Three bonus episodes (plus two more)

Yeah, I did more than three. To elaborate, me doing these extra reviews is partially to placate those who want me to continue through the rest of the series, but I really don’t see the point for a couple reasons. First, why beat a dead horse? The show’s deader than dead at this point, there’s really nothing new or illuminating to say that hasn’t already cropped up in over two hundred bad episode reviews. Second, the point of the blog was to rewatch all the episodes I had seen, to view them from an older, more streamlined perspective in seeing them all in a row, as the series declined into total slop. And now, I’ve accomplished that goal. But, just as a bullshit bonus, and by popular demand, here’s a few more for you. I ended up choosing five: two that some claim aren’t that bad, two that are notoriously terrible, and the recent 500th episode milestone.

492. The Book Job
The Book Job(originally aired November 20, 2011)
I guess when you stop being able to write original stories… you can just lift them from other movies. This episode isn’t aggressively terrible, but felt so unbelievably one-note. I’ve only seen bits of pieces of Ocean’s Eleven, but I was able to pick up some of the references, like Homer and Bart’s cool repartee, and the montages, but that’s basically the whole joke for the entire twenty minutes: Homer and the gang are suddenly this super cool and collected gang of swindlers who can write a book and later perform a complicated heist like it’s no big deal. This is also married to the show’s attempts to be current, despite always being about two years late due to their production schedule, since the scheme is to manufacture a hit tween novel, a la Twilight or Harry Potter… I mean, Angelica Button. They “parody” the common tropes of these series by having the characters flat-out explain what they are repeatedly; it’s like I’m reading an angry thread on a message board instead of a TV show written by allegedly professional writers. Also, more of making Lisa smug and unlikable, as she attempts to write a book herself, ends up procrastinating while the others finish theirs, and sells out by putting her name on it as their cover. But she was actually in on it the whole time. What a twist! The only thing in the show I really liked was Neil Gaiman, once we get past the obligatory name drop and shortlist of his credits (here embarrassingly done in the library, where we see a big cut-out of him, his name and some of his works, right after Moe had already listed some off), he still gave an admirable performance. But besides that, everything else just seemed very lazy and felt wrong.

498. Moe Goes From Rags to Riches
Moe Goes from Rags to Riches(originally aired January 29, 2012)
Yeah, the talking bar rag episode. Even despite the enormous amount of vitriol, I wanted to give this one a chance, as I could at least give it some credit for breaking formula with something bizarre and weird. But after seeing it, no. No, I cannot. The bar rag retelling its sorted history through the years all over the world is basically a series of sketches that feel like the three-story episodes, so we keep seeing Homer and co. playing different roles in different countries over history. Also, a lot of Treehouse of Horror-level violence of people getting hung, beheaded, stabbed, etc… And none of them have any connection thematically; the whole “point” is that the rag was cut from a tapestry that foretells future events, but that whole angle was completely dropped halfway through. The rag itself really focused on either, since normally it has nothing to do with the story, and in some cases isn’t even in the story. So what’s the flipping point to all this? Moe realizing he has friends besides his filthy bar rag, because Marge took it upon herself to wash it for him, since I guess they’re friends despite his bar being the sole reason she barely sees her husband every day. Alongside this is Milhouse getting upset with Bart’s mistreatment of him, and Bart desperately trying to make amends. It distracts from the absurd, fourth-wall-breaking A-story to have to cut back to this shit, filled with dialogue that’s both painfully self-aware and totally not how ten-year-olds fucking talk, especially Milhouse. And if you wanted to tie the two plots in, why not make the rag’s tale about how he gained and lost friends, and how relationships need to be tested and bound together or something? Whatever. I’m really at a loss with this one; I can’t figure out what the point of it even was, or what it was trying to do. It was just twenty more minutes of my time completely wasted. I hope you guys are happy I’m doing this.

495. Holidays of Future Passed
Holidays of Future Passed(originally aired December 11, 2011)
This is the only show on this list I’d watched before; I remember No Homers blowing up when this first aired. People absolutely loved it, with more than a couple claiming it even trumped “Lisa’s Wedding.” Wondering if all the current fans had simply snapped and gone mad, I decided to give it a watch. Like “The Book Job,” it isn’t awful, but I don’t much care for this one either. Although this takes place in the farthest future we’ve seen yet, it’s more of the kind of material from “Future-Drama” where we’ll do as many outlandish future gags as possible, some of which that would feel more at home in Futurama than here. There’s some emotional bits here that work; I like that Homer is actually a pretty fun granddad, and even a bit of Bart and Lisa’s drunken conversation in the treehouse, but the resolutions to their stories feel as hackneyed and hollow as any other episode. The stories seem like they could be interesting, but ultimately kinda… aren’t, with Lisa’s frustration with her teenage daughter, and her mother’s advice, and Bart’s estranged relationship with his kids. I just feel all of that gets distracted and swallowed by stupid future joke after stupid future joke. Sentient trees, robot lovers, super-evolved pets, Ned marrying Maude’s ghost… it all just felt so stupid to me; again, none of this feels like things that could happen in the near future like in “Lisa’s Wedding,” just a bunch of weird shit because it’s the future. Also, Lisa married Milhouse, which I never like to see; she honestly couldn’t do better? And she went through a lesbian phase too. Funny! Though to be honest, I can see that happening. And Maggie never speaks, except it makes absolutely no sense for her not to. And Mr. Burns is still alive, somehow. I feel the show had potential, but there’s a lot of stuff that just bugged me, and every stupid future gag fell completely flat. “Lisa’s Wedding,” this fucking ain’t.

508. Lisa Goes Gaga
Lisa Goes Gaga(originally aired May 20, 2012)
Dead Homers did a compare & contrast with this episode and “Stark Raving Dad,” and it couldn’t be more apt. Both shows star a larger-than-life celebrity trying to help out a Simpson kid, but they are both complete opposites in dealing with their guest star, and the emotional weight of the show. At the time, Michael Jackson was just as huge a star, if not more so, than Lady Gaga, but the writers were shrewd about casting him. His role as Leon Kompowski was inventive and memorable… two things that cannot be used to describe Gaga’s. This is the complete other side of the coin: Gaga comes to Springfield, being as over-the-top as possible, to cheer up Lisa, she succeeds, and then she leaves. That’s it. Gaga effectively stalks Lisa, spouting empty platitudes and self-affirmative bullshit to try and cheer her up, without once even asking what’s wrong and why she’s upset (wouldn’t have mattered anyway, since why everyone hates her makes no sense). The only bright spot in the show is when Lisa tells her off; she claims to care but clearly all she cares about is being as gaudy and show-offy as possible. That’s what the entire episodes feels like it’s boiling to; Lisa is getting more and more despondent the more urgent Gaga is and the more elaborate her entrances get. Then at the end, she catches Gaga before she leaves and apologizes. For no reason. And by that, I mean her attitude literally changes on a dime; one shot she’s still bummed out, the next she has her big revelation and she’s happy. She just needed someone to vent her frustrations at! Lisa actually loves Lady Gaga! Get the fuck out of here. There’s so much more to bitch at, like the embarrassingly, almost insultingly pandering Gaga-Marge kiss, the stupidity of the start of Lisa being depressed, but I just can’t be bothered. I shut it off a few seconds into the end song with Lisa, I just couldn’t bear it. What bothers me the most is the complete lack of imagination; with such a high profile guest, the best they can come up with is put her on a humungous pedestal, and “joke” about her extravagant costumes and eccentric nature. But they’re just replicating the kind of shit she does in real life, and in some cases, things we’ve seen, like the meat dress and her being hatched from a giant egg. Between all of that, and having her do a song in the middle which isn’t so much a parody as something that sounds like a track from her new album, it’s just a big love fest for Gaga. The writers took some shots at Jackson, but you could tell they still liked and respected him; here, it’s literally just twenty minutes of them licking Gaga’s asshole. I expect this from tabloids and teen blogs, not the fucking Simpsons. An extraordinarily depressing episode.

500. At Long Last Leave
Screen shot 2013-01-21 at 10.28.07 PM
(originally aired February 19, 2012)
“The most meaningless milestone of all!” spouts the opening titles. You’re not kidding. I guess they were trying to do a larger story with a deeper meaning involving the family and the town, except none of it makes sense. My first big issue is it paints the Simpsons as a blight on the entirety of Springfield, which is aggravating for two reasons. First, we’ve gone from the family just being just regular characters living in a big world to all of a sudden becoming prominent members of their community. The Simpsons are these downtrodden losers trying to survive in society, now all of a sudden they’re a plague on this town and need to be exiled. Their reasoning for it? Primarily, Homer and Bart’s reckless behavior is racking up property damage. Springfield is a town that quite often resorts to violent mob mentality, but I guess it’s just the fault of one family now. Mmmyep. So the Simpsons are booted out of town, and conveniently come across some backwoods redneck community known as the Outlands, so they live there. What is the Outlands? We never really see. We’re there for like a few minutes, the only other resident with a speaking role has no name, and we never figure out why the Simpsons like it there, let alone why the whole goddamn town wants to move there at the end of the show. I guess they figured having them dress like they were from Mad Max and giving them helicopters and roadsters to ride, it would be enough. By the middle of this episode, I was just getting bored. So, so, so bored. Watching these five, my fears were basically confirmed, that the show had continued to get worse. Following the trend from season 20, these episodes were just so goddamn uncreative, boring and thin. Even “Gaga,” with all its irritating elements, at its core, is lazy.

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30 responses to “Three bonus episodes (plus two more)

  1. Oh dear, I think we broke him.

  2. Ah well we pushed some new episodes out of him and we should be thankful we got our wish and Mike what will you be doing on ze interwebz now?

  3. I haven’t seen any of these. Doesn’t sound like I missed much.

  4. “Well, it was a good ride while it lasted. Come on kids, let’s go home.”
    “We are home.”
    “That was fast.”

  5. You’re right about the show having gotten even worse, but I really did like “Holidays” a lot. I think it’s the best episode in probably ten seasons.

    The future jokes, while silly, were funny and I was laughing throughout: “Hey Marge, wanna have some future sex?” “Why do you say future? It’s now.” “I mean in two weeks! That’s when the new penis gets here!” The only ridiculous thing that really bothered me was the sentient trees, which was dumb AND unfunny, but it went by pretty quickly.

    What really got me was how many effective emotional beats the show had. Bart and Lisa in the treehouse was the biggest highlight, but the conflict in Lisa between the dreams she once had and what she settled for really worked for me, as did the finally mellowed out Homer (“Everyone thinks their dad’s a jerk. And everyone’s right. But, when you get older, you realize how much you love them. Your dad may be a little bit immature, but I know he loves you. So, you ought to give him a chance.”)

    My favorite scene apart from the treehouse was when Grampa was repeatedly frozen and unfrozen. His diatribe at his son was hilarious.

    Yes, the praise went overboard (it isn’t “Lisa’s Wedding”). But I still thought it was really good, whereas other “good” recent shows (“The Book Job,” for example) left me pretty flat.

  6. “It was just twenty more minutes of my time completely wasted. I hope you guys are happy Iā€™m doing this.”

    yes. thank you šŸ™‚

  7. Very well summed up Mike. Thanks for reviewing these particualr episdoes, esp. the 500th one and Lisa Goes Gaga. I’m sorry you will never be able to get those minutes spent watching them back (unless you time travel, lol jk)

    These episodes are trash, rubbish. I don’t remember much about any of them at all. Just utter junk and poorly written plots that make no sense. Empty characters devoid of a soul, which the show once had.

    I hope this blog, and it’s entire contents of your reviews, are backed up and stored in The Library of Congress (same for deadhomers too)

    p.s. Missed your Tidbits and Quotes, not that there’s much of them in these episodes.

  8. Also excuse any typos that occurred, some of you might like this site and this particular link: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Characters/TheSimpsons

  9. Good heavens, the things you’ve subjected yourself to for our sake! But we really do appreciate all the work you put into this retrospective of yours – I know it couldn’t have been easy, but by God, you got it done.

    Thanks again for this truly cromulent blog, man! Now go watch yourself some nice classic-era Simpsons. You’ve absolutely earned it.

  10. Well done! You made it, and now you can finally give Zombie Simpsons the total ignorance it deserves.

    This blog has been SO great. (Should be called ‘Me Blog Write Awesome’ really.) Out of all the reviews/discussions/rants/blogs I’ve read on the decline of The Simpsons, this is the one that seems most likely to actually convince people who still love The Simpsons that the show is in the doldrums. If you review the show in broad terms you can be accused of being unfair or selective, but there’s no denying that Homer is a jerkass now when you’re spotting it in every other episode.

    So good stuff! Looking forward to any future articles from you, Dreamworks-related or otherwise. šŸ™‚

  11. Here are my thoughts on each episode:

    The Book Job – Honestly, I did not care for this episode at all. I liked some of the music bits, but I thought the episode was quite lackluster. Not to mention the “twist” at the end. It was a waste of Gaiman’s talent. However, I did like how they were mocking Twilight, but that is about it. THis episode is quite forgettable.

    Moe Goes from Rags to Riches – Again, I found some ideas to be solid, but the entire episode was utter crap. In fact, I thought I liked it the first time I saw it, but the moment I started to rewatch it last summer, I got bored and annoyed really fast. There is nothing redeeming about this episode at all. I mean, even the worst episodes of The Simpsons usually have one joke in there that is great or memorable, but here, it is nothing. This episode is nearly as bad as the one where Lisa takes up smoking and the one with her crazy friend.

    Holidays of Future Passed – I actually enjoyed this episode a lot. I thought it was well done and one of the better episodes of the recent HD seasons. Sure, it is not as good as “Lisa’s Wedding,” but I thought it was close and having it star Maggie was awesome and is really what makes it stand out.

    Lisa Goes Gaga – Honestly, I don’t know what people wanted out of this episode. Sure it is wacky, but that is what this show is these days. I thought they did a great job of actually utilizing Lady Gaga because she did more than just stay on for 5 seconds and say one line and then be gone. They centered the episode around her and I thought that was a good idea. And I personally am not a Lady Gaga fan. Was it a very good episode? Not really, but it was far better than most of Season 23 and one of the better season finales.

    At Long Last Leave – This episode pretty much felt pointless to me. It’s like they wanted to out do “Trash of the Titans” from way back when just because it was a milestone. This episode makes little sense, and yet, like Gaga, it is still better than most of the season. It did have some funny moments, but yeah, it ultimately was pointless since nothing came out of it.

    With that said, I do want to thank you for giving us just a few more episodes to read your thoughts on. This was definitely enjoyable, but I do wish I had come across this site a lot sooner instead of when you were on Season 13. I just do not have the time or attention span to read your thoughts on every single episode before then, at least, at this point in time. Who knows the next time I get into a huge Simpsons mood (which probably won’t be for several years though, since this past summer was the first time since 2008).

    Finally, I have to laugh because had Simpsons been canceled after Season 8 or 9, we probably would have all been upset that it had to end. In fact, I remember reading that Fox was looking into making Futurama replace The Simpsons and retire the family from the airwaves and being quite disappointed if that had happen. It is a shame we did not know then what we know now about the show, as it would have been better off if that had actually occurred.

  12. Really appreciate everything you’ve done here Mike.

    Now when I rewatch some of the old (s02-09) episodes, I check up about what you wrote, and see if you noticed the same things as me..

    ..which then leads me onto reading some of your synopses of other episodes, thus leading me to re-watch other classics too.

    I wish Groening or whoever is in charge could sit down and read your rational, well reasoned commentary.. after which I can’t see how they couldn’t put a bullet in the head of this one great show.

    oh yeah, wait… $_$

  13. THANK YOU for doing ‘moe goes from rags to shit’
    ā¤ so much love.
    You did an amazing job, thanks for being an almost-daily part of my life for quite a while. Really enjoyed reading your reviews post by post, and empathized with you as you entered 'zombie' territory.
    I'm gonna miss your writing, but will keep up with you on your other blogs.

  14. PS: Everytime I re-watch a Simpsons episode, I check this blog to re-read what you thought about it ^_^ I’m a lame-o.

  15. Worse thing about Lisa Goes Gaga is that they ruin BIG NOSE JERK character.

  16. Are there going to be any ‘final thoughts’ style blog post.

    I think it’d be nice if Mike could end this blog with a run down of thoughts about the series, such as favourite episodes, characters.. worst.. when the series should have ended etc…

    It’d bring a nice sense of closure to the blog, and at the moment the blog has ended in the same manner as the final episodes reviewed – finishing it with this kind of post seems more apt.

    If not, thanks again Mike.

    • Yeah, I’d love for this blog to continue, even in subtle and quiet ways.. would definitely love to hear Mike’s fav. episodes/fav characters/fav quotes/why the series has meant so much to Mike/things like that, but we’ll see…

  17. Personally, the TRUE guest-stars worth rolling out the red carpet for are the one-time characters from past seasons who we rarely here about again. Nice characters who actually befriend the Simpsons, like Herb Powell, Samantha Stankey, Mindy Simmons, Lurleen Lumpkin, Mona Simpson, Allison Taylor, Alex Whitney, Hank Scorpio, Wally Kogan, Ray Magini, Charlie (Orphan), Juliet Hobbes, Laura Powers, Jesse Grass, Mr. Bergstrom, Stacey Swanson, etc.

    But if Fox were to bring them back, they would just ruin them. It has happened before!
    -Herb Powell: “I’m poor again”
    -Ling Bouvier: Older for no reason; “Help me…”.
    -Mary Spuckler: Just watch “Moonshine River” and “Love is a Many-Splintered Thing”

  18. This blog has been great and I’m sad to know it’s finished. Thanks for the great work, Mike!

  19. I loved this post. I’m glad you don’t mindlessly love them.

  20. Out of curiosity, and if someone still comes here, does anyone know what episode this is from:

    ???

    One site said it is from Three Men and a Comic Book, but it does not seem to be on my DVD set of Season 2.

    • Hmm… interesting. According to snpp (which may or may not be the site you visited), that clip was indeed at the end of ‘Three Men and a Comic Book’, but on the third airing only – which makes sense, as that was the same day The Cosby Show had its finale. Not sure how to confirm that, though.

      Just one of the many miscellaneous Simpsons clips that was never attached to a DVD release, it seems.

  21. I can’t believe I read the whole thing!

  22. Lisa goes Gaga is to me the worst! episode! ever!

    It turns Lisa the conscience of the simpsons into just another prop up for celebrity worship, indeed Lisa’s rather feeble “I denounce thee!” sort of feels like the last gasp of her old self, having a very slight stab at cryticising the easy answers mentality of manufactured pop stars.

    Oh, but Gaga gets her to sing an airhead pop song and it’s all okay. The Simpsons used to be good satyr, it used to lampoon every aspect of society from government, celebrity, education, family rolls, you name it, Simpsons had a go at it.

    Now, The simpsons is sort of a morality tale in favour of order, indeed they seem to be antiheroes in their own show, the bad family down the street who need bringing into line with propper popular culture, (check out the earth stood cool for yet more of this).

    I had been taling off in interest, but Gaga clinched it for me.

    Worst! episode! ever!

  23. At this point in the series, it really feels like the writers don’t even have a basic understanding of the fundamental principles of screenwriting or humor. Everything is just so poorly done, from pacing to dialogue to story-structure. It’s bad, yeah, but worse than that, it’s completely inept.

    I have to wonder what goes through the voice-actors on this once-great show at this point. I have a hunch: During the first contract renegotiation after the “classic” years had ended, they probably discussed amongst themselves: do we call it a day now, or do we see this thing out until it gets cancelled. Obviously, they went with the latter option, likely figuring (1) the show couldn’t get much worse and even if it did, (2) it couldn’t have more than a few seasons left anyway.

    Well, turns out they were completely wrong on both counts. So a few more years go by and it’s contract renegotiation time again. At this point, the show has been utterly abysmal for six, seven years. Yet Fox wants to continue paying them millions and millions of dollars. You have to think of it this way: Whether the show stops at season 21 or season 81, it will be remembered as “Eight or nine seasons were some of the best television and after that, it was shit for a really long time.” Does it make a difference if that “really long time” is 20 years instead of 15? Of course not. There’s nothing left to preserve at this point, nothing left to salvage, so why not just go along with it and collect their millions?

    That’s my guess, anyway….

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