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Johnny Unusual

It's a Blunderful Life

My most common recurring dreams are that I missed an entire semester of class. Weirdly, these dreams seemed to stop when I started school again but I believe they come from not a place of real academic anxiety but the fear that I'm just... an irresponsible dude. Someone who doesn't think before he acts and that can cause people to get hurt. I can be forgetful and while I try to keep promises, sometimes I just space on things. I'm not proud of it and I try to work on it but part of it will always be with me, I think.

In this episode, Marge is getting fed up with Homer's absentmindedness and promise-breaking. Meanwhile, Burns throws a party for the plant workers when he accidentally causes a near meltdown. The town is completely without power and because the event happened when Homer was putting away some garbage and he's known for being accident prone, Homer gets the blame. Homer is hurt but even more so that Marge doesn't believe him. Soon Homer goes from persona non grata to literally being driven out of town; his house is put on top of a mountain while the family is sleeping. Marge eventually decides to believe Homer when he shows he did something rather thoughtful and responsible and eventually Burns is caught and arrested.

After such a strong outing, this is a big disappointment. First, it's a pretty dull variation on a story we've seen before: At Long Last Leave, the episode where the Simpsons are kicked out of town. The town's turned on Homer before and usually for something he's done but even him being falsely accused really didn't add much interest to the proceedings. Even writer Elisabeth Keirnan Averick, who has written three episodes so far and one was pretty good, doesn't seem to have a new take on Springfield's mob mentality. And the fact it's a thanksgiving episode means little because whatever the episode has to say doesn't really tie in to the holiday on any level.

There is a kernel of a good idea in here that Marge verbalizes; the fear of believing in someone who disappointed you before because you don't want to feel like a fool. That is an interesting idea but I feel like the solution isn't a leap of faith or an act of love but a conclusion jumped to; when Homer reveals he is responsible for saving the family's thanksgiving meal, she assumes he's completely telling the truth. It doesn't even seem like an emotional truth for her. The episode treats it like a logical leap that makes sense. But it doesn't.

But what makes less sense is the finale. Lisa then jumps to the conclusion the responsible party is Burns. Oh, but how to catch him. They must have a plan so diabolical that-- oh. They just went to his house and said he did it. And the police arrest him. No evidence. No logic. Just... time's up, let's arrest Mr. Burns. This episode just makes me angrier the more I think about it. Some of the Holiday episodes have the Simpsons lose everything but they have each other, like Miracle on Evergreen Terrace where the family is literally left with an empty house (except a dish towel). It would be more interesting to see the episode not end with an easy fix but Homer does get his family to trust and support him, no matter what. But instead, there's no cleverness, it's just the bad guy is punished barely because time runs out. Season 35 has been OK, but I feel like the hit rate has been going down a bit after the strength of 34. Hopefully we'll see a more consistent success rate with the rest of the season.

Johnny Unusual

Ae Bonnie Romance

In early Simpsons, a lot of characters were born because of the joy the actors had in doing funny accents. This had some bad results down the line, most famously Apu. Though ridiculously broad but far less offensive was Hank Azaria's cartoonishly over the top brogue as Groundskeeper Willie. Willie's interesting because I feel like with Apu, despite the problematic nature (and I am not trying to say this makes up for that), I do feel there was a certain effort in building his backstory to make him more nuanced (though sadly still often falling into stereotypes). Willie too has had episodes all about him and a bit of a backstory (largely that he grew up in squalor) but frankly the show mostly kept him as a gag machine. There are characters who really lend themselves to episodes focused on them, ones who don't and Willie is sort of in between; an episode about him isn't necessarily a misfire but I feel like this character is one no one is ever going to build up stronger than he was before.

In this episode, Bart's attempt to get out of touching girls results in destruction and Skinner assumes it was a prank. Bart is given detention with Groundskeeper Willie but Bart and he end up bonding over shared lot of destructive rages and not being comfortable with girls. The two get involved in some crazy stunts Bart posts online. One day, Bart goes to Willie's shack and he's gone. Bart senses something is wrong and gets a worrying call from Edinburgh from Willie asking for help. Homer and Marge's plan for to attend a destination wedding is deferred to help Bart, much to the delight of Homer who hates destination weddings. However, when they arrive, Bart and Homer are upset to discover it IS a destination wedding and Willie is getting married to the sweetheart from his youth Maisie. It turns out the two loved each other with Willie was an expert at finding high quality peat bogs for whiskey with his nose but the family disapproved and when they planned to elope, she never showed up. Maisie found him again from Bart's video and they reconnected and her family apologized for their actions. Bart is furious losing his best friend to a girl and has a falling out with Willie. As he's skulking around, Bart overhears Maisie's family is only using Willie to find the best peat bog and then will make her dump him afterwards. They lock Bart up but he escapes to tell Willie. Maisie claims she didn't know about the plan and doesn't care about his ability and to prove it head butts his nose until it's broken and bleeding and cannot smell peat. Bart accepts their love.

Ae Bonnie Romance isn't a "bad" episode in the way a lot of modern Simpsons has been bad but it is as generic a "The Simpsons are Going To" episode as we've had in a long time. I feel like the character's arcs are just completely phoned in; Homer's not being romantic and it causes a schism between him and Marge. A marriage is happening under false pretenses and must be stopped (at least it isn't transphobic this time). Bart's afraid of girls. Michael Price's script feels like it's hitting old plot points. This is an episode that could have been made 10-15 years ago. We're not getting to see characters in new ways, we're just getting a big wedding climax and Homer and Marge learning something about themselves they've learned at least once a season.

It is a shame because the episode has some top notch guest stars in former Doctor Who alums (from different eras) Karen Gillen and David Tennant. And it is always a bit damning when you aren't giving these people enough to do. Gillen has comedy chops and it feels like they are looking to bring her on in a recurring role considering the episode ends with Willie getting married apparently. I think she'll do OK but I wouldn't be surprised if the writers had nothing to do with her and Willie's just single again with no fanfare much later. But really, this is a sad way to use David Tennant, a great comedic and dramatic actor.

But really, I think that this is an episode that while people were trying, the show didn't have a lot of faith in. The last THREE MINUTES are a clips package set to an original song by Belle and Sebastian. Yeah, Belle and Sebastian is good and the song is better than it should have been considering it's just a replay of a dull episode but the creators can't even bother with new animation and play the whole song it's in entirety. They didn't even have a full episode here. It shows how little episode there is in the episode to even bother with.

Johnny Unusual

Murder, She Boat

Ah, nerd stuff. There's no mistaking that the Simpsons are a bunch of nerds. This can cut two ways; nerds can make for very good writers but sometimes they can be pretty pandering in their episode writing. I love nerd references but when I see the Simpsons attend a convention, it always feels like the writers expect it to do all the heavy lifting for them. That kind of thing works great on MST3k because you are drawing these lines between a pre-existing thing, usually older, and connecting those neurons (though even they sometimes fail when the reference feels divorced from the film) but the Simpsons just seems happy to have people dressed like Doctor Who or Blade. The Simpsons sometimes can have playful fun in such settings but I trust modern Simpsons less to succeed in this regard.

In this episode, the Simpsons take a pleasure cruise on a sci-fi/fantasy convention nerd boat. Many Springfield residents are attending as well as special guest Taika Waititi. While there, Comic Book Guy reveals a rare action figure while Bart stews about a slight by Comic Book Guy from a few weeks prior. During the exhibition of the toy the lights go out and the doll is beheaded. Bart, the prime suspect is arrested and Lisa decides to investigate with the help of Taika, who is trying to promote his new detective show. During interrogations it turns out there are way too many potential suspects and things look bad for Bart when the dolls head appears under Bart's bed. But Lisa suspects it isn't Bart when Reiner Wolfecastle admits he saw the real culprit. Reiner is knocked unconscious by a mysterious assailant, who disappears, as does Comic Book Guy. Taika tells everyone he solved the mystery; Comic Book Guy destroyed it for the insurance money. But Lisa discovers the truth; Taika was the culprit. Owning the only other doll in existence and accidentally destroying it, Taika sough to switch the dolls and make it look like vandalism. Meanwhile, it turns out Comic Book Guy overheard he interrogations and was hiding in shame realizing he's so reviled.

Murder, She Boat should be an episode I feel I should be more upset by. It's latching onto a bunch of Simpsons decisions that have gotten hackier and more played out. The pandering convention stuff. A b-plot where Homer hates a thing but it never goes anywhere. The who-dunnit episode (comeplete with lampshading the mystery). It's just all very tired. So why didn't I mind it I wasn't even looking at my watch or getting impatient; it was an objectively weak episode. I could weirdly in real time feel where I should be frustrated with the show taking some low-hanging fruit or making an easy joke. And there's so much more for me to complain about.

Which brings me to my biggest complaint; complaining. Specifically Homer complaining (but if you have a problem with my whining, I get it). I feel like so much of Homer complaining in the last two episodes doesn't do a lot in terms of the greater narrative, it feels like the writers just like it when Homer is obnoxiously ranting. At least in the Willie episode it served the purpose of driving tension for... the most tepid and hacky Homer/Marge tiff in a long time. But here even as a b-plot Homer's rage against nerds goes nowhere. Not in terms of plot, character or tone and certainly to no comical end. And this episode is written by Broti Gupta, who has written some really solid episodes where Homer is a jerk and yet not quite enough to make it an unpleasant experience.

So if all I have to say is negative, why is my response so muted? I have no idea. The episode is written by Broti Gupta, a writer I really like, but that should make my disappointment worse. There are a couple funny moments but they happen pretty early on. The setting is fun, I guess but I've had a lot of episodes with a fun setting where it is all the more disappointing when they flop. So... I don't think I can answer the question. It's weird. Is it because I'm so close to catching up and now doing this on the reg as much? Is it because I've achieved a higher state of consciousness? This doesn't feel like a lot of the other non-entity episodes. I don't know. But objectively, this is a poor episode. I'm going to trust this instinct. Besides, even my gut isn't telling me it's good, it's just saying "ah, I guess we can do this, if you want to."

Other great jokes:
I love that Marge wants to save the stimulus checks for the next pandemic... which I hope isn't a joke that will age weird.

I also like the gag about there being too many Cadburies on the Harvey deck.

Johnny Unusual

Do the Wrong Thing

I DID IT! I caught up with the show. 760 episodes of laugh, pain, joy, heartbreak, hope and Disco Stu. You know, the main reason I kept at this was because way back over 10 years ago, The AV Club was reviewing the classic episodes and I was a little bothered they stopped after the Golden Age. I kind of wanted to see them do the whole thing, catching up with where there modern reviews began. And I wanted to explore why the show went pear shaped for so long and prove there were diamonds in the rough. And now, the show has finally grown strong again by letting go of the past and trying to make it fresh again. And this episode... eh, this one sucks.

In this episode, Homer and Bart begin to bond over cheating at blue collar sports. Meanwhile Lisa is trying to get a college application for a college summer camp. Marge becomes worried about Homer's cheating but at an event Lisa blows up at Homer when she becomes convinced he cheated on her behalf, filling out false information on her application. Lisa's eruption makes the other competitors aware of Homer's cheating and chases the family down. When the family has time to rest, Marge revealed she doctored Lisa's application and Homer and Bart feel bad about corrupting Marge. The Simpsons are suddenly taken to university and the Dean reveals he doesn't care about the cheating and believes it to be virtue, that cheaters get ahead in life. Lisa turns down the acceptance and Homer is offered a chance to teach cheating, which he turns down (but Bart accepts).

Ugh, this was a bad one. And a weirdly lazy one. And practically a non-entity. But there's something supremely bizarre about how trite the message is. It's so trite, it feels like the kind of messaging the show would make fun of in an earlier season. It seems like in the 11th hour, it wants to say something like "you thought it was an easy message BUT CHEATING'S EVERYWHERE MAN!" and I think that could work if the episode hadn't been completely forgettable. And it didn't even have the courage to be much more cynical about the pervasive nature of cheating in it's episode. Like I think it wanted to surprise us with a message that "It's not just sports, it's life and it's everywhere" but it both feels unearned and so easily defeated.

I used to often gripe about how the episode could be better and now I'm going to do it again; 1) have the first act be a cheating story and Homer learns a lesson only for Lisa to see that cheating is an omnipresent force and go into some real social commentary or 2) get really cheeky with an incredibly hacky story but slowly make that clear before showing in the last act that a simple platitude that cheating is wrong actually means little. I'm reminded of the classic episode Homer Vs. Lisa and the Eighth Commandment where we do sort of see stealing is everywhere and though Homer's crime is victimless, we sort of see honour erode. Frankly, I have no issue with stealing cable but the episode sets some good stakes.

This, however, is so ridiculously pedestrian, what little actual cynicism it is trying to play in it's last act feels just as hacky as the rest of the episode. It's so disappointing to get stuck in a really bad run of episodes. This season has gone a bit down hill from the last two and though it isn't without some good ones, I feel like the show has fallen back into some of it's worst habits. I do hope this backslide doesn't last but until then... I'll be waiting with the rest of the remaining Simpsons viewers to watch new episodes whenever Disney Plus decides to add them!

Other notes:
Damn, and a waste of Ken Marino, too.


Congrats on catching up, and having now watched all episodes of this show. That's quite some dedication.

Say, how do you think of the seasons 13-16, or so. It was the point, where episodes got so boring for me, that I realized it was a pain to watch. No idea which season specifically, though. Do you have any specific thoughts on that part of the show.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
I actually didn’t think that was that bad of an episode. The whole 35th season was more miss than hit, but it was on the side that at least had some solid jokes

Johnny Unusual

Say, how do you think of the seasons 13-16, or so. It was the point, where episodes got so boring for me, that I realized it was a pain to watch. No idea which season specifically, though. Do you have any specific thoughts on that part of the show.
It's an odd mix. I feel there's still some funny residue left over from the previous seasons and there are some fun episodes. It's also the seasons were it leans into some pretty unpleasant humour. A lot of it just gets too wacky and I'm more forgiving of some of those (I actually like the Prisoner parody), it's when the show starts leaning into self parody. The structure of many episodes is bad but I associate bad structure in later seasons where it does feel weirdly inconsistent from scene-to-scene as if the same creative team were asked to make the same episode several times in a row with slight differences and then those are edited into one episode.

I also feel like the show really showed were it was going with Homer Vs. Dignity (season 12), the "panda" episode I actually feel is mostly pretty OK but then that one scene tanks it. Similarly, Strong Arms of the Ma starts REALLY STRONG, then goes very wrong and problematic. Clearly the writers thought giving Homer sexual trauma was hilarious. They back off of Jerkass Homer but they kind of make Bart and Lisa a little jerkass, which still comes up from time to time and I hate it. Yeah, have Bart be a brat and Lisa be a bit smug but don't just have them be unrepentant little assholes. The show also gets into more problematic humour in trying to keep up with Family Guy (but don't, TV show, especially since you constantly mock the show for being a lazy rip-off) and even when trying to be progressive, it decides to be transphobic.

I think the good episodes start tapering off considerably but they are in there. The problem is there feels to be less affection for the characters as the show becomes more gag-focused. I like the Perfect Storm parody down the line in season in 18 quite a bit for some solid gags but it's an episode that doesn't really care about them. Also, it decides Bart isn't just mischievous, he's a fucking moron with no future and we are expected to laugh about it.. The show tries to swing back the other way later on but the problem is it often feels unearned and feels sappy and/or insincere. There are hills and valleys but you are better off having the strong episodes cherry picked for you (seek out the Daniel Chun episodes, most of them are pretty good).


Video games
I will acknowledge your dedication to watching The Simpsons. But I will not congratulate you, nor will I say it has been worth it. I find you, in a sense, to be a pitiable figure. I do not dislike you as a person, but I worry about your welfare. I worry about your mental health. You should not have done this. But I acknowledge that you did it. You did it.


Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
There is always more Simpsons to watch. Whether the baseball episode documentary or the various shorts or whatnot.

Anyway, congratulations on powering through like 34 & 1/2 seasons of this show. Most people would not be able to endure such a thing.

Johnny Unusual

At work we took the kids on a fieldtrip to the indoor mini-golf place and it was great. I was happy as a clam watching the kids play the Simpsons beat 'em up set to "free play" in the arcade section but was somewhat disheartened to discover only one of them had ANY idea of who these characters were.

Most disturbing was one boy telling the other plays to get "the mom" and "the dad" together to make "the love ball".


Me and My Bestie
(He, him)
If the parents stopped watching The Simpsons decades ago (which I absolutely do not blame them for doing) I get why their kids may not recognize them.

Johnny Unusual

If the parents stopped watching The Simpsons decades ago (which I absolutely do not blame them for doing) I get why their kids may not recognize them.
Oh, absolutely. But it is a jarring reminder that despite being constant memes and the show's overall cultural footprint, the show went from "everyone knows this on site, even if you haven't watched it" to "people of a certain age haven't even been exposed to images of this."

Johnny Unusual

Guess what: I'm doing a presentation for my ECE class and need a video clip of an authoritarian parenting style.

I immediately thought of this.
But do you have a better one?


Unfortunate doesn't begin to describe...
Watch every episode of Ninjago, I dare you.

There's more than 16 seasons, and like 3 reboots. They just did their last reboot in 2023.

Johnny Unusual

Frinkenstein's Monster

Well, it's been nearly two months but I'm back with another review. Disney Plus has been shockingly slow to update with this episode that came out over a month ago. And it's felt a bit nice to take a break from the show but even with this season feeling like something of a backslide, I have missed this. I've tried other things but somehow this is the show I'm always interested to unpack even when it isn't working. And I think it's because this show has had such a weird journey from janky little interstitials on the Tracy Ulman Show to an amusing but not terribly funny season one, to an unabashedly emotional and increasingly witty season two to a golden age to the jerkass years to the reductive but not inaccurately named "zombie Simpsons" era to being good again. But now despite a couple solid episodes this season, we are returning to some of the show's bad habits... from two vets who've masterminded bad habit episodes writer Joel H. Cohen and director Steven Dean Moore.

In this episode, Homer laments that his career has stalled when he gets a call from the new Shelbyville plan offering a job interview. Homer is nervous but Prof. Frink, who was comforting him at Moe's when he got the call, decides to help him out in the interview. With his help, Homer passes, beating out front runner Dr. Spivak, a far more qualified candidate. Homer guilts Frink into continually helping him a la Cyrano de Bergerac via ear phones hidden in a pair of reading glasses. Dr. Spivak is now Homer's assistant and feels ill-will toward him and suspects a secret, as he oscillates between barely functional and seemingly intelligent. Eventually Frink quits when he realizes Homer replaced a more qualified candidate and is just being used. Spivak eventually confronts Homer and convinces him to confess he's a fraud, which he does.

Oh this episode. It feels so scatterbrained, which is unfortunate because like a lot of the weaker episodes, there's potential for a good idea in here. I think the episode intended to have a feminist message about privileged Homer stealing a job from a woman and being so desperate for work he isn't going to hear about it but instead Spivak comes across as the "bad guy". The episode tries to end with "no she's the good guy" (which I guess she is) but it feels so unearned because so much of the time that could have been about her and her frustration with Homer is spent with Frink, who really feels shoehorned into the episode. If the show really wanted to make a statement, Homer should have gotten the job despite his clear idiocy and they could have made it more of an anti-Frank Grimes episode where we really do side with Homer's antagonist because he's a useless dude in a position of power and she could have been the one to make the good choices.

The other issue is the show is trying to do a lot. I guess it wants to say something about Frink being a doormat doesn't just hurt him but other people. But like a lot of bad episodes, it's just... kinda dropped. Seriously, if there was more character-based storytelling a reason could be contrived as to why Frink would keep helping Homer but what little they give sits poorly with me, Despite being the title character, Frink brings nothing to the episode except old formulaic storytelling. I think Frink realizing he enabled Homer and took something away from a real candidate doesn't land because his journey's starting point doesn't reflect where it ends for him. Homer's does to an extent; he feels bad his career went nowhere only to step on someone else's unwittingly. But again, nothing feels like it comes together smoothly and then just sort of ends unsatisfyingly.

I think the most damning part is Lisa's Lament. Lisa feels like she doesn't have much to say in the house and goes up and sings a sad song about Homer... having lots of jobs? The episode tries to tie it in with Marge seeing people's voices being ignored but it both comes off as artificial and beyond clunky. I mean, Lisa's big issue is that she doesn't like Homer's job and doesn't feel listened to because Marge interrupted her once? I feel like whatever larger point Cohen wanted to make is just too unclear and I think I would love to see the bare bones of the episode written by Broti Gupta, as she is a writer who is good at making Homer represent a societal ill but also starting at a place where she gets behind the valid emotions that power very harmful choices. Lisa's Lament, combined with a passable exit interview for Homer where the idea is Homer will be back at the plant also makes me feel like there was going to be a meta-episode that mocks Homer's insane career but did not have the bravery to pull it off. If anything, the joke about Homer's pile of jobs was better handled 20 seasons earlier. Let that sink in.

Other great jokes:
Not a great joke but this non-sequitur at the end of a montage of Homer's jobs made me laugh.


Johnny Unusual

Lisa Gets an F1

In University, I was REALLY into Initial D, an anime about street racing on quiet mountain roads. I downloaded the eurobeat music from the show and after watching it with friends, we'd near literally be racing to his house (me in a big clunky van), hyped up on it. I never really watched racing but I get the thrill of it and the sense that you sort of hit this zen at a certain speed. I think it's really one of those sports where I have little interest in watching the real thing but I love stories about it.

In this episode, Lisa is finding her anxiety is heavily tied to Homer's reckless driving. To help give Lisa a sense of agency, they decide to try go-kart racing, which Lisa takes too quickly. In fact, Lisa and Marge both find that they are far more chill. When Homer watches, he himself starts to feel a sense of anxiety about Lisa's new hobby. At the same time, Springfield is hosting an international kids F1 event and Lisa's skill is driving the leader of the Italian team, Paolo, to anger. Bart takes advantage, making money off of providing special services for him and insulting Lisa for money, not letting on they are family. When the truth comes out, Bart returns home and learns from a text chain that Lisa's kart has been sabotaged. Homer rides to save her and uses his reckless driving to help her.

After the last episode, Lisa Gets an F1 is a marked improvement. If the last episode was a 4, this one is a nice... 5. I feel like it's sins get under my skin less and though there are problems, Ryan Koh's script feels a lot more focused. There's still problems; the messaging is kind of messy and while it starts good I feel like it ends in a thoughtless "back to square one" ending. What I like is in theory it is an episode about Lisa's anxiety and Homer discovering himself in a place where he experiences that AND being a person who makes others feel out of control, he loses his for once. This is a really good direction. The problem is in the end, Homer says "I learned something; I was right", and though the show says it with knowing irony, the climax feels like it should be about Homer being to let go, appreciate what he put Lisa through or perhaps see maybe his terrible driving is a toxic mirror of what Lisa does; trying to feel powerful through driving.

But instead, it feels like in trying to make the episode go full circle, the idea is "the very thing that hurt Lisa before can now save her." And that dramatic irony can be fun but it doesn't feel earned for what the episode is about, which is Homer being the one worrying. I think there can be a thread of truth in the episode as well; the dilemma that your kid is doing something you know in theory they are good at but it makes YOU a little uncomfortable. Homer, though, doesn't look much at the dilemma end; he's just worried and wants her to stop. Granted, he never MAKES her but it is an episode where Lisa is learning to have the control to conquer anxiety. When it turns into an episode about Homer's anxiety, I feel that it should bring them closer but in the end it feels like what brings them closer is Homer saved the day.

So I think this episode isn't bothering me on the level of the last one but the sins seem similar; a potentially really interesting journey for these characters thwarted simply by pushing towards a more conventional narrative. I think maybe my problem is the last episode had a hoary old trope narrative on the surface but when you put it all together it is far messier in design, with a lot of loose threads and abrupt endings and a time wasting musical number. This feels far closer to what an episode of TV should look like but again decides to end with a set piece rather than digging deeper on the insights the episode started with.

Other notes:
It's kind of a bummer Matt Berry is in the episode but it's just not enough.

Johnny Unusual

Clan of the Cave Mom

I deal with a lot of parents. And mostly, it has been good. But sometimes I come across parents who are pro-retaliation and encourage their kids to do it. Now part of it is they want their kids to be able to stick up for themselves and that's fine. But the thing about kids is they might not no the difference between, say, fending off someone who is actively attacking you or hitting someone who is bugging you. Sometimes they see a small slight as something to strike back against. It can be frustrating but I also try to understand most of these parents are trying to do their best to instill values and in most cases, I can appreciate where it comes from. But sometimes, things can get... uncomfortable.

In this episode, Milhouse invites Bart to a rap concert but Marge forbids it. When Bart tries to sweet talk Luann into convincing Marge, Luann tells him he isn't invited, she calls him a bad friend beyond hope. Marge is outraged and immediately decides to have a talk with Luann, which goes badly. Marge decides to best Luann by getting Bart better tickets, which she does. Bart uses his better tickets to draw away the kids Milhouse was going to go to the concert with. Lisa, seeing Marge is in a prolonged heightened state as she tries to get revenge on Luann, is able to calm her down through meditation but that goes out the window when Luann arrives at a PTA meeting to accuse Bart of bullying Milhouse. This results in a very public argument between the two. In the end, Marge thinks she has the upper hand with better concert seats but is humiliated when it turns out the tickets need to be scanned from the app that Homer already deleted. When Marge sees Luann driving by smugly Marge loses it and forces the kids to break into the concert with her. Marge makes it through to the end where Bart begins asking Marge to check herself. Marge realizes she's lost it and instead decides to patch things up with Luann, who is ready due to Milhouse being miserable without Bart.

After a streak of really weak episodes, finally he have one that represents what people are saying when they say the show is good again. The rivalry between Marge and Luann has come up before, as has Luann trying to break up Milhouse and Bart's friendship. You'd think Luann seeing that they need each other again would feel like a re-hash but this episode is about something different: it's really about Marge's understandable but blinding rage. She's entitled to that feeling because what Luann says is an unbelievably awful thing to say to a child and I wouldn't blame any parent for being completely pissed. But getting into that rage state also makes her lash out because she is feeling she and her family are being attacked.

The episode is mirrored by a recurring piece where the Simpsons are cavemen in a style meant to evoke Genndy Tartakovsky's animated action series Primal, where the cave Simpsons find themselves threatened by a dire wolf with Luann's hair. I wouldn't really call it a parody because this is the part of the episode that is played the most straight. There are definitely some gags, including one of the goriest of the show (which is saying a lot), but mostly it's actually a dramatic counterpoint to the present day story and it works both to point out the ridiculousness and pettiness of the fight but also to show how intense it feels to them, even though they are just talking about messy houses and poor lunches. When Marge says she sometimes makes an extra lunch for Milhouse because she feels sorry for him... that's rough.

I feel like I've seen a couple episodes where they create a dual timeline to mirror the present but I feel like a lot of those didn't work because it almost felt too much like the same world and everything was just joke-focused. This episode has jokes but it feels like it is not afraid to forego them in caveman world and it allows us to accept a lot of Marge's actions. The animation is really good and there are some cool set pieces. But overall, I think it is an episode that gets where these feelings come from, why they are valid and how easy it is for them to get out of control and causing us to lose perspective.

Other great jokes:

"Can I go to the concert?"
"I don't know. You're awfully young, what if you get jostled."

"The mustache man who has every job..."

"Why do you keep deleting apps?"
"I like the way they jiggle in fear right before you drop the hammer."

Other notes:
I kind of like the ending. It's a small moment but it means a lot; Marge and Luann want to triumph over each other but Marge only gets the real power position, just as cave-Marge does, when she initiates the peace. That's power too. Perhaps the realist power.

Johnny Unusual

Night of the Living Wage

It can be hard to make ends meet. I work in the childcare industry, one that many people misunderstand as "baby sitting". And no slight to baby sitters, that can be challenging, too. But early childhood education requires communication with children and parents, creating curriculum, making sure that the children are being watched at all times, have something to play with and keeping everyone safe. It can be a hard job that can result in burn out but it is a job we need more people for. But a lot of people leave for work where they get better pay. It's one thing to want a everyone to have a fair wage but it's another one to advocate for the people who need it, like those who make and deliver our food.

In this episode, the Simpsons are in debt when Snowball II attacks an emotional support animal and to pay it off, Marge begins work in a ghost kitchen for the food delivery app GimmeChow. The conditions and pressure are nightmarish but the workers are encouraged to stick around for the overtime pay. Meanwhile, Homer, Bart and Lisa promise to do the cooking around the house while Marge is gone. However, two months later, Homer, Bart and Lisa are just ordering with GimmeChow while Marge is told no one will get overtime. Marge encourages everyone to unionize, causing manager Gil to set Marge up for a fail that will get her fired with cause; deliver all the orders in one hour. At the last house Marge fails with the huge order that turns out to be for the Simpsons, leaving Marge feeling betrayed. But the workers of ALL the food apps rally behind Marge and go on strike. Homer, addicted to the app, is convinced to betray Marge for a huge GimmeChow gift card and counter protest Marge... which turns out not to matter when the ghost kitchen and deliverers become fully automated. Homer realizes he stabbed his wife in the back and uses a switch at the plant to cause an electromagnetic pulse to destroy the delivery drones. The union wins and the debt is paid off with the gift card.

This is an episode that really sets itself up for a potential fall; it's a union episode that the show already did an amazing union episode with Last Exit to Springfield so comparisons are understandable and meanwhile, it's a "Homer betrays Marge" episode, which is a pretty standard formula. Overall it is a set up for, at best, an also-ran episode. But in it's corner it does have Chris Clements, who has done some great directing on the show, Cesar Mazariego, who has done good writing on the show and special guest star Jason Mantzoukas is on it. So there are things in it's favour. So how does it shake out? Pretty OK.

So in terms of failing, Homer's arc is done OK but I feel like we've seen this so many times that there's not enough variation to make this element engaging. I think that's where the big error is for me because in the last act it switches focus to Homer who is essentially the Judas figure so he can do something to redeem himself. I think the episode is so much more successful when it is focusing on Marge and her struggle. Yes, we've had the big union episode before but this episode wants to feel more immediate. I don't just mean in the zeitgeist, though it is a very zeitgeisty episode but I mean in Last Exit, it's more about the worries of what will be lost and here it is about not just a greedy company but an overtly abusive one. The set piece where all the chefs are scrambling to fill orders it great and I particularly like the part where Marge gets cut with a knife by Nelson's mom, who freaks out because if she loses this, she loses everything. It helps feed into everything after and I think it makes the betrayal by her family feel more palpable, even if the third act is more just "fine".

I will say as a fan of Jason Mantzoukas, I think he's a bit misused. I feel like he's perfectly slimy, a role he's really good at, but I feel like Mantzoukas is often best-served in brought comedy when there's a sense of danger and unpredictability and his role as the GimmeChow owner is mostly just smug posturing and cartoon-villain rage at the end. He does OK but it's one of those thankless guest star roles that are often given to the bigger names. Overall, I think this is an episode with a strong first half and a more generic second. It's a shame because as obvious as the dramatic irony of Marge still cooking for her family without realizing it under much worse conditions is, it does properly bring home the idea that the very people who are making our food and are so often mistreated are just people and people who we might be connected to. When you start fighting a union, you might be putting your foot down on someone you love.

Other great jokes:
"You shift manager"

"Jil Junderson"

Johnny Unusual

Cremains of the Day

The nature of fiction means there are some characters who exist purely as function. That function can be exposition, an obstacle, an aid or even simply to fill in the background and make it feel more "real" or at least "populated". There are some great stories that explore the idea, such as an issue of the comic series the Invisibles which goes back and looks at the life of a random evil henchman who was shot in the head by one of the heroes in the very first issue. The Simpsons has also played with this, revealing also-ran character Sarah Wiggum actually has more going on under the surface. I think as much as we want to disappear into our fiction, sometimes we want that fiction to be challenged and upended to explore the nature of artifice.

In this episode, Larry, a seemingly omnipresent barfly, dies in the bar. The regulars at Moe's attend the funeral only to find no one knows anything about him, even though his mother heard from her son about their "friendship". Marge chastises them for never reaching out to him, leaving him to die alone and the regulars, based on a drawing in Larry's journal, is convinced to dump his ashes at Serenity Falls. On the trip there, the quartet stop for the night but in the morning Homer knocks over Larry's urn to discover blue gems. Moe finds out and it turns out they are sapphires and convinces Homer not to tell Lenny and Carl. Following an argument, the urn is accidentally knocked into the road where the sapphires are revealed. Moe immediately tries to throw Homer under the bus but all are captured by a man they believe to be a police officer for smuggling precious stones over state lines. In fact, they only discover after that the "officer" is a criminal working for Fat Tony, whom Larry was working with to smuggle gems prior to his passing. Moe, Homer, Lenny and Carl bring up old recriminations and question their friendship but decide to be the friends Larry assumed they were. The foursome manage to escape the criminal but find themselves trapped in a literal precarious situation (over a cliff) where they could betray each other to survive. They decide against it and work together to escape, though Homer accidentally fails to move on time but is saved by coincidence by Larry's urn. The group arrives at Serenity Falls only to realize the picture doesn't resemble it but instead is modelled after a waterfall in an ad in Moe's Tavern, where Larry now has a place.

Apparently, some people made a big deal of a minor character dying for good on the show but I don't know why. Yes, Larry's been around since the first episode but the character has had two unmemorable speaking lines through the series. I don't know if it is marketing or the internet who made a big deal of it but in the text of the show, the whole point is about how minor this character is and even then the episode isn't "about" him so much as it is a device for Moe, Homer, Lenny and Carl to explore their own feelings about their friendship. I think the attempt, whoever by outside the episode is doing it a disservice to what the episode is about.

But also... the episode is only OK. It is doing a disservice to a serviceable episode that doesn't really stand out. It has a few good gags, a decent story structure and even a couple of well-animated moments but despite being annoyed about how it is being presented, I'm not going to spend a lot of energy defending it. It's really an episode about taking time for friendship and asking how much it means to you; for Larry who did not have it, it meant a lot and for Moe who does have it, he thinks it is disposable in the face of his own wants. But I also feel like there was a better episode a few seasons ago where the characters explore male friendship and what that means and this, while approaching it from a different angle, doesn't feel like it gets much more out of it.

The episode is written by John Frink, one of the writers I tend to be more unfavourable towards. I find a lot of Frink episodes are poorly structured, are often unfunny and generally toy with some interesting ideas in an uninteresting way. But he has written a couple I shockingly liked quite a bit. This is better than his average but I wouldn't call it a strong episode. I think the show has challenged these character's friendships in better episodes. I do like when the show wants to question the mechanics of a character being more than background, either in a meta way or simply using the opportunity of an un/underutilized character but while I think Frink is trying, I feel that Larry's story just didn't grab me and I feel like the reveal of the sapphires is more a plot device rather than really telling us about this guy or even that there's so much we don't know.

Other great jokes:

"You always said wanted one of these, Polly, and now you have one."
*Places cracker in casket*

"The box contains seasoning and five broken shells
You and your family buy everything else.
Old El Paso!"

"It can't be. It's another urn."

Other notes:
The episode starts with a football game in London. Is that a thing? Is there a big draw for American football in the UK?

The Robert F Quimby Jr gag is real eye-rolly

Johnny Unusual

The Tell-Tale Pants

If there's one go-to story idea for Marge, it's that she's unappreciated. Here's another one of those, I guess.

In this episode, Marge is feeling overworked and undervalued. One evening, she's repairing Homer's pants when she learns on TV that the pants are rare and incredibly valuable. She decides to secretly sell them to get some money but then realizes that being unappreciated, she's not in a sharing mood. Instead, she buys herself a diamond ring with the money. But soon she feels guilty for keeping a secret and starts hiding it, unable to return it. When Homer finds out he's initially upset but thinking on Marge as a wife and mother decides she deserves it and lets her know she has no reason to feel guilty.

This is a pretty dull one. It's not the worst of the season but I think it might be the most unremarkable. And it's a shame because the previous two seasons were marked improvements by going in new directions and not fretting over the show's legacy. But this one just feels like it is recycling an old idea, Marge is unappreciated, and adding very little. I feel like we've seen a lot of permutations on "secret purchases" and Homer realizing he has taken Marge for granted. Now I think as tired as it is, there are still new ways to approach this but Al Jean's script feels like he dug up an old one he had lying from 20 years ago and just added a scene about Barbenheimer (a scene that isn't AS bad as it sounds but it also very weak and only seems to be there to eat up time).

I think this script could have been saved in a number of ways. I'm willing to forgive a formulaic story is it is really funny but my personal opinion is there are only a few extant Simpsons writers whom I trust with a purely comedic endeavour and in the show's current state, the strength is exploring new directions and good comedy coming from that. Another is to live in the emotional reality of the character. When the show does it, I'm often very forgiving because it allows us to feel with the characters: old plots feel more alive if we are in a state of empathy with the characters. If there's an episode where a character is in a state of fear, make us feel fear for or with them. If they are sad. allow us to be sad to. And guilt is a feeling we've all felt, even when the "crime" is very small, which I feel Marge's is. I think Homer is right to be upset but he's even more right to forgive and see it as a small thing in the grand scheme just to let her have it without guilt.

And maybe that's the angle that would have improved it; that Marge is both the most responsible while Homer is the one who lets guilt slide off his back. Marge could be more jealous of this, complicating the feelings, that not only is she doing something for herself but she feels mad at herself for feeling guilt when she knows the people around her probably wouldn't, at least not to the same level. But this is much more an episode that feels like it wants to eat up time. The first act is a dream that does have some thematic connections but is clearly there for gags. The Oppenheimer stuff also ties in slightly but not enough (and not funny enough) to justify the time it takes. I think there's comedic potential in Homer's sweatpants lifestyle but it kind of feels shoehorned in, like Jean didn't finish having an angle on this (I also expected a turn for Homer's heroism but no, he was just heroic this week and kind of attributed it to sweatpants). Overall, this isn't one I actively disliked but I'm bothered by it in the grander sense of not being able to justify it's existence.

Octopus Prime

Mysterious Contraption
This one was so slight that I thought we were just at the midway point of the episode when the credits started rolling.

The gag at the very end got a chuckle out of me


Coming from the distant future of One Week Later it seems, let me save you the trouble of finding the relevant video for your moment of "is The Simpsons seriously riffing on this?"

Johnny Unusual

The Tipping Point

Confession time; in my 20s, I was a bad tipper. Part of it was just that I wasn't that good at math and was also afraid of losing what I had so I mostly tipped a bit over 10% (unless someone helped me figure out a better rate). Now I try to make up for it karmically by generally tipping around 25%. It is hard to make a living wage in a lot of industries and I want to be a person who can support those who are often underappreciated.

In this episode, Homer takes the family on a treat spree but finds himself upset about being guilted into tipping. Homer gets upset in a restaurant where the service fee is included with a space for a tip (including a sweet message from the server) he petulantly writes "$1 OK!" Unfortunately, it looks like "$10K" and Homer accidentally becomes a service industry hero. When Homer tries to undo the damage, he sees people expecting him to pay out big and is guilted into it... only to find euphoria in generosity. Soon, he can't stop tipping, sending his family into debt. Homer wants to stop but he can't and after one rough night he ends up in Little Europe. Homer is now in self-imposed exile for what he did to his family and when the kids find him he explains while things are more expensive, people in Little Europe don't need tips as they are already provided a living wage. Homer returns to Springfield to inspire the workers of Springfield to embrace the idea but his idea is rejected out of hand by people not wanting to lose their tips. While Marge isn't happy about the issue with money, she is moved that it came from a place of generosity.

I saw there was going to be an episode where Homer was upset about tipping and it was written by J Stewart Burns and I sighed. I suspected it wasn't going to be a "bad take" episode but Burns is a writer I don't have a lot of faith in and I feel like it could lend itself to Homer being an unlikable jerk for most of the episode. But overall, this episode was... fine. Not great but not bad. I think it makes Homer chaffing about tips a little more sympathetic when we see he feels uncomfortable about being judged and watched in it and then I understand where Homer flips and loves the adulation. It feels good to be generous, even when it might not be the wisest decision.

I will say when it turns into Homer becoming a tipping addict, it feels a little less like the Simpsons and more like act one of an American Dad story. This is not a bad thing. If you understandably haven't paid attention, American Dad isn't "worse Family Guy". It started out that way and then when it decided to pull away from toothless and/or heavy handed political commentary, it found a voice in being a character-centric show that takes it's stories into increasingly weird places. I could see Stan Smith complaining about tipping before going to ridiculous levels to tip. But American Dad is the kind of show where that's a starting point before it snowballs into more absurdist territory. The Simpsons stops at the prompt. I won't blame it for doing that because it is kind of a high concept in itself and I do think you can be too generous and sometimes it can be hard to know the line between being kind financially and taking care of yourself financially.

But in the end, it's just OK. The jokes never get really groanworthy but not many stand out. I like the idea of doing a Eurovision parody but they are doing SOMEONE ELSE'S Eurovision parody (with those original performers). And then they use similarly to "Poorhouse Rock", albeit less ambitious, to make a point about replacing tipping culture with better wages. It's a point I agree with but often I prefer the show to demonstrate with story rather than blunt (musical) commentary. It's not that it can't work and I have seen it work but often I would prefer it dovetails more smoothly with the story. Overall, it's a serviceable episode and I agree with the messaging but it won't stick around in my head for too long.

Johnny Unusual

Bart's Brain

Simpsons season 35 has ended, with a slightly smaller number than usual. How was the season? A very mixed bag. I don't think there are episodes that are huge embarrassments at this point but there are some very weak ones. Like Willy getting married (this felt like a season 17 episode; so far off the beaten path and the show doesn't even know what it is anymore) or the one about Homer being a "sports car guy." Interestingly I feel like the very best and worst of the season were both episodes where the stakes are quite small. Not big ideas but very humble ones. In some unfortunate cases, it felt like an empty rehash but some felt weirdly fresh by being more small scale and intimate. But after season 33 and 34 being consistently good, this season was an overall let down. I don't think the show is going to be as bad as it was at it's worse, thank goodness but being given a taste of modern "good Simpsons", it's kind of a shame I can't crow quite as loudly that the show has found it's way again.

In this episode, Bart manages to buy a human brain in a jar from Herman's Military Antiques. Initially Bart uses it to prank people and gross them out but after his biggest prank, Mrs. Peyton suggests rather than punishment it becomes a learning experience and turns it into an assignment; look after it like you would a child. Initially Bart grows resentful but after almost losing it, Bart realizes he loves the brain, which he now names Buddy. Bart takes it with him everywhere to the point where it seems everyone in town is gossiping about him and treating him like a weirdo. Even the other Simpsons start to decide to distance from the town that would shun him by sneaking off to church and Bart is incensed and follows them with Buddy. Marge ends up exploding at Bart's confrontation which she immediately regrets but Bart defends his love of his brain. In the middle of his argument, he learns the name and identity of the brains original owner, who intended it be donated to science. Bart becomes shaken that the reality does not match the narrative he created and decides to bring it to Springfield university to fulfill it's original purpose.

The Simpsons is a show that works best when it is empathetic towards the kids. Homer is good because he can be someone who is a jerk and even representing a societal ill or a good guy. But sometimes they just make Bart a little shit and it rubs me the wrong way. Kids are often obstinate and confrontational but I think the show went to far into Bart just being stupid and unpleasant. It's often better to start with the character having fun in causing trouble but finding a deeper well, because in the end the "spark" that makes Bart do bad things is a good thing and it will become more valuable as Bart grows his muscles for empathy and kindness.

After a few weaker episodes, Bart's Brain is an episode that feels like a return to form. Not "amazing" but "very good with a heartbreaking moment". In terms of the barest skeleton, Bart becoming attached and showing love for something non-human is a space I've seen the show go before but really the heart of the episode is the idea that maybe there are things that challenge the unconditional love of a parent. But also, that in wanting their children to fit in easily in society, a parent's solution might just be hurtful and cruel. That's the most affecting part of the episode, Bart poses that she is expected to love him "unconditionally" and she shouts "THIS WAS AN UNFORESEEN CONDITION." It's devastating and you can see it on Bart's face.


And it is specifically from Marge's point of view, so she can see him be hurt the moment it happened. It's a powerful scene and then what happens next kind of puts it into focus; when Bart realizes that the brain's identity isn't as romantic as he thought, he is somewhat regretful and embarrassed. It's less that he's ashamed of being weird but that he put a lot of energy and passion into something that once he steps back seems a little silly. It's about phases. When you are a kid or a teen, it is common to have phases where you wrap your identity up in something heavily, which then might seem a little silly or cringe-inducing in retrospect. And that's cool. Yes, in retrospect these things can feel silly but at the time they mean a lot. That brain meant so much to Bart and Marge realizes she failed to support him properly. Not all turns in identity are phases but whether they are or not, a child really needs someone to stick up for them or help see them through. It really makes the final act all the stronger.

Overall, the first two acts are fun and silly but I think it really hits home in act three how a well-meaning parent can be hurtful. Some people don't fit into a community. Marge's solution, feeling she couldn't change Bart, was to have the community ignore it. But too late, she realizes should have been trying to understand it and to help the community understand. Springfield is a known community of judgy people and Marge has a history of being worried about the judgement rather than realizing they suck until push comes to shove. I don't think anyone fully understands what happened with Bart except he was projecting certain needs and wants onto a brain and in cultivating his own empathy he went to an unusual place, one that made some people uncomfortable. It's sad that Bart had no one with him on this journey but Bart had himself in the form of a human brain in a jar, and that probably helped him a lot.

Other great jokes:

"Most of these medals are for cowardice."

"What should I call you, bud? I know Buddy! Because you're my buddy! Also, I don't want to think about this any harder."

"Remember when you thought Lisa was going to Hell because she became a vegetarian?"
"I still do."

"Buddy's like me! He's into MeatCanyon videos and pulling wrestling moves on the dog and pouring Redbull on pancakes."

"The kids all call them Brain Boy behind his back."
"Who are they talking about? Moleman?"

"He won't be known by his name but by his thing, like Comic Book Guy, Crazy Cat Lady or Professor Pocket Pool."

"At least that professor has life-time tenure."

"Your stage whispers are too loud!"

Other notes:
I'd try more of these than most would care to admit.

Huh, they just put Steve Martin's one-off character in the background.

There are so many Springfielders to use, I like that "sure, he's still around."

Look, I know it's not a strong gag but I feel like someone worked really hard on this only for it to get obscured by credits.

Now can't even tell if Disco's Stu's kid is punk, goth, emo or screamo.

Johnny Unusual

Good Night

As most fans know, the Simpsons began as a series of shorts on the Tracy Ullman Show, a sketch comedy show that, in the words of Troy McLure featured "psychiatry jokes and musical comedy numbers". Ullman's show was the second original Fox series after Married... with Children and though The Tracy Ullman Show never did particularly strongly in the ratings, it did OK and the fact that Fox seemed to have no real ratings hit meant renewal and it getting four seasons. Early on, they realized they had no idea how to end a sketch and hit on the idea of cartoons. Initially toying with talking animals (one writer claims the writing room was obsessed with the idea of a talking bear but had no idea why), someone brought forth the comic strip Life in Hell, created by Matt Groening. Feeling the amatuerish looking art had charm, they approached Groening to produce something for the show....

In this episode, Homer and Marge put the kids to bed but their attempts to comfort them have the opposite effect.

This short introduces us to the Simpsons. It is also in no way representative of what the show would become. Apart from the weird designs and most of the choices for voice work, everyone is very different. Obviously, it's a very slight work so there's only so much development to do but even within that framework it all feels off from what the show would cement as. The one kept up at night by a deep philosophical quandary is Bart? And Homer's retort is kind of witty? That just throws everything off.

It's also weird that THIS is the beginning of a show that would be controversial. Keep in mind, Married... with Children is already airing and when the Simpsons finally airs it will be, like, four seasons in with childish sex jokes with obnoxious hooting and hollering (as is my memory of the show). But this is positively super family friendly. I'm sure in the few weeks Bart will be strangled by Homer or something but it's interesting to see a sketch show that really has a grown up demographic of what I assume are 30 somethings be given this.

So yeah, it really is a rough place to start but there is a charm. Real "baby's first steps" kind of stuff, like when I read the proto-Bone mini-comics Jeff Smith created at age 9. 37 years ago did the show begin and it began in such an unassuming way...

Other notes:
I feel like when the Simpsons finally does a last episode, rather than calling back to Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire, it should be just a quiet episode of everyone trying to get to bed but worried about the future.

Johnny Unusual

Watching TV

Before pitching the Simpsons, it would be assumed the comic strip Life in Hell would be adapted but Groening realized that to do so would mean basically signing away the rights to his life's work. After passing, Richard Sakai asked if he had any characters knocking about he'd be happy to use. Groening would then create the Simpson family. The actual creation story varies from it simply being put together overnight to being drawn up on the drive to the studio to, and this is the most famous version that Groening tends to use, that he drew up the characters in the lobby. He named the characters after his own family members, except for Bart, an anagram of brat.

In this episode, the kids fight over the TV. Later that night, Homer reflects on having time to talk with his family until he's reminded that the commercials are over.

It's really this cartoon that brings into focus that this was created by someone who makes comic strips. The three tiny acts are all set up set up punch. A real three panel strip where you can see in your line the lay-out in the newspaper page. This is also a reminder that at this stage, the show was a lot more "cartoony" When it went to series, the show became much more grounded before really getting cartoony again in a largely more effective way. This is less "original use of the medium" and more the old "cloud of fighting" that cartoons often have.

So the three jokes are pretty standard. Not that funny but not really painful. The one big problem is number two just keeps going a little too long after the punchline has been delivered. The third one feels like really quintessential 80s comic strip. That said, it's a kind of joke the show would do better in it's own series, though it's also a case where it would do that one too much. Lisa is also a far cry of who she would be so for now, she's just the same character as Bart.