(originally aired May 2, 1999)
This episode really confused me, as I’m not sure exactly who the main character is. It certainly looks like Mr. Burns, it sounds kinda like Burns, but he acts absolutely nothing like him. This is the first Burns show we’ve had in a long while, and if this honestly is the best kind of material they can give him, perhaps it would have been best to retire him. I’ll set the stage, I guess: the arrival of affable showboating billionaire Arthur Fortune makes Mr. Burns realize that his life is strangely empty without public approval, and sets about to improve his image and be liked. Now we have a big fundamental problem; since his inception, Burns has been a man who holds the common slobbering tube jockey in the utmost contempt, barely even considering them fellow humans. He treats his workers and his assistant like shit and could not be more pleased as punch with himself for it. Now all of a sudden he’s desperate for someone like Homer’s approval? It really kind of betrays the basis of his character.
Now, to be fair, an episode where Burns tries to gain public praise, perhaps with some secret ulterior motive, could work. But this is just… absolutely baffling. The second two acts of this show are beyond a doubt the most bizarre and odd I’ve seen yet on this show. Act two begins with Burns approaching Homer to get help on being liked, which he agrees to. No reason is given for this; in the past we’ve seen him bend over backwards in fear for Burns when he seeks his assistance for fear of losing his job, but here it’s like they’re old buddies or something. We’ll just see Burns standing in the Simpson dining room and driving around in Homer’s car, like what the fuck is doing on here? Burns has absolutely no teeth here; rather than digging his public image hole deeper and deeper with his crotchety and evil actions, he’s rendered more and more pathetic after each and every scene. They go on a Howard Stern-type shock radio show, and Burns ends up collapsing thanks to the host’s crude candor. The real Burns would have had that jock taken away and executed at the first sign of trouble. He’s always been frail in body, but absolutely ruthless in spirit. But not here.
The episode was really bad enough, but then they make an impromptu trip to Scotland to search for the Loch Ness Monster. Which they then find. …I repeat, they found the Loch Ness Monster. He’s a real thing here. And he’s gigantic, seemingly a huge presence in the now drained lake; it should have been kind of tough for him to hide. But it turns out Nessie has growing powers; when he’s brought back to Springfield he’s significantly smaller, the size of a large water tank. Then later he’s maybe twice as tall as Burns. Aside from the shitty story and awful characterization, there’s also so much in this episode that defies logic and makes no sense, as well as particularly shoddy animation in certain sequences. This episode is pretty astounding, it’s the first show that I can honestly say that not only did absolutely nothing work, it felt like I was watching a different show. Burns being a harmless softie, random inter-continental trips, mythical monsters being real, what thefuckam I watching? All the other shitty episodes this season have at least a few things I can point at as being good, this one’s got nothing. The worst this season, bar none.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The Simpsons taking a walk and the Fortune megastore are all bits that appear to have jokes, except they’re not at all funny. Just excuses for Homer to whine and moan, and for his ass to appear on every jumbo screen in range, even though it makes no sense. Some of the jokes don’t even have punchlines, like when Marge comments the megastore is better than the Kwik-E-Mart with Apu in range. The bit just kind of hangs there, then ends.
– I guess we’re at the point where Burns relishing the idea of a talking banana is supposed to be funny. I’d think it would be too silly for Homer, let alone for Mr. fucking Burns.
– Homer and Burns attempt to emulate Fortune’s dollar shower by chucking silver dollars off the rooftops in the town. Which somehow rains down on both sides of the street, and manage to not only break through car windows, but one pierces through Lenny’s forehead, causing blood to spurt from his wound when he takes it out. I don’t expect absolute realism on this show, but at least make shit make some kind of sense…
– Burns has Homer deliver a sizable check to the Springfield Hospital, but since Homer is the one who delivered it, the donation gets put in his name, as well as a brand new wing of the building. How? Why? The check’s in Burns’ name, as well as his account. How the fuck could this happen? Though I’ll say this bit had the only thing in this show that made me smirk, the ‘Cricket Gas’ button at Burns’ desk.
– So we have Michael McKeon in to do his Howard Stern voice, and basically they’re not really parodying Stern as much as emulating his bits, albeit as crudely and basically as possible. And this is even insulting to Stern, who’s a lot more clever than that (not recently though, but that’s a whole other issue). Watching Burns flail about like a harmless old man screaming, “Won’t someone please stop the farting!” is really a sight to see. It’s not even infuriating, or saddening, I just don’t even know how to react to that. The Burns in this show is so un-Burns that I’m not even offended; this is an entirely different character.
– We bring in Willie for act three for no real reason other than we’re in Scotland. I guess the unaffected Irishmen are kind of amusing, but seeing their disinterest in witnessing their entire town get flooded was more sad than funny.
– Frink manages to drain the entire Loch Ness in a night. Then they go down in to inspect the homecoming float, and then they notice the giant fucking monster that’s right by them.
– I’ll say the reverse King Kong ending with the monster flattered by the photography and Burns freaking out is a creative idea, but the staging, the context and the overall shittyness of the prior twenty minutes just didn’t help it at all. Burns’ event is a disaster, and realizes being evil is who he is. Makes total sense. Then we end with Nessie at a mere eight feet tall who works at a casino. Fuck you, writers.