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Johnny Unusual

A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love

I've never been in a romantic relationship and as I near my 40s, I'm afraid I never will be. I still try online dating but I don't get replies very often. But even if I did, I guess I have anxieties about my lack of romantic experience. Not only intimately but in proper emotional maturity and yet also being able to be a fun person to be with. And I also have an anxiety about growing older and the fact that I may have missed out on some great, romantic life experiences. I've never even had the opportunity to love and lose, which I'm told is better than never having loved at all.

In this episode, Burns fortune cookie tells him he'll find true love on flag day. Taking it seriously, Burns tries to find women and eventually meets a police officer Gloria. Burns convinces her to come on a date but while she has a fun time, she admits the age difference is a bit much for her. In trying to convince her age ain't nothin' but a number, he tries to prove his youthfulness with the help of a passing Homer. Its a success and Gloria decides to date Burns more with the help of Homer, playing the part of romantic assistant. The relationship goes great and Burns even proposes to Gloria, who says yes. Burns goes off to get some celebratory wine when Snake appears. It seems Gloria and Snake used to go out and in an attempt to get back together, Snake kidnaps her and Homer. In an effort to escape, Homer causes a fire leaving Gloria trapped in Snake's burning house. Burns manages to muster the strength to save her (and vice versa) but Gloria returns to Snake.

Another Swartzwelder episode and while this one relies on some of his less desirable writing conventions, mostly some unfortunate Asian jokes, this is a pretty good one. Mostly, its that it has a lot of room for Swartzwelder's particular brand of humour and most of it is actually pretty good and covers up or puts a hat on some of the smaller plot holes in a way that makes it work much better than the episode preceding it. It also has a pretty great guest star in Julia Louise-Dreyfus, who doesn't get all the big laugh lines (a case I feel like a lot of the one-off girlfriend guest stars have) but her charm completely shines through (which also is something that tends to be the case with one-off girlfriend guest stars, at least). I think I've only recently come to appreciate exactly HOW talented she is, and I haven't even seen Veep, which is probably her biggest showcase.

I do find it weird that in recent Swartzwelder episodes, he seems to sort of downplay the evil inherent in Burns and in this episode while there are lots of references to it, the script mostly treats him as a good guy. I feel like it is about the anxiety of aging and romance and "never too old to feel young". It does feel weird to put the lesson on one of the show's most evil characters as opposed to say, Grandpa, that he should not want to let age hold him back but lets face it, Burns is more fun to write since his riches can excuse impossible things (like that apparently Scrooge McDuck exists in the Simpsons world? How does that work? I like to think it's Stewart in disguise). I also wish the ending parting had something more to it than "girls love bad boys".

But overall, the episode is about something, even if it isn't terribly deep, and it keeps the topic in mind and it weaves the jokes in rather than derailing its themes in the name of jokes. Rewatching these episodes, that's become a thing, even when the episode is weaker or if I don't agree with the conclusion a little. Consistency and cohesiveness count for a lot in not making things feel thrown together and the episode flows very nicely. It feels more or less like a companion episode to the "Moe gets a girlfriend" from a few seasons back in that one of the series most repellant men gets a girlfriend and proves they can be charming. And I think divorced from his evil, Burns can definitely come across as that and even sweet. While I'm not over the moon for it, the quality of it means so far this is one of the strongest episodes of season 13, clearing a low bar with great ease.

Other great jokes:

"'Geese can be troublesome'... What the Hell does that mean?"
"It means... geese cause trouble."
"Well, I knew that before I came in here. A guy outside told me that."

I love Homer repeating "These fortunes are terrible" with the exact same intonation.

I must agree a frown is a much better umbrella than a smile.

"This cookie feels heavy as if there was some paper inside."

"Great heavens, its one of those nude female fire stations! Well, I'll always be second place to some kitten stuck in a tree..."


"It wasn't meant to be."

"It's like going out with my brother."
"YES! It's going GREAT!"

"Oh, I enjoy all the popular youth trends like piloting motorcoaches or collecting dog waste."

"Oh, I have some wonderful stereooptical images of the Crimean war."

"It's not how old you are on parchment, its how old you feel in the humours."

"Put my hand on her knee."
"I said her. And I said knee."

"My biological clock is ticking. I could be dead again soon."

"We're in luck! They had a magnum at the shoe counter!"

"Well according to our audience insta-poll 47% said you're too old and 37% say 'She's a skank.'"
This feels very twitter, but not as ugly, somehow.

"Don't worry Mr. Burns, we'll track down Mr. Burns with your vehicle's anti-theft system."
"Car gone! Car gone!"
"We know that. Where has it gone to?"

"That's a sweet shot, he's tied to a chair!"
Upsettingly, Wiggum's abuses of power jokes feel even more potent each year.

"Well, we have an officer sneaking around the house, Kent, so unless they have a television or can hear my loud talking..."

I like the devil beard conversation that ends the show.

Other notes:

I like how Homer only needs to tell the truth of Mr. Burns life to make him sound interesting. Also that Gloria spaced on Mr. Burns being the one who blotted out the sun then getting shot by a baby.

I would definitely try the shark butt in butt sauce.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
“Butt sauce” evokes a number of mental images, and I don’t think most of them sound like they’d pair well with a meal

Johnny Unusual

The Blunder Years

I have often gone on about trying to fit themes together being much more important upon rewatch. I don't think it is inherently the most important thing. There are lots of great comedies that just throw whatever they want at the wall and following their inner muses. Its OK to have a wonky structure if you can keep thing entertaining. Its something I think can be very impressive, overcoming convention with humour. And sometimes, there are things that lie somewhere in between. Somewhere the comedy is good not great, the structure is functional, the themes are shallow but there to hang a hat on. And that can be perfectly OK.

In this episode, the Simpsons attend a show where a hypnotist hypnotizes Homer. Homer ends up having a surprising reaction, uncontrollable screaming when he's asked to revert mentally to a twelve year old. The Simpsons try to get to the bottom of it and with the help of Homer's childhood friends, Homer remembers his youth where he ended up discovering a corpse. The Simpsons, realizing there's a possibility that the body is still there and that its a mystery to solve. With the help of Chief Wiggum, they find the body and learn the truth: it was the corpse of Waylon Smithers' father. It seems he died saving the town from a meltdown and Burns hid the body simply because cover ups were in vogue at the time. Smithers is happy to learn his father died a hero and the Simpsons are satisfied with the truth.

This is a weird one. I feel like I'll say this more as the show goes forward but what is this even about? I guess trauma but... to what end? It isn't really "explored" in any meaningful capacity. There's a Stand by Me parody that takes up a lot of the middle but it doesn't say much about the movie. I suppose it could be a similar idea to what many Stephen King books are about: the gulf between our idealized vision of childhood vs. the reality, which sometimes the doors of perception to a darker world is forced open. But really its just an "adventure". A shallow one but somewhat fun.

The Blunder Years is an episode purely in the middle of quality. There are some genuinely funny moments and the adventure/mystery structure IS cheesy but its also engaging and it doesn't feel as disjointed the show will start to feel as the series goes on. Its a competent and watchable piece of animation but it doesn't really go beyond that, sadly. Often when I come across a bad episode, I see a lot of better direction possibilities. I can see ones for this two, like the aforementioned themes of real trauma or the dark reality of what childhood is. Instead, there's a bunch of stuff that happened. But I don't mind. I can't put my finger on exactly why but I can live with the fact that this completely par episode is fine with imprefections and averageness.

Other great jokes:

"I guess it was a pretty funny prank. I like the ones where nothing catches on fire."

"HAHAHAHAHA! ZING! HAHAHA! What's a Skeletor."

"I am in your power. Boss me around."

"Look at me! I'm a famous historian! Out of my way!"
"Now you're Emily Dickenson!"
"Look at me, I'm Angie Dickenson! Out of my way!"

"He ruined nap time AND quiet time."

"No Dad, everyone's sick of that memory."

"Let's punch and kick them!"
This line read makes this work better than on the page.

"Did I say corpse hatch? I meant innocence tube."

Other notes:

I guess we didn't need the possibility that Burns' lie made Smithers gay.

Hank Azaria is clearly making a meal of his last nonsense clue explanations. Frankly, I enjoyed poor Moe deeply wanting to be a part of the Simpsons' mystery.

Sorry, Judith Owen, having one of your songs (no slight to it or your abilities) should not get you GUEST STAR STATUS. They didn't even give her a line. This feels very mandated by a parent company and should have been an Ally McBeal guest spot.

I don't think the Burly stuff isn't particularly funny, Smith and Kavner play well together here.

Bart introducing the Simpsons as the Simpsons feels very "Smile-Time Variety Hour". Its like the line between self-parody and just being itself has become blurred.


The scene of Homer finding the body legitimately scared the hell out of me as a kid. It comes out of nowhere and it's gross and disturbing in a way that The Simpsons almost never is.

Johnny Unusual

She of Little Faith

I lost religion around puberty times but I never did anything about it for a long time. My mom was the religious one in the family but while she is a believer and values her faith, she isn't really like the other people in her family. She stopped going to church a long time ago. She never really pressured me or my sister to keep believing or practicing, though would was someone enthusiastic if we showed an interest in religion (I remember she was telling me I should read the Bible because it was interesting. That can't be true.) But at the same time, I never really discussed my atheism with them. I think at a point, it was something assumed, as mom is always really appreciative of when I take her to Christmas mass. I think she thinks its even a bigger drag for me than it really is. I'm not a believer but I do tend to like it and while I'm not a believer, I feel belief can be a beautiful thing. But I feel like while it would never change anything that both of us were nervous to actually discuss it (I guess I was afraid of upsetting my parents, though it took a while for me to realize Dad's always been a non-believer) and maybe we should some day. I'm pretty happy with our unspoken understanding, as I don't feel any tension.

In this episode, Homer and Bart accidentally destroy the church and its forced to accept help from Mr. Burns. Sure enough he turns it into a crass business filled with ads and Lisa is so disgusted that she quits her church. Marge is mortified and tries to get Lisa to return to her flock while Lisa decides to search for a new religion. Lisa eventually decides on Buddhism while Marge keeps trying to cajole Lisa into finding her way back to her old church. After an attempt to manipulate Lisa emotionally, Lisa is disgusted and decides to return to the cities Buddhist temple. There, Richard Gere points out that she can still celebrate Christmas with her family and respect her family's religion. Lisa comes home to a worried Marge who is a bit more willing to accept Lisa's choice as long as she's safe.

She of Little Faith feels like it comes from a real place. Specifically, I feel like someone in the writing room had experience with family who was annoyingly concerned with their relative's life choices and made no bones about it. But it also comes through Marge, which makes it a tricky balance as she is a character that works because she is a truly decent human being. The strongest bits in the show are probably the moments where she is trying to turn Lisa back to the status quo because she is deathly afraid for her soul. It comes from a place of love but also a dark belief that people not of your specific belief are damned. I can completely understand someone bouncing off this incarnation of Marge, who is someone who tends to be a square with progressive sympathies rather than leanings. But I don't actually mind it.

I feel for a show like this, all the major characters have "wiggle room" for who they are, a character spectrum. I feel like Marge is someone whose spectrum encompasses a past of progressivism and passing interest in counterculture while being almost painfully mainstream and old fashioned. I can see how for a lot of viewers, they might find this version a little beyond the pale. But I also thinks it as broad it can get, these moments between Marge and Lisa actually have an actual sense of tension of love and fear and loss of respect that is interesting. Marge is so fearful, she's blind to (or willfully ignoring) the hypocrisy of her actions against what the value of her religion is. I feel like this is less like jerk-ass Homer and more an exploration of having to deal a loved one unable to accept a different path.

I feel like this is an episode that comes alive in the Lisa/Marge scenes but gets a little clunky with Lisa learning about Buddhism. Lenny and Carl get a few lines but Richard Gere feels like one of those plug and play guest stars. He does nothing wrong and I feel like there's a few lines he's trying to do a little something with but its largely functional for Lisa and the audience to find a religion and see why it is interesting to her. But to me, Lisa and Marge's story speaks to my own anxiety of not wanting to discuss my own lack of religion with my family for fear of not being accepted (also, my own fear of death and the idea of non-existence after death was something I was having a hard time thinking about for myself, let alone discussing). So its a bit clunky at times and it feels like a variation on Lisa the Vegetarian but I think this one has a pulse to it that some of the other episodes of this era don't.

Other great jokes:

The B-Movie riff at the beginning isn't the strongest they've done in that field but its pretty fun.
"Goggles on"



"This is the worst thing you've ever done."
"You say that so much its lost all meaning."
Yeah, this accident where no one was physically hurt is not nearly the worst thing he's done.

"All right, we'll help ourselves.... YET AGAIN!"

"We've rebranded. The old church was skewing pious."


"What about the Dalai Lama?"
"You know, the 14th reincarnation of the Buddha Avalokitesvara."
"Who's Buddha?"
Azaria can sell almost hostile befuddlement.

"He's got long hair, works as a carpenter, has a lot of crazy ideas about love and brotherhood?"
"This names Gunnar and he's dating my mom."

Other notes:

We were robbed of a sermon by the Noid.

I didn't discuss it too much but I do like all the ways the writers have for the church to sell its soul, The various ways Marge rejects the values of her religion to "save" her daughter works for me.

Did... Homer record the voice for the barking angel?


I love how they clearly didn't want to Hanna Barbera the background with a loop and instead warp the Simpson house to fit the shot.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Meanwhile, in the future

just reached the episode where Ms. Krabappel and Ned hooked up, as determined by an audience poll, and it ended with a disclaimer saying “What our fans have wanted, no writer will take apart”

And then I said “oh geez”

Johnny Unusual

Yeah, I think its only one year away from Marica Wallace's death. I will say, its been a while but that one of the characters I actually remember being largely untainted by the later seasons, which is funny because season two seemed to think it was funny that Bart's teacher was sexually aggressive before making her more into someone who has a rich sex life outside of work.

Johnny Unusual

Brawl in the Family

I feel in the last decade there is sort of a trend of looking at TV shows in the macro sense and pointing out that taken as a whole, the casts of various sitcoms and similar shows are bad friends and family. Of course, there are always single episodes that either age bad or simply have characters acting beyond the pale in ways that the show maybe doesn't take seriously enough. But when it comes to pointing out the shear amount of things all of the characters have done over the course of a few years, it paints a different picture. After all, the shows are generally meant to be absorbed and examined an episode at a time. Individually, as bad as things get for characters or as much as they might misbehave, we usually route for them. But taken as a whole, we might feel some relationships are better off ending.

In this episode, the Simpsons are stuck inside the house for the day and decide to play Monopoly. The family gets in a fight about the game that forces the police to get involved. While in jail, the family is approached by a social worker who works observes the family to see if he can help them overcome their strife and they eventually learn to work together. However, when the Simpsons return home from an outing, they find Amber, the woman Homer married in Vegas. It seems she wants to stick around and due to state laws, Homer is legally married to her and can't get an annulment. This causes a rift between Homer and Marge but eventually Marge forgives Homer and the family works together to trick Amber and get her out of their lives by having them marrying grandpa.

Two seasons ago, the Behind the Laughter episode had a fake episode called "Disorder in the Court", which is an amusingly dumb and generic title. Just like Brawl in the Family, which is a pretty generic episode despite bringing back a one-off character. There are some legit good laughs in this one which I'll get to, but I feel like this is an episode that may have came in with the goal of examining who this family is via an outsider looking to help them but instead it just feels a bit dull. It doesn't help that act three has Marge saying "This is the worst thing you've ever done." again and like Homer said exactly ONE episode ago, this has lost all meaning.

We'll definitely get to even lower lows in the show in terms of trying to manufacture a rift between Homer and Marge (including the imaginary dream episode where Homer beds Lena Dunham, a real thing) and this is actually not a bad rift to create. I like that it uses continuity to its advantage. But that's where the good stuff about act three ends. In theory, this could have been a good exercise in leaning into something a little more emotionally real about the family's problems after two acts of silly nonsense about it. That could have been an interesting experience in turning a silly plot from a previous episode into something surprisingly substantive. Instead, it ends with Homer getting Amber drunk and married to Grandpa. And Grandpa had sex with her while she's extremely intoxicated. Which is rape. Jesus, show. I feel like the show tries to paper over it by implying she was the sexual aggressor ("you wouldn't take 'I can't' for an answer.") but nope, this ain't cool, show.

As for the previous two acts, they aren't perfect but despite being somewhat generic, they lead to a few good jokes. It does seem interesting that the show sort of addresses the trope of the magical black man but mostly he just kind of is. He's played by Delroy Lindo, who is a fantastic actor but is only given one note to play here. I feel like it does miss the opportunity to see the Simpsons through fresh eyes and bring us the characters through a different point of view but rather it just tells us stuff we mostly already know about the characters instead of examining them from new angles. The last act wants us to show that they can be difunctionally functional but I feel like other ones did it better. There are some great individual gags but as a whole, this is a completely missable episode despite its bit of continuity.

Other great jokes:

"Let's stick to original Monopoly. The game is crazy enough as it is. How can an iron be a landlord?"

"Look, the thing about my family is there's five of us: Marge, Bart, Girl-Bart, the One is Doesn't Talk and the Fat One. How I loathe him."

"Look, Gabriel, we're learning to work together."
"That's great but so are the wolves and cougars."

Yeah, its a dumb joke but I still like it.

"Oh no, the roast beef is making them stronger and the falafel is making them angrier."
I actually get this. Without the right dip or sauce, falafel is often too dry-ish. Still love it, though.

I love how hard they sell this complete non-sequitor.

Other notes:

I love Julie Kavner but I feel like at this point her performance is entirely too arch and ironic, which I put on the writers, largely. Also, the show seems completely disinterested for having a compelling reason for Marge to forgive Homer.

Again, this is an episode where I see a lot of better potential episodes hidden in here. One where we actually see that the family's flaws and social disfunction is tied heavily to their strengths and bonds (without simply forgiving the former but also subverting conventions and using them to solve a problem). Based on the first act, one where Homer is finally forced into environmentalism due to pollution putting the hurt on his creature comforts. And a Frank Grimes-like one that questions the way even when a character learns a lesson, the family reverts to the status quo because of the nature of non-serialized TV being set in a sort of purgatory.

Johnny Unusual

Sweets and Sour Marge

I love sweets and candy so much. For most of my life, I've been obese and its only been in the last few years that I've gotten into a much more manageable weight. I'd probably do even better without my cheat days but I am not eager to lose them because I love 1) sugar 2) unique eating experiences and 3) taking the edge off. My sister is actually very healthy but she admits her own sugar addiction, with occassional evening chocolates even when she knows better. Sugar is extremely addictive and messes with your brain and like any big business, there are people with vested interested in making sure it is in everything it can be in.

In this episode, Homer attempts to get Springfield into a world records book. A failed attempt at the world's biggest human pyramid leads to the reveal that Springfield is the world's fattest town. Marge is upset and begins to notice that the cause of obesity is the everyday food which seems to be in everything in town thanks to the Motherloving Sugar Corporation. Marge attempts to complain to the company only to be insulted. Marge starts a class action lawsuit against the company and with the help of the town and some shocking whistle-blowing testimony from Professor Frink manages to win. But along with the victory comes Judge Snyder declaring a complete ban on sugar in town. This causes Homer and the kids to be upset and Homer ends up joining a small cabal to illegally bring sugar back to Springfield. Homer almost succeeds but Marge makes an impassioned plea to throw the sugar away. Homer does, though unfortunately the townspeople excitedly dive into the ocean to drink the sugar water. Snyder lifts the ban, admitting he overexceeded his authority and Homer tells Marge even though the law didn't keep, he's proud of her for trying.

Sweets and Sour Marge isn't the funniest episode but its actually pretty solid and is much better than it could have been. The show is not shy about fat shaming humour and there's not exactly a shortage of that here but at that same time I feel that it doesn't fall into some of the traps the show could have gone for and has gone for before. I feel the episode could have easily said "banning isn't the answer, its all about personal responsibility for your health" and I'm so glad it didn't. Instead, it pointed out the almost horrifying omni-presence of sugar and how hard it can be to avoid, especially if you are in a specific economic class. Going toe to toe with the industry as Marge does is an important thing to do and as far as Marge crusades go, this one feels less "nag"-based, despite what the character herself says.

I will say it does treat things as an all or nothing endeavor, which I don't appreciate. I don't think its a problem that sugar exists, its the way it exists and is being sold and spread through our food. Marge says she shouldn't "use the law to nag" but that's a pretty bad takeaway when I think the rest of the episode is actually not bad in its pointedness. It correctly points to the fact that the problem isn't "fatties can't stop stuffing their faces because they are irresponsible" but that there is an issue with our food and food culture and that a lot of it is tied to the food industry and the sugar industry, represented by Ben Stiller as Garth Motherloving. I think Stiller's career choices has sort of made him a less well-regarded comedian but I think in the right role he is good and he's not bad here, either. Its certainly not a subtle performance and its working at one level of extreme contempt but it works and it helps that the writing is there (though I feel like Marge gets the bigger laugh lines between them).

As you might expect, there are definitely "fat jokes" but it doesn't feel much more mean-spirited than even the average episode. Not to say they are all gold or insightful. A lot of them are straight-forward. But I feel like having it be an episode very much about weight with sympathy for people who are in poor health. Obviously, it isn't a bastion of sensitivity or "how to do jokes about obesity right" but I feel like writer Carolyn Omine was interested in treating obesity as a serious issue in a comedy show. That said, the show in an attempt to do some very dark humour get overly ugly and with the character of Diabetty, a very large, low-class obese woman desperately trying to lose weight to fit into her mother's coffin. In trying to present the problem as ugly and scary, it basically just gave us an ugly, scary, child-like grotesquery and its just far too unpleasant. Otherwise, I think Sweets and Sour Marge isn't a bad episode for this era and has quite a few good jokes. So that's a plus.

Other great jokes:

"That lady swallowed a baby!"

"She said tavern! I'm going to Moe's!"
"I never agreed to that rule!"

"No, the best book you've ever seen is Tom Clancy's Op Center."

"Hey, lady, if you have a problem bring it up with your sewing circle, OK."
"But we're on hiatus. Everyone's everywhere."

"You went to a sugar factory? We're there Oompah Loompahs?"
"There was one in a cage but he wasn't moving."

"Frink, you little weasel! I'll kill you."
"May I remind you we're in open court?"
"I'll kill you too. I'll kill you all!"
"Mr. Motherloving, that could be interpreted as a threat."
"I'll kill you while you sleep."

"I had to quit when my fangs succumbed to gingivitis. Now all my victims have to be mashed up."

"Even the fire doesn't want them."

"We gave you the sugar. Now you give us the money!"
"That wasn't part of the deal."
"He's right. How wrote this thing?"


"You'll be condemning this town to a life of obesity and diabetes."
"Don't do it Homer."
"They both make such good arguments."


You'd think having the two buttons only makes sense for the gag until you remember its Mr. Burns yacht.

Johnny Unusual

Jaws Wired Shut

During my second year of university, I had my jaws wired shut. No horrible accident, but rather to fix an underbite I was operated on and some of my jaw was chiseled away. It lasted a month (I was lucky to heal so quickly, as apparently it could have lasted around two) and was kind of tough but I made it through OK. I probably won't have any pureed Chef Boyardee again. More's the pity. But it was a weird experience for me to have to change a lot of my lifestyle for a brief time. But after I had the stuff removed, I was free from my braces for the first time in years (save for the glued in back braces which just came out on their own a couple months ago) but it didn't take long for me just to head into my own status quo. Heck, if anything, I tried to force it, eating yummy meals even when opening my jaws was painful.

In this episode, Homer gets into an accident that breaks his jaw. Dr. Hibbert wires his jaw shut and Homer begins listening to people. Being such a good listener eventually makes him a better man, much to Marge's delight. However, when Homer is freed, he retains the lessons and becomes a more responsible person. At first Marge loves the new Homer but also becomes bored with life that has suddenly gotten quieter. Marge tries to correct this by entering a demolition derby and Homer must rescue her, which he does by reverting to his wildman ways.

Jaws Wired Shut is not a very good episode. Its not overtly bad but its pretty sloppy, particularly in the first and third acts. Act one is NOTHING. Even more than usual. Its gags about a gay pride parade, gags about movies then the episode starts to happen and boom, end of the act. And look, I'm used to act one being an unrelated playlet but it really did feel like a big shrug. The gay pride thing barely connects to the movie thing. At least the movie thing had a little story, if week, which the gay pride parade is a mix of gay stereotypes, some attempts to say they are progressive that also didn't age as well as intended but really most of the gags that are kind of a shrug. Its not as off-putting as their gay representation is, was and probably will be but its also simply not that funny. Soccer Mummy is kind of OK as a parody but I feel like they hit this tone better in "Love is Nice" in the episode HOMR.

Act Two is when things get interesting and it's an interesting idea. Homer is a character who, especially in this era, tries to steamroll people conversationally and seems to willfully ignore people, a level of selective hearing that can be hurtful. Having him be forced to be a listener and coming to understand things about his family is a good idea. The best part to me is the idea that Bart doesn't like the idea of being seen as a clown and I think the episode would be better if Homer learned things about his family even the audience doesn't know that gives us some interesting insight. But it also starts to lean in the direction of act three, which is a different conceit than learning to listen (I'll get to it). Its one that is potentially insightful about the family dynamic but seems extremely un-curious about it.

So act three is the idea that Homer finally becomes a good dude but also a boring one in that he's shenanigan-free. Marge thinks she wants this but finds it boring. Aside from the jokes being weak, it seems like the solution is binary: status quo or boring life. Its not interested particularly interested in what this newfound boredom really means for Marge and its all "well, lets get things back to normal so we can be happy." Look, we all know these kinds of shows can really change but I feel like the level that the show is determined to revert things to the status quo makes it feel grotesquely sacred. I'd much more prefer an episode where everyone is like "Homer is good now" and maybe Marge feels he was good before too and there was something she valued about the reckless Homer. There could be depth to be mined but here its like "life's boring now, let's switch back." I remember seeing writer Dana Gould saying the Simpsons writing room means you can't get precious with your script and there are advantages to that but I suspect by this point I suspect some more ambitious scripts had smarter ideas excised in favour of Soccer Mummy.

Other great jokes:

"He's India's answer to Brian Dennehy."
The specificity of the character actor referenced makes this work for me.

"What beverage brewed since ancient times is made with hops and grains."
"What about Ancient Hop Grain Juice?"

"Anyway long story short... is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling."

"That donkey is such a bad influence on you."

"You're today's modern enlightened man. The kind television producers have been booking since the mid-70s."

"What are you doing here?"
"I'm an alcoholic."

"Professor Van Doren, so good to see you."
"Ah, rehearsing a play, I see."

Other notes:
I like that Ralph calls them sumbersaults.

Johnny Unusual

Half-Decent Proposal

Loud snoring is a bit of a thing in my family. My grandfather (or "guido") on my father's side snored so loud, by grandmother (or "baba") regularly slept in one of the other rooms. Me and my dad both have sleep apnea machines and even my little nephew was snoring VERY loudly for a while. When I first started using it and then tried a night without it, I realized I couldn't sleep without it. And its certainly made for crazy bad nights when I needed to be without it. When we were at my Aunt's funeral, I had to stay up the night because my machine AND my snoring were both too much for my grieving mother in the motel room we were sharing (and all the other rooms were booked). A good night sleep is actually worth quite a bit...

In this episode, Marge is unable to sleep due to Homer's snoring but the surgery to fix it is prohibitively expensive. Marge decides to spend the evening with her sisters and during a drunken girl's night in, she drunkenly (with some liberal editing from her sisters) e-mails her old boyfriend Artie Ziff. Ziff is now a billionaire but Marge mostly remembers him for his attempts to pressure Marge into sex. The next day, Artie appears to whisk Marge away but realizing the e-mail was a mistake, he changes tactics and offers them a million dollars for a weekend with Marge; no sex, just an opportunity to show Marge what life would be like with him. Marge is disgusted but both agree to the arrangement for the sake of the marriage that the snoring surgery could provide. Artie recreates their prom night and Artie forces a kiss on Marge, to her anger and repulsion. However, Homer spies the events and misreads them, running away to die in the West Springfield oil fields. Artie helps Marge prove to Homer that Marge is faithful and the two re-unite.

Half-Decent Proposal is not exactly a half-decent episode (Boo! I suck!). Its both an episode that I feel has some good ideas but I think Artie's behaviour is a little too gross to make entertaining his whims fun, even before he reveals the depth of his sucking. Its definitely supposed to come across as bad and that Artie is kind of a shit but even in the name of comedy forced kisses and unwanted handsiness play much more poorly, especially when the Simpson treat him as more of a nuisance than the super-creep that his is. Hell, Patty and Selma seem pretty indifferent to it after coming out and telling them. And I think the show definitely knows what he does is beyond the pale. Hell, the scene of Marge remembering Artie is accompanied by grabby hands which is a telling image and one that sells how unsafe and yucky the dude is. It really puts a damper on an episode that... well, its not good regardless but it isn't without its good points.

So what are the good points? The show actually keeps to its plot closely rather than feeling like its making 90 degree moves. I mean, that can be fun but its a nice novelty that act one is very important to act two. And I can relate to the idea that as silly as the problem of snoring sounds, that such a think can be the cause of some genuine stress and the show treats it as something that does do damage to their marriage with no easy fix. It is a good way to back the characters into choosing a weird, questionable option for the sake of each other. Despite the character being a little too unpleasant for the show, Lovitz is still good, though its not really as fun. And there are some good laugh lines. So while the lows make the episode a little unpleasant,

So really, the episode is stymied by its own premise and its inability to sell it in the right way. Considering we last left Ziff trying to force himself on Marge, then getting slapped down like the creep he is, then asking Marge not to tell anyone in a smug, self-praising way ("it would damage the town to hear it."), we were probably good leaving him there. And I feel like this was an episode that really had work and thought behind it, with Artie recreating his prom night being the memorable centerpiece to tell us how little this man has matured. The episode isn't implying anything racier than copped feels and unconsented-to kisses but its relative "chasteness" still a little too real in a lot of ways, what with Marge having to put herself in a vulnerable position for her marriage with a guy who rightly disgusts her. I think to a certain extent, the writer was keeping in mind these facts which makes it much weirder that the episode ends with Artie helping to save the day. The last act has some good gags but otherwise feels like a but of a mess. At this point its hard to make any "Homer and Marge split" threats remotely interesting without a lot of hard work and this episode just doesn't have it.

Other great jokes:

"You can't say sex on the Internet!"

I like the return of Dondalinger here.

"Oh no, if Marge marries Artie, I'll never be born!"

I like Marge yelling "But I can explain" to the video. Its a pretty pedestrian joke but it works for me.

"I know what you're going through. We're coming up on Mount Carlmore. I carved that one wonderful summer."
"What'd Carl think."
"You know, we never talked about it."
I love Lenny's complete indifference to his death and his complete willingness to do whatevs with his drinking buddy.

West Springfield is three times the size of Texas because why not.

"Oh no! This is how Faceless Joe lost his legs!"

Other notes:

I've never seen Arliss but I feel like the shows mocking of it is wholly accurate.

The Baron Von Kissalot bit feels like a Family Guy joke. Not one of their really bad ones but not great.

Johnny Unusual

The Bart Wants What It Wants

The fact that the cartoon character I grew up with has had a ton of romantic relationships while I've had none feels really weird. But the fact is, characters on TV sitcoms tend to have far more romantic relationships than the actual for real person. Seriously, how many partners has each of the Seinfeld leads over the course of nine seasons? A child with a ton of partners is also weird, especially since while Bart is definitely ten, they often fudge the metaphor to make the relationships seem more like that of an early teen and even putting a hat on it doesn't hide the fact that the Simpsons kids can't be teens feels like it is limiting to the writers. That said, as far as Bart romance episodes goes, while this isn't particularly strong, its watchable enough.

In this episode, the Simpsons visit a fundraiser for a prep school where Bart defends a bullied girl. Bart learns the girl, Greta, is Rainier Wolfcastle's daughter and the two becomes fast friends. However, Bart eventually comes to realize that Greta has a romantic interest in Bart while Bart sees it as only platonic. Bart tries to solve it by "breaking up" with her, but when --- starts hanging out with Milhouse, Bart starts to get jealous. Bart drags the family to Toronto where her dad is shooting a film and he and Milhouse get in a fight. Greta breaks up with Milhouse and tells them she really isn't interested in either of them and Bart and Milhouse become friends again.

This one isn't particularly strong but its a completely watchable one. Its an episode that's mostly going through the motions, down to "He'll sleep tonight", a joke literally made last episode. The episode is by John Frink and Don Payne and I feel like this pair did quite a few episodes of a specific quality: not too strong but not too weak. I'll have to find out if this memory holds out as we go forward, as Frink stays with the show to this day (Don Payne has passed on). There's nothing strongly eye rolling in this one or offensive but it also is a bit... lacking in memorable laugh lines and doesn't have a particularly strong structure.

Despite my feeling that it doesn't do a lot of new stuff with the Simpsons and romance, potential is definitely around the corner. To me, I'm far less interested in Bart getting jealous when Greta starts dating Milhouse. I think it could work if it was emotionally trickier, it is pretty darn basic. What I'd be more interested in is Bart liking Greta OK but more interested in her wealth and toys while Greta wants a more significant friendship. This speaks to me because I do feel bad that as a kid I've definitely played friend with more than one kid for their game systems and I think that is a real kid kind of thing. Similarly, navigating a relationship where the two people want to be together but in different capacities that make kind of screws things up. I just am disinterested in the tact they decided to take. Perhaps it is also something that comes from somewhere real but likely due to my own lack of experience, I can't relate to it.

I do think it makes a couple choices I like. I like the mirroring of Milhouse entering a scene as a sort of wedge with WAAAASSSSAAAAPPP! But overall, its just an episode of placeholder quality. I always feel weird because as easy as it is to complain that things are lacking a verve, I have no doubt the writers, cast and crew are giving it their all. But I feel all the things it used to do well start getting done better by other shows. I seriously don't know anyone who still watches it except out of curiosity and I'm glad the people who made the things I like have steady work but its pretty sad that it becomes a show were even an episode like this feels stronger by comparison.

Other great jokes:

"Is that your beer tent?"
"Monkeys point!"
"Monkeys cry!"

"To the Hamptons!"

"Hey butler, stop butling yourself."
"Would that I could, sir."

"Now, I'll give you directions starting from the Simpsons house."

"I hope the audience is kind because my material is weak and I got that bladder thing."

"Principal Skinner? I know him. He's not funny. Well, enjoy."

Other notes:

I do love MY clean and bland home, even if its no Toronto.


the room is full of ghosts
I think we're at the point where every episode has some sort of musical montage. This episode had two.

Ghost from Spelunker

Re: Half-Decent Proposal
One nitpick I had was with the music that plays when they show off Artie's invention.
Back in 2002 it wasn't just the most geeky people on the internet. My mom was on all the time talking to a relative in another state and ordering crap off QVC & Amazon.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Also, I can’t help but imagine a device that lets Jon Lovitz serenade you several times a day can’t be that big of a seller

Johnny Unusual

The Lastest Gun in the West

As a kid, I did not care for westerns. I generally wasn't a fan of period fiction, believing it to be boring and limited but Westerns in particular felt very dull to me. I think I started to come around a little when Unforgiven created a western comeback in the mid-90s but I don't think I started REALLY enjoying them until I began watching the films of Sergio Leone. I used to think of it as a genre with a bland backdrop but his felt incredibly fast-paced and lively. Heck, the Good, the Bad and the Ugly is practically a cartoon with Clint Eastwood as Bugs Bunny and Eli Wallach as Daffy Duck. Now I'm in a place where I can't understand why people find Westerns boring, especially when it is embedded in the DNA of all the genre fiction they love.

In this episode, Bart finds himself hounded by a stray pitbull. Eventually Bart is saved by Buck McCoy, a cowboy actor from the 50s. Bart immediately becomes enamored with his hero and finds himself wanting to emulate him. He even re-ignites a cowboy fad amongst the kids and working extra hard to get the aging cowboy a comeback on the Krusty the Clown Show. Buck reluctantly agrees and does well in rehearsal but when the pressure gets to him, he begins drinking and ends up on the show very drunk and accidentally shoots Krusty. When the family learns he is an alcoholic, Marge and Homer decide to help him sober up but Buck is resistant. In the end, Homer finds a shootout and encourages Buck McCoy to save the day. Buck throws out his booze and does, restoring Bart's faith.

The Lastest Gun in the West is a pretty funny episode that kind of lacks in the themes and messaging department. So its still an episode I like but its hard not to notice that as an episode about how to deal with realizing your hero is flawed, the lesson is not very good. So what is it saying? Well, as soon as Bart realizes he's an alcoholic, Bart immediately rids his room of all his Buck stuff. Buck isn't abusive or hateful in any notable way so his problem isn't the same as the reason we quit your Whedons and Gibsons. But Bart's reaction is still sympathetic as he is just a kid and he's hurt emotionally and doesn't understand why it would be better to try to support a friend with a problem (which, again, would be a big ask because he's a 10 year old boy, liable to get hurt again). But a Homer-based hair-brained scheme isn't much of a solution. Isn't real heroism a real struggle rather than "put aside my booze for heroism!" So its an episode that is flawed.

But as just comedy, its pretty successful. It's a Swartzwelder episode and despite some jokes about alcoholism, it feels like he's less interested in punching down in this one, which helps a lot. The first act is the weakest but is still fine but the clever joke-writing the writer is known for comes on full display once Buck McCoy enters the picture. I feel like Swartzwelder grew up on Westerns and this is a full love letter to the genre. Worth noting, Swartzwelder wrote a TV pilot about an incompetent, delusional cowboy in the mold of Lookwell (except if everyone falsely believed him competent). He also insisted on using the same crew as Gunsmoke so it should come as no surprise that this episode is dripping with affection while accepting the fact that things behind the scenes were probably filled with sadness and that values have somewhat changed.

Speaking of Gunsmoke, Buck is played by Dennis Weaver, who was the sidekick in Gunsmoke, which was for a long time the TV show with the highest episode count for prime time until the Simpsons took its place. People don't really talk about it today but from what I understand its, relatively speaking, a rather mature, well-written series (at least at first) compared to most westerns at the time, which were aimed at kids. Comedian Andy Daly was originally going to do a podcast on it that eventually became Bonanas for Bonanza, a spoof of rewatch podcasts. Daly said that the pilot was actually too intelligent to suit his needs and eventually went with the family friendly and poorly aged Bonanza for his character, "Dalton Wilcox, Cowboy Laureate of the West" to come across ridiculous for praising. Dennis Weaver does great in his role here and sell his jokes quite well. I admit, I'm not too familiar with Weaver outside of this. I know he was in the detective show McCloud, where he leverages his cowboy cred by wearing a cowboy hat while he fights crime in modern day San Francisco. But to me, Weaver is the guy from Duel, an absolute crackerjack TV movie thriller written by Richard Matheson and directed by Steven Spielberg. It was so good, it got a theatrical release overseas. Watch it.

Anyway, The Lastest Gun is imperfect to be sure but is still a pretty fun episode thanks to the writer following his better instincts, ones from a place of love.

Other great jokes:

"Eh, I'm sick of this Tarzan movie."
"Dad, this is a documentary about the homeless."
"Oh, right."


"Don't worry about these critters, they're just props from my movies. This one's from The Gunfight At the Museum of Natural History."
I would like to see this.

"I'll show you a trick that works on dogs that also worked on David O Selznick."
"That's right, THE David O Selznick"
An Animaniacs writer talking with a fan.


"No drugs, no nudity, no cussin'. Just drinkin', fightin' and trippin' horses with wires."

"Can you lasso me a banana?"
"Now how the Hell would I do that?"

"In the 50s I did a TV show. It only lasted a year but we did 360 episodes, all of them great."

"I'm not sure I approve of selling whisky to children."
"Well, that ad was aimed at kids who were already heavy drinkers."

"Seems all I did was shoot hippies."
"They wrote me out of the show and it became Room 222."

"Let's see, Texas or Massachusetts?"
"I like the way you think!"

"Buck, this is a real honour. I used to watch your films at the Bijou."
"Yep, things sure have changed since the 50s."
"I don't care."
I love his extreme and unmotivated disdain.

"I just naturally assumed it was some of my business."
"I don't see how, no one's even told me you're name yet."

"I'm firing at the lasso, but the bullets just go through the middle!"
"It's the ultimate weapon!"

Other notes:

I don't know what Super Chocolate is, but yes please.

Wait, this episode implies that Grandpa is younger than 76. I have a hard time believing it.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
There's a later episode that also has Bart suddenly becoming completely enamored with something no child has cared about for decades, like a time-lost Dennis the Menace.

This is definitely the better of the two.

Johnny Unusual

The Old Man and the Key

It is so strange to grow up to see my dad lose his mobility and with it a lot of his independence. There's a lot he can't do on his own any more and it leads to a lot of frustration for him and for the rest of his family. I imagine the lose of certain abilities and opportunities are emotional blows to anyone, particularly those who don't have people to look out for them. Frankly, I probably should spend more time helping my dad and mom but I have a habit of getting preoccupied with myself (and I don't even have a lot going on). When it comes up, I'm always willing to help but I rarely think to offer help. We all need help and providing help can be a really meaningful gift, especially for those of us who need it.

In this episode, Grandpa gets a new love interest but as soon as she sees the Retirement Castle's most popular guy, she forgets about Grandpa. Grandpa thinks he can win her over by having a car. After an argument with Homer, Marge offers to help grandpa get his license back. Grandpa takes as much advantage of access to Homer's car as he can until Homer starts limiting his allowed usage. When he's goaded into a "death race", he ends up destroying Homer's car and is no longer allowed to drive. Zelda dumps Abe and he decides to follow her to Branson, where the two were going to have a romantic getaway. He steals Marge's car and Bart tags along and finally gets there... and tells Zelda off for being for being a fair-weather lover.

The Old Man and the Key is an episode that I feel I'd forgotten so much of despite the fact that I quote so much of it a lot. It might help that this is Jon Vitti's return to the series after his last episode, the 138th Episode Spectacular (the best "clips show" by a wide margin.) It's definitely not a perfect episode. It's an episode that both wants us to connect and relate with Grandpa's frustration with losing his opportunity to drive but also spending a lot of time mocking the lack of abilities of the elderly. Obviously, this is something that Simpsons has been doing for a very long time but in later series episodes about Grandpa, it's a lot more pronounced and it often feels more nasty about the elderly rather than empathetic. In that respect, this episode could be worse but it also could be much better. I also don't care for the fact that the episode is about grandpa either coming to terms with losing an ability or showing he can still do it an instead it becomes about humiliating grandpa's girlfriend. Maybe you can connect the thematic dots there but it still doesn't feel nice.

But as a joke machine, the episode isn't bad. I completely forgot some classic bits and quotes originated here. The most obvious is the throwaway "Old Man Yells at Cloud", a weird, funny throwaway gag that became part of the internet language, that one episode of The Next Generation-style. But beyond that is a great extended third act musical show number about half-remembered hasbeens. Call me a hypocrite because it is definitely the same kind of baloney I give Al Jean shit (to disgustingly mix metaphors) but I feel like the specificity completely works for me and in painting a particular picture of the kind of disposable pop culture graveyard that Branson is in this world (and maybe this world). This is actually the show's second trip to Branson but this earns the return trip to me.

I feel like the first two acts is genuinely interested in exploring what driving means to grandpa. It's in no way emotional, things rarely are in the era of this show, and it is a shame that these opportunities for poignancy and depth are ignored for the comfort of a gag but we do have some strong stuff here. None the less, I feel like the conclusion doesn't work with the rest. I suppose there is an argument for grandpa being able to take control of what he can in this world in rejecting Zelda but while Zelda isn't a good girlfriend, I kind of don't like him taking the opportunity to shame her. I also am less interested in the middle act, even if it fits in better with the themes a little more. Nonetheless, it's not a bad episode and I do like the better gags.

Other notes:

"You sunk my scrabbleship!"
"This game makes no sense."
"Tell that to the good men who just lost their lives. Semper fi."

"You know, it's kinda ironic. These old people are being kept alive by the organs of the young people they run over."
"Makes you think, huh chief?"
"Not really."

I love when names grandpa gives people are good or bad based on how he feels. To wit, "You ungrateful milkshake."

"Dude sure got his comeuppance."
"In real life he would die."

"Movies were better in our day. For a nickel you got two movies, a cartoon, a bag of popcorn and a whuppin'. Kept your mind on your business."

This is the stupidest, most Al Jean joke and I still like it.

Rhyming maracas with Baracas? Brilliant.

Other great jokes:
The XFL opening isn't a perfect gag as I feel like it is designed to be an "of the moment gag" but I still kind of like watching Marge break the bad news to Homer, who is 100% into this league.

Yep, that's the actual "Ray Jay Johnston" in this one. I'm actually surprised they didn't get actual Charlie Callas or Yakov Smirnoff.

Zelda is played by Olympia Dukakis. Basically I had to convince everyone that it was Olympia, not Olivia. And I won. Because I'm great!

There's something I like about the way Bart and Grandpa just sit and listen and stare out the window while the Itchy and Scratchy radio show plays. I mean, what else would they do but for some reason it feels like it has... texture? If that makes a lick of sense to anyone but me.

The episode brought up Grandpa Munster so I get to post this.

This is the most transparent scam that I want to be a part of. Thanks, Grandpo.


aggro table, shmaggro table
I dunno, re: the XFL, desperate attempts from a bunch of grifters to set up a cheaper and more profitable alternative to *insert thing here* is always relevant. Especially when two of the bigger names behind it were one Donald J. Trump and Vince McMahon.


The DRKest Roe
(He, Him)
If one thing about the XFL joke doesn't really work, it's that Tommy Maddox, the MVP for the league's sole season actually got back into the NFL after the XFL folded and started for the Steelers for 2 1/2 years. He was on the team when they won Super Bowl XL, if only as a backup by that point.


Arm Candy
Kylie informed me that Branson is basically Bible Belt Vegas, so its depiction here is on point.


the room is full of ghosts
In Bart on the Road, Bart says Branson is a lot like Vegas, if it were run by Ned Flanders.

Johnny Unusual

Tales from the Public Domain

I like to know about a lot of the great works and tales but have read very few. I'm not actually a very patient reader and get distracted easily if it isn't easily digestible or in comic form. And there are older stories that still have a lot of power and great structure but archaic storytelling styles also make for a hurdle in embracing it in the way it was meant to be. Its easy to see a lot of the older tales of antiquity as something so removed it can only be enjoyed intellectually when a lot of the stories, as weird as they may seem, still speak greatly to the human condition. Though the reading of it was often a pain, I did tend to enjoy Shakespeare. Adaptations help, like Julie Taymor's Titus making me realize the story is basically Shakespeare doing a trashy edgelord bloodbath with yo mama jokes and I am HERE for it. Sometimes these things require finessing but a lot of the stories still have a life in them.

In this episode, Homer realizes he has an overdue library book and on finding it decides to read it to the kids: a book of classic tales. The stories include The Odyssey, the tale of Joan of Arc and Hamlet. In the Odyssey, Homer is Odysseus, making his ten year journey home after the end of the Trojan war. Then Lisa is Joan of Arc, commanded by God to win the war again England and using her mind to innovate for the army. Then in the last tale, Bart is Hamlet, trying to determine if his Uncle is his father's killer.

I will say that this episode is another perfectly watchable but unmemorable anthology episode. I feel like what began as pitch perfect piss takes in Simpsons Bible Stories (the end of which is a wonderful send up of Hollywood trash) and The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase seems to have lose it's luster. I think it is because those episode weren't just parodies of stories but also of particular story-telling styles. I feel like lacking the parodies of filmmaking styles, it instead feels like our favour characters inserted into famous stories. Its not as clunky as later Halloween episodes where they try to do parodies of entire TV series in 4 minutes but it leads to an episode that doesn't rise above competent.

The first story definitely speaks to me as a Greek mythology fan but on rewatch, it might be the least of the stories. I just found myself laughing less and one joke I used to quote a lot doesn't work for me anymore (re: Discus Stu, great pun aside. That said, ouzo will always be for twozo). The Joan of Arc seems like the odd one out since it is basically a true story but it does have better bits, particularly a recurring element with God being a fair-weather deity. The last story, a retelling of Hamlet, is probably my favourite simply by laugh count. Moe and Bart get a lot of good laughs and Ralph gets a few good laughs. Familiarity with the source material might help but I do believe this one is just the best joke machine of the lot.

While I do wish the show decided to say something about our relationships to the classic, maybe playing with the idea that the stories' DNA is embedded even in modern lowbrow story-telling. I don't think the episode does anything wrong, but I also don't think it does anything to stand out. I feel like I'm getting to a point in the show with a lower "cringe-inducing clunker" ratio but in its place are a few good memes but then an inability to remember much more.

Other great jokes:

"We hope you don't have a horse."
"Well... We don't have one from you."

"What are you laughing at Dad?"
"If I'm laughing at what I think I am, it's very funny."

"Well, I was in the mood for something bubbling."

"Mmm, that's the next best thing to eating Lenny."

"God wants you to lead the French army to what?"
The animation of Lisa is stiff and awkward enough that it comes around to being funnier.

"Like modern ideas, like putting bigger, harder people in the catapult. Or how about rocks?"
"I don't know how to feel right now..."

"I CAPTURED A WEE GIRL! I'm the greatest hero in English history."

The reveal of God playing both sides is pretty funny.

"Don't burn her. She's just an innocent child."
"Burn this guy. He lost the good bucket."

Bart's expression and sense of not being engaged at all works for me.

"Yeah, that was quite a weekend."


"Polonius? Why were you behind the curtain?"
"I hide behind curtains because I have a fear of getting stabbed."

"I put some poison on the food, on the drapes. Even on Rosen-Carl and Guilden-Lenny here."
"If Hamlet touches either of us, he's dead."



Sucker for lethal slapstick tonight, I guess.

Other notes:

None of the stories in "Classics for Children" seem child appropriate. Maybe the Odyssey with some HEAVY editing.


Sorry, Marge, it's never her.


Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
None of the stories in "Classics for Children" seem child appropriate. Maybe the Odyssey with some HEAVY editing.
My grandparents on my father's side had a book of old Greek mythology stories that were toned down. Stuff like Cronus killing Uranus in lieu of castrating him, Artemis simply making Actaeon drop dead for seeing her naked instead of turning him into a stag and hounds tearing him apart, that sort of thing. Some of them were obviously toned down for younger readers, but a lot of those old stories were still really dang violent!

But standards were different back then. I could totally buy someone passing off the three stories of this ep as "children's tales" in an old book.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
Meanwhile in the future
You can tell Matt was getting a bit hands off around season 23 (I believe this was when Futurama was being revived; so he would have been distracted), there’s a lot more fart jokes in the front half of this season than in the preceding 22 all put together

Johnny Unusual

I assume this is the Halloween Special which bizarrely spoofs real life inspirational story the Diving Bell and the Butterfly, but with farts?

Johnny Unusual

Blame It On Lisa

Where is the line between knowingly cheesy and just being cheesy. I feel like while I've enjoyed some stuff from this season in the show, I feel like the show has gone too far with characters telling dumb jokes where it feels like the series has turned its own irony with a comfortable but uninspired rut. I feel like the Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase and Behind the Laughter are great episodes where the series toyed with this but I feel like "The Simpsons Are Going To Delaware" went from a jab at both itself and sitcom convention and instead became a default mode. Despite my complaints, there's still definitely gas in the tank, but the show is becoming to comfortable for its own good.

In this episode, the Simpsons learn that an outrageous phone bill is a result of Lisa calling Brazil. It turns out Lisa has been sponsoring a young Brazilian boy, Ronaldo, who has gone missing. The Simpsons decide to head to Brazil to solve the mystery and end up searching the town and seeing the sights. But things get out of control when Homer ends up being kidnapped and held hostage. Meanwhile, while trying to find a way to raise funds to free Homer, they discovered that Ronaldo has actually become a TV performer and being thankful to Lisa for giving him a head start, he provides the family with the necessary money to pay the ransom.

It always pains me to say that my favourite show has a LOT of episodes, including the good ones, have aged poorly and "The Simpsons are going to _______" episodes (which are rarely the good ones) tend to age especially badly, particularly when set in predominantly non-Caucasian locales. Where does Blame It on Lisa fall in this respect? Not great but the show has done worse. This is not a defense. The episode famously caused a stir in Brazil with the episode being filled with cultural inaccuracies and stereotypes. The Brazilian tourist board got understandably upset about it and I get it, as it is filled with dumb and unfortunate representation of the country being filled with slums and thieves.

I think it is addressing actual issues that might be in the city in regards to poverty but boy is this a show not equipped to handle it. Like a lot of the travel episodes, there's very little actual insight or cleverness in regards to the country being lampooned or how the Simpsons bounce off of the locations or America's relationship with the outside world. Yeah, Homer wears a shirt about America being a hungry beast but this is not an episode ready to actually able to properly discuss the issues of crime and poverty in a foreign country in a way that resembles real life.

As for the rest of the episode, there are very few actual laughs. The episode is written by Bob Bendetson who only wrote this episode and the Connie Appleseed episode from last season. Bob wrote the famous last episode of Newhart but also seemed to do most of his writing on less respected sitcoms like ALF and Home Improvement. His last work was on a terrible sounding never released animated superhero comedy TV movie called "Big Bug Man" with Brendan Fraser and Marlon Brando (no slight on the cast, it just sounds wild). I feel like this is part of the reason the episode feels conventionally sitcom-y and limp but I think the problems are clearly baked into the writers room. After all, based on what Dana Gould described it sounded like no matter what script you bring in in terms of quality, its going to change in the writers room heavily at this stage in the show. And I feel like any personality, the good and the bad, is likely going to be churned out in favour of the jokes. And if the jokes aren't working, it is especially frustrating.

Other great jokes:

"So hot snow falls up?"

"This is a kidnapping."
"So this means I don't have to pay the fare?"

"Take that stupid bag off your head."
"No, it smells like cinnamon."

I like Moe and Homer's brief exchange resulting in calling Flanders for double the money he needs.



"He has come to identify with his kidnappers."

Other notes:

Apparently the kids show host with the rack is based on Xuxa, a real kids show host who, as far as I can tell, does have exposed, is attractive and likely did result in a sexual awakening in young kids but presenting her as a show girl seems really fucking stupid. Also a lot of her costumes looked like later series Jojo's Bizarre Adventure characters, which I am way into.


Apparently she is one of Brazil's biggest stars. If someone knows more about her, I'd love to hear about it.

Johnny Unusual

Weekend at Burnsie's

I remember as a kid being told repeatedly not to do drugs and with marijuana being treated pretty much the same as cocaine or heroin. When I got older, I started to realize how ridiculous that fear was but despite being a proponent of legalization, I never had an interest in it, much in the same way I never got interested in alcohol. I've definitely tried a small handful of times simply because I wanted to see what it felt like but the fact is each experience was a bust. I tried some THC capsules but barely even got a buzz (and what I got was just mildly unpleasant). Last month I even tried a few doobs but nothing, save for that feeling of looking cool as smoke wafts from my mouth (which is definitely worth the price of admission). I do want that feeling of just being mellowed or giggly but frankly, with each situation being a disappointment, I think it's safe to say its not going to become a habit.

In this episode, Homer goes to the doctor's after a crow attack and needs something for his eye pain. Hibbert suggests marijuana and Homer goes for it, despite some hesitancy, and immediately loves it. It begins to take over his life and identity and Homer laughing like a fool at Mr. Burns' jokes gets him a promotion. However, after medical marijuana is recriminalized, Homer makes a promise to no longer partake. When Homer attends a private meeting to hear Mr. Burns' speech to his investors and unable to laugh at his dated references, Homer is tempted to smoke again or risk being fired. Smithers takes Homer's last doob instead and while he is getting high, Burns' seemingly dies. To save the plant, the duo resorts to Weekend at Bernie's shenanigans which pleases the investors and revives Burns.

Weekend at Burnsie's is perfectly watchable from a jokes perspective but outside of that its a pretty superficial and uninspired approach to pot, even at the time, and the last act makes little sense in terms of how it relates to the main ideas, what little there are. I mean, I know what this episode is about in the most surface level but beyond that, it feels like weed decorations on a generic Simpsons plot. Homer making his promise to Marge never to smoke pot again feels like its been slotted in and the fact that it is pot and that it is probably on of Homer's LEAST harmful habits (how about "no strangling your son"). And when we get to Homer's moment of temptation, it's... over in a second with no issues whatsoever, forcing me to ask, why even introduce that? The Mr. Burns finally doesn't tie well into what little ideas the episode has.

Look, I've never gotten properly high but I know enough to know how off-base everything is hear. I'm pretty sure that while you can get super spaced out and such, I'm pretty sure that you aren't seeing flying cars and smiling razorblades. The episode itself is also very middle of the road in a "what's the point?" way. I feel pretty confident the Simpsons writers are likely pro pot but the show also seems to be on the side of Marge of wanting Homer to return to his status quo. And Homer is just ridiculously different and I can't imagine his prescription providing him with enough pot to keep him high 24/7 the way he is in the episode. It even hints at marijuana being mildly addictive in the sense that Homer has to quit "cold turkey".

I think the episode touches on potentially interesting ideas, barely, on the idea that Homer is such id that he would go whole hog into a new identity but generally its a whole load of pot clichés with the Simpsons rather than actually having the show created by a guy from a hippie background maybe using the platform to de-mystify while remaining funny. Educating people doesn't sound funny but it feels like you could easily have Marge realizing that what the media has told her is wrong and have fun with that. While I think the problem is mostly in the script and that apparently in the writers room they decided to "both sides" this, the episode had the Fox executives nervous and the show had to makes some compromises. Suddenly 2002 feels so long ago. Overall, the episode feels like a throwback in a weak way, saved a bit by some good bits.

Other great jokes:
Despite my complaints, there are a good amount here.

"I'm kind of nervous here. We haven't seen Barney since they enveloped him."

"It's a MURDER, honey. A group of crows is called a MURDER."

"I told you, I pissed it away. Oh, don't make that face."

"Yes! That's the one!"

"Shemp is hemp spelled backwards."
"And Otto is Otto spelled backwards."
"Now I'm scared."

"Wow, this guy is seriously ill."
"My doctor never told me that. I had to hear it from Phish."

"They call em fingers but I never see them fing. Oh, there they go."

"I could have smoked that pot and worn that hair."

"I want my old dad back, the one who was yelling all the time and... you know, I don't know what I want."

Other notes:
High Homer just loving Flanders is adorable.

Phish feels like a band everyone likes to rag on but while I'm not into them, I don't feel like they feel particularly deserving of spite. Of course, I would have said the same thing about CAKE if I heard only one CAKE song and not that whole album where the producer keeps looping in "OH YEAH" and "OH NO".

I like high Smithers. Low key but happy.

Johnny Unusual

Gump Roast

Like many people, I loved Forrest Gump when it came out. Now, I have a lot of problems with it. There's the obvious issue of the treacly way a man with a mental disability is presented but even beyond that it's sort of a baby boomer victory lap. Zemeckis is a fantastic director and even a lot of his lesser movies are extremely watchable, Forrest Gump included. But it's also a movie that looks at the 60s and 70s through the most superficial way possible. There are protests and such but it seems scared to actually say anything about the decade to the point where the film doesn't want to lean in any political direction to a very weird degree. It's basically a best of through a particular character's eye and the fact that he has a different perspective than most should be illuminating, rather than obscuring.

In this episode, Homer ends up at a celebratory roast where his friends and family reminisce about his wacky adventures. However, the event is interrupted by Kang and Kodos, who decide to judge humanity based on Homer's memories. They deem humanity not worth saving but when they scan Maggie's memories, they see memories of their favourite celebrities, causing them to reconsider their invasion plans.

Gump Roast is a clips show and its not very good. Like the All-Singing, All-Dancing episode, there is a notably good bit in here, the "You'll Never Stop the Simpsons" and even then, it's only in the latter half when they start suggesting terrible episode premises. Otherwise, it's pretty weak for obvious reasons. The episode is actually written by wife and husband team of Deb Lacusta and Dan Castellaneta and one would hope for Dan to pick his favourite clips, which I think he probably did. But out of context, a lot of the gags aren't as fun and also not picking a beer baron clip feels like a serious oversight.

There's only one perfect clips show and that's the 138th Episode Spectacular. We had new footage, insights and actual funny jokes. It was an episode that actually provided us with something new. The episode where they discuss love is bad but some of the meta-commentary is funny at times. The first clips show was actually nice enough to make the first act clip free. So this might be the worst of them. There are a lot of jokes that don't work and are quite cheesy. There are a few legit good jokes but I feel like, again, the show has gone too far into the ironic humour rabbit hole. A little makes for a good seasoning but too much is kind of eye-rolling. I wish this episode had a bit more meta-commentary on the nature of the actual clips or even using what we see as a commentary on the show or the character of Homer but there's not much to salvage this one.

Other great jokes:
There are actually a few, despite my complaints.

"Then there's the day that changes every couple forever; the day we got our elephant."

"I first met Homer in 1927 in a bar in Brooklyn. Little did I know that he'd soon become Mrs. Joe DiMaggio."

"Our planet has been observing your puny species since your planet was created. 5000 years ago. By God."

"He is the fat, selfish epitome of modern man."
"Hey, he stole my bit."
"Now we'll probe you to see if you are worthy."
"Word for word."

Moe with the cell phone completely makes that bit for me.

Other notes:
You can't have Homer having memories of his car and then have the last one be Moe's car!

It's weird to have Burns give a damning speech about Homer with Smithers laughing. It feels like the places should be changed for those characters.

If I had to half the ironically bad bits, I'd cut out Bart and Lisa's knowingly bad speech and keep Flanders and Lovejoy's terrible comedy bit. I feel like it would have worked better for me if it was the one "terrible" bit in the episode.