460. The Squirt and the Whale

squirtandthewhaleOriginal airdate: April 25, 2010

The premise: A massive wind storm in Springfield causes a whale to become beached onto shore. Lisa of course takes a vested interest, but any effort to move the creature comes up short. When the whale dies, Lisa is crestfallen, before realizing there are baby whales to protect, currently being hunted by a troupe of sharks.

The reaction: As usual, there’s so little plot here. We don’t even get to the whale until literally the halfway mark, once we get through the show’s take/promotion of wind powered energy. The joke? Once there’s no more wind, there’s no more power! There really just isn’t anything here. They try to move the whale, it dies, we see Lisa is sad over a long montage, then she sees the baby whales. Homer inexplicably appears from nowhere to help Lisa, then some environmentalists block them, also coming from nowhere, looking to protect the sharks, because all sea creatures’ lives are equal. This one piece of dialogue causes Lisa to have a random change of heart, as illustrated by a push-in on her face during said dialogue. Then some stupid shit with Homer in danger, and a gigantic fucking whale picking him up out of the water and safely back in his own boat with no one acknowledging how fucking bizarre and crazy that is. Just another wacky day in Springfield!

Three items of note:
– The Energy Expo at the beginning is so sad. This is the kind of set piece you would relish in the early years, full of joke after joke after joke. I remember the similar energy convention from “Last Temptation of Homer,” with Hans Moleman’s solar energy booth being ransacked by big oil, and the subtitle of SNPP’s booth, “As Seen on 60 Minutes.” What jokes do we have here? Kid power by Ralph? Burp power by Barney? Really, guys? That’s the best you could come up with?
– Even with the main story as compressed as it is, we get so much useless time filler: Lisa’s dream of the whale being free, the town blowing up the whale and harvesting it for profit, and Lisa’s montage of being sad about the whale, in case you forgot that she was, I guess.
– I think Dead Homers pointed this out when it aired, but it’s pretty extraordinary. Homer’s being encircled by sharks, this is our “drama” portion of the show. Then in the next shot, Lisa and the environmentalists shout some stuff to him, and we see the sharks start swimming away. Yeah, they’re just leaving. What? And why is no one acknowledging this? Then Homer gets hit with a bucket and starts bleeding and the sharks come back. Couldn’t they have made this into a coherent gag? Like the sharks notice something else and start to leave, they try and throw Homer something to hold onto, he gets hit and starts bleeding, which attract the sharks back. Instead, it’s like no one’s even paying attention to the show they’re making. It’s really bizarre…

One good line/moment: Lisa pushes away Homer’s harpoon at the last moment, causing it to strike a seagull in the distance. It doesn’t just get killed, it literally explodes into a puff of feathers. It’s so quick and bizarrely violent, that it’s kinda great.

9 responses to “460. The Squirt and the Whale

  1. Robert Canning gave this episode an 9.3 out of 10 on IGN. Is he delusional, or just lacking in perspective?

  2. I liked this one. Especially the ending with the drawings of the story Homer told them while the whales were leaving. It was a sweet moment that I haven’t seen in the series in quite some time.

  3. Two things in this episode stood out to me:
    The animation during Lisa’s whale dream (come on, it was pretty gorgeous)
    And the way they had a silence when Lisa found Bluella dead. It was surprisingly emotional…. but then they completely ruined it.

  4. There was an attempt to make this one into a sincere episode, maybe something about nature vs man or the inevitability of death. I can understand why some people like this one because its heart is in the right place, but the writer clearly didn’t have the chops (or didn’t want to put forth the effort) to really sell it. The green energy expo was so vapid that I completely forgot it happened.

    The ending is really, really stupid. The DHS said it best: “Isn’t falling into the ocean from a magically conjured motorboat, getting hit in the head by a bucket (why a bucket?), and then being saved from sharks by riding a whale at least as bankrupt an idea as having a leather jacketed stunt double on water skies jump over a pen that has stock footage of a shark inside of it?”

    “Riding the Whale” might have been the new shark jump if it aired 10 or so years earlier.

  5. I like this one too. Probably one of the best Homer/Lisa stories in years, as it’s nice to see him trying to do things right just to make Lisa happy. Definitely a much more likable approach that we’ve seen as of late.

    Best part of the episode is easily Bart asking God to make some wind in exchange of prayers, then the storm happens, and the next morning Homer is reading the newspaper and the headline reads: “Storm Batters Town: Meteorologists Suspect Child’s Prayer”

  6. I liked this episode, the other posters on here said it best but mostly Mike as well, esp. about DHS comments/thoughts on this one.

  7. My favorite line is Homer’s “From now on, the Simpsons are living… intermittently.”

    But yeah, not a good one. What bothers me most (like everyone else’s comments, I stole this from DHS) is that the blowing-up-the-whale scene was lifted from an actual event in Oregon in 1970. As always, way to be timely. And there’s the fact that it’s both less funny and less dramatic than the original material.

  8. “I remember the similar energy convention from “Last Temptation of Homer,” with Hans Moleman’s solar energy booth being ransacked by big oil, and the subtitle of SNPP’s booth, “As Seen on 60 Minutes.” What jokes do we have here? Kid power by Ralph? Burp power by Barney? Really, guys? That’s the best you could come up with?”
    Ah, for the days when Homer yelling and throwing bricks was actually funny.

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