408. Funeral for a Fiend

Funeral for a Fiend(originally aired November 25, 2007)
Like every other character, Sideshow Bob has become a one-dimensional shadow of himself, a learned murderous madman with seemingly no rhyme, reason or sense to his actions. This is such a bummer, of course, because of how amazingly written his episodes used to be; now they’re just frustrating and stupid. Here, Bob’s evil scheme to kill the Simpsons, because since his lase appearance, he’s extended his scope from Bart to the whole family, is to lure them into a trap: the grand opening of a family-style BBQ restaurant. A restaurant he builds himself, records an elaborate commercial and pays for air time for, which he hopes the Simpsons will see and go to. So is he waiting in that place all day long, warding off other potential customers, for when the Simpsons will possibly maybe show up? Bob’s schemes used to be about something, have some air of purpose or sense to them. This is just fucking stupid. Bob intends to kill the family via boxes of TNT like in a Looney Tunes cartoon, but of course is foiled very quickly. This is only the start of act two and I’m already pissed off.

At his trial, Bob tries to reason his murderous actions were due to insanity caused by his constant haranguing by Bart, and tries to ploy the jury’s sympathies, as they have also had run-ins with the young prankster. I guess I can see that, but it’s still not an ironclad defense, but as we see, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway. Bart knocks a vial of nitroglycerin from Bob’s hands, but it turns out it was for his congenital heart defect, causing his ticker to stop short and die. But, of course, this was all a ruse too; Bob’s father injected his son with a serum to simulate death, and his brother Cecil convinced Bart to pay his final respects to Bob at the funeral home, where Bob could cremate the boy in his place. But Lisa figures out this whole entire plan apropos of nothing, and manage to stop them just in time. Now the entire Terwilliger family is behind bars: Bob, his wife and kid, Cecil and his parents, all evil masterminds. How creative. It was interesting in “Brother From Another Series,” since you suspect Bob to be the villain, and then it turns around and it’s Cecil. But all of this just seems so lazy and unoriginal. A particularly horrid Bob episode, but thankfully the last one I ever have to watch.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The show starts with the family getting a Tivo. What, no Mapple treatment in calling it TeeVee or something? Maybe the staff was gunning to get free Tivos. The family is thrilled that they can skip commercials, but eventually Marge’s guilt gets to her and she goes back to watching ads. Actually, the first time we see them skip commercials, not only do we see the many ads from the series past, like for Mr. Sparkle and SpringShield, but we see Bob’s fake ad. So his plan in getting them to see the commercial is so flimsy enough, but with Tivo, they would never ever see it at all. At what point would Bob just give up and close up shop? The whole thing makes no fucking sense.
– The animation of the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon looks really good, with a lot of exaggerated movements and takes.
– Bob even explains how he built the restaurant and edited the commercial, and what a laborious scheme it was. And the real kicker is, he planned the rest of the events out too. So this flimsy bullshit plot was actually just a prelude for his other flimsy bullshit plot. Why wouldn’t he just kill the Simpsons right then and there? Why go through the rest of that crap?
– John Mahoney voices Bob’s father, because the writers figure, hey, we had Frasier’s brother voice his brother, let’s get Frasier’s father to voice his father too! Bob’s mother is voiced by… guess who… Tress MacNeille. Shocker. Both provide nothing interesting whatsoever.
– Krusty sings at Bob’s funeral, ending it with hocking a new DVD of the best Sideshow Bob moments from his show. But what about “Day of the Jackanapes” where he admitted to taping over all of Bob’s shows? Oh, who cares.
– The only thing in the show I liked was David Hyde Pierce’s return as Cecil, who gets a nice scene with Bart (“Bob and I never got along. He was always zigging when I zagged. One summer when he wanted to tour the castles of Italy, I wanted to tour the castles of France, so we went to Spain, a compromise that satisfied no one.”)
– How could Lisa have figured out Bob’s entire plan, with his father injecting him and faking his death? The only tip-off she had was about Bob’s coffin having extra room for his feet. But maybe the family would have done that so they wouldn’t have to cram poor Bob’s feet into a regular coffin out of respect. But anyway, they burst in the funeral home to save the day, because of course Bob has the coffin heading into the crematoryextreeeeemely slowly. But here’s the thing: we got Homer, Marge and Lisa vs. Bob, Cecil, Francesca, Gino, and Mr. & Mrs. Terwilliger. They could easily subdue the Simpsons, or manage to stall them long enough for Bart to be killed. Instead, Homer and Marge go in, stop Bob and get Bart out of the coffin. I guess everyone else is just standing around watching. Why aren’t they doing anything? What a load of shit.

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15 responses to “408. Funeral for a Fiend

  1. No mention of the flip-flop of real and fake people and tv shows in this ep. (keith olbermann and not-oprah) and thank you for all you said about bob’s plan i did wonder what happened if other people went to that restaurant and found out it was empty inside? Also I’m surprised that commercial managed to stay on long enough without being reported for false advertising by pissed off people who got turned away…

    Lastly about the TiVo part hmm I still don’t see why they didn’t just call it Apple a season later as well seeing as they went whole hog with it??? ugh this inconsistency with real and fake brands in ZS really baffles me…

  2. OK, I know Sideshow Bob’s elaborate plan in this episode was -really- a stretch to pull it off successfully. But couldn’t the same have been said for “Black Widower” and “Sideshow Bob Roberts”? Both of those relied on a lot of little factors to succeed. Besides, if Bob’s goal in this episode was just to skip all theatrics and kill Bart, you would’ve been calling it a retread of “Cape Feare”. Or the end of “The Great Louse Detective”.

    Not that this episode didn’t have problems (my main beef was that Bob’s father gave Bob an injection in plain view of the entire court room and nobody thought to inspect what he was giving him), but I do think it’s the best Sideshow Bob episode of the Jean era, and a big improvement over “The Italian Bob”.

    My favorite gag was Marge’s “heinous” remark being echoed throughout the church as “anus”. Yeah it’s low brow but it gets a laugh.

    • I think you’re totally off base with this. Break the plots down: marrying Selma and killing her to get her money, running for mayor so he can rule Springfield, constructing a fake restaurant and shooting and editing a fake commercial on the off-chance the Simpsons will see it and come to the restaurant so he can kill them, then foiling his own plan and defending himself in court, fake his own death, get brother to make Bart feel bad to visit his coffin, then come back to life and put Bart in his place to be burned alive. If anything, I think this is worse than “Italian Bob,” because at least there I liked all of Bob’s back story involving him ingratiating himself in Italy. Here, he’s just a fucking idiot.

      • I get what you’re saying, that the earlier Bob episodes were more simple than this one, which relied on a lot of coincidences for his plan to succeed. But the classics (save for “Cape Feare”) still involved Bob going through lots of steps to execute a master plan. Think about it: In “Black Widower”, Bob had to sustain a relationship with a woman he otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with for -months-, gain the trust of the Simpsons, get married, take a honeymoon at a hotel with a fireplace, and know for sure that Selma would strike a match (and in the process, blow herself up) the instant MacGyver was over. When he could’ve just broke out of prison, killed her and been done with it.

        The whole charm of Bob episodes is how pointlessly elaborate his schemes are, and how Bart and/or Lisa unravel them. It’s probably why I’ve never been big on “Cape Feare”; despite it having a good amount of laughs, it’s the simplest plot of his and that aspect I mentioned above is absent entirely.

        Anyway, wasn’t the whole point of Bob faking his own death so that he wouldn’t be a suspect in Bart’s murder (and thus, sent right back to jail)?

      • lol

        Cape Feare is actually my favorite of the Bob episodes Ian. In fact, it is also in my top 10 favorite Simpsons episodes of all time.

    • The difference between this and Black Widower is that Bob had control in BW. In this, he buys a restaurant, films an advertisement for it, hopes that the Simpsons go there, fakes his own death etc. it’s far too circumstantial. His plans in earlier episodes were based on observation of character traits and humanity at large.

      In BW, Bob needs to: get a desperate woman to marry him, it’s Selma so it’s possible; pretend he has reformed, believable as it’s an early episode and he isn’t a psycho yet; get a hotel with a gas fireplace, pretty easy and a not unreasonable thing to ask for; wait for Selma to blow herself up after MacGuyver with her post-MG smoke. It’s all based on factors within his control or those that always happen. And it’s a believable plan that would get revenge on the family while also making him unconvictable.

      In this he does some stuff and hopes it works out. He has no idea if the Simpsons will see his advertisement, and if his plan was to kill Bart he had a perfect moment in the restaurant. It makes no sense that he would have done it in such a weird way, he could have killed Bart and then escaped/faked his death quite easily.

    • “I get what you’re saying, that the earlier Bob episodes were more simple than this one, which relied on a lot of coincidences for his plan to succeed. But the classics (save for “Cape Feare”) still involved Bob going through lots of steps to execute a master plan. Think about it: In “Black Widower”, Bob had to sustain a relationship with a woman he otherwise wouldn’t have bothered with for -months-, gain the trust of the Simpsons, get married, take a honeymoon at a hotel with a fireplace, and know for sure that Selma would strike a match (and in the process, blow herself up) the instant MacGyver was over. When he could’ve just broke out of prison, killed her and been done with it.”

      What? He didn’t want to kill Selma out of some mad blood lust. He killed her for her money. That was the point of marrying her.

      And he obviously didn’t plan to kill her that way from the start. He only found out that she lost her sense of smell later in the episode. Have you seen the episode?

      • “What? He didn’t want to kill Selma out of some mad blood lust. He killed her for her money. That was the point of marrying her.”

        I’m aware of that. I was more making a general point that elaborate, multi-step schemes were always a part of Bob’s character. (although let’s not kid ourselves: Bob could’ve killed -any- woman for money; doing it specifically to Selma was a “kill two birds with one stone” situation in that, had it succeeded, it would’ve gotten back at the Simpsons for Bart putting him in jail)

  3. Yeah, I don’t really care for this episode all this much, but at least it is better than those that came before it. Still, I have never understood why Bob redeemed himself in the first one with Cecil back in Season 8, only to go back to evil in every episode since. I

  4. I’ve seen this episode’s Itchy and Scratchy on YouTube, and it is pretty darn nice to look at. The guy who animated it, a fellow by the name of Dane Romley, has a DeviantArt account (http://morpheus306.deviantart.com), and all his stuff is incredibly expressive and fun. Sadly, he’s not on the show anymore – he left when he kept getting notes to make his animation less expressive and more “on model”. And I don’t blame him. (According to him, for the HD opening, he originally animated Maggie shaking her fist at the One-Eyebrowed Baby, but they deemed his first pass at it to be too extreme, so they pulled frames and cut it down so much that it looks like it was animated in Flash.)

    • According to Mark Colangelo, a former layout artist on the show, the artists who typically leave the show are the ones who want to draw in a wacky, cartoony animation style that the show isn’t known for, and get repeatedly frustrated by those limitations. So yeah, just backing up what you said.

      • Yeah, I was planning to touch on that when we got to the HD opening. Reading those stories is kind of depressing. And by “kind of,” I mean “extremely.”

  5. This is the worst Sideshow Bob episode yet, but it’s not even as bad as the Italian Bob one, I think. The annoying little baby in that… jesus.

  6. “lol

    Cape Feare is actually my favorite of the Bob episodes Ian. In fact, it is also in my top 10 favorite Simpsons episodes of all time.”

    Well, my personal favorite is either Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming or Brother From Another Series.

  7. “That voice! OH! That commercial was a trick! Specifically designed to lure our family here!”

    SHUT THE FUCK UP LISA

    FOR FUCKS SAKE

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