621. Whistler’s Father

Original airdate: October 15, 2017

The premise:
Homer thinks he’s struck fame when he discovers Maggie’s incredibly whistling talent, but fears she might turn into a child star diva. Meanwhile, Marge is enlisted to be Fat Tony’s interior decorator.

The reaction: I couldn’t really make heads or tails out of this one. Plot A involves Homer believing that his ticket to superstardom is being able to whistle well? At first he tries hiding Maggie in his backpack and miming with his lips to look like he’s actually whistling, but he’s exposed fairly quickly. Apparently this talent skips a generation; Abe was a world-class whistler back in the day, and now he and Homer believe Maggie can be a big success. It isn’t until halfway through the show we see that they want to enroll her in an America’s Got Talent Jr.-type show, but what do they win? What are the stakes? Then they manufacture at the last minute that Maggie might be turning conceited and Homer is worried about it. Meanwhile, Marge is approached by Fat Tony at random to be his interior decorator for the old post office he just purchased. She goes along with everything he says, no questions asked. She even addresses him by his first name; at this point, it feels like the mafia are basically family friends of the Simpsons too. She’s ultimately shocked to discover that the building is actually a swanky brothel, even though it has a built-in stripper pole and other such amenities. Seriously, how could she not have known this? Both plots are pretty dumb and meaningless, but even stranger is that for some reason, there’s a runner throughout where Homer and Marge are keeping their recent escapades secret from each other. Why is this? Marge had zero hesitation or reservations about doing a job for the mob, so it’s unclear why she wouldn’t tell Homer, and Homer was super psyched about Maggie’s talent, why wouldn’t he tell Marge? As usual, it all ends up being a bunch of nonsense.

Three items of note:
– I don’t know how many times these shows are ripped apart and pieced back together, but there are times where scenes feel like they don’t connect properly. We open in the middle of the night where Marge is fretting about having friends over the following night. She wakes Homer up and asks if he can watch Maggie, and he agrees. Then we cut to Homer still in his PJs hanging out with Maggie. Is this happening the same night? Is he prep-playing with her? But then we cut to Marge and her guests in the living room, so I guess it’s the following night. But then why is Homer in his PJs? Why couldn’t the first scene have taken place during the day? Again, it feels like this all was rewritten over and over and they just forgot about it. Also, Marge’s guests are Helen, Bernice and Luann, who waste no time in acting like smug bitches toward her, and continue throughout the whole show. Completely unprompted and meaningless.
– Through flashback, we see li’l Abe had a big shot on a huge radio show to display his whistling talents, where he tried off a complicated trip involving whistling in three part harmony through three lips. It’s pretty disturbing, he looks like a weird Futurama creature. Then he ends up blew out the ligaments in his lips, leading him to have to pay a guy to make out with his girlfriend for him (don’t ask.) But cutting back to the present where he urges Homer to foster Maggie’s talent, he then inexplicably does his whistling trick, but this time in four part harmony. Four creepy gross alien lips. But didn’t we just see that he fucked up his lips and couldn’t do the trick anymore? Wasn’t that the whole point of Abe’s only hope being Maggie? Who gives a shit, right?
– One orphaned scene involves Lisa discovering Maggie whistling in her crib, which leads her into an anxious spiral of her feeling insecure that Maggie is gifted and has a talent. It felt like her awful behavior in that “Smart and Smarter” episode, but at least that was kicked off by learning Maggie had a higher IQ. What the fuck does Lisa care if her infant sister can whistle well? Is she that pathetically insecure?

One good line/moment: Mrs. Prince nonchalantly picking up her wedgied son off a coatrack was a smirk-worthy background gag. Kind of a stretch, but whatever.

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9 responses to “621. Whistler’s Father

  1. This episode was PAINFUL. I can actually say that about all of Season 28 and 29. What’s funny is that even in the Simpsons over the last 20 years (since Season 9-10) the show was still watchable and funny on at least some level, and even by Season 20 or so, it still FELT like the Simpsons. It had some semblance of the charm and humor of the original show, even if it wasn’t done as well.

    But now it’s lost even that. The show just feels empty. It doesn’t resemble the Simpsons, it doesn’t really resemble anything. It feels like a shambling husk of jokes that is begging for death. We’ve gone past Zombie Simpsons…that zombie is starting to decay.

    • Also, one scene that REALLY bothered me for some reason (although not as much as the three whistling mouths) was the scene where Homer was trying to find the source of the whistling. He yells down to Marge, “Are you making tea?” to which Marge replies, “Yes,” and then after a weirdly long pause and Homer’s relief, she says, “Iced tea.”

      1) What was the point of that? It wasn’t funny, it solves nothing, and Homer goes back to his panicky mode.
      2) You still have to boil water to make iced tea. It has to be heated and then cooled. So making iced tea could still mean that the tea kettle is going off.
      3) Why didn’t Homer ask for Marge’s help in finding the sound? He seemed really freaked out about it.
      4) Nothing about the scene would have changed if Marge had said no. In fact, it would have been slightly snappier.
      5) The fact I had four complaints about one scene speaks to the show’s downfall. In the golden era, you could make whole blog posts on the brilliant construction of one scene or even one line. Now you can write blog posts on how awful a single line is.

  2. Something tells me they made a full episode based off of the brief classic flashback where Homer is a star choir singer, but it abruptly ends when his voice changes.

    The whistling talent only makes sense in Grampa’s flashback since such talents were more of a vaudeville draw in those days

    The only gag I liked was not-Cid Caesar using a radio sound effect team to fake drinking their sponsored Buzz Cola. Not hilarious, but a far more subtle gag than the over-drawn out one last season starring Kent Brockman where Krusty is forced to eat the sponsored product

  3. They actually ended the story with a character saying “and that’s the tooth!” just like in ‘Last Exit to Springfield’ except completely devoid of all satire and wit.

    • If you needed any more evidence of how far this show has fallen (and you really shouldn’t after two decades of awfulness), that’s it right there. It is the EXACT thing that it once mocked.

  4. I fully believe the reason why episodes like this have things like Marge’s friends being catty bitches and a surprise reveal after a Simpson helps out one of the shows antagonists is because these things happened in the classic era. If Marge’s friends can be assholes to her in “The Twisted World Of Marge Simpson” why can’t the writers go back to that conflict 20 year later? Lisa helped out Burns in “The Old Man and the Lisa” in 1997 only for things to take a shocking turn. So why not do something like that again with Marge and Fat Tony in 2017?

    The only issue is that, when these things happened THEN, they were part of stronger stories with better jokes and it all felt, at the very least, logical to the situations and characters. Nowadays they just plug ideas, conflicts and plot threads from classic episodes into newer shows simply because it’s something that worked before. But it almost always fails because of how clunky and inept it all is.

    • Exactly. That reminds me of the Maggie shot Mr Burns thing. In that Classic episode it was the “stupid” shocking resolution of a typical TV cliffhanger episode; but then the modern writers thought: Maggie shot Mr Burns, so weapons, guns, and shooting are part of her personality!
      Genius writers at work.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        I didn’t think it was stupid at all, I thought it was a brilliant idea having Maggie shoot him.

  5. This episode was pretty stupid. The bit of Homer trying to find the whistling sound was funny for about 4 seconds but then it went on for like two more minutes.

    There was actually one joke from Fat Tony I laughed at, but I couldn’t even remember what it was an hour after I watched the show, so it probably wasn’t really that funny.

    Either way, I just don’t get the whole thing. It was like someone just watched “Lisa the Beauty Queen” recently and thought, “Hey, let’s repeat this with Maggie, but remove all of the reasons why Homer put Lisa in the beauty pagent to begin with.”

    Like what you said Mike, Homer and Marge keeping things from each other this episode made no sense. Was this the writers way of ensuring that neither got mad at each other because it would have just rehashed a plot point that has been done 400 times already? What difference would it have made if Homer knew Marge was working for Tony? He’s worked with Tony himself before. Hell, Bart has worked with Tony too.

    Overall, it wasn’t insulting or anything, it was just boring.

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