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
(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
(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
(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
(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
(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.