395. Marge Gamer

(originally aired April 22, 2007)
Another good episode? And J. Stewart Burns writing two in a row? What is going on? Despite a few quibbles, mainly with the A-story, both plots are fairly well constructed, work within our characters, and provide a fair amount of laughs. Just as her husband did five years prior, Marge discovers the world of the Internet, and quickly becomes hooked, in a lame, very Marge way, finding cheap prices for paper towels and sending holiday e-cards. She stumbles into a game called Earthland Realms, an MMORPG similar to medieval-style games like Everquest or World of Warcraft. Of course we see our regular characters are all playing for some reason, but at least they all give explanations for why they’re there, like Mrs. Krabappel looking to find a man who can afford a computer. Then there’s appearances by Skinner, Sideshow Mel, Smithers, people I don’t think would waste their time with this stuff. But it’s par for the course to have some of our regulars here, so I don’t mind that much. The main thrust is that Bart is this super powerful warlord in the game, and Marge ends up finding a way to extend her over-mothering into the virtual world. Bart ends up accidentally killing Marge’s character, and to make things right, sacrifices most of his life bar to revive her, leaving his avatar to be mercilessly slaughtered by the other players. A simple resolution, but done pretty effectively.

I actually really love the B-story, despite a somewhat rocky start. Lisa has taken up soccer, but there’s no referee. Who will step in? That wacky Homer of course, as we see a montage of him ripping off his sports bra and vomiting in an orange cone. But once we get past that, we get the actual story, where Lisa finds she can exploit Homer’s favoritism to cheat at the game. It’s startling nowadays to see her actually act like a kid, and even though it’s pretty dicey to have her act this self-serving, it’s still within the realm of an eight-year-old to act. Homer actually becomes a competent ref, and when Lisa’s transgressions are exposed, he throws her from the game. Even the superfluous guest spot is amusing: Brazilian soccer star Ronaldo singles Lisa out as a “flip-flopper,” but his acting is so wonderfully bad, and his character so unusually malicious, it ends up being pretty funny (“Another family broken up by Ronaldo. Yes!”) To make amends, Homer gets Lisa a PBS tape about the violent history of the sport, and in the end, Lisa apologizes to her father for the way she acted. I’m beside myself with this premise; Homer doesn’t irritate the shit out of me… instead, I empathize with him. And Lisa acts like a bratty kid, and then learns a lesson and we still love her too. I liked “Homerazzi,” but I think this subplot is the best thing I’ve seen on the show since the classic years. Good show, Mr. Stewart Burns.

Tidbits and Quotes
– I love how Marge comments how she can make her avatar into anyone she wants, then just proceeds to make it look just like her, as does everyone else in the game, apparently. It’s like in simulation games like The Sims where people make little virtual versions of themselves, when really the options for character creation are endless.
– Odd to see Dr. Nick make a cameo in the game, as a dismembered head. We really haven’t seen much of him lately. And then he’ll be killed again in the movie, for real. Or not. I’m sure made a reappearance at some point.
– I really do like the bits of Marge smothering Bart in the game, it’s almost adorable (“What a fun quest! Aren’t you glad I made you take that nap in the middle?”)
– Lisa cites she was inspired to take up soccer by Bend It Like Beckham. It’s odd that in the flashback we see Apu stand up in approval of an arranged marriage in the film, considering how he tried so desperately to wriggle out of his own.
– I love how pissed Helen Lovejoy is at Homer discrediting her obviously silent daughter (“You are so blind even Jesus couldn’t heal you!” “Helen, please, don’t drop the J-bomb.”) And I really mean no disrespect, but the way Ronaldo reads his lines is so odd… but it’s hysterical (“Now, Ronaldo away!”)
– The scene of Bart and Homer ending up on the couch, both in hot water by the Simpson women, is fantastic. The conflicts are believable, and the two take a momentary solace in each other’s company (“I’ll never understand women if I live to be forty.” “Big ‘if.'” “You said it. Enjoy me while I last!”) Hey, these two are actually kind of amicable instead of being antagonists to each other! There’s a lot of small bits in this episode that echo to the golden years. Even the part with the phony Moe and the real one tied up in the back room was just the right amount of bizarre to still be funny.

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15 responses to “395. Marge Gamer

  1. Enjoy the fun while it lasts because you have to deal with Jerkass Springfield come next episode :/

  2. I’m probably the only person in the face of the Earth that LIKES “The Boys of Bummer”. Really curious to read your review on that one.

    • Jave what’s your reasons for liking the episode?

      • First I’ll say I understand why people don’t like the episode. It is rather cruel and focused on dark humor, but I like dark humor if done right.

        I mostly see the episode as a satire on obsessed sports fans, who take a simple mistake in a match that costs them the whole game to ridiculous levels, as if their whole lives are ruined because of this. I think that viewed from that angle the episode works, because, well, the satire is pretty spot-on. I’ve seen examples in real life of people that have flunked not as bad yet humiliated worse.

        The setup to Bart getting humiliated is also executed well. At the beginning of the episode, in the previous game, Bart steals a catch from Milhouse that makes them win the game. So Bart being a show-off earlier helps mitigate feeling bad for him.

        Also, look at how Bart messes up the catch. He totally makes a fool of himself. So even if the crowd wouldn’t have humiliated him, he did it to himself in the end.

        Getting past that, a lot of the episode moves on jokes. My favorite moment is the second act break, with Bart falling off the billboard and LaBoot trying to catch him but misses. Grandpa passes by and yells “You still stink, LaBoot!” “Damn!”. Perfect timing. Also loved the joke where after Marge chastises the crowd for humiliating Bart, someone pulls a sign that reads “We’re sorry”. It was done before in “Brother From Another Series”, but here it’s executed differently so I let it pass.

        Finally, I like the ending. It’s stupidly absurd, but in the context of the story it fits. The montage of Bart missing the catch on so many different ways is hilarious, my favorites being Homer catching the ball and the Charlie Brown one. And by the time it’s over, nobody cares anymore. Possibly the best outcome for Bart since in the end, he got off easy. The future ending with old Bart and Milhouse and dead Homer and Marge WAS a bit too much, though.

        I feel the episode gets a huge bad rep it doesn’t deserve because people see the “Everyone is mean to Bart!” aspect and dismiss everything else (I know at least one guy on Toonzone refused to watch the episode after reading the description), when in reality I find the episode to be very well written.

        Oh yeah, the “Homer gets yet another job” subplot. It was okay. Not the best, but fine for filler. I just didn’t like that it was something they could have fit into any other episode, with no connection to the Bart plot. But on its own, I didn’t mind.

  3. I’ve only seen this one a couple times, but I recall it having a really bad act break: “I was killed in the game, by my own son!” Way to state what we the audience already know, Marge.

  4. I can’t remember who copied whom, but the MMORPG plot (complete with characters looking like themselves in the game, with the same voices) also happened on American Dad and King of the Hill around the same time. Always so odd when all the Fox comedies do the same specific story.

    • ^ Yeah, I brought up that issue in the G-I-D’oh post as well.

      One thing I was disappointed about with this episode is that the MMORPG didn’t look that much different from the regular Simpsons universe, from an art style standpoint. At least on American Dad, we got unique visuals not usually seen on the show to emphasize the differences.

      • Yeah, but then people would have complained that they ripped off South Park and American Dad (honestly though, I do not remember AD doing one) more than they already did.

  5. This episode was awesome back when it first aired and it is till awesome to this day. I love the mockery of WoW and those who get addicted to it. I also love Marge’s addiction to the internet with her whole, “Oh no, I wasted a whole night,” and then Bart jokes about it being Sat. That makes two great episodes in a row…

  6. UGH! There is absolutely nothing – NOTHING! special about this episode!

  7. Nope, hate this one. The Ronaldo cameo is one of my mosted despised moments in the show’s history. Maybe it’s just that the football fan side of me wants to curl up and die at the use of the term “flopper” instead of “diver”. Is that an American expression?

    • Never heard it before – probably just a word they made up out of nowhere. Also, the fact that they use the word “soccer” isn’t enough for a complaint, as that’s what they call it in America so yeah, why not use it?

  8. What a crap episode. So every character of Springfield play that online game? Another situation where they are needed only to do their visual dumb joke.
    And once again Lisa is out of character here. Writers can’t write for a kid which is both precocious and innocent, so in this episode she’s in her helpless kid mode. Pathetic writing.

  9. It may be the best episode outside the classic years, but it’s ultimately just a lesser version of South Park’s “Make Love, Not Warcraft”.

  10. Bleeding Gums Murphy

    I decided to watch this one because you liked it, and, unfortunately, I was incredibly bored by it. It’s another Zombie Simpsons episode, full of nonsensical stuff:
    -In the MMO, how much does it take for Marge to go to any place?
    -How did she (and the other players) know where was Bart’s dungeon located?
    -Why can the Springfield players do in this MMO what even the most realistic MMO available today hasn’t implemented yet? Remember, way back in “The Simpsons”, when videogames looked at least a little like contemporary videogames?
    -Why didn’t we see players from Shelbyville, Capital City or from any other part of the U.S.?
    -Why the other players didn’t riot Bart’s dungeon until they magically know he revived her mother and lost a lot of his life bar?
    -Why would Bart be the best player? I could accept CBG. Oh well, yet another Zombiesode with a Simpson member being the best at something.
    -Why didn’t Marge know her son spends hours playing a MMO?
    -Did Bart tell Marge he was gonna revive her? Because after giving his energy, Marge’s character starts moving.
    -Why couldn’t Marge create another character? Why would Bart care about the older one?

    And those are only from the A-plot, because the B-plot is pure garbage. Plus expository dialogue, directionless plots, overexplained jokes, etc. There was two or three decent ideas buried here (one of them being Lisa exploiting her father’s favouritism), but it’s an unimaginative piece of crap, as always.

    What it made me angry was this:

    “I love how Marge comments how she can make her avatar into anyone she wants, then just proceeds to make it look just like her, as does everyone else in the game, apparently. It’s like in simulation games like The Sims where people make little virtual versions of themselves, when really the options for character creation are endless.”

    That’s a clever joke and a very Marge thing to do, and then it was ruined by making Apu, Edna and others have their same faces as in real life. Skinner? OK (why would he play the game, that’s another story). Edna? I can still buy it. Apu or Bart? No fucking way.

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