331. Catch ‘Em If You Can

(originally aired April 25, 2004)
This season has been pretty terrible, but none of the episodes were really particularly aggravating me and bringing my ire up. Then we get to this week and it’s like one mind-numbingly awful show after another, culminating with this one, an episode filled with bitterness and recrimination amidst the previously loving Simpson family. Of all the caricaturization of the main cast, the one who hurts the most is Marge, who is mostly a doormat and endless apologist for Homer’s insane antics, as seen in “Co-Dependent’s Day.” But this episode just brings her, and Homer to an extent, to a whole new level, as they seem to harbor a deep resentment toward their own children. Bart and Lisa get out having to go to a great uncle’s funeral in Dayton, Ohio, and in exchange Marge demands that they all do something together as a family. They rent Love Story, because kids love tragic romantic films, then when Bart makes snarky commentary and Lisa soapboxes about the illogical love affair (because she’s apparently a jaded thirty-something now and not a little kid), Marge chastizes them for ruining she and Homer’s romantic moment. Wasn’t it her insistence that they watch the video as a family? It’s like the writers just forgot.

On a spur of the moment decision, Homer and Marge blow off Dayton and catch a flight to Miami Beach to have a second honeymoon. Marge gleefully announces that she’s ditching their kids, toasts to a life without them, and she and Homer laugh uproariously at starry-eyed newlyweds who can’t wait to bear fruit. It’s so, so uncomfortably how hateful this episode is. Would Marge ever, ever speak bad about her children? Never. In the past, we’ve seen her get annoyed with them, even in a similar situation; in “Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy,” she hurriedly tries to calm Bart’s nerves so she can get back to screwing her husband. Here, she and Homer openly criticize them for nothing except for some childish horseplay in the first act. Bart and Lisa discover where they really are, and for some reason have a new mission (“We’re going to follow them across this great land, making sure they don’t have one moment of fun!”) That’s Lisa saying that, by the way. They write her so adult you’d think she would be mindful of her parents wanting to get away, but in this show she’s brought down to Bart’s mentality so the “story” can “work.”

So it becomes a cross-country chase as the kids chase the parents from hotspot to hotspot, because this totally makes sense as something that can happen. The hand wave it with showing Homer having Flanders’ credit card, and I guess Marge is so horny she has no ethical qualms about it. This is told via an extended montage sequence “parodying” the opening credit sequence to the show’s namesake Catch Me If You Can. It doesn’t really count as a parody if you’re not… parodying anything: both sequences use the same style and music, and are about two people (or two and two people) chasing each other from place to place. Last stop is Niagra Falls where Bart and Lisa finally catch their parents; Marge yells at them to shut up (a painful moment), and Lisa doesn’t react to her mother’s resigned disappointment. At least not until the next morning where she tells Bart that they went too far and should give their parents some space. They go to a carnival, where Homer and Marge happen to be, who flee to a moon bounce, which ends up tipping over the falls while the two are having sex. While Bart and Lisa watch from binoculars and comment how everything worked out fine this week. Marge, the endlessly loving solid hunk of bedrock of the Simpson family, resents her children. The happy ending involves she and Homer finally having sex, and doesn’t involve apologizing to her kids for the horrible things she said, or for lying, or realizing how important they are to her. Everything about this show is unpleasant and uncomfortable, and I know I keep saying this, but I think we’ve ended the week on the worst one of all.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Bart and Lisa burst through the door fighting each other, knocking Maggie out of Marge’s hands. Her reaction? “Shame on you two creeps!” Creeps? She’d break them up and scold them for sure, but creeps?
– The only moment of authentic Marge in this episode involves her fawning over the wonderful attractions Dayton has to offer (“It’s got Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, and a zipper museum!”)
– I have to stress this again: Marge insisted they do something together as a family, end up renting a movie that her children would have no interest, then get annoyed when they interrupt her cuddling with Homer, and grumble about how kids “ruin everything” afterward. You sat two children in front of Love Story and expected them to watch and be quiet?
– Homer and Marge getting on a different plane is another of this logic gaps the show’s common for now, but the hand wave with the guy at the gate isn’t half bad (“Go ahead, what do I care? I’m getting laid off tomorrow.”)
– Oh yeah, there’s also a runner involving Grampa trying to hit up old widows on Miami Beach, but ending up the penthouse with an elderly gay guy for some reason. And that’s the end of that “plot,” Grampa’s stuck in Miami. Also, where the hell did Maggie go?
– Marge and Homer come back to their room only to find Bart and Lisa asleep outside their door. Marge’s response? “The kids tracked us down!” Not out of surprise, but disappointment. How the fuck did they get here, she might ask. They then quickly get the hell out of dodge, with packed suitcases even though they couldn’t get to their room, with Marge telling the taxi driver to “step on it!” She can’t get away from those fucking kids fast enough, I guess.
– Homer and Marge and Bart and Lisa end up on the same Ferris wheel after the kids decided to give them some space. Lisa attempts to explain her motives were good, but Marge cuts her off, “We understand perfectly well!” Seeing her yell at her daughter twice in one show… it’s so uncomfortable. Think back to “Scenes From the Class Struggle in Springfield,” all the events of the show have led up to a stress-harangued Marge trying to mend her dress for the umpteenth time, causing her to explode on her daughter, a moment treated with actual drama, since that’s so unlike her to do so. Here, she reams out her kids for her own selfish reasons since she just wants to get her rocks off. Which she does in the end in place of an actual apology for acting like a mean, deceitful bitch. I’m not even angry about she and Homer going over the falls without a scratch on them, this is all bullshit.

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26 responses to “331. Catch ‘Em If You Can

  1. “she and Homer laugh uproariously at starry-eyed newlyweds who can’t wait to bear fruit.”

    Oh, I hate that scene. I guess it would sort of be in character for Homer, but why would Marge be doing that? I know she gets frustrated with her family at times, but when would she ever wish she didn’t have kids?

    And while there’s another pointless product name change in this episode (Lackluster Video), I will give it credit that it’s at least an attempt at a joke. It’s better than Funtendo Zii. That’s about the only good thing I have to say about this episode.

  2. “Homer and Marge getting on a different plane is another of this logic gaps the show’s common for now, but the hand wave with the guy at the gate isn’t half bad (“Go ahead, what do I care? I’m getting laid off tomorrow.”)”

    In the same scene, I also like Homer’s “As the Bible says: Screw -that-!”

  3. Don’t recall anything about this one, but reading your review, would you say this time we’re dealing with Jerkass MARGE instead of Homer?

  4. Also wouldn’t the excessive use of Ned’s and a MINOR’s credit card be detected on not-visa’s systems and they would have been called to be notified of suspicious behaviour and wouldn’t they have the option to lock both cards out upon finding out and also wouldn’t they have noticed their credit cards missing that whole time???

  5. Ah, now here’s an episode that I can hate with you! Marge’s characterization is absolute shit in this one.

  6. I never realized until recently how many episodes of Zombie Simpsons take place in (the wonderful state of) Florida. At the top of my head… this one, Special Edna, Kill the Alligator and Run, Homerazzi, and Sunday Cruddy Sunday… oh and the Simpsons Ride is there.

  7. Wow, this is the first episode you’ve reviewed that I don’t remember at all. I think this is the season where I concluded that the Simpsons were gonna stay mediocre at best (I still remember a few episodes that you haven’t reviewed yet).
    I’m about the same age as you (I was born in 1988), and my mom wouldn’t let me watch the Simpsons until I was in Middle School and I remember being disappointed by all the new episodes (seasons 12 and on) but laughing at the older ones. I have the first 8 seasons on DVD and watch them all the time!
    Since I started college in 2006, I’ve sat through exactly one (1) episode. It was the 24 Minutes one. I was at a friends house. He still watches it. And it sucked.
    Tipsy rant over!

    • Since 2006, the only episode really worth watching is “Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind”. It’s not GREAT but it has more genuinely funny jokes and a few really great sequences in it, so that puts it above 99% of the Simpsons output. The guy who wrote it wrote “Moe Baby Blues” (which was another one of the better Zombie Simpsons episodes) as well as “holidays of futures passed” (by far and away the best episode they did last season). He also wrote many Futurama classics like “Roswell That Ends Well” and “A Head in the Polls” (my fav. episode, period)… so yeah, this guy needs to write more stuff and The Simpsons could maybe finish their run at least a little above average.

    • What? 24 Minutes is one of the best episodes of the series.

      • I hear that a lot but it was about as good to me as that Lost parody they did in season 23. Kinda just obvious and unfunny. I mean, compare it to the Cape Feare parody… or even the Twin Peaks parody… or, even in Zombie Simpsons land, King of the Hill-ish “bobby i got propane in my urethra” says a lot more, a lot more quickly and funnier, than 24 minutes of 24 parody.

        I will say, the episode that was right before it, with Ludacrest and the kinda-obscure Raising Arizona tribute had enough brilliant moments to be watchable. That season, as a whole, has more watchable episodes than probably any season since… 11?

      • “24 Minutes is one of the best episodes of the series.”
        What? Its a joke, right? The fact that an episode is not horribly written, doesn’t mean its decent, let alone funny to watch.

  8. I remember getting to the end of this one and feeling nothing. Like, I knew I had just watched something, but I didn’t care; it elicited nothing from me. Maybe I’d just gotten numb to the pain of Season 15 by this point, but I barely remember a thing from this one outside the half-assed attempt at spoofing Catch Me If You Can. And I only remember it because it’s two and a half minutes long and eats up the time they could have spent resolving the Grandpa subplot. Whatever.

  9. Wow, I can understand hating the episodes prior, but really, this one too? I thought this was a fun and enjoyable episode, the best of the season. I loved the sequence where Homer and Marge are being chased by Bart and Lisa in that unique animation style. I also laugh at the whole aspect of the tornado hitting the hotel and Marge not knowing anything about it when Lisa talks to her on the phone.

  10. Man, as someone who had stopped watching at this point it’s so fucked up to be reading these writeups. I mean I knew the show wasn’t good anymore, but I had no idea how intensely unlikeable they were making the characters.

  11. Totally agreed, Marge should never, Ever treat her children like that. The only good thing about the episode was the cartoonish sequence of the running around, only because it looked nothing like what we’ve seen for a while.

  12. I liked Homer arguing with the video clerk (“I’m sorry, sir, but the computer says the movie “Chocolate Star Wars” doesn’t exist.” “I say YOU don’t exist!” “No, i’m right here under staff.”)

  13. I definitely missed this one. At this point in time, i was a freshman in college and, judging by the date, might have been studying for exams maybe? Sounds like another utterly abysmal one.

    I was still watching the show nearly every week but definitely just out of habit at this point. I was starting to miss them here and there because this was college and the cheap beer wasn’t going to drink itself, but i had a couple close friends who loved the (classic) Simpsons as much as i did, so we usually made a point to watch.

  14. I’ve been reading through this blog trying to pinpoint the exact moment that I finally gave up on The Simpsons. This episode was it.

    The Simpsons was my favourite show growing up so it was hard for me to let go. I stuck it out longer than I should have out of loyalty and watched week in, week out until about Season 13. After that I watched less frequently but kept tuning in every now and then in case it improved. However it was this cruddy, cruddy episode that made me finally give up hope. In particular as I watched the montage scene I realised that it was never going to be the same show again. For me it was the montage scene that finally pushed me over the edge and I gave up on the Simpsons for good. I haven’t watched a new episode since.

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