(originally aired May 20, 2007)
I feel almost ill equipped to review this episode, in that I think I’ve only seen a grand total of three minutes of 24. But, then again, an effective parody should also cater to those who have never seen the source material, and this show manages to tell its story in an interesting way. Even with no extended knowledge of 24, I was able to pick out what I recognized from the series, and also other dramatic thriller cliches I’m sure the show utilizes frequently. We open with Skinner introducing his own CTU, the Counter Truancy Unit, which is an hyper-sophisticated, technologically advanced super lab. Right away, you’re removing yourself from the normal reality since this is so sensationalist, but it’s good that they kick it off right away; it’s like getting a warning right before a clip show. Skinner and Lisa are hot on the trail of the bullies, who are planning to develop a stink bomb to set off at the school bake sale. With all their field agent incapacitated, Skinner must begrudgingly turn to Bart to stop the bullies before they reek havoc (get it? Reek? Heh heh…)
24 was one of those shows that was so big, even without watching it, I knew elements of it purely through cultural osmosis. The show takes place within an hour, the multiple split screens, Bauer being in communicate with the girl in the lab… The show hits all those beats, and even derides them, like with certain scenes where the split screens are of shots close together that they overlap. The story is investing enough, with several different premises converging at the end in a satisfying way. We get to see characters like Martin and the bullies used as part of an actual story, instead of being flat one-note props. The only thing this show was lacking for me was jokes; nothing humor-wise offended me, but a lot of the gags just kind of laid there with me. But in the end, I ended up not minding too much. This was a really neat episode to watch; it’s like taking the universe and placing it in this new mindset and tackling a different kind of show, and even if you don’t know 24 too well, you can still recognize the major beats and parodies anyway.
Tidbits and Quotes
– I liked all the different chyrons for all our characters (Homer Simpson: ATM User, Devoted Father of Two; Marge Simpson: Unemployed)
– Bart requests blueprints of Jimbo’s house, but the closest thing on file are some drawings Jimbo made in second grade (Lisa can’t vouch for their accuracy). Bart is flabbergasted they turn out to be inaccurate (“Where’s the roller coaster room? And the shark tank?”)
– Even with no knowledge of 24, I appreciated the guest spot by Jack Bauer, and… that woman… Chloe; Bart busting the balls of a man under fire and laughing about it is pretty entertaining.
– The whole plot is pretty streamlined to me. I like that they include the bit where Marge drops the cake on the way into the bake sale, and leaves two sizable dents in the hood of the car; it’s a well animated sequence, and also sets up how rock solid the thing is.
– Pretty alarming, and kind of awesome, the beatdown that Bart gives Nelson. He throws him against that locker pretty hard.
– Oh no, more questionable CG. It’s a lot better than that corn maze, since here it’s going through the air vents. Perfectly geometrical, so it doesn’t look too bad. What does look bad is the integrated 2D, where we see Uter in a spider web and Miss Hoover and Santa’s Little Helper passed out drunk. They’re so flat against the CG, but a bigger problem is how small they are. Either these are the largest air vents ever constructed, or Miss Hoover has shrunk to about two feet tall.
– The Marin suicide bit. The mole/big bad’s henchman has an “oh God, what have I done?” moment and decides to dramatically take his own life, except here, the fake-out is perfect, where he hangs himself… from a coat hanger giving himself a wedgie. They made a suicide joke work, because it was about something else, parodying an identifiable moment in thrillers.
– Wiggum tries to free Bart from his watery grave by firing his gun repeatedly at the glass, aiming for his forehead each and every time. Does this guy have it out for Bart at this point?