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

Johnny Unusual

Sweet Seymour Skinner's Baadasssssss Song

It's been about 4 years since I last did any real teaching. Its work that meant a lot to me and as much as I love taking care of my niece and nephew, I miss it. Often I think about the fact that my students, particularly the young ones I taught in China, were very affectionate towards me and knowing that I am assuredly very much forgotten. Its bittersweet: I can be proud I helped them learn something but for most of them I am, at best, a nameless extra in an early memory. And it goes the other way. Its not like I forgot all my students by a long shot (certainly, I'll always remember Arphdat, a cherubic little boy who constantly said his own name with glee) but many of them fade away after their education was so important to me. I want to get into education or perhaps childcare again sometime next year, if possible, but I'm often a little misty when I think about the actual divide between the past and the present in the lives of my students. They may not remember them and I sadly may forget, but we had genuinely affected each other for a time and just knowing that means a lot.

In this episode, Bart brings Santa's Little Helper to school, which leads to an incident in the school. Said incident gets Principal Skinner fired, which makes Bart feel a little guilty for his indirect involvement. At the school itself, Ned Flanders replaces Skinner and allows the students to do whatever they want. Meanwhile, Bart finds himself becoming closer to Skinner as a friend. Eventually, Skinner, feeling a hole in his life without his school, decides to rejoin the army. Bart, missing the antagonistic roles the two played with each other, becomes determined to get Skinner rehired. To this end, he simply shows Superintendent Chalmers the state of the school. It prove ineffective until Flanders asks God to bless the school, which is far to un-secular for Chalmers and Skinner is back on board. Bart and Skinner accept the desired status quo, knowing their friendship is at an end.

I feel that what this episode does best is dealing with that weird feeling when you see a teacher outside the context of teaching. Or even more than that, just being a regular person. Bart gets to see a side to Skinner he's never seen before. Milhouse, seeing him not wearing a suit and tie, assumes he's gone crazy. Skinner without his job is a pretty humble picture. He lives with his mother, pretends to conduct music and goes to an Italian restaurant alone. Its really not to far from my life. I think that's one of the great things about teaching kids: it can give yourself and them the illusion that one has it all together even if they are more like a hot mess.

While a silly one, I also feel this is one of the more emotional episodes of this season. When Skinner looks at the school and reminisces, it ends on a punchline but I would totally believe that even Ralph ralphing in his office is a treasured memory to him. One of the weirder parts is the thesis that we "all need an enemy", which feels weird. Any kind of "nemesis" I've had made me feel a toxic stew of hate. Like, a rival makes sense but a rival and a nemesis are not the same. I feel this is something to do with the nature of fiction that we'd buy characters may enjoy a mutually antagonistic role that's beyond mere rivalry. That said, if someone has a for real enemy in their life that makes something inside of them feel complete, I want to hear about it. It sounds fascinating.

But the episode is primarily about Bart discovering the humanity of someone he previously viewed merely as a doler of punishments and a figurehead for the kind authority he wants to rebel against. He finally gets to see him as just... some guy. We are not our jobs but for some of us they can do a lot to define us and fulfill something within us. Skinner is someone to whom being an educator means a lot, despite all his recurring cowardice and rigid adherence to the rules even in the face of common sense. While the show tends to get cynical about our systems including the school system, I feel like the teachers who are often the butt of jokes are also given some of the most humanity, with Skinner and Krabappel having surprising passion for their work. Not Miss Hoover, though. She kind of just sucks.

Jokes I missed before:
"Its good to have another combat veteran around here. I myself received a number of metals for defending that Montgomery Ward in Kuwait City."

Other great jokes:

Seriously, this is the best line read on the Simpsons EVER.
Like, if after that, you say "Marge isn't funny." go straight to Hell.

I love the reveal that Nelson reading the ingredients on a tomato paste can is his show and tell every week.

"I wager he has some variety of walking clock in that box."

"I knew the dog before he came to class."
Hipster Milhouse

"Remember the time you said Snagglepuss was outside?"
"He was going to the bathroom."

"It sounded so made up. I mean, yom-kip-pur."

Man, there are some killer line reads in this episode. "Yes. Yes we do."

"Class after class of ugly, ugly children."

"Excuse me, did you just call me a liar?"
"No, I said you're fired."
"Oh, that's much worse."

This whole scene is great. What... what does Leopold do, exactly. Is he just Chalmers' muscle?

It is unfortunate the last line brings home some of the baggage with the Apu character because this is such a great scene. Also worth noting, someone was smart enough to actually write a Billy and the Clonasaurus book. And it actually sounds kinda cool.'/

Hearing Skinner list monosyllabic detergents feels like an ASMR video Harry Shearer needs to make.

"I needed those, I really did."

"I dunno but I been told, the Parthenon is mighty old."
"How old?"
"We don't know."
"Well that's real good but it needs improvement."

"Once he found out we were going to get Ned Flanders fired, he insisted on helping."
"That is true."
Again, solid weird line reads in the episode.

"Eh, he seems to know the student's names."
Hey, from experience, this is to be commended.

Other notes:
I love how Chalmers openly admits that he'd rather have a worse principal because he just doesn't like Skinner.

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
Teg is right to praise you, Johnny.

Also, I have an enamel pin of “I Just Think They’re Neat” written over a potato.

Johnny Unusual

Thanks for said praise. Though still...


Johnny Unusual

The Boy Who Knew Too Much

As a kid, I was constantly afraid of getting in trouble. I still do, really. I believe Paul F. Tompkins has a bit where he confesses that despite being a grown man, his biggest fear is being "yelled at". I relate. So as a kid, I was always trying to be a good boy. I never drank, smoked, did drugs or skipped school. I kind of regret the last one. I feel we should all get one good skip, at the very least. Its OK to break the rules now and then. But I'm the kind of guy who gets worried about being penalized for tiny infractions. My most common nightmares are me realizing I missed an entire semester of a University class and that its too late to drop out of it. Now that I'm older, I know I shouldn't care so much about the rules but it seemed like the end of the world as a kid.

In this episode, Bart skips school after a demoralizing day at school. Principal Skinner tries to catch Bart and Bart ends up fleeting to the birthday of Freddie Quimby, Mayor Joe Quimby's obnoxious nephew. There, Bart is witness to a waiter sustaining terrible injuries. Freddie is blamed but Bart knows that Quimby is innocent. However, he doesn't want to get in trouble with Skinner and the case seems to be going well for Freddie due to classic Quimby graft. But when Quimby's antics endanger the case, Bart eventually is convinced to confess his own crime to reveal that the waiter was merely the victim of his own buffoonish incompetence.

Four Bart-centric episodes in a row and they are all gold. In this one, once more Bart has a crisis of conscience. It actually reminds me a lot of 12 Angry Men (which I'm surprised they didn't parody more in this episode). Both show that the law is dependent on good people to work within it, putting aside what is convenient and personal biases to make the right decision. In the case of 12 Angry Men, its about a room full of the average citizens slowly being convinced to examine the case and admit that there isn't enough to prove that the defense is guilty. In this case, Bart has an internal battle (with some help from Lisa), choosing between getting into trouble by helping a jerk or letting him get in trouble for a crime he didn't commit, even if he likely deserves the repercussions.

As usual, the show is comically cynical about our institutions and human nature makes a mockery of them. Ironically, the "correct side" almost wins thanks to grotesque corruption and Homer's own selfishness gumming up the wheels of justice. It handles this with classic playfulness but the point our court systems can be at the whims of pretty selfish people. But I feel like while the Simpsons has its mistrust of human nature and our systems, it is never misanthropic. The system can work better if we make the sacrifices to make it happen. I feel like the belief is people can be good and can make the system better, Of course, things can be a little more complicated than that but the heart of it, even the best systems require everyone to honor them beyond mere lip service has some merit.

Of course, while the whole episode is good, the first act is a series highlight with great bit after great bit. Starting with a myriad of ways school can feel repressive to Principal Skinner: Crime Fighter (complete with a crime lab out of Batman) to Skinner: terminator, there's a lot of golden stuff. But structurally it works well with what the episode becomes: Bart is frustrated with his prison-like confinement and finds himself being the only person who can save someone from real, actual jail time. I also feel like the scene where Homer and Bart pretend to be other people, caught up in their own fear of getting caught and unaware of the other person's fear. And the episode ends with Homer and though he's not integral to the story, it fits in well, as Homer is surrounded by the goods of his own crime, an opportunity given to him by the justice system.

Jokes I didn't get before:

I'm not sure but I think the "do you want to see a dead body" guys are a reference to specific villain characters from a Tom Sawyer/Huck Finn story. I think I saw it in... let's say, Wishbone?

Other great jokes:

I love Lincoln's incredibly nonchalant attitude.

Lisa being way too into interrogation bungling.
"Now you're the good cop!"

"Oh my God, he's like some sort of... non-giving up... school guy."

"We were collecting canned goods for the starving people in... you know, one of them loser countries."

"He's also innocent of not being guilty."

I love that Homer needs "if" defined for him, that Skinner unblinkingly gives the answer and Homer understands it.

The narrator is really judgmental. Also, I love that apparently McGarnagle is trying to eat lunch in the Chief's office in the middle after presumably being suddenly called in.

I love how Marge's reactions imply that she worked really hard to repress this.

"Wait a minute, Bart. Make that... four months detention."
Harry Shearer knows exactly how long to stagger his words for maximum impact.

Other notes:

Apparently they worked really hard on the Skinner/Bart Westworld chase so its weird that there are two shots of Bart running taken from other episodes.

The look on the party goer's faces are perfect. They are humoring this jerk for political/social jockeying but their pained smiles say "I hope he doesn't wish me into the cornfield."

Small nice touch: when the show cuts to Kent Brockman, we just get the self introduction of "-ockman." Not even a joke, just a little flavor.

The Free Willy gag isn't bad but it feels VERY mid-90s


This stenographer seems pretty unphased. EYES ON THE PRIZE, LADY!


dirtbag lesbian
I always think of McGarnagle as having a much larger presence than it did. The show only appears in two episodes and this is the only time we actually get to see it. One of the DVD commentaries mentions that whenever they wrote a McGarnagle scene they would try to include the word "McGarnagle" as many times as possible, because it was always funny and just got funnier every time.

Johnny Unusual

Lady Bouvier's Lover

I'm not an "old" person, but as someone who is heading into middle age and still single, I do get worried about growing old alone. I haven't had much romantic experience and part of me is afraid if I do get into a relationship, my lack of wisdom and fear of being alone will make me get into some unhealthy relationship. I mean, my other worry is I'm too self-involved to be an involved partner. Regardless, I guess I fear in learning about love I may give and get some heartache along the way. People want to be together but sometimes people make bad choices for what feels like a good reason.

In this episode, the Simpsons and the Bouviers gather for Maggie's first birthday and Marge notices that Grandpa and Mrs. Bouvier get along pretty well. She decides to set them up and the two end up dating and Grandpa falls in love. But during one date, Mr. Burns arrives to sweep Mrs. Bouvier off of her feet with surprisingly slick dance moves. He too falls in love and proposes. Mrs. Bouvier accepts despite Marge's protests due to Mr. Burns being... just the worst. As Burns reveals his ugly side during the wedding, Grandpa interrupts in an attempt to win Mrs. Bouvier back. Realizing both are kind of bad options, she rejects both, which Grandpa takes as a win.

Grandpa is a character who is funny in his crankiness and weird stories but the show is usually pretty good at using the character to make a point about how the elderly are treated in our society. This one feels less societal, though, and more about loneliness in one's later years and the joys of finding love. As Homer once started, Grandpa is pretty love starved and when he realizes his feelings, he is desperate to jump into it as soon as possible. Mr. Burns, enters the scene and is equally genuinely elated by his love and also goes headlong into making it happen. Meanwhile, Mrs. Bouvier seems to like both of them on some level but her concerns prove to be practical. Grandpa has good qualities but she doesn't want to have to deal with his crankiness. Mr. Burns is the practical choice but it eventually becomes clear his money and charm doesn't forgive his shittiness. Instead, she comes to the conclusion that its OK to choose neither. Though Grandpa is the star of the episode, Mrs. Bouvier's journey might be the one that matters most, despite the fact that even the writers don't seem to want to bother remembering her first name (it's Jacqueline).

In the background is Marge and Waylon Smithers, both disapproving of a relationship. Smithers out of jealousy, of course, which makes him act uncharacteristically grumpy towards his boss. But while his journey makes for some jokes, it kind of ends there. Marge, however, is trying to play matchmaker so that two important people in her life can find happiness. Its a sweet gesture and Marge certainly doing a good thing in trying to make two lonely people less lonely. But I like that her mother finds that its OK not to be in a relationship, particularly ones she realizes aren't worth her time. She likes her potential suitors but she finds reasons she doesn't want to be with either. Perhaps, she could have learned to live with Grandpa's flaws but Mrs. Bouvier seems to know what she wants and she doesn't want to spend a relationship with Abe. Mr. Burns on the other hand seems like he's fun and can provide comfort. At this point, it feels like she assumes she has to be with someone. But seeing the two acting unseemly at the wedding, she can see that "neither" is a very good option.

The jokes about Grandpa courting Mrs. Bouvier is actually quite similar to "Old Money", in that the two are bonding over old people stuff. There's also a lot of film and literature references in this one, many I feel are flying all over my head. I get the Charlie Chaplin one but I only kind of know the Jimmy Durante one purely from being referenced in shows like this. But I also sense its referencing... Wuthering Heights? Is that the one where the woman ends up with the rich guy she doesn't love? Or did that happen a lot. If so, maybe this is the writers who read those books saying "choosing no one would have been a much better ending." Also some strong voice acting in this one. I keep forgetting how good Harry Shearer is. As Burns, he does great with his joy and his sinister quiet rage and as Smithers he's pouring surprising amounts of passion when reciting his love letter. Like, all the actors are good but while Hank and Dan read their joke lines impeccably, Harry is giving soulless monster Burns something... not with more nuance, per se, but with more... real-ish emotional modulation.

Jokes I missed before:
I kind of get the Hal Roach Apartments as a reference but I'm not sure what it is doing as a joke (save that Hal Roach was a director from the 30s)

Mrs. Bouvier's friends that her popularity with boys "drove crazy" are famous people with mental health problems. That's dark, man.

I don't say this often, but I LOLed.

Other great jokes:
"You know it's funny, both your father and my mother seem pretty lonely."
"Hehehehehe, that is funny."

"Can I come, too?"

Why is everyone so quick to punch a child in the face?

"Oh, Monty, you're the devil himself."
"WHO TOLD YO- oh, hehehehe."

Me energy.

"Compared to Mr. Burns, he's Judge freakin' Reinhold."

"...I don't know who that is."

Other notes:
Oh my God, the Simpsons play room gets another appearance. Will this be the last time?

Man, only two episodes and the baby with the one eyebrow (Gerald) already has another appearance.

Weird touch: after Maggie goes to bed, we see that no one touched the cake and the candle burnt itself out, melting all over the cake.

How many remember "I feel like chicken tonight." I feel like that's one that has drifted out of the collective consciousness of humanity.

I kind of wish I had my own cake to ruin.

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
Not to sidetrack from Johnny’s write-ups but my own rewatch has reached the Danger Zone, ‘twixt Panda and Musk.

For one thing, there’s a lot more puerile humour that was never the shows strong suit to begin with and especially not here (Matt’s always been pretty firmly against that kind of thing) and also the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons have dialogue. Lots of it in some cases. That’s not a problem in and of itself, but it’s something I noticed and hate.

Johnny Unusual

Not to sidetrack from Johnny’s write-ups
Don't worry about it. I post a lot but I certainly don't lay claim to the thread/its direction.

As for the puerile humour, yeah but its also a lot more meanspirited a lot of the time, which is how we get Jerkass Homer. I also feel that in the latter episodes, with the exception of some surprisingly strong ones (there are buried in there), the show is like a show where the episodes were probably written with strong thesis statements but become a disjointed mess after being put through the apparatus that gets each episode made.


Arm Candy
The B-plot from Lady Bouvier's Lover is pretty good too.

Bart: I'm going to keep the Mary Worth phone right here. Her stern but sensible face will remind me never to do anything so stupid again.
(it rings and Bart answers it)
Milhouse: Hey Bart, you want to go play with that X-ray machine in the abandoned hospital?
Bart: Sure!


dirtbag lesbian
Hic Heisler is such a perfect name for a guy whose greatest achievement was drawing a good Snagglepuss.

Johnny Unusual

I feel like if it wasn't in the writing, the storyboard artist knew what he was saying when he had the "arm drawn by nobody worth nothing" over comic book guy's arm...

Johnny Unusual

The Secrets of a Successful Marriage

One of the things I like about teaching is that it tends to stroke my ego. Sure, it has its humbling moments but it means a lot that people trust me to help them grow and people are generally satisfied and sometimes ecstatic with the results. Its nice to be seen as being intelligent and someone who can be trusted. When I was in China, my employers noted that the parents and the kids were pretty enamored with me. There are times, though, when I hit a wall and I don't know how to teach something or properly answer a question that makes me feel foolish. I had several experiences in Korea where I had a lesson planned and didn't find a weakness until the class went into motion. Then you need to think fast.

In this episode, Homer feels a bit dumb so he decides to take an adult education course. After seeing people in his life also teaching, he decides to be a teacher himself in the only class he's qualified: How to Build a Successful Marriage. But once the course has begun, Homer realizes he doesn't know what to say. Instead, he ends up telling a personal anecdote that's less truly educational and more full of juicy personal details. The class loves it but when Marge finds out Homer's been sharing personal details, she tells him in no uncertain terms to stop. Homer tries to but is afraid of losing his class so he shares more. When Marge finds out, she kicks Homer out of the house. With Homer finding his marriage in the most dire straights its ever been in, Homer must rediscover what made his own marriage successful.

That secret turns out to be less inspiring and more damning. Its that Homer is completely dependent on his wife to live. Marge rightly points out that's actually pretty bad but Homer won't relent, feeling that this dynamic brings them together. The show decides to let this be a happy ending and that Marge is kind of OK with this as long as Homer can respect Marge's desire for privacy. The irony is the secret to a "successful" marriage might not be the same as the secret to a healthy relationship. That's not to say their marriage is completely toxic or anything. Marge and Homer do love each other and Homer is capable of making grand gestures which tend to come from genuine places. If the rubric of a successful marriage is simply that it doesn't end, they are doing fine. But there are problems at the core that are sadly never going to get resolved. I wouldn't call the episode "dark" but it is telling that when Homer is to do soul searching and really learn the very lesson he's supposed to be teaching, what he comes away with is somehow accurate but deeply worrying.

The classroom half of the plot is also pretty strong. Homer is a man who is only reflective when pushed to the edge, so in the classroom, it becomes clear how little introspection he's put into his own marriage. Starved for respect, Homer begins spilling some beans to keep people in the class. The students are pretty happy sidelining their own education for things they can gossip about and Homer gets to feel smart. Everyone gets a good feeling but no one gets anything of any important value. The students seem to know this but at this point, its like "well, we aren't getting an education but we might as well get something." I can relate to that good feeling of people really into what you are saying but Homer never considered the lesson of his own marriage so he has nothing to teach, as demonstrated by the first awkward minutes of the class.

Its clear the writers love Homer, Marge and their marriage but they also want to be critical of them. Obviously, the episode invents a problem for them but much like The War of the Simpsons (the catfish episode), its clear the writers know that the event they created is just a way to bring their marital issues to the forefront. In that episode, its about Homer's thoughtless selfishness (he can be selfless but only when someone bothers to bring it to his attention). In this episode, that's a part to be sure but Homer's inability to function without Marge is damning not only in his limitations but also in the way their relationship is structured. Homer recognizing that is actually a pretty good thing but the problem is that he seems interested in getting things back to the status quo, where the problem lies, and treats it as a happy ending. Still, I am happy for them but it makes for kind of a weird ending.

Jokes I Missed Before:

The title having "of" instead of "to".

Other great jokes:

"Every time I learn something new it pushes some old stuff out of my brain. Remember that time I took that home wine making course and I forgot how to drive?"
"That's because you were drunk."
"And how."

I love that the Adult Education guy is quick to come to the defense of I Can't Believe It's Not Butter.

"I didn't know we could do that."

(Apparently Scott Aukerman was a writer on an awards show and wanted every presenter who comes up to use a "Webster's defines" line. I approve)

"I can't believe I paid $10,000 for this course. What the heck was that lab fee for?"

"Is any of this gonna be on the test because I wasn't paying attention."

"Oh, your flesh mother used to bring me pudding."

Other notes:

Why are all the single people in town taking a course on marriage. It feels like EVERYONE is skipping at least one step here. Its not secrets of a successful relationship and it doesn't seem like that's what Homer is expected to teach.

Kind of down with pro-divorce/anti-bible Reverend Lovejoy.


Arm Candy
I was always confused about Smithers's monochrome flashback of his marriage, but it turns out it was a mashup of scenes from Cat on a Hot Tin Roof and A Streetcar Named Desire.

Johnny Unusual

Bart of Darkness

As a kid, our family had a trabampaline and it certainly made us popular with the other kids. Sometimes kids would ask to use it whom I didn't know (also, I think they just wanted to use it with no one around). That's not to say my friendships were all "shams" but I myself made a couple friends more for the video game systems they possessed than for being actual good friends, a fact that filled me with shame not long after. But I think that sort of fickleness is part of being a kid and its understandable why one would entertain this: being alone is hard and even a fair-weather friend is better than none at all, especially yo a child.

In this episode, Bart and Lisa have a good time in a pool and demand that the Simpsons get a pool And get one they do, making the Simpson house the most popular on the block. However, Bart has an accident which lands him in a cast and away from the pool and any friends. Bart becomes lonely and in the hopes of keeping him entertained, Bart is given a telescope, which he uses to peer around the neighborhood. In doing so, he seems to see the unthinkable: Ned Flanders murdered Maude. After another pool saps Lisa's popularity, she decides to help Bart uncover the truth. In the end, it turns out it was all a big misunderstanding.

This episode definitely feels like it was intended to be a season finale, not only because it is a summertime episode but also because it feels like it would have been a great send-off. No guest stars, no gimmicks, just a fun episode with the main cast. Though there are good finales with guest stars, I like the idea of ending each one with a simple but funny showcase for the castmembers and centered tightly around the family (rather than being about Skinner or Otto or whoever). I love when the Simpsons has an eye towards youth and childhood and not relying on fantastic plot elements but still has the same giddy, outrageous energy which this does. Its really about a lonely boy and a girl becoming popular but there's a joyful feeling that summer is supposed to have (certainly for a child) and having a lot of silly jokes like the synchronized swimming sequence.

The episode is very much about the fickleness that children can be because of friends. I definitely feel like there are kids I would have been friends with regardless but I also know there are friends who I hung around with for very specific reasons. On the other side, people wanting to hang around you is a pretty good feeling. Lisa loses her good judgement and would much rather hang out with her new crowd all the time and can barely hang out with Bart for more than a few minutes. Bart also begins acting weird without human company, which is definitely a feeling I understand, especially when I was living in China.

Eventually, the episode transitions into a parody of Rear Window, one of the great Alfred Hitchcock films. I thought this doesn't have much to do with what the episode was about but on further consideration, I think its about what happens when all the fair-weatherness washes away and we see the Simpsons kids doing heroic things for each other. The kids will always have each other in the end, despite often being at odds. Interestingly, it took me a very long time to finally see Rear Window, a great film where, like Vertigo, Hitchcock seems pretty critical of his own gaze (though more specifically, he's also making the audience complicit). So many parodies have the reveal that it was all a big misunderstanding that I expected that the actual film was going to have the same ending. It does not. But like the original, this episode is cheeky good fun and it both a great way to start or end a season.

Jokes I missed before:

"And now, another long raga with Ravi Shanker."
"Shankar. Groovy, man."

Other great jokes:
Also file this under "aged weird". Its still funny and all but with the pervasiveness of food trucks, a chili truck doesn't seem like such a wacky premise.

"Let us celebrate this arrangement with the adding of chocolate to milk."

(I did not realize this was a parody of "Witness" a film I've yet to see).

"See, your epidermis means your hair..."

"Don't worry boy. When you get a job like me, you'll miss every summer."

"What fun can you have in a pool anyway that you can't in a tub with a garbage bag taped around your cast?"

"Vicery Fizzlebottom; a hearty cherub of a man..."

"There's an optics festival and I wasn't informed?"

I love Bart's goony laugh as he reads Mad Magazine.

"He's going to kill Rod and Todd too. That's horrible... in principle."

"Duh, chyeh, I'd love to go to your house."

"Well, well, well, look whose come crawlin' back." (I love Lisa's brain's smugness.)

"Remember when you got grandpa tarred and feathered?"
"Sure it was 20 minutes ago,"
"Gonna be in the tub for a while."

"That's right, I was at bible camp. I was learning to be more judgmental."

Other notes:

When Bart and Lisa threaten to hector Homer with "Can we have a pool dad?", I like Lisa holding one hand to halt Bart's assault.

Octopus Prime

Jingle Device
Even without the reveal, the low key absurdity of a killer having a bag labeled “Human Head” in his fridge is one of my favourite sign jokes in the entire series.


It's always time for burgers
Staff member
Someday I would like to have kippers for breakfast.


Arm Candy
"Listen! Ned Flanders murdered his wife!"
"But why? She's such a fox! I mean-- I wonder what's on Fox tonight? Something ribald, no doubt."


(He, him)
This is a pretty amazing episode but considering the show actually did kill off Maude like five years later when her voice actress temporarily left...

Maybe Flanders would've been less Fanderized if he still had his better half, but given the change in the guard with the writers as Groening moved on to Futurama and wackier adult shows were competing for those ratings I doubt it.

Johnny Unusual

Lisa's Rival

I certainly don't have anyone I'd really consider a rival but I certainly know what it is like to compare myself to someone else and find myself wanting. To see I'm not as smart or as funny or as experienced as someone else. It doesn't make me feel any animosity towards those people but it does cause me to beat myself up about it. But I definitely get acting out of jealousy and feeling threatened. I feel like I'm lacking in some areas so its a little scary when someone can do what I can do with ease and making me feel like I was never as good as I thought I was. But that line of thinking blinds us to what we while we think about what we want to be.

In this episode, Alison, a new student, arrives in Lisa's class and is quickly making waves as the smartest girl in class. Lisa feels threatened and after she takes place as first chair in the school orchestra, Lisa becomes really freaked out. She tries to befriend Alison but a trip to her house makes her feel even smaller. Lisa becomes determined to beat Alison at the school's Diorama-Rama and is willing to cheat to humiliate her. The plan goes off without a hitch but soon guilt makes Lisa come clean. However, neither child wins and the winner is gormless Ralph Wiggum who just brought out mint-in-box Star Wars figures. Both kids make peace with failure and each other. Also, Homer becomes a sugar salesman.

Lisa is an interesting kid: she's an outsider who wants to please people. She doesn't want to conform in any conventional manner but she wants to wow adults with her intelligence and creativeness. It doesn't make her broadly popular but she gets noticed within her niche. And in this episode, she sees that slipping away when Alison arrives. Intellectually, she says a bunch of true stuff: Alison is a good person and there is no shame in not being #1. But being a good person doesn't mean Alison won't steal her spotlight and she still has ambition, which can be good. Its pretty understandable, especially after her father condescends to her and makes her feel less than.

Lisa wants to be respected and whatever her intentions, she can only see Alison as an obstacle. But self-respect is a form of respect and she has a hard time with her cruel prank after its set in motion. The ending with the kids finally being real friends, both having been brought low by each other and a kid they like but probably didn't respect for dumb reasons. Its pretty sweet, though Alison only exists in background shots from here on in, so I guess that friendship never amounted to much.

The episode is great at making Alison seem like a good person while still making Lisa's fears somewhat valid. Though no ill-will, Alison is getting attention that used to be Lisa's and that must be hard on an ego, especially one from someone who is kind of ignored in her own home and is unpopular with her peers. And its also funny to see the ways in which Lisa gets to feel threatened, from a dream sequence that mirrors reality seamlessly to a bad move in an anagram game to even Ralph smelling the desperation off of her. I feel like with the last few episodes of last season and in this one, the show is remembering some of the more emotional roots. No, this isn't a particularly powerful episode but its sweet ending with the three kids heading off to play like kids instead of jockeying for attention is sweet.

However, much like Ralph pile of collectables defeated intricately crafted dioramas, Homer's ridiculous sugar plot steals the show. Mike Scully is the writer for this episode. His tenure as showrunner is criticized for going too far into cartoon logic and away from emotion. Frankly, its still better than some of the mean-spiritedness of the last decade or so. But its interesting that 1) this and some of the other episodes he wrote were actually rather sweet (looking forward to rewatching Lisa on Ice) and this very silly subplot... actually it feels very Conan O'Brien. Specifically his writing in Homer Goes to College. I think he likes to have Homer involved in something extremely wacky while at the same time have the pathetic-ness of the actual reality sneak in with character like Marge having to look at the story and be like "no, seriously, what is this even." It's a weird idea for a story and is barely tethered in reality but the build up keeps getting better, with Homer obsessed with his sinking ship of an entrepreneurial endeavor with weird characters like the tea guy (best one off character and funnier that he's never explained and that we never ever see him again) and the Batman-like beekeeper. Frankly, this is an ideal Simpsons bee-plot. *winks at camera*

Jokes I missed before:

There are several "cut for syndication jokes" I didn't remember: The Flanders getting really pumped for judgment day, Homer trying to sell sugar to Skinner, who gets grounded for talking to him, and the line "I ALWAYS THOUGHT I HAD THE TALLEST HAIR. BUT THAT TRIP TO GRACELAND REALLY OPENED MY EYES."

Other great jokes:

"I sacrificed a very expensive camera just to get some quiet time."

"My cat's name is Mittens."

"Ralph, this better not be about your cat."

"If only this sugar were as sweet as you, sir."

"Texas t...ea sweetener."

"Maybe you could have been nicer to Principal Skinner, if you know what I mean."
"Lisa... I am nice."

"Someone's been practicing over the summer."

"Believe me, honey, she's more scared of you than you are of her."
"You're thinking of bears, mom."

"I don't need a card. You live in the room next to me."
"Note: Next year, older fewer cards."

I love Lisa poking holes in her own fantasy sequences.

That guy is amazing,

"Well, the important thing is we survived."

"Well, there's bound to be some splash-back"
(The whole seen is solid)

I love the dynamic between these guys.

"Hey, it's Bart!"
"And he's doin' stuff!"

"My cat's breath smells like cat food."


dirtbag lesbian
Alison's dad bugs me so much, because he picked a name that he knows doesn't have any descriptive anagrams. It's "Jeremy's iron" or "Jersey minor" or nothin'. Plus, he had that ball just in his pocket, ready to go. This was planned.