339. She Used to Be My Girl

(originally aired December 5, 2004)
Another boring Marge episode… Sigh. I’m really thinking about bumping these reviews from three paragraphs to two; most of the time I’m either struggling to fill up space, or it seems I’m just reiterating the same points over and over. The problems these shows exhibit are just running together, and I’m sure they’ll still be around over the next five seasons, exacerbated even more so. We open with a Quimby sex scandal causing national news attention for some reason, one such reporter being Chloe Talbot, who Marge studied journalism with in high school. The two reconnect, and Marge immediately becomes discouraged by how much more successful her friend is, and how much Lisa looks up to her. The two have a falling out, Lisa disobeys her mother and goes off with Chloe on an assignment, which soon brings them both to a active volcano that erupts and traps them, and Marge has to end up saving the day.

My interest was waning from the start, but I mentally bolted within the first act. The Quimby scandal is huge, huge news, you’d think this should be the main topic of our episode. We see a whole group of pregnant protesters (I guess women Quimby allegedly knocked up?) standing outside Town Hall. Pan over to show Chloe and her cameraman, where Quimby just casually walks by. No response from the protestors, he’s just cool as a cucumber. Chloe asks him a question, we get a quick joke. Then Marge and Lisa walk by holding groceries. Why they’re walking across Town Square and not driving home is beyond me. Quimby just stands there and watches, then hurriedly books it back into Town Hall. That’s the last we hear of this plot at all. That a plot point this big can just be disregarded and moved on from just shows how little the writers care about any of the characters or situations. Characters are props, cram jokes in wherever, and if all else fails, have there be an active fucking volcano in Springfield that erupts and spews lava everywhere. Marge feels bad for her lot in life, uncharacteristically acts like a bitch to her daughter, they make up, next episode please.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Seeing all the Quimby sex stuff really got me thinking about how tired the show has gotten. It’s similar with the Nelson “ha-ha”s from last episode, I think that when you have a series run this long, a show that’s an episodic comedy, you need to shake the foundations a bit to keep things sort of interesting and fresh. Experiment with your characters, have them try new things, explore different relationships, while maintaining the same style of humor and satire. If the writers cared and worked at it, The Simpsons could have stayed entertaining up until this day. But instead, everything is just sort of locked down where no change is allowed whatsoever, and the change that is there involves whittling the characters down to one or two modes. Last show we had Nelson the pathetic dirt urchin, now Quimby is the sleazy sex maniac. In the past we saw more of Quimby’s misdeeds including drug use and secret murders, as well as his general contempt toward his constituents, but now it seems all the gags involve him banging other women, particularly nowadays with Miss Springfield, another goddamn Tress MacNeille voice. I’ll always try to remember her from “Whacking Day” (“Gentlemen, start your whacking!”)
– The FOX News van playing “We Are the Champions”… so fucking on the nose. I bet they were really proud of themselves getting this joke out a month after the election. We’re so topical, we’re just like South Park!
– This show has wasted so many wonderfully talented and funny guest stars before and since, and in this episode which heavily features this Chloe character, we get fucking Kim Cattrall. Not to say she’s a bad actress, just not someone I’d want to give a major part to on this show.
– Another episode that attempts to taint the sweetness of “The Way We Was,” painting teenage Homer as a ball and chain that kept Marge from journalism school. Also Chloe was with Barney for some reason. Those two were high school losers, and Homer ended up with Marge by the sheer grace of God. No fucking way young Barney would be with a girl as hot and successful as Chloe, at least not following his first beer that turned him into a mindless lout.
– This show cements that they’ll just have Homer do anything stupid for no reason whatsoever. Over the course of one scene we see he’s written “Homer Rocks!” in grime in the bathtub, and walks in naked on stilts. Why? Because he’s Caaaaaaaaaaptain Wacky!
– There’s a moment in bed where Homer cheers Marge up, telling her she’s the glue that keeps the family together and that he hates seeing her upset that comes dangerously close to actually being sincere and emotional, then is immediately undercut by a dumb joke (“You know what would be a good name for Maggie? Chloe!”) Why would he mention that just now, or want to rename his infant daughter at all?
– Dead Homers just did an interesting compare & contrast about sober Barney then and now, and it really comes into play here. Barney rescues Chloe at the end in his helicopter, pledging he wants to make their relationship work. Then we get this: “How about a half-hour of pity sex?” “Is there any other kind?” Sober Barney in classic Simpsons was a real fucking man, an intellectual, an Adonis, even kind of an asshole at points, like shooting out Homer’s tires in “Mr. Plow.” Now, he’s just pathetic and spineless, like many of the male characters on this show have become. And we close on the helicopter rocking up and down to Sex & the City-type music, in case you went this whole show not realizing who Chloe was voiced by.
– For some reason, on certain episodes this season, we’re “treated” to a deleted scene over the credits. I feel like Troy McClure passed out on the couch, then when jostled awake says, “If that’s what they cut out, what they leave in must be pure gold!”

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6 responses to “339. She Used to Be My Girl

  1. The only joke I sort of like was Kent Brockman’s promise that every night on the news, you get a car chase or the weather girl wears a tube top. Oh, and Chloe’s insistence that her boobs stay in the shot. Not hilarious jokes, but at least they’re trying.

    Otherwise, it’s a really bad episode. Some other stuff that annoyed me that you didn’t mention:
    -Around this time, characters began to say “Whhaaaaaaaaaa????” when presented with something surprising. Here, it’s said by Lisa. I know it’s only one word so it seems like I’m nitpicking, but it doesn’t seem natural for an eight year old girl to say that when she notices she’s at an active volcano. It’s similar to when Lisa’s first reaction to the house careening down a river is “Apparently the network wanted to make the reality show more exciting!” in “Helter Shelter”. Just unnatural dialog.
    -Speaking of unnatural, Marge’s “Nooooooo!!” at the end of her daydream. OK, word to writers: Big Nos are rarely funny. They just aren’t. Now, “DO NOT WANT!”, that’s hilarious.
    -Lisa prays to multiple Gods when she thinks she’s going to die. Done before by Homer.
    -The SpongeBob imitation in the credits was just awful. Sounded nothing like him.
    -Marge’s alcoholism worked in “You Only Move Twice” because it was meant to show that because the self-cleaning house did all her work, she had nothing to do but drink. The context makes it funny. Here, it’s presented as a throwaway joke that Marge goes nuts when she has a half glass of wine. No twist.

    This episode was the last animated by some studio named Toonzone Entertainment. To my knowledge, the only other work they did was for King of the Hill. [/useless trivia]

  2. A thoroughly unmemorable episode. Just about the only thing that gets a chuckle out of me is Bart sawing the TV in half and saying “This isn’t what it looks like.”

    That Sex and the City thing with the helicopter irritates the shit out of me. It’s like, yeah, we know who’s doing the voice for this character, you don’t need to beat us over the head with it. Stunt-casting at its lowest form.

    • When this first aired, Sex and the City wasn’t even on my radar so the musical parody didn’t register with me.

      I did recognize, however, that Barney rescuing Chloe in a helicopter was done at least twice before in the series (Barney saved Bart and Lisa from a forest fire in “Days of Wine and D’oh’ses”, while Artie Ziff saved Homer, Lenny and Carl from an oil rig fire in “Half Decent Proposal”). They were running low on ideas, methinks.

  3. *puts head down, smamefully, shakes head*

  4. I guess the shady salesperson from Family Guy moved to Springfield but nobody bought his volcano insurance :p

  5. I didn’t pick up the sex and the city reference, but that pity sex ending with Barny annoys the hell out of me even more than most of the episode.
    Lets all laugh at this man’s attempt to be sober and the fact that no woman can love him, ha ha ha.

    It’s like the mean taunts from Mo and the guys in wine and d’oh’ses, accept that now the mean taunts are coming from the writers.

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