(originally aired December 12, 2004)
This episode appeared to be a potentially interesting Bart story, then got swayed by silliness, locked its focus into loud, obnoxious Homer, then at the end of the third act, remembered Bart’s story and brought him back to resolve it. To Bart, losing his last baby tooth signifies the end of his childhood. It’s a premise that could work, examining Bart trying to man up while still remaining a kid. Instead, he adopts a cynical attitude via sarcastically sloganed T-shirts, which he soon turns into a business. For some reason, the entire town goes apeshit over them, despite it being a ten-year-old writing on blank shirts with magic marker in plain stock text. He eventually gets a distributor in Goose Gladwell, an eccentric Willy Wonka-type who runs a local joke store. Bart is soon rolling in cash, because these shirts are somehow a red hot commodity and can bring in hundreds and hundreds of dollars a week in Bart’s share alone. I guess a simple story about Bart’s malaise about losing his childhood wasn’t interesting enough.
The story gears shift to Homer when he’s laid off and becomes dependent on Bart’s earnings, which, again, must be so great that they can support the entire family. Plus Marge doesn’t appear to be annoyed by any of this at all. Homer fears for his position as alpha male of the house, but instead of rectifying it, takes the advice of an on-the-nose animal program and decides to spend his time nurturing Lisa. Currently she’s building a diorama on the history of nuclear power, though I’m shocked that current-day Lisa isn’t protesting its dangers to the environment. Wanting to help her out, Homer acquires some plutonium from the plant and makes it an actual nuclear device. He crosses paths with Bart, who has just been swindled out of his T-shirt rights from Gladwell, so he ends up threatening the man with atomic annihilation until he gets the money his son is owed. So I guess now it’s a father-son show somehow. The show had promise initially, then the whole T-shirt thing just distracted from the emotional core it was setting up, and the episode got lost. Ah well, not like I should expect any different at this point.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer being shocked at Lisa and Janey’s playground limericks of almost-swears just didn’t work. I know they tried, but I don’t think there’s a way you can time that properly. Plus why is he surprised? Homer loves childhood limericks (“You lie like a fly with a booger in its eye!” “The fly was funny, and the booger was the icing on the cake!”)
– The beginning actually has some good stuff in it: Bart praying that the tooth fairy, God’s daughter, not take money off the top from his bounty, his Sgt. Activity fantasy turning into a life insurance commercial, even a dumb joke about Homer getting a potato peeler pierced through his forehead is staged and timed in a funny manner. I also like Bart’s Viking funeral for his toys, but before that we get a scene of him naming them off, all Mapple-style names where they just tweak the names of actual products (Duopoly, Parchoosey, Ravenous Ravenous Rhinos). It must take a bit to come up with these names, and I ask, why bother?
– “I like T-shirts with a nice joke, like ‘Support Our Troops!'” I genuinely do not understand this Marge line. I feel like I almost get it, but I’m not quite there. Can someone help me out here?
– Bart selling his shirts on the schoolyard and them being a hit makes sense, but to all the adults in town? And then later possibly across the country? I just don’t get it. Also Wiggum shuts his shop on his front lawn down for no reason whatsoever.
– I guess the writers thought Goose Gladwell was funny because he’s kind of like Willy Wonka. He’s not funny. The only thing I laughed at is when he leaves the Simpson home, Marge comments, “What a delightful sprite!” Don’t know why, but I was amused by that.
– Lenny and Carl appear at the Gilded Truffle apparently just to chew out Homer. Homer then proceeds to berate a waiter who considers it pathetic that he takes money from his ten-year-old, which it is. Marge tells him to use his inside voice. “I don’t have an inside voice!!” Yeah, we’ve figured that out over the last seven seasons or so.
– Homer playing Malibu Stacey with Lisa is a cute scene, but it would have been better if the episode had been leading up to this point.
– The Krusty Brand Geiger Counter is a pretty good gag (“That thing’s gonna blow! Drop this toy and run!”)
– So did Homer actually build a miniature nuclear reactor? It seemed to have some functionality as it raised the temperature, so it must be dangerous in some capacity. It just seems a little… stupid.