413. The Debarted

The Debarted(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?

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17 responses to “413. The Debarted

  1. The worst part is that Tress MacNeille can do a solid Doris Grau impression. When Homer picks up divorce papers in A Milhouse Divided: “These things happen. Eight dollars.” You could tell me that was Doris and I’d believe you.

  2. I really like this episode because I thought it was a great parody of the movie.

  3. Eh. Not a great episode but not really worth getting worked up over given the tragic events today. Perspective and all that.

  4. To be fair, the rat at the end of the movie is somewhat on the nose.

    • The rat at the end of The Departed (among other problems) turned me off and made me view the movie as really overrated (and I love Scorsese), so I laughed hard at Ralph’s line at the end. Otherwise, this is just another lame episode.

    • Actually, its people who overrate the “rat thing”. I mean, not everything must be interpreted as a great symbol or something(even if critics and stupid people always do that). The rat was just the symbol of the movie to me, put there to end it, since that was the movie about. Simple as that.

  5. This is one of the better Season 19 episodes IMO.

  6. Sorry, all. I’ll actually comment on the episode this time. My heart just wasn’t in it yesterday for obvious reasons.

    One gag that struck me as pretty old hat was Bart controlling Skinner’s shoes under the floor boards. That’s over fifty years old, probably even older.

    Also, despite Skinner’s elaborate plan to trap Bart, he’s pretty even keel here. I blame part of that on the voice actors; Harry Shearer just doesn’t give Skinner the “oomph” he used to have in episodes like “Whacking Day” (“There’s no detention this time, Simpson. This is the END. You are EXPELLED from Springfield Elementary!”) or “The PTA Disbands” (“OK come on, Edna, we both know these children HAVE no future!”).

  7. It’s not Love, Springfieldian Style. It has that going for it.

  8. I actually really liked this episode. I dunno, for some reason I felt like the Departed parody worked.

  9. This episode is actually a pretty good example of the difference between classic Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons; in an episode like “Cape Feare” or “Rosebud”, you didn’t have to see the original for the episode to work (if you did, though, it provided a bonus), while in “The Debarted” you really have to have seen the original film for the episode to make any sense at all.

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