(originally aired May 15, 2005)
Another show that I really have no idea what it’s trying to say; it’s supposed to be satirizing Catholicism, I guess, but ultimately all I see is an episode clumsily lifting elements from previous shows. The first act involves Bart getting expelled, just as he was in “Whacking Day.” Except here, it happens during a big medieval fair at the school, and the big prank isn’t actually caused by Bart, he just takes the blame. The school is so damn poor, how do they have the funds to put on this pretty elaborate fair? And why? Who is this for? Anyway, Willie enacts his revenge and Bart takes the fall, but I’m not sure why it’s constructed like this. The only way this comes into play is much later Bart warms up to Father Sean because he believes he was innocent, but they could have played that ten different ways and it wouldn’t make a difference. Is it to make him seem more sympathetic? Even despite his prank in “Whacking Day,” Bart’s plenty sympathetic; he’s just a rambunctious kid who ultimately didn’t mean to ram Chalmers in the ass. …boy, that sentence doesn’t sound very good, does it?
The only place that will have Bart and is cheap enough is a Catholic school, and it isn’t long before he’s swayed by the faith, through ultra-violence religious comic books. Homer goes to straighten things out, but ends up turned himself thanks to pancake dinners and bingo. Marge teams up with Lovejoy and Flanders to reclaim her son and husband to the “right” religion. So it’s kind of like “The Joy of Sect,” but where the Movementarians were actually a despicable, untrustworthy cult, the Catholics… well… we won’t get into religious discussions here, but for the purposes of this show, they’re definitely not negatively portrayed. Marge wins Bart over with material possessions like “Sect,” here paintball instead of hover bikes, but it feels so clumsy here. There, Bart was brainwashed, here, Bart seems to be truly invested in his faith, then drops it as a goof, then comes back and delivers one sentence of a resolution, and everyone’s minds are completely changed. One line that’s surely been said a million times over stops the conflict between Christians and Catholics. I’m not sure what the point of this show is… another episode where I’m just confused more than I’m annoyed.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The show finally takes a shot at Dubya with Homer prattling about what America’s next great war will be (“Anything’s possible with Commander Cuckoo-Bananas in charge!”) Not funny, yeah, but it’s strange that after so many shots at Clinton we have basically nothing at Bush Jr.’s expense. On a commentary, Jean mentions that they never did many jokes because public opinion of the President kept changing every six months or so that they didn’t want to do it. Well, one, I recall that opinion of him was quite low for most of his presidency, so I don’t know what that was about. And two, if you wanted to take a crack at him, what do you care about public opinion? What’s with the show and its lack of balls now?
– This is a nice runner between the teacher nun and Bart, who’s been forced to pose like Christ on the cross and hold heavy books in his hands (“Now think what it would be like if you nails in your hands.” “Well, I guess they’d help me hold the dictionaries up.”)
– With not much material to work from, I think Liam Neeson did a good job as Father Sean. I like his recounting of how he got his faith: face down in the gutter after a brawl with his father, St Peter appeared before him (“‘Sean, you wanker,’ he says, ‘Repent of your wicked ways or sod off!’ And he gobbed in my face and turned back into a street light.”)
– I’m really not sure what this show’s stance on Catholicism is… or that they even have one. The montage of Homer and Bart’s new faith is indicative of that. We see Bart using a rosary, them rejecting meat on Friday, more pancakes and bingo… like, is that all? Oh, and of course they make a priest molesting kids joke. I knew they couldn’t resist it.
– Marge’s heaven daydream is so long, and ultimately just more time killing. And if that’s her worry, then why isn’t she just as concerned with Lisa’s move to Buddhism? Couldn’t she have had a line or something where she was concerned of being the only Christian family member left?
– The entire last act echoes so closely to “Sect,” but the tone is completely different. Marge, Flanders and Lovejoy feel so unbelievably petty, trying to force Bart back into Christianity. Though this is a great line from Lovejoy (“We’re here to bring you back to the one true faith: the Western branch of American Reformed Presbyterianism.”)
– “It’s all Christianity, people! The little stupid differences are nothing compared to the big stupid similarities!” That’s it. That’s all it takes to stop the entire conflict. Everyone is completely swayed, and Father Sean alerts all to abide Bart’s message of peace. But first, a line from Flanders (“He’s right! Can’t we all get together and concentrate on our real enemies: monogamous gays and stem cells?”) Then he mentally notes to re-bless his hand after shaking it with a Catholic. I hate Flanders now. And if there’s one character that shouldn’t elicit a hateful response, it’s motherfucking Flanders.
Season 16 Final Thoughts
Another season, same old shit.
In fact it’s actually getting worse in that episodes are becoming more and more forgettable. Normally with these season round-ups the worst episodes stand out to me, but now I have to go through the list and remember which ones pissed me off the most. It’s all becoming just a big wash, but thankfully there’s only four more seasons of this banality left to do.
“The Heartbroke Kid,” “A Star is Torn”
“She Used to Be My Girl,” “Mommie Beerest,” “There’s Something About Marrying,” “On a Clear Day I Can’t See My Sister,” “Mobile Homer”