383. G.I. D’oh!

(originally aired November 12, 2006)
Another piss-poor topical “satire,” this time targeting at the Armed Forces, and just as it was intelligent design and other topics, it feels incredibly mean-spirited. After failing to recruit the town bullies, a recruitment agent says, “Even the dumbest teenagers in the dumbest town in the dumbest state know better than to join the army.” We’re three minutes in and already the point is clear: people who want to serve their country are fucking retards. This mindset pretty much runs through the whole show, and I think it’s unbelievably disrespectful to those serving. But I’m more offended in that none of it is funny. No topic is off limits, and I have no issue with their chosen target, as there’s plenty to knock the army about. It’s just the manner that they do it that feels so bitter and ham-fisted; it feels like a spec script written by an ultra-liberal freshman film student. Because he’s a big gullible dummy, Homer ends up enlisting, but is deemed too stupid to serve, so ends up participating in local war games. He and his company hide out in town, and their opposing commander, who apparently is insane, lays siege to recover them.

The commander is voiced by Kiefer Sutherland, and is a crazy person. Literally. And it’s never addressed. He organizes these war games, and when Homer and company escape, he immediately acts to invade Springfield. It’s an effort that’s costing the government millions, and he’s using actual ammunition to hunt down and presumably kill Homer and his infantry. It’s unclear exactly why the fuck he’s doing this, all we get is another heavy-handed “joke” (“US Government policy is very clear: never back down, never admit a mistake, that’s why we’ve won over half the wars we’ve fought!”) And everyone on the base goes along with him, putting Springfield under enemy occupation. I guess. We never really get a sense of it, but I guess that’s what it is. Also the commander is a big dummy; he rounds up all fat, bald men in town to weed Homer out, I guess, but if he’s that adamant to find this guy, why doesn’t he abduct his family and hold them hostage? And again, these are phony war games and this guy is a psychotic violent criminal. But in the end he signs a term of surrender on a aircraft carrier and nothing ever happens to him. At one point this show was brilliantly satirical. Now I dread when these episodes crop up; they’re not so much offensive as they are just pathetic.

Tidbits and Quotes
– “We just want to talk to you about something near and dear to us.” “What, being gay?” That’s three gay cracks in five episodes. I think I’m gonna start a tally.
– I don’t know if there’s a deleted scene explaining the origin of the Bart bust Marge is carrying, or whether it’s just a set-up for a joke late in the scene, which doesn’t seem worth it since before that you’re just wondering why the fuck she has that bust.
– We have liberal activist Lisa dousing a fur-wearing Krusty with blood, but I like the cute kid moment at the end when she innocently asks when his movie is coming out before she’s escorted away.
– Outside the recruitment center is a sign in the window: “Suicidal Teens Welcome.’ Am I getting unusually sensitive, or do these jokes seem really mean-spirited. Like, hey kids, gonna kill yourself? Why not go out with a blaze of glory! This show just doesn’t know how to deal with touchy topics anymore; between stuff like this and Moe’s constant suicide attempts, it just feels so wrong.
– I like this exchange with Homer getting suckered into enlisting (“Wouldn’t that take me away from my family for two whole years?” “Hey, a big target like you will be home a lot sooner than that!” “Woo hoo! Where do I sign?”)
– I like the bit of Homer cheering up Maggie before he leaves, if only because it’s the only time I’ve seen them interact in a good long while. Or if I’ve forgotten some scenes, the first time I thought it was cute.
– At the start of the games, Homer gives away his position and blinds the enemy because he remembers it’s Chinese New Year and blasts a few flares in the air. Boy, that Homer sure is a big dummy, huh?
– The Looney Tunes parody with Homer and the helicopter drone is just awful. I guess I see what they were going for, but it just doesn’t work at all, it’s two minutes of just pure filler. And if he destroyed the drone in his home, and the commander was watching it, wouldn’t that give away his position? And moreover, couldn’t Homer be charged for destruction of government property? It makes absolutely no sense.
– The ending with the whole town mobilizing is almost like the show commenting on how everyone knows everyone now, with Mr. Burns on the phone with Nelson, and Krusty with Ralph. Doesn’t make it any less annoying though.
– “Colonel, I hope you’ve learned that an occupying foreign force can never defeat a determined local populous. Among the many things we’ve learned from Vietnam…” Yep, totally sounds like an eight-year-old talking. Totally does.
– And we close with Sutherland calling the crew members to front line infantry, which is just a hollow repeat of Homer’s cuts from “Bart Star,” or even his moaning of all the wealthy people’s names from “The Mansion Family” (“Don’t shush me, you rich bastard!”)


18 responses to “383. G.I. D’oh!

  1. “Outside the recruitment center is a sign in the window: “Suicidal Teens Welcome.’ Am I getting unusually sensitive, or do these jokes seem really mean-spirited. Like, hey kids, gonna kill yourself? Why not go out with a blaze of glory! ”

    I don’t think it’s meant to be particularly mean-spirited (unless you really stop and think about it in the context of Columbine or something, which I don’t think this sign gag was going for), since it’s safe to assume — from quite a few people I’ve known — that there are quite a few “suicidal teens” who, for example, “hate [America. or life, or themselves]” but want to “join the Army” with their given reason being to “legally kill” or “handle weapons” or whatever. Of course, most of the people I new like that never actually enlisted but the Army likely would try to recruit those young, probably-impressionable lads — wasn’t that in Fareinheit 9/11 or some other doc where they went up to kids with Slipknot or KoRn shirts specifically to hand out flyers?

    Anyway, this is yet another episode where it’s clear that the writers are bigger fans of South Park or Family Guy or American Dad or something than the show they’re actually writing for and they want to appear to be relevant by commenting or … well nothing really all that topical or new or interesting but “dammit it takes 6 months to make an episode so let’s just make fun of the army and the war cuz that’ll still be relevant enough for us to make fun of in 6 months, right?”

  2. Well said guys, though, on a side note, it’s always puzzled me why it takes 6 months to make one episode. Anyway, this episode was somewhat amusing, but tragically stupid and unfunny as well.

    • Time yourself how long it takes to draw an image of the Simpsons. Now multiply that time by 36,000 (30 frames/second for 20 minutes). Add to that the time it takes to write the entire episode, run through the entire episode with the staff, rewrite what doesn’t work, record the dialogue (including scheduling for guest stars), have those images painted, syncing the audio with the animation, correcting whatever errors, and you can probably get the picture by now.

  3. Wow, I forgot this one was in 18, that shows you how bad it was. For some reason, I thought this was in 19.

  4. Only a few weeks prior, Family Guy tackled the military with its “Saving Private Brian”, so this felt tired. Now obviously, I’m not going to claim that The Simpsons copied Family Guy (due to the long production time, much of which is taken up by the animation being worked on overseas), but it does highlight the problem with Fox’s animation block: Certain topics can be covered by more than one show in a short period of time and you get serious deja vu. Hell, both FG and Simpsons had virtually identical scenes where they showed a propaganda recruiting film strip to the school students!

    As for this episode, it wasn’t great. I did like Skinner’s “How ’bout you bite me?” when the recruiter asked Skinner if he’d re-enlist, as well as the ending where Homer is a recruiter (“Hey ladies, are you tired of waiting for sanctions to work? I know -I- am!”).

    “We just want to talk to you about something near and dear to us.” “What, being gay?” That’s three gay cracks in five episodes. I think I’m gonna start a tally.”

    That bit wasn’t great, but I did like what came before it:

    Army Recruiter: Yo! I don’t know which one I dig more: Hip-hop, Crunk, or serving my country.
    Jimbo: Are you guys hitting on us?

  5. This episode was so bad that even IGN hated it.

  6. I remember the conservative pundits really took issue with this one. I think Michelle Malkin said something along the lines of “This show is getting long in the tooth. They don’t know what they’re doing anymore.”

    Fuck you Zombie Simpsons! You made me agree with Michelle Malkin!

  7. The economy had not crashed completely at this stage so the military was having lots of trouble recruiting people. The conveniently crashed economy though has been very good for recruitment so as to better serve those who crashed the economy.

  8. This is a strange episode for me. It’s overall complete garbage but there’s quite a few key moments I laughed at.

  9. [QUOTE]it feels like a spec script written by an ultra-liberal freshman film student[/QUOTE]

    That’s what most episodes of this show feel like these days, when they’re not set pieces stitched together. I’ve had more laughs and insight about life watching The Weather Channel.

    And Al Jean, if you’re listening, when Family Guy can somehow make the same premise better, it’s time for you to pack it up and call it a day.

  10. I think the crucial detail you’re missing is that this episode, and other cartoon episodes like it at the time, didn’t come from a place of beating on the troops the troops but from a place of beating up on the Iraq War, and more broadly, the neoconservative philosophy that wanted to invade Iran and Syria as well as Iraq and Afghanistan. This episode is a fantastic satiric dissent against an awful policy that was terrible for the troops and for the military as a whole – one which was ascendant at the time and still poses a threat today – and if you watch this outside of that context, you will completely miss the point (and all the brilliant jokes: “Hey ladies, are you tired of waiting for sanctions to work? I know -I- am!” is easily one of the top Homer quotes ever, relating to our policies with Iraq and Iran, and is so funny that I searched for it just before finding this blog – it’s the only reason I’m even finding your post and commenting here, that’s how funny it is.

    • I think you are missing the most crucial details here: the episode, the characters, the plot, and the dialogues make no fucking sense. When I watch a show I want to enjoy it and its premise, and not a bunch of easy one-liners against an easy target, buried under a pile of senseless crap. (If you think that one is a great joke you must have never watched television before the 2000s).

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