570. Peeping Mom

(I paused at just the right frame to catch this animation mistake. Creepy eyeless Marge grabbing a scared Bart, that sounds like an interesting Treehouse of Horror.)

Original airdate: April 19, 2015

The premise:
After a rampage with a bulldozer that Bart may or may not have been responsible for, Marge takes to watching her son like a hawk, following him everywhere he goes. Meanwhile, Flanders gets a new dog.

The reaction: This has got to be one of the worst episodes in a while; it’s one of those shows where it feels like literally nothing is happening, because literally nothing is happening. The story is so razor thin, I can’t believe they managed to stretch this shit to twenty minutes. We start with Chief Wiggum laying blame on Bart for a bulldozer rampage with no reason or evidence. Marge asks what happened with the bulldozer. Bart deflects and doesn’t commit to an answer. That exchange is repeated, no joke, at least seven times through the show. And neither party really pushes past this, especially Marge, who you think would be more proactive in asking for an explanation or figuring out through other means what happened. But if she did any of that, we wouldn’t have our hilarious story, where Marge follows Bart to school, to his hiding spot in the woods, when he sneaks out at night, all culminating in her asking about the bulldozer over and over. By the time she throws her hands up and says she’s done with Bart, we’re fourteen minutes in, and we’ve gotten absolutely nowhere from minute two. After commercial break, we see Bart is scheming to “prank” the Springfield sign rechristening by tearing down most of the letters with a bulldozer. So, after setting up that we should be wondering whether or not Bart was guilty or not, they just openly show you he is. But maybe he’s not? Surely this is some kind of bait and switch? Maybe? Also, what kind of a prank is this? He’s going to change ‘SPRINGFIELD’ to ‘FIE,’ as in the olde English term for expressing disgust. What a stretch. At the event, seated in the bulldozer, Bart has a change of heart, reunites with his mom, and then finally admits he did the bulldozer thing. And then is arrested. I can’t even call this storytelling lazy, because it literally didn’t even try. Was it too much to ask for some kind of twist, like Bart was forced to do it, or he was protecting someone and didn’t want to say, or some kind of subversion as to why he was so guarded and didn’t want to admit it. But why bother doing that? The first two-thirds are positing whether Bart did something, then we immediately told visually that he did it, and then at the very end, he admits he did it. Rousing, isn’t it? This one isn’t as aggressively terrible as other episodes we’ve seen, but it’s definitely going to stick in my mind as one of the worst just from a complete lack of giving a shit.

Three items of note:
– Because Marge can only ask Bart about the bulldozer so many times, we have a B-plot to pad things out. Flanders gets a small little dog, but is saddened that he seems to have a greater bond with Homer. When he sadly gives the dog away to him, Homer refuses, seeing that his neighbor could really use the pick-me-up. And that’s it. Just as bare bones as the main plot. This applies to a lot of the episode, but especially this B-plot, there didn’t even seem to be a lot of jokes in it. Like, not even failed attempts at jokes (see: 98% of the show’s humor now), just bits of the dog being cute and Homer having fun with it, and then at the end, Homer has an internal monologue explaining why he won’t accept the dog. We just saw that with Lisa in “Pay Pal,” and I think one or two other times, even in situations where a character can’t talk out loud to themselves to describe what they’re feeling and are about to do, the writers still find a way: if they can exposit it out loud, they can just think it! Brilliant!
– Bart dons a ninja outfit to skateboard in the middle of the night, and Marge follows suit in her own ninja outfit. As does Maggie. Then we get a boring chase montage, that for some reason, is set to what sounds like a rearrangement of the theme from the Simpsons arcade game. We also get a lame duck joke of Bart skating by the cast of characters he does in the opening titles (almost) every week, and after he leaves, Moe gives the all clear and they all funnel into Moe’s. Never mind why all these characters would be there at night, who cares? Are you feeling serviced, fans?
– The ending is such fucking shit. Right before he’s about to pull back on the bulldozer, Bart finds a tupperware of chicken and a sweet note from Marge, making him reconsider his plan. But just seeing that isn’t enough. We get a thought bubble of the two hugging before the Springfield sign, then the letters drop and Marge is devastated. Did we really need to be told that Marge wouldn’t like that Bart did this “prank”? So instead of just not doing it, he changes plans, instead leaving only the letters “FD,” which the mindless crowd ends up thinking is for the Fire Department. Why is that any better? If anything, it destroyed even more letters than “FIE.” And a giant letter also crushed Mayor Quimby. But Marge is still pleased anyway; she’s pissed when Bart admits the truth, but is placated by a hug anyway. My God, this episode is a huge piece of shit.

One good line/moment: That screenshot above. One single frame, that’s all this episode is good for.

16 responses to “570. Peeping Mom

  1. Aaron Grierson

    Love how you chose a screenshot where Marge has no eyes, perfectly exemplifying the laziness of Zombie Simpsons animators

    • Let’s not forget that the show is actually animated in South Korea. The fault should really be on the animation checker(s) when it gets back from overseas.

      • This shitfest of a show is now created and animated all digitally. They could have seen it (this HD look is so flat that is impossible not to notice) and fixed it with a single fucking click. Jesus Christ..

  2. Ererrrrrrrrrrrr

    Yeah, this episode sucks. Seems like they love Marge repeatedly insisting stuff on people (i.e. the “water on fire” bit in “Opposites A-Frack”) despite the irritatingness to us, and the whole Marge not caring for Bart bit was done better in “Bart the Mother”.

    And a new candidate for worst thing I’ve heard on this show: “I’ve suddenly gained a conciense!”. So lazy. So. Fucking. LAAAAZY.

  3. ‘SPRINGFIELD’ could have been beaten into BORINGFIELD with pretty minimal effort. That sounds more like something that would appeal to a non-bookworm ten-year-old than, ugh, ‘FIE.’

    • In no universe would Bart think the work Fie was funny. Yes, If he had to prank something with the signs, he would more likely paper over some of the letters to spell, yes, something like BORINGFIELD or SUCKINGFIELD and wouldn’t have to go through the trouble of manning a freaking bulldozer to do it.

      Honestly, I would have forgiven the episode if the prank had some sort of payoff, but this was extremely lazy in every respect.

      It was an absolutely failed attempt to remake “Marge Be Not Proud”

  4. I think this is the first episode about Marge-Bart’s relationship of the HD Era. Thank God it’s the last one (so far).

  5. I caught this episode midway through on TV one day. I watched it to the end to see what the show was like now, and figured I had to be missing something. There was no way the plot was that simplistic and boring.

    Turns out I was wrong. How awful. What a shitty fucking script and show.

  6. This was probably already pointed out, but the irony that it’s called Peeping Mom and they didn’t draw her eyes.

  7. Kaiju no Kami

    Now hold on a minute, wasn’t that scene of marge above when she was blinking? And does it really matter if it is one still? What about all of the animation errors in everything else? What about all of the animation errors in the early Simpsons days? Well, whatever.

    This episode was pretty awful, but it could have been worse. It’s still far better than “Homer’s Paternity Coot.”

    • Are you really comparing the old animations mistakes to the modern ones? Do you even know the difference of process between the hard exhausting and multilayered hand drawn animation and the cheap, quick, lazy and easy digital animation?
      Nope, you don’t. But I bet ignorance never stopped you from talking about something.

    • Well, by Beebo’s logic, any modern animated show in this day and age is lazy for digitally-coloring hand-drawn animation, no matter how good they look or how fluidly they are animated, even if it’s Wander Over Yonder, Star vs. the Forces of Evil, or Amphibia. I’m sorry this isn’t the 1990s anymore!

  8. FIE? Seriously? Why not knock down SPR, G, and part of D (make it look L-ish), push FI close together (sorta kinda resemble an H) so it says “in hell”? Still a big stretch but at least makes sense as a 10 year old’s attempt at vandalism.

    (Except the entire bulldozer part, but we’ve clearly already conceded that point.)

  9. I remember my first time watching Peeping Mom. It could have been way more interesting if Marge actually tried to look for evidence that there wasn’t before that Bart caused the bulldozer crash. It was really ambiguous. I half-expected this to turn out like Dark Knight Court where it wasn’t Bart who did it, but Peeping Mom really surprised me with how long it could have nothing happen before the sudden plot jump to reveal Bart was hiding the bulldozer scheme from Marge the whole time. FIE to such a lack of substance! I also didn’t like how stalker-y Marge was to Bart (especially in that creepy eyeless photo), and her controlling what Bart ate at the cafeteria.

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