391. Springfield Up

(originally aired February 18, 2007)
We’ve seen in a couple of prior episodes the bizarre phenomenon that in the past, all the citizens of Springfield all knew each other and seemed to be the same age as their younger selves. This show cranks that up to eleven; Declan Desmond (Eric Idle) returns as he presents a documentary he’s making, with footage of the kids of Springfield Elementary taken thirty-two years ago, and following certain people into the present. We get a good look at the playground: Lenny, Carl, Moe, Comic Book Guy, Sideshow Mel, Chief Wiggum, Kent Brockman, Professor Frink, Fat Tony… everyone went to the same school and all appear to be around the same age. It’s like I’m watching a spin-off, Simpsons Babies; I can’t take this shit seriously. We get some back story on Wiggum, Frink and the Crazy Cat Lady, except none of it is really interesting or funny. Then we get a look at Homer and Marge’s past, which completely clashes with prior episodes. We know they first met their senior year, now it seems they got together when they were sixteen. At twenty-four, classic Homer was working his dream job at a mini-golf course and truly grateful for being with the love of his life. Now he spends his time making erotic etchings and playing with Play-Doh. Which is more endearing to you?

The episode’s annoying enough, but the segments around the film confuse and aggravate me even further. Act one ends with Homer posing as a millionaire in front of a big mansion, much to Desmond’s disbelief. So, right away, we know he’s bullshitting, and we can assume he’s taken over Burns’ estate to make himself look like a big shot. And by the end of act two, he’s exposed; he tied Smithers up and locked him away for three days while the rest of the family went along with his charade for some reason. Desmond tries to track Homer down to find out why he lied to him, only to get an unusually irate Marge. When Desmond asks for an explanation, Marge has this to say: “A good man went through a lot of trouble just to impress you, and I went along with it because I love him to pieces, and you made him look like a fool!” …okay, Homer broke into his employer’s estate, messed with his belongings and forcibly restrained his assistant, and you went along with it. Desmond exposed the lie, and Homer’s criminal actions, and she’s mad at him? Desmond then feels guilty, and in the end, makes a film that showcases the people of Springfield praising Homer for being a good guy for some reason. Marge then has a heartfelt reunion with him, even though it was clear that he was out to kill Desmond, since he’s a sociopath now. So it’s another episode where Homer can be an reckless asshole and break the law, but that’s a-OK because he’s such a great guy and everyone loves him. But why? Why? For fuck’s sake, why. We used to love Homer, but I absolutely fucking hate this version of him. A deplorable episode in every respect, maybe one of the worst of the whole series.

Tidbits and Quotes
– I won’t even bother going into how old I think each character is. Of our regulars, I’d say there’s a wide age range, from mid-thirties to late-fifties, but here in the old footage, they’re all in elementary school together. Simpsons Babies!
– Krabappel and Snake are shown running through the halls in high school. What happened to them both being from out of town in “The Seemingly Never-Ending Story”? The episode won the fucking Emmy, you’d think you’d have given a shit about it to keep that stuff as canon. But honestly, who cares.
– Homer is now a complete brain dead moron, which means that young Homer must be even more intellectually stunted than that, not knowing what a camera is and giddily running in circles when Desmond squeezes a squeaky toy. Later on he uses it on adult Homer to attract his attention, to which he runs off in fear, almost as if it’s a traumatic trigger sound, which makes no sense at all.
– Homer seemingly created the condiment pen; I guess that’s a byproduct from his inventing days. I can’t imagine he couldn’t make a fair bit of money off of that thing. Also, he does the loud whisper thing not once, not twice, but three times in this episode. PLEASE STOP.
– Professor Frink invents time travel in this episode. Yep, in a non-Halloween show, a character travels back in time. What the fuck.
– So we find out the Crazy Cat Lady was a Yale scholar before she hit the bottle and became an insane lunatic. How depressing. It reminds me of the flashback in “Mr. Plow” where we see how one beer turns the learned Barney into the booze hound we know and love him as. There, the jokes are multi-layered: one beer turns Barney insane, we get Homer’s commentary convincing him of it, and it’s based on him recalling all he’s done for his friend, by which he seems to mean, ruin his life. And while he’s a pathetic drunk, Barney is a mostly content character who we like. With Cat Lady’s back story, it’s just a real downer, since it shows how she gradually became more and more impoverished and downtrodden before she became a homeless crazy person. Bareny’s turn after one beer was exaggeratedly funny, almost like Jekyll and Hyde; here Cat Lady’s transition feels too real and sad. Also she’s labeled as being eight in the old footage like everyone else, despite she looks in her sixties in modern day. Also, I don’t give two flipping shits about the Crazy Cat Lady’s back story. I hate her.
– Now, here’s a first, I’m going to use pictures to illustrate the laziness of the show, because this floored me. It’s the most glaring continuity error I’ve ever seen on this show. Check this shit out. Homer walks in, going to show off his new tattoo. He opens his shirt…
An insert shot, no more than two seconds…
Amazing. Do they even test screen these shows anymore?
– The only thing in the show I liked was at the photography studio, where what appeared to be Captain McAllister turned out to be Disco Stu. At that point in the show, you were so used to seeing the younger characters I just sighed and assumed it was him, so the bait-and-switch was a momentary breath of fresh air.
– The latter half of the show infuriated me more and more as it went on. I won’t bother recounting everything, but it ends with Marge bursting through Desmond’s studio, begging her husband not to kill him. So Homer’s this wonderful guy, but Marge legitimately believes that Homer is going to murder this man for no legitimate reason whatsoever. Homer assures he’s not, then multiple knives and axes fall out of his shirt. So yeah, he was going to kill him. That’s our wacky Homer! We all love him! Or, rather, hate him with a fiery passion.

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14 responses to “391. Springfield Up

  1. yes Mr. Amato, everything stinks.

  2. Let’s just say that this episode is not canon and does not exist as it’ll make us sleep better tonight.

  3. If Bill Hicks was alive to see one of the few shows he liked on TV take a dump on continuity like that oh boy the results would be intense 😛

    • I did like the running gag of Lenny not being interesting. It proves the writers can do jokes about him that don’t involve he and Carl being heterosexual life partners. “I decided not to waste any more footage on him after that.”

      Otherwise…. yeah. You mentioned most of the issues I also had with this one. Something not mentioned: Homer’s “Satan, You’re My Lady” song. Was that supposed to be funny?

    • Hicks is god. At least he went out while he was ahead.

  4. The US premiere of this episode came with a full-length “Simpsons Movie” trailer attached to the end, and they had to make significant time cuts to the episode so it would fit.

    Oddly enough the editied down version makes for a much better episode- they cut out a few of the worst jokes(including the entirety of Homer’s stupid song at the end) and some of the slower scenes are compressed.

    I remember thinking this was an above-average episode for this season until seeing the uncut version.

  5. A B R A C A D A V E R actually it’s 20 episodes to go til that 90’s show but yeah that review will be awesome and so will the E plurbus wiggum review for it’s no ending

  6. This episode seems like it’s a prelude to that 90’s show.

  7. I actually didn’t hate this episode, I saw the shorter version.
    About those pictures you show, I agree, that’s just silly. I didn’t notice it though during the episode, too much focus on the shirt and the tattoo, haha.
    I won’t start a debate about why I didn’t hate it like yourself, but for the canon and not-canon stuff, I really don’t care too much about it. I mean, I still see this show as a cartoon, in which impossible stuff can be justified.
    Like the bit with the Frink time machine…Although that gag wasn’t very funny, I still don’t mind that it happened.
    Also I agree about that wispering Homer isn’t funny. Maybe a few times throughout the entire serie it could have worked, but it’s overused.

  8. I absolutely fucking refuse to consider this episode canon

    fuck this episode

  9. “Also, he does the loud whisper thing not once, not twice, but three times in this episode. PLEASE STOP.”
    It’ll never happen. Al Jean points out on commentaries that he loves how Homer’s whisper is louder than his normal speaking voice.

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