286. Gump Roast

(originally aired April 21, 2002)
Nobody likes clip shows. Nobody. And especially now, they’re such a relic of the past, from a time when not only home video or DVD didn’t exist, but no reruns either. A few short years back, The Office did a clip show, and I was quite confused why the hell they bothered, considering I could watch any past episode with the click of a mouse. So even here in 2002, having a clip show feels so unnecessary. This series has had varying success with them, the best being the very first, “So It’s Come To This,” which managed to stay entertaining and engaging despite itself. But in all of them, even at their clumsiest, they all felt focused and about something. The one about romance, the one with all of the songs, they all revolved around something and had a specific purpose in setting up clips, or at the very least made fun of themselves for the stupidity of the clip show. In this episode, it’s all very clumsy; Homer just randomly starts telling his life’s story to Wiggum on a bench, amongst other random anecdotes, and then is escorted to a roast being held in his honor. …wait, what?

I hate this episode. Even beyond being a clip show, which this is easily the worst, I hate what it represents. We have the entire town take part in this celebrity roast for Homer, yucking it up for the crowd in honoring this buffoon. The show had steadily been pushing the family from being just another household of the town to being the primary focus of all the townspeople, and this one just locks it in. Even if it’s not technically canon, it still emphasizes this point. Everyone from Krusty to Mr. Burns is honoring Homer for being a moronic, selfish, insane sociopath. And most of the clips are from recent seasons, so it’s not even worth watching for them. Then the show decides to get even more insane by adding Kang and Kodos, and at that point I’m just desperately waiting for it to end. Then we end with the only inspired point in the whole show, the “They’ll Never Stop the Simpsons” song, which listening to it now feels less like self-depricating and more like a threat. They’ll never stop this show. Ever. And that’s a harrowing thought to have after such a dismal clip show. At least they apologized for it. If only it were enough…

Tidbits and Quotes
– It’s pretty jarring when they jump from a season 2 clip to a season 11; there’s just so much difference, not just in the animation and look, but also in tone and quality. It’s like flipping back and forth between two different shows, which in a way, it kind of is…
– While reminiscing about the family car, Homer remembers the time he stole Moe’s car. I guess that’s just the general vehicular memories clip package. I guess nobody could be bothered to give a shit on this one.
– Krusty asks Homer, “Do you remember this voice?” Homer’s had barely any involvement with Krusty, it’s not like he’s his old friend. But that’s just it, Homer’s beloved by everybody in town for some reason. But why? Why? Oh, and another motherfucking joke about Homer hating giving money to charity. This is at least the fifth time they’ve done this “gag.” When will it end? And when will I stop using italics?
– This is probably the most painful episode I’ve had to sit through so far. And I did fast-forward through all the clips. They throw out lines as jokes (“A lot of people think our dad’s behavior has screwed us up. And it has!”) but, really, with some of the insane shit Homer’s pulled over the years, I’m sure it has emotionally scarred Bart and Lisa. And they’re honoring him. Same with Burns claiming how Homer’s ineptitude at work has endangered all their lives with great laughter from the crowd. That they would even make an episode like this, even in jest as a clip show like this, kind of trivializes the series and any seriousness it ever tried to have in the past.

Just a quick scheduling note, I’m trying to get a consistent posting routine going from this point out. Reviews will be up Monday through Friday, because usually when I get to five episodes in a row, I need a bit of a breather. Then Sunday I’ll have a new movie review up on my DreamWorks blog, this weekend The Road to El Dorado. I only threw this one together pretty quickly since there’s not much to say about it, and also because now I’ll be done with the season next week. One more down the drain!

23 thoughts on “286. Gump Roast

  1. Even as lazy as the writers are at this point, they never actually want to do a clip show. Most of the older ones were done because Fox wanted more episodes than they were willing to budget for, although for this one I think there was a writer or actor strike in Hollywood that year and they were rushed to complete their episode order. That said, it doesn’t excuse the absolutely atrocious original material in this one. By the time they brought Kang & Kodos into the mix I was absolutely disgusted with it. I’ve only bothered to watch the rerun once many years later just to confirm it was as bad as I remembered it.

    You do have what I think is by far the best episode of the season coming up next, so I hope you enjoy it.

  2. By far the worst of the clip shows. I would say the saving grace is the clips, but we’ve reached the point in the show where the clips from the bad episodes are starting to overtake the good ones, so it hardly has the nostalgia factor going for it. The only thing I like is the Billy Joel parody.

  3. Al Jean mentions in one of the DVD commentaries (I think “Treehouse of Horror III”) that they tried to put Kang and Kodos into a regular episode once and it prompted a lot of awkward murmuring and disgruntled glances among the voice actors at the table read. I like to think this is the episode he’s talking about, since my reaction was pretty much exactly the same when I first saw this one.

    This makes “Another Simpsons Clip Show” look like “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular”. It pretty much confirms my worst fears at this point in the series – the writers think everybody loves Homer because he’s an obnoxious prick who acts on every insane whim that enters his head. No, we loved him because he used to be a beaten-down everyman who knew he had been dealt a rough hand in life, and wasn’t all that bright, but kept plugging away because at the end of the day he still loved his family and always wanted to do the right thing. Is that really so hard to comprehend?

    1. I am told I don’t “get” South Park, but doesn’t everyone love Cartman (who I HATE; in fact, he’s the main reason I don’t watch the show.. well, that and the fact that almost every episode involves them taking one or two clever bits and beating them to death by screaming and acting ridiculous for 20 minutes… what do you expect when every episode takes a few days… it’s all pretty disposable) because he’s an obnoxious insane prick? I know, I know, he’s an “Antihero”, but I often wondered if South Park’s popularity at the time didn’t inspire the Simpsons.

      …Something else, EVERYONE on Family Guy is an obnoxious insane prick, especially Peter. So, in general, I guess people like obnoxious insane pricks…?! I mean, yeah, “bad” characters are usually more INTERESTING (see “The Wire” where everyone is a bad person… see Breaking BAD.. see the sopranos), but the problem seems to be that they already established Homer as a likeable, enjoyable-to-watch person… who was a bit dumb… eventually he became retarded.. with flashes of “smartass”… in general, it’s just getting impossible to watch him at this point… ugh. The death of what used to be a truely great character. I mean, he had evolved before — or de-eveloped, I guess. He used to have some modicum of intelligence, integrity, morals, etc. He was almost an everyman early on… he also SOLD THE TV in an early episode (!!!!!!!!!!!!!)… eventually he got his obsessions.. donuts and TV and beer and so on… but he still had a heart.. now he’s just a shell…

      I honestly think he discovered crystal meth or something. I’ve met people in real life who used to be sweet and caring and wonderful people and then meth destroyed their minds and their lives and they became bitter and uncaring jerks. Who knows.

      Re: the review, one thing… “Homer’s had barely any involvement with Krusty, it’s not like he’s his old friend.” True, but Homer did kinda save Krusty’s life from the mob… Homer’s son worked for Krusty, too.. Homer’s son and daughter both helped Krusty MANY times… Homer helped Krusty not go to jail… I mean, they may not be OLD friends but they have some history together… Krusty showing up for one of these random events kinda makes sense… he gets paid to do crazy shit like that… shrug..

      1. Boy, you sure got a lot to say.
        I’d say the difference between asshole Homer and asshole Cartman is that as a viewer you’re never meant to root for Cartman; he’s a conniving little bastard who you can’t wait to see fall flat on his face. But what makes him somewhat endearing is that his motivations are always that of a spoiled, selfish child, always wanting to get his way and not seeing or even understanding anyone else’s point of view. Meanwhile Homer does incredibly dangerous and selfish things that affect other people, but in the end, he’s our hero. He shouldn’t be like that, but that’s what he’s turned into, I guess. I like your crystal meth theory though. That would make for an interesting episode. Maybe a Breaking Bad crossover? Honestly, why the hell not at this point. Have Homer on meth, Bart sell drugs on the playground, and Maggie can be the kingpin and slit some guy’s throat in front of them, who cares, nobody’s watching.

      2. The thing with Cartman is, you have to understand he’s not a character people “love” so much as one they “love to hate.” It’s like Mike says–you don’t root for Cartman, you root against him, and part of the fun is that (most of the time) he gets what he deserves. Because–and this is key–everyone else on the show sees him as a miserable bastard, too. Nobody can stand him. That’s key with making characters who are assholes, but still making them likeable on some level. You have to show them getting the bad treatment that they deserve.

        Homer used to be a character that you genuinely loved, and rooted for. But the show has made him more and more of an obnoxious bastard, and yet they still try to treat him like you should root for him sometimes… which is just insane. Moreover, he used to be someone held in contempt, or at best apathy, by those around him. His family loved him, but even they would often get upset with him when he did something wrong. Now, it’s like everyone loves him, and looks the other way at whatever dickish things he does or says. This does NOT happen with Cartman.

        So with Homer, you had this character who was likeable, but (realistically) not always liked by those around him. Which made you like him even more. But then they made him less likeable, and changed it so that everyone inexplicably loves him. We’re going from him being a good guy who gets worse than he deserves, to an asshole who gets BETTER than he deserves.

  4. I don’t like clip shows, but the Simpsons’ clip shows are worth watching, as they do clever things with em. I just wish they pushed the envelope further, .like an episode of NOTHING BUT “every d’oh ever” instead of just a quick montage. I mean, I guess that’s the point of DVD extras, as well as youtube videos, but anyway. I love the Simpsons clip shows, because they always pick great clips, and they always did clever things with the placement of those clips. Also, the new footage usually rules. GONNA PAINT YER WAGONNNN…

    As far as why the Office did a clip show, I think it’s a tradition that every long running sitcom (or… whatever the hell you’d call House… “medical KINDA-dark[kinda-not-at-all]dramedy”… it had a clip show a few weeks ago!) have a clip show. Certainly it seems like almost every show that ever enters syndication has clip shows. It’s a good idea, cheap to make, and it would actually still make sense for the Simpsons because there’s so much to work with. How about an episode with all the best moments of everything past season 11? I bet you could honestly fill 21 minutes with all the best gags, parodies, lines, and memorable moments from Zombie Simpsons. Yep. 21 minutes. From, you know, nearly 350 episodes. It’s a stretch, but I bet they could do it.

    Anyway, the “138th Episode” is the greatest clip show OF ALL TIME, imo. Mainly because it doesn’t really feel like a clip show. “BEHIND THE LAUGHTER” seems like it’s going to become a clip show at various points yet never really does. Good stuff.


    …. but when you mentioned “they’ll never stop the simpsons” I honestly had/have NO IDEA WHAT YOU’RE TALKING ABOUT… I mean I can remember obscure gags and songs from season 17 or whatever… so, I was thinking about it, yep, this remains the only episode I’ve never watched completely in the history of the show. I’ve seen every episode, but I never could finish this one. I dunno if it’s that bad, or if I just never saw the point in finishing it. But I mean, I somehow finished “That 90’s Show” despite it being an atrocity, so honestly, maybe this episode is technically worse?! Maybe this is the worst episode ever. I mean, I’ve seen plenty of bad movies, for example, movies that were a waste of time, but I still finished them. So, how bad were they, honestly? On the other hand, the few movies I’ve ever walked out of or turned off completely after getting mostly through it — maybe those are worse? It’s hard to say, since I don’t like commenting on something unless I actually finish it, but really how much am I missing? In the case of most movies, I doubt I missed anything redeeming. In the case of this episode?………..

    I guess I’ll just youtube that song. So, thanks for pointing it out! I can’t believe I’m about to watch a Simpsons related item I’ve never seen. Take care!

    1. Clip shows used to serve a purpose. Usually they were made before shows hit their 100 episode mark, allowing them to be syndicated. Before 100 episodes, reruns were basically non-existent, so a clip show was the best way for viewers to see their favorite television moments again.

      Then came DVDs and the Internet and clips shows became pointless outside of budgetary reasons. So, if you are going to do a clip show in the modern age, it had better be really clever because, otherwise, it will just appear that the production staff is being lazy.

      1. Yeah, I think the only way you can properly do a clip show these days is to parody it. Take Clerks: The Animated Series where they did a clip show in the second episode that just consisted of clips from the only two episodes that had aired at that point. Community also did two clip shows with the central joke being that none of the clips were from past episodes, and both of them rank as being among the best of the series.

    1. That, and the fact that the writers learned that if they run out of ideas for full-length episodes, they can do one of those episodes where they have three to four short pieces with a wraparound, you know, the episodes like “Tales from the Public Domain,” “Simpsons Bible Stories,” or “Four Great Women and a Manicure.”

  5. This is easily the worst clipshow ever in the series. I mean, the clipshow from season 6 was kind of boring, but it still had some clipshow-esque jokes in it. This is just dreadful to watch and not even funny. I definitely agree that the first clip show is the best, followed by the musical one, but this is just AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAARGH!!!!!

  6. The only good part about this ‘episode’ were the series 1-8 clips. It’s a bit worrying that of the celeb clips, every single one appeared from series 9 onwards. It really is like watching 2 different shows 😦

  7. Why the hell are they celebrating Homer as a beloved citizen?

    He has personally endangered the lives of everyone in that room through his incompetence at the power plant.

    He has stolen from a large number of them (and clips of him stealing from them on Christmas are even shown)

    He has destroyed the property and generally inconvenienced almost every single person in town through either malicious jerkassedness or just out-and-out indifference.

    And this is a man that they’re holding a roast for?

    1. It’s like how Comedy Central does roasts for people who don’t deserve them. In a perverse way, that’s probably the smartest thing the show has come up with in its weaker years.

  8. Just watched this one for the first time and I’m really glad that I missed it when it was on originally. From the first scene on, I knew this would be terrible. What’s the deal with the Forrest Gump reference? Why is Homer dressed like him? Why are Moe and Dr. Hibbert impersonating Austin Powers and Darth Vader, blubbering out their most famous catch-phrases without any context? What show am I watching? This is all extremely shitty even by season 13 Simpsons standards. And then it is revealed that the whole town is holding a roast for Homer, and the thing turns into a clip show, where a big portion of the clips are from the Zombie years. None of this makes any sense, neither is it remotely entertaining. And then that song comes up which does the thing I hate most about Zombie Simpsons: explicitly pointing out how bad the show is and how stupid its plot ideas have become. If the staff knows what a bad job they’re doing, why aren’t they improving the show, or stopping it? No, they have to rub it into the fans’ faces that they’ll not be getting anything else but shit. Truly a horrible episode.

  9. I don’t see how it is a threat to tell us that The Simpsons has stories for years, but if you really want it to end in a bad way to punish all the characters various specific episodes tarnished into being unlikable or one-dimensional…then I guess you should have fears that they have got stories for years. It all depends on what particular stories you fear the most. The stories for years that I had fears for watching are Love is a Many Strangled Thing and Flanders’ Ladder.

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