307. ‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky

(originally aired March 30, 2003)
Lisa may be incredibly intelligent and mindful of the world, but she’s still just a little girl. That’s what makes her interesting; in combining the bright and the childish, we’ve gotten great shows like “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacey,” “Lisa the Greek” and “Lisa’s Rival.” Episodes about everyone’s favorite starfish-haired little girl don’t have to be boring… but this one certainly is. At this point Lisa is slowly losing her adorable child-like innocence, and is being written like a teenage brainiac, and others treat her as such. The show opens with a visit from acclaimed documentarian Declan Desmond, who intends to shoot his next film about the dullard children of Springfield Elementary. Desmond is voiced by Eric Idle, and his character has reappeared once or twice in the future; he does an alright job, but there’s nothing really memorable about him. Lisa of course is put up front and center as an exemplary student, but Desmond proceeds to tear her down for not having picked a specific topic of interest (“Pick a path and follow it, or you’ll just grow up, slog your way through Mt. Holyoke, and squeeze out babies.”) You realize you’re talking to an eight-year-old, right? I know Desmond is supposed to an asshole, but who does that?

Lisa eventually settles on astronomy as her study of choice, but quickly finds the skies of Springfield are unreadable due to excessive light pollution. She goes about town with a petition for a town-wide dimming of the lights. Boy, this is shaping up to be an exciting episode, isn’t it? Quimby is quick to comply, shutting the town’s power down at night. This leads to a widespread hooliganistic cutting of the town’s hood ornaments. Oh yeah, I guess I should mention the subplot of Bart wanting to be cool by stealing a hood ornament. Except there’s nothing to say other than it kills time and none of it is funny. So even though this is the only negative side of the blacked out town we see, and we don’t necessarily see it as negative since it ties into the other story, and plus how many people have hood ornaments, for some reason the town wants the lights on again. Quimby does so, and for some reason cranks them up so high that it makes nighttime as bright as day. I’m not exactly clear why he does this, or why everyone seems to be fine with it. I just don’t know.

A week passes and the Simpsons are a sleep-deprived wreck, since they’re basically living in endless daylight. Or mainly just Homer and Marge, everyone else seems to be fine with it. Why is everyone okay with it being piercingly bright out at 3am? Why is this happening? So Lisa and Bart team up to get the lights back off. For some reason, electrical controls for the whole town were hidden in a panel out front at Town Hall, that’s where Quimby threw the switch, so they’ll go there? No, they trick sleep deprived Homer to get them inside the power plant, then they overload the power grid and destroy every bulb in the entire town. Then an angry mob shows up out of nowhere out for Bart and Lisa’s blood. Where did they come from, and once again, why were they fine with it being daylight twenty-four-seven? But in the end, Lisa distracts them with a big meteor shower, which is why she wanted the lights off in the first place, and everyone is placated. I’ve got nothing on this episode, it’s the most boring I’ve seen thus far. I thought “C.E. D’oh” was innocuous; this one just takes the cake. And it sucks because Lisa will be forever pinned as this boring bookworm character, when she was always so much more than that. But I guess I should prep up for some more dull Lisa episodes down the pipe. Sigh.

Tidbits and Quotes
– It’s stupid, but I do like the footage of Krusty stapling together half-eaten Krusty Burgers from Desmond’s documentary.
– Not quite sure how the fake library curtain trick worked, as there are two curtains on an angle next to one another. Surely Desmond can see the sharp edge between them and figure it out. But now I’m just splitting hairs, but honestly, I don’t have much to comment on this episode, so I don’t give a crap.
– I chuckled at Ed McMahon’s Star Searcher.
– Hysterical joke where Flanders looks to the heavens and is shocked to see the Jewish star in the sky. Horror of horrors! He rubs his eyes and sees a cross instead and all is well. It’s funny because Flanders is a wacko Christian, one of his only remaining character traits. Also Lenny and Carl are still gay.
– So Bart wants to steal a hood ornament, and sets his sights on the one belonging to Fat Tony. How does he get it? With a ruse straight out of a bad Saturday morning cartoon. He and Milhouse stand out front of Luigi’s with fake mustaches, making like they’re a valet, and Fat Tony falls for it. The guy’s a fucking mobster, you think he’s that stupid? And then they comment on it later (“You mean that ten-year-old with a mustache was a phony?”), which of course they think excuses it… but it kind of doesn’t.
– The third act begins with a man being pulled out of Moe’s on a stretcher, presumably dead, and Moe laughing about it (“No one’s ever won Moe’s ‘drink-a-bottle-of-gin’ challenge, and no one ever will!”) He then places a photo of said dead patron on the wall with some other corpses. Rather grim, don’t you think?
– We end seeing Desmond’s documentary, which ultimately isn’t funny. We just see Milhouse injure himself playing baseball repeatedly.


9 responses to “307. ‘Scuse Me While I Miss the Sky

  1. Yeah, the episode is pretty boring, but at least I got to watch Bart somehow outsmart the mob.

  2. I still remember this was the episode where I first noticed the writers’ chronic inability to let a joke stand by itself without overexplaining it and killing it. Homer looks through Lisa’s telescope and says “Now what do you do to this thing to make it turn funny colors?” Would have been a fine joke on its own, but they have to have Lisa actually say “That’s a kaleidoscope, dad.” And then Homer says “You may be smart, Lisa, but you don’t know much about not hurting other people’s feelings!” – which drags the joke so far past the point of funny that I have to wonder how it even got into the show.

    • I always like Milhouse’s line “try-a the cheese pizza” but then they ruin it by adding “it’s greasy like you.” Milhouse recommending cheese pizza to the Italian mafia is funny enough on its own.

  3. I actually consider this one of the highlights of season 14, but maybe that’s because it just looks good compared to crap like “Three Gays of the Condo”, “Dude, Where’s My Ranch?”, and “Brake My Wife, Please”. I do like how its A and B-plots tie together, something which can’t be said about many of the episodes in later seasons.

  4. For all its flaws, I found this to be a pretty decent latter season episode. Also I’d advise you to go to Frinkiac and have a look at the frames from Homer’s mad cow beef freakout. That is some amazingly far-out animation, and I would never have expected anything like this in a season 14 episode.

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