(originally aired February 4, 2001)
Comic Book Guy was my favorite character as a kid, and he’s definitely still up there (I’ve grown a love for so many of them at this point, I can’t possibly rank them), so I remember greatly anticipating this one. It’s always iffy when you try to develop a side character; it can provide a more interesting angle to them and explain who they are and where they came from, but if you handle it wrong, you might end up tainting the character or making them more than what they are. This episode dodges that by really barely exploring CBG’s character at all, which is kind of a bummer. Bart and Milhouse get banned for life from the Android’s Dungeon, and what poor timing that they will be holding a late night talk with Tom Savini, special effects wizard. I especially love that since very little of the audience will know who he is, Marge literally reads his credits out of the newspaper. During the show, CBG suffers a heart attack, and while he is leveling down his stress, he allows Bart and Milhouse to run his store, in gratitude for calling 911 to save his life.
A fair deal of the episode is focused on the kids, so we don’t even see much of Comic Book Guy, really. Homer brings him to Moe’s to socialize, why he’s suddenly his friend I have no clue, but to no avail, as he immediately insults the drunkards and is kicked out on his ass. He then goes to attend a class on how to make friends, which could have been an interesting scene, but he is interrupted by Agnes Skinner, and the two immediately bond due to their mutual bickering. This leads to a queasy relationship where they show their love by causing misery to others. First let’s put aside the fact that this union is… slightly disturbing. And by slightly, I mean very. But the two are sinking little kids’ sailboats and ruining their good times… they’re not monsters. Agnes is just a bitter old woman, and CBG is a sarcastic quipster. They’re not out to cause misery, only comment upon ignorance. And CBG doesn’t even end up back at his store before the episode is over, the romance just kind of runs until time’s up, and we get no resolution to anything.
Bart and Milhouse as co-owners isn’t nearly as interesting. As expected, Bart puts himself in the “boss” position with Milhouse as his toadying lackey. Eventually Milhouse breaks and the two have a scuffle, resulting in them discovering CBG’s secret stash of illegal video tapes, ranging from alien autopsies to secret government-issue instructional films. The two make up and hold a private screening, only to be busted by the police. But since the tapes aren’t theirs, the charge is levied on CBG, who is arrested mid-copulation with Agnes. Then the episode just ends. There’s amusing bits abound here; a show centered on CBG is going to have some classic lines from him, and other stuff like the Lenscrafters superhero Biclops and the different illegal tapes are good. This episode just feels like so much wasted potential; seeing Comic Book Guy have to enter the real world, he could have inadvertently fallen into a different social circle who accepts him, but then realize that his store is where he belongs. Or something, anything but the Agnes romance, which is pointless since we never see the two together since. A somewhat enjoyable, but ultimately disappointing show.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Lisa tops her pancakes with Ms. Butterworth, a bottle shaped with a get-up-and-go business woman with cell phone and briefcase.
– Homer eating the baking soda is pretty ridiculous, but is almost worth it when Lisa claims her father is having an “antacid trip.” Also, Marge was standing right there, why did she not stop her husband from eating a big spoonful of chemicals? Another example of Marge not even bothering to stop, let alone comment on, her husband doing stupid and dangerous shit.
– Nice bit where CBG demonstrates that Radioactive Man #1000 is so powerful, if you spill something on it, it will bounce off and land on a lesser comic. The lesser comic in question? Bongo Comics.
– Martin’s mother comes in the shop trying to sell some of her son’s old junk. CBG is aghast at its contents (“Handwritten script for Star Wars by George Lucas? Princess Leia’s anti-jiggle breast tape! Film reel labeled, ‘Alternate ending: Luke’s father is Chewbacca’?! Ooh! Ooh!! …I’ll give you five dollars for the box.”) When Bart and Milhouse stop her from the shoddy deal, she is indignant (“Well! If this is valuable, then back to the leaky basement it goes!”) Also, we’ve seen Mrs. Prince before, but is this the first time we’ve heard her speak? I think Mr. Prince did all the talking in “Kamp Krusty,” and that’s all I can remember.
– Also on CBG’s Banned For Life wall: Sideshow Bob, Nelson, and Matt Groening, of course.
– Dr. Hibbert advises CBG avoid stress, and is shocked to find he runs a comic book store (“Oh, dear Lord! We call that profession the widow-maker! Or we would, if any of the proprietors were married.”) He advises he take a break and have a friend run it for him (“You do have friends, don’t you?” “Well… the Superfriends.” “You should get some friends who aren’t printed on paper.” “What, you mean action figures?”)
– Moe seemingly shoots a man dead in his bar with no mention of it or ramifications. Whatever. I do love the animation and sound effect of when CBG is thrown out of the bar, his flabby body just kind of slides across the sidewalk.
– Great performance by Castellaneta as a drunk Mr. Rogers (“Whaddya mean I can’t take off my sweater? I’m hot!!”)
– The defense briefing tape is pretty funny (“If you’re watching this tape, you are the President of the United States. Hello, sir, or ma’am. Hopefully sir. Springfield has been classified NWB, for ‘Nuclear Whipping Boy.’ In the first moments of a nuclear war, Springfield will be bombed at will by all friendly nations to calibrate their missiles.”) The kids watching wildly cheer for this.
– Low on metaphors, Wiggum looks to Lou to finish them off for him (“Well, well, well. This place’s got more pirated tapes than a…” “A Chinese K-Mart?” “Well, that’ll have to do.”) And then again (“The owner is in more hot water than…” “A Japanese teabag?” “Why don’t you lay off the Asians, Lou?”)