519. The Changing of the Guardian

Original airdate: January 27, 2013

The premise:
After surviving a tornado, Homer and Marge seek out legal guardians for the kids in the event of a catastrophe. Their search ends when they find a seemingly ideal couple, a surfer and an environmental lawyer, but they’re soon shocked to find they actually want to steal the kids away from them.

The reaction: Homer and Marge are driven into a panic over who will take care of the kids if they die, a pretty big decision (as openly expressed by both Marge and Lisa in the episode), that is handled with a weird levity, like the two trying to scope out a couple to swing with. They start with family members: Grampa is out, we get four seconds of Danny DeVito on the phone as Herb Powell (why bother?), and Patty & Selma are written off pretty quickly for some reason because they’ve turned Ling into an overworked overachieving toddler (she’s no longer an infant now, apparently she ages at the speed of the octuplets). They then visit the likes of Cletus, and Julio and the guy who tried to kiss Homer, which I know are supposed to be gags, but honestly, it throws the severity of the situation out the window when it looks like they’re just trying to get a ‘yes’ out of anyone in town, regardless if they’re responsible enough to raise children. Which leads to them trawling the affluent beach side of Springfield that I guess exists, scoping out rich childless couples. Who better to trust with your children’s lives than strangers? Upon meeting super couple Mav and Portia, after dinner that night, Marge proposes the idea of them becoming the kids’ guardians. I understand the point is that they’re rushing into it because they’re concerned, but it just feels super weird. I feel like Marge would want to do a thorough background check on these people, dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’ before she gave them legal right to her precious babies. Instead, one day is enough, I guess. Mav and Portia ask if they can watch the kids for the weekend, and then all of a sudden we cut to a few weeks later after Homer and Marge have enjoyed some extended couples time together. The two are then shocked to find a portrait of Mav, Portia and the kids in a shop window, believing they want to take custody now. So, what’s going on here? Have they really not seen the kids in weeks? Or talked to them on the phone? The final confrontation of the two couples is probably the most limp-wristed climax I’ve seen from this show. Mav and Portia claim they fell in love with the kids, and it seemed like Homer and Marge couldn’t be bothered taking care of them. Which, from what we’ve seen, seems to be true; Homer and Marge had no problem letting strangers watch their kids for weeks on end with seemingly no communication between them. Mav and Portia also claim to have gone to “little league games and recitals” as well; where the fuck were Homer and Marge for those? Then, Bart and Lisa walk in and say they don’t want them as their new parents. Were they privy to any of this conversation? Or wondering where Homer and Marge were? What is happening? Then Mav and Portia just give up and walk out of their own house. The scene ends with Homer triumphantly shouting “We won!” Then giving a half-hearted “Woo-hoo.” That seems incredibly indicative of the writers’ true emotions. A barely thought out ending to a jumbled mess of an episode.

Three items of note:
– The first act involving the tornado is pretty terrible. Kicked off in perhaps the worst instance of characters just randomly showing up places, Lenny and Carl knock on the Simpson basement window to check in. Like, what the fuck are they doing there? Apparently they’re amateur storm chasers, so Homer and Marge go with them to try to find Santa’s Little Helper. And it makes total sense of Marge to leave her kids alone during a natural disaster, to go with them “to make sure no one does anything stupid.” Solid plan, Marge. Homer and Marge’s lives are endangered when an entire bank falls onto them, leaving them trapped between the revolving doors. The tension seems to be that they may never get out, not that an entire fucking building fell onto them and they could have been straight up crushed. But a glass cutter arrives later on and everything seems to be fine. But not after Wiggum takes a shot directly at Homer and Marge’s faces, only to find it to be bulletproof glass. How hilarious would that have been if they were actually shot in the face?
– This episode has two interminably elongated “gags.” First, some asinine discussion about what women find desirable between Homer, Lenny and Carl ends with the three holding one note for as long as they can to see who is most deserving of Marge. Or something like that. Twenty seconds feels like twenty hours. Second is where Homer and Marge find out everyone in town is avoiding them because they’ve heard they’re on the lookout for guardians. Crowds in the town square disperse around them as they walk back and forth, around and around in circles. We get three beats of them running into people and them running and hiding, that should be enough to get the joke. But then they drag it on for thirty more seconds.
– There’s a joke midway through the episode that feels really sad to me. The whole family are driving to search for new guardians, and Homer explains to the kids what their plan is for the first time. As he’s speaking, he hits a walrus in the middle of the road, the car flies through the air, hits a hand glider, then hits the road and keeps going. No one acknowledges it, no one cares, it’s like it never happened. Homer could have literally gotten everyone in the car killed with his recklessness, while having a conversation about taking precautions in case he and Marge die. And the fact that no one says a word about it means this is just a normal thing that happens that we shouldn’t even question, and that’s a little sad to me. But then again, I’m not the least bit surprised either.

One good line/moment: I got nothing this time. Anytime I have to scan back through the episode trying to see if I forgot anything I liked is normally a sign that there wasn’t anything worth noting.

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5 responses to “519. The Changing of the Guardian

  1. Something that shocked me in this episode was the couch gag. It lasted 5/6 seconds, I would never expect that.

  2. Definitely one of the worst episodes. I feel like Classic or even Season 12 Simpsons would’ve done something with this premise.

  3. SpiderHyphenMan

    Oh hey, we’re starting the Simpsums episodes. That’s neat. Sorry you’re still doing this to yourself, I guess.

  4. Kaiju no Kami

    I don’t think this is one of the worst episodes ever, especially since I rememeber this episode over others, it’s just that a lot of it doesn’t really work.

    • Yeah, it doesn’t sound like we’re in “worst episode list” territory in that there’s nothing actively infuriating or offensive about this one. It’s merely completely empty and unfunny.

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