393. Rome-old and Juli-eh

(originally aired March 11, 2007)
Grampa and Selma… get married… So the future episodes presented as gags at the end of “Gump Roast” are becoming… actual episodes. I was more confused by this show than anything else; I was stunned that they were attempting something more down-to-earth and serious, but it’s done with the show’s usual lack of sense or actual emotion. So Grampa and Selma are stuck babysitting, and over a night hit it off. I guess. Grampa gives her one pleasantry, they get drunk, then it’s make-out time. Later on, Selma admits it’s not something she wishes to pursue, but Grampa insists that they merely continue enjoying each other’s company and see where it goes from there. And then that leads to Grampa admitting he loves her and them being married. What? There is zero connection between these two, besides the fact that Grampa is a lonely old man, and Selma I guess will put out for any man who pays the slightest bit of attention to her. It’s a marriage built out of sadness, I guess. That makes for an entertaining twenty minutes.

This episode immediately reminds me of “A Fish Called Selma,” which is unfair considering that’s one of the greatest episodes ever, also about a loveless marriage with Selma. Except she and Troy together made sense, but here, her with Grampa doesn’t at all. Why would she marry this senile, out-of-sorts old man, and trust leaving him alone with her child? Oh, and Ling is basically just a prop, in the incredibly rare occasion that we actually see her. The third act feels unbelievably awkward, as the two settle in their new home and try to make domestic bliss work, and fail at it. Selma gets a higher position at the DMV; in the first scene we see she’s all together, then in the next, she’s being derided by her superiors, I guess because she’s stressed out by having an ancient fossil of a husband at home she can’t trust to use a stove correctly. Are we supposed to give a shit about these two characters in their plight? I feel this show would have worked a lot better if these two just had a nice inter-generational friendship; two lonely people making a connection, I would have bought that. But the two being in love? I know Selma’s pretty loose, but I imagine she must have some standards. On their honeymoon night when she tries to initiate… [shudder] things, Grampa thinks she’s Lisa and they’re at the circus. Isn’t that a rather large red flag?

Tidbits and Quotes
– There’s a ridiculously stupid B “story” involving Bart and Lisa getting hundreds of free boxes from a UPS knock off to build a gigantic fort in their backyard. Incensed, delivery men return in droves to engage in an epic battle. So, two kids versus what appears to be over sixty grown adults, fighting over a cardboard fort. You’re telling me one guy couldn’t show up and just knock it over? No, instead they’re immobilized by tripping over cardboard tubing and getting hit by egg cartons. Also, one of them rides a fucking dragon. This is all so the show can cram in a bunch of Lord of the Rings references, and as usual, these guys are right on time. When did Return of the King come out? Oh yeah, 2003.
– The episode opens with Homer gleefully filing for bankruptcy, not knowing that it doesn’t mean all his debts can go unpaid. A financial officer is appointed to him to manage his money, which includes three subscriptions to Vanity Fair and a thousand a month to wishing wells. What does Homer find the most useless expenditure of all? Paying for Grampa’s stay at the Retirement Castle, so he rips him out and has him live at home. What about all those gags where Homer locks his father out of the house? He put him in the nursing home because he apparently hates him.
– I’m almost shocked by the restraint the show had with the Flinstoned car bit, where we see Homer flail his legs, but then we see him very painfully attempt to move the car along the road. It’s… it’s like a good joke.
– The lemon candy suckling sequence… is so disturbing. Those lip noises are fucking gross; compare this to the pill eating scene in “Old Money,” which was unsettling and funny at the same time.
– To break Grampa and Selma up, Homer and Patty concoct a ruse to make it seem like Selma is cheating, since Patty can easily disguise herself as her sister anyway. What brand of cliched sitcom contrivance is this? It’s the kind of shit this show used to mock relentlessly!
– I continue to be surprised how often I find myself comparing stuff favorably to the Scully years, and even on occasion, the early Jean years. But here, we have a repeated joke: throwing rice at a wedding, Lisa comments that birds eat them, their stomachs swell and they explode. In “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad Marge,” Bart comments, “Why am I just hearing about this now?” He grabs a bag of rice and leaves. Fair enough joke. But here, we have to push it where we actually see the birds swell up like balloons and blow up. I’m going insane here, I’m praising a Mike Scully episode for being subtle.
– Grampa fucking with the kitchen appliances is like typical comedic fodder for the character normally, but here it’s treated within this almost dramatic air of this new marriage… it feels so wrong. Like I don’t understand what this show is trying to say, or be. Like with Troy, Selma amicably ends the marriage, but the difference is I understand completely why she married Troy, and am at a complete loss of why the fuck she would want to wed and bed the doddering old fool of a father of the man she detests most of all.

You’ll notice these reviews are coming out quicker and quicker. I’m so close to the end, and these episodes are becoming more and more unbearable to me… The sooner it all ends, the sooner I can never, ever watch new Simpsons ever again! And that will be the greatest gift of all. Not Xmas gift, that would be pushing it. Though my birthday’s in February; it’ll be a good birthday gift.

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9 responses to “393. Rome-old and Juli-eh

  1. This episode’s plot is crap. As you said, this is the kind of thing that they joked the show would do in “Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” and “Gump Roast”… except now they’re actually doing it. And the B-plot was merely a flimsy excuse to make a tired LOTR parody that made absolutely no sense in the (relatively) grounded reality this show used to have.

    One thing you didn’t mention: In act two, Homer’s completely against the marriage and wants to break up Grampa and Selma. But immediately after the wedding, we see Homer smiling, and we never hear his disdain the rest of the episode! What the hell happened?! It was such an abrupt attitude change and the second act felt like filler because of it.

    It’s not a complete loss; there are a few gags I like in this outing, but nothing truly outstanding. Grampa’s senility was probably the best material.

    Bit of trivia: The initial airing of this episode had a few scenes that were unusually sloppy for modern Simpsons standards; those scenes were reanimated in all reruns.

  2. Considering that Abe had interest in Jackie it’s even weirder that him and Selma would happen at the wrecking the house was taking the coz he’s an old man way too far.

  3. Concerning the sub-plot seriously WTF WAS THAT AND WHY DOES ZS LIKE TO OVER EXAGGERATE STUFF LIKE THAT IT’S SO FORCED AND LAZY!

  4. Special props to what is possibly the worst episode title ever, which is saying something considering all the bad puns this show uses. “Grandpa and Selma” was too simple for these comedy geniuses. “Rome-old and Juli-eh.” My God.

  5. Little Thin Man Accused in Robbery

    Holy crap, this happened? I thought it was just a bad dream I had!

  6. I cannot stand the Selma/Grandpa stuff, but the highlight of the episode is the Two Towers parody with the UPS guys. That was just awesome.

  7. Don’t forget, Selma actually marries someone that ALMOST MARRIED HER MOTHER

    Remember, Abe was in love with Mrs. Bouvier until Burns tried to steal her away and she decided she didn’t want either of them. Why would Selma even entertain this?!

  8. This was the episode that made me give up on The Simpsons once and for all. Easily the worst episode ever up until that point, it’s impossible for me to imagine how they possibly could’ve gotten worse. But if any show could manage that, it’s Zombie Simpsons.

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