(originally aired December 7, 1997)
Marge takes a shot at yet another profession… boy, you know how exciting these episodes can get. I think she’s an incredibly interesting character, but one of the hardest to center a show around. Wanting some excitement out of her life, she takes a job at Red Blazer Realty, but finds that her frank honesty is getting in the way of the little white lies needed to make a sale. I’ll circle back to this main story later, because I have to address two major points first. Let’s get the dumb subplot out of the way first: Homer, sitting comfortably in jerkass mode, buys Snake’s fancy hot rod at a police auction, drives around like a maniac and abandons his wife on the sidewalk. Always keep your lead likable, right? Snake busts out of prison and attempts to reclaim his beloved vehicle, ultimately resulting in an all-out fist fight between the two while the car remains in motion. Their fight lasts sooooo long, with no real jokes at all, and it’s just so tedious. I do like Snake’s great affection for his baby, but all the Homer stuff is just aggravating. It’s just amazing how low he’s sunk in just a few short episodes.
Marge works under Lionel Hutz, here in pretty much his final appearance. Surprisingly, he’s in a weird authoritative mode, not the pathetic shyster we normally see him as. At first it was a little strange, but I kind of think it’s fitting as his swan song; he actually has a job he’s somewhat competent at (“The law business is a little slow, and since most of my clients wind up losing their houses, this was a natural move for me.”) His smarmy persona fits perfectly with his new practice (best scene is his terminology for questionable homes: “dilapidated” is “rustic,” and a house in flames is just a motivated seller.) Hartman is fantastic as always, every line of his is hilarious. We only have one or two McClure bits left, but this is it for Hutz. He will be missed. Oddly enough Hutz’s last show is his pseudo-replacement Gil’s first. Based off of Jack Lemmon’s character from Glengarry Glenn Ross, Gil basically stepped in as the Simpsons’ pathetic incompetent lawyer. He’s definitely a horse of a different color, and has sort of worn out his welcome a bit over the years, but I think he’s a strong character, and can think of plenty of great Gil moments over the next few seasons (“I brought this wall from home!”)
Okay, so back to the main story. The conflict ends up being Marge selling the Flanders’ a beautiful spacious mansion, while omitting the minor detail that an infamous multiple homicide occurred in it. The drama is so heavy-handed here; tense music and voices in Marge’s head before she forgoes mentioning it to Ned before he signs the check, then all of the dumb fake-outs… Like why would Marge think they would be in danger? And I’m all for idiotic fake-outs, but the one here takes the cake: Marge finds the four Flanders’ lying on the floor covered in blood, but turns out they were painting Todd’s room red and they just happened to pass out in the middle of the foyer. Totally makes sense. Marge tells the truth, but that only makes Ned more pleased. Then Homer and Snake, followed by Wiggum, smash their cars into the mansion and it collapses. Absolutely realistic, hm? Of course I’m not going to be a stickler for realism in all cases, but it’s just such a lame and dumb ending. This show has a few good points, and the always amazing Hartman, but after a couple of shaky episodes, this is the first I can truly place in the ‘dud’ pile.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer eats popcorn just like I do, with a lizard tongue. I don’t choke quite as often as he does though.
– There’s a few funny bits at the police auction (“These prestigious wrought-iron security gates are bullet-proof, bomb-proof, and battering-ram resistant.” “Then what happened to Johnny D?” “He forgot to lock ’em.”)
– We get a pretty classic and quotable Homer line out of this one at least: “Trying is the first step towards failure.”
– Cookie Kwan makes her first appearance in this show too. She oddly became a somewhat regular character, not that she has much of a personality, but I think the writers were just glad they came up with a new female character, considering the show has about… six.
– Love the Lumber King billboard and its hypnotic moving buttocks (“Lumber… we need lumber…”)
– Dang, Sideshow Mel’s got some hot wife, with hair to match his. His scene is so damn ridiculous; the writers needed scenes of Marge talking people down sales, so logically, a house with a bowling alley and someone who doesn’t care for bowling. Lots of homes have bowling alleys, right? But any word out of Mel’s mouth I love, so I don’t mind.
– Homer egging Skinner on to drag race after he admits his high school sweetheart was killed in a similar fashion? Stay classy.
– Love Snake breaking the honor system (“NO ESCAPING PLEASE” on the unlocked prison gate) and his loud call out to a driving off Homer (“She needs premium, dude! Premium! Duuuuude!!“)
– Classic bit with Hutz’s two versions of “the truth,” and his cavalier attitude toward Marge (“You’d better sell something, because cubicles are for closers, Marge. Anybody that doesn’t sell a house their first week gets fired. I probably should have mentioned that earlier.”)
– Kirk getting his arm sliced off feels like a pivotal moment, when the writers figured they could do ridiculous (and violent) cartoony jokes like that and get away with it. Bending the reality of the world you’ve established is really dangerous: if it works, it’s amazing, but if it doesn’t… well, not so good. I don’t care for the joke, or similar ones down the pipeline.
– Like Homer’s cold attitude toward Ned leaving, and his comment moments after they leave (“That old Flanders place gives me the creeps!”)
– Great small bit with Wiggum calling in a 318: waking a police officer.
– The end at the unemployment office with George Bush, and the old cop show freeze frame and music… all so weird. A truly bizarre ending, and not in a good way.