The premise: The Simpsons get a new neighbor, and Bart suspects that he might be Sideshow Bob in disguise. But when none of his plans to expose him work, and Marge takes him to confirm that Bob is indeed still in prison, his concerns are placated… but it turns out that he was right all along.
The reaction: As I’ve said many times before, season 8’s “Brother From Another Series” feels like the final Bob episode to me. But beyond that, season 19’s “Funeral for a Fiend” also felt like a second capper, where Bob fakes his own death, and ends with his wife, son, brother and parents all behind bars. But there’s still more of that dead horse to beat yet! So the idea of Bob assuming his prison cellmate’s identity when he was up for parole and posing as him isn’t that bad, I suppose; a lot of the episode just plays out by-the-numbers, checking off all of the Bob staples. But the faces peeling off… my God… and between the operation and both characters having their faces fall off, it’s just relentless grossness. I guess it’s trying to be shocking, but it ends up feeling like a Treehouse of Horror bit with no punchline. Wrap it all up with an irony-free Bob scheme to ultimately do Bart in which makes no sense, and we have yet another completely lifeless Bob outing.
Three items of note:
– Bart’s flashbacks to previous Bob episodes where he recognizes his neighbor’s memorable voice are kind of odd, since they’re fullscreen and not in HD. Also, it, of course, makes me wish I was watching those other episodes.
– The guard instigating the prisoners lewd cat calls felt kind of awkward considering Marge had Bart in tow with her. The convicts immediately backing off when Marge announced she was married made me smirk, but it’s a joke that was executed a lot better in “Marge on the Lam.” (“Listen, baby, I always get what I want.” “I said no!” “Oh, did you? I completely misunderstood, please accept our apologies.”)
– Bob’s scheme of police jurisdiction not being able to cross at the five corners already doesn’t make any sense, but then at the end, the cops that cuff him just walk across two lines. It really does feel like no one’s paying attention at all when they’re making this show, which I guess they expect no one in the audience is either.
One good line/moment: Marge criticizes the clarity of Walt/Bob’s warnings on the prison wall, to which he replies, “I’m not a writer.” Homer follows it up, “And I’m not a locksmith!” and proceeds to pry a door open with a shovel.