(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?