(originally aired September 10, 2006)
What’s with these premieres being especially terrible? They don’t exactly fill me with any confidence for the season. Not that I have much confidence left at all. We open with Bart stealing the school bus, and Otto getting fired for spanking him in retaliation. But Bart thinks Otto is cool, why would he do this? But no matter, Otto is a prop character now anyway, only there if the plot needs him, or if they need to make a drug reference. With the parents are stuck car pooling, our regulars meet the new kid Michael, who turns out to be Fat Tony’s son. Despite him being meek and harmless, all the kids are terrified of him. Feeling bad, Lisa warms up to him, and finds out he’s a talented cook, but is afraid to tell his father about it, who wants him to continue the family business. All of this is pretty boring, and considering the kid’s name is Michael, I know it’s going to turn into a Godfather ending where he shuts the door on Lisa. It’s just a matter of waiting through the other bullshit to get there.
When Michael’s gift is revealed, a rival family perceives it as a weakness and guns Fat Tony down. While he’s recovering, Legs and Louie leave to allow Michael to run the business. Umm, what? He’s a ten-year-old kid and they just leave him alone in the hospital with his critically ill father? But not to worry, Homer steps up and volunteers to be the surrogate mob boss! Oh boy! Then next scene we see him working the beat, assisted by Legs and Louie. So what’s going on here? Why don’t they run things, why do they need Homer and Bart to work with them? It’s just so they can cross another occupation off the long list of jobs he’s bumbled through, and so they can promote the episode as “Homer in the mafia!” This turns the two into irredeemable monsters for some reason, with Bart volunteering to shoot Flanders and Homer suggesting he knife him instead. It’s just very nasty and weird. Another garbage premiere episode.
Tidbits and Quotes
– It’s amazing how despite these show’s clocking in under twenty minutes, there’s so much filler and dragging jokes. Otto singing Grand Funk Railroad, flipping the dial through every station and naming them, the interminable and disturbing bit where Homer and Bart laugh maniacally while holding bigger and bigger weapons. It just shows how paper thin most of these stories are.
– I thought Metallica actually was pretty funny for the short bit they had. James Hetfield telling Otto “we don’t take rides from strangers,” and they being able to recognized him from a concert from ten years back (“I was about to quit the band when I saw your lighter. You saved me that night!”)
– Skinner asks Otto to hand in his beaded seat cover, which we never saw before that point. I try not to be a stickler for this stuff, but we spent the first three minutes of show focusing on Otto at the driver’s seat, and we saw a bare seat.
– Milhouse uses a car seat and tries to hit on Lisa using it… like, come on…
– The dead return in this episode. After over a decade of silence after the passing of Doris Grau, Lunchlady Doris has a brief speaking role, voiced by, you guessed it, Tress MacNeille. I was stunned the first time I saw it, because it comes from nowhere; they pan over quickly in the lunchroom for her to speak her first line of dialogue in ten years (“There’s a double-A battery in my macaroni and cheese!” “It counts as a vegetable!”) Then she opens a wartime tub of beans filled with wailing ghouls and she demands, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, get in the bowl.” This is the material they bring her out of retirement for? She’s had sporadic speaking roles since this point, and I just find it absolutely disrespectful. They wouldn’t dare recast Troy McClure or Lionel Hutz; was Grau any less of a performer than Phil Hartman? And besides that, if they wanted to do jokes involving a lunch lady, why not just make a new fucking character? It could even be a different chain smoking disgruntled older lady. But I guess due to laziness, they kept it as Doris. It just upsets me on multiple levels.
– Lisa, Michael and the other kids stand by the curb to get picked up by Fat Tony. His car pulls up, then when we see the kids again, Michael is gone. Again, not being a continuity stickler, but the shots were within five seconds of each other, how could no one have noticed this?
– Two Sopranos stars voice members of Tony’s rival family. They’re alright. Whatever. Not like they have much to work with. Every joke involves making analogies to killing (“The flavor just drove my sweet tooth to a vacant lot and whacked it!”) We also get another gay slam, where one of them mocks Michael calling him “Chef Boy-are-gay.” I guess it works in context here since they’re brutish mob guys, but again, I wish the show would ease off on the gay jokes.
– Tony shot in the back multiple times and falls forward, but we see absolutely no bullet holes or blood. What, does this show have a quotient for how much blood shed they can show, and use it all up every Halloween? What about in “Homer the Moe” when Homer bled profusely after hitting the jukebox? Whatever.
– The most disturbing bit in the episode, and one of the entire series, is a fantasy Homer has after Johnny Tightlips mentions a “dirt nap.” He imagine himself with his head in the ground like an ostrich, ignoring his wife’s pleas to help save their kids from their burning house. We then see the Simpson house on fire, with Bart and Lisa at their windows panicked, screaming for help. Homer’s muffled response (“Sorry, Marge, can’t hear yah! Heh heh heh…”) This is his contented fantasy? Imaging his kids burning alive and doing nothing to stop it? I remember in one of the few Family Guys I was misfortune enough to watch, it ended with an elaborate daydream of Peter smothering his wife and disposing of the body. This bit is basically on the level of that, it’s so absolutely wrong in every respect.
– Michael rips up his recipe card after the mobsters are killed. Lisa reads it: Meats, Spices, Poison. Give me a fucking break…