350. Future-Drama

(originally aired April 17, 2005)
As I mentioned with “Bart to the Future,” “Lisa’s Wedding” is like this humungous shadow that looms over any time the writers decide to make another future show. It may not seem fair to have to be compared to one of the greatest episodes of the series, but if this is the topic you want to delve into, it comes with the territory, and while this one is certainly nowhere near the abortion that “Future” was, it ultimately comes up a little short. Unease sets in for me early when we first see our future, featuring Bart and Lisa heading to the prom. Marge takes a Polaroid photo of them, which morphs into a cake with the picture on it, commenting how great the world is now that scientists have invented magic. While I appreciate the lampshade hanging to some degree, it just feels like their lazy excuse for them to make outlandish future jokes, with human cloning and sentient vomit being around in such a short time from the present. Now think back to “Wedding,” which took place even further in the future, where all the technological advancements seemed logical as far as the direction society appears to be going. Video phones, overstuffed schools, the Rolling Stones still being on tour, these are all things that basically have happened by 2010. In this show we get flying unicorn clams.

To be fair, the episode is more focused on the plot than future gags, featuring Bart needing to find direction in his life so his girlfriend Jenda will take him back. He inadvertently thwarts a robbery at Burns’ mansion, who in returns offers him a Yale scholarship, the one that Lisa is already slated to receive. Now Bart must choose between continuing to impress Jenda with his impromptu Yale admission, or saving Lisa from a fate worse than death: settling for Milhouse. It’s a simple enough story, and there’s nothing really wrong with the characterization or situations. Mainly, the episode just wasn’t very interesting, and neither is this future, for the most part. Like I said earlier, positing what could actually happen in the future is a lot more entertaining than just making stuff up, like having the police be cyborgs or that fucking clam thing. There’s a few choice gags that work, and the core of the story is somewhat sweet, but in the end, it just ends up in the ether, smack dab in the middle of the phenomenal “Wedding” and the abysmal “Future.”

Tidbits and Quotes
– The framing device of Professor Frink’s time machine is alright. He’s a lonely man desperate for a chance to wow others with his invention, which definitely makes more sense than the owner of the Indian casino taking time out of his day to give some kid a twenty minute vision of his future (with ads!)
– There’s a few minor callbacks in this show that I like: Bart’s retro tux is reminiscent of his father’s from “The Way We Was,” and Homer’s underwater condo echoes his dreams of living under the sea in “Homer Badman.”
– The hand wave for Maggie is to show her on a video postcard from Alaska, which now has sandy beaches presumably due to global warming. Why is a nine-year-old across the country? Is this part of a school program? Never mentioned, doesn’t matter.
– I’m a bit conflicted, but I really do like the roided out teenage Milhouse. Him wanting to man up by buffing himself out, but still remaining the same insecure wuss, makes sense to me. Asserting how Lisa being with him would be a dead end also works, with a future vision of their horrible potential future to boot. Then the future episode last season they had them married with children, which felt kind of lazy and sad. I’m not covering that one since I only watched it after the unusually large amount of positive response it got on No Homers, and while it wasn’t awful, I wasn’t as won over by it as everyone else was.
– Not as terrible as “Future,” but still present are designs and voices for older characters still stuck as kids. A lot of the people at the prom, like Wendell, Lewis and Ralph, just look like they took the kid head and put it on an adult body. Same with the voices, many of them still sound like ten-year-olds. But the few new designs and changes that are there do work. Nelson knocking up Sherri and Terri? I totally buy that.
– Some restraint is shown in this future world in having Homer splurge on one of the first hover cars, which doesn’t fully work yet. Going through the Quantum Tunnel, he and Bart get a surprise visit by Bender (“Alright! You guys are my new best friends!”) Seeing Homer toss him out and fall apart on the road as he laughs is a little disconcerting; it was all done in love, surely, but at this point in time, Futurama had vanished from the airwaves, and this shit show was still going strong.
– Oh God… I hate the “joke” with Smithers and his heterosexuality injections. I’m sure Harry Shearer was thrilled to record the wonderful line, “I love boobies!”
– Seeing the hanging Frink skeleton is a bit disturbing, but I don’t see it as entirely unrealistic as to what would happen to him.
– The animation at the end with the flying car dodging and zooming up between the two trees looked really good. Don’t know why, but it stuck out to me.

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12 responses to “350. Future-Drama

  1. For such an outlandish episode, this one is surprisingly forgettable. I do really like “Operation: Find The President’s Head” and its chant, however.

  2. “Bart to the Future” may be bad, but it’s memorably bad. This episode is just forgettable. All I really remember from initial airing was Bender’s cameo and the underwater condo.

    “Now think back to “Wedding,” which took place even further in the future, where all the technological advancements seemed logical as far as the direction society appears to be going. Video phones, overstuffed schools, the Rolling Stones still being on tour, these are all things that basically have happened by 2010. In this show we get flying unicorn clams.”

    What’s strange is that “Bart to the Future” took place farther in the future than “Future Drama” and yet had less advanced technology.

  3. “Bart does head out and saves Lisa from accepting Milhouse’s dismal proposal, then tells his sister he is giving her scholarship back and will find a woman who loves him for himself. Professor Frink then tells Present Bart that he will do just that at age 83—then die one minute later, and his brain would be buried in a pauper’s grave.”

    Hahahahahaha Bart’s life being miserable is riot! Did anyone else bust a gut at Bart getting a failing grade in “Bart gets a F”?! GAAAAAHAHAHAHA

  4. The only part in this episode I remember or even liked was the cameo with Bender.

    • Yeeeeeeeeeeeah. I am sitting here, trying really hard to think of this episode minus the Bender cameo and I remember: an underwater condo and a “cool skater chick” riding into the home and Bart/Lisa watching themselves on Frink’s screen. So, besides those 4 little, meaningless things… I got nothing.

  5. Re: your comment about the praise “Holidays of Futures Passed” received… besides the always-forgiving NoHomers, I remember Dead Homers even KINDA-SORTA-ALMOST praising it… before quickly reminding people why even if it was the “best” episode of the season, it’s not a good sign for the series when the most watchable episode takes place in the future — in other words, it’s a gimmick episode.

    And while you certainly don’t praise THIS episode — and I’d mostly forgotten it too — it probably is one of the better episodes of the later years. Which is really sad and unfortunate, though it does make me wonder if the show would have actually improved a bit in the zombie years if they had aged the characters… since they clearly have nothing they can do with classic Simpsons, maybe Future Simpsons would have worked, with some time. Or maybe not.

    Meh.

    • That’s a question I’ve seen asked a few times in a few places over the years, and the only possible answer is yes, the show would have been far, far better if they had allowed the characters to age. It wouldn’t have had to have been in real time, but if every three or four years they allowed the core cast to get a year older, it would have allowed for new storylines to naturally arise, even if only to watch Bart and Lisa progress through school. I don’t watch enough South Park to tell if their policy of aging the characters every now and again works, but look at Doonesbury, albeit a newspaper strip, but still a long-running cartoon with a large character set. The original characters are now well into middle age. their children are growing up and getting married, and the strip is as good as it was when I started reading it in the mid-80s.

      • South Park aged the kids up from third to fourth grade, but there was really no effect. I can’t think of any cartoon that actually had their characters age; the closest I can come to is when they had Joseph Gribble randomly grow up in King of the Hill. As for this show, with the humungous cast and wide amount of locations in Springfield, there’s enough material there that it could go on forever and remain interesting, but of course that’s not the case with the writing we have now. Having the kids age would definitely be an intriguing turn of events this late in the game, though.

    • phillyfoodie85

      [QUOTE]the closest I can come to is when they had Joseph Gribble randomly grow up in King of the Hill.[/QUOTE]

      That was because the original voice actor for Joseph (Brittany Murphy — the same one who played Luanne, was in the movie “Clueless,” and died suddenly in 2009) was busy in movies and didn’t have time for King of the Hill, so Breckin Meyer was hired to be the voice of Joseph and they wrote it off as “Joseph goes through puberty and Bobby feels left out because his friends are growing up and he’s not”. The episode is called “I Don’t Wanna Wait (For Our Lives to Be Over)”.

  6. Yeah, this one is not too bad. The jokes are mostly hit or miss, but I can certainly sit through this one and enjoy it overall.

    “Don’t Fear the Roofer” and “The Heartbroke Kid” are up next. I know I’m in the minority, but those two are probably my favorites this season, so I await your comments.

  7. The only thing I remembered from this was “I LOVE BOOBIES” – I wasn’t sure I had actually watched it until I got to that line. That’s how unmemorable it is aside from that one terrible joke.

  8. “Then the future episode last season they had them married with children, which felt kind of lazy and sad. I’m not covering that one since I only watched it after the unusually large amount of positive response it got on No Homers, and while it wasn’t awful, I wasn’t as won over by it as everyone else was.”
    Actually, NoHomers is one of the less trustworthy site about The Simpsons. I mean, they always manage to defend every single horrible espisode.. so im not surprised at all

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