(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.