Original airdate: November 3, 2013
The premise: A funeral sparks four threadbare stories about regrets: Mr. Burns of his lost love, Kent Brockman of his dead end career, Marge believing her prenatal habits led to Bart’s bad behavior, and Homer of a failed stock investment.
The reaction: So here we get four stories going on at once that feebly connect at the end, but none of them are really the least bit meaningful or engaging whatsoever. Everyone just sort of explains to camera their problems and we go from there. There’s no real order, so I guess I’ll start with Burns, here a neutered pussycat pining for the one that got away, a Parisian girl who wouldn’t marry him because he’s evil. So he tracks her down, turns out she’s a Buddhist monk for some reason, and then they’re back together, for some reason, and then she dies. For some reason. And he fulfills her wish for him to spend five minutes a day doing good deeds, because he’s a limp-wristed pushover. Or he likes being good? I’d bitch about this being anti-Burns, but what’s the point? Next up, Brockman’s old colleague Rachel Maddow shows up, and then it’s just nonstop exposition of explaining their past and saying out loud exactly what they’re feeling and thinking. Kent goes to New York to interview at FOX News, but can’t stoop so low, so he returns home. The other two plots are minor in comparison; Marge worries that her listening to KISS music while pregnant made Bart out of control? How did they come up with that? I’m shocked they didn’t use this as an excuse to get Gene Simmons to do a voice. And then Homer’s one joke about buying stock in bowling balls instead of Apple becomes an entire D-plot. In the end, some of the plots come together kind of. Bart’s latest stunt puts him in danger, Kent reports on it, and Homer’s bowling ball saves him. Boy, what fun. All in all, it just felt like a worse version of that “500 Keys” show a few seasons ago. This series just astounds me in that they just keep getting more and more terrible. It’s like a slight but steady decline to an unknown bottom.
Three items of note:
– This episode aired a week or so after Marcia Wallace’s death, so we get a sweet tribute at the beginning with Bart writing on the chalkboard, “We’ll Really Miss You, Mrs. K.” I remember, it was a real bummer finding out she died, and despite my clearly established hatred for this show now, I feel bad for the writers. They did the whole Nedna thing, and I was stunned that they actually utilized those two together a handful of times over the last season or two, even coming into play as the resolution of a story in that one with Lisa’s bitchy substitute. But now, for reasons outside anyone’s control, Ned is a widower twice over. We will miss you indeed, Ms. Wallace. You were the greatest apathetic teacher we ever had.
– Homer’s story is honestly so fucking terrible, maybe one of the worst things the show’s done as of late. So we flash back to Homer’s big regret: he invests in bowling balls and dumps his Apple stock (“You heard me! Technology is a fad! Heavy blue balls are the future!”) Easy joke, and one I’m sure the show has made in the past, but alright, fine. As a one-off gag, I’m fine with it. Following that, Lovejoy for whatever reason calls for his congregation to “text on our ubiquitous Apple tablets and phones” and we see everyone on their devices. Homer bemoans on how he missed out, then Burns claims that he bought Homer’s stocks those years ago. Like, how much longer can they prolong this joke? After the act break, Burns steps in again to shout how much his Apple stock rose to further annoy Homer. Then later on, I was surprised that this was actually a mini-plot, as we see Homer trying to return the bowling ball, only to find it closed to prepare for a new Apple store. Later on, as Homer’s bowling ball is being used for the big dumb ending, Lou talks about Apple’s stock rising again, the same damn joke Burns did before. Then they do it again as Homer floats away, Lenny yells, “Homer’s rising faster than Apple stock!” I guess even the writers realized this was ridiculous, so they have text on the screen: “This is the last time we will kiss up to Apple. We’re not even getting paid for this.” An easy, one-off joke just became a hot-and-heavy dick sucking session for Apple. The only joke is that Apple is so great! Also, whatever happened to Mapple? That parody was so brilliant, why wouldn’t they reuse that? You know why.
– I can’t hate that Homer plot line enough; they also ripped themselves off again with the sweet montage set to “Memories” of Homer saying goodbye to an old friend. In “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love,” Homer bids adieu to his fat gut, and we see all the sweet moments of him using it to bounce Maggie up and down, balance a bowl of snacks lying in the pool, etc. His jolly fatness and gluttony is a firmly established part of his character, we get it. Here, they have a montage of the great times Homer’s had with this bowling ball, an object we were briefly introduced to eight minutes before this scene. Who cares?
One good line/moment: The Hobbit couch gag was fun. It falls into the trappings of the show just referencing rather than actually parodying, but it was still a nice little sequence, certainly leagues better than anything in the episode itself.