Original airdate: February 14, 2016
The premise: Yearning for a companion, Professor Frink uses science to reinvent himself into the most desirable man in town. Meanwhile, the denizens of the retirement home start hallucinating from some new pills or something.
The reaction: Remember that ten-second joke in “Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy” where the love tonic turned Frink into a suave ladies man? Ever wanted that idea expanded into a full episode? No? That’s a fucking awful idea, you say? Well, too bad, here it is. I don’t know about you, but I’m perfectly fine with keeping Frink a wacky joke character. I’m sure you could do a whole episode on him, about his latest inventions, him trying to get respect from his industry peers, crazy science hijinks, something like that. But instead we get this, where he tries to find… love? (“Who’s been screwing with this thing?!”) I guess if it “worked” for Comic Book Guy before him, why not do it again? So Frink analyzes a sampling of women saying what they want in a man, and boils it down to making himself taller and losing the glasses. Is this a so-called satirical comedy, or is this fucking She’s All That? This is material I expect to see from a subpar children’s cartoon with a nerd character trying to appeal to girls, it’s such base-level material. The last step is to alter his voice with a chip (Hank Azaria channeling Seth MacFarlene channeling Frank Sinatra), but then when he talks to girls, he’s well-spoken, smooth and suave in his dialogue. Why would the chip eliminate his glavins and hoyvins? Maybe it’s a confidence thing. What shit. So he goes to a yoga class, wins over all the ladies there, and then all of a sudden, he’s sleeping with every woman in town, from Cookie Kwan, Booberella and the Crazy Cat Lady (I guess this speaks to the show’s severe lack of female characters more than anything.) The ending is fucking awful: Frink invites all the women he’s been with to the planetarium to announce who he’s going to pick, then announces he’s created an algorithm to pair the lonely men and women of Springfield together. All the men walk in, sharply dressed, the women gasp in excitement as they get matched up, as sweet, saccharine music plays. What a pathetic display. This is all irony-free, the women are super psyched to be paired up with such losers like Moe, Skinner, Gil and the like. What the fuck is this? Again, this show used to rip empty and saccharine endings like this a new asshole. And why did all the women connect with Frink in the first place? Was he just play-acting like a cool guy this whole time? For an episode all about him, we really barely see him in action or understand his motives. In the end, he’s just content to be alone with his robot wife or whatever. So what’s the point? What did we learn about Professor John Frink? Absolutely fucking nothing.
Three items of note:
– At the Valentine’s party, Homer and Marge are having a nice time, and Homer suggests they live out a fantasy he’s always wanted to do at the plant. I thought this would be setting up a classic gag where you think it’s going to be sexual, but it’s actually something very childish. But, they play it straight, and we see the two of them in silhouette making out nude on Burns’ desk. I guess it makes sense given their exhibitionist past in “Natural Born Kissers.” It also seems like these two are a lot more aggressive sexually in the last decade or so, I guess because they can get away with more of that kind of material nowadays. I dunno, call me a prude, but I think innuendo and misleads are funnier than just watching two cartoon characters furiously make out. Where they go out dinner and dancing, and we cut to them sitting in the car eating fast food rocking out to the radio (someone please tell me what episode that was from, because my brain is burning trying to remember.) Or when Burns tells Homer to show his wife the time of her life, and his immediate response is, “We’re getting some drive-thru and we’re doing it twice!” to Marge’s bright smile. I love that sweet shit.
– I honestly don’t know what to make of the B-plot. The retirement home starts giving out new pills that make the old folks hallucinate elements from their past. Abe gets visions of Mona (I sure hope Glenn Close got a free sandwich or something from her frequent guest voice stamp card at this point), then he ends up running away into his full-blown sepia tone fantasy, until eventually Marge snaps him out of, using his grandchildren or something. I don’t know what the point of it was, or if there even was one. Just sweet, sweet time killing.
– Driving up to the planetarium, Homer and Marge explain what’s about to happen to the audience, because I guess they didn’t bother or forgot to show Frink actually formulating his plan (why give screen time to the star of your episode? That’s time better suited to a vestigial B-plot!) Homer then comments why they’re bothering to recap this information that they already know. Marge’s response? “I like talking to you.” Again, more wallpapering over shitty writing with self-aware meta bullshit. This show was making fun of this garbage over twenty years ago in “Bart’s Inner Child” when Homer explains events the family all knows driving to Brad Goodman’s seminar, capped with Bart’s killer line, “What an odd thing to say!” Now we’re here, and the show regularly pulls this shit because they don’t know how to write, but it’s fine, because if we recognize that it’s bad, then it’s funny! Sigh.
One good line/moment: I got nothing on this either. It isn’t helping that these last few reviews I’ve been writing a day or two after I watch the episode, so whatever fleeting okay moments there were, I’ve forgotten, and can’t find while skimming through the episode. What a tragedy.