384. Moe’N’a Lisa

(originally aired November 19, 2006)
I hate sad, pathetic Moe. I really do. I don’t mind character development, and in this case, I’ve liked seeing a more sentimental shade of Moe, like in “Moe Baby Blues.” But making him such a sad sack completely takes the wind out of the surly bartender I used to know. The beginning is so painful to watch, with Homer having spaced on his big birthday fishing trip with Moe. We see Moe eagerly give him a call, then wait outside his house all day for him, sat with his head in his lap crying. Who is this pitiful, needy loser and what has he done with Moe? He pens an angry “fuck-you” poem about his dashed hopes and dreams to Homer, which Lisa gets a hold of and thinks is a great piece of writing. Needing to do a report on a fascinating local resident, she picks Moe, believing he has the potential to be a great writer. Discovering he’s been writing his thoughts in scrap form all over his wall, Lisa arranges them into poetry, giving Moe a new found sense of meaning.

With Lisa’s help, Moe is invited to a prestigious literary conference in Vermont, along with Tom Wolfe, Gore Vidal, and other writers who are introduced by name and list their credits before then saying their joke. When Moe hints that he may have had assistance coming up with a title for his poem, the writers react in complete shock, so to cover, he takes all the credit for himself. This makes Lisa sad, as she remains through the whole last act as Moe acts abjectly cruel to her. It doesn’t help when the main source of conflict comes from a gag; so are the writers incredibly pompous and refuse to take any advice or input on their work? Or are they all just insecure and lying? Who cares. What’s with these Lisa episodes involving her being fucked over and moping? She’s repeatedly beat down and ignored, even by her own family. Then at the end, Moe gives an ode to Lisa, crediting her, and all is forgiven. So she helps and supports a guy, he screws her over and acts horribly to her, then after one paltry act of kindness, all is completely forgiven? She’s a Simpson woman, alright.

Tidbits and Quotes
– We have a flashback to Grampa at the Olympics killing a Hitler assassin, a few shows back we had him posing as a woman baseball player during the war… why are these flashbacks so unfunny? They’re just as absurd as when he posed as a German cabaret singer; “Das is nicht eine boobie!” is an infinitely funnier line than “What is this? Kill Hitler Day?”
– The Willie as Grim Reaper bit is so unbelievably cheap, but I like Grampa’s cry, “You’ll never take me alive, Grim Reaper!” And when they play the national anthem, him yelling, “Turn that hippie crap off!”
– Another one of those times I wonder why Marge is putting up with Homer’s nonsense. They spend the whole day huddled down with the lights out to avoid having to confront Moe, why doesn’t she just tell her husband to be a fucking man and apologize to him? Instead we get a hysterical scene where Bart and Homer fight like crabs.
– Moe the sensitive poet? I just don’t buy this plot at all. I buy the times we’ve seen him as more vulnerable, but in terms of his soul, it’s pretty dank. If Moe’s doing anything “creative,” it’s writing filthy letters to actresses, or filming the mail lady shoving things through his slot.
– The American Poetry Perspectives is run by J. Jonah Jameson. Or, what I’m sure the writers will insist, a J. Jonah Jameson-type, who looks, acts, and sounds exactly like him. Now, let’s talk about using other people’s characters. We had Larry Burns, who basically was a character from a Rodney Dangerfield movie. He was voiced by him, talked like him, he kinda looked like him, he basically was Rodney. But it makes sense in the story; who better to clash with the stingy, uptight Burns than a loafing, devil-may-care party animal? Here, it’s just, “We need to show an executive approving Moe’s poem.” “I really like J.K. Simmons in Spider-Man. Let’s just do that, even though it makes no sense. And to trick people into thinking we’re not complete hacks, let’s get Simmons to do the voice.” “Boy, this is a lot easier than coming up with original content!”
– “1876 was the price I paid for gas once. I thought of Burr from an Eskimo Pie package.” “I can’t believe it!” “Those sound like terrible jokes!” WRITERS. YOU CAN’T COVER SHITTY WRITING BY COMMENTING THAT IT’S SHITTY.
– All the writers in this show must be introduced by name, and we’re told some books they’ve written, because ninety percent of the people watching don’t know who they are. Every line of theirs just feels like an inside joke; who is this catering to?
– The family is having a grand old time about Vermont, and invite Lisa to come along. Lisa, clearly devastated, comments, “You guys go ahead, I don’t think I’d be very good company.” Then they just leave. I can buy Homer being that dense, but what about Marge? Oh, I guess she’s just a prop in this episode. My bad.
– “I need a brilliant new poem for the festival farewell dinner, so if you can turn these into one of those, and then don’t say nothing while I take all the credit, I’d really appreciate it. Though I’d never admit that. And look, I got you started.” (Written by Moe and Moe Alone) “Moe, you’re a heartless jerk!” “Woah! Where did that come from? …oh right, my actions.” One of the greatest casualties in Zombie Simpsons: subtly.
– For some reason, Michael Chabon and Jonathan Frazen fighting reminds me of when Siskel and Ebert threw down on The Critic, except that was actually funny and entertaining, and this is attempting to be both, and failing spectacularly. (“You fight like Ann Rice!” Sick burn!)


8 responses to “384. Moe’N’a Lisa

  1. Even though he’s more of a recreation than a parody, Jameson is pretty much the only enjoyable aspect of this episode.

    “That’s sweet. I -hate- sweet! I need photos! Photos of Spider-Man!”
    “What are you waiting for, Chinese New Year?”

  2. This episode reminds me: why must Zombie Simpsons insist that each and every one of its episode titles is an excruciating pun? Do they think viewing figures will plummet if they write one title that just summarizes the episode in a straightforward manner?

    Not to mention this is one of many examples of them putting in awkward extra syllables to force the pun. They could have just called it “Moe and Lisa” (think “Homer and Apu”) and that would have been FINE, but oh no, they just had to make sure we knew they were pointlessly trying to reference something, so “Moe’N’a Lisa” it is.

    It makes it even worse that they keep re-using references to things like “The Mona Lisa”, “New Kids on the Block”, “A Star is Born”, “Alone again, naturally” etc. I know it’s a small point but it really annoys me.

    In fact, I was shocked when there was an episode in season 22 called “Angry Dad: The Movie” and it turned out to actually be about Angry Dad: The Movie. It was refreshing.

    • ZS thinks these are clever things to do

    • I’ve never understood it, either. I guess with more people actually seeing these episode titles, the writers felt they had to be “clever.” Maybe they think the title actually draws in viewers, who knows?

    • The writers are completely out of ideas. At this stage, I suspect they have a big list of movie titles, songs, and major works of art; each week, they randomly select one, spend an hour trying to figure out a way to make a pun with a Simpsons character’s name, then write the episode around that.

      Al: This week we picked the Mona Lisa. Oooh! This should be easy! Lisa is already a character! How about “Moanin’ Lisa”

      Intern: I think that’s already been done, sir…

      Al: You’ll speak when spoken to! Get the fuck out of my office, you’re fired!

      ::Checks Wikipedia::

      Al: Oh, shit, he was right. But we can’t waste this one!

      Writer: Well, Moe is also a character. How about Moe ‘n Lisa?

      Al: I don’t know…will people get the reference? We should make it “Moe’n’a Lisa” just to be safe.

      Staff: BRILLIANT!

  3. I completely disagree with your review, as I think this is a great episode. I especially love the drunk driving bit when Moe tosses Homer a glass over the dash board. Not to mention JK Simmons is down right awesome in this episode.

  4. These horrible titles make my brain hurt.

  5. Your review gave me a better laugh than the episode. When you referred to Moe’s soul as dank, all I could think of was,

    “You ain’t thinkin of getting rid of the dank, are you Moe?”
    “Oh but Moe, the dank, the dank!”

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