Original airdate: May 21, 2017
The premise: Mayor Quimby passes dog-friendly legislation to attract tourists to Springfield, but these ultra-lenient laws result in all the dogs in town eventually turning feral.
The reaction: Regarding the premise, I find myself reminded of the Otto line, “What were you guys smoking when you came up with that?” Seeing as the writers are presumably big Rick & Morty fans, this feels like their version of “Lawnmower Dog,” except exponentially worse. As with some episodes (although fewer and farther between nowadays), there’s a good idea buried in there somewhere. The plot kicks off in a court case after Homer hits Gil with his car in an alley. His excuse was his brakes failed, and ultimately he had to hit either Gil or Santa’s Little Helper. Homer is let off thanks to the jury, and everyone else’s immediate sympathy toward the situation and undying love for dogs (and Gil’s hatred of the animals). That people would care more about a lovable mutt than a pathetic schmuck eating out of garbage, and then let dogs get away with anything because they’re so darn cute, that idea I think has potential. But it’s not as developed as it could be, in favor of having character reiterate things again and again, much like how I make this point in every single review. Do they think the audience has fucking Alzheimer’s that we need to reinforce what the plot is three or four times a show? So all of Springfield’s dogs are just wandering around, and eventually without having to respond to their human masters, they all turn feral and start attacking people. So now it’s like “Night of the Dolphin” from Treehouse of Horror XI, except this is a “real” episode. In an act of redemption, Gil proposes he’ll save the day, but in the end, he doesn’t. It’s like they just forget about him, but not in a way where it was purposeful. Just… whatever. Not to say this premise couldn’t work in a somewhat grounded fashion, but they certainly don’t have the ability to pull it off here. It’s like a Saturday morning cartoon premise. Or that of a popular adult animated comedy they just lifted it from.
Three items of note:
– There’s a pretty astounding joke that happens midway through that boggled my mind a bit. Santa’s Little Helper crawls halfway through the doggie door, exhausted from his new unchained life. This prompts Homer to hold up Snowball II and attempt to get the cat to grab onto its collar, despite her struggles and attacking him, as Bart and Lisa look on. This goes on for literally fifteen seconds, and I was really confused. I couldn’t tell what was happening, and why we were devoting so much time to this. Eventually, Homer succeeds in his mission, all so he can smugly proclaim, “Well, well, well, look what the cat dragged in.” Bart and Lisa comment, dead-eyed, “Worth it.” “Totally worth it.” I can’t tell if they’re being sarcastic or not. But in case there were any niggling doubts, no. No, it was not worth it.
– Despite Santa’s Little Helper being featured throughout, Bart isn’t really that involved in this episode. You’d think there’d be a scene of him being grateful his dad didn’t hit him, or he would have more screen time worried about SLH and where he is and how they’re disconnected now, but not so much. The ending involves he and Lisa going out after dark to look for him, and ending up being cornered by a feral pack. They’re saved by Marge, who becomes the alpha dog by standing up to the crowd of mutts, and drop-kicking their leader chihuahua clear out of the dog park. She just straight up kicks the shit out of that dog. It’s not even framed like the dog was in real danger of hurting the kids so her motherly protection instincts kicked in, she just sort of stared the dog down, growled at it, and then knocked it the fuck out. This reminds me of a Thanksgiving episode of Bob’s Burgers with a similar ending, featuring the town being overrun by turkeys, and Linda becoming the alpha by headbutting their leader, which was infinitely more enjoyable, and made me fiancée almost pee herself with laughter.
– I guess Michael York had time to kill on the FOX lot, because this is the third time we’ve seen his veterinarian character this season, in addition to playing that creepy fuck Nigel in this episode. He’s got a good voice, and I feel like I would really enjoy his performance in a totally different show with a script that actually has jokes and is well written. Is that asking a lot?
One good line/moment: Hey, not BLANK! At an emergency meeting at City Hall, all of the townspeople are fed up with their dog-infested town. Sideshow Mel addresses the crowd, and we see that his hair is sans bone. And, this is the shocker, he never acknowledges it. They just let a sight gag go by without explicitly pointing it out or anything! It’s a freakin’ miracle!
And there it is. Every episode has been covered… at least for now. It’s pretty incredible timing that I finished just in time for the dawn of season 29. So, will I be continuing on to covering new episodes? Well, I’ve gone this far, so I guess I can’t stop now. Yes, so much of this ground has been covered, yes, I find I end up repeating the same points several times over, and yes, this is basically self-inflicted torture at this point, but a tiny sliver of me is still interested in how much lower this show can possibly go. I’ve been especially stunned by this past season, containing episodes I can honestly say are the absolute worst, maybe even some of the worst narrative television I’ve ever seen (“Friends and Family,” “There Will Be Buds,” “Dad Behavior,” “Fatzcarraldo,” “Kamp Krustier,” “The Caper Chase,” “Moho House”)