(originally aired February 15, 1998)
I remember in school when we started reading “Lord of the Flies,” I was so thrilled. Why? Because I was able to bring up this episode and show it in class. The A-story here is pretty much taken completely from the classic novel, but I’m not sure how effective it is. It’s not so much a parody of “Flies,” as it is just reenacting most of its major beats. It’s an episode that sticks out to me due to its pretty outlandish premise, almost like it’s one long fantasy episode. Also I remember it being rerun in syndication quite often so it’s pretty prominent in my mind. The Springfield kids seem to naturally fall into their mirrored roles (could Milhouse be a better Piggy?), so it really just feels like a Simpson-ized version of the novel. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but you kind of wish that they’d have done some kind of twist or subversion to the source material; here, there’s no real intrigue into the story since you can pretty much already guess how it will end.
A grapefruit-related incident causes the school bus to careen off a bridge, and when Otto is swept away by a heavy current, the kids are left by their lonesome, ultimately washing up on a deserted island. Bart takes the role of leader in promising his fellow chums a tropical paradise, but reality disrupts those grandiose fantasies when they can’t even scrounge food or make a decent shelter. Bart uncovers a cooler of snacks from the sunken bus, but Lisa instructs that they ration their supply to make it last. But the next morning the food’s all gone, with a bloated Milhouse appearing to be the culprit. Now this is just turning into me doing a big plot summary. I’ll say that the story does kind of drag, with lots of plot-focused dialogue and a few time-killing sequences, like Bart’s underwater scene or the extended chase scene. There are a few genuinely funny bits on the island, but the rest is just kind of playing by the book… literally. Nothing else really elicited more than a smile from me, not that that’s bad, but this show isn’t meant to be cute, it should be hilarious.
We also have the B-story, which really isn’t much of a story at all, where Homer decides to set up a home business on his computer… which he doesn’t have. It’s a really bizarre and stupid sidebar from the main plot, but for some reason I really like it. Homer is completely absent-minded in his intentions, having no sense of what exactly his company is supposed to do or how, just that if he arranges his dining room like an office, somehow that’s enough to generate business. And somehow he manages to get an Internet ad onto Comic Book Guy’s computer, in the best scene of the show where he’s attempting to download Star Trek porn on his incredibly slow connection. The plot ends with a visit from Bill Gates, who decides to buy out Homer’s company, by which he means mess up the place. By all accounts, I should not like this plot. There’s a random celebrity appearance for no real reason, and lots of Homer being an absolute moron, but y’know, I laughed at more stuff in the B-story than the A. Perhaps its ridiculous weirdness made up for the played straight nature of the “Flies” stuff. I wouldn’t say this one’s bad, but there’s not much I can say that I loved in it. It’s alright. Yeah. Alright.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Great McClure film at the beginning with him as Noah, pissing off God (“Thou shalt taketh two of every creature!” “Two creatures…” “Two of every creature!”) The Simpsons are watching on TV, entertained (“God is so in your face!” “Yeah, he’s my favorite fictional character.”) The interminably long movie is cut off at the very end by a Kent Brockman news preview (“You’ve seen the movie, now meet a real-life Noah! Only this Noah has been accused of killing two of every animal!”)
– I love all the stuff at the Model UN: Martin’s native dance, Bart bullshitting his way through his reports (for some reason, his pronunciation of “maize” kills me), Nelson as Japan having immunity regarding bullying others, Ralph singing the Canadian anthem, and Skinner calling for order banging his shoe a la Khrushchev (“Do you kids wanna be like the real UN, or do you just wanna squabble and waste time?”) Also great is the logo of the dove decked with military garb and weaponry (“Order At Any Cost”)
– Homer’s butter pencil holder makes me want to do the same. Then I can write some delicious memos. Mmm… memo.
– Love Otto listening to “Songs to Annoy Bus Drivers” (“Man, I don’t know why I bought this stupid tape!”) And “Go apple!” “Go orange!” “Go banana!” is something my friends would quote quite often.
– If Otto’s going to have any last words, I can’t think of any better than “Zeppelin rules!”
– I like Bart mistaking Richard for Wendell, kind of a reference to how Bart’s other schoolyard chums have kind of been forgotten over the years.
– Bart has the loftiest of aspirations for their new dwellings, with one monkey butler at first, but he’s train the others. He gives the other kids their directives (“Martin, draw a plan for a coconut radio, and if possible, a coconut Nintendo system.”) I also like this exchange (“You guys gather food for the big feast tonight! And maybe a little wine for the older kids.” “Delicious wine?” “Exactly.”)
– Homer needs a cutting edge name for his company, like CutCo, EdgeCom or Interslice. Marge suggests CompuGloboHyperMegaNet. Homer dismisses it. Then uses it a few seconds later.
– Classic Ralph line: “They taste like… burning!”
– I must have seen this episode at least fifteen times, but I always thought Sherri (or Terri’s) line was, “I’m so hungry I could eat an army.” And the kids were shocked by that, and I never got the joke. But it was actually “eat at Arby’s.” I’m so disillusioned right now.
– Comic Book Guy’s the best thing about this episode, and I feel his pain; I remember how slow the Internet was in the long long ago, and wishing I had an Internet King to provide me with faster nudity. I also like Homer’s greeting when CBG goes to his “office” (“Welcome to the Internet, my friend, how can I help you?”) I should pull that sound byte and have it cue up every time I open my web browser.
– A court is held to determine if Milhouse is guilty or not. Nelson acts as prosecutor, consisting of him just pummeling the accused. Bart as judge allows this, but later motions that with no proof, Milhouse is not guilty. The kids proceed to turn on him, with Lisa as his only defender. I love how when she asks her brother for help, he replies, “I dunno, Lis, that verdict did make me pretty angry.”
– Milhouse proves to be kind of a dick, making Bart and Lisa carry him, and then abandoning them when he helps him get across the cliff.
– You could see the boar ending coming from the mile away, as well as the “twist” of them eating it. And I’m fine with the cop out ending, as it pretty much mirrors the cop out ending of the book. But it’s a great book though, you should read it if you haven’t.