Category Archives: Season 08

171. Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment

(originally aired March 16, 1997)
Springfield is a really boozy town if you look at it. So just like depriving our main character from beer in “Duffless,” this episode depletes the entire city limits of alcohol. It all starts with an over exuberant St. Patrick’s Day parade, where in the midst of the calamitous celebration to Lady Liquor, Bart accidentally gets drunk in the most preposterous of ways. The footage of a shitfaced ten-year-old makes waves of outrage to the conscientious busybodies of Springfield, all demanding that the town enact prohibition. Upon discovering there’s already an unenforced two hundred year old law on the books banning alcohol, Quimby puts it into effect, making the entire town dry as a bone. Now, not only does this throw the title into question, but wouldn’t the twenty-first Amendment, national law supersede this? But ’tis a minor quibble; I’m sure Quimby is clueless of it, and any of the town’s drunks who could have protested with this argument are just as in the dark.

Within no time at all, Moe’s becomes a hush-hush speakeasy, under the new guise of “Moe’s Pet Shop.” It’s quickly discovered by the aforementioned busybodies however, and upon seeing Wiggum graciously partake in its wears, make further demands to Quimby to get an actually competent law enforcer. Enter Rex Banner, a smart suited fed straight out of the 1930s, who outs Wiggum and boots the booze bootleggers. Banner is voiced by Dave Thomas, a Canadian comedian who gives a great old timey performance (“Listen, rummy, I’m gonna say it plain and simple. Where’d you pinch the hooch? Is some blind tiger jerking suds on the side?”) With supply cut off, Homer steps up with a plan, unearthing the dozens of buried beer barrels and swindling them into Moe’s himself, through an clever and elaborate plan involving hollowed out bowling balls and an elaborate piping system. I’ll accept that someone as dim as Homer could come up with this idea (even Marge is impressed), but that he actually efficiently constructed it and put it into action? I dunno, but it’s not incredibly bothersome.

There’s a lot good about this show, but some parts don’t exactly fit right with me. I like Homer’s bravado attitude upon being dubbed the Beer Baron, and upon running out of supplies, starts brewing his own liquor instead, with dozens of basement bathtubs all on the brink of explosion. Marge discovers Homer’s operation, and is unusually supportive of it. I could see her thinking the law is silly, but I don’t think she would support Homer in something like this. There’s also the matter of Rex Banner, who’s tough as nails, but also kind of ineffective, unable to apprehend Homer even with him right under his nose. But I’m not a fan of his outro by catapult; it never really bothered me until now. As one commenter astutely pointed out, this season is full of one-off characters getting killed, but I guess there’s a certain finesse you need to have to pull it off. Shary Bobbins was a cruel ironic joke at the last second of the show, the undoing of Frank Grimes is something the whole episode is building towards, but here, Banner is hoisted out merely for convenience only. It gives the ending a sourness that doesn’t feel necessary. But despite that, I like the overall story, and there’s a lot of great funny bits in here, so in light of the cruel, cruel death of Mr. Banner, this show gets a pass.

Tidbits and Quotes
– All the St. Paddy’s Day at the beginning is great, from Bart’s fatal mistake of not wearing green (“No one’s pinching his legs!”), Moe booting out the designated drivers (“I got no room for cheapskates,”) the Irish cops float, Marge’s green hair, and Kent Brockman’s shock at seeing the parade descend into drunken disorder (“All this drinking, violence, destruction of property. Are these the things we think of when we think of the Irish?”)
– Drunken Bart is pretty disconcerting and hilarious at the same time. I like his friends cheering him on, and Brockman’s cold echo of his drunk statements (“‘What are you looking at?’: the innocent words of a drunken child. Well, I’ll tell you what we’re looking at, young man. A town gone mad. A town whose very conscious was washed away in a tide of beer and green vomit.”)
– Marge feels she’s the worst mother in the world for what happened with Bart, and Homer assures her she’s not, citing “that freezer lady in Georgia.” Anyone want to shine light on what this is a reference to?
– When the marms of Springfield demand prohibition, I love the responses from Quimby (“It tastes great, makes women appear more attractive, and makes a person virtually invulnerable to criticism.”) and Wiggum (“All our founding fathers, astronauts, and World Series heroes have either been drunk or on cocaine.”)
– Quick look at Dr. Hibbert’s wife Bernice’s latent alcoholism. We don’t hear, or see, much from her, and perhaps there’s a reason.
– Wonderful call-back between acts: at the end of the first act we see a newspaper sub-headline dovetailing the prohibition main story, “Bums Threaten to Leave Town.” Then at the start of act two, we see “Bums Extend Deadline.”
– Great bit with the CEO of Duff insisting that customers will stick with the brand now that it must release a non-alcoholic brew. Minutes later, the company is out of business (“Well, that’s the end of me.”)
– The animation of the partying at Moe’s is crazy; Wiggum dances with Princess Kashmir, with a top and breasts that laugh in the face of gravity. This leads to a great moment where Helen Lovejoy gets increasingly horrified when a tipsy Wiggum walks closer to her, and in a powerful line reading, screams, “PERVERT!!”
– Rex Banner’s brick wall in the middle of the highway, with cars crashing and piling up is pretty dumb, but the reaction shot of him pleased with his work as jagged metal flies around by him is great. I also love his warming up to, then denial of Fat Tony’s bribes (“Okay. You win. From now on, we’ll stick to smuggling heroine.” “See that you do!”)
– The chase scene between Homer and Banner is kind of silly, but the over-the-top music helps it, this jangly ragtime number that sort of fits the era Banner walked out of.
– Moe tells Barney a bowling ball beer’s gonna cost him a pretty penny (“Forty-five bucks?! This better be the best tasting beer in the world!”) Sip. “You got lucky!”
– I love how ruthless Banner is, smashing through the diner window to accost Barney. Then later we get the great scene with Moe’s safety switch, rotating the bar and stools for bird cages and aquariums to keep up his pet shop ruse (“What kind of pet shop is filled with rambunctious yahoos and hot jazz music at 1 am?” “Duh… the best damn pet shop in town!”) Banner is suspect, but leaves with a warning (“Baby turtles and alligators may seem like a cute idea for a pet, but they grow up.”) Moe changes his bar back, only to find Barney had rotated as well (“Wow, those gears down there really hurt!”)
– Homer and Bart’s beer brewing operation hits a snag when the stills start exploding. I love their scream in shock at the first one, and Homer’s cover to Marge (“I think it must have been that bean I had for dinner.”) Bean, singular.
– Great moment where Banner insists the “Beer Baron” was a concoction of the media, and the concept to be laughable. He attempts to laugh to demonstrate, but is physically unable (“Well, you all know what laughter sounds like!”)
– Upon being released, Quimby asks Homer how long it will take to get alcohol back to Springfield, but he insists he’s done with the business. Fat Tony swoops in insisting it’ll take four minutes. Five minutes later, the town’s full of liquor again, giving us the classic final line from Homer: “To alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.”

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170. My Sister, My Sitter

(originally aired March 2, 1997)
Here’s a smaller character story that sort of spirals out of control, but not in an entirely bad way. It almost feels like a bizarre character examination of Lisa, and her attempts to be viewed as mature by any means necessary. There’s some silliness along the way, but the episode is mostly successful. The first pill to swallow is our general premise: Lisa becomes the town’s foremost dependable babysitter. As competent and enlightened as the girl is, she’s still only eight years old, and looking after kids her age or younger (and older; Rod Flanders’ at least Bart’s age). Aren’t there laws in place that children under a certain age cannot be left home alone? Maybe this is a hush hush operation… But in any case, it’s just something that bugged me throughout the whole show, though a great Marge line almost excuses it (“Parents need to be sure their sitter can handle anything that might happen, that’s why they hire teenagers”) One weekend, Homer and Marge go out to the grand opening of a new seaside shopping promenade, leaving Lisa in charge of Bart. And Maggie. Would Marge really feel comfortable with her eight-year-old looking after her infant child? …alright, I gotta let this issue go.

Putting that problem aside, I love all the second act stuff, with Bart engaged in full bratty brother mode, doing all he can to make Lisa’s night a living hell. I read some people thought his behavior to be cruel and malicious, but I think they’re off base. They also probably don’t have siblings. Small scenes speak great volumes; “go to bread” is a wonderful childish move, and something I quote every now and again. All the people Bart calls over are great, from a disgruntled Krusty (“I ain’t leaving ’till I get paid! I get five hundred just for ‘Hey hey'”) to EMTs sent to perform an emergency sisterectomy. But horseplay leads to tears when Bart accidentally falls down the stairs and gets a dislocated shoulder. In spite of his sister, he attempts to aggravate his injuries, but ends up knocking himself unconscious. Lisa is in a panic; not wanting to expose her faux-pas on the job to respected client Dr. Hibbert, she must make a long trek to the bad part of town to Dr. Nick’s clinic, hauling Bart in a wheelbarrow and a hyperactive Maggie in a pet carrier.

So the last act is all about Lisa’s descent further into madness over getting everything smoothed out before her parents get home. Her dream featuring Dr. Hibbert is fantastic and well-directed, and also quite quotable for some reason (“Dislocated shoulder… bump on the noggin… my diagnosis… bad babysitting!!“) It’s interesting to see how low Lisa will stoop to try to retain her reputation; as outlandish as it gets at the finale, it still feels true to character, and also is quite tongue in cheek when her worst dreams become a reality. There’s a lot of other great isolated scenes in the show: babysitting the Flanders boys, who survive a nasty moth attack, Maggie going nuts after being fed a glut of coffee ice cream, and always nice to see Homer and Marge gussied up for a night on the town. Despite my issues with the general premise, this episode has a lot of stuff going for it; it has enough nice single scenes and hilarious moments to keep it firmly in my good graces.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Lisa gets Reverend Lovejoy to make an announcement about her babysitting service at mass, with a one dollar discount for anyone who can name the topic of the day’s sermon. Total silence. Lovejoy reveals the topic was love. Man, not even Ned got it.
– Not a fan of Homer’s incredibly callous attitude toward Ned’s story about his wife being held hostage. But contradicting that, I love that when Ned asks for Homer’s permission for Lisa to babysit, despite her eagerly standing there, he remarks, “I’ll have to ask her,” and slams the door.
– Love the Flanders’ kids not being able to use wicked dice, and asking Lisa to tell them a bedtime story about robots. Really sweet. Ned is impressed (“Sleeping quietly after a bug attack! And Todd’s as dry as a bone!”)
– Nice bit where Wiggum is disappointed he’s mixed up Bob Seger with Bob Sagat. And classic Ralph line: “I can dress myself!”
– Homer’s logic regarding his rented tuxedo is pretty sound, relating it to a rent-a-car (“Get all the mileage you can, then ball it up and cram it through the mail slot.”)
– Homer drives right through the crowds at the waterfront. Marge considers they should park, given the mayor is yelling at them. Quimby’s muted line from outside the car, “Stop, you idiot!” makes me laugh every time.
– The different stores at the promenade are great: “Malaria Zone,” “Just Rainsticks,” “Much Ado About Muffins,” like the Leftorium, large extremely niche stores that I have no clue how they stay in business. Also great parody of Planet Hollywood in Planet Hype, with Rainier Wolfcastle at the opening (“It’s true! The entire menu was personally approved by my secretary.”) Moe’s also has a set-up at the boardwalk, but it’s actually just an extremely large ramshackle tunnel to the opening of his actual location (“Hey, this isn’t faux dive. This is a dive.” “You’re a long way from home, yuppie boy. I’ll start a tab.”)
– Great bit where Bart goes limp and Lisa must drag him around. Bart insists he’s opting for non-violent resistance, and Lisa finds it ridiculous to compare himself to Gandhi. Bart’s response, of course, is, “Who?”
– Love the second act break when Krusty comes back in the house, notices Bart unconscious, then sheepishly leaves.
– Somewhat questionable that Lisa would entrust Dr. Nick, but a) she’s a bit desperate, and b) even though she guided her a bit, the man did successfully perform bypass surgery on her father, so he’s not completely incompetent.
– Dr. Nick’s waiting room is packed. At the front, Snake spins a cockamamie story about falling onto a bullet, but there’s no judgement at this firm (“You don’t have to make up stories here. Save that for court!”) It’s much too crowded for Lisa; there’s even a wheelbarrow line she must get into, right behind a spent Comic Book Guy (“Ohhh, loneliness and cheeseburgers are a dangerous mix.”) There’s also a very disturbing implication with a stiffly standing up Smithers, contritely saying he needs a mysterious something taken care of. Like he’s got a phallic instrument shoved up his ass? That’s rather raw…
– Love the stupid fake out with Wiggum’s flashlight slowly approaching Bart… and then… “Just as I thought! It’s a Yard King! That is a quality barrow. Well, I gotta run.”
– Lisa’s exposure at the end is even more preposterous than any of her nightmares, which is kind of the point. I especially love Sideshow Mel’s theatrical narration (“And, as a grim finale, she intends to drown that poor caged baby!”) and of course Helen Lovejoy (“And she’s on drugs!!”) Homer will have none of it (“Give me the drugs, Lisa.”)
– The ending of Springfield’s parents ultimately being unfazed by the whole incident is an amusing capper (“Didn’t you hear I almost killed my brother?” “You did? Just a minute. ………what time can you come over?”)

169. Brother From Another Series

(originally aired February 23, 1997)
Sideshow Bob episodes must be challenging to come up with and write; as complex a character as Bob is, I feel his role within the Simpsons universe is inherently limited. A devilish scheme must be afoot for Bart to uncover, and Bob will be out of and back in prison within twenty-two minutes. Formula aside, all past Bob outings have been absolutely stellar, and this one is no different. Spicing up the mix here is the addition of Bob’s brother Cecil, played by David Hyde Pierce, who options Bob for a work-release program to be employed to his construction company. This is clever casting of course, having the Terwilliger brothers mirror the Cranes from Frasier. I have enough knowledge of the show from bits of reruns whilst channel surfing, that being enough to appreciate Grammar and Pierce’s banter being mimicked here, along with the title card starting the second act. It’s real neat; Pierce goes toe-to-toe with Grammar performance-wise as Cecil, and a brief backstory illuminates the strife between the two brothers. We see that it was Cecil originally aiming for the gig as Krusty’s sidekick, but fate stood in the way, giving Bob the role.

Bob and Cecil get to work on building the Springfield Hydroelectric Dam. Meanwhile, Bart remains understandably skeptic that Bob is a changed man, but uncovers little evidence to prove otherwise. But some detective work by him and Lisa reveals a briefcase of embezzled money at the construction site, which leads to a subversive revelation that Cecil was the mad schemer this time around. I think it’s an effective bait-and-switch; we have a few misleads of Bob appearing menacing with accompanying dramatic music cues, some hilarious (“Madam, your children are no more… than a pair of ill-bred troublemakers.”) But Cecil is the perpetrator here; tired of living in the shadow of his big brother, who now serves as an excellent scapegoat so he can get away with fifteen million. Petty, but it seems to fit; criminal genius seems to run in the family. This showdown also puts Bart and Bob in an awkward situation in that they have to work together for the common good, which leads to an interesting and exciting finale where they end up saving the day and each other. But then the dangerously unstable dam bursts anyway, flooding the town, and Bob is sent to prison along with Cecil, allowing the writers once again to have their cake and eat it too.

I kinda feel this should have been the last Bob show. Or rather, it was the last good Bob show. At this point the traditional Bob formulas had grown a bit stale, so the logical conclusion was to turn the character around, but they handle it in an entirely believable way. Further examination into his personal life reveals an intellectual foil, and eventual counterpart he must thwart. And in the end, the status quo is still restored, efficiently and amusingly. He gets to be the hero at long last, but ultimately ends up in prison anyway. It kind of feels like the perfect end for his character. This isn’t to say that Bob couldn’t have returned and “turned evil” again, it’s just the ways it was handled in the future were either repetitive of previous efforts or just kind of lazy. For all the balls this episode tries to juggle, the Frasier parody, the witty banter, the action-adventure final act, it all feels very cohesive, coming together for a sharp and solid pseudo-final outing for our favorite homicidal maniac. So ta-ta for now, Bob, like every other character, fate will not be as kind to you in a few years from now…

Tidbits and Quotes
– Great opening with Krusty channeling Johnny Cash in his prison special (“I slugged some jerk in Tahoe/They gave me one to three/My high-priced lawyer sprung me on a technicality/I’m just visiting Springfield Prison/I get to sleep at home tonight.”) The convicts ain’t too happy about the song, but Krusty easily sways them back. After all we’ve seen how much they love his show in “Last Gleaming.”
– I kind of like how Bart is pretty traumatized by Bob, a man who’s attempted to kill him twice now. Compare this to the next Bob show when Bart is unfazed by his appearance, playing it off as a joke that he’s bested him so many times he’s not threatened by him. Hilarious, right?
– Pierce is great out the box as Cecil, with a great line read when Bob asks if his brother knows of his criminal past (“Goodness! I had no idea! For you see, I have been on Mars for the past decade, in a cave with my eyes shut, and my fingers in my ears.”)
– An angry mob protests the release of Bob at first, but a cockamamie speech from him sways them in less than fifteen seconds, as Springfield mobs tend to do. Bart is livid, insisting Bob hasn’t changed, and if only you could know what horrible twisted evil scheme he was thinking of. Dramatic music as we cut closer to Bob being driven off. Then… “I hope they still make that shampoo I like.” Hilarious. And logical; for hair that outlandish, he must be using some incredible product to get it to stay like that.
– Great moment where Bart prays to God to kill Sideshow Bob (“It’s him or me, O Lord!”) Homer scolds him for it (“You do your own dirty work!”)
– I love how angry and displeased Krusty is at the sidekick auditions, greatly contrasted with Cecil’s nervous stammering meekness. Krusty insists that a pie in the face gag is only funny if “the sap’s got dignity,” and has one thrown at Bob, proving to be an instant comedy classic. Cecil remembers the incidence mournfully (“When that pie hit your face, I saw my dreams explode in a burst of cream and crust.”)
– Bob is so incredibly contemptuous about the new business prospects (“Just the thought of all that raw power makes me wonder why the hell I should care.”)
– Bob on a date with Edna is a great scene, I love seeing him out of his usual element. Of course, he’s quite the smooth charmer (“I did once try to kill the world’s greatest lover, but then I realized that there are laws against suicide.”) Of course Bart arrives to spoil the evening. Edna is indignant (“That’s the last time I announce my dinner plans in class!”) So is Bob (“That was Edna Krabappel. You only get one chance with Edna Krabappel, I hope you’re happy.”) Then, given the many allusions of her being… shall we say, loose, I think he may have another shot.
– Great bit with Bob and Cecil’s yokel workmen, including Cletus (“Geech gone to heaven, Mister Terwillidjer.”) I also love the reading and timing of Bob’s bemoaning of “cover-alls that don’t quite cover all.
– Minor bit, but great direction of the quick few scenes of Bart, Lisa and Bob running through the interior of the dam. The part where Bob pokes his head up in center frame as Bart and Lisa run across scaffolding behind him is one that I remember after all these years. Well directed and staged images stay with me, something that would be increasingly less frequent as the series went on.
– Love Grammar’s reading of “Where did that come from?” It doesn’t sound entirely sincere, leaving the viewer to still question, up to the last minute, whether Bob is actually innocent or not.
– I like how Cecil is a much less theatrical villain than Bob, this is his first outing so he doesn’t know the ropes (“I forgot to mention, I’m planning to blow up the dam with you inside.” “Well, obviously.”) He does get a pretty good villain line in by the end though (“And now, to kill you. There may be a slight ringing in your ears. Fortunately, you’ll be nowhere near them.”)
– Great bit when Lisa worries for their doom, and Bob jealously mocks her for it (“Oh, I see. When it’s one of my evil schemes, you can’t foil it fast enough, but when Cecil tries to kill you, it’s hopeless, utterly, utterly hopeless.”)
– Cecil’s briefcase of money ends up over the cliff… floating down to Hans Moleman’s cabin. He’s grateful at first, then holds a gun up to the air, demanding the Almighty to keep it coming.
– Bob becoming an action star to save Bart is a bit over-the-top, but I’m already swept up in the story that I didn’t mind so much. It leads for a pretty good finale though (“Bart, how would you like to do something incredibly noble?” “Do we have to?” “…yes,”) their having to take a breath while screaming to their deaths, and of course the giant pipe being their savior… to all but Bob’s genitals.
– The dam actually bursting and flooding the town is a great scene, even though it probably would mean the entire town got destroyed or at the very least uninhabitable. This should have been the last episode ever, actually. But instead, we get a great scene where Homer says he’s going out to find the kids, which is a great nod to the fact that they’ve been gone all night, then he runs back inside when he sees a gigantic tidal wave heading his way. When the rumbling stops, he looks back outside to find the street just a bit damp… and also Ralph is there in his jammies (“I think I wet my bed.”) Hysterical.
– Love Cecil slyly feeding words to Bob to further discredit him in the squad car (“You’ll live to regret this! …oh thanks a lot, now I look crazy!”) Then later the two childishly fight over the top bunk in their cell.

168. Homer’s Phobia

(originally aired February 16, 1997)
Honest depictions of gays on TV have been slowly emerging the last ten to fifteen years, so if you think back to when this episode aired, they weren’t very prevalent at all. Then again, I was a kid and don’t remember, so someone out there can confirm or deny this. But Wikipedia informs me Will & Grace was still a year away, and Ellen DeGeneres had come out the month this aired, and later on her TV show (that then tanked.) The Simpsons seems to have been ahead of the curve, but not in a self-righteous way, just in that they thought it would an interesting topic to explore. It’s an interesting episode set when America was still very iffy about homosexuality. …well, iffy-er. But this isn’t an essay about tolernace of gays, it’s about a cartoon. The Simpsons find themselves a new family friend in John, energetic owner of a local antiques store. However, despite the incredibly obvious signs, Homer is absolutely shocked to discover that he’s gay, and wishes to cut off all ties with him. The rest of the family continues spending time with John, and Homer begins to fear that “the gay” will rub off on Bart. To combat this, he, Moe and Barney arrange a hunting trip so that Bart can shoot a helpless innocent animal to prove his manly manhood.

I’ve got mixed feelings about Homer’s exaggerated intolerance in this episode. On one hand, it comes from an understandable place; Homer is representative of the average American man, people who assume the worst about gays because they’ve never met any, or are just too oblivious to acknowledge those who are. Homer’s as oblivious as they come, and the fact that John maybe, just maybe might bat for the other team didn’t even occur to him (similar to “Simpson and Delilah;” even after Karl kisses him, I bet he didn’t even think he was gay). Once Marge spills the beans to him, he flips out, and spends the rest of the episode being completely (and hilariously) irrational (“Think of the property values! Now we can never say only straight people have been in this house!”) On that note, the allegedly telltale signs that Bart may be turning are just as ridiculous: picking pink snack treats over traditional chocolate (absurd since nobody likes Snoballs. Nobody), wearing Hawaiian shirts, and dancing to Betty Everett in a wig. Everything is ramped up to such an high level that it becomes absurdist, just as homophobia is in real life. But toward the end when Moe and Barney add more fuel to the fire, it becomes a bit more depressing. Yes, their anti-gay viewpoints are played for laughs, but there really are assholes who think this stuff for real. The episode mostly avoids villifying Homer for his ignorant viewpoints, but there are one or two scenes that don’t quite pull it off.

John Waters plays John, who seems to just be playing himself, or at least how I imagine him to be from interviews and the like. He’s a wonderful one-off character, and the perfect foil for Homer’s battle of the sexual orientations; he plays off Homer’s accusations with gentle good humor, as I’m sure he’s dealt with hundreds of small-minded fellows just like him in the past. I also like how Bart becomes critical to the plot midway through unbeknownst to him, just getting dragged around by his father to various places without knowing why. The kicker, of course, is his critique about hunting, “Something about a bunch of guys alone together in the woods… seems kinda gay.” Also, despite the thick-headedness of his crusade, I did feel a little bad for Homer believing he’d failed as a parent, wishing he’d spent more time with his son to avert this “tragedy.” Even when he’s absolutely terribly misguided, there’s something about Homer’s earnesty that ellicts a positive response from me. John ends up saving Homer and Bart from serious maiming, which gives Homer newfound respect for the man. John summarizes the message perfectly (“I won your respect, and all I had to do was save your life. Now, if every gay man could just do the same, you’d be set.”) Although in terms of general viewpoints on gays, this is as relevant then as it is now fifteen years later, this is a real great episode, with a lot of laughs, excellent performance by John Waters, and ends up having a heart admist all of the hilarious bigotry.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The episode starts with Bart’s antics slapping the family with a $900 gas bill. They resort to selling an antiquity of Marge’s, which leads them to meet John… then the money issue is never brought up again. Rather egregious hanging plot thread. I dunno, maybe while visiting the Simpson house, John could have found some little knick knack that was unknowingly worth a pretty penny and bought it, which would get him in the family’s good graces even more. Just a thought.
– Nice campaign buttons at the antique store (“Quayle Can’t Fayle,” “Click for Dick”) and Skinner’s desire to find some non-partisan ones (“Don’t you have any neutral ones? ‘May the better man win’? ‘Let’s have a good, clean election’? That sort of thing?”) Also, a really minor point, but next scene we focus on Bart and Lisa, and we see Skinner leaving the store in the background. Stuff like that makes things feel more cohesive, that each scene leads into the other, in that they weren’t separately and thoughtlessly produced.
– Love Homer’s strange indignance at John’s chiding of Jackie O’s poor crosswording abilities (“Give her a break! Her husband was killed!”)
– That Johnny Reb liquor bottle is actually a pretty neat item; I like the cavalier way John just unscrews the top and drinks whatever contents may be inside (“That’ll make your bull run.”) Marge is understandably crestfallen over the exposure of her fradulent family heirloom (“I guess it’ll always be a monument to Grandma’s secret drinking problem.”)
– I love Homer’s confusion and inability to comprehend John’s love of camp, or even what camp is (“The tragically ludicrous?  The ludicrously tragic?” “Oh, yeah. Like when a clown dies.” “Well, sort of.”) Also nice touch that Homer gave his Pin Pals shirt to Goodwill. At least he didn’t bury it like the Dancin’ Homer outfit.
– John is in heaven with the garish decore of the Simpson house, sort of like a campy critique on the look of the show (“Pearls on a little girl? It’s a fairy tale!”)
– Great act break where Marge attempts to get Homer to realize John’s true colors (“Didn’t John seem a little… festive to you?” “Couldn’t agree more. Happy as a clam.” “He prefers the company of men!” “Who doesn’t?”)
– Homer’s upset with John, according to him, is that he should have acted more gay so it would be obvious to him (how much more did he need?), giving us this classic line (“I like my beer cold, my TV loud and my homosexual fah-laming!”)
– As per any homophobe, Homer’s internal logic is full of holes; the only people who wear Hawaiian shirts are gays and big fat party animals, so it’s okay if he wears one. Later, he gleefully hums the “Shoop Shoop Song,” but is horrified to find Bart dancing to it. There’s so many instances of Homer acting effeminate in the past, the list would go on forever, so there’s so much delicious irony laced in this episode.
– When John confronts him, Homer gets more vehement. Only someone as lovable as Homer can make an ignorant hate speech hilarious (“They’re embarrassing America.  They turned the Navy into a floating joke. They ruined all our best names like Bruce, and Lance, and Julian. Those were the toughest names we had!”) He also takes displeasure of John using the word ‘queer’ (“That’s our word for making fun of you! We need it!:)
– Homer’s mission to straighten Bart out (ha ha ha) is fantastic: first he sits him in front of a cigarette billboard featuring two sexy ladies having a pillow fight for two hours, with not-so-effective results. Bart feels like he wants a smoke afterwards. which Homer thinks is a good start until Bart mentions he’d like “anything slim.” Then we have the steel mill scene which… words cannot properly explain the brilliance that unfolds. It’s one of the best scenes in the series’ history just because it’s off-the-wall crazy bonkers insane (“You’re all sick!!” “Oh, be nice!”) My best friend in high school put (“We work hard, we play hard.” – Anonymous Steel Mill Worker) as one of his senior quotes, and I am forever respectful for him for it. I also love how it carries into the start of the third act. Homer, at Moe’s, finishes his story (“…and the entire steel mill was gay.”) If you were just tuning in, what the hell would you have thought?
– When their hunting trip proves futile, Moe tries to cheer Homer up, that maybe they can try taking Lisa out hunting and make her a man. Homer says she wouldn’t since she’s a vegetarian. Moe is dumbstruck (“You and Marge ain’t cousins, are you?”)
– Love John’s explanation for why the reindeer fled his mechanical Santa (“Well the sound is just brutal, and I figured reindeer would naturally be afraid of their cruel master Santa Claus. I mean, wouldn’t you be?”)
– One of the best endings of the series: spending the whole episode in the dark, Bart is stunned that his father thinks he’s gay. Cut to C&C Music Factory as John’s car drives off into the night. Then “Dedicated to The Steelworkers of America. Keep Reaching For That Rainbow!” Unbelievable.

167. The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show

(originally aired February 9, 1997)
This is a ridiculously meta, self-aware episode, and I love it for some of the same reasons that I don’t. It’s conflicting, but I appreciate most of what’s being done. It lambasts market research, bonehead executives who blindly follow said research, critical dog-piling, and a disturbing late-90s trend that John K. scornfully referred to as “tude.” But let’s just into it: ratings show that “Itchy & Scratchy” isn’t pulling in the viewers anymore, so the head honchos formulate a new idea, to introduce a new character to shape things up, and promote the hell out of him. Said character is Poochie the dog, a hip, rapping surfer who takes no guff from no one. After chewing out the director, Homer finds himself hired to do the voice of Poochie, something he takes with an unusual sense of pride. The tide turns after the new episode airs and is met with unanimous hatred from hardcore fans and critics alike. Not even an impassioned speech from Homer can stop the I & S folks from abruptly killing off the Pooch and give the people what they want: what they’ve had for the last eight years.

In this show, we see “Itchy & Scratchy” is a long-running, much beloved and merchandised cartoon experiencing a slight slump in the ratings and in popularity mostly due to its longevity. Sound familiar? The writers seem to have made this episode as a coping mechanism for their current predicament; it ain’t easy keeping a hit show fresh and afloat for so many years. There’s a lot of fantastic stuff in this show; Lindsay Naegle, in her first appearance, is absolutely brilliant as the TV executive, attempting to spark the creative process as soullessly as possible (“I feel we should Rasta-fy him by… ten percent or so.”) As a concept, Poochie is hilarious, representative of what stuffed suits in their 50s imagine what’s “hip” and “cool” for today’s youth. I’ve suffered through many characters and entire shows with stuff like this in it (see: “Rocket Power,”) so Poochie rings very true to me (even more hysterical on the commentary, some writers said that their kids loved Poochie un-ironically, so I guess it worked more than they thought). He’s the perfect example of a character created by focus groups, not by a creative spark from an actual person.

For all the good stuff this episode has, there’s a vein throughout the whole thing that seems kind of petty, when we get to the third act especially. The scene with Comic Book Guy and Bart, which is basically the fans versus the writers, is pretty egregious. We get “Worst episode ever” out of CBG though, so that’s good, as he expresses his displeasure out of the Poochie show. Bart then goes on a tirade about how those poor writers have been providing hundreds of hours of entertainment for free and you owe them. Not only does it not feel right that Bart is saying this, but it’s a little too on-the-nose, don’t you think? And what does that mean, for free? We’re not paying anything, but the people involved with the show are getting good money to produce quality entertainment, so that’s what we expect when we turn on our TV sets. It’s also especially ironic that this episode is basically at the peak before the show starts its inevitable descent into horribleness. So it’s our fault, right? As Lisa says, “We should thank our lucky stars that they’re still putting on a program of this caliber after so many years.” In other words, shut up and keep watching. But in spite of all the egregious inserted messages, the episode is still sharp in its criticism of the ridiculous television process, and select jokes targeted against nerdy superfans like you and me. Ribbing is fine, “if you don’t like this, you’re ungrateful” is not.

Tidbits and Quotes
– We get some great Itchy & Scratchys here; first Scratchy ends up bungee jumping over a volcano with his intestines thanks to Itchy, who then pours gasoline down his system so he’ll burst into flames. Then later they pull a William Tell but thankfully Itchy’s arrow misses… but pokes a hole in the giant tank of acid Scratchy’s been standing behind.
– Great sign on Krusty’s door (“Cleaning Crew: The liquor is not for you.”) Now it slightly confused me that Krusty is the one chewing Myers out; it’s not like he’s his boss. I guess it makes sense since the cartoons are killing stock on his program, but it’s just a little out of sorts since later we see the executives calling all the shots.
– Marge lets Bart and Lisa go off on their own at the mall, but tells them to be careful. So when a man who looks very much like a pedophile asks them to come with him, the two kids agree whole-heartily. They’re put in a focus group for Itchy & Scratchy, which is a great scene: the totally not suspicious sneezing mirror, Ralph eating the knob (“Please refrain from tasting the knob,”) Nelson messing with Milhouse’s trigger (“They like Itchy, they like Scratchy, one kid seems to love the Speedo man,”) and Myers’ outburst toward the kids, leading to Ralph crying and turning the knob respectively. One bit that stuck out was when the tester asked if the kids wanted to see Itchy & Scratchy deal with real-life problems like the kids face. I was always irritated that every other cartoon on was about kids or animals or anything going to high school, I could never understand it. Why would I want to watch a show about experiences I’ve had? A cartoon can do anything, why would I want them to deal with my stupid everyday problems when they could fight astro dinosaurs in deep space or something?
– The I & S writers are of course the Simpsons writers, and each of their egghead quips are quickly squashed or ignored by the executives (“We’re talking the original dog from hell.” “You mean Cerberus?”) Naegle outlines what Poochie will be (“He’s edgy, he’s ‘in your face.’ You’ve heard the expression ‘let’s get busy’? Well, this is a dog who gets ‘biz-zay’! Consistently and thoroughly.”) One of the writers (George Meyer) points out the obvious, with a price (“Excuse me, but ‘proactive’ and ‘paradigm’? Aren’t these just buzzwords that dumb people use to sound important? Not that I’m accusing you of anything like that. …I’m fired, aren’t I?” “Oh, yes.”) Later, David Silverman (complete with a tuba in his office) is designing the character with the three-headed executives over his shoulder barking at him. The first draft… not so edgy. Darken the sunglasses. Perfect.
– I like how understated Roy is, like he’s been there the whole time. It works, as I’m sure there’s been executives breathing down the writers’ necks about putting in a new hip young character that the kids will enjoy, and this is their chance to mock them for it.
– Nice back-and-forth between Homer and Bart I like for some reason (“Haven’t you ever listened to yourself on a tape recorder?” “I prefer to listen to Cheap Trick.”) I also like Homer’s smooth DJ voice he does on tape, and his horror at how his voice sounds played back.
– Even the hardcore stoner Otto is shocked by the I&S change (“A talking dog! What were you guys smokin’ when you came up with that?” “We were eating rotisserie chicken.”
– Don’t know how in-character it was for Homer to get so enraged, but I always laugh at “well you can cram it with walnuts, ugly!”
– Nice animation reference in June Bellamy, obviously June Foray, famous cartoon voice actress of Rocky the squirrel, Granny from the Looney Tunes, and hundreds of others. Also great is that she’s voiced by Tress MacNeille, who then does the voices of Itchy & Scratchy, who are Dan Castellaneta and Harry Shearer respectively. I like the weird report she develops with Homer (“Is this cartoon going on the air live?” “No, Homer. Very few cartoons are broadcast live, it’s a terrible strain on the animators’ wrists.”)
– Classic bit at the voice actor Q&A where one of the college nerds complains about a minute error in an episode (“In episode 2F09, when Itchy plays Scratchy’s skeleton like a xylophone, he strikes the same rib twice in succession, yet he produces two clearly different tones. I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a magic xylophone or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.”) Homer is quick on the defense (“Let me ask you a question. Why would a man whose shirt says ‘Genius at Work’ spend all of his time watching a children’s cartoon show?”) The nerd shamefully withdraws his question, opening a candy bar for himself to drown said sorrow.
– I love the massive build-up for Poochie, that it’s the greatest television event since the moon landing. I feel networks just end up shooting themselves in the foot when they promote shit like this so heavily, to the level that it can’t possibly meet expectations.
– Poochie’s first episode is great, consisting of the show stopping dead in its tracks for him to do his rap and some extreme sports. I love Homer’s “Quiet, you’re missing the jokes!” then cut to Poochie biking up a ramp and dunking a basketball to extreme music. I use that line quite often in several contexts. No one likes the show, not even the family can put on their game faces. Or Homer’s brain for that matter (“Oh, you don’t want to know what I really think. Now look sad and say ‘D’oh’.”)
– Nice backpedal from Naegle, a typical network executive covering her ass when her foolproof idea is a flop (“I’d attribute the product failure to fundamental shifts in our key demographic, coupled with the overall crumminess of Poochie.”) Homer has his own notes for how the show can be improved (“One, Poochie needs to be louder, angrier, and have access to a time machine. Two, whenever Poochie’s not onscreen, all the other characters should be asking ‘Where’s Poochie’?”)
– Homer demands the writers record his own lines to save Poochie. Bellamy reads as Itchy, “Hi, Poochie. You look like you’ve got something to say. Do you?” Then Homer reads as Poochie, “Yes, I certainly do.” Then immediately switches to his regular voice, giving his little speech, a quick bit I always laugh at. And I don’t know why, since it never made much sense why Homer was so passionate about this character, but I always kind of tear up at his last-ditch plea. Maybe it’s the emotional music or something. Kinda silly (“Hello there, Itchy. I know there’s a lot of people who don’t like me and wish I would go away. I think we got off on the wrong foot. I know I can come off a little proactive, and for that I’m sorry. But if everyone could find a place in their hearts for the little dog that nobody wanted, I know we can make them laugh and cry until we grow old together.”)
– Homer vows the next Poochie episode will be “bigger than ten Super Bowls,” but he doesn’t want to oversell it. Another line I use quite often. And of course, the wonderfully crummy way Poochie leaves us (“I have to go now. My planet needs me.”) They couldn’t even be bothered to animate anything, that’s how little they cared, or felt the audience would care, about Poochie. Complete with a sworn and signed affidavit that the character would never, ever return. Homer summarizes his experience (” The thing is, I lost creative control of the project. And I forgot to ask for any money. Well, live and learn.”)

166. Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala-D’oh-cious

(originally aired February 7, 1997)
One of the most delightfully bizarre installments of the series, this episode is a tour de force of hilarious isolated bits, great musical numbers and a nice reaffirmation of the family and their self-instated place in the world. We start by seeing Marge losing her hair due to stress from dealing with the family, so she suggests that they find a housekeeper to help out. Enter Shary Bobbins, a completely legally distinguishable original character (like Rickey Rouse and Monald Muck), a prim and perfect nanny who in no time at all makes the Simpsons a polite, dignified household. I think originally the writers wanted Julie Andrews for obvious reasons, but Maggie Roswell does a dynamite job, dare I say a better Andrews sound-alike than the genuine article. This episode has forever tainted that character and that movie for me, and I couldn’t be more glad about it. It takes about six seconds after Bobbins leaves for the Simpsons to descend into bedlam again, and the family reassures her that despite their shortcomings and foibles, they’re happy just the way they are.

I previously decried “The Springfield Files” a bit for being thin on story, and here we have another Jean/Reiss produced episode that is just the same, and has a helluva lot of padding. But, that doesn’t bother me at all here. A lot of filler comes from extended TV segments, but they work within the first and third acts when the family begins as lazy slobs, and eventually turn back into lazy slobs. Their disinterest in bettering themselves is passed onto the viewer; if the family isn’t doing anything interesting, let’s see what’s on TV. And every bit we see is gold: the Krusty Komedy Klassic (“KKK? That’s not good…”), li’l Rainier Wolfcastle’s first commercial, Charles Brosnan in “The Andy Griffith Show” (“Now, I’m going down to Emmett’s Fix-It Shop, to fix Emmett,”) and of course the special Itchy & Scratchy show directed by Quentin Tarantino. The segments with Bobbins are also fantastic, either contrasting against the Simpsons’ boorish ways, or in seeing the kids actually behave, in the scene from the movie where they take a walk through the unusually old timey park. 

The music is superb, each either assisting the plot or a wonderful parody from the film. We start with “Minimum Wage Nanny,” as the family yearns for the perfect nanny (“Teach us songs and magic tricks/Might I add, no fat chicks!”), “Cut Every Corner” teaches a questionable lesson about sweeping problems under the rug (“If nobody sees it, then nobody gets mad/It’s the American way!”), and “A Boozehound Named Barney” is a hilarious parody of “Feed the Birds,” featuring Barney’s operatic lament of being sober (“Move it, yah drunk, or I’ll blast your rear end!/I found two bucks/Then come in, my friend!”) They’re all fabulous, but my favorite and most effective is probably the closer, “Happy Just the Way We Are.” While the family has hopes and dreams, they are also fully aware of who they are and comfortable with that fact. As seen in the show, any massive shift in their world will eventually dissolve, leaving them back where they started, and they’re fine with that. It’s also like a song in ode to the status quo; we love these characters as is and don’t want to see them change. It’s a truly wonderful episode, one of the all time greats, with a solid main story, classic music and lots of extra funny bits peppered into the mix.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Krusty’s Komedy Klassic doesn’t go so well. First up, an act Krusty claims has never been done before: dumb pet tricks! He has a dog trained to catch a red rubber ball, which is suspiciously similar in shape and shade as his clown nose. I wonder what’s going to happen? (“Auggh! Somebody shoot it! Somebody shoot it!”) Then he tries a sketch: “Mad About You” is now “Mad About Shoe,” where he’s shown married to a giant piece of footwear. The audience understandably boos (“You’re not going to like our ‘NYPD Shoe’ sketch. It’s pretty much the same thing.”) Even Krusty’s biggest fan Bart is unimpressed, and would change the channel if they could find the remote. Grampa has it in the kitchen, thinking it to be a phone, but instead tries the “old-fashioned model,” holding a plugged in iron up to his ear, complete with sizzling noise.
– Love the “Hair” montage, scandalously starting with Marge in the shower, shocked to find a clump of hair on the floor. Also great is Bart and Milhouse playing cowboys in the living room, and a blue tumbleweed rolls by. It isn’t long before Marge’s beehive is covered with empty patches. Homer tries to calm his somber wife (“Don’t worry about a thing. I’ll teach you to comb it over so no one can tell. Just like my hair!”) She imagines herself with a Homer-esque comb over and immediately breaks down in tears.
– To pay for the nanny, Homer vows to give up his membership of the Civil War Re-Creation Society. Moe’s now out a General Ambrose Burnside, and Barney voices his complaints about their Stonewall Jackson, Apu (“The south shall come again!”)
– The family interviews some nannies: the first, an elderly woman Mrs. Pennyfeather, seems like a fine choice, but Homer is suspicious (“Wait a minute, Marge. I saw Mrs. Doubtfire. This is a man in drag!”) He then accosts her hair, trying to expose her disguise. It’s such a great read from Castellaneta, culminating in him chasing her across the lawn yelling, “Gimme those!” Those? Like her fake breast cups or something? After scaring away another potential drag queen, Kearney puts in his bid for the job, which impresses Homer (“I’ll keep a watchful eye on your kids and if they get out of line… Pow!” “I like him.” “Thanks. Hey, where do you keep the liquor?” “I hide a bottle of schnapps in the baby’s crib.”)
– Shary Bobbins informs Homer of her previous employer, Lord and Lady Huffington of Sussex, and he whispers to Marge, asking if they know them. He ultimately confuses them with the guy he bowls with… the black guy (“So, you work for Carl, eh?”) Bart has questions of his own for the potential new nanny (“Pop quiz, hotshot. I’m supposed to be doing my homework, but you find me upstairs reading a Playdude. What do you do? What do you do?” “I make you read every article in that magazine, including Norman Mailer’s latest clap-trap about his waning libido.”)
– I love the energy of “Cut Every Corner,” as well as checking in with Wiggum and Apu doing their own brands of half-assery (“And the clerk who runs the store/can charge a little more/for meat (for meat)/and milk (and milk)/from nineteen-eighty-foooooooooouur”)
– Great great scene of Willie’s one-man band version of “Maniac,” and her encounter with the lovely Ms. Bobbins (“Shary Bobbins and I were engaged to be wed back in the old country. Then she got her eyesight back. Suddenly the ugliest man in Glasgow wasn’t good enough for her.” “It’s good to see you, Willie.” “That’s not what you said the first time you saw me!”)
– Ms. Bobbins even manages to soothe the black heart of Mr. Burns, entrancing him into flying a kite. He enjoys himself, until he’s swiftly struck by lightning (“What’s this strange sensation in my chest?” “I think your heart’s beating again.” “Oh, that takes me back. God bless you, Shary Bobbins!”)
– Love the brief kink in Bobbins’ kindly nature, initially annoyed at Bart and Lisa’s request for yet another song (“I’ve been singing you songs all day. I’m not a bloody jukebox!”)
– Great second act break of Grampa getting a hold of Bobbins’ umbrella (“I think we got our umbrellas swiiiiiiitttcchhed!”)
– The third act is a little bit cruel, as Bobbins has basically replaced Marge as the family maid. Not even her catchy songs can motivate them anymore (“But the beer will taste more sweet/if you get up off your seat…” “Lady, the man asked for a beer, not a song.”) I also love her dissatisfied “Do-re-mi-fa-so…” under her breath as she walks out of the room. Eventually she breaks down, getting drunk with Barney in the Simpsons living room. The family reassures her that they’re happy as is, to which Bobbins replies in song, “Don’t think it’s sour grapes/but you’re all a bunch of apes/and so I must be leaving yooooou!” And then she’s sucked into a jet engine, an ending that by all purposes should be horrifying and brutally off-tone, but by God is it funny as hell.

165. Mountain of Madness

(originally aired February 2, 1997)
Homer and Burns snowed in and start getting rampant cabin fever? Almost seems like a silly plot out of a Saturday morning cartoon. I remember Rocko’s Modern Life had an episode like this, as I’m sure many other shows have. It could almost be viewed as an alteration of the “trapped in a small space” trope where two characters are stuck having to resolve their differences, but in this case they want to kill each other. After a disastrous fire drill, Burs arranges a company retreat in the snowy terrain of Mt. Useful. There, employees are paired up and given the task of finding a far off cabin using teamwork, and the last ones there are to be fired. Burns ends up paired with Homer, who of course get to the cabin first by use of snowmobile. As bizarre and improbable as it may seem, I kind of like the odd camaraderie the two have in this show. Putting himself in the competition, Burns has leveled himself down to the place of the common worker, able to enjoy the cozy cabin with a fellow chum. Homer is hesitant at first, but then realizes being with Burns is a guaranteed win for him, and is much more complacent on getting chummy with the boss.

An avalanche gets the two snowed in, and their successful escape attempt is thwarted by a continual string of more avalanches. A stigma is set in almost immediately as each holds the other to blame for their predicament, and they grow more and more resentful toward each other. I think part of why this somewhat tired plot still works for me is it seems to be conscious of itself; the two build snowmen, comment on how they’ve managed to stave off cabin fever… then agree they need to dress the snowmen. It’s tricky to comment on predictable plot twists, sometimes you just end up making it worse, but I thought it was handled well here. I like the climax where each envisions the others army; Homer sees Burns with an battalion of snowmen, and Burns takes Homer’s bizarre threat (“Stay back! I have powers! Political powers!”) as a cavalcade of historical figures like Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Gandhi. The music swells as the two armies prepare for war, then they dissolve as we see the scene for what it is: two insane, feeble men attempting to best each other. Who are then saved by the cabin becoming a rocket, a stupid plot twist absolved by a single hilarious line (“Something’s wrong with its brakes!”)

There’s some small side plots and runners that are sort of interesting and funny as well. Homer brings the family along, not realizing he wasn’t supposed to, so Marge and the kids are left to their own devises. Bart and Lisa end up tagging along with Smithers, who is the odd man out with no partner. I like seeing Smithers, who always has things calculated and under control, out of his element and visibly frustrated at his boss’ betrayal, and on top of that he has to deal with these two kids’ childish antics. I especially love his annoyance at Lisa’s constant retrieval and concern over injured animals (“Aren’t there any healthy animals in this forest?!”) We also get another look at Lenny and Carl’s relationship, something that would soon grow and spiral out of control into this weird subtly gay co-dependency nonsense. For now, they’re just two work and drinkin’ chums, and we see Carl holding an unusual grudge against Lenny for some strange reason. It’s not explained, it’s just a gag, something the show would take oddly serious now. This show may not have the most original plot, but it gave enough humor and good characterization to keep it interesting and fun.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Great stuff with the fire drill; the alarm sounds and no one is the wiser at first, with Carl thinking it’s the microwave for his popcorn, and he just dumps a bag full of kernels into the bowl. When they finally realize what it is, the entire plant goes nuts of course. Strangely, Homer is the first one out, using a bench to barricade the door, hustling up to Burns and Smithers asking what he’s won. Next scene we see the aftermath, with the windows on the lower floor smashed and a man using a rope to climb out to join the rest of his co-workers to be yelled at by Burns.
– Homer bemoans having to go on the teamwork retreat, leading Bart on a rant about various topics that interest his father (“Sharing is a bunch of bull, too. And helping others. And what’s all this crap I’ve been hearing about tolerance?” “Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.”)
– Great animation of the family car skidding on the ice in the parking lot, hitting basically every single car before coming to a stop near the center.
– I will say Homer’s commentary during the explanation of the retreat feels kind of forewarning; standing near the front with his childish interrupting comments feels very latter Homer. Though I do like the scene with the time dissolves of Smithers reading off partners, with Homer just standing in the center dumbly as everyone else has left around him.
– Classic bit with the Smokey the Bear robot (“You pressed ‘you,’ referring to me. That is incorrect. The correct answer is ‘you.'”) I also love the bit with the off-screen film featuring a rambling, possibly drunk and muffled John Muir, which Marge watches blankly before slowly backing out of the room.
– Great scene with Burns building Homer up to believe that cheating is fine to do; Homer is hesitant at first, mostly due to not wanting to set off his boss, but Burns is very persuasive (“If you can take advantage of a situation in some way, it’s your duty as an American to do it. Why should the race always be to the swift or the jumble to the quick-witted? Should they be allowed to win merely because of the gifts God gave them? Well, I say cheating is the gift man gives himself!” “Mr. Burns, I insist that we cheat.” “Excellent.”)
– Love Burns’ incisive comment about sitting (“From the mightiest Pharaoh to the lowliest peasant, who doesn’t enjoy a good sit?”) and his incredulous reaction to Homer’s amazing tactic of retrieving dip from the table.
– Stupid, but I do like Homer opening the door, which lets in all the snow, then going to try the window, same result, then thinking… then trying the door and letting more snow in, burying him slightly.
– Just a random thought… the mountain is so unstable that Burns and Homer’s whispering trigger massive avalanches. And the ranger says there’s going to be a music festival there? The band would play one note and everyone would be buried.
– Great bit with the ranger openly announcing he’s going to humor the children (Bart and Lisa), which he does, before telling the crowd they’re searching for two dead bodies and to bust out their corpse-handling gloves. Bart is none-the-wiser (“You hear that, Lis? Dad’s gonna be just fine.”)