344. Pranksta Rap

(originally aired February 13, 2005)
Because this is a show that truly has its finger on the pulse of pop culture, it’s time for our rap episode. They’re late in the game, so they cover it by Bart spouting out-dated street phrases and get called out on it. So he’s like an ignorant white (or yellow) kid who likes rap because it’s cool. It makes sense, I guess, but kind of makes him feel pathetic. Whatever; beyond the concert and the torturous free-styling (twice by Homer and Marge, then Bart), the episode really isn’t even about rap; it’s more of a tired rehash of “Radio Bart” where Bart concocts a lie that riles up the entire town. Here, to escape punishment of sneaking out to go to a concert, he sends his parents a ransom note stating he’s been kidnapped, and plans to hide out at Kirk Van Houten’s until the heat dies down. The difference is Bart’s Timmy O’Toole shenanigan was just an elaborate prank, and of course had many other brilliant layers to it. Here, Bart’s just being selfish, and needlessly worrying his parents, bringing Marge to tears multiple times. It’s kind of uncomfortable to watch.

The other thread coming into play is Wiggum actually being a competent cop for once and managing to track down Bart, and arresting Kirk as the kidnapper. For solving this one single case, they throw him a big parade and make him commissioner. Kirk, meanwhile, has become a prison dreamboat since all women love bad boys, so it seems that everyone made off well in this, right? But Lisa’s on the trail of discovering the truth, and all involved in the lie have to keep her from it. Yawn. Homer is also randomly involved, because apparently Hollywood producers have paid him for the rights to Bart’s story. What a bizarre throwaway line; we’re just supposed to accept that Hollywood phoned Homer up and he arranged a deal with them over what ultimately seems like such a nothing premise. Like this episode. Lisa corners Bart and the others in their lie at some rapper’s house, and everything is resolved by a big house party. By which I mean there’s no resolution, but next week Wiggum will be back to chief again. It’s like “The Great Money Caper” again, where it’s a cop-out ending, but they acknowledge it, so that makes it okay! Except it doesn’t. It just shows that you guys wrote yourselves into a corner and just said fuck it. Great work, guys.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer chases the dog through the doggie door and ends up getting stuck. Patty and Selma are outside for some reason, and take this opportunity to plaster him with make-up… for some reason. The other Simpsons were in the room when this happened, and none of them comment on this or try to help him out. It’s more writing jokes without regarding anyone else in the scene if necessary.
– The show’s biting commentary on rap stars is that they’re super, duper rich and they’re violent. S’about it.
– Bart writes snippets of lyrics down like in 8 Mile, then is able to perform an elaborate off-the-cuff rap defaming Homer on stage in front of hundreds of people. Boy, oh boy. And it doesn’t even sound like something he’d write (“I’ll bust a spit wad up your epidermis!”) I’d compare this to Lisa’s song from “Moaning Lisa,” but there literally is no comparison to make.
– I really feel bad for Kirk; he was always kind of a schmucky character, but now every joke with him just makes him the saddest, most pathetic man on the planet. It’s just not all that funny.
– Should I comment on Dana Gould playing Barney Fife? …nah.
– More laughing at the misery of others: the end credits cut scene show Superintendent Chalmers acting like a rapper, making himself look like a fool, being paid by Alcatraz. He comments he’s doing this because his wife is very sick. Funny? What a callous, terrible joke. Then we cut to a wide shot of the party and Homer gleefully jumping into the pool. Then cut to black. What a piece of shit.

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7 responses to “344. Pranksta Rap

  1. Yeah, this episode is pretty awful. In fact, honestly, I cannot think of anything from Season 16 that is any good. Even 17 is awful, but we get a decent Lisa story in the early half.

  2. Oh come on, this is one of the few hilarious episodes in season 16. I don’t really hold it against the episode that it doesn’t have any “commentary” on rap stars, since as you said, the episode really isn’t about rap anyway, but Bart staging an elaborate hoax.

    Some funny moments:
    -“Rap music belongs in the rubbish bin. It encourages punching, boastfulness, and rudeness to hos.”
    -Homer and Marge’s incredibly lame rap to Bart, who has an appropriately embarrassed look on his face.
    -50 Cent trying to count advice to Bart as community service (“Fine, take me to the park, we’ll pick up dog poop.”)
    -“This will be the worst Thanksgiving ever!” “Thanksgiving’s not for months.” “The bad news keeps on coming!”
    -“Mrs Simpson, is the pain so unbearable you wish your son had never been born?” “What a horrible thing to say to a mother!”
    -Columbo tells people the killer at the beginning of the episode. “Yeah, but you have to -remember-!”
    -The still photos in this episode are particularly funny: Homer falling down Springfield Gorge, firemen rescues Wiggum from tree, and “Commission: Wiggum sucks.”
    -“If you say anything, I’ll tell people you wet your pants during Harry Potter.” “I wasn’t scared; I was just peeing!”
    -(Milhouse playing Frisbee by himself) “This just isn’t the same without Bart. He used to watch me do this.”
    -(after Lou is promoted) “Who’s gonna be Eddie?” “We don’t need an Eddie.”
    -Skinner commenting on wanting to catch El Barto

    I’ll concede the ending was weak, though. It was just a rehash of “The Great Money Caper”. And the credits sequence added absolutely nothing of value.

  3. You’d think the world of rap music would be a perfect target for the Simpsons’ satirical eye, but alas, the show forgot how to be satirical sometime in 1998. The closest they come is 50 Cent’s “Does that count as community service?”, which is sort of a throwback to the self-depreciating celebrity cameos of days of yore.

    Another episode that just staggers around blindly, searching for a plot, until finally it just gives up and collapses in a heap of nonsense. I remember thinking “Wait, when and why did this become a Chief Wiggum/Kirk Van Houten episode?” And then that awful Chalmers scene over the credits…ugh. Whatever.

  4. Not a great episode, but I think it stands out just for having a coherent plot (up until the end). I also like that they finally gave Wiggum a plot of his own. I actually love the Barney Fife dream, especially when things get confused and he starts acting like a ghost.

  5. forbidden donut

    The thing I most remember about this episode was hearing beforehand that Dave Chappelle was supposed to guest star, and subsequently really looking forward to watching it.

  6. Yeah, again, it’s probably overall a bit more entertaining than most of the episodes that surround it, but just seeing Bart with baggie pants and hanging out with 50 Cent alone makes me cringe, nevertheless.

  7. I wasn’t a huge fan of the rap stuff, but overall I thought this one was solid as far as later season episodes go.

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