399. 24 Minutes

(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?

17 responses to “399. 24 Minutes

  1. Like you, I’ve never seen a single episode of 24 (the “miss one episode and you’re lost forever” format is rather off-putting), but I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this. Great parody, and the plot kept it interesting all the way through. Best episode of the season by far.

  2. Very good episode indeed. I’ve watched my share of 24 (just look on youtube for clips btw) and this episode parodies it to a tee. All the acts are pretty great; I liked how the nuclear bomb went off at the end and no one cared since it went off in Shelbyville. I also wonder, what state does The Simpsons take place in? My guess: Illinois or Kentucky.

    • Oregon. I think Groening said it in 2010, it was pretty big news, it even made it on Good Morning America(…’s bottom news scroll, but still.)

  3. This is a truly good episode of the latter years but this should’ve been the 400th (as originally planned) ah well doesn’t stop it being a good ep. 🙂

  4. I guess I’ll be the odd one out here. I couldn’t get into this silliness, which felt more like an advertisement than a parody. I know I’m being nitpicky, but isn’t this episode like 22 minutes long? So, even their title is wrong! Heh.

    All kidding aside, there were some clever gags, just — like you said — not enough humor for me. It was well-made enough, though, and it’s certainly probably required viewing for fans of the source material (I’ve only seen one season and it was strangely addictive but it never compelled me to see any other seasons; also see Prison Break season 1 where I kinda loved the first season but had no desire to watch any further).

    I do want to comment a bit early on the next episode, though, as I just happened to rewatch it via syndication, strangely (cosmically?) in time for your review. “You Kent Always Say What You Want”. I like this one. There’s a great Raising Arizona homage sequence, a fun dental rap video (which might seem silly but look up “Wendy’s rap” sometime — these things are real, and Lisa’s line about the video glorifying tooth decay is great), and there are enough good lines and an engaging enough plot to keep me thoroughly entertained.

  5. “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.”

    Basically my thoughts. The episode isn’t bad (it’s actually pretty well-constructed), but it just doesn’t have a lot of hilarious moments.

    That said, I did like Chalmers repeatedly walking in on Skinner’s and Lisa’s conversation and Skinner having to make up a lie on the spot. “Once again, you have thoroughly misgauged my response. This is going on your permanent record!”

  6. I’ve never seen a single episode 24 and this episode is by far the best Simpsons episode since “Trilogy of Error.” It is fun, it is unique, I really wish I could legitimately buy both this episode and Error without having to own the seasons they come from, because I don’t care about the seasons enough to own them.

    • ^ Yeah, unfortunately there are only a select batch of later season (pre-season 20) episodes on iTunes, and most of them are for episodes I don’t want (“Seemingly Never Ended Story”, “Future Drama”, “The Way We Weren’t”, “Holy Guest Star”, “Idiot Scrapes”, etc.). They were kind enough to put “The Haw-Hawed Couple” and “Eternal Moonshine” up there, but those are exceptions.

      And speaking of iTunes, why hasn’t any season set past the third been released yet? Fox has really got to get on that. The DVD edition came out about a decade ago!

      • Wow, that’s insane about itunes. I think Fox is just horrible about releasing stuff people actually want. For example: Almost everyone in the world owns at least one season of King of the Hill on DVD, yet Fox said the DVD’s didn’t sell well enough to warrant more season DVD sets being produced. I just can’t buy that, not when you look at what DOES get released. Eh.

      • Actually, I don’t own anything King of the Hill, it just wasn’t a series I enjoyed enough to buy.

        However, for me, it is the same thing as Gargoyles. Gargoyles is the second greatest cartoon of all time, and yet, Disney would rather give us Hannah Montanna garbage on DVD over the last 26 episodes to the show.

        As for digital episodes, it is the same on Amazon. Only the first three seasons are available digitally. The only way I am going to rebuy the first 9 seasons of the show are if they are on BD.

  7. To Fox’s credit, they -did- upload all of King of the Hill (yes, including past season 6) to iTunes. It’s not DVDs, but it’s better than nothing.

    • I have season 5 on dvd and season 6 (region 1) on dvd and their treatment of KoTH dvds are nowhere near as bad as how they treated the show and its last ever episodes by sticking them in syndication where half the channels didn’t give a damn and showed them at 1am… DAMN FUX!

    • The full KotH series was also on Netflix instant watch for a while. Not sure whether that’s still the case.

  8. LOOK! A Window to a child’s watery grave!

    I love that line, Mel is the shit

    Willy too, “I’ll mop up your blood from the INSIDE!”

  9. maybe im the only one, but i never seen this episode as a good one. yes, its not offensively horrible, and its actually decently written, but its all about the plot, nothing more, and its just a 24 advertising. i find it simply boring

  10. 24 Minutes is easily the best episode to air since Trilogy of Error. I have never watched a single moment of 24, I never paid attention to any of the commercials for the show, I don’t even know what the show is about period as I’ve never even read an episode synopsis. Yet, I was fully immersed in this episode every time I watch it. In fact, it’s probably the episode I have watched the most since it first aired as I’ve seen it eight times now compared to the three viewings for seasons 16 and 17 (and now 3 times for the rest of Season 18) and the two viewings of 13-15.

    Now that is not to say every joke lands as I thought the one with Ralph was kind of bland, the second time Chalmers comes in on Skinner, and the bit dealing with Jimbo’s mom (though I did chuckle at the implants comment). Nevertheless, the jokes that do land, such as Bart’s prank call to Keifer, Marge’s cake, Homer wanting money to buy stuff at the bake sale, Martin’s wedgie, Bart beating up Nelson, Skinner rejecting Milhouse’s request to use the bathroom, and Skinner telling Bart whatever swear word that was, were all fantastic and get me to laugh every time.

    Not to mention the animation style is pretty unique with a great use of shading and darker tones. It provides for one hell of a suspenseful ride and if this is anything like 24 itself, I’m kind of curious to eventually check that show out when I have time now.

    In the end, a wonderful episode that really proves the show can still be fantastic when the writers are clearly passionate about what they are doing.

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