400. You Kent Always Say What You Want

(originally aired May 20, 2007)
It’s so strange that it’s taken to episode four-hundred to do a show about Kent Brockman. With its enormous bevy of colorful characters, the show became hobbled by an over reliance of Homer-gets-a-job and other redundant, over tread stories involving the Simpson family, that the secondary cast became relegated to their normal, one-off-joke roles. So will this episode cast Kent in a new light, give us some insight into his character and who he is? Well… not really. It’s a huge missed opportunity more than anything. While doing a fluff piece on Smartline, Kent gets hot coffee knocked into his lap and screams an expletive on live TV. When media watchdogs catch wind of it, he is promptly fired, and for some reason, comes to live with the Simpsons. Free of any network ties, Lisa convinces Kent to broadcast on the Internet, and expose the duplicitous nature of national news. But just as it starts getting popular, Kent is bought out by the Republican Party and the episode is over.

Like many people in Springfield, at one point Kent gave a shit about his job, but eventually became so beaten and bogged down he donned his chuckle head news anchor mask to pimp Channel 6’s programming and bullshit local “news” stories like an oafish man buying an ice cream cone. That frustration comes through, and his Edward R. Murrow-esque black-and-white venting is interesting to see. The issue, though, is by the time we get to this point, there’s literally two minutes of show left. The story with Kent doesn’t even start until the halfway point. I feel act one should have ended with him getting fired, then they could have built him up more. Instead act two is him getting caught by psycho conservative watchdog Flanders. Also, besides the point of why the fuck Kent is staying at the Simpsons specifically, but isn’t he rich? We see he lives in a mansion all the time from his lotto winnings. Then the Republicans buy him off at the end, but if he was wealthy, why would it win him over? They could’ve thrown in a line about how he lost his earnings or whatever, but instead, it’s like they don’t give a shit. An episode with great potential, but ultimately just flops about and made no real impact.

Tidbits and Quotes
– It’s a big waste of time from starting the actual story, but there’s a few good bits in the first act. Marge and Maggie kicking ass at Pictionary is a really cute scene, but the montage of her running home Raising Arizona style goes on way too long. It’s over a full minute of just running, but feels so much longer. At the dentist’s office, we get perhaps the best celebrity cameo in years, an absurd dental hygiene video hip to the young audience. Street hoodlums Gingivitis and gum disease shoot up a mouth’s teeth until… Luda-Crest shows up to throw down. It’s so incredibly bizarre and messed up, but I loved it. His appearance as himself in the office demanding they stop showing the video is great too, especially how Bart walks past Ludacris, who is armed with a gun, without even noticing. Then Bart fucks with Skinner who’s under anesthetic, by kicking a giant tooth into his mouth, spraying his insides with water, and holding an X-ray to his crotch for an extended period of time. It’s like all the stuff from “Please Homer, Don’t Hammer ‘Em,” this goes beyond the level of prank, and just becomes like torture. Bart wants to humiliate Skinner to others, not harm him.
– I do like how after Kent’s faux-pas, initially no one gave a shit since no one watches TV news anymore. Who will sound the alarm? Who the fuck do you think? At the dinner table, they talk about media watchdogs, and Bart asks, “You mean there are losers who spend all day watching TV looking for stuff to complain about? Who’d be lame enough to do that?” Cut to Flanders huddled in front of the TV, bathed in its toxic glow, with stacks of offensive tapes all around him, writing down every questionable thing he can find (“Smallville: Superdog licks himself. That definitely goes in the naughty pile.”) He sees the Smartline tape and immediately hits the Internet to bitch and moan. His kids ask him what he’s doing, and he says this: “Imploring people I’ve never met to pressure a government with better things to do to punish a man who meant no harm for saying something that nobody even saw, that’s what I’m doing!” These episodes put Flanders in such a negative light, he’s not supposed to be an antagonist subject to ridicule. Even his kids are concerned with him (“Daddy, we think you need a new Mommy.”) And that’s when it hit me: maybe all this psycho Christian bullshit is a result of Maude’s death. “Hurricane Neddy” showed how he’s bottled his anger and channeled it into religion; after his wife’s death, he just became even crazier, and that’s why we get conservative militant Flanders. It’s most depressing, and most definitely not the writers intention, but it’s a bit of a new light I can see this character through. But I still hate it. I hate what they’ve done to Flanders. Hate hate hate.
– I like the bit with Krusty dubbing over the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon, as they couldn’t afford to play the voice actors (a reference to the high salaries of the Simpsons actors?) It’s great how he names the show title, but then can’t remember the character names (“Here comes the mouse, what’s-his-name…”)
Why in the name of God and the baby Jesus would Kent Brockman stay with the Simpsons? Besides the fact that he’s got his mansion which is never mentioned, he must have friends, family, casual acquaintances… but no, instead he stays with these complete strangers for no apparent reason.
– Strange to say, but the FOX bashing seems almost too on-the-nose in this show. This is a consistent theme with all humor on this show: it used to be done subtly and slyly, and now it’s too blatant, hit-you-on-the-head style of comedy. Showing the dichotomy between FOX and FOX News is not shocking, then Kent openly explains the negatives behind it. Then the show ends with Homer and Lisa discussing a horrible secret about FOX, and being “dubbed” over. When the whole last act of your show is “Fuck FOX,” it doesn’t hold as much power when you’re still being aired on that network and making them millions by airing this episode.

Season 18 Final Thoughts
To this season’s credit, we got three episodes that were actually pretty good. Usually my “Best” list contains the one or two shows that weren’t as eye-piercingly bad as the rest, but these three are some of the best episodes I’ve seen in a long, long time. But, unfortunately, the other nineteen are as fucking bad as the show’s ever been. So, silver lining, I suppose.

The Best
“Homerazzi,” “Marge Gamer,” “24 Minutes”

The Worst
“Jazzy and the Pussycats,” “G.I. D’oh!,” “Little Big Girl,” “Springfield Up,” “The Boys of Bummer,” “Crook and Ladder”

19 responses to “400. You Kent Always Say What You Want

  1. This is also the third episode with questionable CGI with poorly integrated 2D (when Marge runs through the sewer) in a row. The things you notice only during retrospectives.

  2. “Dirty dirty mouth, y’all.”

    …Like you said, bizarre and messed up but I love it. Why is Ludacris in the office? He just happens to be there as they’re showing his video? Why would the video be made only for a one-time-screening in Canada? Etc. As far as Kent living with the Simpsons, I did like the wall of people who’ve slept on the Simpsons’ couch, with the “Apu did a song!” part, though it just makes me long for better times. The Raising Arizona bit was just fun to watch, imo, and Krusty re-dubbing Itchy and Scratchy is probably the most I’ve laughed while watching this show in a long time. Good episode, imo.

    …And yeah I’ve always kinda thought Maude’s-death-making-Flanders-insane made sense. It kills his character, but then — with ZS — they’ve kinda done these weird “evolving” things with other characters (Barney, Apu, and so on) where they add some traits/take away some traits/change some traits. But it doesn’t make sense since 99% of the Simpsons world never changes. Either way, it’s kinda interesting in the context of him having everything and being successful and friendly and so on… and then having nearly everything taken away and him kinda losing it. Kinda realistic, actually, I can relate in a way (not in the psycho-religious way, of course). Anyway… As you said, it’s probably not the intended way to read the character — the creators probably weren’t going for some story arc with this shit — but it is one way to be less bothered by watching him now, I guess. Eh.

    …and your screen pic makes me long for “Homer, organised labor has been called a lumbering dinosaur.” / “AHHHH!” so much.

  3. Ned’s “Imploring people (etc.”) line is funny from a detached standpoint, but yes, it saddens me that the person saying it is Ned, who used to be a likable character. Now he’s a stick-in-the-mud nut who forces his beliefs on everyone and would rather ruin somebody than try to better himself by finding a new wife. Ugh.

    Anyway, this one could’ve been improved exponentially if they had gotten rid of that awful first act. It added absolutely nothing to the story; the family could’ve easily just started the episode going to the ice cream parlor. Instead, they wasted time with meaningless antics that could’ve been used to flesh out Brockman’s plight more. For an episode with his name in the title, he only occupies about half of it, and that’s pretty lame.

    Definitely looking forward to your thoughts on the movie up next, especially the whole “adjusting the film based on pre-release audience reactions” thing that you mentioned in “Beyond Blunderdome”.

  4. I said it once and i’ll say again 24 minutes should’ve been the 400th ep. as planned originally.

  5. It was amusing that the Simpsons have a “wall of casual acquaintances who came to stay for a while”, but even “casual acquaintance” seems a bit too friendly for Kent Brockman. When was the last time he interacted with a Simpson outside of the occasional news interview? Girly Edition?

  6. While I will agree they could have done more with it, I felt it was a nice change to focus on someone else. My biggest problem is that it has to be Lisa to teach Brockman about how he should cite the news. -_-

    Despite its bad episodes, I think this is the best season since 10, if for nothing else, for “24 Minutes” alone. There are some really really awful episodes here, but at least they are somewhat watchable compared to Season 17.

    HOwever, things are going to go back into the dumps next season, but 19 does pull out some good ones like 18 did.

  7. I love the scene whenTV and the shocked reactions from the kids on the couch and the cat & dog in front of the TV. Maggie dropping her pacifier on the ground really tops it. Even when Marge walks in it is still hilarious. Kids too scared to say the word and Bart sketching it…hahaha I laughed so hard.
    I also liked the dentist scene, with Homer screaming in pain even before anything happened (the draft from the open window hurt his gums).
    Also, the scene when he is screaming in there and we see the waiting room was funny. The ending was funny: ”That wasn’t so bad!”
    Only for that one scene when Kent said “a word so vile it should only be uttered by Satan himself while sitting on the toilet”, I love this episode.

  8. Sorry about the bad typing 😉

  9. I thought this one was a trainwreck to be honest. There was an almost entirely laugh-free (I smirked at the Luda-crest bit) first act, and it takes an entire TEN MINUTES to actually start the plot.

    Brockman inexplicably goes to live with the Simpsons – I don’t know why they think that lampshading stupid plot developments they couldn’t be bothered to adequately explain makes it alright (wall of casual acquaintances). The problem is then solved by a single podcast, and they spend the last two or three minutes taking mindless potshots at the FOX network (certainly not a tired joke at this point).

    The entire plot takes up less than half the show; I’m not sure I’ve ever seen an episode with so much filler (bear in mind the opening with the photo shoot short as well), and like Mike says, it’s not as if their first acts have been particularly pertinent to the plot for at least the decade before this episode.

    I got two actual laughs out of this:
    – Krusty doing the narration for Itchy and Scratchy
    – Kent’s podcast line “The press and the government are in bed together in an embrace so intimate and wrong, they could spoon on a twin mattress and still have room for Ted Koppel.”

    Awful, awful episode. Complete and utter waste of time.

  10. The tidbit on Flanders encapsulated well what was done of the character. I personally wouldn’t mind if the Ned Flanders of old was my neighborino, even if he would get too pious for my tastes (I was raised Catholic, but have agnostic leanings, after all), but I was so irate seeing him in this episode. I already knew the writers were rolling the character downhill over these last seasons in a way I wouldn’t want him within a ten-mile radius of me, but this was the final nail in the coffin. Even Rod and Todd, for all their naïveté, were disturbed of what their dad has become. That should be saying something.

  11. So that opening moment with Marge running is a parody of Raising Arizona? Never saw that movie, so I had no idea. All I saw was a scene that dragged on for too long with obnoxious music playing. I don’t get it. It actually reminded me of this past season’s ode to 70s detective shows that I had never seen, so the show was lost on me.

    There are some moments I did like though, such as Homer’s loud banter in the dentist office that freaks the one kid out. That was priceless. I also did laugh when Homer wins a prize for buying the millionth cone and then considers going with a bowl instead. However, I agree that the actual plot of the episode takes way too long to occur. I even forgot that I was watching the episode about Kent Brockman for a bit.

    As for Flanders, yeaaaaaaaaaaah, he’s a crackpot psychopath, but, he does pretty much highlight everything wrong with Christianity in this day and age. Their way of thinking is the only way that matters.

    The Simpsons couch picture is pretty funny though despite it not making sense why Kent would be there. Everything with Kent seems to be over way too quickly though. Like why even bother? There was so much more they could do. Still, it’s not a bad episode by any means, as as I have previously said, I judge an episode these days based on how much I laugh during it, and it got laughs out of me. That makes it okay in my book.

    With that said, because I did laugh quite a bit during most of the episodes found in this season, I feel Season 18 is on par with Season 10, perhaps a tad better. The stinkers of the season are really, REALLY bad, but it also features some of the best Post-Season 9 episodes. Of course, “Boys of Bummer” is also one of the worst episodes of the entire franchise, so there’s that. Still, a solid season that gave me far more enjoyment than Seasons 16 and 17 (I’m only counting the seasons I have just watched more recently since I have a fresh mindset on them).

    Best episodes of the season: 24 Minutes, Marge Gamer, Homerazzi, Yokel Chords, Jazzy and the Pussycats.

    Worst episodes of the season: Boys of Bummer, Please Homer, Don’t Hammer Them, The Wife Aquatic, GI Doh!, and Rome-old and Julie-eh.

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