577. Puffless

Original airdate: October 11, 2015

The premise:
After finding out their father died of lung cancer, Patty and Selma decide to finally give up smoking, but this of course is easier said than done. Meanwhile, Maggie has a solo adventure with some happy little animal friends.

The reaction: For whatever reason, we’ve never really known all that much about Marge’s father. Outside of “The Way We Was” and “Fear of Flying,” there’s barely been any mention of him at all. It sure would be nice to learn some more about the Bouviers, but at this point, I don’t really expect much of anything from this show anymore. Case in point: Jacqueline Bouvier finally admits to her children that their father died of lung cancer, and never told Patty and Selma about it because smoking made them look cool. And that’s the end of the discussion. Does this sound normal to you? So this is seemingly a Patty and Selma episode, something we haven’t seen in a long time, but thanks to a time consuming B-plot, there’s really not much to it at all. After they go cold turkey, we get a scene of them at the DMV, and it actually wasn’t that bad. Seeing these two characters talk to each other and going through a story was novel, and I wanted to see more. Turns out Selma quickly went back to smoking, then we get a quick cut of Patty leaving to live with the Simpsons. After that, we have Selma alone in the apartment as she exposits to herself what her dilemma is and what she has to do (“Who am I kidding? The one I should be talking to is the one who’s always been there for me.” “Looks like I have a choice to make.”) As we get to the second half, their story’s time is monopolized by our side plot of Maggie hanging with cute little animals and trying to save a possum from Cletus. Titled “Maggie’s Extraordinary Animal Adventure” and with its own chapter title cards, they’re clearly trying to make a new “The Longest Daycare,” but that just makes it feel that much more derivative. It’s kinda cute, I guess, but almost completely bereft of laughs. The climax involving the troupe fighting a big dog is just a fight scene; no subversion, no twist, no real gags, it’s just straight forward and boring. It’s odd that in an episode featuring a major life change with two important secondary characters, we get this completely isolated B-plot to eat up as much time as possible. Considering Patty and Selma are harder to write for (ergo why we see them so infrequently), I guess it shouldn’t be so surprising. And by the end, none of it matters: the two go back to smoking in the last scene, for no real reason other than they have to. Status quo forever!!

Three items of note:
– Selma’s daughter Ling continues to be nothing more than an easily forgotten prop. Our last Selma show featured her marriage to Fat Tony, where she barely appeared whatsoever. Here, we see Selma feeling sad and lonely in her apartment without Patty, so her solution is to phone up some booty calls. Wouldn’t it make sense to have part of them wanting to give up smoking because it would be less endangering to Ling? But again, out of sight, out of mind. We see her at Jacqueline’s birthday party, and then not at all afterwards. Even worse, we see her in the photographs that Selma is longing for, but her name doesn’t even leave her mouth in talking out loud to herself. They might as well have figured out some way to write her out of the show considering they keep neglecting to acknowledge her.
– At Jacqueline’s birthday party, Mr. Burns randomly shows up to woo her over, with celebrity guest Yo-Yo Ma. Shortly after that, he admits that he only wanted to cock block Abe and leaves. Does this count as fan service? If you hadn’t seen “Lady Bouvier’s Lover,” what would you make of this bit?
– When Homer accidentally walks into the shower on Patty, he freaks out and pours bleach into his eyes. Later, he does the same to Bart as he’s about to walk in. He does this about two more times, and then he also pours bleach into his ears too. I guess this got big laughs, or something. Heh heh heh… well, you all know what laughter sounds like.

One good line/moment: I did get a surprise laugh out of the randomness of the parrot among the critters being Duffman’s. Although they do a gag at the end where he returns talking like Cletus, and Duffman calls him a cracker. What’s that about? Is Duffman not “white”? I just assumed he was just super bronze/tanned.

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18 responses to “577. Puffless

  1. Did you ever say anything about “The Longest Daycare”? I don’t remember reading your thoughts on it.

    • What is The Longest Daycare? I don’t remember that episode.

      • The animated short attached to The Simpsons Movie

      • James M: You mean attached to “Ice Age: Continental Drift”. The short didn’t come out until 2012, five years after The Simpsons Movie.

        I liked it, but wasn’t crazy about it.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        Never saw Ice Age 3, so I never saw the short.

    • Yeah, I didn’t do a post on Longest Daycare since I didn’t have all that much to say on it. It’s a sweet little short, but there’s nothing really that special about it. I do wish I’d seen it in 3D though, I don’t think it ever got a stereo release.

  2. This is a long shot, but does anyone remember the April Fool’s joke that circulated on the internet in the ’90s about how there was a supposedly banned episode that tackled the tobacco companies, and Patty and Selma were a big part of the plot for obvious reasons? Anyway, that fake episode sounds more interesting than this one.

  3. This was the most forced resolution until the episode “Dad Behavio” debuts. At least the subplot was satisfactory.

    I’m really looking forward to the review of the next episode (hopefully not negative).

    • Aaron Grierson

      Yeah, Halloween of Horror is one of the best HD episodes. I like how Skinner reduces Bart’s pirate costume to nothing more than a baby’s costume (no weapons, bandana is gang wear, eye patch is insult to half-blind people, must wear “PRETEND” banner in case any child is scared of pirates, even though no one can tell)
      Far from fantastic, but satisfying and funny enough.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        Sadly I expect Mike to hate it, but it’s cool. I think it is hands down the best episode of the entire franchise since 24 Minute and is as good as any Season 9 episode.

      • + Kaijy no Kami

        The best episode since “24 Minutes” I agree, since not even “24 Minutes” was that good, only well directed, but it made no sense and it was not funny; same with “Halloween of Horror”, but may be better than 24.

        But “as good as any Season 9 episode”? Season 9 it’s the start of the fall but it’s still The Simpsons in many ways; “Halloween of Horror” is just a piece of turd that stink less than many other turds of the last 20years.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        Sorry, I can’t agree there at all Di Ed. 24 Minutes was a phenomenal episode as was Halloween of Horror. I would gladly trade in half of Season 9 for just those two episodes, especialy Bart Carny, the one where Homer buys a gun, Simpson Tide, The Joy of Sect, The Last Temptation of Krust, and The Trouble with Trillions. Those two episodes are not even close to being turds and are right up there with Homer vs The City of New York, The Princial and the Pauper, and Lisa’s Sax in my book.

        Maybe it is because I am a huge horror movie fan, and hearing Homer whistle the Halloween theme was badass. Or maybe it was the previously mentioned bit with Skinner taking apart Bart’s costume. There was also the scene where they had to shut down the entire haunted park due to Lisa. Oh, and the adult Halloween stuff. Although, there was also the hilarious bit about seasonal employees (given that I worked in retail for 5 years).

        Well whatever the reason, I couldn’t stop laughing my ass off during that episode and rewatched it several times until I had to delete it from my DVR. Actually, I think I downloaded that episode and have it on a hard drive somewhere.

  4. Really you summed up the reason why the show should stop and that’s the fact that nearly every time they try to change the show they just revert to the status quo at the end. It would be fine if the show only lasted 8 or maybe even 12 seasons, but when a show’s been on the air for over 25 years with barely any change the question comes up of “Why should I watch all the way through if nothing is ever gonna change?”

    I think I read somewhere that there’s an episode where Lisa becomes a TV show writer and she ends up making big changes at the end of the episode only for it to not go well because she’s told a TV show is only successful if everything sticks to the status quo by the end. If this is true, it really shows how backwards the logic of the Simpsons’ writers is nowadays.

    The most popular TV shows currently running tend to be the one where a ton of changes happen over the course of a series. Including Steven Universe, Gravity Falls, and several others that I can’t name off the top of my head. Heck, My Little Pony has had more changes to it’s status quo in it’s 7 season run than the Simpsons has had in it’s 28 season run (I’d never thought I would type out that sentence).

    My point is if the Simpsons didn’t want to be a show that changed the status quo they should have ended decades ago.

  5. “Never saw Ice Age 3, so I never saw the short.”

    Continental Drift is the fourth Ice Age movie. Dawn of the Dinosaurs was the third.

    • Either way, never saw it. I’ve only seen the second Ice Age movie and it was mediocre at best. I heard they get worse as they go along.

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