(originally aired March 2, 2008)
I have not seen The Departed. It’s one of those movies that’s been on my to-watch list forever. Apparently this is a parody of that movie, which I shrewdly figured out by decoding the title, so I can’t really comment on its connection to the film. As an episode, it feels like yet another bland outing. Springfield Elementary gets a new cool kid, Donny, who Bart is initially jealous of. But when he inexplicably takes the rap for one of Bart’s pranks, Bart ingratiates him into his gang of schemers and jokesters. But unbeknownst to him, Donny is actually working for Skinner and Chalmers, who want to take Bart down. I know the basic premise of The Departed, so this all seems to line up, but what doesn’t work here is its new setting at the school. The stakes are set super high at the start when Skinner mentions the highest punishment they can levy against Bart is a ten-day suspension. Bart would love that; why should I care about the premise? Then at the end they say they’re sending Bart to a juvenile center, so I guess they forgot they had that power. Except they don’t.
This story doesn’t seem to translate well. Skinner and Chalmers want to bust Bart for all of his shenanigans. Fair enough. What’s the plan? Host a casting call and adopt a tough-looking orphan to go to school, gain Bart’s trust, have him sabotage his schemes until Bart gets fed up and tries to pull off a humungous prank, then bust him. This is insane. Who’s this Donny kid? How did they adopt him? Does he live with them? What will become of him now? Oh, who cares. Donny is voiced by Topher Grace, who totally sounds like a ten-year-old, by the way. Ultimately, this episode suffers the same fate of “The President Wore Pearls,” where the show tries to adapt source material onto young kids and makes it too absurd. Skinner and Chalmers are stuck in bizarre villain mode with this overcomplicated plan for something so stupid and insignificant. It’s just kind of hard to suspend one’s disbelief regarding the plot, especially when they throw jokes at us that undermine said plot even further. Bart discovers there’s a rat, but who could it be? “My best friend, my other best friend, or a kid I just met?” He ends up going with Milhouse. Bart’s pretty street smart, but when we need him to be, he’s a big dummy. Another worthless episode to the pile.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Marge accidentally rear-ends Hans Moleman’s car. The airbag goes off and Moleman is smothered, passing out, seemingly dying. It’s like the writers know that Moleman inexplicably getting killed was a funny joke in the past, but don’t realize that the gag here is more disturbing than amusing.
– Homer laughing at the auto shop guys about giving him a new rental car is unbearable. What a fucking asshole. Oh yeah, that’s a subplot. When his car is being fixed, Homer gets comfortable driving his fancy rental car, but when the repairs are done, he doesn’t give the new car back. Instead of going after him, the auto shop just puts Homer’s old car up for sale. The plot ends when Homer drives by and is horrified that rednecks are going to buy the car to shoot it full of holes, and then seemingly sexually violate it. He panics, hops in the car and drives off. Awful.
– The explanation at the end that Skinner and Chalmers adopted Donny is infuriating enough, but now the fact that Skinner explains his plan to Donny at the start of act two makes no sense because of it. He should know it already, shouldn’t he?
– During the prank montage, Bart gets his ass stuck to the copy machine and seemingly can’t move. Pan over to Skinner laughing holding a glue bottle. Then we cut to a close-up of said bottle so we can see it says “GLUE.” Is that in case people didn’t realize what it was? What the fuck else could it have been?
– Lunchlady Doris has another speaking part, again by Tress MacNeille. Here, they don’t even bother having her sound like Doris Grau; it’s doubly insulting.
– I looked up that The Departed ends with a rat appearing on screen, as does this episode, where Ralph pops up to comment, “The rat symbolizes obviousness!” Is this garbage show really trying to jab at an Oscar-winning Scorsese film?