369. The Seemingly Never-Ending Story

(originally aired March 12, 2006)
A story within a story within a story… I bet the writers thought they were real clever when they came up with this conceit. Not a bad idea, if only the stories themselves were interesting or funny at all, which unfortunately they are not. The Simpsons get trapped in an uncharted cavern, and while the others search for a way out, Lisa keeps a stuck Homer company and tells him a story of when she was trapped with Mr. Burns after being terrorized by a vicious ram. Burns then tells a tale of his losing his fortune and having to work at Moe’s. This leads to another story of Moe’s past love affair with Mrs. Krabappel, and how he came upon a sack of priceless gold. All of this comes to a head when the gold is revealed to be hidden in the caverns, and all the parties involved show up to claim it as theirs. I feel I should give the writers a little credit for setting up all the stories and having them come together; the characters mostly work in their roles and the motivations are fine. I guess.

Each story has so much weird stuff going on, and altogether, that really hurts the show. Lisa gets into Burns’ mansion, then she and Burns manage to continuously outrun this swift enraged animal, in a sequence that just goes on and on. The youthful Lisa, maybe, but old decrepit Burns? He and the Rich Texan’s scavenger hunt is just bizarre to me, and it feels weird and random that he’d end up at Moe’s. The Moe story was a bit better, but not by much. I believe Krabappel being with Moe about as much as I bought her being with Comic Book Guy, even less so actually, since she’s fresh off the bus you’d think she’d have higher standards than the modern day despondent Krabappel does. We also get an unnecessary and dumb introduction to Snake, filled with stupid hackneyed dialogue (“I’ve been robbed! I’ll take my revenge on society, by which I mean convenience stores!”) Everyone has a showdown for the gold, Marge tosses it off a cliff and everyone is grateful for it for some reason. Whatever. Given the potential of such an interesting story format, I think the episode just comes up short.

Tidbits and Quotes
– This episode won the Emmy for that year, which is fine, I guess, mostly because nothing can infuriate me more than the fact that “Three Gays of the Condo” won one too. Its only real competition was South Park‘s “Trapped in the Closet,” which I guess they nominated because of its controversy, though I feel there were better episodes they could have submitted, like “Cartoon Wars” or “Manbearpig.”
– We’re at the point I can predict jokes now. When Bart goes nuts playing with the water bottle, I knew it would end with Marge saying, “He’s gonna sleep well tonight!” Mostly because they’ve done this joke before.
– Burns inputs his place of birth in a gate code: Pangaea. It’s funny because he’s old!
– Not a fan of the “Dream on, bitch!” Burns line.
– How exactly did Moe manage a relationship with Krabappel so long without her finding out about the tavern? It’s called Moe’s, for Pete’s sake.
– The bit with Bart and Krabappel in the classroom is very odd to me. At first it struck me as echoing “Bart Gets An F,” but at this point in the series it feels so alien for Bart to appear actually giving a shit about his education. Then later they pull the rug out where Bart reveals he was just distracting Krabappel while Nelson stole shit. So I guess those two are randomly in cahoots. It just seemed strange, and making that connection just makes me remember how “F” is a thousand times more enjoyable in every respect than anything I’ve seen in many a season.
– Burns risking his life to save Lisa? Fuck that. Just a few episodes ago he took money from a children’s hospital to increase his own lifespan by mere minutes.
– The only joke I laughed at was Moe stepping out from the shadows with a bat, only to be surprised that Burns and the Rich Texan have guns, so he sheepishly steps back and pretends he has one too. Nice performance by Azaria.

21 thoughts on “369. The Seemingly Never-Ending Story

  1. The only thing I found remotely funny was Homer’s comment about shooting Mr Burns and blaming it on Maggie, but at the same time, it is such an insult to the climax of that story. As for the format working, it could have had “22 Short Films About Springfield” not existed 10 years prior.

      1. Are you sure? I thought when the Texan is driving past them Homer makes a comment about getting his gun.

  2. I’m surprised you didn’t mention Rich Texan’s obsessive compulsive behavior. That’s one of the more annoying jokes of the season. “Yeehaw! One two three four. Yeehaw! One two three four.” SHADDAP.

    As for the Emmy, I’d rather it have gone to Family Guy’s “PTV”.

    1. Yeah. The “Fellas at the Freakin’ FCC” song was gold (as are most Seth MacFarlane songs) and the actual FCC loved it, even though it was a satire on how gung-ho they are in censoring television, especially in light of some fiasco that happened on live TV (in this case, the David Hyde Pierce trouser malfunction).

  3. All Matt Groening, the writers, cast of the show and FOX care about is their F*cking money. Great job Mike, keep up the good work and this episode was kinda clever, but also really dumb.

  4. It’s a shame they shat on established characters and made it so they all had pre-existing relationships and lets not forget how they shat on snake and gave him that pointless “origin”… I miss when Springfield was ordinary and all the characters had their own separate lives

  5. I was infuriated to hear about the Emmy because this episode is in my bottom 10, mostly for Ian and Patrick’s reasons. The OCD scenes really made me cringe. I see, though, that we have an amnesia episode coming up later this season, so we’re not through the worst of it yet.

  6. Oh, come on, this episode is great. One of the best of the 21st century.
    To those who don’t like this episode, why even bother watching these episodes? Because they ain’t getting better!
    I laughed almost throughout, and i liked the concept of the stories in stories.
    Funny things:
    – The goat scene was funny. Burns going on a chair lift past Lisa yelling ”so long sucker!” and then stopping abruptly (”I mean, don’t leave an old man to die!”) and then sprinting away again (So long, sucker!”)
    – The goat story and the goat reaction to Lisa when she sees here pearl necklace.
    – When Homer yells in pain after Lisa asks if he is crying. ”Well, it was very moving, but the thing is, BATS ARE CHEWING MY LEGS!”
    – Moe stepping back in the shadows pretending to have a shotgun (”You guys have GUNS? Well, so do I!”)
    – The obsessive-conpulsive-disorder was funny for the first times, but overused in the end
    – Burns seemingly getting shot in the forehead (”at my age, that could kill me!”), thus reveiling the mirror was hit
    – Burns attempting to get a picture of him with a smiling child on the school bus. (”It’s the boogieman’s grandfather!”)
    – Burns sleeping on the grave-yard (”With nowhere else to turn, i spend the first three days with relatives.”)
    – Barney getting thrown out of Moe’s bar and keeps getting back somehow

    1. It was truly a much more worthy candidate to win an Emmy than Three Gays of the Condo, and would be a much more worthy opponent to Jurassic Bark had they come out the same year.

  7. [QUOTE]This episode won the Emmy for that year, which is fine, I guess, mostly because nothing can infuriate me more than the fact that “Three Gays of the Condo” won one too. Its only real competition was South Park‘s “Trapped in the Closet,” which I guess they nominated because of its controversy, though I feel there were better episodes they could have submitted, like “Cartoon Wars” or “Manbearpig.”[/QUOTE]

    And, to rub salt on the wound, Al Jean’s acceptance speech for winning this episode was, and I quote, “This is what happens when you don’t mock Scientology.”

    Stay classy, Jean.

    And FYI, I think “Bloody Mary” or “Best Friends Forever” should have been nominated.

    1. “Bloody Mary”? Really? That’s the only South Park episode I’ve seen that’s actually pissed me off.

  8. “Cartoon Wars” is one (well, two, i guess) of my favorite episodes of any show ever. It wasn’t even nominated because one of the main themes was the total hypocrisy and cowardice of the entertainment types.

  9. There are quite a few things I really enjoyed in this episode. The story within the story within the story was kind of interesting, especially when Homer mocks it. I also did like the password bit not because Pangea was the birthplace, but because the computer says, “We have emailed you your password.” I could see a system being designed that dumb.

    Yeah, Burns is out of character a lot, however, that bit when he goes after the gold was almost in character. I say almost because he would have had Smithers climbing down to get it. It was still funny nonetheless.

    I also agree about the bit with Moe stepping back into the shadows being funny. The Krabappel stuff doesn’t make sense, but hell, she went out with Comic Book Guy years prior, so whatever.

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