443. Bart Gets a ‘Z’

Bart Gets a 'Z'(originally aired October 4, 2009)
The opening to this episode is kind of interesting, where we just focus on Mrs. Krabappel’s morning and her lonely, sad sack life, reminiscent of “Bart the Lover.” You would think this show would have more focus on her, illuminate more of her personality, but most of the running time is focused on Bart’s wimpy, empty guilt about getting her fired and other stupid random shit crammed in to fill time. This series has such a vast universe with so many established characters, I don’t understand why at this point, twenty-four seasons in, they don’t take a chance and just devote episodes to side characters. I mean, why not? Instead, we only scratch the surface of Mrs. Krabappel; she’s a frustrated teacher who just wants to help kids, but it really barely comes across. After taking away the kids’ cell phones, Bart spearheads a revenge plan by getting her drunk, which ultimately gets her fired. He deals with an ethical dilemma of wanting to help Mrs. K, but is also won over by her replacement: a hip young substitute whose curriculum hinges on new technology and social media.

The plot progression in this episode is mind boggling. Bart tries to get Krabappel back on her feet with a bogus self-help book “The Answer,” apparently a parody of the real-life bogus self-help book “The Secret.” If anyone knows what this is, feel free to comment how badly the show tried to make fun of it. So what’s Edna’s dream? She writes it down: “I want to own a muffin store.” Why? She never says. Cut to the next scene, she opened the goddamn store. How did this happen? Next scene Bart, who I guess works work Edna, confesses he was the one that spiked her coffee, leaving her livid (“My real dream was to be a teacher, and you got me fired! Now I’m up to my eyeballs in debt with this stupid store!”) Maybe you shouldn’t have followed the career urgings of a ten-year-old then? Also, why the fuck did you open a muffin store at all? What’s happening? Why is none of this explained? Oh, whatever. From that point, we get namby-pamby Bart who feels bad and comes clean to Skinner, but by a convenient contrivance, the substitute is drunk and screaming in the hallways and Edna gets her job back for some reason. What a piece of shit.

Tidbits and Quotes
– I think the ‘Z’ in the title refers to Generation Z, the current crop of youngsters born in the early 2000s (of which Bart technically is one of now, I guess), who have grown up the most accustomed to the Internet and other media technologies.
– The general premise of this episode actually isn’t bad; it’s just completely bereft on laughs, interesting character stuff… any character stuff, really. That, and it feels so thin, parts of the story just draaaaaaaag. Drunk Krabappel takes up over two minutes, and later the drunk substitute, at the ending where things should be wrapping up quickly, lasts almost as long. It’s really uncomfortable how much some of these scenes are stretched; what you’re watching isn’t funny or moving the story along in any way. It’s just complete dead air.
– Many tasteless cracks have been made about Mr. Largo’s alleged homosexuality, but there’s actually a pretty good one here as a drunken Krabappel hits on him (“Give me one night, Dewey, I’ll get you off Broadway.” “Never!”)
– “Then Zach Skyped us, live-blogged our spelling bee and then friended us on Facebook!” We know about new technology! We’re hip, right?
– Krabappel watching the faux Rodney Dangerfield Back to School movie feels wrong to me; hearing Hank Azaria do that imitation when the real Dangerfield has both been on the show and is deceased… I dunno. Oh, also it’s not funny and just serves to kill more time.
– Castellaneta’s vocal chords get another workout with a twenty second sequence of Homer screaming and wailing to the substitute.
– The ending with the drunk Zach… seriously, it just kept going… and going… and going… and nothing was happening. And none of it was funny. Why keep writing a show if you have absolutely no material?


12 responses to “443. Bart Gets a ‘Z’

  1. A teacher friending students on Facebook is generally a pretty serious offense in the eyes of the school (my mom is an elementary teacher and won’t even add students’ parents), not to mention that the minimum age to join Facebook is 13.

    I like your idea about focusing on side characters. This was one of Oakley and Weinstein’s ideas, and it brought us such episodes as A Fish Called Selma, Hurricane Neddy, and Much Apu About Nothing. Of course, this led to lots of complaining on alt.tv.simpsons about how “we don’t need to know everything about all the background characters”…

    • lol Tell me about it. The only reason I have a Facebook account is because it was created for me and I don’t use my actual name on it. The last thing I need is one of my students finding me on there, or even a parent.

    • Depends on the school. I’ve seen many of my teachers on Facebook.

  2. Krabappel just naturally assumed Bart would be a brilliant careers advisor instantly. You can see from recent episodes where she got that idea from.

    And the picture – is this Bart’s Feeling Guilty costume from Marge Be Not Proud? I swear he doesn’t wear a hoodie any other time.

    Penultimate episode proper, sadly for us Mike. In your earlier post I suggested ‘Politically Inept’ as the worst episode I’ve seen – it’s utter garbage – and it speaks volumes about how worthless the show has become that hardly anyone else suggested it as even the 4th or 5th worst. I’m in the UK as I’ve probably said before and haven’t watched regularly since series 13 (the one where the Vegas wives came back and the moral was served by tricking Homer’s not-legal-wife into marrying and sleeping with Abe – I genuinely thought it could go no lower, how wrong I was), but I’ve seen most of the more recent episodes repeated on Sky – reliving the disappointment daily has been weirdly addictive, and I’ll miss it. Enjoy getting your life back…

  3. “Why keep writing a show if you have absolutely no material?”

    The writing staff would love to answer this, but are unable to read this because of the dollar symbols in front of their eyes.

  4. I remember getting a laugh from the line “I’m a Simpson, and a Simpson doesn’t give up until he’s tried one easy thing.” Other than that, dullsville.

    As for The Secret, it basically operates on the theory that you’ll be a success in life if you think positive thoughts all the time. In other words, if you wish really really hard, everything will just go your way somehow. It’s the sort of thing custom-made to be made fun of, and once again, Zombie Simpsons whiffs it.

  5. I get the feeling this was an attempt to rip off American Dad from that episode where Francine buys a muffin stall.
    Yeah that storyline ended differently to this one, but it does feel like they are once again trying to copy better programmes.

    After all there’s no doubt that Simpsons failed so miserably in Series 9/10 by trying to copy Family Guy’s humour.

    • Family Guy hadn’t even started yet when those seasons were made, though, and didn’t become popular until 2003 when Adult Swim started showing it so there’s no reason they’d want to copy it.

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