407. Husbands and Knives

Husbands and Knives(originally aired November 18, 2007)
I know unrelated first acts are expected at this point, but goddamn this one is pretty egregious. We start with a brand new comic book store opening across from the Android’s Dungeon, one I guess Comic Book Guy never noticed being worked on until its grand opening. Its proprietor, voiced by Jack Black (another talent wasted), is actually jovial and open with his customers, leaving CBG shit out of luck. It isn’t long until business dries up and he closes his store for good. Think this is going to lead to something? Not at all. Comparing her waistline to a Wonder Woman standee outside the other shop, Marge decides to join a gym to get into shape, but finds them to be too intense and showy. She vows to open a fitness center for “normal” women, and noticing the space for rent at CBG’s old shop, she opens “Shapes.” You know, like Curves! Usually aborted first acts are just kind of rudimentary things happening, but here, it ends with Comic Book Guy’s store closing. Isn’t that kind of a big deal? I guess not, because after he locks his doors and sadly walks into the distance, we never see him again. Plus seeing the continuation and resolution to that story sounds way more interesting than what is to follow.

So act two starts with Marge’s chain (!) of stores being a monster hit, another example of Simpsons becoming super talented and successful in a matter of seconds. Now she’s a highly regarded and respected business mogul, because I guess that can happen now in the course of an episode. Once we get to this point, the actual Curves stores aren’t really regarded anymore, as the plot shifts to Homer’s unease being a layabout husband. Is it because he thinks he should be the bread winner? Perhaps he misses seeing Marge at home since she’s working all the time. Maybe he could team up with CBG to help take down his competitor and Shapes simultaneously. Or, it can be that Homer fears Marge will marry some new buff guy now that she’s successful, so he gets his stomach stapled to make himself more attractive. Then we have the ending where he becomes an abnormal monster after having a long list of surgeries done, and he’s chased about town a la Frankenstein. Considering the extent of the damage, I figured it must have been a dream sequence, but honestly, at this point in the series, it wouldn’t have surprised me if it weren’t. Then after all this bullshit nonsense, they have the gall to end it on Homer asking Marge why she stays with him. I’ve been pondering the same thing for eight seasons now. A complete broken down mess of an episode.

Tidbits and Quotes
– They wasted their time designing a new comic shop, and getting four guest stars, all for the first act which is completely unrelated to anything else in the episode. It’s pretty incredible; couldn’t they have come up with a CBG-centered story instead of the shit that comes after this? I know all of them, but the graphic artist is another instance of “who the fuck are these guys?” for 90% of the public. The best is Alan Moore, of course (“You wrote my favorite issues of Radioactive Man!” “Oh really? So you like that I made your favorite superhero a heroin-addicted jazz critic who’s not radioactive?” “I don’t read the words, I just like when he punches people.”)
– At the Android’s Dungeon, CBG and Martin discuss Superman and Batman. Then at Coolsville, Milo talks about the Formidable Mulk and the Thung. It’s the whole Star Wars/Cosmic Wars thing again, except this time it’s within the same show. Are you going to cite the original characters, or make up shoddily named knock-offs? You have to pick one or the other.
– The OK GO music video parody with the treadmills sure hasn’t dated itself. Nope. Not at all.
– We previously established the new comic book store is right across the street from the Android’s Dungeon. Marge walks out of L.A. Body Works and what is directly across the street? The Android’s Dungeon. It really is like they just crammed these two stories together with no regard at all.
– We never really see exactly what Marge’s gym is or why it’s such a success. It instantly becomes busy and popular, and we get these glowing endorsements from Selma and Bernice Hibbert (“I love this gym!” “Me too!”) Then we see Lisa working the front desk, because I guess she doesn’t go to school, telling Marge she’s so busy she needs to open up a second location. Okay?
– Marge gets so famous instantaneously that she goes on Oprah… I mean, Opal, who has a long-going relationship with a guy named Stedman… I mean, Straightman. I guess it’s funny because people think he’s gay.
– The writing for the “conflict” is amazingly bad. The other husbands just list off telltale signs that Marge might want to get a new husband, then we see Homer consult said list that he’s written down. It’s like, one, two, three, that’s all of them! And he’s so worried, yet when he gets Marge to talk about her day, we see he’s preoccupied with the TV, then he remembers the list and caps it off, then he breaks down in tears as he proceeds to steal amenities from the hotel room. It’s beyond short term memory into what I fear Homer might be bipolar.
– In one of the clunkiest, most hackneyed and cliche contrivances ever, Marge consults some other ladies about getting a new handbag, but Homer walks in after that part is said and he thinks they’re discussing her getting a new man. But just so the audience knows for sure… “They’re convincing Marge to dump me!” No shit, we picked that up. What follows is just more out-of-place shock humor (“I get a new one every two years! From Italy!” “You would love a big black one!”) Ugh.
– The saggy excess flesh Homer has banded behind his back is so fucking disgusting… As is the remainder of the episode, really. Though the only laugh in the episode came from the plastic surgeon holding up a gigantic staple remover regarding fixing Homer’s stomach back up.

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9 responses to “407. Husbands and Knives

  1. Man, at least when Peter Griffin gets a new job (and hasn’t lost it by the end of the episode) he usually continues doing that job for a season or two. Here, the existence of ‘Shapes’ is never even acknowledged again, and CBG inexplicably has The Android’s Dungeon back the next time we see him like this never happened. You know it’s getting bad when even Family Guy keeps better continuity than you.

    I forget. Was there an explanation for how Marge had the money to open a chain of gyms, or did she just dip into the Emergency Plot Convenience Fund again?

  2. Awful, awful episode for the reasons you listed. There’s no resolution to the Android’s Dungeon story (and has no relation to the main plot once it finally kicks in), it’s impossible to suspend disbelief at how quickly Marge’s gym becomes successful, it has one of the worst third acts in the show’s history, there are hardly any laughs, this episode has it all. You thought muscle-heavy Marge looked terrifying in “The Strong Arms of the Ma”? Well, she did, but plastic surgery Homer is even worse.

    Alan Moore is pretty much the only saving grace to this episode.

  3. I actually really liked the first act and was extremely disappointed when it turned into another crappy Jean-era “Marge gets a new job/hobby” episode. Of course, if they had followed the CBG story it would have just wound up becoming another “tertiary character moves in with the Simpsons” episode, but even that’s preferable to what we got.

  4. Yeah, this one always annoyed me in how the first act has almost nothing to do with what follows. The sad thing is if it stayed an episode about Comic Book Guy struggling to keep his store open, it might have been OK.

    I think the guest stars are the only saving grace. Jack Black’s character is kind of fun, and Alan Moore is pretty great. This episode gave us “Watchmen Babies in V for Vacation.” That’s probably the only decent joke I can remember.

  5. This episode is so creepy on way too many levels and it is as disgusting as the one where Marge became a weight lifter.

    On the other hand, I love Alan Moore’s cameo and what he says to Bart about Watchmen Babies.

  6. Well, at least this episode has Daniel Clowes — the greatest “cartoonist” ever, imo — in it.

  7. Speaking of lazy parodies Stan Lee appeared in the freakin’ comic book store before and showed The Thing into what’s-his-name’s batmobile and apparently the not-Hulk and the not-Thing was meant to look totally different and different coloured but the laziness of Al Jean and co. really took a number on it…

    And speaking of Opal… JESUS FUCKING CHRIST Oprah’s already been established in the show and there was a segment on the Oprah show where she meets the simpsons in 1993! ugh oh well the real/fake stuff lightswitch happens in the next ep. too…

  8. When I heard Alan Moore and Art Spiegelman (two of my favourite artists) were guesting, I got so excited.
    Then I watched the episode.
    Total disappointment, lazy as hell.

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