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

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

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

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

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

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

    ~TT Moderation Staff

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

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Moe Baby Blues

Between 2017 and 2021, I watched over my niece and later nephew as a nanny. Last month I had my last time with them in that capacity. It wasn't the last day I cried, it was the second to last, after work and after a staff meeting for my new job. I wasn't "sad" but I had spent much of the evening crying until I was done, then watched Hot Fuzz (somehow the gory action movie became my one of my comfort food movies). I wasn't "sad" but I was grieving the end of an era that meant a lot to me. I had grown very close to the kids and working with them and helping to educate them and get them exercise made me feel like I was more than an uncle. And I was always a little worried about if I was being a little too possessive, as I was incredibly invested in their well-being. I still see them and they still love me but it does feel different now.

In this episode, Moe is feeling particularly lonely and attempts suicide. Just as he is about to, he inadvertently saves Maggie from falling off a bridge. Soon, the two develop a strong and loving bond and Moe becomes Maggie's babysitter in the daytime. However, the Simpsons start to worry that he's becoming too territorial and intrusive, which comes to a head when they catch Moe coming in late at night to take care of her. The Simpsons banish Moe from their home and later that night Maggie goes missing. The Simpsons assume Moe is to blame but when he is found to be innocent (of that, anyway), he helps the Simpsons track her down. It turns out that Maggie followed some gangsters into a restaurant in time for a stand off. Moe de-escalates the situation and rescues Maggie and Moe is invited back into her life.

I think Moe Baby Blues is my favourite episode of season 14. I feel like I spend most of this season saying "this COULD have been good but..." with a few low-key gems but this episode feels like the strongest all around. Structurally, it feels like this era but I feel the quality shows that with the right writing, the kind of story-telling outside of the Golden Age can work. Moe trying commit suicide as a is always a bit rough but otherwise it is a story I relate to a lot, as a lonely guy who finds friendship with a child. Often, when the Simpsons doesn't end an act on a gag, it can feel awkward. But not here. Moe looking at Maggie and saying though a crooked smile "Heh, life don't seem so hard no more," is a powerful moment, and it almost earns the suicide aspect. It's a moment of genuine emotion that is shockingly effective. We've spent lots of time with Moe and on occasion he can be sympathetic but here it's a special kind of vulnerable and I think that one moment actually improves everything that comes after.

And the stuff that comes after is still good. It's a story rooted in character and does justice to the character of Moe. He's a guy who is filled with rage and ugliness desperate for love but having trouble knowing how to give it. Finally, he has someone in his life who loves him and doesn't judge him and makes him feel good about himself. And he gives Maggie loves and understands her and in a very flawed way is a good caretaker... until he starts crossing lines. He starts denigrating the other people in Maggie's life and clearly wants to rush in to situations he doesn't have a right to get involved. And this I always understand. I definitely haven't snuck into my sister's home to coddle her kids but there are times, I worry my attachment is too strong or I am still figuring certain parenting bounds. Moe is in the wrong but he remains sympathetic as a sad guy who is his own worst enemy.

Hank Azaria is clearly someone with a lot of love for his characters. He's clearly happy to do the dumb jokes for the non-emotional episodes but when episodes about Apu or Moe take on an emotional dimension, he goes all in. It's sad that it's so infrequent because his work with Moe throughout is stellar, selling his sadness and joy perfectly. This is a well-paced episode, which is an issue with post-Golden Age episodes, so that means a lot and there's not distractions via b-plot (maybe they should just drop them, I feel like they get in the way going forward). It'd breathing room even gives it time for Moe to have a recap of the Godfather and while it doesn't need to be in the episode, it helps give it some personality. It's an episode that takes it's premise and properly explores its emotional and comedic contours and while I wouldn't put it as a favourite, it results in a very satisfying episode.

Other great jokes:

"You can either walk out with dignity or I can push you down this muddy hill."
"Seeing as I'm desperate for any human contact, I'd prefer that you push me,"



"I peed my pants."
"I recorded that for private use!"

"You guys mind if I kiss your tummies."
*barflies extremely amenable to this idea.*

"We have a special bond, even greater than her bond with the duck-shaped washcloth."

"Marge, do mobsters ever congregate outside your house?"
"All the time. Sometimes I make them lemonade."
Sometimes I tire of putting a hat on contrived plot elements, but I still like this.

Other notes:

I'd be happy to see more of the Homer/Burns/Smithers carpool.

This is the first episode of J. Stewart Burns, who wrote the later era classic Holidays of Future Passed. He also wrote that one really transphobic with Patty.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Treehouse of Horror XIV

Ah, Halloween. I love the season and while it is a shame that covid is definitely putting a damper on some plans, it's definitely a holiday that can be enjoyed from home. This month, I subscribed to Shudder, playing Castlevania games and reading horror comics I've saved up all year. I tend to binge it during this time, then clear out my head with some heartwarming dramas, comedies and Disney movies come November. It's probably going to be my nephew's first outing as well. Can't wait to see it. So I figured that before Halloween, it would make sense to make this the last episode review before November. And it's actually a pretty decent one.

In this episode, three more tales of comical horror happen. In the first story, Homer kills the grim reaper and finds he must become him to restore the natural order. Homer soon starts abusing his power until he's ordered to kill Marge. Homer tricks God out of killing Marge and escapes. In the second story, a loose parody of Frankenstein, Prof. Frink is going to win the Nobel Peace Prize and resurrects his father so he can join him. But the senior Frink wants fresh body parts and starts stealing them from Springfield residents. Frink Sr. eventually comes to his senses to patch things up with his son, only to go on a rampage of brain-stealing until Prof. Frink stops him and keeps his soul in a box. In the last tale, a parody of the Twilight Zone episode "A Kind of Stopwatch", Bart and Milhouse get their hands on a stopwatch that can stop time. They use it for pranks but when it breaks, they spend 15 years in a frozen moment fixing it and starting time again.

This episode is basically what I want from a Halloween episode; using fantastical premises for fun visual gags and clever ideas. Each story has something good to offer and are all fairly funny. The first story having Homer as death leads to some good gags, such as the world without death and a very silly climax. I love the ineffectual portrayal of God that leads to a 70s car chase (without cars) that God loses and gives up on. He can be easily tricked and can't tell the difference between Patty and Selma. I think it's the one with the most laughs in terms of ratio and I suspect that this is because it's a Swartzwelder joint and him being unleashed from reality works for him. Frankly, I think it's a shame he didn't do any Futurama, I'd love to see what he would do on that show.

The next tale also has his kind of weird humour but beyond that there's a fun turn by guest star Jerry Lewis. Obviously, it was a big deal for him to play the father of the character he inspired and in the episode itself, I'm impressed how he goes into both his normal speaking voice and the parody of himself. I haven't seen many Lewis works but I feel like he's having to work with not the voice he used but with the one the Simpsons mutated it into and it works. I got the impression that Lewis might have been somewhat prickly in his later year but he definitely seems game. The elder Frink also might talk like his son but I feel like he's also notably different, not only for being the villain but being more overtly Hebraic and domineering. He doesn't quite sell his first face turn but I do think the second one works for me because while it's too silly and sudden to actually have an emotional impact, he plays it that way and does it well.

The last tale is the weakest but it's still full of laughs, having fun with the time stop visual gags, particularly when Bart and Milhouse prank Homer in repeated succession. But apart from that, I feel like the gags don't hit quite as hard. The last set of visuals feel less like actual jokes and more like fun fan art, which is definitely fun but I feel like it reflects the softer gags of the episode. It just is a little less memorable by the standards of the rest of the episode.

Other great jokes:

"Don't take me, take Milhouse. We both know there's no happy ending there."

"This is for Snowball I and JFK!"

"I might occasionally kill out of anger or to prove a point..."

"Jasper, your time has come."
"Where's the regular guy? Where's Doug?"
"He's gone. I'm death now."
"Oh, I miss Doug."

"Hey, wait a minute, this isn't Marge! This is her fat sister, Selma. It's Patty. chump!"

"Nobel Prize? Finally! So what is this for, my whole deal?"

"Now, we had to replace several vital organs with machinery but that doesn't make you any less of a man, except you have no penis. In the traditional sense."

"You know, Dr. Herschbaum, our jobs are not that different."
"I disagree."

"I wish I was Death again. That was cool."

"Yeah, I thought I'd be happy with my parents back together, but it's kind of hollow."



Other notes:

The gag with the hobo being killed for a school assignment feels like a Swartzwelder thing, doesn't it.

Lisa explaining the 21st Century is too on the nose but remains sadly true.
 

FelixSH

(He/Him)
This is a funny joke, but that hand looks really off to me. Like, too realistic and (assuming this is Homer) too slim. Weird.

That Halloween episode sounds like fun. The last part, being frozen in time for 15 years, sounds really fascinating and emotionally potent. I guess I need to read the story at some point.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
This is a funny joke, but that hand looks really off to me. Like, too realistic and (assuming this is Homer) too slim. Weird.

That Halloween episode sounds like fun. The last part, being frozen in time for 15 years, sounds really fascinating and emotionally potent. I guess I need to read the story at some point.
That's Moe's hand.

The story it's adapting doesn't quite have this plot and to my memory it's one of the Twilight Zone episodes where there is karmic justice and the main antihero breaks the watch at story's end as he's robbing a bank, trapping him forever in a moment while he pleads to the frozen crowd for help.

I'm also reminded of a 80s Twilight Zone where a couple is trapped in a moment in time and learn every moment is actually like a film set with teamsters breaking it down and setting up the next one.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
there’s also another 80s Twilight Zone episode where the protagonist freezes time just as a nuclear war starts.

That’s less karmic, since it was kind of beyond her ability to stop; outside of the fact that she taunted people at an anti-nuclear arms protest instead of joining in, I guess.
 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
Apparently Disney + is now adding new episodes as they air, as opposed to in one lump as a season finishes.

If it weren’t latter Simpsons, that’d be a pretty good service. But it IS latter Simpsons so… mitigated success
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
My Mother the Carjacker

It's hard to capture lightning in a bottle. The Simpsons have done a few sequels and follow ups to previous episodes and for the most part with not much luck. The two exceptions are the Treehouse of Horror, but that's a format rather than a plot, and the Sideshow Bob ones, which became very much their own thing within the Simpsons-verse. But I can definitely think of more examples of diminishing returns. The Holidays of Future Passed was one of the best episodes of it's era and the next year they had another follow up that was notably worse. I get the desire because even though they are diminishing returns, they are more opportunities to explore something different. Like Homer's relationship with his mom.

In this episode, Homer tries to win a prize for an accidentally hilarious headline and ends up stumbling onto a secret message meant for him. He follows the clue and ends up in a secret meeting with his mother, who wants to catch up with her son. However, Mona ends up being captured and put on trial. Homer's heartfelt plea ends up winning the case and Homer and Mona spend their days making up for lost time and she ends up moving in. Things are going well until a vengeful Mr. Burns ends up tricking her into admitting to a minor technicality that allows Mona to be taken to federal prison. Homer decides to rescue her but she ends up stopping him from being caught by the police and seemingly dies. In a secret message unfound by Homer, Mona reveals she is still alive, though even without the correct message, Homer wants to believe she is alive.

This episode is the first episode written by Michael Price, who would go on to supervise produce a bunch of episodes down the line and it's pretty brave to start with a sequel to an all time classic. And the result is... well, it is a diminishing return but it is pretty inoffensive. There's some pretty hokey hippie/60s jokes and while Glenn Close does what she can, she isn't given a lot of emotional weight to work with as she did in her previous appearance, which is a shame. It's not to surprising considering what the Simpsons has become at this point. But also because of what the show is, it's nice that it wasn't actively ill-considered. In fact, for it's follies, I think there is some good consideration about it.

I feel like this is an episode that has the skeleton of something more emotionally thoughtful than the final product. It's an episode essentially about Mona feeling regret considering the cost of her brave actions and that's interesting. It ties into the climax when the problem Homer faces is doing the same thing and his children losing their dad. But I feel like it is unfortunately mostly surface and sadly doesn't get to the real emotion of it and that's a shame. It's stated by characters but it isn't properly blended into the plot or humour and it ends up with an OK but forgettable episode.

It doesn't help I see the Simpsons making a lot of the kind of jokes I'm not as enamored of. No, it's not the BAD kind, just lazy. Homer making a slam on Disney's California Adventure, A joke about attorneys that feel TOO on the nose with it's commentary. I think the reason I'm less patient with these jokes despite being the kind of guy who would make them is I feel like I've seen the formula of them too often and they feel like they are constructed in a way to easily slot pet peeves into. I would much rather the kind of weirdly constructed wordplay or weird specificity that I love the show for. There's some good stuff in here, but I just wish for something more from an episode that's a sequel to one of it's best.

Other great jokes:


I'm not super into Mel being too into where the jury was staying but I love how he eventually just turns on it while no one is around.

"They never did find her body."
"Then what was in the coffin."
"Last week's garbage. I missed the pick up date."
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The President Wore Pearls

As I write this, the public schools are closed due to a union worker strike. This strike effects other industries but this is most notable for me who works in the childcare industry. Weirdly, this strike works to my benefit: I'm now getting more hours at my job in preschool and afterschool. But I have sympathy for the workers asking for a reasonable living wage increase and the parents who need to both work and find a way to take care of their kids. I admit, there's a lot of the story I haven't been paying attention to but generally speaking, I'm on the side of people who are fighting for being able to better live off the work they do, as I feel like it will result in a better world for all.

In this episode, a parody of the musical Evita, Lisa Simpson manages to become student body president in a landslide by the faculty is hesitant as Lisa is principled in a way that is counter to their goals. They decide to blind Lisa with a glamourous new look and perks while Principal Skinner removes music, gym and art to save money. When the plot is revealed, Lisa is upset to learn she was tricked and decides to hold a student strike for the sake of the school. The school decides to send her to a more prestigious school so she can't lead the strike, though Homer brings her back simply because it is too far away.

The President Wore Pearls is a so-so episode that has some interesting ideas and it raises a question in me: did being an Evita parody benefit the episode or hurt it. I'm not sure myself, and not knowing much about Evita doesn't help. Is it the same movie as "Beautician and the Beast"? Anyway, on the "yes" side, I like the idea of a student strike episode, as the show has done good strike episodes before and a student strike is a new angle. But as I feel like I have a little less faith in modern Simpsons to do what I want, maybe mixing it up with a musical adds something to what could have been more generic.

But on the "no" side... it's still a generic episode. Very much so. The songs aren't that good and I suspect I might be less interested if I did like the original. Though I imagine I wouldn't, simply because I don't think I've ever liked an Andrew Lloyd Webber thing that wasn't Paul F Tompkins-related.


The songs are among the weaker and I don't think it really enhances the episode. What's more, I think adhering to the format ends in a non-ending where the resolution is off-handedly handled. I think I'd much rather if the show went for a straightforward tale rather than this, simply because what I feel is the meat of the episode is relegated to the final act. Though Skinner refers to his evil plan, once more his character is simply acting out of desperation because the school is doing VERY badly., The episode refers to it but doesn't do much with it.

As mentioned, that last act is much more interesting than the rest and could have explored some stuff. It also touches on the stuff like Lisa, a person who wants to implement real world change, coming to realize how impotent in power an elementary student body president might be. All she really has is a voice and she needs to use that. But I feel like these interesting ideas are brought up and as is increasingly the case, isn't really dug into in anything but the most superficial way. And that's a shame, because I think though episodes like these have something to say in a broad sense, they tend to feel sadly a little hollow. Still, it's not an episode without merit. There are some funny jokes and I like Harry Shearer getting to sing as Skinner for some reason.

Other great jokes:

"Wow, she even beat perennial write-in candidate Skinner Sucks."

"I got no friends so I confide in Willy!"

"Lisa, student government is meaningless. Look at your constitution. It's written on the back of a placemat."
"And not a good placemat either. It's from a place called Doodles."

"Any student caught striking will be severely disciplined. Unless all of you do it. Then I'm stymied."
Basically, my relationship with the kids.

"I had to do what I did. Our budget is stretched thinner than mother's sauna pants."
"Seymour! Quit using me in analogies!"
"Seymour! Quit using me in analogies."

Other notes:
Russi Taylor sells poor Martin being harrassed by adults expecting money.

Skinner claims Saved By the Bell was on too late for him... but wasn't it a Saturday Morning sitcom? I hope someone got fired over that one.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Regina Monologues

I've visited England twice in my life. Once when I was 6, my family spent a summer in Europe, visiting many countries. While I had memories of other sites in other countries, the only thing I remembered was it was my first exposure to the Adam West Batman on TV and we went to see Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (I was... not ready for that movie). The second visit was in around 2012, where we visited my sister and her partner and did a lot of fun stuff. That trip was an absolute delight; I got to do high tea in a super fancy restaurant, a Doctor Who exhibit, a history of cartooning exhibit, a boat tour of the water ways. It was a blast and I hope to do it again some day, though I suspect if I do it will be in the far-away future. For now, it feels more like a distant fantasy land. Speaking of...

In this episode, the Simpsons manage to snag enough funds for a vacation and decide to visit England. During their trip, they see the sites but eventually Homer accidentally rear-ends the Queen. Homer's obnoxious behaviour in court ends up having him imprisoned within the royal palace. Homer escapes, only to run afoul the Queen again. Before he can put him away, he has a heart to heart and the Queen forgives him, letting him go back to America.

In general, the Simpsons "The Simpsons are going to ______" episode have aged poorly. A lot of them are all like "weird culture, huh?" Bart Vs. Australia aged very good because I feel like the target and the way the jokes are handled feel far less racially questionable. So going to England seems like it is an episode less fraught with being problematic. And I guess it is but, well, Tony Blair has a guest turn and let's face it, it certainly looks stupid now but it feels like it was never good to play "good sport" with most contemporary politicians, let alone a conservative one with some shitty stuff under his belt. The whole scene is pretty cringey both based on "cool, Tony Blair" and simply because it isn't that well written and clearly Blair is NOT an actor. There's also JK Rowling, who we would only learn is a crappy person over a decade later so it's not really there fault (though the episode's gender-based jokes feel of a piece in retrospect).

Over alll, the Regina Monologues is pretty damned inconsequential. It actually IS about something, as it is speaking to America's obnoxious look on the world stage in the 21st century. But while the point is hammered home many times, its all surface level stuff. Really, the show is understandably much more interested with... well... jokes about England. It's far less interested in a plot even more than MOST Simpsons travel episodes, if the anemic synopsis can attest to. It also isn't interested in character, except to see how to bounce the established characters off of the country and culture (through an American lens).

So does it work? I mean, inconsequential doesn't mean bad and it's perfectly OK to be weak on plot and character. No really, despite this being a common refrain, there are lots of Simpsons that work entirely on jokes. And this IS a John Swartzwelder episode, which often means some well constructed bits. And there are. But there are also many weak bits. Thankfully, this doesn't include too much of Swartzwelder's weird punching down habit that I've noticed, nor some of his more questionable politics. But the more the show gets into an actual story, it starts to weaken across the board. If you want a laundry list of good jokes, this one starts pretty great and kind of tapers off until there are only a scant few notable gags around the last act.

Other great jokes:

On peanuts: "Look, Smithers, crackleberries!"

"Why don't you use your ATM card?"
"Oh, yes, the automated teller machine-eola-trola-maton."
For the best, I don't think Burns ever went more ridiculous in terms of made up old-timey talk.

"Can you describe the bill?"
"Oh, sure."
"Whose face is on it,"
"It's got to be someone famous. I'm gonna say... Hitler."

"Does the bill have bank teller blood on it."
"No, it doesn't."
"I'm sorry I've wasted your time."

"It's Bart's moon party from outer space, with R2D2 playin' the bass!"
"Oh, no one's touching the hor d'oeuvres."
I love how concerned he is and also Homer just... singing the song in Bart's head.



"Look at the crosshatching on Grover Cleveland's tie! I completely buy the illusion of shadow!"

"When the errant bill struck my chest, it left a distinctive bruise. Had my heart been inside at the time, it could have been fatal."



They seem so happy.

"Here luggage is inscribed HRH, which means her real name must be Henrietta R Hippo!"

"And then as I was innocently making my way to the shops to buy lightbulbs..."

I like that Bart's fear that Homer might end up in an elephant's butt seems genuine. He seems quite worried about this.

Other notes:

Ian McKellan's bit isn't particularly strong but he has such a good voice and capping it with Homer thinking his name is Mr. MacBeth is funny to me.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
And I guess it is but, well, Tony Blair has a guest turn and let's face it, it certainly looks stupid now but it feels like it was never good to play "good sport" with most contemporary politicians, let alone a conservative one with some shitty stuff under his belt.
I've been watching some Bad Simpsons lately and you're a few seasons away from one featuring Rudy Giuliani.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
The Fat and the Furriest

I'd like to be a brave person but I highly doubt I am. I tend to freeze up at the slightest confrontation. I'm scared of people being angry and I'm usually halted to be absolutely sure I'm in the right before defending myself. And I'm rarely sure. But I have surprised myself before. I had a small claims case for a boss who instead of giving me the money owed, basically lectured me for a couple hours on how disappointed he was in me. And he's the guy who left me behind for months after saying he was going to be gone for a couple weeks. Anyway, at the trial itself, I found my ability to stand up for myself came with more ease than I thought. But this was after months of fretting and stress. I'm sure by then, the actual confrontation was practically a relief.

In this episode, Homer is attacked by a bear on a trip to the dump. The attack is caught on film where Homer is shown to be overwhelmed by fear to an embarrassing degree. Humiliated and now with arkoudaphobia, Homer finds himself troubled in his day to day life. Grandpa tells Homer to hunt down the bear to overcome his fear and regain his self-esteem, so Homer makes a bear resistant armor with the intent of fighting the bear. However, during the hunt Homer is caught without it on and the bear carries him off. Homer realizes that the bear's belligerent nature is spurred by an electrified tracking tag, which he removes. Homer befriends the bear and after realizing a team of hunters is after the bear to save him, he decides to take the bear to a wildlife preserve. Homer gives the bear his armor to protect against bullets from the hunters and it manages to make it home.

The Fat and the Furriest is another episode I tend to think of in this era; not notably strong but also not particularly weak. Unambitious but not without merit. But it does have a few advantages over some of the other episodes. I think it does an OK job about being an episode about Homer living with fear, even if it doesn't utilize it's emotional core enough, as it is more interested in antics. This is done much better in the first two acts of The Strong Arms of the Ma, an episode that is both the extremes of very strongly written and performed and very bad at the finish line. It would be hard for me to decide between this very mild episode and the other episode that is ambitious and raw but also takes an unpleasant turn.

One advantage the episode has is the dulcet tones of Charles Napier. Even though this is his first Simpsons appearances, fans still might recognize him as Duke Phillips, the unscrupulous billionaire boss in The Critic. Here, he's a hunter who seems to love his cruelty but also has a slight tinge of sensitivity. The actor really makes it work and since I feel Napier isn't the hardest get, I kind of wish they kept him as a recurring figure in the same way Fat Tony is. After all, with Hartman gone for several seasons now, maybe you'd need a heavy hitter again.

It really is an episode where it is more antic-based, where it's most interesting element is relegated to the middle act, with the first act silly candy fluff and the last act being "Homer befriends a bear". And are the antics good? There's some decent stuff in there but I feel this is also the era where the humour feels a lot less ambitious and idiosyncratic. On the plus side, I feel like the show is straying a little further away from their Simpsons Smile Time Variety Hour forms that I feel they've been drawn into in the last few years, though I'm sure they'll return to that orbit soon. But as I've complained about before, I feel like it's hit a rhythm that's too comfortable to actually elicit laughter, as many of the jokes fall into the same mold. As a kid, I felt that the show utilized a rainbow of humour-styles but even now, this rainbow has gotten dull.

Other great jokes:

"That's it, kids. Suckle daddy's sugar ball."

"I was saving sugar for my wedding night."

"That hilarious footage was shot by local hunter Grant Hunter, not with a gun but with a camera."
"Yes, I often get guns and cameras confused. One time tragically, at a wedding."



Other notes:
I didn't feel like it was a "great joke" but I do like this on a visual level.



Also not "funny" but I like the character aspect of Lisa wanting to try on one of Homer's crazy costumes and then laughing at her own dumb joke.

 

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
(He/Him)
I have to assume so. And not Grizzly Man, like I had always assumed.

Incidentally, I’m midway through season 25 which has, largely, been A big improvement for the show.

And then I reached an episode where Sideshow Bob gives himself superpowers by working at a GMO.

Which ends with a touching memorial for Marcia Wallace.

Shows really all over the place with that’un
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Today I Am a Clown

Technically, I was raised Catholic, but the fact is... I kind of don't know a lot about it. Oh, I often go to church once a year to join my mom in Christmas mass, which is pleasant enough, but I kind of stopped believing when I was 14, so even when I was doing my confirmation, I was pretty checked out. Even though no one tried to make me feel as such, I was ashamed at my lack of belief so I tended not to actually be all that curious, instead going through the ritualistic motions. Ironically, I feel like I'm more interested in religious culture the further away I am from it, actually considering the philosophy beyond simply "be good to people" (though that's a nice philosophy).

In this episode, Krusty notices he isn't on Springfield's Jewish Walk of Fame and enquires about it. It turns out Krusty did not have a bar mitzvah and is not considered Jewish in the eyes of his community. Krusty decides this is something seriously missing in his life and decides to prepare for one with his father. As he begins practicing more, he decides to stop filming shows on the sabbath, instead replacing Saturday shows with Homer Simpson, believing he won't show him up. Homer's inane musings become addictive TV and Krusty is in favour of Homer. Krusty decides to make a comeback by filming his bar mitzvah as a garish TV special. After he finishes filming, he notes his father being disheartened by the schedule and decides to have a smaller ceremony for him and his father.

Today I Am a Clown is a mess of an episode with a couple interesting ideas. I think it could have been interesting to explore ideas of performative and personal belief or if Krusty's turn to religion is self-serving or filling a much needed void in his soul he tries to fill with fame. The thing is, the stuff is kind of in there but, as is often the case, it is all in the most superficial manner. And once more it gestures to interesting ideas about its character without getting to say much. I seriously don't know if this was a much stronger episodes that got warped in the writer's room or if there was hope it would be improved there. But as it stands, it's an episode that's lacking.

The b-plot is worse, in that the jokes don't work that much and the ideas are rehashes of better episodes and even within the loosey-goosey nature of Simpsons logic, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. Why is a Saturday replacement getting Krusty fired? Why is Krusty's replacement clearly a show for adults? I feel like the work to create a b-plot that connects to the a-plot isn't there and they just needed it to happen. The idea is when Homer starts putting actual substance in his show he loses his audience and I feel like that is a lazy plot and that within this show it's been done much better. I'm thinking of Bart trying to break out beyond a catchphrase or Homer losing his hair and people refusing to listen to him because of that. I still think you could make a clever or meaningful b-plot within this scaffolding but this ain't it.

This one has a few good jokes and some guest stars. Sadly, Jackie Mason's returning role is pretty thankless, as he doesn't get many good lines as he did in his first appearance. He's more of an exposition guy and plot point. Mr. T, however, gets to acquit himself better with what little dialogue he gets. I think that while people think of him purely in terms of kitsch value, he does carry it well, which actually counts for a lot. Gary Coleman did the same though he got much better gags and a better overall episode. Instead, he's doing good work in an episode that's overall lackluster.

Other great jokes:

Snake "stealing" a dog works for me.

"I thought I was a self-hating Jew but it turns out I was a plain old anti-Semite."
"We have much to discuss..."


"Disco Stu knows his place."

Other notes:
The story starts off with Maggie trapped in the bathroom and that two minutes of business never factors into anything.

I like how jazzed Homer is to play air hockey with a sex worker for money.

I'm shocked Homer seems to love Marge's sundaes.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
'Tis the Fifteenth Season

Look, I wouldn't identify myself as a materialist but I'm only human. I want things. I love getting things. I love giving things. I like putting some thought into it. So I love Christmas. I get stuff and I get to see people happy (if I did it right) with the stuff I gave them. I've heard that giving stuff actually results in more endorphins than getting and shopping itself can also have a small euphoric effect and often am worry "Am I spending too much when people are generally as happy with a nice cheaper gift? Do I just hit my pleasure button at the expense of my wallet?" I suppose if everyone feels good it shouldn't matter but considering I get more anti-capitalist as I get older, perhaps I reneed to think stuff. But also... I like what I like and it's my duty to please that booty... by which I mean a synonym for stalking.

In this episode, Homer gets extra spending money after receiving and selling a Joe DiMaggio rookie card. The Simpsons decide to go on a Christmas shopping spree and Homer ends up buying an extravagant gift... for himself. The Simpsons learn and are miffed and Homer doesn't care... until he watches an animated version of A Christmas Carol on TV and is deeply affected by it. He decides to spend the rest of the season doing good will. This causes Flanders to become jealous of Homer's newfound Samaritan persona and decides to top him by giving everyone a gift. Homer begins to feel competitive but Lisa suggests he stop thinking of Christmas in materialistic ways. Homer takes the message the wrong way and decides Springfield would benefit from losing all of their gifts. Springfield is enraged by Homer and Flanders manage to calm down the crowd and Homer randomly returns the gifts.

Going through a lot of these on rewatch, part of me wonders if my harshness is based on a narrow set of expectations for a good episode, often lamenting a lack of humanity. I think this episode is a non-sentimental episode but I do think it is a very good one all the same, in part because it IS doing another thing a lot of these other episodes lack (aside from being funny); it's exploring it's interesting idea very well. Specifically, it is an episode exploring the idea of gift-giving on Christmas and our mentality towards it. Homer starts off selfish as one might expect but as the episode goes on, he seems to not just being a do gooder because it is right but because he is chasing a high of being loved. The desire to do good proves to have a selfish component itself when Homer and Flanders could easily do good together (and probably still feel good). I also like that in the end people don't seem to care what they get, it's just nice to get something. I'm sure I could find a use for a nice brassiere.

The other thing I like is how it uses A Christmas Carol, acknowledging that a story that actually does have true emotional power has been so well-mined, it is easy to forget that it is a good story in the structure and in the telling when it is relegated to formula. And because of that, it is also easy to forget the finer points of the message. This episode has some surprisingly sharp little barbs about capitalism and I think it is in the episode. It's not even just "Christmas is too commercial/materialistic" which I feel is often put down to the individual in a lot of Christmas specials so much as "capitalism is a toxic omnipresent force that is pretty hard to escape". A Christmas Carol clearly and unsubtly satired views and comments at the time of the rising industrial age in the mouth of its villain who learns to treat humans right. Obviously, this episode isn't as good but this is still doing a lot of right things.

'Tis the Fifteenth Season isn't the strongest episode of the show but it works very well and I wish more of the episodes of this era was as good. Most importantly it is full of good jokes but beyond that, it's ideas hold my interest. It doesn't come to a concrete conclusion nor does it need to when it is questioning our relationship with its gift giving and charity but it does a great job exploring its ideas rather than simply being joke scaffolding. It has actual ideas. The episode is written by Michael Price and looking at some of his episodes, he does some ones I am interested in, that explore characters and ideas. Not all of them are good but even some of the more questionable ones are ones I remember being interesting at least. I'll definitely be interested to see how well some of his hold up after this.

Other great jokes:

"For every dollar of Krusty merchandise you buy, I will be nice to a sick kid. For legal purposes 'sick kid' may include hookers with a cold."

"And the first season of Magnum PI with commentary by John Hillerman. Apparently, working in Hawaii was a pleasure."



"10-4 King of the Jews..."

"There's a trickle down theory here. If I'm happy, I'm less abusive to the rest of you."
CAPITALISM

"Santa was in an awful pickle. Beatniks gave drugs to the reindeer and they were NO DARN GOOD. So Santa placed a call to Secretary of Defense Melvin Lehr..."

"Oh, McGrew, once again you've mistaken something for something."

"Unloved by Al?! NOOOOOO!"

Mostly I love Marge's reaction to the last one. And she is correct.

"Listen Lenny, I know I was a pretty bad secret santa so I wanted to make it up to you."
"Wow, a photo cube with pictures of us."
"And I filed down all the sharp corners. Now your eye completely safe."
"Oh, wow, it just stings a little."
Lenny's eye are the funniest runner of the era. And it's funnier that it's usually singular. Like, not both, just the one eye.

"Yes, I'm old."

Other notes:

It occurs to me based on the timing... I don't think the previous episode was written as a Hannukah episode but I kind of wondering if it the release date was intentional to have it be near it.

Comic Book Guy is surprisingly generous considering he tried to con Martin's mom out of priceless Star Wars stuff.

Lovejoy definitely enjoys Homer showing up Flanders.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)

Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens and Gays

Prior to the pandemic, our family hosted a huge feast to celebrate Ukrainian New Years (in mid-January). We'd have huge batches of Ukrainian food; perogies, borsht, mushroom crepes, meatballs, holopchi and other delicious and heavy AF foods. When a friend came back from overseas, I had him come over too and after threatening (in all seriousness) to bring a beef aspic, he made a delicious Ukrainian dressing. He also got pretty plastered by the evening's end and went on about how children are subhuman (in partial seriousness) to the hosts, who were parents. I love and work with kids but I get not liking kids; it requires a lot of patience to hang out with them and you need to offer a lot of yourself. But I guess I'll never understand actively disliking people who simply need guidance in empathy and patience, particularly since there are so many fucking grown ups who are the same way who offer no excuse.

In this episode, following a destructive children's concert, the city turns against it's children. Spearheaded by Lindsay Nagel, a new initiative looks to make a less child friendly Springfield and Marge feels attacked. Marge herself rallies Springfield families to combat their lack of empathy and creates a campaign for the March primary. The initiative gains steam but it results in an attack ad that hurts Marge and Homer's attempt at a political ad results in a confused message. It seems hopeless until Lisa has the idea of children at the polls, not to sway their hearts but to infect those who aren't parents with germs they have no immunity to, making them unable to vote.

Going into this one, I was expecting it to be bad and rewatching, I don't think it is. But it's not great either. It has some problems related to it's surface premise that makes it hard to buy. Springfield has had far more drastic and improbable policy changes so it's less about plausibility of what the town itself is willing to do but often I think the wackiness is nested in something real and here... it's not that it isn't on a metaphorical level and usually that's enough for me, but on a surface, Lindsay Nagel's whole deal doesn't seem to make a lot of sense. As a single guy who works with kids, once I'm done with them, I actually don't see as many as you might think in day to day life and it never actually gets in the way of my life in any capacity. There is no shortage of anti-kid policies but one that actually comes out and says "kids and parents suck" feels extremely straw man.

I do think the premise might be rooted in a lack of empathy from non-parents to parents and the aforementioned facts that there are bad political policies that specifically hurt families. But the fact of the matter is I don't think the episode actually gets to the heart of these things in a way that works for the episode and helps ease the problem I feel with the crux of the episode. There probably is a good story to be told of Marge dealing being upset with a dismissive attitude towards being a parent or maybe her and a non-parent accepting that each other's choice is a completely valid one and not a sign of incompleteness or a burden (respectively).

There are some good jokes in the episode and I think it is help that it is helped by the fact that it is written by series vet Jon Vitti. It also means that despite my issues with the episode overall, one of my biggest complaints, bad structure, isn't here. Or if there is a problem with it, it is smoothed out in the telling because while there are logic leaps, it never feels rushed or choppy to me. I think the idea of the episode doesn't quite work but it does seem to want to comment on something, even if I have problems with the logic of it. So it's not bad. I do wish one of the minor complains I have wasn't in the title; it kind of implies that gays have an anti-kid bias or something when it came out in a time where I suspect (not doing research) where the openly LGBTQ+ community is unable (or have great difficulty) adopting. On the plus side, the political ads are the most clever and well-realized parts, mirroring the fear mongering and hypocrisy at the time and certainly now. So over all, not great but there are still merits to a flawed episode.

Other great jokes:

"They make the Blue Man Group look like Mummenshantz, which is still pretty good."




"That's it? Just a statue? This country makes me sick."

"Mr. Burns? You care about children?"
"Yes, especially their supple young organs. Oh, unfenced backyard pools, where would I be without you?"

"Many childless advocates are like Ben Affleck, famous successful people from... OUT OF STATE!"


Other notes:

"Who wants to marry a million bears." is a joke type I call "Mad Magazine". In reality, Mad was never quite that bad but I feel like the Simpsons does it worse with parody names of real things that just get lazier.

As someone who gave their niece a Raffi CD, he mostly holds up really well. Though there are smaller elements that haven't aged well in the Baby Beluga album. She also really likes the Yo! Gabba Gabba CD I gave her and... so do I.

Weirdly a lot of implied child beatings and injuries in the first act. I don't think the kids who fell off the helicopter survived.

I'm glad Ralph is still an actor, even if he lacks singing chops.
 

Tegan

dirtbag lesbian
(She/Her)
"Who wants to marry a million bears." is a joke type I call "Mad Magazine". In reality, Mad was never quite that bad but I feel like the Simpsons does it worse with parody names of real things that just get lazier.
It's really sad watching episodes from a few seasons down the line where they're talking about shit like the Mapple MyPod (invented by Steve Mobbs).
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
I, (Annoyed Grunt)-bot

As a kid, one of my favourite shows was Robot Wars. Before the show aired in the US, there was a UK show hosted by Craig Charles, best known as Lister from Red Dwarf, and some mean looking robots. I remember enjoying that version more than the US ones: the show's own robots were cooler and truly intimidating and I just liked the whole grungy atmosphere. I watched it all the time when I was living in Thailand and I always thought how cool it would be to have my own fighting robot to run through death mazes and win sumo matches. But I wasn't a kid to actually follow through on dreams and heck, that's time I could be using for TV and comic books.

In this episode, Bart gets a new bike but Homer puts it together to avoid a small assembly fee and it ends up breaking apart. Homer feels ashamed of his lack of handiness and when he sees Bart interested in a robot fighting TV show, he decides to build a robot for Bart. Homer quickly realizes his he doesn't have the skills to build a robot and instead decides to create a robot disguise for him to fight the robots himself. Homer racks up wins on the robot fighting circuit but sustains numerous injuries. During the big final match against a seemingly invincible robot, Homer's identity is revealed and while Homer is ashamed about his lack of handiness, Bart thinks his dad is cool for being willing to fight robots himself.

I feel like season 15 is a season where things are mostly getting better for a while. Oh, it's nowhere near golden age Simpsons but a lot of it is completely serviceable. I feel like for its flaws there are more episodes with good points. Yeah, maybe I shouldn't be happy with so many C Pluses and B Minuses but considering how bad things can get for my favourite television series, I'm grateful for a show being watchable and is able to make me laugh from time to time where it only dismantles it's legacy in smaller, subtle ways. AS GOD INTENDED. This one is in that camp, I don't dislike watching it, it makes me laugh sometimes and as silly as the premise is, it is rooted in a human insecurity in shame in our limitations.

And as I've complained with a lot of episodes, it's fairly superficial but I don't think it is ill-considered or disingenuous. This doesn't feel like the most passionate episode but it feels better than "well, we got to slide another one out the door to fill out our season". Bart is a prankster but he's boyish and impish rather than just a jerk and Homer is similar, acting out of love in an irresponsible way. The jokes might not be as funny as "Make Room For Lisa" and has a more standard sitcom plot but I'll take hokiness over messaging that is questionable about accepting the cruelty of a loved one.

The episode also has a b-plot where Snowball II dies and Lisa gets a series of ill-fated replacements. Considering one is designed to look like Bart, it feels like this was suggested in marketing or was made to appeal to people who put out press releases. Of course, it comes back to square one and the show lampshades it's "cheat" and frankly that's not actually the same thing as forgiving it. That said, it is funny lampshading, as I often quote Skinner's deliver of "Lisa.... Snowball II". All the same, this does feel like "Comicon will eat this up".

Other great jokes:

*on Marge* "Yeah, the kitchen lady's right."

"Congratulations to our winning father and son team who will receive a free appetizer at Fuzzy Zeller's Green Jacket Steakhouse."
"And you won't be teed off when you come in because our steaks are grilled to par-fection, our leaderboards are filled with scrumptious-- two more pages, I'm not reading this."

"The book is very wise. It's written by a rabbi... WHO SURFS!"
Something about Marge calling the book wise is funny to me, even though it's not a joke.

"What is it my Dad always said to me?"
"If you can't build a robot, be a robot!"
I know this is just another version of Grandpa's words to wisdom on Homer's wedding day but it still works for me.

"In my day, mechanical men wore funnel hats and showed respect. That all changed when they got the vote and started tinkering with our memories."

"Well, if you ever want to see a mailbox shoot a boy, that's about as close as you're going to get."

"Hahaha, Bart, all that button ever did was send a mild electric charge up my backside?"
"Why'd you do that?"
"Keep me focused."

Other notes:
I only now just realized that this episode loosely follows the plot of the Twilight Zone episode "Steel", where a human disguises himself as a robot to box another robot.

How did Snowball III dies SO QUICKLY.

Question: are all appearances by Sarcastic Guy the same guy or is there a whole family of them? He often looks slightly different in various appearances. This time he had color in his hair.

The fact that Homer built a robot that can through it's own head is impressive.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Diatribe of a Mad Housewife

For a long time, I wanted to be a writer. But wanting and doing a damned thing are different and frankly I never did any of the actual writing, instead studying about writing and literature. It gave me the skills for a critical eye and I value that but I don't have the discipline to do the hard work and when I do I hate having to do the hard work of getting some bad writing under my belt to get the experience to learn to get better. My mom, on the other hand, definitely does put in the hard work; she actually writes a series of short stories, along with another writer friend, about her home town during the second World War. She grew up across from a train station that was often used to transport soldiers. I think it's really cool she writes and managed to publish a book series. Her last book of the series comes out next year and I am very proud of her.

In this episode, Marge is inspired to write a romance novel after a Q and A with a famous novelist. Marge's increasing frustration with Homer's latest hairbrained scheme influences the novel with Homer playing the part of the villain and thoughtful Flanders playing the part of the love interest. Marge asks Homer to read the book for his approval, which he gives... mostly because he didn't read the book and doesn't realize he's being cuckolded in a novel. The novel becomes a success and it doesn't take long for everyone in town to realize the subtext. When Homer finally figures it out, he listens to the book on tape and is extremely upset. Homer chases Flanders down in what everyone assumes will be an assault but in fact Homer asks Flanders for advice on how to be a better husband.

If I was going to give this one a letter grade, I'd put it as a C. The story isn't a mess and there are quite a few solid jokes in the episode. I even like how it resolves Homer's jerkiness in the episode (which I'll get to). But as a whole, it is something of a middling episode which is a bit cheesy. It doesn't quite make me cringe in it's lesser moments and weaker bits but I do sigh a bit at it's more cliched elements. Probably the worst is the b-plot of Homer being an ambulance driver, where he is seemingly might be responsible for multiple deaths (heck, he straight up kills a guy in the first act before he gets it). I know the idea is supposed to be a generic dumb plan to set off Marge but I don't think they make it work.

For me, it's the smaller bits that work for me. I like Marge clearly having a hard time having the patience to write her own book, constantly spellchecking and taking brownie brakes, something I relate to from my essay writing days in university. Similarly, Homer being excited about being "half-done" the book when he finds out his double space mirrors my own inability to properly pay attention to things I'm reading. The one major actually plot point I really appreciated was at the end of the episode. To an extent, it is yet another episode where Homer makes a big gesture to win Marge back. But unlike a lot of the others it doesn't feel performative or like a bribe on Homer's part and he's taking his own time to ask for advice so he can fix his bad habits. Yes, this will all be forgotten when the status quo returns next week but within the episode, I much prefer Homer to actually try to improve himself rather than simply show Marge his love through something that can easily be forgotten next week.

The episode also has a few guest stars and they work for me... even the bad ones. Obviously reclusive writer Thomas Pynchon as some weird attention hog is funny but somehow I feel like Tom Clancy wins the episode. Not because he is any good but sometimes I love watching the good Simpsons writing bump up against someone who is clearly no actor, which creates it's own charm, even if I don't like Clancy himself. I also think the Olsen twins are doing good stuff, though I feel like the joke as written works better as a concept than in practice for me.

Other great jokes:

"Homer, you left two jobs and bought an ambulance without even a phone call."
"I also fed some ducklings."
"I know, I got your messages."

"That's it! A novel about whaling. That's something ya haven't seen before. Thank you 'Scene from Moby-Dick',"
Wait, didn't Marge paint that?

"Chapter 1: Starts and Beginnings. 'Swim swim swim' though the whale, flapping it's... floppers. BROWNIE BREAK!"

"This family has not seen whale-meat for a one-month."

"Hello, this is Tom Clancy. Would I say 'If you're hunting for a good read this October, Marge Simpson's book is a clear and present danger for your free time?' Hell no! What do you mean I just said it? That's doesn't count."
 

jpfriction

A most radical pontiff
I’ll be damned, but the Coen brothers parody they aired over the last couple of weeks was actually pretty good.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Margical History Tour

As a kid, I always found period pieces boring, feeling like they were stories of world with limitations. But as I got older, I got more into historical tales and I feel like now more than ever I'm interested in history. I'm not good in finding those great stories but there are truly some amazing people. When it is presented poorly, it feels like a wikipedia page of events that are not particularly interesting to follow and when presented well, you are reminded that these are tales made of people, messy and human.

In this episode, the Simpsons go to the library for research on history papers, only to find it sorely lacking. To the best of her ability, Marge tells tales of history. First, she tells the tale of Henry the VIII (Homer) and his series of wives, whom he executes when they fail produce him a son. Then Marge tells the tale of Sacagawea (Lisa), who assists a hapless Lewis and Clark (Lenny and Carl) across America. Finally, Marge tells the story of Mozart, or rather the movie Amadeus, with Bart as the musician who is sabotaged by a jealous Salieri (Lisa).

This one is a little weaker than some of the other ones. I remember liking the first story best but I like it a little less now. Putting spoiled, entitled Homer in the role of the famously portly king makes all the sense but it's not a particularly compelling story as Homer murders his way through a series of women in order to get a son, despite the fact that that description might imply otherwise. Most of the jokes are about how kill-happy Henry is and the humour is sometimes OK but I wish we had a better one.

The second tale, for obvious reasons, has aged pretty poorly with the Simpsons in the roles of indigenous people. It's not cool, though sometime this bothers me less than when the characters appropriate that stuff in "the Bart of War" or the antics and optics in the casino in the second "future" episode. This still ain't cool but as ill considered as it is, there's only a couple jokes of "Indian cliches" as opposed to... much more of that.

The last tale is definitely the best. I've never seen Amadeus but factual inaccuracies notwithstanding, it seems a movie completely up my ally. I am interested in ideas of someone able to do something beautiful with ease while others work hard for their art and the nature of jealousy and "deserved" talent. It has a few decent jokes as well, which helps. That said, for a really good parody, I recommend the Philouza sketch from Mr. Show, which tells the story with a John Phillip Souza parody.


Overall, this is an episode that is like the fictive version of Salieri, is merely mediocre, with not much that stays with me.

Other great jokes:

"Hey, what do you know, you were right."
"That means a lot."

"It's a Sacagawea dollar. You can trade it at the bank for a real dollar."

"History is like an amusement park but instead of rides, you have dates to memorize."

"What is it about music that enchants us? THE NOTES!"

Other notes:

The Jackson 5 gag feels like a lazy Family Guy bit without the minute of stammering through lines. So at least its done quicker.
 

Johnny Unusual

(He/Him)
Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Me and my sister mostly get along pretty well. Sure, growing up together, she often wanted space from me because she was four years older but she was often pretty affectionate. When she was in her 20s she moved abroad and ended up spending over a decade in New Zealand before returning back to Fredericton with her partner. Whenever we would reconnect, I felt that was when our connection was strongest for whatever reason. I always felt we were close but those moments of coming back together always felt like I was rediscovering someone I cared about and being surprised about how much we connected in terms of spirit and mentality.

In this episode, Bart is gutted when Milhouse moves away, feeling absolutely lonely and adrift. Even visiting him in his new town of Capital City is little comfort, as Milhouse seems to have moved on. Bart ends up hanging out with Lisa more and the two become close friends and confidants. Their bond grows over the discovery of an indigenous burial mound, which becomes a secret place. Milhouse eventually returns, which disrupts Bart and Lisa's new friendship and Bart even reveals the burial mound to him. When Bart realizes that he's hurt Lisa with this, he makes it up to her, showing her that despite the return of the status quo, he wants to keep being friends with his sister.

Milhouse doesn't live here anymore is not a perfect episode but it is very good, handling it's character and emotions quite well, where the series often fumbles at this stage. Oh, the ending lampshades it's own cheesiness in a way that isn't completely satisfying and it's a little weird that white (well, bright yellow) kids are bonding over using an indigenous burial mound as a clubhouse. But apart from that, I think the episode does a lot right by the direction the show should be going. Yes, we have seen a lot of episodes exploring the bond between Bart and Lisa but I think actually seeing each other as real friends actually adds more to it.

I also think the show is smart about the characters. Friends, especially young, immature friends can let each other down, Bart and Milhouse often let each other down and they don't stop being real friends ever. Bart is constantly abusing his status in the relationship, and the tables get turned on him in a sad way when Bart visits a very douchey Milhouse. But Bart also loves his friend and is willing to let himself get humiliated so his friend can save face with his obnoxious entourage. Milhouse really means it when he confides in Bart his love of him before continuing to humiliate him. The episode really sells that despite all the reasons they shouldn't care, they truly do. Bart crying at his old videos of him with Milhouse is a narrative point to hammer home the emotion but unlike a lot of episodes of the era, I feel like it truly does hit home a little beyond simply telling us what Bart feels. It's an episode that really tries to show us how lost Bart feels when this happens. It understands the dichotomy that Bart is a friend who would off-handedly tell Milhouse "I knew you'd blow it." without a shred of intended malice but we still want these guys to be friends because they kind of need each other. They can "friend" badly but trust me, working on a playground this is par for the course and yet the positive emotions and love can still shine through.

But Lisa, who doesn't have much in the way of friends, probably isn't used to the moment when Bart let's her down near the episodes end, which makes for an interesting dynamic. The episode manages to freshen their relationship in a way that seems natural to the episode and comes off as genuinely sweet. I really like getting to see the two hang out and be friends. Other characters wonder if they will affect each other but they remain wholly themselves and the only thing really changing is their connection, which I think is handled pretty well. Frankly, the characters often becoming bigger, broader and by the nature of the show, often crueler, it's nice to see a smaller character piece where they are allowed to be more lovable while remaining their imperfect selves.

Other great jokes:

"Sir, there's a big cardboard box out back that could keep them amused. They could make a fort."

"At this museum, you won't see a Michelangelo. But you might see Michael Landon and Beverly D'Angelo."
This feels like a Comedy Bang Bang joke.

"Milhouse, why are you acting so crazy. Did your imaginary friend try to kill you again?"
"No, Walter's been cool."



"You'll be like an owl saying 'Milhouse who? Milhouse who? Milhouse whooooo?'"
I love Marge.

"Heh, there's spiders in your hair."
"That's what you call commitment to a bit."



Other notes:
The b-plot is a little more forgettable, with Homer panhandling to buy Marge stuff.
 
Top