Original airdate: October 4, 2015
The premise: Homer’s amazing new smoker catches the attention of a celebrity chef, who challenges him on his show. But when the smoker ends up stolen, Bart and Lisa try to track down the culprit.
The reaction: Bart and Lisa teaming up to right a wrong was a staple of the show back in the day, enough that they eventually lampooned themselves with the ending of “The Day the Violence Died.” I can’t remember if that was the last time they pulled that card, but here we are, twenty years later, and for whatever reason, we’re doing it again, but this time, much, much, much worse. We start with the Simpson family becoming town pariahs because of their stench, due to their horribly in disrepair washing machine. Rather than buy a new one, Homer blows a bunch of money on a barbecue smoker off some guy cooking on the side of the highway for some reason. Marge is momentarily cross, but soon the whole family, and later everyone in town, is won over by Homer’s new magical BBQ. Marge comments, “Look how popular we are! That smoker is the best thing that ever happened to us!” She says this while wearing her old wedding dress; the family is dressed in various outfits through the whole episode. As this stupid plot continues to transpire, Marge becomes cheerleader to the rest of the family over this stupid smoker, which she seems to care more about than actually having clean clothes and a functioning washing machine. So, loudmouth celeb chef Scotty Boom shows up to their backyard to challenge Homer, then later the smoker is stolen. This kicks off Bart and Lisa’s sleuthing: they find a clue that leads them to the supermarket, then to Nelson, then to the dump, where everything plays out like a straight-forward mystery, instead of focusing on jokes like the show used to do. When we get to the competition, it’s revealed Scotty Boom cooked his meat using the smoker, disqualifying him. But the show’s not over yet, and things don’t add up. The final minutes are absolutely awful: Bart and Lisa chase down the shadowy figure they saw earlier, which is revealed to be Boom’s son. He immediately explains who he is, why he wanted to sabotage his dad, and how he did it; it’s just like a giant info dump from this character we’ve just met. Then he and his dad immediately make up. Bart and Lisa mystery stories were never really like serious mysteries, they always served a greater story purpose. Trying to reunite Krusty with his father, saving Springfield from a tyrannical Sideshow Bob, finding out who took their dad’s stupid smoker. Which of these three doesn’t belong?
Three items of note:
– The episode begins with Skinner screening a movie for the kids, Doctor Doolittle. They show the actual live action film on the screen; we see several clips of it, and hear the kids making commentary, for a good two minutes. What the hell is all this about? Where did this idea come from? It just felt so, so weird. It just kept going and going, what’s the point? The movie is boring? Did one of the writers have a serious vendetta toward Doctor Doolittle? There was no opening titles, we went from the clouds straight to the first scene, so apparently this shit was deemed too good to leave on the cutting room floor.
– Homer spends all of act two lying on the floor depressed about the missing smoker, and by act three Bart and Lisa join him, having just given up on their mystery solving. Marge must now carry this plot, so she competes against Scotty Boom in Homer’s place. Again, it’s incredibly strange seeing her completely tied into this premise given that we’ve completely dropped the washing machine plot thread. If anything, Homer’s impulsive, irrational purchase over a household necessity feels like a greater marital deal breaker for Marge than not buying narcolepsy medication from last episode. But it just goes to show, stuff like this doesn’t matter anymore. The characters will act in whatever fashion the writers want them too, regardless of the scenario.
– They wait until over the credits to show Marge giving the smoker to Nelson in exchange for a new washing machine. What’s that about? Then we look into the future of the smoker at he and Shauna’s wedding, then a post apocalyptic future where the grown up kids are violently killed by a pack of warthogs… What the fuck is this shit?
One good line/moment: At the health food store, a clerk swaps out a “Nature’s Superfood” sign from pushing acai berries to goji berries.