(originally aired September 17, 2006)
There’s an odd thing with these new episodes that our characters can succeed or become proficient at something very quickly if the story dictates it. In minutes, Homer can write and release a hit song, Lisa can arrange an entire newsroom to print a town-wide newspaper, and in this show, Bart becomes a complete natural at drumming almost instantaneously. I remember the days of “The Otto Show” where Bart dreamed of being a rock star and got himself a guitar, but gave up when he realized it would be too much work, very kid-like behavior. Here, the drum set is offered to him as a kind of therapy, and he just absentmindedly goes and starts playing it without saying a thing. The premise is basically a rehash of “Smart and Smarter,” where a Simpson sibling usurps an unusually catty and petty Lisa from her wheelhouse. It’s actually very similar, in that like Maggie, Bart goes through the whole show completely ignorant about anything regarding jazz or his sister’s reactions or feelings. The excuse with Maggie is that she’s an infant, but with Bart, I have absolutely no clue what’s wrong with him this show.
The entire first half of the episode is just a dump truck of “fuck you” unloading on a tortured Lisa, which is so much fun to watch. To counteract her sadness, or out of her new blaze attitude, or some other third reason, Lisa takes to adopting unwanted animals, hiding them away in the attic. This leads to Bart getting his arm bitten by a tiger, and he is unable to play anymore. By the third act, I have no fucking clue what to be feeling or why. Should I feel bad that Bart lost his drumming ability? I wasn’t sure why he liked it in the first place, and the episode was never really about him. Lisa doesn’t go back to playing the sax, now she’s wrapped up in trying to get these animals good homes, which I also don’t care about due to how random that story element was. In the end, a benefit concert is held for Bart to get some operation, but he instead vows to use the money to open a wildlife preserve in Lisa’s honor. Did they honestly raise tens of thousands of dollars? Who gave that money? Oh I don’t give a shit, this episode is garbage.
Tidbits and Quotes
– We open with the funeral of Amber, Homer’s Vegas wife, and my only solace is that now hopefully they will never bring her up again. Also makes total sense that they’re holding it in Springfield, a town she visited once where she knew no one. It’s there we get our Bart “prank,” involving paddle balls shooting about the church, lodging down people’s throats before they’re Heimliched out and shot into another person’s throat. It’s handled as clumsily as it sounds.
– Marge labeling every part of the drum as a “joke” is just like Otto rattling off the different radio stations from last episode, just serving to kill time. Also just as egregious is the endless list of comedy jazz names Krusty lists later on. Imagine all the time in the writer’s room it took to come up with all those names… all those hours they’ll never get back. Ever.
– The White Stripes parody, and their guest spot, is somewhat enjoyable, I guess. It’s more of them just taking the idea from the clever music video and not really adding anything to it, but the Stripes chasing down Bart and falling victim to their own gimmick was kind of amusing.
– Homer turns on a white noise machine, which he mentions he bought Marge when her father died, I believe the first time they’ve ever mentioned whether Mr. Bouvier was dead or not. Outside of “The Way We Was” and “Fear of Flying,” we’ve heard and seen nothing of him; I’m surprised the show’s run this long and they’ve never further addressed anything about him.
– Cocky Lisa is not adorable, it’s just annoying, asserting to her brother that he’ll never be as good as her. It’s like when she shrewdly insisted to her amnesia-ridden mother that she was her favorite child.
– Fate repeatedly slapping Lisa in the face is further compounded by Bart not even seeming conscious of what he’s doing or what’s going on; he can’t even pronounce “jazz” and he’s the talk of the town. I guess that’s the gag, but is he some kind of idiot savant retard or something? That’s not Bart.
– “My arm! It hurts where the tiger’s biting it!” I know I must have said it before, but this time I’m serious, this is the worst line of dialogue in this history of the series. And it’s our act break joke. I remember when I first watched it, I was floored, I could not believe what I had just heard. Read it back. Then read it again. That’s supposed to be a joke. I’m flabbergasted.