before:
This episode's Frink's Jerry Lewis-like mumbling included "Ivan Reitman"

Other great jokes:

"Aw, a white shaking a black hand."
This feels like the first draft of Green Book. Its perfect "middle aged white woman's idea of race relations."



"Halt! Who dares to disturb King David!"
"..."
"SILENCE!"
Shame the ride doesn't include the part where he collected a bunch of foreskins or that time he sent a man to his death in war so he could bone his wife.

"I've never been so close to rubbing my eyes in disbelief. Oh, what the heck."


"For me, this is Hell."

"Hello, gas company? How poisonous is your gas? Wow. But I'm talking about outdoors with plenty of ventilation... How could that be worse? OK, permanent brain damage or just temporary?"

"Praiseland has touched and entire town with its inspiring message and toxic super freakouts."

Other notes:

I just noticed that a recurring thing is Homer trying to be a voyeur who seems more into the moral investment than actually getting off conventionally. Its... something, that's for sure.

Making Rachel a thing clearly didn't work and I'm glad they didn't keep trying. Its a long road to get there, but I actually think Flanders/Krabappel worked a LOT better, especially since they dealt with conflicting values surprisingly well.

I'd go to a bemusement park. Its an underrated sensation.
 

Juno

The DRKest Roe
(He, Him)
"Halt! Who dares to disturb King David!"
"..."
"SILENCE!"
Shame the ride doesn't include the part where he collected a bunch of foreskins or that time he sent a man to his death in war so he could bone his wife.
He had already boned his wife, he sent him to die because she got pregnant and he wanted to marry her to hide the infidelity.
 

MetManMas

Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
Well modern Christianity is all about sanding over or ignoring the parts of that might be inconvenient or controversial and using or twisting the words to promote hate crimes and other horrible bullshit and making money off of peoples' fear of going to Hell that you put in them to ensure they attend church every week so I'm not surprised an amusement park would gloss over some of the horrible things that King David has done.
 
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Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
BTW, if you want a great take on King David, Kyle Baker's comic King David is a great one, which has it as a tragic arc (which I'll generously assume was the message in his story) as the hero becomes a hypocrite... and also features some very Looney Tunes/Jay Ward style humour.
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Meanwhile in the future

Season 22 is on a real upswing for the shows overall quality; it’s got a marked decrease in the overall meanspiritedness of the past dozen years of the show, and jokes that are solid enough that I’m laughing more often than not.

It’s going more for wacky hijinks more often than emotions, but I don’t really mind that; they’re playing to their obvious strengths this way.

That being said, the Christmas episode ended with a joke about Moe accidentally performing cunnilingus on a live action Special Guest Star Katty Perry which… sets a really weird-ass tone.

Just watched the episode where Moe turns the tavern into a gay bar.

Umm…

Compliments rescinded.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Children of a Lesser Clod

My career began primarily in ESL work but over time its transitioned into childcare. It kind of began when I was teaching in China and the students were largely children aged 3-5. When I came back to Canada, I began acting as a nanny for my sister, taking care of my niece and then my nephew. It really is rewarding work and though I've made mistakes, I still get showered in love by the two. I try to stay pretty close to my sister's wishes, especially since my niece's condition requires a higher level of discipline than most. But sometimes I do thing my own way. And so do the kid's grandparents when they are over. And with them, I find myself being a little judgey, particularly when it comes to what my Dad lets them watch (weird youtube videos for kids that also feel slightly sketchy. Why does your kids video feature audio clips from South Park and Troll 2?) But I also can appreciate a laissez-faire attitude to a certain extent. Especially from people who aren't the kids parents. There might be a bit of spoilage but it also means perhaps a bit more freedom that in small amounts make for some fun life experience.

In this episode, Homer blows out his knee in a basketball game and needs to stay in a wheelchair for two weeks and pay an expensive hospital bill. Sick of feeling cooped up, Homer discovers a love of childcare when he spends an evening looking after Rod and Todd. Homer starts a daycare and the kids love his anything goes attitude, making him extremely popular. Less enthused are Bart and Lisa who not only feel neglected but notice Homer is lavishing an affection they never laid on them. The rift keeps building and when Homer ends up awarded at the "good guys" awards, Bart and Lisa decide to reveal Homer's dark side to the world. Homer has a breakdown and tries to kidnap "his" kids until he's arrested. Weeks later, Homer returns and he and the kids make peace.

Children of a Lesser Clod is an Al Jean episode and like a lot of Al Jean episodes in the era, I feel this one is kind of a mixed bag. On the downside, more "ironic" racism than I'd like with jokes about stereotypical "black guy" behaviour and Grandpa misnaming a "Chinese friend". The show at this point also is more likely to make Homer's bad behaviour a bit too much beyond simply wacky but apart from a few quick jokes about his shitty parenting, it isn't bad by the usual standards. I don't even mind Homer kidnapping a bunch of kids, since I feel that the tone of how it plays out works well for the episode. And being an Al Jean episode, while there aren't as many pop culture references as usual, there is a lot of humour about the artifice and absurdity of the media, particularly via an awards show and a televised police chase. But that's not actually a complaint this episode, since they both have some of my favourite gags.

But as someone who watches kids and is currently looking for work in that field, it is an episode that mostly speaks to me. I think it is an episode that explores a bit of the phenomena about how parents act differently with other people's kids and/or what kind of people kids would get attached to. Despite his bad behaviour and maybe somewhat because of it, I definitely buy Homer as a kind of person whom kids would gravitate towards. There's the part where he seems to let them do what he wants but even beyond that is a mentality. Its not even simply that Homer is like a big kid, though that helps. Its also that he has an energy he brings that screams fun for them. And I think the core of the episode is a pretty great idea that Homer might be more invested other kids than his own, as he might see his own as a responsibility and see his work as a calling.

Overall, though, its merely an OK episode. I like what it explores but it neither comes to any big conclusions nor asks any follow up questions about the nature of parents and their kids. Instead, its another wild scheme to return to the status quo. I'm actually surprised they didn't go into the rabbit hole they are circling; in this episode, Homer takes his kids for granted because they probably take him for granted, which they probably do because he's often a reckless parent in a way that's less fun for his own kids. But the last act, despite lacking in the storytelling department, probably has pound for pound my favourite jokes of the episode, including a great prolonged Arnie Pye bit. Meanwhile the second act is a little less funny but I think it does a great job showing Homer with the kids and really selling Homer a being beloved by the kids. The episode isn't the best but there's some good stuff going on here and it feels a little less self-indulgent than some of the other Jean episodes.

Other great jokes:

"Now Homer, you'll have a full recovery from your spinal cord injury?"
"What spinal cord injury?"
"Oh, he fell off the gurney."

"You shouldn't have ordered all those hospital haircuts and porno films."



Barney asking Marge to make him some Jello is classic kids stuff.



"So what's in the news? Oh, right, the bus disaster. Very sad."


I like this minor detail and I'm not sure why.



"I can see them right below me. I'm going to try to hit the driver with one of my shoes."
"Arnie, please, leave this to the police."
"I'm sick of being a reporter, I wanna make the news."
"Arnie, this is not the time."
"YOU'RE NOT THE TIME, KENT! YOU'RE NOT THE TIME!"

I love Arnie's extreme venom towards Kent at the end here.

Other notes:

Lugosch makes his first appearance here but he won't be much funnier until he teaches Lisa gymnastics.

I don't know what the original line was to be but that Moon was clearly mouthing different words that what it actually said.

Man, Bill Cosby impressions used to be fun.
 

Ghost from Spelunker

BAG
(They/Him)
The Arnie Pie vs Kent stuff is always Simpsons gold.
"Yours would be black, Kent. Black as the ace of spades!"

As for the moon, the closed captions on TV read "Crateriffic." Every once in a while the captions had different jokes for seasons 11-12 or so.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Simpsons Tall Tales

I was always a kid who loved fantasy and didn't really care for period pieces. Fantasy felt like another world while period stories felt more like reality but less interesting. I think as I grew up, I appreciated that the past is another world and more than that, depictions of the past are often fantasies unto themselves. Heck, the past as fantasy is a lot of fun, as it appears in shows like Over the Garden Wall but even grounded shows like Deadwood are intentionally inaccurate for the sake of storytelling. To a certain extent all storytelling is "fantasy" in that its a bunch of stuff that didn't happen and when it is, it is impossible to make something wholly accurate. The artifice of story and our inability to know the whole of the truth makes that impossible.

In this episode, the Simpsons decide to take a vacation to Delaware and end having to ride the rails to get there. While there, they meet a hobo who tells them three tall tales of old timey Americana. First, he tells the tale of Paul Bunyan, the giant lumberjack. When Paul becomes too destructive, he's exiled and makes Babe, a big blue ox, and gets a wife before he saves his town from a meteor strike. Then we hear the tale of Connie Appleseed, who plants apple trees for a renewable food source while her family purges the land of buffalo. Finally, we hear the LAST tale of Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn as they ride the Mississippi in an effort to escape vengeful townsfolk.

Overall, Simpsons Tall Tales is a perfectly watchable episode of Simpsons nonsense. It never rises above a few scattered laughs but the parodies aren't as eye-rolling as the show would become. The framing device has a few laughs and uses the more archaic hobo archetype from the era when it was about the romance of freedom from society. The other interesting thing is that this was intended to be a guest roll for Jim Carrey, which makes sense for more than one of the character's bit on the show. I'm not a particularly big Carrey fan but I would definitely would have liked to see what he was going to do with it. That said Hank Azaria does one bit with the character as well as Carrey would have done when he plays a hobo playing to hobos who start making out.

The first story is definitely my favourite of the episode. Its a pretty straightforward parody and doesn't do a lot to subvert the icon but simply adds a few more goofy gags and a couple of meta-jokes. It feels very much in the tone of the old tales save that some of the jokes feel more overtly Simpsons. I will say there is a touch of genuine sweetness to giant Homer romancing Marge to the point where a lot of those moments feel like they could have been from the old tale.

The second one is decent, with the best recurring gag being the fact that buffalo are ridiculously easy to kill. As for the rest of it, its decent enough and it makes sense to make it an ecological tale. Apparently, the real John Chapman did play an important role in early conservation and the Simpsons being the show it is of course would focus on that. But apart from that, I don't think there's anything that strikes me about this one in particular comedically.

The last story is one I remember liking more at the time and it still has some good stuff but I enjoyed it a little less this time. I think I liked more what the writers seemed to like, playing with the old turns of phrase in the old days, which is mocked but also gives a personality to the endeavor. As an adaptation, it merely takes scraps from classic moments in the stories to throw together a string of jokes and references. I feel like the joke that the segment ends on is pretty good, too.

Other great jokes:

"Oh, I'm not a stabbin' hobo, I'm a singin' hobo.

Nothin' beats the hobo life

Stabbin' people with my hobo knife

I gouge them he--♫​






"I mean one minute he's ten feet tall, the next his foot's as big as a lake."



"God sent has sent this fiery kill-rock to show us his love."

"They dun switched the groom with a pig."
"No wonder he was poopin' so much."





Other notes:

I like the re-using the dialogue from the last season finale in this one (though I remember it being the same animation, which it isn't. Its not even the same setting).

Could do without Moe having a giant roofie joke.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Treehouse of Horror XII

One of the most unpleasant parts of maturing is trying to contend with the person you once were. Dealing with the fact that while you are not a bad person (I imagine) that you might have, like I have, to some hurtful cultural baggage due to jokes you might have considered relatively harmles at the time. I must confess one of my go-to lines is a reference to the Simpsons where Carl refers to a Romani curse. I don't think beating myself up will do good but reminding myself of what I said and why it was wrong can hopefully help myself do better. Its one thing to say "nothing should be off limits in comedy" but as I grow older I understand that even if this true, what good does it actually do to use hurtful language in the grand scheme of things?

In this episode, three more stories of Halloween. First, Homer angers a... Romani fortune teller, who curses Homer so that his loved ones suffer death and strange happenstance. Homer tries to defeat the curse with the help of a leprechaun and sort of does... by making it and the fortune teller a couple. In the second story, the Simpsons get a new Ultra House, only to discover it has designs on Marge. The Simpsons eventually defeat the house and gift it to Patty and Selma, as a fate worse than death. In the last story, the Simpsons kids go to a wizard school where Lisa is the most powerful and Bart can barely do anything. In a bid to humiliate his sister, Bart allies himself with a dark wizard but when things go south ends up saving her.

Its interesting that each story is either problematic or problematic adjacent. The first story is not a parody of any particular story but is deeply tied to the unfortunate trope of a... Romani person who curses people because... let's face it, diving into the reasoning is just going to get ugly. It ain't good. This episode isn't particularly strong but the constant use of a slur makes it a very cringe inducing watch and that's pretty unfortunate. Look, I can still like problematic stuff. I like Drag Me to Hell, a fun, over-the-top horror flick with the exact same problematic element. I can acknowledge it and still get enjoyment from it. So when something like this is only competent AND keeps throwing its G-word in your face, it certainly hurts something I already didn't think much of.

The second story, while using some visuals from 2001, is more akin to the sci-fi horror film The Demon Seed. Its not as well known but its a kind of interesting film about an artificial intelligence plotting to become "free" by impregnating a woman against her will with... itself. Its not a bad little film overall, though despite its pulpy nature, its not exactly a premise that leads itself to comedy.

(Note: the trailer isn't graphic but it definitely leans into the more sensational part of the plot)

So this episode definitely gets rid of the sexual assault/impregnation angle but man, in these times, even a story about Marge being stalked by her own house is a little nasty. Obviously, they are going for the kind of thing they even sold to kids back in the day with Pepe le Peu* but creepsterism on women, even in a fantastic and wacky context, just doesn't feel AS fun to me anymore. I mean, its certainly not as unpleasantly done as a lot of the anime I've watched, even recently, but yeah, it has problems. But all around, I think this one still works better than the last and has the advantage of a very game performance by Pierce Brosnan. When I was growing up, he was the James Bond people were all "meh" about but I think people have really come around on him and I'm glad. I think people are finally really starting to take advantage of his comedic chops.

The last story is a Harry Potter parody, striking while the iron was hot. Simpsons would do this a lot but I found their later choices confounding. Chronicle? Split? There are so many better targets, even in the modern age of the time. Harry Potter makes a lot of sense and the episode actually does the smart thing and despite a moment with the character of Harry Potter for a Richie Rich-level gag, its less interested in hitting plot points (unlike the Stranger Things parody or that terrible Russian Doll parody) and more using the premise as a launching pad for gags. OK, so it is only a mediocre episode in the end but at least it had the right approach, even if the gags themselves didn't work. Its weird seeing what were once cultural touchstones decay thanks to the crumminess of their creators. Buffy the Vampire Slayer was extremely important to me but Joss Whedon's entire toxic career killed any desire to return to that world, rooted so deeply as it was in the creators voice. Similarly, JK Rowling's extreme bad takes on gender made her wondrous world hard to hang on to. The irony with this one is its story that's aged the best but its based on a franchise connected to someone whose unpleasant nature is much more culturally visible than the problems with the other two.

Other great jokes:

"Hey, Flanders gave us toothpaste."
"MINI-Toothpaste."

"You know what's even better is Jesus. He's like six leprechauns."
"But a lot harder to catch."

"Bart is dead."
"Well saying I'm sorry won't bring him back."
"The _____ said it would."
"She's not the boss of me."

"Isn't that the voice that called all those suicides?"
"Murder-suicides."

Homer: "Trusting every aspect of our lives to a giant computer is the smartest thing we ever did."
*murmurs of agreement*
Homer: "Oh, I agree."

"That's not good for the clock."

"Wow, we really get to keep these fruit baskets?"
I don't even know if this was written as a laugh line but I just love the idea of this impressing a celebrity.

Other notes:
* This was another character I loved. And I still kind of do but yeah, there's no salvaging him for the next generation, nor should there be.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Parent Rap

I've never been a parent. I likely never will be (though I certainly would like to). But I spent nearly 5 years of my life helping my sister and her partner raise their children as a nanny. My time with them in this capacity is about to come to an end. Looking back, I feel proud of what I did but it is easy to see some of my mistakes in retrospect. Things I could have done better. Ways I could have been more patient. Times I could have balanced gentleness and discipline better. Parents and guardians are only human and even with proper training mistakes are going to happen. And I feel like as a parent, not only do you judge yourself but you look around and wonder how other people judge you. But when people actually come out and do that, the parent generally and understandably is not going to be happy about it.

In this episode, Bart gets into another legal mishap but before Judge Snyder can get him out of trouble, he's replaced with a much firmer judge, Constance Harm. Angered by Homer's negligence, he punishes Bart and Homer by having them tethered together. At first, the two enjoy time together but soon end up driving each other nuts. Driven to the edge, Marge separates the two, only for the Judge to declare them bad parents and insist they admit it. Marge refuses and the judge puts them in stockades. Marge and Homer decide to prank the judge in protest but end up in even deeper trouble when they sink Harm's house. Before the judge can hand down another sentence, Bart steps in willing to take responsibility. Before Bart can be punished, Judge Snyder returns and is lenient on Bart.

The really don't like this episode. Even by his usual awful standards, Homer is extra awful. Judge Harm is presented as a cruel bully obsessed with punishment but the fact her anger is very justifiable. Homer pressuring Marge to have sex with Bart in the room is a pretty huge low for this show, something the episode seems aware of but gives very little weight to. Its weird. And while Jane Kaczmerak is a good actress, I do not like this Judge Judy-inspired character. There's a good idea here of a bullying judge and/or someone who maybe shines a light on Homer's failing as a parent but I don't think she comes together very well. As a character, she's wholly unpleasant and as a plot devise... well its confusing, since she's doing awful stuff but Homer is extra-terrible and it doesn't work.

And its a shame because I think the seed of something interesting. Something the show has done before but not necessarily from the same angle: the Simpsons parent's having to really defend themselves AS parents. To prove to someone they are good. And it doesn't work when you are giving Homer brand new special lows that are just beyond the pale. If it was just his stupidity and poor judgment, fine, but this great idea falls apart with this take on Homer. So its a shame what could have been a great Marge episode is tanked by writing gags over character... and the gags are bad or downright awful (yeah, this one has a transphobic gag near the end that's quite bad). But Marge facing all the pressure in the world to say she did bad and refusing to break is an episode I would like to see that this episode really wasn't.

I wish there was a way to make an episode with finding people in authority and whom have control over your life can be cruel and unreasonable, questions about good parenting and Bart having to realize growing up means taking responsibility for his antics, even if he didn't mean harm. Something that brings all these ideas together in the larger themes of taking a stand and/or asking about where does responsibility begin or end in the parent/child relationship. Unfortunately, this is just a mess and an unpleasant one. This isn't like "Homer Vs. Dignity" were the end of the second act derails what began as a good, interesting episode. Throughout this one is a drag and the more I think about what this fails to say or do, the more upset I am. It's one thing to have and present ideas, its another to use them to actually say something.

Other great jokes:

"Police hat."
"With baggie!"
"Boy, that would really keep your head dry!"

"Your honour, if I can sing a little bit of 'Don't Fear the Reaper?', I think you'll find--"
"I'm familiar with BOC."

"I hit my head, Moe."
"One beer, coming up."

"Oh, it's only the milkman. Hey, maybe I should be a milkman."
Were milkmen even still a thing in the early 2000s? Are there any now?

"Aw, ain't that sweet Chief."
"Sure is, Lou. Those two longshoreman have found love."

"That quilt was made by my grandmother."
"So... it cost you nothing then."

Other notes:
I don't think its a funny joke but there is some perfect awfulness in the "Weddings are Nice" song Homer sings with to the radio, down to the horribly repetitive three seconds of sound that seem to loop.

You know, I've heard of a predicate but despite teaching English for years I seriously didn't know what one is and this episode inspired me to look up what they are. So the episode did something right.

Don't Fear the Reaper is a great song. But it is not a philosophy I can get behind. Death freaks me out, yo.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Expanding on that, Marge and Homer exchange ??? Looks but more than that, Bart's speech ends with a clearly weirded out Snake asking "Did that chuck say she used to be a dude?" Its clearly playing a "so weird" card for the characters and the audience. And its not helped that the character is made to be thoroughly unpleasant (despite having extremely valid beefs with Homer).
 

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
(He/Him)
Oddly enough, in the future, the most recent episode I watched had a similar plot arc; with Homer being forced to admit he’s a bad father when he casually mentions all the times he’s strangled his son to a parenting class, and is given enough aversion therapy that he instead becomes terrified of Bart instead of abusive towards him.

This leads to Bart becoming worse than ever and we end on a note that strangling your child is generally bad, but in this particular case, it’s good. And also Therapy Doesn’t Work.

Season 22 is… a mixed bag we’ll say.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Homer the Moe

Hang out spots are important. I imagine that a lot of people lost quite a few in the past two years. For me, its JBear's house, sort of, but apart from that, I don't really have one. When I was a kid, it was my comic shop. The guy who I hung out with was a worker there on Saturdays and we'd often watch movies and shoot the shit. It hurt a little when he decided to move on. I still see him from side to side and I still like him but I get the feeling we have less in common than we used to. I certainly still frequent the comic shop but while I like the ambience, it is usually transactional. Even before COVID I wouldn't spend much longer than 10 minutes hanging out and shopping. These kinds of places can take up a lot of mental real estate and the familiarity is comforting. Losing it can be a real bummer.

In this episode, Moe is feeling particularly depressed and decides to head back to his old university in the hopes of figuring out how to shake himself out of his funk. Moe's old professor suggests re-designing the bar to make himself feel better about it. Moe hires a conceptual designer to completely redesign it and the bar is a success but ends up alienating his old patrons. With no place to drink, Homer turns his garage into a bar under the auspices of it being a hunting club. Meanwhile, Moe realizes he's been alienated by his own bar and decides to get back his old customers, only to learn that they don't need him anymore. Moe tries to get Homer's "hunting club" closed and Homer must do some hunting to prove it is one. Moe tries to sabotage Homer, only to get shot in the leg. Homer and Moe break bread and make up over a Thanksgiving dinner.

I saw on wikipedia some critic listed this episode of among the worst of the season but I'll say if that was true, it wouldn't be bad. I certainly liked this better than the last one... even though this is a much STUPIDER episode. Even by this era standards, it feels like there's a lot that actually doesn't make sense. Homer's bar doesn't seem like its actually a business. People have bars in their basement. Why doesn't he make one and. like, everyone pitches in on the alcohol stocked. There's nothing in there that seems illegal. As for Homer proving he has a hunting club... who is he proving this to? Moe? Why even? Its not like there's a deliberating body he needs to prove this to. I could see this as being a heat of the moment "lets go to the woods and do this" from Homer but this is all "scheme" stuff and it makes no sense.

But mostly it is watchable. Its has a few cringey moments. Some Chinese stereotypes, a Russian model talking about how Chernobyl made her penis fall off and Homer calling Moe the SM word (what is it with this era and its increased bad gender takes?). It also ends with a heartwarming moment that falls very flat. And also it just suddenly becomes a Thanksgiving episode in the last few minutes. Its an odd one. But its pretty watchable. There are some legit good jokes but even in the lesser bits it zooms along pretty painlessly. It's clearly very similar to Flaming Moe's what with Moe rebranding as a trendy bar and I feel like the difference is supposed to be about Homer trying to be a competing bartender but that's the most undeveloped part of the show. It goes into Homer LIKING bartending but by the time Homer has his "own bar", the show feels like its winding down and not doing anything with it.

Its another OK episode with a potentially interesting exploration point: examining what Moe's means to Moe and what Moe's means to Homer. They aren't just places, they take up a lot of emotional investment and mental real estate for the characters. But as mentioned, a lot of the ideas of the importance of having a place is richly mined in Flaming Moe's. The episode is somewhat aware of that but again, its another one that is more interested in jokes. And again, that's no crime but being substandard means what is missing or incomplete becomes more apparent and more needed. And its a shame that the writers seem to know there is something to the idea but not a lot of insight or curiousity. But it really isn't a bad little thing and Hank Azaria is doing some great line deliveries as Moe.

Other great jokes:

"How'd you know the Chinese were spyin' on ya?"
"I just naturally assumed."

"This is the worst story I've ever heard and I've read the entire Sweet Valley High series."

"I ain't smiled for real since I nailed that rat with an ice pick."
"That was an amazing throw."

"Hey, where'd that painting come from?"
"I put this up recently and its a good thing I did because it really illustrates my point."

"Gee, when you talk about that school, you're voice fills with uh, whadayacallit... human feeling."
"Yeah, maybe you should... what's the expression... go back there?"
"What's the word I'm searching for... uh... Yeah!"
I sadly relate to this.



"Is crap-hole one word?"
"Yes, if its hyphenated."

"Is there anything I can do?"
"No... Unless you have a cure for cancer. Do you... have a cure for cancer? Because that would be great!"

"Do you really think the turkey would jut climb onto the plate?"
"I would."


"Wow, that-that actually feels good after the... after the crotch."
Great line read by Azaria.

Other notes:
For some reason, Disney Plus lists this as "Homer to the Moe".

I really don't mind that the show spends time on a bit that goes nowhere. It feels like a kid thing just to dig a hole for no reason.

So... Homer can just build sentient half-robots now?

The ADR contractor line feels like time filler. Line, was anyone actually concerned how Moe turned his bar back to normal? There's no reason to assume the last scene takes place on the same day as the one preceding it.
 
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