(originally aired May 15, 2005)
I forgot FOX had these three weeks of double-episode Sundays, I guess they ran out of time and had to cram as many episodes possible into the season. I mention this only because I can’t think of a way to open this review. To raise some extra money, Flanders opens up his spare room for rent, and takes in two college women as tenants. Unbeknownst to him, they are actually softcore webcam whores, using his home as their new studio. Homer soon finds out, and makes it his mission to inform the whole town about it. I wouldn’t say Homer working to humiliate Flanders like this is entirely out of character, but it’s kind of uncomfortable to watch. I also find it’s a bad sign when Homer spends most of the running time smiling and laughing; he chuckles when he shows Moe the smutty website, then cut to an exterior of the church with him still laughing, then we see him at a pew playing with a bobble head Moses. Homer used to be downtrodden, and dare I say humble, and that’s why we loved him. Now he’s just this giggling moron who fucks things up for everyone, and we’re supposed to like him?
When Flanders finds out the truth, and that the town has been mocking him behind his back, even his “best friend” Homer, he is crest-fallen. He ends up moving to Humbleton, PA, a town as saccharine sweet and wholesome as the Humble (Hummel) figurines they produce. Meanwhile, the Simpsons’ new neighbor is a hardass coach who berates and abuses Homer. He’s arrogant and abrasive, sure, but on the whole we see he’s no worse a neighbor to Homer as Homer was to Flanders (“By the way, I borrowed some gas from your car.” “But I siphoned that gas from Flanders!”) So ultimately Homer goes to Humbleton to beg Flanders to come home. This is usually reserved for Homer-Marge episodes, but this is another show that ends with Homer’s pleas to not be out of love or respect, but to beg the other person to put up with their bullshit and do absolutely nothing to change their dickish ways. And Flanders accepts! For some reason! Then he comes back and is shocked to find Homer’s ripped the organ out from the church and put it in his backyard. That’s our craaaaazy Homer! I don’t understand how any character tolerates him anymore, I really don’t.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Jokes feel so clunky now. There’s an NPR radio contest to give away tickets to some foreign film, and Lisa frantically calls in, thinking there will be many, many others doing the same. Then we see the broadcaster, after prattling on for a few more seconds, stop dead in her tracks (“Holy crap, someone’s actually calling!”) As well as a giant red flashing “INCOMING CALL” sign. So laborious and so obvious. Compare this to “Radio Bart”: Homer watches the Superstar Microphone commercial and hears supplies are limited. “Limited?!” He frantically dials and asks if there are any left. Then we see a disinterested employee with an entire warehouse full of boxes, shot at a bit of a low angle only to emphasize how many he has. “Yeah, a couple.” It takes half the time, and even if we can predict the joke, it’s still funny for other reasons.
– Flanders takes a bath in a bathing suit. Why? “So I can’t see my own shrinky-dink!” I sometimes think what characters would be like if they were created at this point down the line. Flanders would be some kind of celibate weirdo who’s afraid of his own dick. How did he have two kids if he can’t look at his fucking penis?
– The satire at the beginning is so lame. Foreign films are weird! And of course Lisa eats it up as a pretentious liberal arts student, and not an eight-year-old girl (“It’s Albanian, but the producers added subtitles to make it commercial.”)
– I do like Milhouse’s incredulous reaction to the dirty website (“Two girls? Who would want that?”)
– Homer fesses up to Flanders, who then presumably boots the two girls as soon as he finds out, and then all of a sudden there’s a huge crowd there hooting and hollering as they go. Why do all these people care exactly?
– When the writers get stuck in a corner where they have to make the family angry at Homer, and perhaps then he’ll realize he did something wrong, the solution is to make him brain dead (“You’ve totally humiliated the best friend the Simpsons ever had.” “You’re right. But you know who the real victim here? Ned.” “That’s what we’ve been trying to tell you!” “Oh, yeah.”) Then Homer finds Flanders’ note that he left and cries to the heavens (“He’s gone! And it’s all someone else’s fault!”) Wonderful.
– Humbleton is boring and weird. If they were so viciously against Flanders’ mustache, enough to make the front page of their newspaper “Hair Fuhrer,” why don’t they kick him out? And why doesn’t Flanders leave, given so much scorn?
– Jason Bateman, a funny guy and a great talent, is wasted with two lines on ten seconds of a stupid TV parody. I think this is right off of Arrested Development too, and the thought of that being cancelled while this garbage is still being aired makes my blood boil a little bit.
Also, after a brief hiatus, I’ve kicked my DreamWorks blog back up again, starting with the fantastic Kung Fu Panda. I don’t know if anyone even reads it, honestly, but I’ve mostly just been enjoying watching these movies over again. Which is most than I can say for this crap series.