423. Double, Double, Boy in Trouble

Double, Double, Boy in Trouble(originally aired October 19, 2008)
The first act of this show almost feels like leftovers from the last episode, featuring Homer and Marge fed up with an out-of-control Bart, who is a rambunctious little brat who causes mischief because he can. I actually didn’t mind most of it on that front… until the plot begins. After the fallout of one of his pranks at a fancy dinner party, Bart encounters Simon Wusterfield, ten-year-old little rich boy who happens to look just like him! And shock of shockers, they switch places so they can experience each other’s lives! Four hundred and twenty three episodes in, we’re honestly doing The Prince and the fucking Pauper? Also, I seem to recall the comics doing a similar story a decade back where Bart swaps places with a pop star doppelganger. I’m confused by the motivations here. Bart appears to be almost remorseful and befuddled by his behavior, when you’d think he would be resentful of his parents and want to live unrestricted, which is why he’d want Simon’s carefree life. Again, it seems like someone mixed up pages of this script and “Lost Verizon” and no one noticed.

Once they make the switch, everything becomes absolutely boring. Simon is a non-character; no effort is made to explain why he’d want a commoner’s life, and we spend most of the entirety of the episode on Bart anyway, so it doesn’t matter. Bart eats up his spacious mansion, and is high on the hog until he encounters Simon’s half-siblings, who are set on offing him to collect their family fortune. He’s warned of their intentions by Mr. Burns, and Simon and the Simpsons must save Bart, and then they do, and the episode’s over. It’s just an exercise in watching the familiar plot beats, listening to the character’s exposit their every move, and waiting for twenty minutes to be up. There are a few token funny and sweet moments, but most of them are buried under humorless bits and lots of ridiculous shit. Also, again, thePrince and the Pauper? Really, you guys? Really?

Tidbits and Quotes
– The exposition-filled dialogue starts off right away (“Ponder this, Homer, this ticket could have been yours if your kid hadn’t been screwing around!”) No shit?
– Odd we have Homer incensed by Bart’s bad behavior and Marge quick to write it off, whereas their viewpoints were reversed in the past in “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie.” I actually like some of the stuff in act one with Marge getting worn down by Bart’s shenanigans too, her having to wear her backup dress and it ripping when she goes to scold Bart after the party fiasco. I feel they could have merged the good parts of this and “Lost Verizon” into a good character-focused episode. Instead we get Machu Picchu and the Prince and the Pauper. Ah well.
– Lenny’s party is laugh-free, with his extended introduction and him singing “Thank You for Being a Friend.” Where are the jokes? And Bart setting off all the Roombas… just stupid.
– I don’t like that Burns mentions the Wusterfield fortune is greater than his; he’s supposed to be the richest man in Springfield. We never even see Simon’s parents, or find out what they do, or why they’re so rich; anything to make him any semblance of a character.
– The conversation between Burns and Bart is basically all exposition, where he flat out mentions the half-siblings might strike during a ski trip, and then later he appears in a thought bubble to reiterate that before they go off to Aspen.
– “Welcome to Aspen. Population: White” is a good gag, as are the sophisticated winos.
– Homer rescues Bart by, how else, being a reckless insane person. He yells, “This looks like a job for Captain Crazy!” before jumping off the chair lift and rolling down the mountain, forming a giant snowball that sucks Bart in for a wacky action sequence! Oh, brother.
– Even though the episode didn’t really earn it, the ending with Marge tucking in Bart is pretty sweet.

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12 responses to “423. Double, Double, Boy in Trouble

  1. This is one of the cliched plots the show’s ever done.

  2. I thought Mr. Burns left his Mum and Dad as a boy or he was an only child… hmm

  3. Shhhhhhhhhhhhh, don’t tell the writer’s that, it might make them feel embarrassed since they don’t know a thing about the show.

  4. I hate this one so fucking so much. The fact that they already did an episode that started with a party at Lenny’s house a few seasons earlier is annoying enough, but really, there’s nothing good here.

    If Simon’s siblings were trying to kill Bart because they thought he was Simon, doesn’t that mean they’re just going to kill Simon now? Eh, who cares!

    The only thing I liked: “I wanted a Land Rover, not a Range Rover! This is the worst Martin Luther King Day ever!” I try to sneak that into conversation every MLK day. Shame it came from such a shitty episode.

  5. “Four hundred and twenty three episodes in, we’re honestly doing The Prince and the fucking Pauper? ”

    …and 200 episodes after The Principal and the Pauper? Heh.

  6. And there’s another gay joke in this one. Really writers?

  7. I…don’t even remember this episode. I don’t even remember seeing promos for it. For me, that’s a first for the series.

  8. Even the Simpsons comics beat the show to it – an issue from 1996 or 1997 or so has Bart trading places with an idol singer of some sort. I haven’t read it in years, but the comic books immediately went for a zanier tone than the show (the first one, if you don’t count “Simpsons Comics and Stories”, is about Homer becoming 50 feet tall after a scientist zaps him with some radiation), so even then I figure it wouldn’t stick out like a sore thumb.

  9. Isn’t this the one where we see Marge at the kitchen sink washing the dishes and singing a dishwashing-themed parody of “Loving You” by Minnie Riperton? That’s another one of the runners in recent episodes that I’ve never, ever liked – characters singing song parodies to themselves about the menial tasks they’re currently doing. (Homer does a particularly annoying one in Season 23’s “The Falcon and the D’oh-man” that takes up a good two minutes of screen time.) Who the fuck does this in real life?

    • I have to admit it would be a hell of a lot more interesting (but weird as hell) if people did do that in real life just to see how Weird Al-esque they could get but in ZS it’s weird and WTF-worthy… and is the song that Homer sings a parody of a “The Police” song where Barney’s at the plant for some reason?

    • I know you’ll never read this because you wrote this comment a year and a half ago, but- There was a storyline on How I Met Your Mother about how Marshall sings the things he’s doing around the house as he does them. It was much better done on that show.

  10. This episode had one of the dumbest scenes in the entire series with Bart, after seeing a McMansion, listing off different “Mc” names, like “Fleetwood Mac” and “MacAulay Culkin”. I hate list jokes in general but at least the others have some effort put into them.

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