625. Singin’ In The Lane

Original airdate: November 19, 2017

The premise:
The Pin Pals reunite… sort of, with Homer, Lenny, Carl, Barney, and new coach Moe. The team rises through the ranks to the state finals, where they face off against some pompous hedge fund assholes.

The reaction: “Team Homer” is our latest classic rebooted for the purposes of nostalgia fumes. Remember that thing you loved from over twenty years ago (holy crap, twenty-two years to be precise)? Here it is again! Except with only half the Pin Pals, and now it’s a sad Moe story we’ve seen a hundred times already. Mr. Burns gives Homer four tickets to a basketball game (don’t bother asking why), so he invites Lenny, Carl and Barney, leaving Moe crestfallen. To make it up to him, Homer suggests they reform the Pin Pals. Moe alludes that Apu’s octuplets kept him from continuing to play, and Otto is completely ignored. So now the new Pin Pals are Homer, Lenny, Carl and Barney, leaving Moe as their “coach” due to his fucked up wrists. They quickly make the state finals, which are held in a glitzy high-rise alley, and their opponents are a gaggle of entitled Wall Street douchebags. These characters, or specifically their conniving leader, are nonsensical. I haven’t a clue what these characters are supposed to be parodying or making a commentary on; they’re rich and snobby, I get that, but then their leader is constantly throwing cheeseburgers at people for some reason, and revels in being able to make Moe cry over his pathetic life. So they’re juvenile bullies, like the popular kids on the schoolyard? How basic could this be? King Douche makes a bet with Moe, and if Moe loses, he has to give up his bar and his “good name” (couldn’t be worth much) which Moe dreads leading up to the very end. It’s up to Homer to make a final strike to win, but then Moe has a fantasy sequence about leaving his bar and going to France and living a great life… and then he wants Homer to lose so he can have the fresh start from his dreams. But the Pin Pals win, but Moe doesn’t give a shit, he’s back to being miserable and thinking he has no friends… despite having just won the championship game with his friends. Then cut to Moe going back to the bar and being surprised by the gang (“You guys are my friends!” “That’s right!” “Yeah, we sure are!” That’s actual dialogue.) Then they leave Moe to go to another basketball game, which I guess is supposed to be a joke, but this is like double whiplash of motivation in under a minute of screen time. But really, none of it matters. How many times are we going to do this sad pathetic Moe song and dance? It never amounts to anything, and it’s fucking boring and meaningless, and now, they’ve dug up the corpse of a beloved classic for “Sad Moe is Sad Part 87.” Good use of resources, guys.

Three items of note:
– We get a brand new opening, “The Shrimpsons,” with all the characters as fish! That’s… something, I guess. But really, what the fuck is this? It’s just the opening titles beat for beat, except everyone’s a sea creature. Fish Maggie is put in the same grocery basket and shakes her little fin at Fish Gerald, Fish Lisa plays a coral saxophone, Fish Wiggum shakes his little baton, Fish Marge and Maggie beep their starfish horns? There’s a few isolated cute elements, like Apu as an octopus clinging its children close, but no thought or consideration was put into elevating a piece like this to any kind of point. What you see is what you get. As the YouTube description helpfully puts it, “They are just like THE SIMPSONS, but they’re fish!” Does this count as a special treat for the fans? It’s a new opening title that had to be planned out, storyboarded and animated, and all that effort for what? This is actually depressing me a little more than I thought on retrospect, like this is what the show thinks is a highlight. What even is this show anymore? It’s either redoing the same stories and gags over and over again, or just throwing random shit at the wall and seeing what gets a reaction. Like they just spitballed different nouns and landed on making everyone fish. I fucking hate it.
– The newly rechristened Pin Pals begin their league play, as we get a quick breeze through rehashed “Team Homer” jokes. Funny team names are back, except much less amusing. We see “Selma’s Exes” featuring Sideshow Bob, Disco Stu and what looks like “Fit” Tony (despite Fat Tony appearing later on his own mafia team), but this is basically just like “The Homewreckers,” except with the subtlety removed. We also get the reappearance of the Holy Rollers (with the Bing Crosby Parson replacing our dearly departed Maude), but instead of them removing the hoods from their robes as heavenly light basks upon their blessed faces, Ned Flanders high fives a floating Jesus that apparently everyone can see after he gets a strike. Ugh.
– Two episodes in a row, the show has used the Wilhelm scream. There’s a side “story” where Lisa convinces the abused underlings to dig up dirt on the hedge fund people. Then later they show back up, walking in to “Little Green Bag” in slow-mo a la Reservoir Dogs, following a light-up sign titling it “The Hateful 8-Year-Old, Directed by Quentin Tarantino.” It’s fucking terrible. Over a decade ago, they did the same bit with Lisa walking with her adopted animals, and it sucked back then too. Lisa reveals each team member’s Achilles heel, and one of them does the Wilhelm scream. I know it’s a staple for movies and TV shows to sneak it in, but normally the key word is “sneak,” to put it in the background or as part of a large action sequence or something. Last episode it was done as someone jumped out of the way of the runaway monorail, but in both instances, it felt like the purpose was, “It’s the Wilhelm scream! Us using it counts as a joke, right?” No. No it doesn’t.

One good line/moment: Yeah, not a damn thing. Definitely the worst episode so far.

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22 responses to “625. Singin’ In The Lane

  1. I hate Moe so much in this show now. I get that the ‘joke’ is that he’s pathetic and lonely, but it’s never funny. And he’s gotten so many episodes in the past several seasons too! The writers must really love writing material for him (despite said material being crap). Used to be so much more entertaining when he was surly as hell and didn’t really give a shit.

  2. What bothers me about that “Shrimpsons” opening is the music played during it. I get that they probably wanted to sound more “underwatery” but it barely sounds like the Simpsons theme. It sounds more like a piece of music that resembles the Simpsons theme but is different enough to avoid copyright infringement, despite the fact it’s being done by the actual show. This just confuses me.

    Also if it’s called “The Shrimpsons” shouldn’t the family be shrimps?

    • Actually having them be shrimps would have been too smart for these writers.

    • What bothers me about that “Shrimpsons” opening is the music played during it. I get that they probably wanted to sound more “underwatery” but it barely sounds like the Simpsons theme. It sounds more like a piece of music that resembles the Simpsons theme but is different enough to avoid copyright infringement, despite the fact it’s being done by the actual show. This just confuses me.

      The recent Simpsons casino slot game also does this. I’m assuming the game developers were unable to license the show’s actual theme music but it just seems odd, since slot games based on movies or TV shows almost always use the actual theme music (including the Family Guy slot game), plus the fact that the Simpsons arcade game was able to use the show’s actual theme music.

      • If I had to take a wild guess it’s because the series costs so much money to make now that paying royalties to Danny Elfman is seen as being too expensive. The only reason why they haven’t axed the theme in the show is because to take it away would cause a major uproar from the fans.

      • How is the show expensive to make now? With computers doing the animation, the whole show is an auto pilot. No skill is required to animate it. All they have to do is have a screen choose what lip flap to use and done.

  3. Another episode where the writers seem to think making it a sequel to a classic episode means it is automatically good.

    I laughed three times during this episode.

    1. At the team The Sidekicks.
    2. When Tony dropped his gun after shooting the pin.
    3. Bart’s comment about choosing a path in life, socio.

    That was pretty much it. The rest of this episode was unfunny, the new music for the show sucks major balls, and the opening bit was just so retarded. I just don’t get where they were going with this.

  4. It felt like this episode had entire chunks missing. Lisa, all of a sudden, starts working with the quants for a weakness in the hedge fund guys. This could have worked and shown an internal rivalry in finance…but these characters come literally right the hell out of nowhere, and we aren’t even told exactly who they are until the plan is in motion. Meanwhile, the show acts like these characters were introduced two acts ago and this plot point and these characters are completely dropped afterward. We never get the feeling these characters were actually weakened during the actual game.

    Also, we are told not to get Barney drunk, even though there was no sign he wasn’t drinking until it was brought up out of nowhere and we see his Season 11 sober character model. Barney is given expensive bourbon, but when told it’s expensive, spits it out (why does he care, he didn’t pay for it!) and then inhales the vapor he spit out (What? So you were going to drink it?). But either way, we are told not to get Barney drunk. Barney gets drunk…nothing changes. It doesn’t even feel like an obstacle. It’s not like they established Barney as the MVP or anything.

    And then there was the supposed big twist that Moe wants to lose so he can go to France, but Homer wins. Um…if you want to get out of owning Moe’s and move to France, just sell Moe’s and move to France. Hell, at least with that, you’d get money from selling the bar, instead of having it be taken away from you by a hedge fund douche. I think the show was trying to be clever, but it lost that ability years ago.

  5. Worst of the season or worst ever? Given your description, both interpretation are plausible.

    • Nah, The Serfsons is still the worst of the season and one of the worst episodes ever. This one is just mediocre at best.

    • I think it’s hard to achieve “worst ever” at this point because no one cares anymore. “Worst ever” has to have occurred during the period when the show was swiftly dying. These days, the writing and production may actually be objectively worse, straight up incompetent, but who cares? They killed the show a long time ago and have just been half-assedly raping its corpse for the last decade and a half.

  6. Sideshow Bob would so not be into bowling, no matter how much camaraderie he felt for the rest of Selma’s exes. That’s all I’ve got to say.

    • Do you really think Princess Kashmir or Lurleen Lumpkin would be into bowling? Or Captain McCallister, Cletus, Willie, or Luigi? They’re just there for a quick gag. I can see Mindy Simmons being into bowling, though, since she’s basically a female version of Homer.

      • Well, it was never my intention to make a debate out of that statement, though I would argue that quick throwaway gags have pretty much always the raison d’être of characters like McCallister, Cletus and Luigi, whereas Bob’s very unique role in the series means that he doesn’t fit that mold half as well. His ultra-highbrow tastes and dark relationship with the rest of Springfield make it harder for him blend in convincingly with the crowd in random, everyday contexts such as this.

        Still, it would probably more accurate to say that, since Bob’s my favourite character, I simply have more of a personal vested interest in him than I do any of the other characters you cited. ;p

    • I see what you’re saying. I guess the reason they used Sideshow Bob is because there was no one else. Abe was already on the “Rollin’ Oldies” team (though it’s not like they didn’t reuse Fat Tony), it’s too tasteless to use Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz (though it’s not like they used Troy’s head on a pike in “The Serfsons” not to mention a few crowd shots since Hartman’s demise), so he was the only one. But Sideshow Bob, despite appearing less than McCallister, Luigi, or Willie, is a much more established character than those stereotypes (hence the team name “The Stereotypes”) so I guess that’s why it makes more sense to have them thrown on a random gag team. And Lurleen and Kashmir are just one-episode characters (has Kashmir had any dialogue since “Homer’s Night Out”?) so even though they were a bit more fleshed out than today’s one-time characters, they’re still just that so you can just throw them anywhere at it’d still make sense. I usually just point to these things because I don’t have any era or season bias when it comes to The Simpsons and I know others do, so things like this tend to raise eyebrows.

      • Lurleen was in a couple of episodes though.

      • At the time of “Team Homer”, she only had two (counting the speaking role in “Marge vs. the Monorail”. But it’s still not really enough to make her fleshed out and definitely not on Sideshow Bob’s level, and probably not even on Groundskeeper Willie’s level for that matter.

      • Oh, my mistake, I thought you meant in this episode, not with the original Pin Pals one. In fact, I just watched that one last night and couldn’t stop laughing. Love how Otto tries to get a diploma from the crane game, but after smashing it open, he takes a lobster harmonica.

      • Yeah, the point of that was just talking about how it may not make sense for Sideshow Bob to bowl but it would make sense for Lurleen Lumpkin to bowl. I mean, it’s not like anyone’s going to complain about Baron von Kiss-A-Lot or The Grumple bowling either.

  7. So one of my friends today said that this episode was playing on his return flight home last week and he was trying to figure out what the hell he was watching.

  8. Shows like this one are a perfect demonstration as to why nostalgia was originally classed as a mental disorder.

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