414. Dial “N” for Nerder

Dial (originally aired March 9, 2008)
I thought an episode revolving around a now completely un-utilized character would be kind of interesting… but nope. It’s a thin, ultimately boring premise that gets its air time cut in half to service a bizarre and disturbing B-story. Bart pulls a prank on Martin in the woods that gets him accidentally thrown over the railing of a steep cliff, plummeting to his supposed death. Fearing her flawless reputation, Lisa demands that Bart hush up about it, but his conscious slowly begins to eat away at him. I kind of like this role reversal, though it’s played a little bit extreme with both parties, but I’m willing to buy it. What I don’t buy is Nelson inexplicably playing Columbo and trying to piece together what really happened. He just literally is Columbo, complete with “oh, there’s just one other thing…” I don’t quite understand how that fits with his character. By the end, we find out of course Martin’s alive, having survived the fall in the most preposterous way possible. Also for a whole show about the fallout of his death, we never see his parents once. And why did it take him so long to get home? Oh, whatever.

The other story involves Marge contacting the TV show Cheaters… I mean, Sneakers to follow him around to see if he’s cheating… on his new diet. The gag is Homer devouring fatty foods and his sneakiness of it is analogous to him having an affair, and it’s basically that joke through the whole show. That and the Sneakers creator revels of breaking up families (“There, there… no, I mean, cry to the camera over there… there.”) This all leads up to one of the most disgusting things to ever appear on the show: Homer taking a rack of lamb to a motel room to furiously devour, as if he were fucking it. He rolls around the bed with it, slams it against the wall, then disrobes and chows down on it nude in the shower. I mean, he might as well be fucking it. It’s absolutely nauseating, and pushes this already strained joke way too far. Also this stupid plot really undermines any seriousness the grade-schooler’s-potential-death A-story had. In the end, Marge confronts Homer, and… gets mad at the Sneakers guy for trying to push them apart. Okay, but that doesn’t excuse Homer from continuing to be a fat fuck, since the beginning of the show involved Marge being concerned about his health when he couldn’t even muster the energy for a hearty romp in the sack. “I’d rather have a chubby hubby than a sexy ex-ie!” Ugh.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The montage of Homer eating all those bell peppers means nothing in the end, since the episode is about him not sticking to his diet. So he’s basically gorging twice as much, I guess. Then he taunts Marge to her face when she can’t find proof of his transgressions. Again, what a likable guy.
– We barely see Martin anymore, but it seems that all the gags with him involve him saying offensive or giggle-worthy words in the correct fashion (“a mighty faggot,” “it could be one of the major homos!”) and being naive to regarding of its other meaning. I mean, we had Wang Computers in the past, but Martin used to be a much richer character. Then again, everyone else used to be too. Sigh…
– Wiggum reports and seemingly confirms Martin’s death, then suggests he give the tattered remains of the boy’s shirt to his son (“Chief, that’s evidence.” “I know. But after it’s evidence, it’s a shirt again.”) Everyone is just so goddamn callous about this ten-year-old boy’s death. His funeral at school involves kids in bleachers holding up cards showing a gravestone, then of Martin’s head with X’s for eyes, and Skinner reads out many of Martin’s humiliating nicknames and the bullies yuck it up. This is even more tasteless than Maude Flanders’ funeral. And again, where are Martin’s parents? This episode could care less. The best part of the episode is the clip montage where we see short Martin bits from “Treehouse of Horror III” and “Three Men and a Comic Book,” then I can remember great moments from those episodes.
– As if the whole lamb thing wasn’t disgusting enough, act two ends with Homer calling it on the phone as if it’s his lover. We see the lamb rack sprawled on a bed in a bedroom, as the answering machine goes off next to a photo of Homer. Where is this? What’s going on?
– A truly lame fake-out where Bart appears to almost hang himself (“You said you wanted to end it all!” “By which I meant bring Martin’s butterfly project to completion!”) Totally makes sense.
– I did like Martin quoting Mark Twain’s “Rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.” It feels very Martin of him to say.

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11 responses to “414. Dial “N” for Nerder

  1. The A-plot wasn’t half bad, but you’re right that the tone was all wrong in some scenes, such as Martin’s funeral. It’s almost like the writers are afraid that if there isn’t a joke every five seconds, the audience will lose interest.

    Aside from the line “I’ve tried everything except talking to him!” and the cameraman instructing Marge to cry into the camera, I didn’t care for the B-story at all. In particular, that “chunky hunky” line is -almost- as bad as “lega-we”. Almost.

  2. This episode flat out sucks. It isn’t the worst of the season, but it isn’ remotely good either. As for Nelson, honestly, I don’t feel it was out of character. We have seen him care for Martin before despite being a bully (The Lemon Tree episode), however this episode does show that they do not know what to do with Nelson anymore.

    • Crap, I forgot about the B plot, it was lame. I hate that cheaters show to begin with, so making fun of it really did nothing for me. Sure, there have been parodies before of things I do not like, but I just felt this episode was completely empty.

  3. I remember the build-up to this being that Martin would die. When watching it, I thought they were going to actually kill him off for good.

  4. Homer taking a rack of lamb to a motel room to furiously devour, as if he were fucking it. He rolls around the bed with it, slams it against the wall, then disrobes and chows down on it nude in the shower. I mean, he might as well be fucking it. It’s absolutely nauseating, and pushes this already strained joke way too far.

    To be honest I found that scene to be so unintentionally fucking hilarious due to the music used with that grotesque act! :L

  5. – Wiggum reports and seemingly confirms Martin’s death, then suggests he give the tattered remains of the boy’s shirt to his son (“Chief, that’s evidence.” “I know. But after it’s evidence, it’s a shirt again.”) Everyone is just so goddamn callous about this ten-year-old boy’s death. His funeral at school involves kids in bleachers holding up cards showing a gravestone, then of Martin’s head with X’s for eyes, and Skinner reads out many of Martin’s humiliating nicknames and the bullies yuck it up. This is even more tasteless than Maude Flanders’ funeral. And again, where are Martin’s parents? This episode could care less. The best part of the episode is the clip montage where we see short Martin bits from “Treehouse of Horror III” and “Three Men and a Comic Book,” then I can remember great moments from those episodes.

    Just 1 question why was his funeral being held in the school rather than privately with his grieving fami… oh yh that’s right ZS couldn’t care less about their characters and scenes…

  6. I have to admit, when I saw this episode, I laughed my ass off at Homer “fucking” the lamb, and thought this was a great episode. Of course, I was 16 at the time, God knows how I’d react if I watched it now, when sober.

  7. I thought you loooooooooved me. Loooooooooved meeeeeeeeeee.

  8. This episode was utter crap, obviously, for every reasons already said. But i remember me and my father watching it and ALMOST praising(for ZS standards) the fact that they made Nelson as Columbo(even if totally out of character) without making the references to that show pathetically obvious for the audience; like, maybe dressing him as Columbo, or having a glass eye. But as always, they never disappoint! So they put the credits of the episode: “Nelson as Columbo”. GENIUSES AT WORK!

    • But if we don’t beat our viewers over the head with it, they might not realize we are making a reference!

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