(originally aired October 14, 2007)
Another one of those episodes that felt like it had potential, but ultimately doesn’t feel right thanks to over-exaggeration. Here, Marge gets caught up in a bank robbery, helmed by bug-eyed loser Dwight, voiced by Steve Buscemi. His plan basically foiled, he agrees to turn himself in only if Marge agrees to come visit him in prison. However, Marge is extremely skittish about the whole thing and keeps putting off her obligation she promised. The problem here is that a lot of time was invested in painting Dwight as this sad, needy person, Marge’s dilemma doesn’t feel as conflicted. He gets comically sprayed with dye packs at the bank and ultimately breaks down, then in act two we see how he is desperately waiting for Marge to arrive. Meanwhile, Marge is doing everything and anything she can to avoid not going there. Perhaps if they made Dwight a bit more morally ambiguous; he could still have the sympathetic side we see in the end, but making the first act a bit more dramatic and jarring to Marge would have helped in the long run.
Dwight ends up escaping from prison: if Marge isn’t going to come to him, he’ll come for her. He stows away in her car and forces her to drive to an amusement park, where his mother abandoned him as a kid. All he wants of Marge is to spend the day with him, give him the day he wished he could have had. I really do feel this story could have worked, but there’s just not enough time spent on it around the pointless time filler. They could have built a report around Dwight and Marge, where he, as damaged as he is, sees her as a mother figure, and Marge reverts to her default nurturing ways, defending him from the police at the very end. This happens often in these episodes; where they delay the story so long in favor of horrible side bits and gags, then by the time they remember to wrap things up, there’s only like three minutes left. I feel like these plots are written as outlines, they write the most basic amount of scenes to get the story beats across, and then they focus on cramming in as many unnecessary gag scenes and jokes as possible. Then again that would imply they spend most their time and energy writing jokes, which clearly isn’t the case. Another case of wasted potential.
Tidbits and Quotes
– I like the beginning with Homer being browbeat about not missing Lisa’s award ceremony, so he overcompensates and gets there almost two hours early. Before that in his sleepy state, he mistakes Maggie as his tie and a milk bottle as aftershave. Also, adorable moment when Homer’s driving, you just see her asleep in the back in her car seat. Awwww.
– Fourteen seconds killed by a close-up of two newspaper ads as we have voice-over of the bullies talking. Animation discount!
– At this point, nameless extras are apparently forbidden, so the bank is entirely filled with recognizable faces: Lindsay Naegle, Krusty, Bumblebee Man, Dr. Hibbert… and this one guy we don’t know. Could that be the guest star? Mmmmmyeeeeah, could be!
– There’s also a weird tone shift in the first act; at first, everyone at the bank doesn’t take the robbers seriously and keep cracking jokes, then later they act more scared and uneasy about the whole thing. Maybe it has something to do with Gil being shit and killed in front of them, except that never gets mentioned at all ever. Shouldn’t Dwight be put up on murder charges? Will we ever hear from ol’ Gil again? What about that other guy who ran away? All of these questions will not be answered, of course, what were you expecting?
– Wiggum reading off the scene select names on the DVD is another one of those endless scenes that make me want to rip my face off. Did the writers really think this was so funny throughout the entire writing process to leave it in?
– Moe apparently has been hospitalized for three weeks, and of course Homer hasn’t visited him (“You said you visited him every night!” “Moe the tavern, not Moe the person.”) What a likable guy!
– There’s really so much filler here. There’s the prison movie Marge watches, which works into the story, but could really have been half the length. Act three starts with an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon that goes on way too long (tip: they should not exceed a minute, especially when they have no connection to the plot), and a completely superfluous montage of him stalking Marge. Why wouldn’t he just go up and get her? There’s the one shot where he’s glaring at her on the Jumbotron at the stadium, but when she looks at the screen, he acts nonchalant and looks away. Hey, you’re an escaped convict whom the police are presumably looking for, how about you don’t get your image on a gigantic screen where hundreds of people can see you. And then, why didn’t anyone recognize him and call the cops? Oh, who cares…