Category Archives: Season 17

364. The Italian Bob

(originally aired December 11, 2005)
Poor Sideshow Bob. After redeeming his character and given a suitable farewell in season 8, Mike Scully and Al Jean dragged him back out and whitewashed him to be a generic evil villain, wanting to kill the Simpsons because he’s eeevvil. It’s the Mr. Burns complex: motivations are out the window, this character’s a bad guy so he does bad guy things. But this isn’t only a Bob show, it’s another travel show. The Simpsons are going to Italy! Burns buys himself a sharp new European car, and needs someone to go overseas to ship it back to him. Not only does he choose Homer, he allows the entire family to go, for some reason. After the obligatory sight-seeing gags, the family ends up at a small Tuscan village, and is shocked to find the mayor to be Sideshow Bob. The story of how Bob got there is actually pretty satisfying: he went to Europe to get a fresh start, and ended up being the toast of the town during wine season, able to crush a multitude of grapes with his gargantuan feet. Utilizing established character lore to comic effect? I’m shocked.

Bob’s got a great new life in Italy, a lovely wife and kid, and in exchange for not exposing his criminal past, welcomes the Simpsons to his village with open arms, and fixes their car for them. You really feel good for Bob’s new lot in life, and are almost dreading the inevitable moment it comes crashing down and he reverts back to his boring murderous default. A drunk Lisa spills the beans about Bob’s past, and is further clinched when she stumbles and rips off his suit, revealing his Springfield Prison orange jumpsuit. Why in the ever loving fuck would he be wearing that? Does it even matter? It’s times like these I feel the writers hold the audience in such contempt; they must realize how dumb this stuff is, but decide it’s good enough to air anyway. Bob swears revenge on the family, and inexplicably, his wife and son are on board too. The Simpsons hide out at the Coliseum where Krusty is performing Pagliacci. Bob and family move in for the kill, but Krusty drives away with the Simpsons and everything’s fine. How boring. I think there’s a lot of potential for Bob’s character, but if they’re just going to do the same old evil murder schtick, then why even fucking bother. Classic Simpsons acknowledged when things were growing stale and put them to bed. New Simpsons then goes and jostles them awake to do the same old song and dance in place of new ideas.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Mr. Burns’ car breaks down in front of the school, and the kids taunt him. He then gets out an old timey camera to take their pictures to remember them by for vengeance purposes, then falls asleep under the curtain. It’s funny because he’s old! Later we see Cletus and Brandine, where she comments how Cletus is the most wonderful husband and son she’s ever had. It’s funny because they’re inbred! I know I’ve mentioned this many times, but it’s such a bummer that secondary characters have been reduced to one type of joke. Once they’re on screen, you can pretty much call the gag immediately.
– Li’l Liberal Lisa arrives in Italy with a Canadian flag on her backpack (“Some people in Europe have the impression that America has made some stupid choices over the past… five years…”) There’s something in Smith’s delivery that feels self-righteous, beyond Lisa’s character. Bush has been in office five years, get it? We’re saying his presidency is terrible, without actually saying it! Again, I’ll say this show is toothless for making these sort-of kind-of rips on the sitting President, where in the past the show had no problem with any target.
– My lord, Bob’s wife’s voice is sexy. I mean, just look at her voice actress. Hachi machi. But unfortunately with that, we have Tress MacNeille as Bob’s son, who is so goddamn annoying I want to strangle that little fucker.
– I actually enjoy most of the second act. Bob’s new life is interesting and believable within his character, and it’s nice to see the high-minded, genteel side of him, as well as his buffoonish show business side when he clowns around playing soccer with the kids. The fact that it’s ruined at the end of the act when Bob must be forced back to villainy is so disheartening, and that it’s handled so stupidly and unbelievably is like pouring salt on the festering wound. Not even the American Dad ‘Plagiarismo Di Plagiarismo’ bit can quell my great annoyance. It’s the lesser of three MacFarlane evils, the only one remotely watchable, and I’d much rather be watching it than this show.
– “I don’t wish to brag, but he’s evil at an eighth grade level.” Not only has Bob become a cartoonish villain, but he acknowledges himself as one.
– Another show with no ending. Krusty drives in for no reason to save the Simpsons, and Bob and family just walk home, while we hear Tress MacNeille continually screeching as that damn kid.


363. The Last of the Red Hat Mamas

(originally aired November 27, 2005)
Ah, Marge episodes. Strap yourself in for another exercise in banality. Marge is depressed that she doesn’t have any friends, then she finds some: a group of women called the Cheery Red Tomatoes. They then do some activities together. Do any of them exhibit any signs of personality? Nope. Only one of them has lines or a name, the rest are just set dressing. Well, not true; rather than develop another character, they threw Agnes in there too for some reason. Upon her final initiation, Marge realizes the group is planning a heist on Burns Manor, to take the money that Burns had promised to a children’s hospital. They do the job, end up getting caught, Burns lets them go, and Marge is inexplicably out of the group. She reveals she snuck one of Burns’ Faberge eggs in her hair, to which Tammy the leader comments, “To be safe, sweetie, I don’t think we can ever see each other again.” Any reasoning for that? Nope. It’s not even a cop out ending. I don’t even know if I can call it an ending.

The main story is so boring… So is the side story, but it’s more bizarre. Lisa inquires about studying abroad, because of course a second grader can do that. To be approved to go to Italy, she must speak fluent Italian, because, again, eight-year-olds should be expected to be bilingual. She ends up getting a tutor, and is surprised to find it’s Milhouse, who speaks Italian from spending summers in Europe with his grandmother. All of a sudden, he’s a brazen and confident, taking Lisa to Little Italy so they can do another Godfather reference. Lisa starts falling for him, for some reason, until she finds him with another girl in his lap… yeah, I don’t even know what to make of all this. Is he acting like a big shot to impress Lisa? If that’s the case, then why was he with that girl in the end? Oh, who cares. There’s nothing worth getting upset about here; just another complete waste of twenty minutes, time that could have been spent doing an interesting story with actual humor.

Tidbits and Quotes
– I had just complained about Miss Springfield and the Crazy Cat Lady last episode, and here they’re back again! Of course Quimby has girls in cages in his office, that totally makes sense, and when Homer tells Marge he found her a friend, of course it was the fucking Crazy Cat Lady.
– Marge is humiliated by Homer getting into a fight at the Easter egg hunt, but the silver lining is that Homer didn’t start it. Seeing Maggie isn’t getting any eggs, Homer helps out by stealing them from other children (“Peekaboo, I steal from you!”) It’s kind of sweet. Then the referee flat-out tackles him, and the brawl begins. Sure, Homer ends up taking it too far, but at least it’s a little victory for me.
– If anyone wants to explain that Sherri & Terri twin language bit to me, have at it. Is the joke that they’re twins? I’m not entirely sure.
– Lisa tries to learn Italian on cassette, but it has phrases like, “I plan to dump this body in the ocean.” She looks and sees it’s “Italian for Italian-Americans!” Because Italian-Americans are mobsters! Get it?
– Marge builds a kinship with the Tomatoes by bitching about Homer. Now, if I may do a quick compare & contrast, think back to “War of the Simpsons,” where we have a similar joke. Marge lists hours and hours of faults about Homer, so many that she grows hoarse, but they’re small, believable things, that he chews with his mouth open and his long yellow toe nails. Here, Marge complains how Homer cut up her wedding dress to make a badminton net and how he’s a multiple felon. It’s not as funny when Homer’s made out to be this insane maniac rather than just a normal person.
– I guess it’s funny that Milhouse’s middle name is Mussolini. But why would they name him that?
– Skimming back through the episode, it seems one of the Tomatoes actually does have a line. And they all chant “Bare hair!” Alright then.
– Mr. Burns arranged an event at the Children’s Hospital, wrote out a check, all so he could announce that he was keeping it for himself and release the hounds on the crowd. This is more cartoon villain Burns from “Homer vs. Dignity,” humiliating and depriving others for his sick, perverted pleasure.

Brief aside, I gotta be honest, I’m kind of getting tired of doing this. The Jean era is really beating me down; these episodes are just getting more and more unremarkable, and a lot of my commentary feels redundant at this point. But I’m so very close to the end, so I might as well press forth. I want to finish seasons 17 and 18, and the movie, by the end of the year, then wrap everything up at the start of 2013. Big thanks to all who have been keeping up and reading all this, and glad to hear you’re enjoying it on some level. Just be thankful you don’t have to watch any of this.

362. See Homer Run

(originally aired November 20, 2005)
Feeling like three stories smashed together, this episode is just a jumbled, aggravating mess. We open to see Homer crowing about Father’s Day and being incredibly giddy, and my fears of him being completely grating through the entire show are confirmed. From top to bottom, he’s just way too mindlessly chipper, and every word out of his mouth makes me want to hit him. Not wanting to buy a gift, Lisa makes her father a heartfelt storybook for the holiday, which Homer thoughtlessly rejects. Pretty cold stuff. They tried to make it like he’s just ignorant more than scornful (like the perfect example, “Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand,”) but he’s just so incredibly callous, I think even Homer would realize how much he’s hurting Lisa’s feelings. Lisa ends up snapping at school, and the diagnosis is that with Homer as her prominent male figure in her life, she’s losing faith in the entire gender. Alright, I’m still on board, kind of. To regain her daughter’s respect, Homer agrees to be the school’s safety mascot by donning a salamander costume. Umm… what?

Homer is the Safety Salamander, and of course fails spectacularly at it. Lisa is just becoming more appalled by her father (“Janey’s father just takes her to the zoo once a month. Couldn’t you be that kind of Dad?”) It’ll take a miracle to get Homer into her good graces, or more accurately, a gigantic multi-car pile-up which he can rescue people out of. With one act left, the plot completely shifts gears: Quimby’s many illegalities are called out, resulting in a recall election, where every wacko in town, including Schwarzenegger expy Rainier Wolfcastle, tries their shot at running. It’s like the California gubernatorial election… that happened two years ago. For some reason, people really respond to Homer dressed in that stupid suit, so he ends up running. But when Marge washes it and it falls apart mid-debate, his candidacy is over. But don’t worry, Lisa’s here for our unearned saccharine ending (“You tried to make this town a better place, and no matter what, that makes you my hero.”) If by that you mean drinking constantly and showboating for the crowd, then sure. It’s more of just Homer being a maniac and doing whatever he wants, and the family standing by to support him for no reason whatsoever. Just complete garbage, and the worst Homer-Lisa show since “Make Room For Lisa.”

Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer tossing aside Lisa’s gift is really so heart wrenching (“You didn’t like it, did you?” “No, no, it’s great! I’m done with it now!”) It feels like one of the cruelest things he’s ever done. There really is a huge difference between this and the aforementioned line from “Lisa’s Substitute.” There, Homer really has not been on the radar regarding Lisa’s feelings about Mr. Bergstrom, nor does he really see how upset his daughter is about it. The quote itself is mean, but the intentions were not. The same could be said with this episode, but here the situation directly involves Homer, and Lisa eagerly and visibly anticipating her father’s positive response. Even a fucking lunkhead like Homer should be able to pick up on this and at the least humor his daughter, but instead, he acts like a fucking asshole and make her cry. Later, Homer reflects on the situation (“I still don’t understand how her feelings can be hurt. It’s my day!”) Remember the days when Homer would fight tooth and nail for the affections of his kids? Now he whines and moans and has absolutely no regard for others. Now that’s great character development.
– Dr. Pryor returns after sixteen long seasons. He was in “Lisa’s Sax,” but in terms of present day, he’s basically been completely forgotten. I like how that’s kind of alluded to as he appears in the shadows of Skinner’s office before he’s mentioned, then feels he can step out and speak his piece.
– “Now I’m off to bring safety to Springfield Elementary and win back your love!” The dialogue here is so painfully on the nose, Homer mentions winning back Lisa’s love a good four times this episode.
– The car pile-up is so ridiculous. It starts as a line of twenty cars rear-ending each other, somehow all driving in a close proximity on a residential street. Then when rescue vehicles arrive from all directions and crash into each other, it turns the wreckage into a gigantic pile of cars. How the fuck did that happen? Doesn’t matter, it gives Homer the opportunity to be a hero. And also for a Smithers gay joke, where Homer pulls him and Mr. Largo out of the wreckage (“We were just carpooling, and that’s it!”)
– Once again, the only gags about Quimby involve his rampant infidelity, showing him hijacking a plane for that reason (“Take this plane anywhere girls are going wild!”) Also the annoyingly voiced Miss Springfield has somehow become a regular character, despite being fucking aggravating to listen to.
– Speaking of aggravating regular characters, the Crazy Cat Lady is of course running for mayor too, and her full name is revealed: Eleanor Abernathy. I guess the writers fucking love this character.

361. Marge’s Son Poisoning

(originally aired November 13, 2005)
It’s been a while since we had a Marge/Bart episode. The first since “Bart the Mother”? I think that’s right, but if not, who cares. At this point, the writers have forgotten how to write both characters, so the result is very awkward and strange. Marge buys a tandem bicycle hoping to ride with Homer, but of course he turns her down in favor of television. We’ve come a long way since “Duffless,” huh? Seeing his lonely mother biking by herself, Bart agrees to go with her, and it becomes their regular bonding activity, riding to a dainty shoppe for tea and cakes (for Bart, mainly cakes). It’s a thin, boring premise with not much added to it, but at least I’m fine with the characterization so far. It isn’t long before the bullies poke at Bart for being a “momma’s boy,” leading him to explode at his mother and humiliate her (“Mom, I only hung out with you because I felt sorry for you!”) I get he needs to shun Marge here, but he does it with such a level of scorn; it’s not just “stop mothering me so much,” it’s “I put up with you because you’re pathetic.” Why would he word it that way? How mean is that?

In the final act, the rift created between Marge and Bart starts getting mended. There’s a karaoke contest at the school, for some reason, and Bart suggests he and his mother do a duet. Something that would humiliate him further, but he’s only doing it because that’s what he thinks Marge wants. Then we see how their relationship has the risk of paralleling Skinner and his mother, as they are also performing, which makes absolutely no sense. Agnes doing karaoke? Forget it. Also, Skinner has become completely neutered at this point; he used to have some modicum of respect as Bart’s unofficial arch nemesis, now he’s just this sad, pathetic man who’s chained to his mother in every respect. Marge fears Bart will turn out like him, so he cuts the performance short (“Your job isn’t to worry about me, it’s to give me things to worry about.”) So the ending isn’t Bart apologizing for saying such hateful things to Marge, but Marge apologizing for Bart having to cheer her up. Huh? I get the idea of a mother not wanting to burden her children with her own problems, but it’s not like she unloaded on Bart; she was just having an bad day and Bart responded to it. So I don’t get it. But perhaps I should give up trying to understand some of these episodes.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Intolerable sequence where Homer gleefully hijacks a bumper car as the track is being dismantled and driving it onto the street. Homer being that giddy sets up warning flags for me; he’s a hell of a lot funnier when he’s a dogged everyman, not an infantile maniac.
– There’s a kind-of B-story involving Homer taking up arm wrestling, kind of. I like the idea of him just bulking up one arm with his dumbbell, then moving on to the other one before Moe stops him, but beyond that, it’s just killing time, and has no bearing on anything. Though the scene of them attempting to bilk the Rich Texan is the only amusing scene of the episode (“A hundred bucks says he can whoop you in arm wrestling!” “A Texas penny it is!”)
– “Sweet Home Alabama” appears twice on this show’s soundtrack, with characters singing it, for reasons that escape me.
– The China Syndrome is a pretty good store name, as is the talking Krusty tea kettle (“Earl Gray? I’d rather have Lynda Gray! …is she still alive?”)
– We get a reference to the great film Midnight Cowboy, but it just feels very random. Marge takes a bus to Miami with the tandem bike, I guess representing her dead relationship with her son? Or something?
– The new type of “joke” with the bullies is to have them be knowledgeable or mindful of cultural or adult things, like Jimbo knowing about Frank Gehry, or here when they discuss the limitations of store credit. Then we end the episode with the three of them singing “My Sharona” outside the Simpson house for some reason, because that’s funny, I guess?

360. Treehouse of Horror XVI

(originally aired November 6, 2005)
FOX airing the Halloween show in November had become almost an aggravating tradition now, enough for the series itself to acknowledge it. The opening sequence was so, so cathartic when I first saw it, with Kang and Kodos desperately trying to speed up time during baseball season so they can air the Treehouse of Horror, but end up going to far and accidentally obliterate all of existence. If that’s our beginning, then the rest of the show must be pure gold! Well, not exactly. While there are some entertaining moments throughout, this is just another mildly disappointing Halloween show. First up, “Bartificial Intelligence,” where the Simpsons adopt a robot boy to replace Bart when he falls into a deep coma. I like the vague not-so-distant future setting, and there’s some great direction by David Silverman to give a bit of a creepy atmosphere, but ultimately it’s not extremely interesting. I kind of like the ending where Bart ransacks the discarded robots who took him for his revenge, but everything else feels kind of blah.

“Survival of the Fattest” is definitely the worst, where Burns invites a group of people to his lush estate in order to hunt them for sport. This is a conceit that feels like a one-off gag from the show proper than an entire Halloween segment. There’s nothing really spooky about it; it’s just an exercise to see how many beloved secondary characters we can kill off in six minutes, which I guess is good enough for the writers at this point. And when I think Halloween, I think Terry Bradshaw. The last one “I’ve Grown a Costume to Your Face,” a scornful witch curses the citizens of Springfield to become whoever, or whatever, their costume is. This is the most Halloween-y of them all, and it still doesn’t feel right. Some people are happy with their new personas, some aren’t, and it all comes to a spectacular non-conclusion, which is admittedly kind of amusing. The biggest problem I’m seeing with these recent Treehouse of Horrors is tone. The non-spooky content in some segments also shares some blame, but even when it was being comical, Halloween specials in the past always had this really unique quality to them. Whether they be playing up the tension or mimicing suspenseful music cues or camera moves from the movies they were parodying, they didn’t feel like the regular episodes. Conversely, despite their impossible content, each of these three segments would work fine if put in regular rotation.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The Kang and Kodos opening is definitely the best part of the show. The animation of the entire universe (including God Himself) being sucked up in a vortex is pretty awesome.
– The pacing in the first segment is kind of odd. Bart has just gone into the coma when Hibbert suggests she get a robot boy to replace him. He then jokes about being glad that Bart isn’t dead so now he can keep billing them, twice, and gets mad at Homer and Marge for not laughing. Their kid’s in a permanent coma, what’s his damage?
– Now we have music montages in Halloween shows too, with Bart and David fighting for family and friend’s affections to the tune of The Eagles. Again, this does not feel Halloween-y to me.
– Really well timed bit where David uses Homer as a buffer for robo-Bart’s buzzsaw, but then has absolutely no problem ripping through them both (“Ohhh, those were my good pants!”) Then, I don’t know why they tagged on the weird exorcist ending, you could have just ended it on Homer and his new small robo-legs giving out.
– The second segment is really a big dead zone. The only thing I smirked at was the Blue-Haired Lawyer tying up a legal document to defend Burns’ human poaching, and then Burns shoots him. Terry Bradshaw doesn’t do a bad job, it’s just a role that doesn’t fit in a Halloween show.
– I don’t know if this is the first time it’s mentioned, but the Crazy Old Man’s new moniker is Old Jewish Man, which feels way too on-the-nose. And that’s not another Jew joke, I swear.
– I laughed hard at Sideshow Mel’s “Burn her… gift certificate!” It’s just like “Surely he cannot speak!” in the dolphin story, I love whenever Mel makes a grand announcement in the middle of a crowd scene.
– Wiggum is now Jared from the Subway ads (“I’m only a little overweight and sexually ambiguous!”) I don’t entirely get this gag. Did it seem like Jared was gay? I believe he’s married. It just feels like a weird shot.
– Maggie turning everyone into pacifiers and flying off to the Bewitched theme is a pretty good out. Moe’s PSA for adult illiteracy, with guest star Dennis Rodman… not so much. I like the idea of characters breaking the fourth wall for the Halloween show, but it just felt kind of random how they did it here.

359. Milhouse of Sand and Fog

(originally aired September 25, 2005)
Modern Simpsons has never been shy about lifting characters and elements from its illustrious past, and here’s a perfect example. It’s “A Milhouse Divided” in reverse, where the Van Houtens get back together, which leads to a martial squabble between Homer and Marge, because we haven’t seen that in almost two episodes. Was this story necessary? Nope. But I was surprised that most everything before the clunky finale worked for me; some parts felt rushed, but the main story beats felt logical and the characterization was steady too. Kirk and Luanne cross paths at a party at the Simpsons, and ultimately end up back in the sack again, figuratively. And probably literally too. I can see this happening: Luanne enjoyed her freedom as a bachelorette, but now things have dried up for her, and Kirk is just a sad sack who’s been hoping and praying for this day to come. So has Milhouse, who’s ecstatic about this new revelation, overjoyed his family is back together. And so have I, if only this means we can finally retire the suicidal single man jokes with Kirk, with this show sneaking one last one under the wire with him being cut down from a noose in Milhouse’s dream.

The new union isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. At first Milhouse seems to be disappointed that his parents would rather get “reacquainted” then spend time with him, then later he muses about how he raked in the gifts and the love from the two when they were divorced, both trying their hardest to be the “better” parents. Bart is just as disappointed, having also reaped these benefits (“Drive-in movies, two Christmases, soda for dinner… we lived like kings!” “Remember when you told my Dad to go to bed, and then he did?” “That was some New Year’s.”) This conceit is very selfish, but also very believably child-like, as the two set to break the Van Houtens up again. Their last plan is to leave one of Marge’s bras on Kirk’s bed, but Bart is unaware it has a label, leading Luanne to confront Homer. This imaginary infidelity is ultimately what ends up splitting he and Marge up, but even this doesn’t bother me. I like how Bart’s plan ends up biting him in his own ass, but more importantly, for once Homer actually has a valid reason to be upset with Marge given the damning evidence. So many Homer-Marge shows of late have been so fucking offensive given that Homer overreacts and should have no reason to be angry at his saintly wife, so here, it’s actually a breath of fresh air that he has evidence to be upset about. Also, any reasoning looks better compared to the abomination that was “Manatees.” Anything. The ending where Bart concocts another plan to reconcile his parents is the only grossly dumb thing here, but even that’s peppered with a few choice jokes (“Dad, I’d give a kajillion dollars for you to get back together!” “Make it two kajillion!”) All in all, a surprisingly entertaining episode. Who wrote this one? Patric Verrone, who did a lot of great Futurama shows like “A Fishful of Dollars” and “The Problem with Popplers.” This show should poach Futurama writers more often.

Tidbits and Quotes
– I can’t decide whether the black church is racist or not, but I did enjoy picking out every black character in the crowd shot, of which there are not many. Even Sideshow Raheem is there. And you know what, ultimately I laughed during the scene (“Coat Maggie with the Calamine lotion and the scabbing will heal. The scabbing will heal!“) I remember this scene being used as the basis for the promos for this episode, since if the show isn’t about Homer and Bart, apparently it’s impossible to promote.
– Right from the start, I was stunned at how many good lines there were in this. Usually I’m lucky if I laugh once in the whole show, here I’m laughing a bunch in the first act alone (“Bart’s in there right now, licking frosting off my egg beaters!” “Don’t worry, Dad, I’m saving one for you. I’ll just leave it here in the dog’s mouth.” “Noooo, Bart! That’s a really bad storage area!”)
– I like that Homer has taken a radiation suit from work to wear during the pox party.
– Homer scratching his chicken pox with Bart and Lisa’s spiky heads is a great gag, very visually amusing.
– “Son, I wanna make one thing clear. Unlike the break-up, this is not your fault.” What a horrible thing to say, first off. Second, have the writers even watched “A Milhouse Divided”?
– Past the last suicide gag (hopefully), I like Milhouse’s dream ending with him marrying Lisa and playing in a honeymoon bounce house. I realize now how much I love Pamela Hayden’s dorky Milhouse laugh when it’s used in an actually funny scene (“I haven’t daydreamed in color in so long!”)
– Not fond of Homer getting fired over the phone and cooing over a new potential job: truck driver in Iraq. But for some reason, I love his mindless, deadpan line as he circles the ad, “Trucks are like big cars.”
– Not sure why Lisa is watching The O.C. Also, with that, she introduces the show as “that cool FOX show about teenagers living in Orange County.” Then we see the show, and we get the chiron “You are watching The O.C.!” In case we didn’t get what the parody was. But even that I laughed at, since Lisa so laboriously set it up, then they tell us what it is anyway. After that, it wasn’t so funny, at least until the bizarre bit at the end where Snoopy robs the teens at the ATM at gunpoint and flees in slow motion. Also, I like how the show has women playing 18-year-old guys, who all still sound like kids.
– There’s a lot of neat small stuff in this show. Lisa is suspect that Bart had something to do with the break-up (“Dad, where are you staying? You know the Four Seasons? Well I’m experiencing them first-hand since I’m living in the park.”) Lisa confronts Bart about it, who tries to get out of answering by chucking a rock at her, but Lisa instinctively blocks it with a trash can lid she inexplicably had with her. I love how blaze she handled it, like this is something that happens regularly.
– Even the big dumb ending has some nice stuff in it, like Bart using Homer’s big dumb body like a log to try and maneuver down stream.

358. The Girl Who Slept Too Little

(originally aired September 18, 2005)
Another curious episode that doesn’t seem clear on what it’s supposed to be about, so in place of a concrete story, we have a lot of isolated segments and time filler, none of which are actually funny or entertaining. Construction of a stamp museum starts up behind the Simpson house, leaving them understandably upset and they start a protest. In the end, the museum is moved to the site of Springfield Cemetery, and then that is placed behind the Simpsons. Beyond the odd fact that all of this is being built in a residential area, how the fuck did they move the whole goddamn graveyard? They couldn’t have dug up all the bodies, but if they did, it could have made for an interesting show. So I guess there’s a bunch of rotting corpses lurking under the stamp museum, which would make for another interesting show. But here, it’s that Lisa is frightened to sleep in her room, which apparently is the only one that faces the graveyard, which is absolutely not the case, since we’ve seen Bart’s room face out that way a hundred times. We go through the whole freaking episode before the very end when someone gives a very simple solution to the problem: have Lisa close the goddamn curtains. Simple as that.

A frightened Lisa sleeps in her parents’ bed the first night, which elicits a very odd response from Marge. Rather be understanding of her daughter’s fears, she lectures her in that she’s going to have to sleep in her own room. Even after she and Homer spend the night in Lisa’s room to see it’s not so bad, and they see how insanely spooky it is in there, she still has this unusually condescending attitude toward her, very unlike the nurturing overbearing mother she normally is. Then for some reason this leads to the two of them going to see a psychiatrist, who diagnoses, with little information and without Lisa actually there, that an inattentive upbringing led Lisa to suppress her childhood fears, and she has to learn to properly deal with them. What’s all this about? For some reason, no one seems to understand how an eight-year-old girl would be frightened by a creepy as hell graveyard sitting outside her window. Lisa vows to conquer her fears by staying a night in the cemetery, and ultimately she does. And that’s the end. The story is so aimless and empty, and we get stuff like them visiting the stamp museum and extended laughless TV parodies to fill in the gaps. A very perplexing, confused episode.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Another thing modern Simpsons uses and abuses: the music montage. In place of writing a normal sequence of events, we’ll just move right past it with a gag-filled montage. Here, it involves Marge sabotaging a construction vehicle causing it to burst into flames with the driver in it, and Homer practically nude jiggling and riding a mower. Entertainment at its finest! Also, one of Homer’s new catchphrases seems to be a long, extended moan, that is also annoying as shit.
– I did smirk at Marge’s unusual hostility toward Sesame Street’s Count Von Count (“Go back to your own country!”) But odd that I think about it now; she’s the first person to express worriment and tenseness about the graveyard, and yet she still exhibits no sympathy toward Lisa?
– The visit to the stamp museum is really completely unnecessary to the story; the only thing it does is introduce the Wild Things… sorry, I mean Wild Beasts. Does it count as a parody of you’re basically just stealing the actual thing and changing the name?
– Homer and Marge return home from a party and openly badmouth the other guests. Lisa overhears this and inquires why they’re badmouthing people she thought were their friends. This sequence lasts long enough that I thought it was going to have some bearing to the plot, but nope, just more killing time.
– I guarantee they had that Itchy & Scratchy lying around and just shoved it in this episode. But why place it right at the climax? It’s so shitty too. Cats is so boring that Scratchy kills himself! Again, pot to kettle, guys. Pot to fucking kettle.
– We haven’t seen Dr. Nick in a long while. I did think it was delightfully morbid of him to impersonate Dr. Octopus with severed arms (“Bye Lisa! And remember, you have a check up next Thursday!” “We don’t go to you anymore! We have a better doctor!” “Oh, congratulations!”) Then Wiggum is doing a manhunt for him in the cemetery… man, this episode is basically eighty percent filler.
– The only good thing in this episode is the direction. There are a lot of great shots of the spooky cemetery, and some cool camera moves and shots in Lisa’s dream.