(originally aired May 20, 2007)
It’s so strange that it’s taken to episode four-hundred to do a show about Kent Brockman. With its enormous bevy of colorful characters, the show became hobbled by an over reliance of Homer-gets-a-job and other redundant, over tread stories involving the Simpson family, that the secondary cast became relegated to their normal, one-off-joke roles. So will this episode cast Kent in a new light, give us some insight into his character and who he is? Well… not really. It’s a huge missed opportunity more than anything. While doing a fluff piece on Smartline, Kent gets hot coffee knocked into his lap and screams an expletive on live TV. When media watchdogs catch wind of it, he is promptly fired, and for some reason, comes to live with the Simpsons. Free of any network ties, Lisa convinces Kent to broadcast on the Internet, and expose the duplicitous nature of national news. But just as it starts getting popular, Kent is bought out by the Republican Party and the episode is over.
Like many people in Springfield, at one point Kent gave a shit about his job, but eventually became so beaten and bogged down he donned his chuckle head news anchor mask to pimp Channel 6’s programming and bullshit local “news” stories like an oafish man buying an ice cream cone. That frustration comes through, and his Edward R. Murrow-esque black-and-white venting is interesting to see. The issue, though, is by the time we get to this point, there’s literally two minutes of show left. The story with Kent doesn’t even start until the halfway point. I feel act one should have ended with him getting fired, then they could have built him up more. Instead act two is him getting caught by psycho conservative watchdog Flanders. Also, besides the point of why the fuck Kent is staying at the Simpsons specifically, but isn’t he rich? We see he lives in a mansion all the time from his lotto winnings. Then the Republicans buy him off at the end, but if he was wealthy, why would it win him over? They could’ve thrown in a line about how he lost his earnings or whatever, but instead, it’s like they don’t give a shit. An episode with great potential, but ultimately just flops about and made no real impact.
Tidbits and Quotes
– It’s a big waste of time from starting the actual story, but there’s a few good bits in the first act. Marge and Maggie kicking ass at Pictionary is a really cute scene, but the montage of her running home Raising Arizona style goes on way too long. It’s over a full minute of just running, but feels so much longer. At the dentist’s office, we get perhaps the best celebrity cameo in years, an absurd dental hygiene video hip to the young audience. Street hoodlums Gingivitis and gum disease shoot up a mouth’s teeth until… Luda-Crest shows up to throw down. It’s so incredibly bizarre and messed up, but I loved it. His appearance as himself in the office demanding they stop showing the video is great too, especially how Bart walks past Ludacris, who is armed with a gun, without even noticing. Then Bart fucks with Skinner who’s under anesthetic, by kicking a giant tooth into his mouth, spraying his insides with water, and holding an X-ray to his crotch for an extended period of time. It’s like all the stuff from “Please Homer, Don’t Hammer ‘Em,” this goes beyond the level of prank, and just becomes like torture. Bart wants to humiliate Skinner to others, not harm him.
– I do like how after Kent’s faux-pas, initially no one gave a shit since no one watches TV news anymore. Who will sound the alarm? Who the fuck do you think? At the dinner table, they talk about media watchdogs, and Bart asks, “You mean there are losers who spend all day watching TV looking for stuff to complain about? Who’d be lame enough to do that?” Cut to Flanders huddled in front of the TV, bathed in its toxic glow, with stacks of offensive tapes all around him, writing down every questionable thing he can find (“Smallville: Superdog licks himself. That definitely goes in the naughty pile.”) He sees the Smartline tape and immediately hits the Internet to bitch and moan. His kids ask him what he’s doing, and he says this: “Imploring people I’ve never met to pressure a government with better things to do to punish a man who meant no harm for saying something that nobody even saw, that’s what I’m doing!” These episodes put Flanders in such a negative light, he’s not supposed to be an antagonist subject to ridicule. Even his kids are concerned with him (“Daddy, we think you need a new Mommy.”) And that’s when it hit me: maybe all this psycho Christian bullshit is a result of Maude’s death. “Hurricane Neddy” showed how he’s bottled his anger and channeled it into religion; after his wife’s death, he just became even crazier, and that’s why we get conservative militant Flanders. It’s most depressing, and most definitely not the writers intention, but it’s a bit of a new light I can see this character through. But I still hate it. I hate what they’ve done to Flanders. Hate hate hate.
– I like the bit with Krusty dubbing over the Itchy & Scratchy cartoon, as they couldn’t afford to play the voice actors (a reference to the high salaries of the Simpsons actors?) It’s great how he names the show title, but then can’t remember the character names (“Here comes the mouse, what’s-his-name…”)
– Why in the name of God and the baby Jesus would Kent Brockman stay with the Simpsons? Besides the fact that he’s got his mansion which is never mentioned, he must have friends, family, casual acquaintances… but no, instead he stays with these complete strangers for no apparent reason.
– Strange to say, but the FOX bashing seems almost too on-the-nose in this show. This is a consistent theme with all humor on this show: it used to be done subtly and slyly, and now it’s too blatant, hit-you-on-the-head style of comedy. Showing the dichotomy between FOX and FOX News is not shocking, then Kent openly explains the negatives behind it. Then the show ends with Homer and Lisa discussing a horrible secret about FOX, and being “dubbed” over. When the whole last act of your show is “Fuck FOX,” it doesn’t hold as much power when you’re still being aired on that network and making them millions by airing this episode.
Season 18 Final Thoughts
To this season’s credit, we got three episodes that were actually pretty good. Usually my “Best” list contains the one or two shows that weren’t as eye-piercingly bad as the rest, but these three are some of the best episodes I’ve seen in a long, long time. But, unfortunately, the other nineteen are as fucking bad as the show’s ever been. So, silver lining, I suppose.
“Homerazzi,” “Marge Gamer,” “24 Minutes”
“Jazzy and the Pussycats,” “G.I. D’oh!,” “Little Big Girl,” “Springfield Up,” “The Boys of Bummer,” “Crook and Ladder”