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FJ Reviews & Recaps

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About this blog

A collaborative effort from Free Jinger members to review and recap books, movies and tv shows.

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Flowers in the Attic: Table of Contents

Here is the Table of Contents for Flowers in the Attic. New recaps will be linked as they are hastily written.  Part One Prologue and Good-Bye-Daddy.
The Road to Riches
The Grandmother's House
The Attic
The Wrath of God
Momma's Story
Minutes Like Hours
To Make a Garden Grow
To Make a Garden Grow (Part II)
Holidays
Holidays (Part Two)
The Christmas Party
Christopher's Exploration and Its Repercussions
The Long Winter, and Spring, and Summer
  Part Two
Growing Up, Growing Wiser
Growing Up, Growing Wiser (Part II)
A Taste of Heaven
A Taste of Heaven (Part II)
One Rainy Afternoon
To Find a Friend
At Last, Momma
At Last, Momma (Part II)
Our Mother's Surprise 
Our Mother's Surprise (Part II)
Our Mother's Surprise (Part III)
Our Mother's Surprise (Part IV)
My Stepfather
My Stepfather (Part II)
My Stepfather (Part III)
Color All Days Blue, But Save One for Black
Escape
Endings, Beginnings and Epilogue

Maggie Mae

Maggie Mae

 

Yeah, we typed that

Christmas jammies "Crunchy panties sound awful" "I'm about to punch some motherfucker in the throat" "Where will I put my chickens?" Tiny House Hunters (the houses, not the hunters) Our personal WWYD moments - heartbreaking "My boobs don't even get wet" The condom scenarios "What kind of gross food?" "I don't mean up the butt!" Olympic village sexcapades "TBH I just need some dick" Nudes in chat?        

MarblesMom

MarblesMom

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 6.17 - Waiting For Duffman

Duff beer for me! Duff beer for you! I'll have a Duff - you have one too! No opening credits to speak of. Couch gag: The Simpsons run into their living room, are sucked through a portal over the couch, and are returned to the living room, where they repeat the loop over and over. Finally, Bart demolishes the portal and enjoys the living room to himself (except for Homer's head). Springfield is having a bike festival, which brings all of the citizens out cycling in their unique and wacky ways. Duffman puts in his usual appearance, but in attempting a hip-swivel salute to the troops, he throws out his back (it makes sense in context). Springfield keeps vigil outside the hospital until Dr. Hibbert makes the grave announcement - Duffman is having a hip replacement, and for the time being, there will be no Duffman. Everyone is stunned. The town plunges into mourning, and Kent Brockman announces a search for a new Duffman. Let me guess - Homer, right? Homer suggests this right away, which Marge decisively vetoes, fearing an even drunker husband than usual. He protests that it will win him the friends he's always longed for, and extra lines in his obituary, which he somehow needs despite having more accomplishments than any human who has ever lived. He eagerly starts practicing hip thrusts while Marge and the kids stare in horror. "So You Think You Can Duff?" kicks off to great fanfare. Cat Deeley hosts, of course. A bunch of stereotypical judges select the new champion - but who? My vote is for Groundskeeper Willie. Homer inexplicably performs well, despite having little experience at bartending or physical exercise. He nails the "Oh, yeah!" though. Do I even need to say who wins? Well, okay, he's runner-up, but Lisa was runner-up at Little Miss Springfield too, so I'm not holding my breath. This is reinforced when they don't even bother to give the winner a name, just Contestant #12. Wow. Are they actually paying the current writers? And indeed, the new Duffman's reign lasts about 3.5 seconds, when someone notices that he has a tattoo from a rival brewery. We get what appears to be the umpteenth Game of Thrones parody on this show, centering around Duff Gardens with Homer as its king. In some kind of chapel, Homer vows to be loyal in his "Duffwatch". The family is then taken on a tour of the Duff factory, which involves old commercials and some bogus history. The kids find the super secret Duff formula, locked in an incredibly complex safe, which Maggie unlocks in about half a second. When the kids are gone, Marge expresses her concern about the demands of the job. The CEO spins some stories about how beer was a big player in the beginning of agriculture (it's kinda true!) and remains a tradition of society to this day. The CEO then has Homer implanted with a microchip - one which can detect the presence of alcohol. You see, Homer is able to promote beer. He just can't drink it. Yeah, it makes a lot of sense, but he goes into BSOD about it anyway. And is that Lunchlady Doris as one of the attenadants? Back on topic. While Homer tries to kill himself, Marge assures the CEO that Homer is only in on this for the respect and responsibility. Even so, when she takes a sip, Homer licks her lips. He immediately goes into seizures. Everyone at Moe's is bummed for Homer, but won't do anything to help him because Moe really likes the Duff sign lighting the bar. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa steal the t-shirt cannons, firing one straight into a portrait of Maude next door. I see what you did there! Homer's first few events go well. He has a hit commercial, and sales skyrocket. In fact, he can pretty much do no wrong as Duffman. Best of all, he finally gets to go up in the Duff blimp, not that anyone will ever refer to that. Sigh.   He takes Marge up there on a date, where he is invited to look through the telescope. It's a sad picture of Springfield - litter everywhere and drunks stumbling around. Homer feels guilty. After inexplicably surviving a blimp fire (long story), Homer discusses his feelings with Marge. He realizes that changes need to be made. Soon enough, all Duff events are serving non-alcoholic beer only. The reaction is pretty predictable. Homer is forced to flee an angry mob. The CEO gives him an ultimatum - prove that he still loves beer, or lose his job. Cut to a completely wasted Homer trying to drink Surly while Marge sighs. At Moe's, Homer is happy to have his freedom, but just can't get back into bar life. One of the barflies recognizes him as Duffman of before - so that's good enough for him! Meanwhile, the CEO tracks down the old Duffman at a sandwich shop and gives him his job back. The end credits are incredibly poignant, showing video clips from an interview with recently deceased co-creator Sam Simon. "One of the greatest minds ever/Thank you Sam" appears in the credits. It's just perfect. So, this episode? Pretty meh. We're back into rehashing everything - Homer's relationship with alcohol (including enforced sobriety), Homer's new jobs, tension in the marriage. The guilt thing was a nice twist, but on the other hand, we've seen Homer's guilt manifest itself in other ways. At this point, "Simpsons already did it" has been a cliche for over a decade. On the bright side, we've had a look into the life of Duffman. What could be more fun than that? FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.9 - I Won't Be Home for Christmas

It's the annual Simpsons Christmas Episode! Come on, everyone, let's Simpsons Christmas Boogie! We get a snowy title, with the Texan riding past on a sleigh flown by bulls. Chalkboard gag: "Reindeer Meat Does Not Taste Like Chicken". Springfield appears to have turned into the North Pole, though curiously, the nuclear plant/toy workshop seems to be counting down to Orthodox Christmas. Everyone has elf ears, Maggie gives baby Gerald a Christmas gift instead of threatening him, Marge and Burns (?) re-enact the chariot race from Ben-Hur in sleighs. The Couch Gag is an "obligatory Frozen reference", starring Lisa as Elsa and Homer as Olaf. So we start the episode on a fun note. It's Christmas Eve, and Comic Book Guy and his wife (oh, good, they remembered she exists this time) watch the "Cosmic Wars Holiday Special", no points for guessing that one. Homer leaves work, with the power plant in dubious condition as usual. Marge messes up the decorating at home. Mr Burns, whom Homer actually calls "Mr. Scrooge" (I love how this show has always kept that as a sort of marginal reference without ever stooping so low as to retell the story), informs Homer that instead of a bonus, the plant has donated to the Salvation Army on the workers' behalf. On the way, Homer gets into a minor accident, which prompts him to stop at Moe's for some comfort. Marge watches Miracle on 34th St. at home, and yes, they actually spliced live action footage onto a cartoon television. I think this may be a Simpsons first! The movie is also showing at the bar, and hey, Moe still has the Love Tester. Cool. For once showing a conscience, Homer tries to ditch Moe, apparently forgetting about the barkeep's annual suicide attempt. Moe guilts him into staying for a few extra drinks. Meanwhile, Marge gets increasingly angry. Patty and Selma back her up, of course. Homer winds up dashing home in the dead of night. When he arrives, his irate wife throws him out. Driving past ads for Simpsons Lego (no, really), Homer reflects on the evening and concludes that Marge has to forgive him. Meanwhile, Marge is thinking exactly the opposite. Moe, having a karaoke session with himself (that's not a euphemism), finds Homer's wallet, and has a terrible idea. Homer goes to the Kwik-E-Mart and attempts to win Marge's heart by winning the lottery, but only gains a bunch of losing tickets. Feeling sorry for the man, Apu stops him from gambling anymore, and instead lets him in on all the Kwik-E-Mart's secrets. Bart and Lisa stay up on Christmas Eve, Bart in anticipation of the next day and Lisa out of fear for her mother's emotional health. After some coaxing, she enlists Bart in helping make Marge's Christmas as perfect as possible. You know, with a marriage falling apart for the umpteenth time and everything. They go down to talk to their mother, but just as they broach the topic of bringing Homer back, Moe falls down the chimney. In an uncharacteristic moment of honour, Moe admits that he forced Homer to stay at the bar out of loneliness. Marge immediately forgives Homer and thanks Moe. He takes the moment to steal a kiss, being a pervert of the highest order. With Christmas saved, Marge tries to call her husband, but finds him unreachable. Homer has wrecked his car and phone, and wanders alone downtown among the abandoned storefronts. He winds up seeing a Seth Rogen-Jonah Hill concentration camp drama (it makes sense in context, I promise). Also in attendance are Springfield's usual losers, including Gil, the Crazy Cat Lady, Kirk Van Houten and Groundskeeper Willie. After the movie, he finds Flanders closing up the Leftorium kiosk. Widowed and lonely, Flanders claims he is happy, but really can't keep it together. FINALLY. We know they killed off Edna from a few hints and the episode with the jackass replacement teacher, but we've barely acknowledged that Flanders has lost a second wife and is probably suffering deeply. Out of pity, Homer buys some left-handed items he doesn't need. Flanders is thrilled that he has a new best friend, which terrifies Homer into running away. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. Curled up on a bench, Homer reflects that he made others happy, but is still miserable. He cries himself to sleep. Jesus, this is the most depressing episode we've had in years. I love it. Marge and the kids go to see Grampa, who is delighted to have visitors. All the old folks gather round to see Abe's family, and Marge doesn't have the heart to tell them they're just looking for Homer. (Why they think Homer is with his near-estranged father, I don't know.) They settle in for some rambling, casually racist stories. Meanwhile, Homer is awakened by a giant Nutcracker, who turns out to be a costumed mall security guard looking to kick Homer off the property. When he hears Homer's plight, he invites him to the mall employees' Christmas party. It's beautifully animated, I have to say. Really, aesthetically speaking, this episode is tops. The rest of the Simpson family continues to search, this time in a neon sign store. Which happens to be in a mall. The store clerk directs her to the mall party, where Homer is having a great time with a bunch of people in terrible food costumes. They make up pretty quickly. The mall workers applaud. We finish with this year's Christmas message, "The Place to Get Drunk is At Home". The next morning, Bart and Lisa go to open their presents, even though their parents aren't up yet. In fact, they're dozing peacefully upstairs. Even further upstairs, God (five fingers and all) gives a sullen Jesus a Christmas gift, and tries to pretend it isn't a combo Christmas/birthday gift. Over the end credits, we get a preview of the next episode, airing January 4th. Looks like the Simpsons are going to outer space, and Kang and Kodos won't be limited to the Halloween special this year. Which the show lampshades mercilessly, of course. Okay, season twenty-six decline aside, this was a great episode. Not the funniest, not the most original, but incredibly touching and well thought-out  - even nuanced. Standout scenes go to Marge at the old folks' home and Homer and Flanders rekindling their friendship. Remember when the show was vaguely realistic? When its appeal came from the strength of its characters and their world rather than a constant state of meta? That's what happened here. In fact, I'd even compare it to that long-ago Christmas special that started it all, "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire". Sure, the quality was a bit meh, just like the pilot, but it had tremendous heart and drew you into the story. This episode just let the characters shine. It was enough. The show got a little nicer this year, a little less gimmicky, and we all benefited. This year, the writers and creative team behind the show gave us a great gift indeed.   FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.8 - Covercraft

Hello hello, people of the Simpsons universe! In our penultimate episode before the Christmas break, we ponder the nature of music and aging. The show has tackled this subject with aplomb before, so it's not like they're going to screw this one up. Right? ...right? No opening credits. Couch gag: The family bumps into each other en route to the couch, distracted by their smartphones. Moe gets into a fight with his neighbour, King Toot (of the eponymous music store), over dumpster space. That's Will Forte, by the way. Chief Wiggum half-heartedly tries to stop it, but it turns out the musician is a smooth talker. However, they can't keep their tempers down very long, and both wind up hauled to the police station. Meanwhile, Homer is talking to Lisa about the Tragedy of Canadian Team Transfers (it is considered treason ever to mention that so-called team Colorado has) when they realize that King Toot's is closed. Lisa reluctantly shops at the big-box equivalent, Guitar Central. One of the floor staff, Stig, notices Homer browsing guitars and decides to take advantage of the man's mid-life crisis, pressuring him into a sale. Homer walks out with a bass, along with thousands of dollars of unnecessary paraphernalia. His music shakes the whole house, with tragic consequences (RIP, Milhouse), and Marge is not pleased. Lisa's thrilled, however. Validated, Homer proceeds to play the guitar all over town, getting arrested on one occasion and pissing everyone off.  Marge complains to her friends on a Ladies' Night Out. They all commiserate, as their husbands are dealing with mid-life crises in a similar fashion. They come up with a fantastic plan - if all the husbands form a band, then only one house will be shaken off its foundation at a time. No one bothers to ask the guys about this, but it looks like the band has been created. The group reluctantly gets together. They quickly figure out that they have little in common, except for a passion for "hard drivin' rock". It gets even better when Apu joins them as a lead singer (though not after some racism on Homer's part). Also, for some reason this episode keeps throwing fake ads everyone (for restaurants, gels, etc), and it's really irritating. "Covercraft" gets off to a nice start, landing some festival gigs. Apu confesses to some nervousness right before the first show. Homer suggests that he pretend he's singing along to the radio at the Kwik-E-Mart, and wear the uniform for authenticity. ...hey, hey, wait a minute - is no one going to mention that two members of the Be Sharps have reunited? Why does Homer not know that Apu can sing? Are we seriously going to retcon one of the most iconic episodes of the series' run? I've had quarrels with this show before - but dammit, Simpsons, I think you've finally broken my heart. Anyway, the group is successful over a variety of random episodes, and Homer is a minor celebrity. While at rehearsal, they are interrupted by most of Sungazer, Apu's favourite band. They ask Apu to replace their recently deceased lead singer. Homer assumes that he'll stick by Covercraft, but Apu is eager to go off with his new colleagues. Homer curses all the rock stars while a bunch of legends laugh at him from heaven, including Sammy Hagar, who is only temporarily there due to a choking incident. And yes, that is his voice. Apu hurtles to fame, and Homer's resentment grows. Again, they just need to get the barbershop quartet back together and all will be well. Geez, you guys. Lisa begs her dad to think of the music. It has absolutely no effect. The band wavers without a lead singer. Homer calls them all "Yokos" and throws them out. He sits in the basement, alone, sadly strumming his bass. Marge tries to reassure him, though Homer won't leave his funk. Apu has offered them backstage passes and killer seats. Sulking, Homer attends the concert. While waiting for the show to begin, he reflects on how he helped Apu reach success, by convincing him to wear the Kwik-E-Mart shirt - and then he gets a terrible idea. He sneaks into Apu's dressing room - ah, there it is, a "Be Sharps" picture on the wall - and absconds with the shirt, or at least tries before Apu walks in. He hides in the closet. Apu argues with his bandmates, who have been treating him badly. Homer realizes just how miserable the famous life is. Determined to help his friend, he calls up Apu's brother Sanjay and asks him to send over a whole bunch of hot dogs. Ten minutes later, the entire band's down with food poisoning, and Covercraft is ready to take its place. They're awesome. Even Marge gets up and dances. Sungazer reprises the concert (still ill), Homer and Apu get arrested, Stig from Guitar Central teaches guitar to Martin, Sanjay hooks up with some groupies, and Homer and Apu's friendship is back on. Over the end credits, Homer, Apu, Moe and King Toot out with Sammy Hagar in prison, because the studio had already paid him for the day, I guess. I always enjoy an Apu-Homer friendship episode, but in this one, I feel like it could have done so much more. The Be Sharps episode was that good primarily because it managed to play off of all the personalities involved, while still making fun of the music industry. Here, Rev. Lovejoy and Kirk Van Houten may as well have been cardboard cutouts, and while some of the jokes about music and show biz were cute, it wasn't anything the Simpsons haven't done better. Not to mention the talented Will Forte was almost completely wasted. All in all, I'd call it a non-episode. Maybe next time, guys.   FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.7 - Blazed and Confused

Oh, boy. Is Homer going to get into weed - again? Is Bart going to commit arson - again? Come on, show, try and thrill me. Show opens with Kang and Kodos in a flying saucer, wearing costumes, because they took too long to get dressed and Treehouse of Horror aired already. Cut straight to the couch gag, where the Simpsons' couch turns into a ski lift. The family is brought back dishevelled and injured. The principals of the school district are gathered at SES for the "dance of the lemons", where they each get to swap their worst teachers. They Hunger Games the lottery, going through a variety of awful educators (fortunately, they are not so tasteless as to have Mrs Krabappel among them). Naturally, Skinner gets stuck with the worst of them all - Mr. Lassen, a complete hardass played by Willem Dafoe. I want to marry this episode already. Okay, okay, I said I was down on guest stars lately, but come on -   We hear the history of Lassen's frightening career, and oh my god, Dafoe is deliciously psychotic. They really are hitting it out of the park with guest star + role lately. Bart has a series of pranks planned, of course, though they're a little meh when you think of what he's about to encounter. Lassen, who sounds suspiciously like Sideshow Bob to be honest, immediately terrifies the class into their seats. Only Nelson is brave enough to make a smart remark. This brings down a fantastic monologue about all of Nelson's shortcomings. While the bully weeps in the corner, Bart (perhaps unwisely) decides to go ahead with the prank. Naturally, Lassen is as creative with his punishments as he is with his insults. He finds a trumped-up dress code violation involving Bart's hair and shaves his head. At dinner that night, Bart refuses to remove his hat. Homer, Maggie and Lisa eventually coax it off and find the new 'do hilarious, but Marge is outraged, especially when she hears who was responsible. She decides to confront the teacher, though Homer advises her not to, as it will result in "stink-eye at the school fair". Oh, and the Simpsons are going camping this weekend, which I guess will be the B-plot. When Marge is told that Homer didn't reserve a spot at their favourite campground, she breaks down weeping. Homer vows to make it up to her, somehow. An angry Bart graffitis the blackboard, though he's dumb enough to sign it "El Barto". Mr. Lassen is beautifully sarcastic when he finds it. Seriously, if I'd had this teacher, we would have gotten along great. Probably would've smoked bowls in the parking lot at lunch and made fun of that one math teacher down the hall. Lassen's reaction to the graffiti is to punch through the blackboard, ruining Lisa's book report in the next room. His vendetta against Bart continues to science class, where he involves the kid in electricity experiments, most unethically so. Bart is of course electrocuted, Dr. Marvin-Monroe style, and vows his revenge. A reluctant Milhouse is enlisted to help him, though for some reason he keeps advertising the New Zealand film industry. They have planted a webcam in the teacher's lounge, which chronicles Lassen's enormously successful attempts at flirting with Miss Hoover (oh, it makes such perfect sense, I ship them now). Bart decides to impersonate Miss Hoover online and set a trap. Presumably to murder him and dump his body in the radioactive lake. Meanwhile, Homer tries to book a campsite, to no avail. He does get to chat with a Jason Voorhees ripoff, though, and gives away all his personal information. A traumatized Nelson begs Bart to destroy Lassen once and for all, just before Lassen takes his lunch money. While searching, Bart discovers old pictures of Lassen at "Blazing Guy". No prizes for guessing that one. They decide to go there and catch him doing something terrible, and end his teaching career once and for all. This just happens to solve Homer's problem, too, so the A and B combine and we're off to the desert. Wait, wait, wait. When I got invited to go to Burning Man, tickets cost like $1000 and were gone in minutes. How did they get there on a low budget with such short notice? I smell a rat. Marge is bewildered by the scene before, while Lisa is enchanted. To top it all off, the tent gets blown away. Naive Marge takes a cup of tea from a stranger. I assume she will spend the rest of the episode high off her tits. Lisa gets out her saxophone and soon finds a community. Bart and Milhouse find Lassen, but can't catch him in any sort of compromising position. Milhouse suggests framing him for not tipping at a restaurant. Ha, that kind of controversy was so 2012. Whatever was in the special tea seems to have the same effect as combining al-key-hol and "Battling Seizure Robots", so Marge runs around completely out of her mind. The Coyote from Homer's hallucinogenic chili episode even appears in her hallucinations. When a sandstorm comes up, Homer uncharacteristically takes responsibility, carrying his strung-out wife back to their new tent. Lassen is set to start off the festival's big fire ritual, so when Bart discovers a whole bunch of unattended flame retardant, he immediately gets an idea. They douse the giant "Blazing Guy" statue to be burned. That night, Mr. Lassen approaches the statue and is predictably humiliated. As punishment, the festivalgoers stuff him back into respectable clothing. He catches the kids laughing about, and humiliated, goes after Bart with a flamethrower. Homer catapults himself onto the structure to save his son and winds up collapsing the whole thing. For his attack on Bart, Lassen is sentenced to "human prison" (being trapped between a whole bunch of people) for five whole days. After some more intense  hallucinations, Marge comes to in an empty desert. After being fired from the school, Lassen gets a job as a prison guard - where he immediately strikes up a friendship with Sideshow Bob. Dark days are ahead. Or at least, they would be if the two killers could agree on which one gets to deliver the killing blow. Okay, for starters - Willem Dafoe was inspired. If anything, the episode should have had more of them. Though I enjoyed Marge getting high, the Burning Man sequence really was just another lazy entry in the Simpsons'  neverending travelogue, full of stereotypes and cliches, so it didn't really have a huge effect. Overall, the episode could have used a few rewrites. Was it still fun, though? Of course. Without Dafoe, though, I'm not sure if it would have been anything more than a slog. Will the Simpsons continue to rely on guest stars this season? Find out next week, when Will Forte joins the roster! FJ Discussion Thread      

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.6 - Simpsorama

Well, if this isn't the season of crossovers! For someone who griped endlessly about "A Star is Burns" because of its crossover with The Critic, Matt Groening seems awfully beholden to his corporate superiors these days. But no matter - let's enjoy this animation combination for what it is. Some of you probably watched this season's crossover with Family Guy, a lark one could describe as amusing but not exactly groundbreaking. Now, welcome to the Simpsons-Futurama crossover, which roughly eight of you have been anticipating for over a decade. We get a very short intro, with just an amended Futurama logo. "Simpsorama: A Show Out of Ideas Teams Up With a Show Out of Episodes." At least they're honest. There's also a couch gag, where the couch turns into - that robot guy. Okay, I've never actually seen any episodes of Futurama, except for maybe the occasional glimpse while flipping channels. Google to the rescue! Anyway, the Simpsons flip out that their couch is a robot, except Homer, who likes the metallic massage. Also, I'm pleased to announce that the robot's name is Bender. This show is totally future Breakfast Club, right? Right? The school's building a time capsule, to be opened in the 31st century. Every kid in Bart's class adds an item, and I see they've changed the story about Nelson's dad again. Also, have they not replaced Mrs Krabappel yet? Are these kids getting any education whatsoever these days? I'm a little concerned for this town's future, just saying. Bart contributes a half-eaten sandwich (which he has spat in), and the capsule is buried in a pit of nuclear ooze. That night, an electrical storm hits Springfield, messing with the television and dropping strange things on Evergreen Terrace. "Remember when this country didn't suck? Because I don't," says Bart, mistaking the item for space junk and reflecting the increasing cynicism of the past twenty-five years. Seriously, there was a time when this show was considered edgy, you guys. Later, they hear strange noises coming from downstairs, and go to investigate. Or rather, Homer sends his son down as bait. Naturally, it turns out to be Bender the robot, who immediately wears out his welcome by drinking Homer's Duff. Bart is currently tied to the ceiling (long story), so they play Tether Boy with him for a while, then Bender actually gets down to explaining who he is. Homer immediately takes him to Moe's, where he cons everyone into thinking he's buying rounds with "hypercredits". This is followed by a trip to the Bowl-A-Rama, which proves that not even robots can consistently hit a strike. However, we don't actually learn how he got there... Bart and Lisa comment on how much Bender's design resembles Homer's. Meta usually annoys me, but I'll allow it considering the circumstances. Lisa, still suspicious of his origins, takes him to Springfield Heights Institute of Technology to be inspected by Professor Frink. Unfortunately, Bender has conveniently forgotten his mission. The good professor manages to figure it out - after some quick unplugging and replugging, Bender reveals he has been sent to kill Homer Simpson. Shortly after, he transmits a butt-hologram (no, really) of Leela, who asks him whether he's killed Homer yet. You see, the world of Futurama has been overrun by "Life In Hell"-style bunnies, and they have deemed Homer responsible for the crisis. Somehow. Fry, Leela and the Professor encourage Bender to complete the mission, despite Lisa's pleas. Zoidberg tries to say something but is cut off, which I know is funny because TVTropes has named a trope after Zoidberg's unpopularity. I'm trying, guys. The bunnies are reported to have Homer's DNA, and I do not want to know how the hell that happened. Facing imminent destruction, the rest of the Futurama crew decides to travel back to Springfield and finish what Bender can't seem to do. Frink and Lisa suggest finding an alternate solution to the bunny crisis, which the Professor accepts, and the rest of the characters are sent off with Homer and Bender to learn about the time period. So...just going to give up on that whole murder thing you travelled a thousand years for, eh? Right then. The exploration mostly seems to consist of rationalizing "freemium games", so they return to the Simpson house pretty quickly. Marge and Leela consider each other to be freaks. Lisa and the two professors (who look remarkably similar) work on the solution while the Futurama professor explains how their time travel works. They are able to deduce that the DNA came from Homer and one other person, and now I really don't want to know what happened. It turns out the other DNA is Marge's, which is at least plausible, but we still have to figure out how a bunny got in there. Shudder. The Professor concludes that neither Simpson parent has to be killed, but instead they'll have to get rid of the children, unless they can determine who is responsible for the rabbits. And yeah, I think we all need to know who was responsible for combining their gametes with a damn rabbit. A news bulletin from the future (again, delivered by butt-hologram) shows that the creatures are eating people, then transforming into dinosaur-like animals, who look just like Bart. I think it's safe to say that at this point, he really has gone too far. Side note, guys - is this from the two lizard babies Bart raised once? Did he somehow telepathically transmit his DNA to them? Because that's the least terrifying explanation I can come up with. Nah, it all comes back to the time capsule - Bart's spit in the sandwich combined with the rabbit's foot Milhouse contributed, which was then contaminated with nuclear waste. The time capsule was eventually opened, releasing bunny-dino creatures all over the city. (And by the way, is New New York built over Springfield? Because Wikipedia says it's at the same site as New York, which is clearly separate from Springfield, as demonstrated in that episode they stopped showing after 9/11. Come on, guys, a little consistency would help.) They decide to destroy the time capsule before the destruction can be wrought. Though it should be pointed out that the Futurama folks still want to kill Bart. A butt-ogram comes from Amy Wong, who reports that the creatures are still on a rampage. Scruffy the janitor even commits suicide over it, mostly because they stole his moustache. The creatures go on to destroy the time portal, which logically should trap everyone in Springfield, but instead brings both sets of characters to New New York. Except for Maggie and Bender, who are left in Springfield to make a killing on all the horse races Bender knows. I cannot wait for that particular spin-off. Homer proves an effective creature-killing machine, experienced as he is at strangling Bart. Marge is desperate to go back to the past, but the Professor can't help her until the generator is repaired. They decide to use Homer's experience as a nuclear power plant technician to fix it, which should strike terror into the hearts of anyone familiar with Homer's employment record. The robot couch (wait, that wasn't a parody of Bender?) arrives to see them through the creature-pocalypse. The only way to save themselves, according to the Professor, is to round up the creatures and shoot them into space. They set to work. Despite knowing all the outcomes, Bender still manages to lose spectacularly at the track - mostly because he kills the horses when they fall behind. Lisa manages to distract the creatures by sending them off in search of Butterfinger bars (heh), whereupon they are packaged into a cube and shot into space. Bart mourns the death of his "children", but everyone else rejoices. The city is repaired and the Simpsons are sent home to evict Bender. Maggie is still in one piece, and has made a tidy sum off Bender's ill-gotten cash. He sends himself back to the future, but his body is left behind. Homer promptly sticks him in the basement next to the Christmas tree - though he does leave him a Duff for the long wait. Meanwhile, the creatures colonize another planet, which is run by some aliens I vaguely recognize from that Futurama episode with the Ally McBeal parody. Fortunately, they prove to be a tasty alien snack, so they're served to Kang and Kodos for dinner - and thus our crossover is complete. Over the end credits, we get a mash-up of the opening credits for both shows. Fun to look at, I'll admit. So how did it measure up? I admit I'd be a much better judge if I knew Futurama a little more, but this is what you're stuck with. Overall, the jokes were okay, and the plot hung all right, even if it wasn't riveting. I do think that, like Family Guy's crossover this season, it relied a little too much on the novelty of seeing these characters interact, which is a problem when you don't understand the other show. It had its laughs, but could have gone further as a stand-alone. However, it was a fun exercise, and I expect fans of Futurama were very happy with it. Just - stop with the crossovers for another twenty-six seasons? Please? FJ Discussion Thread    

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.5 - Opposites A-frack

So, yeah, guess what's happening this week? JANE FONDA. I mean, usually their guest stars are pretty gimmick-y (and they're advertising this one to the hilt), but she is so talented that I'm actually looking forward to this one. It's also her first voice-over performance! Apparently there's supposed to be a plot and stuff, too, but they haven't been so hot on those lately, so let's skip to the important part.   No credits, just a title card. I know, not even a couch gag? Marge has prepared Homer a suspiciously convenient and delicious dinner, including mirrors to watch hockey from the dining room ("I love Canadian-on-Canadian violence!"). Of course, it's a bribe - Patty and Selma are having their apartment fumigated and need a place to stay. Homer cleverly tries to get out of it by claiming that their smoking is bad for the children. The sisters claim they don't have a problem, and even offer to be kicked out the second anyone catches them smoking indoors. Homer gleefully spends the next few days catching them in the act. Patty and Selma take him down with the clever invention of e-cigs. However, they quickly find it unsatisfying. Desperate for actual cigarettes, they sneak into the bathroom and turn on the vent and faucet. This plan quickly fails, they're caught, and Homer throws them out. They make excuses and beg for mercy. Homer leaves them at the dog track, where they're actually much happier than they were in the Simpson house. A weird side effect of the smoking is that the Simpsons' tap water appears to have caught on fire. Lisa correctly diagnoses this odd occurrence as a consequence of fracking. They blame the Crazy Rich Texan, which leads to nothing. Bart and Lisa track down the drilling site, which is hidden in fake Women's Basketball Hall of Fame and run by Mr. Burns. Lisa calls in the big guns - the first female speaker of the State Assembly, Maxine Lombard. The politician immediately gets her electric limo and heads for Springfield. The assemblywoman is outraged, and immediately launches a committee hearing. Naturally, the tycoon tries to weasel it out, but the "capitalism-castrating suffragette" shuts the operation down. He accuses her of needing to be led by a man, she says she wants to be protected, and they're instantly attracted to each other. They kiss, that famous scene from Singin' In the Rain is re-enacted, and they wind up making love under the American flag. So there you have it - Jane Fonda fucking under the American flag with possibly the most famous symbol of capitalism ever. Way to go, Simpsons. They decide it was a mistake, but admit they're stuck on each other, and decide to keep things going in secret. Mr Burns is still looking for a way to promote his fracking operation (lots of great one-liners ensue), and finds a new spokesman in his incredibly cynical ad campaign - a delighted Homer. Homer wanders the town in a publicity blitz, convincing tons of residents, but outraging Lisa. Many citizens protest (some great signs). Maxine joins in on the fuss, insulting Mr Burns on the news while meeting her "sexy little Nosferatu" in hotel rooms. Professor Frink tries to explain the dangers of fracking to the town, but his debate opponent, Homer, wins them over with the promise of easy money. Soon enough, Homer has collected all the local gas rights, but Mr Burns seems strangely dissatisfied. He asks Homer for relationship advice, since a quarter-century of disappointments is great experience. Homer tells him that someone will always wind up getting hurt, so Burns reluctantly decides to "harden his heart" against her. Springfield celebrates "Fracking Day", hearkening to a better era for this show, but the proceedings are halted when it's revealed that Marge refused to sign over her home's gas rights. The angry townspeople storm out, Burns is humiliated, and Maxine tells him that he lost money, but gained something better. This does not go over well with Burns. They break up, which delights Smithers, of course. Homer goes to grovel to Burns. In the process, he claims that he has nothing in common with Marge, which piques Mr Burns' interest. They discuss relationships, which is interrupted when a wrecking ball shows up at Burns Manor. Maxine is destroying his home in order to put up various liberal establishments, like a Native American Museum and a condor sanctuary. Robert Siegel of All Things Considered even shows up to comment. Though she claims otherwise, it's clearly due to a broken heart. Burns vows revenge, and there's no way this isn't going to get ugly. His revenge consists of restarting the fracking operation, which is about to destroy Evergreen Terrace. The "planet-ruining monster" and "planet-saving succubus" go head to head while Homer starts up the machine. Marge protests that it set their water on fire, which leads Homer to conclude that fracking is okay - as long as it happens somewhere else. The operation is halted, Homer and Marge reconcile, and after some consideration, so do Mr Burns and Maxine. However, they quickly get bored with the minutiae of an intimate life. End credits. Oddly enough, the writing was what got me this episode, not Jane Fonda. She did very well - though we could have used more of her, definitely - but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the rest of the episode measured up. Mr Burns having a girlfriend is nothing new, and neither are his attempts to destroy the town. However, clever one-liners and an amusing relationship between the two kept the material fresh. Sometimes, my friends, originality isn't everything - and in this case, the presentation made all the difference.   FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.4 - Treehouse of Horror XXV

Well, it's that time of year again! Perhaps the only episode of the season reliably worth checking out, Treehouse of Horror is a glorious celebration of all things creepy, kooky and altogether ooky. Some years have been funnier than others, but in general, the Halloween episodes boast a high quality and a tremendous novelty factor. In fact, it's hard to imagine Halloween without them. So tonight, fun-sized candy bars and mini-bags of chips in hand, let's all get together to mark a quarter-century of this annual macabre extravaganza. What terrors and treats will they have to offer us tonight? We start with a variety-show style from Kang and Kodos' home planet, featuring clips from old episodes and a dizzying array of guest stars - all of whom are chopped up to form the title. The aliens laugh uproariously, and I would be if they hadn't done it already a few seasons back. The first offering is "School is Hell", based on the art of Neil Gaiman. We begin with Bart being given an excessively long detention yet again. Bored, he begins to mess with the furniture. He wipes the dust off the desk and finds an old enchantment written in Ancient Aramaic. Lisa translates it with an app. Unfortunately, the curse they unlock drags them both straight to hell, which is their umpteenth such visit over both Canon and Treehouse-verse. Now turned into goat creatures, they meet all kinds of monster cliques, and for a while things are looking kind of good. Lisa even becomes popular, whereupon it promptly begins to snow. All the characters appear as various monster caricatures. Bart is taken to Hell Class, where he excels in coming up with horrific kinds of torture. The teacher admits to having a crush on him, because in hell that kind of stuff is possible. Lisa soon comes up with a portal back to earth, but Bart is reluctant to go. They show up in their portal on Earth, which is located in Burns' office. Bart goes to his parents and asks to transfer to Hell School. Marge is thrilled that he wants to learn something, and Homer is glad it's free. However, at the first parent-teacher conference, they express some trepidation over the school's location. With assurance from Hell!Skinner/Chalmers (a two-headed deal), they agree to give it a try. Beelze-Bart proceeds to kick ass at an increasingly gruesome series of classes. At the final exam, he is asked to torture Homer. Since he never seems to die, this shouldn't be an issue, but Bart is worried anyway. Homer encourages him to at least try to succeed at something. Bart gives it a go, and is chosen to be valedictorian of his class. Well, this one was a good starter. Though not really laugh-out-loud funny, they did put a great amount of effort into establishing the school, and the setting really was its strength. The Simpsons have had many visits to hell before, and Bart has been to many schools, but I wouldn't call it stale at this point. This is a great example of how old concepts can be twisted a little to create a perfectly serviceable episode. "A Clockwork Yellow" is next, and looks fantastic. Moe, Lenny, Carl and Homer are all droogs in an Anthony-Burgess style gang, highly violent and well-choreographed. To my delight, Russian words and terrible British accents are everywhere. The movie is parodied in a manner most pitch-perfect. In 1970s-style futuristic London, Homer hooks up with Marge to the strains of classical music, falls in love with her, and decides to give up the gang. Moe is devastated at the loss of his friend "Dum". Lenny and Carl kick Moe out, and he becomes a lowly bartender. Years later, watching TV with those eye-clamp things, Moe is startled to hear a knock on the door. Dolph, Kearney, Nelson and Jimbo break in and immediately proceeded to fuck his shit up. Bruised, Moe summons his respectable friends Dum and Marge. He expresses his desire to get revenge. Marge urges them not to return to gang life, citing their toddler  (Clockwork!Maggie), but Dum and Moe go back to the old ways. While jaywalking, they run into Lenny and Carl and convince them to return for a series of extremely insignificant crimes. Soon it investigates to crashing a party at the Mayor's house, a parody of Eyes Wide Shut that is racier than anything else The Simpsons has ever done. The gang goes to town on the whole place, committing mass murder.  Several other Kubricks are parodied in the process. Moe concludes that at least he is happy. The sequence is revealed to be part of Kubrick's editing process, where he expresses dissatisfaction with the result. He throws a pen in the air, just like 2001. It's glorious. Though the Kubrick parodies were kind of funny, I would call this segment the weakest of the three. The setting did look great, as did the character design. However, as a segment it didn't really "hang", and the story was rather poorly developed. It would have benefited from an extra minute in running time. And honestly - considering the famous brutality of A Clockwork Orange, it would have helped if they had gone further with the old ultra-violence. Both the first and last segments were much more violent, which seemed strange given the film's history. Last, but not least is a parody of The Others, which is apparent by an immediate shift in animation. The family begins receiving strange messages from the house, including writing on the mirror and a TV that only plays Married With Children. Soon, they are unable to sleep at night. When Marge leaves the room, Homer is molested by a ghost while the bed levitates. Homer summons the ghosts with "The Car-Sellers Bible" ("The power of Chrysler compels you!"), whereupon they are revealed to be the Simpsons from the 1989 Tracey Ullman shorts. Yup, those one where they look like they were doodled in the margins during a boring math class. Homer falls in love with 1989 Marge (she's not bitter about him yet, you see), 1989-Homer attacks present-day Bart, and things are getting chaotic. Present-day Marge, despondent, kills herself by putting her head in the oven (wait, WHAT?!) and appears to Homer as a ghost. 1989-Homer kills Homer with the toaster in the bathtub, Bart jumps out the window, and Lisa dies going after him. Groundskeeper Willie runs off with the bodies, and accidentally kills Maggie too. Two full Simpson families now haunt the house, and Doctor Marvin Monroe, now some kind of semi-ghost after his ambiguous status for many seasons, is called in to sort them out. The Marges suggest that Homer choose between them. Present-Marge tells Homer that even though she knows everything about him, she still wants to stay with them. Both Simpson couples reconcile. The families live happily in the house, and Lisa wonders whether more may not exist. On cue, a parade of Simpsons families show up, including Lego Simpsons, Anime Simpsons, Despicable Me Simpsons, South Park Simpsons, and 3D-animated Simpsons (their Homer played by perennial Pixar actor John Ratzenberger). A brief coda shows the original two families taking a family photo. I really, really liked the concept of putting the two families together, and it was interesting to see the contrast between the show at the beginning and the show as it is now. However, this premise started getting a bit thin - so it was a relief when the deaths started. It moved at a brisk pace and continued to hold audience interest, especially with the visually arresting ending featuring multiple Simpsons incarnations. Aesthetically, this segment was quite strong, and it hearkened back to our sense of nostalgia, which was very fitting for this twenty-fifth anniversary episode. An effective parody of The Others it wasn't, but the rest of the segment made up for it, and I would definitely rank it as the strongest part of tonight's outing. Overall, I would say that this episode was solid, but not classic. Last year's was much stronger, taking a ton of risks, and of course neither of them could touch the Golden Era. However, it had three creative segments with plenty for the viewer to notice, and worked well both on an artistic and entertainment level. In an increasingly shaky series, the ToH episodes reliably bring us the Simpsons' trademark sense of humour, though of course slightly more twisted than usual - and rarely disappoint. I'll hand the conversation over to the discussion thread, though - what did YOU guys think? FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.3 - Super Franchise Me

You know what The Simpsons is missing? A drinking game! It makes a lot of sense. Every episode is more or less the same these days, and that gives us a great framework under which to make some quirky rules. Sure, there's probably a few dozen floating around the Internet, but there isn't one written by CFK. Play along with me, and maybe between all of us and a couple of bottles of vodka we can scrape up some marginal interest in this episode. We only get a title screen (with Bat-Burns!) before skipping straight to...something. At least there's some nice Cat Stevens music to bring on some nostalgia. I know that's how we're supposed to feel because the edges of the screen are all fuzzy, and I haven't even started drinking yet.   The Simpson characters proceed to act out the lyrics to "Tea For The Tillerman", literally, through a series of pictures. It's pretty-looking but conceptually painful. Turns out it is a couch gag, so take a sip for that and be grateful that it wasn't the full credits - every trope will have at least a sip associated with it. Ned Flanders is painting Jesus figurines, something he would never have done in the early series (Two drinks for Flanderization). Rod and Todd need help with their school report, which involves electricity in some manner. While Flanders is helping them (and we are treated to all the creepy, Pat Boone-ish appliances that he owns), he discovers that something is really off with his electrical meter. Turns out that Homer's been pirating electricity from his neighbour for ages. And the animation in this scene is really unusual - more simplistic, more clearly defined. Homage, or just laziness? Flanders unplugs all of Homer's stolen sockets, most of which are powering appliances stolen from Flanders in the first place. (Also, we learn that there's a place in the world for Flanderisms. Thank God.) Growing some backbone for the first time in at least a season and a half, Flanders angrily takes his appliances back. Wow - this episode might actually have some character growth and deviance from the norm. My liver thanks you. One of the appliances was a deep-freeze intended to store food for the Apocalypse. Faced with hundreds of pounds of thawing meat, Homer despairs. Marge decides to make the meat into sandwiches, and an honestly hilarious sequence follows where Homer paces outside the kitchen waiting for his meat like a relative in a hospital waiting room. Reverend Lovejoy is even summoned. Eventually, Homer passes out from an overdose of A1 steak sauce. (Nonspecific parody - take a drink. Homer's overindulgent and/or sloppy eating habits - chug, and spill some on yourself.) Fortunately, Marge's efforts pay off, with a dazzling array of sandwiches for everyone's enjoyment. Homer happily imagines the rest of his family turning into food, for some reason. (One of Homer's "Mmmmms." Imitate, then drink.) However, this abundance has its dark side, as Marge realizes that the kids have fallen into the trap of overeating. They explain that they don't "eat their feelings", but instead trade the sandwiches for better food (which is an improvement on their last currency, cigarettes). Flanders caves and lets Marge use his freezer for the sandwich bonanza. (Flanderization again. You know what to do.) The sandwiches continue to spread around the playground, and become popular enough that Marge is harassed by a Lindsay Naegle knock-off who wants to take advantage. Trudy Zengler, of Mother Hubbard's Sandwich Cupboard (uh, I see a problem there) encourages Marge to open her own franchise. Marge's interest is piqued, but due to the ongoing fragility of the family financial situation (drink up), it's not going to happen. Fortunately, a little light persuasion from Trudy gets her into the fast food world. So...Marge gets a job! Again! (Name three of her previous ones, then drink three times.) Lisa's proud of her mother for starting her business, while Homer reminisces about the time he bankrupted a Pizza Hut by taking advantage of the "free refill" policy. (Sloppy eating. Chug and spill.) Despite there supposedly being no money, Marge's store is immediately set up with surprising speed. I'm going to assume she prostitute herself to Fat Tony unless told otherwise. Fearing competition with Krustyburger, Krusty storms in and instructs Mr. Teeny to smash up the place. However, the monkey is won over by good food, and Krusty surrenders. Next step - hiring. Her first candidate is Gil, who is down on his luck yet again (drink, but only if it's Pabst). Next comes Shauna, Jimbo's girlfriend, then Professor Frink, who can't say the name of the restaurant without Glaven-ing. (A few cutbacks on those research grants, I guess? By the way, this is a good time to explain the catchphrase rule. Imitate, then drink.) And yes, for those of you who were wondering, the Squeaky-Voiced Teen is on the crew, too. God knows Springfield's minimum-wage sector can't function without him. On the eve of the grand opening, Marge lies awake all night worrying. Homer gives her a supportive, if ultimately confused pep talk. The restaurant seems to function okay, though things are a little slow. Homer promises to rally all his friends, with the help of "drone delivery" (a sandwich sent to the customer on a balloon). Running a business is expensive, though, and Marge grumbles about money (DRINK!). Reflecting on corporate greed, the show manages to sneak in a jab at Fox (dear God, drink). Things take a nosedive when Shauna is caught with her fingers in the till. She is fired, and takes the besotted Squeaky-Voiced Teen with her. Homer steps in as impromptu sandwich maker, humiliating  Bart and Lisa. Despite Marge's pleading, they refuse to join in. She promptly ignores all child labor laws and forces them both to work. Surprisingly, the Simpsons prove quite adept in a fast-food environment, so much so that Marge fires Gil. Down on his luck again - DRINK! A sandwich-making montage follows, which I swear to God must have been inspired by Kenneth Anger's Scorpio Rising. Everything goes just swimmingly for a while, and Marge dares to hope that they may actually achieve the American Dream. However, her dreams are crushed when a Mother Hubband Sandwich Cupboard Express opens, right across the street. To make matters worse, it's run by Cletus and his double-Duggar-sized family, which gives him a huge edge. Marge's business quickly falls into ruin. Meanwhile, Burns and Smithers come over to inquire about Homer's absence from work, but the conversation ends when Burns falls in love with the cardboard mascot. And though this is not related to any rule, that previous sentence was so stupid that I'm just going to go ahead and chug. Grampa comments that if he's ever senile, Homer should get a gun and - a gun immediately appears in the frame. Homer has lost a whole bunch of weight, and Marge puts it down to overwork. The restaurant is driving both of them into the ground, even if Homer does look a bit fitter as a result. Fed up, she goes to Moe's and gets plastered. Wait, WHAT WHAT WHAT? Yeah, Marge is behaving hopelessly out of character, but what the hell, I'll go along with it. She finds solace in getting completely trashed, but is quickly upset when a commercial for Cletus' store comes on TV. Lenny and Carl explain that it's the convenience that draws them in, not the truly appalling food. Even Moe helps out, offering to find a way to get Marge out of her contract - though she may never work in fast food again. At least, not until the next time the writers run out of ideas. So Marge politely explains to Trudy that she thinks this is unfair (wait, why didn't they just use Lindsay Naegle again? Is she blacklisted?), Trudy implies she's a nitwit, and OH MY GOD GUY INCOGNITO WALKS IN. Oh, wait. Just Homer. Lisa and Bart spill hot coffee on him, attack him with medical implements, and hit him with a fire extinguisher - well, the latter two may have been Bart. Marge points out that Mother Hubbard did not properly train its employees, so instead of facing a lawsuit, they can just give her back her investment, and she will take responsibility for the man's "injuries". Trudy agrees, the family goes to a park that looks like a Georges Seurat painting (Specific Reference! Drink!), and all is well with the world. Even if we didn't get an appearance from Guy Incognito. Because the writers aren't clever enough to come up with twenty-two minutes of one plot, we get a short film called "Great Moments in Sandwich History", starring Homer, which is honestly pretty perfect. Video's pretty tedious, though -something about Homer as caveman. Oddly enough, he's not unlike Cletus. End credits. This one actually worked! Despite my references to the drinking game, I must admit it really didn't seem as tired as the usual ones. Sure, we've seen the plot before, but it was played out in a rather nuanced manner, giving us a decent glimpse into the family's motivations and skewering Corporate America rather nicely. Some appearances from old favourites like Gil helped tremendously. Next week - Treehouse of Horror, a guaranteed highlight of the season and by now a time-honoured holiday tradition. Will they equal "The Shinning"? Stick around - there's only one way to find out.   FJ Discussion Thread      

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.22 - Mathlete's Feat

So this week CFK will get a little break, as every show goes off the air save Community, and that's okay, because you know there's always time for Alison Brie. Finale Week kicked off last night with the much-anticipated, and glorious, Mad Men finale. Can the Simpsons measure up? Well, no, but at least we can have fun with what may be our last glimpse of Harry Shearer. The couch gag kicks off with characters from Rick and Morty, a show I've never seen, crashing into the Simpsons house and killing the family. Well, that got dark fast. After they freak about about having killed a national treasure, Morty is tasked with taking a vial of "Simpsons goo" and a family portrait to an unknown location. Rick stays behind to guard against the millions of characters who exist on this show and might walk in. He messes with the family's possessions and freezes Flanders while Morty, on a distant planet, essentially has the family 3D-printed at a store. The family is reborn, but since Rick cleaned the vials with his own saliva, they all look like mutant forms of him. Disturbing, but amusing. As the two of them run away, Bart complains about guest animators. Lisa and her fellow nerds are in a math competition against Waverly School, the snobby place the kids briefly attended a few seasons back. Their sponsors are - oh, Jebus - the three nerds from Homer's days in college. No. No. Keep those beloved characters in the golden past where they belong. This is almost as bad as bringing back Mr. Bergstrom for no lines. Apparently, they've gotten rich off a startup and can now finance things like math competitions. Krusty reluctantly opens it (he doesn't know which event he's attending) and Frink hosts. The schools show introductory films - one was clearly made on film stock, focuses on Springfield Elementary's past as a storage facility for salt pork, and was produced by the thrilling Chalmskinn productions (okay, I did get a laugh out of that one). The other film was directed by Michael Bay. (What, snobby elite school and they're not even going to go for a Wes Anderson, or even Christopher Nolan? Shame.) And as far as I know, that's not actually him speaking. There was input from Diablo Cody and Stephen Hawking, too. And some explosions. Lisa makes a speech about how her underdog school will pull off a surprise, but they lose 30-0. Marge and Homer try to comfort her, but she has already figured out that Waverly's money gives them an advantage they cannot overcome. The nerds, moved by the team's plight, offer to buy each student a bunch of computer equipment, and give the school an upgrade. Skinner joyfully destroys all the school's filmstrips from the Nixon era (AKA current teaching tools). Blackboards are replaced by interactive whiteboards (and having taught from one before, I call bullshit that Bart can write on one so legibly), a 3D printing lab is built, and the school can finally hire some attractive teachers. Willie has a new supervisor, a Roomba. They hold a huge assembly to celebrate the changes, though the kids only want to watch a Game of Thrones rip-off on their tablets. The country of Decapitor sure has had a lot of violent weddings lately. "Who knew they had nipples in castle times?" exclaims a delighted Nelson. Unfortunately, all the streaming shorts out the school servers, which causes a power crisis that affects the entire town. Now the school is worse off than ever before, except for one inventive teacher who teaches typing using marshmallows with letters drawn on them. Miss Hoover resorts to showing dubious educational videos on her phone, but Lisa can't quite see, so she gets bored and wanders off to talk to Willie. He's using an interesting method of lawn maintenance (from old-timey Scotland), which Lisa finds very interesting. A weird subplot is born. She goes to see Principal Skinner, who is reassembling books from the ashes he gleefully turned them into shortly before the power outage, and tells him that their new Luddite status is nothing to worry about - they'll simply have to become a Waldorf school. Oh boy, another gimmicky fad episode. Chalmers thinks it has to do with the hotel, Skinner thinks it's "Where's Waldo" (and we're not even getting started on the salad), but they're on board nonetheless. So the program starts, with only minor glitches, though Homer is less than thrilled about the prospect of weekly parents' meetings. However, upon hearing the students sing the new school song (which is about as hippie as last night's Mad Men), he is terribly moved by their preaching of tolerance and joins in. Homer enthuses about the new program, noting that kids can learn everywhere as Bart learns math by pouring beer. Willie is particularly popular, with his agriculture-based lessons, and he is soon asked to coach the school math team. However, he blows his chances by getting mad at Chalmers for some reason, chasing him with a tractor, and eventually causing him to crash his car (well, Bart helped by throwing an egg through the sunroof). As a reward for Bart's derring-do, Willie lets him onto the team. As captain. Predictably, at the next match against Waverly, Bart is totally lost. However, Willie's unusual coaching strategy works wonders on the kids, and as the parents display incredibly clever signs of support (seriously, just watch the episode), the match proves to be a close one. Eventually, they are tied, and the last question is about triangles and straight lines. You can tell the math geeks on the writing staff had a lot of fun with this episode. Inspired by the geometrical shape of Homer's hair, Bart of all people comes to a solution. The team wins and everyone rejoices. Willie thanks "lower standards" for allowing them to win - wait, that makes no sense - and that's that. What a lazy ending. In the coda, Lisa gets drunk on soda pop and thanks Willie for his help. He, in turn, shows her that the agricultural device which sparked it all was actually an execution mechanism. Lisa shrugs. Well, it started off okay - thin plot, but good jokes - and then it totally ground to a halt. No ending, not even a good gag to finish with. It lost all its energy, fitting for a late-era Simpsons episode. So Season 26 remains disappointing from beginning to end. Maybe Harry Shearer had the right hunch after all. FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.21 - Bull-E

As of next week, this sorry season finally comes to an end. I have to say, even by latter-day Simpsons standards this one was pretty wretched. Can they redeem themselves in two episodes? Ummm...   No real opening credits. Couch gag: Maggie kicks soccer balls at Homer. Wait, what? That's not a proper couch gag! What fresh hell is this? Come back here so I can set you adrift on an ice floe, writers! Groundskeeper Willie unexpectedly quits, having hired crooner Johnny Mathis in his place. And yes, that is dear Johnny offering us his golden voice. Principal Skinner announces a school dance, which neither Simpson kid looks forward to. Bart desperately tries to ditch, but his parents won't hear it. Homer cheerfully tells his ten-year-old that if he goes along with what girls want, he might get a "special night". The Flanderses have worked hard painting their fence, but at the last minute Homer flips the posts, stealing their paint job. For the first time, the Flanders boys are getting annoyed with their "Uncle Homer's" conduct, though Ned counsels patience. The school dance is predictably dull, though we do get an awesome Otto hallucination. Bart tries to wreak havoc, which earns him a punch from Nelson and - gasp - the heart of a fifth-grader. However, he hesitates, because he doesn't want a visit from the Puberty Demon. And yes, we get to meet said unappealing demon. Hormones eventually win out and he wins her dance, and also the coveted Best Dancer trophy. He goes to meet with his new girlfriend outside, but the bullies catch up with him first, and I bet you can't guess what happens next. The trophy is smashed and his new girlfriend dumps him in disgust. The Puberty Demon returns to laugh at hapless Bart. Marge is angry to hear about it, immediately turning into the anti-bullying crusader we see so frequently today. She presents the bill at a town meeting, prompting a string of swear words from Moe so blue that they kill Helen Lovejoy. However, Marge argues so persuasively that they vote it in after less than a minute. Only Hans Moleman votes against, but no worries, Mayor Quimby bullies it into a unanimous vote. Soon enough, the police are chasing down Springfield's unruly teens, and pipsqueaks like Bart and Milhouse are free to roam the town. The local force is drunk on their own power, and their power is even extended to adults, as egomaniac Krusty finds out the hard way. Homer shamelessly abuses this, reporting Apu for putting too much ice in his drink, and Lisa worries about the kind of society they're becoming. Over at the Flanders house, the boys wonder if their father is being bullied by Uncle Homer. Ned denies this, saying that he's just turning the other cheek. The boys pray for Uncle Homer, but it does no good. Meanwhile, Wiggum has become something of a tyrant and locked up half the town. The Flanders kids call in their report, and Homer is arrested. He is sentenced to mandatory treatment at a "re-education centre". The bullying therapist (Albert Brooks, oh heralded guest star), a former bully himself, instructs them in the ways of empathy. So the process of breaking down begins. The instructor probes into everyone's childhood, where we learn that Chalmers was raised according to the methods of behaviourist B.F. SKINNER! Never having been loved, he has no idea how to behave in a constructive manner, and sobs like a child. Only Snake seems resistant to the instructor's methods. Homer details his hatred of Flanders, which is mostly due to jealousy. The instructor declares a breakthrough. We cut to a PSA where the convicted bullies repudiate their evil ways. The instructor explains that this will be distributed to all sorts of vulnerable groups. Class is dismissed, though the instructor remarks that he forgot to teach remorse. So the reformed bullies are the toast of the town, and the Flanders kids don't like this. Flanders dismisses this, but soon enough he is also bothered. At an autograph signing (no, really), Flanders points out that Homer never actually apologized, despite months of anti-bullying school. When he explains how it diminished his image, Homer finally understands the concept of remorse. Finally, he crawls on his knees to the house next door and begs Flanders' forgiveness. Flanders initially refuses to give it, letting him kneel there and suffer after a quarter century of torment.   However, Homer is persistent, kneeling in Flanders' driveway for several days. Finally, even Rod and Todd beg Flanders to go rescue him. A weeping Ned goes outside, and quoting a Bible verse about forgiveness, pulls him from the lawn (he was in there so long he sank). Their friendship mended, Homer and "Stupendous Flanders" have a reconciliation brunch. Tag scene - Otto, still tripping, hallucinates the Magic School Bus (sadly, Lily Tomlin does not appear to work her magic). The class decides to visit the inside of a druggie's brain - and holy shit, why did they never make that episode? - but Otto can't stand it and stomps the little bus to death. We learn that while this is going on, real-Otto is supposed to be a foreman on a jury. We haven't had enough Otto in the past ten years or so - welcome back, buddy. Well, despite my constant ragging on this season, this week's episode had a lot to recommend it - an interesting premise with some good humour and even a wee bit of a satire, some excellent work from the great A. Brooks, and even some surreal weirdness courtesy of Otto. Though they could have done a lot more with the Simpsons-Flanders dynamic, I did want to cheer Ned finally standing up for himself. Was it greatness? Of course not. But at the very least, there is a good chance we could end this season on a decent note! FJ Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.20 - Let's Go Fly a Coot

So, the show has been renewed for two more years. Aren't you just SO excited. Couch gag: The Simpsons are penguins on an ice couch, except for Homer, who is a walrus (and eats them). Tasteless AND factually inaccurate! Milhouse has a surprisingly well-attended birthday party, over-the-top as many modern birthdays are - think gigantic bouncy castles and elaborate gift bags. Kirk admits that they sold their house to pay for the party. And yeah, it took me a minute to remember that the Van Houtens are back together (and have been for about a decade), as the show still treats them as divorced half the time. Homer decides they need to put a stop to the craziness once and for all. So he becomes a Birthday Party Grinch, at one point stealing petting zoo animals, accidentally-on-purpose convincing Flanders that it's time to build an ark. He even kidnaps Krusty in his Krusty look-a-like outfit...funny!...and then pretends to hang himself in front of the children? Okay, that's it. We need to have the entire Simpsons writing staff exiled to a desert island, or maybe reassigned to write for 19 Kids and Counting.  Marge is soon suspicious and wants to know if Homer is behind these birthday disasters. Homer, voice squeaky with helium, comes clean. And now we know exactly what Dan Castellaneta does to voice Arnie Pie in the Sky. Anyway, Homer laments about how over-the-top birthdays have become. Marge concedes that he has a point, but that those who make their livelihoods from these parties may not see it that way. Homer scoffs at this, but then a giant helicopter shows up. Big Birthday is watching you. Armed goons trap him in his living room and berate him for messing with the precious birthday complex. Yeah, turns out there's a huge conspiracy behind it all. Some guy who is way too into birthdays gives a very long and boring speech (apparently it's supposed to parody Network, but they're not doing it very well), demanding that Homer make restitution, or else his children will never have a birthday party again. "You're going to stay your current ages for the rest of your lives," says Marge sadly. This whole plot is stupid and we are stupider for watching it, you guys. However, the Big Birthday guy has a solution - he'll be allowed back into the fold of things if he hosts a birthday party for Rod Flanders. Oh, and it had better be good. Magical, even. It's held at the aviation museum, and despite Homer's desperate circumstances, he is incredibly grumpy about it. However, Rod gives him a great big hug (which does nothing to improve his mood). Abe Simpson's airforce buddies fly in on a vintage plane. Grampa has been in every military branch by this point, which of course the show lampshades. Sigh. The war buddies are dismayed at how Abe's son treats him, and vow to get even. Meanwhile, while playing with drones, Bart and Milhouse do their best to torment Todd. While they're laughing about it, Bart meets a beautiful blue-haired girl (run!). She is Milhouse's cousin Annika, who hails from the Netherlands and is played by Carice van Houten (who is not related to Milhouse in real life, that we know of). She is European, smokes e-cigarettes, and is instantly the object of Bart's affections. Homer escapes the birthday crisis only to be confronted with an army-geezers crisis. (Also, one of them has a voice suspiciously similar to Duffman. Grandpa Duff, perhaps?) He decides to fight them, but is easily defeated by a couple of finger flicks. Annika has progressed to openly offering to kiss a ten-year-old (no, really), and Bart has fallen totally under her spell. She has soon turned him into her errand boy. Of course, the Kwik-E-Mart has absolutely no problem with selling him tobacco. The geezers have forgiven Homer, and welcomed him and Abe into their circle. They go to a movie, where Homer spends literally a minute of the episode listing movies about dystopian futures. Writers, you are so banished to living with the Duggars. They sit through a parody of The Expendables, which is actually kind of funny, even if Homer misses most of it while taking Abe to the bathroom. Afterward, at the Veterans of Unpopular Wars Museum, where the geezers decide to set Homer straight. Held at gunpoint, Homer promises he'll be a better son. Oh my god, where is this episode even going. Marge and Luann catch Bart and Annika vaping. Homer and Abe are friends again, and can't be arsed to care about Bart's transgressions, especially since it is in the name of love. Bart is heartbroken that his new friend is going back to Holland. To cheer him up, Grampa tells him a story about the 1950s. Employed at the local air force base, young Abe was trying to win a pretty young waitress's heart. For whatever reason, Lisa takes over at this point. No worries, Grampa takes his story back in short order. He overheard that the new plane was a death trap, and that the authorities were trying to suppress this. Heroically (and possibly while on LSD), Abe took the plane for a test flight into the stratosphere. Unfortunately, it began to crash. Abe survived with a parachute, but the plane broke up in mid-air. He was picked up by Jack Kerouac, and accidentally ruined his writing career in the process (long story). Later, he did get together with the waitress, who turns out to be Mona Simpson. (Apparently Glenn Close voiced her, though she is almost unrecognizable, and certainly doesn't sound like Mona in previous episodes.) He tells Bart that the only way to win a woman over is to pretend to be someone he's not. Bart decides to make a grand gesture before her flight leaves. Bart finds her just as she's about to go through security. She's not receptive to his gesture, and in fact, he doesn't like her much either. He spills some e-cigs, the other passengers gratefully steal them, and Annika runs off muttering in Dutch. Bart tells Milhouse he's going to stay away from van Houtens for a while. Milhouse is delighted, since this means he'll get to marry a cousin - just like his parents did. Tag scene - the air force geezers leave. We never learned any of their names. At least Homer and Abe are getting along, these days. Homer takes his dad for a steak, but Abe can't chew it - so they melt it down and put it in an e-cigarette. Over Annika speaking Dutch, the end credits play. Well. That should have been three episodes. Any of those stories could have made a mediocre episode on their own, but instead they were crammed together. The story made no sense and there was no time for humour or even pathos.  It was honestly a bit of a waste of airtime. Apart from maybe a good line or two, there was just nothing there, especially with storylines we've plodded along with a thousand times before. This show has at least two seasons left - but considering what they've been producing lately, I'm not so sure that was a great idea. FJ Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.2 - The Wreck of the Relationship

After mercilessly killing off a character we barely remember last week, where can the Simpsons go next? Why, destroying a relationship, of course! Probably for five minutes, at least. Let's find out which Springfield couple, friendship or family will be torn apart. No opening credits. Couch gag: The family finds Itchy and Scratchy fighting on their couch. Itchy is kicked out, and Scratchy moves in, but proceeds to trash the house. Homer brings back Itchy to kill him, ensuring a happy ending and possibly solving the mystery of decades of Itchy and Scratchy cartoons. Having watched every testicle-accident video on the Internet, Bart and Milhouse turn to some forbidden websites. This includes a red-band trailer for an upcoming film. Homer is outraged by the brief nudity and locks the computer up. On top of that, he orders Bart to clean is room, behaving like an actual parent for the first time in a decade. However, this fails when Bart refuses to listen to him. Later, Marge suggests that Bart is actually more like Homer than he thinks. She suggests, for some reason, that Homer clean Bart's room in the night and thank him for cleaning it in the morning, probably because she is drunk. This immediately launches a Discipline Bart initiative, which includes forcing him to eat broccoli (and Lisa a sundae, just by collateral damage). Spending days at a standoff, Homer is forced to have Marge draft his fantasy football team rather than give in, while Bart misses the greatest fight in schoolyard history (Martin finally gets his revenge, from the sound of it). After 46 hours, Lisa develops a solution - she will make two smoothies, one with broccoli and one without, and never reveal which one has the hated vegetable. Bart promptly ruins this by knocking over the glasses. Homer tries to force him to lick the table clean, they get into a major fight, and Marge turns to the only logical solution - having them kidnapped - sorry, shanghaied - and put on a boat together. Yeah, it's some kind of Outward Bound thing, and Flanders and kids are there too, despite being more or less perfect. Captain Bowditch, a sailor-slash-therapist played by the one and only Nick Offerman, is there to encourage father-son bonding and impeccably clean decks. Meanwhile, Marge is devastated to get negative feedback on the team she create for Homer, but Lisa assures her it's just trash talk. Marge decides to pray about it, and I can already tell that this is going to be dull beyond words. Alarmed by the constant trash talk in church, she even decides to take out the wi-fi. I really can't imagine where this is going. The captain tries to get the men to sing their feelings, only to get crickets in response. Homer is taken out of commission by a sudden bout of scurvy before anything can be done. While he is sent off to eat a bunch of lemons, Bart is forced to build character on his own. I don't know, I'm not really feeling Nick Offerman in this role. We need a snarky line to liven it up. We do, however, get some nice HMS Pinafore as background music, though it lacks vocals from Sideshow Bob. Bart turns out to excel at sailing, which enrages Homer. He argues, rightly, that he should be allowed to choose what he wants to pursue. The Captain supports this, giving him the position of midshipman - which means having authority over Homer. When Homer complains, he is chained up for his troubles. The sail continues, as CFK wonders what kind of drunken bet resulted in this episode's premise. Bart revels in his authority, while Homer grits his teeth. Marge complains that fantasy football turns all men into pigs. Selma challenges her to defeat one of them at the game in order to prove her dominance. We get some kind of fake documentary/newscast detailing her struggles, which is quite well animated. Despite barely knowing what football is, Marge pulls ahead. The Captain comforts Bart about Homer's disrespect. They catch Homer guzzling from a flask. A recovering alcoholic himself, the Captain confiscates the rum, and winds up relapsing. He and Homer wind up getting wasted together. And just as he's out of commission, a storm approaches... The leftover fathers and sons get to work saving the ship, which somehow patches all their relationship problems. Bart is next in the chain of command, and tries to steer them to safety. However, Homer still refuses to follow him. To show that he is serious, Bart pulls a piece of broccoli from his pocket and eats him. Homer immediately leaps to action. Everyone gets back safely, Homer and Bart dance a jig, and the Sea Captain expresses his regret at being left out of the voyage to make room for a guest star. As he mopes over his loneliness, the opening credits come up. Nick Offerman sings over the end credits with Dan Castellaneta, which is strangely underwhelming. The Simpsons tends to do well when focused on family, but this episode kind of floundered. Marge's story was blatant padding, barely connected to the main plot at all. Nick Offerman's role was also fairly superfluous, which is criminal when you consider his comedic talents. While the plot between Bart and Homer started out well, it ultimately fizzled out a bit - but it did provide some good moments. Overall, I would rate this episode as fair, or "stupendous" by Season 26 standards. Now if you'll excuse me, I've got a flask and a barrel full of lemons waiting. FJ Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.18 - The Kids Are All Fight

Yeah, yeah, another Simpsons episode. This week we get to go back in time! Again. To Bart and Lisa's early childhood! Again. It's hard to get enthusiastic this far into the game. Come on, writers, wow me. We actually get real opening credits! Chalkboard: Lisa writes the words, "I will not pay my sister to do my punishment". Bart watches. Lisa plays the harp in the school band this time. The couch gag shows the Simpsons as pegs playing the Game of Life, hitting such squares as "unexpected pregnancy", "lose hair", and "descent into alcoholism". In the end, though, they finally get to their couch. At Moe's, a suited-up Homer offers to pay off his bill, damn near killing Moe. He goes through his pockets, coming up with odd items, both from past seasons and from off-the-wall adventures we never heard from. One of these items is an old film roll. Carl mentions that most film developers are closed. However, Moe says that the bar can function as a darkroom, so they develop it. With Duff beer. Shudder. Homer summons his family to look at the photos, which were taken about six years before. Most of them are of the kids fighting. Marge wonders why Homer didn't step in, Bart why they fought so much, and Lisa how they resolved their differences (kinda). So guess what, it's time for a story. Bart and Lisa are little hellions who can't stop attacking each other, which is probably a side effect of being 4 and 2 respectively. Homer tries to reason with Bart, but the child is too frightened of his infamous clown bed to listen. (You know the one.) The fighting continues, and it's really boring. We do get a funny 2001 parody, though. Marge tells the kids that she lost a lot of sleep during that difficult period. Past-Marge asks her husband to help her find answers. The child psychiatrist condemns Bart while praising Lisa, saying their differences are too great to ever be overcome. More fighting, and some Miami Vice hair courtesy of Flanders. We even get Maude's first appearance in ages. The Flanderses can see that Homer and Marge are having trouble at home, so they invite the couple to lunch, presumably to lecture them on the principles of blanket training. Grandma "Hello, Joe!" Flanders, perhaps even more religious than her son (wait, wasn't his mom a freaky beatnik?), is horrified at the Simpson kids' lack of morality. In her shock, she kicks the bucket. Homer and Marge get caught up in "snuggling" and don't quite make it to brunch. The Simpson kids, terrified at the death of Grandma, run for home, where they almost run into an even scarier sight. Fortunately, they're distracted by an ice cream truck. They get hopelessly lost and Bart plays in traffic. Homer and Marge finally get to brunch, which we do not get to see, and arrive home only to find Ned grieving for his dead grandmother. (That's right, she's not a horribly aged freaky beatnik.) Marge panics when she realizes the kids are gone. They go to the police, who are their usual incompetent selves. Baby Bart and Baby Lisa get menaced by the Baby Bullies. They try to steal Bart's trike, but Lisa cries, so they give it back. (Also, Kearney is portrayed as almost a dad, even though he's like four. I know he's been portrayed as a dad the whole series, but eccchhh.) Once they're gone, Lisa admits she faked the tears to get rid of the bullies. Bart decides that maybe a little sister isn't so bad after all. Homer tells Marge that he can't find the kids, so they should just have a third child and call it Maggie. An exasperated Marge calls a medium, who happens to be Selma, who of course blames it on Homer. Bart and Lisa find themselves at Springfield Retirement Castle, The old people terrify them, but Grampa saves the day! (And we get to see Bea Simmons!) The kids sit there while Grampa sleeps. As they try to kill the time, they find themselves becoming reconciled to their differences. Homer wants to search for the kids some more, but his buddies won't help him, because they just ordered pizza. Homer shoots the pizza. Yeah, that's right. He chose his kids over food. YOU GO HOMER. Young Milhouse runs into the Simpson kids and tries to alert his dad, but is distracted by cartoons. They bike away from a dog and find themselves at the top of a large hill, which they immediately throw themselves down. Fortunately they survive, but Lisa is shaken. Homer and Marge continue their fruitless search, almost going so far as to alert Social Services. Miraculously, the Surly Repairman is able to point them out - on top of the tire fire. Homer wants to save them, but only develops the strength to do so when Marge reminds him that they just bought the kids new shoes. He grabs a tree and manages to bend it so that the kids can grab on. Unfortunately, he then flings them halfway across town - directly into Bart's clown bed, which they destroy. Back in the present, Marge concludes that they lived happily ever after and had their Maggie. They also gave her the room where Marge used to grow her weed. WHAT? No. Back the fuck up, Simpsons. You do not get to throw Marge into out-of-character situations like that without at least an entire episode to justify it. Bad Simpsons writers! Go sit in the corner. We get a tag scene where Grandma Flanders miraculously pulls through and Ned sings "Amazing Grace" to celebrate. Unfortunately, this kills her. In the present, the kids play pool while Homer talks about how great a dad he is. So yeah, this episode was pretty much a nothing. Incredibly rushed, no real sentiment, very few jokes that landed. I liked some of the callbacks to the past, but other than that, it was incredibly meh. There was absolutely nothing in plot - and I'm pretty sure the actors were sleepwalking. Oh well. Next week, I guess. FJ Discussion Thread  

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.18 - Peeping Mom

Well, we're back from our month-long hiatus. What fresh hell have Groening and Co. dreamed up for us now? Onward! King Homer climbs up the Empire State Building as we read a title card. The Simpsons start as kernels on a heated couch and pop into shape. Marge goes to a rip-off of Apple to get her broken phone looked at. On the way home, as she is complaining about all the creeps posing as employees, she notices that her neighbourhood has become a scene of destruction. Lou explains that someone broke into the bulldozer store and went off on a joyride. Do we even have to guess who the main suspect is? Well, Chief Wiggum can't actually pin him, but that doesn't mean he's going to let it go. Bart is released to Marge's custody in the hopes that his mother can force a confession out of him. Lisa runs around with a magnifying glass looking at stuff, because I guess you get really bored after being eight for 26 years, and notices that Flanders has a new puppy. The dog has one of those impossibly long Bible names, but is called Baz for short. Flanders practices "Christian Dog Training", which is exactly the way it sounds and has probably been tried in the Duggar household at least once. A passing Barney immediately wants to convert. Marge gives Bart the mother of all lectures, but backs off once he masterfully manipulates her into feeling guilty about her own mothering. Dinner is a tense affair that night, despite Lisa's babble about the puppy. Homer wonders if feelings are going unexpressed. Marges urges "someone at this table" to tell the truth. While everyone else hides their various secrets, Homer asks if he and Marge can be excused for an adult conversation. Marge tells Homer that Bart stole the bulldozer, because a mother "knows things". However, Homer is too busy wondering whether a wife also "knows things" to pursue Bart's problems much further. He thinks they should just give up and make excuses for their son's behaviour, as he's already a lost cause. For some reason, this redirects to Homer's failed North American Sumo League, an episode I totally would have watched. Bart is called in and told to look Marge in the eye and swear he never saw the bulldozer. He does this without hestitation, which leads Marge to imagine him doing so on the electric chair years later. (And by the way, this "joke" is awful and gory and totally not Simpsons at all.) Bart begs his mother to believe him, and she says she will - but she'll be keeping an eye on him from now on, all the time. And yes, this includes going to school with him. To no one's surprise, Bart tires of this rather quickly and makes a break for it. Homer meets little Baz, and despite his efforts not to like her, she quickly wins him over. Bart is brought back to school, where Marge remains - and finds out all the terrible things he's been up to there. After some time, he begins to chafe under her constant micromanaging, including picking out his lunch in the cafeteria. The other kids start to make fun of him. Bart protests that Marge should follow Homer instead, but noo, that's creepy (even though she's done it before). Eventually, Bart resolves to hiding in a playground tunnel while Marge plays with Ralph. Eventually, Groundskeeper Willie has to chase him out with bagpipes. Dinner that night is again tense, as Marge refuses to focus on anything other than Bart. The puppy arrives and breaks some of this tension, as Homer runs from the table to play with it. As he does this, he of course gloats about how concerned Flanders must be. SLH does not appreciate the new addition. Lisa, too, feels ignored. She lies in her room, muttering about being a middle child. Homer comes up to speak to her. This just results in more angry muttering on both sides. However, they realize how much they actually care about each other, so they're quickly reconciled. Okay, even in limited moments like this, I just love the Homer-Lisa relationship. Meanwhile, Flanders feels some jealousy of his own, as Baz appears to prefer Homer - and the boys are calling Homer "uncle". (Todd also wants to marry Maggie - courtship episode?) Bart runs off with Milhouse, though even out in the woods he is not safe from Marge. (Apparently, her hair can also explode woodpeckers.) She hovers over him with a hoodie and  "don't-get-lost" spool of thread, which Milhouse gleefully takes to. Bart begs his mother to back off, like any reasonable child would, but Marge stands firm. Since he will still not admit to knowing about the bulldozer, Marge turns to Milhouse for help. This does not provide any answers. Bart takes off yet again (god this is getting tiring), but Marge - and an assassin Maggie - are in pursuit. Ned finds Baz playing with a slipper labelled "Property of Ned Flanders", which was clearly taken from Homer's house. He sees this as a sign, and prays to God over whether he should give the dog to Homer. Meanwhile, Marge speeds along the streets of Springfield (on Lisa's bike), chasing Bart to the tune of Simpsons video game-theme music. (We also learn what happens in every credits sequence - once Bart skateboards by, Moe invites everyone in for a drink.) They wind up rowing/pedalling across the river while Bart begs his mother to stop caring about him. He trips, lands in a mud puddle, and admits defeat. Exasperated by Bart's lack of enthusiasm for her helicopter parenting, Marge decides she won't look after him at all anymore. Geez lady, take a chill pill. Ned sadly tells his heartbroken sons that Baz will be happier in another home, so she will be going to live next door. Bart is revelling in his new parent-free life, staying up late and planning horrible things. Specifically, he wants to bulldoze the Springfield sign. Yeah. Bart has gone from Dennis the Menace to sociopath. He wants to leave the letter "FIE" standing, too, just to spite them all. Eek. A tearful Flanders brings Baz over with a huge basket of dog supplies. Though he enjoys the dog, Homer feels guilty when he sees Flanders' face and offers the dog back (for "when his kids run away"). He explains that Baz considers him another dog, but Flanders a human - and her true master. Bart prepares to demolish the sign while Milhouse recites obscure bulldozer facts. Finally, he chickens out, leaving Bart alone. As he's preparing to wreak havoc, Bart finds a container of fried chicken that Marge packed for him. Eating it triggers all of his good memories of her - and the pain his bad action will cause her. He realizes he's growing a conscience. The prank is altered. He crashes down all the letters except for F...D, possibly killing the mayor in the process. The citizens decide that this was a tribute to the Fire Department, and Bart happily informs his mom that "I discovered there's a line I won't cross". Marge decides that she and her chicken are good influences after all. But she still wants an answer about that bulldozer. Bart admits it was him, so Marge tries to strangle him - but instead pulls him in for a hug. Awww. Unfortunately, Bart is immediately arrested, but the Chief lets him and Marge keep hugging. Meanwhile, Lisa has come down with mono and Maggie hurt herself playing whack-a-mole because their parents forgot to pay attention to them. Ah well, you can't win 'em all. And as a nice touch, Homer grovels to his dog for his lack of loyalty. SLH, happily, is as forgiving as any other pup. Tag scene - SLH and Baz get into a spaghetti Western standoff. However, they get along just fine after some butt-sniffing and cuddle up together. So. Well. This series is tired and hackneyed and it recycled several different premises tonight. We knew it would going in. And some of the Marge stuff seemed very out of character, and the puppy plot was incredibly half-baked. However, the episode did throw in a lot of great one-liners and sight gags, and so there was enough to keep a thin plot going. I also found the scene with Lisa and Homer to be incredibly touching. Other than that, though, it was pretty run-of-the-mill. Until next week, guys. FJ Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.16 - Sky Police

Yeah, this is the episode I moaned about last week. Well, uh, maybe they've gone concept? Maybe this will be the greatest artistic endeavour the show has ever tried. Or maybe it will just be stupid. You decide. I suppose I can't start this review without mentioning the death of Sam Simon, who passed away this week of cancer. You saw his name on the credits of every episode (or Sam "Sayonara" Simon when it was Treehouse of Horror), but he actually left the show in the first few seasons. Credited as a creator of the series, his work was a huge influence on the show's style, and continues to be felt to this day, both on the show and in the many comedic works that it inspired. Rest in Peace, Mr. Simon - you left this world a great legacy. No opening credits. Lou wakes up a napping Chief Wiggum with news that there's a sniper in the Warehouse District. The chief chickens out of it. Lou and Eddie run off to potentially get killed in the line of duty. While lazing about, he is delivered a jetpack meant for a Clancy Wiggins. He decides, despite having no training whatsoever, to take it on (and come on, so would you). Triumphantly, he declares himself a member of the Sky Police. After causing untold death and destruction with his new toy (all to a catchy theme song, of course), the Chief unfortunately has to give the jet pack up to Clancy Wiggins, who turns out to be military. He gives chase, so they shoot him down, though they somehow succeed in destroying the jet pack and NOT the human riding it. The pack burns down the church, which is like the umpteenth time something airborne has destroyed it in this series. The Simpsons, complaining about church, arrive to find it destroyed, whereupon Bart declares that his prayers truly have been answered. Marge, however, is devastated. The church's insurance is rejected because "we believe everything is an act of God". Rev. Lovejoy holds an emergency meeting in the ruins, saying that they will soon be torn down and the land developed. Marge, of course, will not stand for this. She solicits donations, but is unsuccessful. Apu says he knows a way to get the money. Though he is not a Christian, he sees the church as a positive influence in the community, and wants it to keep going. Apu is invited to Flanders' basement, where he is belittled, but encouraged to share his idea. He suggests they play at the casino. Uh, what? An exploration of gambling in Springfield? We've never seen that before. He explains that he won his way to America by playing blackjack, thus retconning a beloved character's backstory yet again. Ned Flanders suggests that this is may present a moral dilemma. The Reverend quickly points out that almost everyone in the Bible "drew lots" at some point. So yeah, we're going to have a parody of 21, and we won't even get Kevin Spacey to appear in it. For shame. The entire church commitee is trained in card counting and casino survival. Not once is Marge's gambling addiction mentioned.  Apu tells them not to tell anyone, especially Homer, as Rev Lovejoy imagines his church being torn down and replaced with an Atheist Strip Club (I'm sure every FJer has worked in one of those at least once). So Marge weaves some elaborate lies about fundraising meetings, claiming that they're putting on a revue. I guess this revue will have to appear at some point, then. The group goes to the casino and enacts a well-choreographed card-counting scheme. Soon enough, they're just this short of fixing the church. A delighted Marge goes home to "snuggle" with her husband - and even better, cook him 2 AM steak. While they're eating, Homer asks her all kinds of details about the revue. She makes it up on the fly. It's not terribly convincing, but this is Homer we're talking about. They have one more night of gambling left to get the money, but since the casino's on to them, Apu insists that they go in disguise. The others gleefully create new personas, but Marge doubts the group's intentions. Flanders and Lovejoy shoot her worries down. Bart and Lisa arrive home to find Marge looking eerily like Amy Adams in American Hustle. For whatever reason, she tells them about the whole scheme, which is the dumbest thing I've ever seen her do. The kids seem to agree. Also, Amy Adams-Marge is a total fox:   She tells them that she only told them the secret because they're grown-up and mature enough to handle it, a maneuver that is always catnip to little kids. They go to a casino called "La Belle Frottage" *spits coffee* and are dressed as the following: Marge - the aforementioned American Hustle type
Flanders - sheik
Lovejoy - punk rocker
Agnes Skinner - cowgirl
Sideshow Mel (since when is he religious?) - biker
and best of all, Helen Lovejoy - dominatrix
They wind up making a ton of money, which they pray over (well, Agnes rolls in it instead, but I'll give her that). On another note, I love Lovejoy's purple eyeshadow. Marge happily calls Homer, prepared to tell the truth - only to find out that some casino goons have gotten to him first. He wonders why they couldn't have just done the revue instead. It turns out that a worried Bart and Lisa spilled the beans. Homer went to the casino to find her, but the goons intercepted him when they saw him waving her picture. Marge runs to the Lovejoys, who appear to still be roleplaying their diguises. (Marge is invited to join, natch.) Unfortunately, the money is gone - Lovejoy paid the contractor already. Obviously, getting it back is not an option. Meanwhile, Homer confuses his captors by asking if counting cards is really stealing, or even cheating. They end up torturing him for it. Over at the church, Lovejoy assures Marge that her husband's suffering is part of God's plan. Marge angrily retorts that God is not "the Sky Police". Flanders immediately feels guilty for their sinful scheme, and the damage it has caused to his friend. Sideshow Mel suggests that they finally do the revue. However, Marge has a better solution - she goes to the casino and prays. This is the most I've heard from Marge in several seasons, and frankly, the most she's sounded like Julie Kavner since before Julie was Marge. And she's phenomenal. She does not so much pray as reflect, on the nature of prayer and the goodness of the world and all the things she needs to change in her spiritual life. It's utterly sincere and very poignant. Even the CEO is moved - to complain about her unauthorized prayer disrupting the company profits. However, he also agrees to release Homer. Everyone winds up banned from the casino, but they got what they came for (though Homer launches a token protest, which goes nowhere). And STILL no one has mentioned Marge's gambling problem. I assume this is because the entire writing staff was born after 1993. At the end, Homer and Marge sit in front of the newly repaired church. As the sun sets, the Hindu god Hanuman appears before them. Homer gives him the thumbs-up. Okay, aside from the blatant retconning at work here, which is getting very tiresome (seriously, you do a whole episode about gambling Marge and then - gah), I didn't hate this. It was disjointed in parts, and as is a common plague in later seasons, the beginning and the rest of the episode shared an incredibly tenuous link. The plot was totally flimsy, and the jokes weren't too heavy - but it allowed for some interesting questions on faith, and on action, and on motives, mostly expressed through the near-saintly Marge. Ultimately, though the comic aspect more or less failed, her journey (and to a lesser extent, that of the group) redeemed the episode. The Simpsons has always been a reliable show when dealing with religious issues, funny but respectful, thoughtful but never dreary. (For further reading, I highly recommend Mark I. Pinsky's The Gospel According to the Simpsons, though by now it has missed at least half the show's run time.) This week, we got at least a taste of the show's capability. And all through a character most viewers can hardly stand half the time. That, at the very least, is an achievement worth noting. FJ Discussion Thread      

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.15 - The Princess Guide

The title inspires hope in me of a surprise cameo by Robin Wright. The reality is probably far harsher. Can you handle it? The opening features a cameo from Princess Penelope, oh Jesus no let's not bring back Anne Hathaway. The Simpsons are printed out of one of those old-timey (dot matrix?) printers, but get stuck in a paper jam - a nice run-of-the-mill couch gag. Lisa is accompanying her dad to Take-Your-Daughter-To-Work Day, which makes Bart remark on how there is no equivalent for sons. Homer responds, correctly, that boys already have a career advantage (though he ruins his point by gloating about it). Still, Lisa looks forward to going to work with her dad, which she totally hasn't done, ever in the past twenty-four seasons. Just ask Langdon Alger. Homer comments on the rash of infertility at the plant as if this is news to him, despite having been sterile since Season 3. At the plant, Lisa is curious and Homer incompetent, as usual. Burns is in a foul mood because his plant has been rendered near-bankrupt by Elon Musk. Wait, we're going to start following continuity now? I am stunned. And also annoyed, because I'd rather pretend that episode never happened. Anyway, the plant is in a state of decay, and Burns has even had to resort to releasing poodles instead of hounds. And, hey, we get a guest appearance by Richard Branson just because. Anyway, Burns needs capital and fast. He's paired up with a Nigerian king, who has promised him a lucrative venture. Smithers is understandably wary. Theres also a sad scene of Smithers longing for a future with Burns that will never happen. Lisa's food has been ruined by an unexpected almond milk accident, so Homer displays an impressive talent at lunchroom trading, which results in a delightful improvised salad. The Nigerian king turns out to be real, even played by Kevin Michael Richardson, who has apparently begun a second career as a guest voice on this show. He has brought his twenty-something daughter (Yaya DaCosta) on the trip, and since she isn't part of the business negotiation, he asks Mr. Burns to find someone to show her around. Just then, Burns catches a glimpse of Homer and Lisa getting along wonderfully on his security cameras. He decides that such a great family man would be an excellent companion for Kemi. Smithers tries to warn him, but apparently his crush on Burns has turned him into a lobotomy patient this week, because after one glance at his boss he agrees wholeheartedly. Burns leaves Homer and Kemi with a stern warning about staying in the hotel room, which is promptly ignored, at least on Kemi's part. He gets a phone call from Marge, who totally doesn't believe his story about dating a princess. He and Kemi share a giggle over her frustration. She asks if they can go out, but Homer is more interested in TV. After the umpteenth insipid episode of The Bachelor, she becomes quite frustrated. Finally, Homer takes her out - to Moe's. I don't even need to tell you that Moe instantly falls in love. Yeah, this is the Simpsons doing Roman Holiday. I'm sure it's happened before, but I don't care, because this is adorable. Moe commits several faux pas within minutes (confusing her with someone from the British Royal family, claiming that no one on earth can speak five languages), but is so endearing in the process that she is charmed. However, he completely craps all over this when he learns that she is from Nigeria. He takes Homer into the backroom and explains that he did fall for a Nigerian prince scam. Clearly, Kemi is related to the mysterious scammer, and he wants nothing more to do with her. Homer angrily says that Kemi is his guest and he will take her back to the hotel. However, he finds her gone. While searching for her, he is thrown in the drunk tank by Chief Wiggum. Moe is mumbling to himself when Kemi shows up. Surprisingly, she wants to hang out with him. Moe is flabbergasted. However, he still has her supposed "brother" in the back of his mind. Meanwhile, Homer is bailed out by Lenny and Carl. They search for the princess, but not before suggesting that Carl dress in drag and pretend to be her instead. Not to mention that Smithers is breathing down their necks... The princess and the barkeep get along famously, sharing intimate details of their day-to-day lives. She goes to the back room to get something. A while later, Moe finds her curled up on his cot, asleep. He good-naturedly prepares to kip on the bar itself, reciting his own version of "Goodnight Moon" (which Kemi overhears). The last line? "Good night, princess who treats me nice." Yeah, everyone go have their cry now. Burns attempts to sell the plant with goats, which does not impress King Kevin Michael Richardson. Eventually, though, he is won over. Meanwhile, Moe and Kemi decide to spend the day exploring Springfield. Cue an adorable montage. They even rent the requisite scooter. Unfortunately, just as they're starting to get kind of romantic, Homer arrives to take the princess home. The couple are forced to flee in a pedi-cab. However, Kemi eventually tells Moe that though she had a lovely time, she doesn't want to stay away from her father forever. She kisses him on the cheek. Unfortunately, a paparazzo manages to catch this. Soon, her story is splashed all over the Internet. Just as they are about to sign the contract, the king finds out that his daughter's reputation has been besmirched by an ugly America. He of course flips out. Smithers, who engineered this in order to get Burns to run away with him to a tropical island (long story), is delighted. Kemi tries to explain to her dad that she is a grown-up who just wanted to have some fun. However, she doesn't have romantic feelings for Moe, though she thinks he is sweet and was happy to spend time with him. The king is about to give his daughter the end of all lectures, but Homer asks if he might speak as a fellow parent. The king is stunned that anyone would have children with Homer, but allows it. Homer speaks of his own two daughters, both independent spirits, and advises the king to let Kemi go her own way. Father and daughter reconcile. Smithers is heartbroken, though. The paparazzi ask Kemi all kinds of questions about the mystery man, because apparently this is Notting Hill now, but Moe shows up (in disguise as a spokesperson, of course) to field all questions with relative dignity.  At the bar, though, he and Smithers - an unlikely pairing, but one that has actually shown up on this show before, if you can believe it - sit and mope. Kemi arrives to say goodbye, and to give him some books from Nigeria. Think Chinua Achebe. He gives her a coaster from the bar, and they part as friends. Years later (three, to be exact), Moe is gray and wrinkled. Richard Branson, meanwhile, shows up at Mr Burns's to shill his charity. He doesn't get very far, though I assume these few lines got him a sizeable paycheque. The episode is dedicated to Leonard Nimoy, who will live on in our hearts as a passenger on the Springfield Monorail's maiden voyage. Rest in peace. So, yeah, this episode was adorable. The writers have finally figured out that Moe is a fascinating character with a talented voice actor behind him (though Shearer definitely met his match with guest star DaCosta this week). Running for almost the full show on one A-plot, the show never lost momentum and provided some excellent character study. After a shaky start, these last few weeks have been a real upswing. I can't wait until next week, when... Chief Wiggum gets a jetpack? I've said it before and I'll say it again - this show truly does have the most loyal fans in the world. FJ Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.14 - My Fare Lady

Wait, didn't they do their "My Fair Lady" parody about ten years ago? So what's this going to be about? Oh, okay, Marge driving a taxi? I guess this isn't the worst. Will keep the vodka close just in case. For some reason, the opening credits are in 8-bit. This is quite well-animated, provides some gags and contains more references to past Simpsons episodes and classic video games than I can keep track of. Fans will enjoy it, but make sure to rewatch a couple of times. Then, because one opening credits sequence isn't enough, we get a Jetsons-style scene introducing the Simpson family. It's no "Simpson, Homer Simpson, he's the greatest guy in history", but it's cute, especially when Homer is used as a display for "Why Humans Failed". Of course, it turns out to have been a dream. Marge prints out (from an incredibly old printer) the kids' schedule for the day, which is packed. Homer complains about how Times Have Changed - when he was a kid, Abe made him hitchhike. Panicked at the sight of his children living a fulfilled life, he flees to Moe's. Though he's never let it stop him before, he drinks just enough beer to get over the limit so he won't have to drive the kids. It's 8 AM. They zoom over town with plenty of funny moments in the process - Maggie at Gerald's first birthday party, Bart attending gymnastics with the sons of Snake and Chief Wiggum, who apparently use this time to get coffee and catch up. This episode's actually going pretty well. Wonder what's going to ruin it? Marge maneuvers with incredible speed and flexibility, even street racing with Helen Lovejoy (who is driving the stepmotherless Flanders boys, WHICH MAKES TOTAL SENSE OMG). We get a non-speaking cameo from Jessica Lovejoy and the weird question of why Rod and Todd are dropped off at separate houses. I assume one of them sinned and was sent to ALERT. In the process, Helen crashes into the water tower and is presumably killed. Now who's going to think of the children? Moe gets a ticket to see a brassy Hollywood lady in concert, but doesn't want to leave his bar. Because he's so excited for the theatre, Homer volunteers to take over for him. Meanwhile, Marge pulls up at a gas station only to meet a guy who drives for Uber Lyft "Here to There". It's certainly not a taxi, as the show is quick to remind us. He is played by Harry Crane from Mad Men, because in this magical world anything is possible. He explains to Marge how it works. She's intrigued by the extra income, so she joins up right there on the spot. A new career is born. Just like roughly 40% of the other episodes. Meanwhile, Homer has also taken a new job, caring for Moe's in the proprietor's absence. I'm pretty sure he's done that before, but hey, the show gets a free pass if I can't name the episode.* He and Lenny and Carl notice that the bar is in dire financial straits, so they introduce a ladies' night. Meanwhile, Moe goes to see star Lainey Fontaine, who is more or less Elaine Stritch done by Tress MacNeille. It hits all the cliches perfectly. Moe just loves it, which is nice, since he's had absolutely no happiness in twenty-six years of this show. He even decides that Lainey is flirting with him, which is sure to end well. Ladies' night is going great in the sense that the bar is packed, but badly in that no paying customers (that is, men) have shown up to justify the evening. YAY, women who don't need male companionship to have a good time! However, this does place Moe's Tavern in a bit of a bind. The customers include two rival book clubs, who get into a fight over "The Heaven Lovers' Club" and start a bar-wide brawl. Meanwhile, Moe manages to hook up with the Broadway and brings her back to the bar. Unfortunately, the brawl appears to have totaled it. The actress ditches him, Moe is despondent, and it looks like Springfield's favourite watering hole is down the tubes. Devastated, Moe severs ties with all his friends. Lenny offers him to get a job at the nuclear plant, since their resident North Korean spy just left. Unfortunately, Moe's background check precludes it, though you'd think SNPP wouldn't look much further than "Do you have a pulse?". Marge gets her first customer, Shauna Chalmers, who is very grateful and takes Marge's advice about body piercing. Moe indeed gets hired as a janitor at the plant, which is a huge boost. Marge starts to find her customers more and more challenging, throwing excessive demands her way and just being generally obnoxious. Moe almost gets fired for giving Mr. Burns flack, but he manages to preserve himself by confusing the Nuclear Plant inspectors. A grateful old capitalist gives Moe a position supervising Homer. A bunch of cab drivers, including a rip-off of DeNiro, complain about Marge's horning in on their business. With his new power, Moe becomes super serious about his work, actually holding Homer accountable for his terrible record. Homer is reassigned to watering plants in Mr. Burns' office, which at least allows for some great Harry Shearer one-liners. All of this makes Moe extremely unpopular with his friends, which leads to a blow-up in the cafeteria. Though Homer likes his new job (at least until Marge mentions that it helps his feminine side), Marge's is driving her to exhaustion. She heads out for one last call to a parody of Harry Chapin's "Taxi". Her customer is - Moe. Through the song, they discuss Moe's problems. He wants to go back to bartending. Marge warms to him, telling him sympathetically that they should both make a change. Moe decides to return to his destroyed tavern. As Marge is driving away, she is cornered by a bunch of cabs. The angry drivers menacingly swing their air fresheners, one of which chops off Marge's hair. Enter Moe, with his shotgun, who chases the drivers away. Marge gives up her new job, and gratefully gives him her "smile" car hanging - which hangs up in the newly refurbished tavern. And thus our story has a happy ending. This was great! After a series of stinkers, this episode had good jokes, heart, and some good old time with Marge and Moe, a duo always ripe for both pathos and humour. Rather than focusing endlessly on Homer's foibles, it gave us a slice of life in Springfield, something the show shines at and doesn't exploit enough. Next week they'll surely fuck it up - but in the meantime, here is something lovely to enjoy. * The Simpsons Fan Code, page 83, paragraph 6, line 2   FJ Discussion Thread

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.13 - Walking Big and Tall

Whatever could our favourite family be surprised about? No, seriously, it's been 26 seasons, nothing could shock them now. Maybe someone wrote a decent episode. Ralph Wiggum is Cupid! Unfortunately, there are no other opening credits to speak of. The couch gag involves the Simpsons being made into Sushi, then eaten in a trendy restaurant. For some reason, we go back to thirty years ago, where we hear a report on the disappearance of Springfield's Soviet sister city, Springograd. I would laugh if it wasn't entirely plausible. We meet Hans Moleman, then a four-time mayor and full of vitality. In fact, he seems to be the ideal man for rallying the town. Homer and Marge and their families are, of course, in the front row, and we watch them grow up/age as the town sings Springfield's anthem. It ends in the present-day, with mayor Quimby leading his citizens in the same song. However, Moe bursts in with bad news. On a recent trip to Tuscaloosa, he discovered that their song was suspiciously similar. In case you're wondering, that's what everyone's shocked at. Everyone assumes the Alabaman town plagiarized, and they go on the warpath. It also turns out that every city around the planet has been using it. Moleman reluctantly admits he stole the tune. Everyone is horrified, especially Groundskeeper Willie, who has a tattoo of the song on his chest. Moleman is ridden out of town. Lisa, ever one to stand up for her town, suggests that she write the song. Pharrell Williams also appears for no reason to help out. Oh boy. Another celebrity guest star with no purpose. I'm thrilled. The mayor turns him down, we get our requisite two lines of "Happy", and Pharrell is exiled to Shelbyville, complete with hat. Nice seeing you, buddy. Back in Evergreen Terrace, Lisa struggles to write the songs, helped with obscene suggestions from Bart. "Lisa It's Your Birthday" is brought up and heavily discussed, because the writers like to torture us with memories of former greatness. Lisa invites Bart to help her, a joke is forced too far, and a musical team is born. With a lot off effort, the new Springfield Anthem takes shape. A grand premiere is held, along with more Homer is fat jokes. The song is cynical in an 80's British pop way, mostly focusing on how Springfield is "meh". Some stuff is okay, and it's not a terrible place to leave, so - "Springfield, Why Not?" The crowd is won over, and the kids involved are very pleased with themselves. Another Homer-is-fat joke, this one extended Family Guy style. He winds up wrecking the theatre and humiliating himself in front of the whole town. Marge despairs at this latest escapade and encourages him to lose weight. Her suggestion - Over-Eaters Anonymous. Gee, Homer does a twelve-step, never seen that one before. At the community centre, Homer passes by various other twelve-step groups, all of which seem to curiously overlap. However, to his surprise, the group is not about losing weight and controlling food intake - it's about something called "Wide Pride". That's right - Homer has joined a Fat Acceptance group. He happily sits down with the group to eat the most disgusting snacks imaginable, and hey, it looks kind of fun. One thing about this episode - they really have the tendency to drive every joke into the ground, sometimes simply repeating the punchline a couple of times. WE GOT IT THE FIRST TIME, PEOPLE. Some character voiced by Kevin Michael Richardson, so pretty much Kevin Michael Richardson, tells Homer that they're all about beauty at any size. That night, Homer excitedly tells Marge that the group changed his life. Of course, she gets entirely the wrong impression. Homer crushes her dreams pretty handily. I think it's his greatest talent. So Homer begins his new fat-and-happy life. He apologizes to the bathroom scale for throwing it. He polices everyone's language. Moe joins in on the proud-to-be-ugly bandwagon, and everyone gets a little more sensitive. Homer joins a protest with his new friends, at a store which prioritizes thin models. (It's run by Julio from "Three Gays of the Condo", by the way - one of the best episodes from the second half of the show's run.) Chief Wiggum even switches sides when Kevin Michael Richardson (okay, okay, the character is Albert) explains their principles. They all wind up arrested. Yes, even the Chief and the Judge. Marge bails him out, then lectures the group on their somewhat debateable ideas. She tearfully asks Homer to choose between her and the group. Surprisingly, he chooses the group. Marge is pretty depressed about it, so Bart and Lisa write another god-awful song for her. The Big is Beautiful group starts a revolution. Marge decides to use the song to defeat them. The trouble is, Bart and Lisa haven't actually finished the song - they've been too busy fighting. Yeah, I had trouble following this, too. Marge apologizes to Homer for controlling him, Homer tells her that her care for him has saved him - though he still supports Albert and his principles. Albert stands up off his scooter to tell Marge where to stick it, whereupon he promptly dies of a heart attack. Everyone attends the funeral, which is full of fat jokes. Homer flips out when he realizes that Albert was only twenty-three, and swears off the group. On the walk home, he and Marge reaffirm their love for each other. He also decides to keep yo-yo dieting for the rest of his life. We see the results of this over the years, finally finishing with an elderly - and SUPER fit - Homer. The tag scene consists of Moleman riding through the desert backwards on a mule. Yeah, this was putrid. Not very funny or insightful, with the same stereotypes thrown around and the same jokes repeated over and over. (The only one I liked was the endless list of names you could no longer use - a nice jab at Internet social justice taken a little too far.) The writers don't let jokes land anymore - they have to hammer them in. It's annoying and a mere shadow of what The Simpsons once was. You guys, I can hardly stand this show anymore. It's tired. Can't we give it a chance to sleep? Perchance to dream... FJ Discussion Thread  

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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.12 - The Musk Who Fell To Earth

Yes, this is an episode where Elon Musk guest stars as himself. It's okay, you can cry. Let it out. No opening credits - just a title card and straight to "created by Matt Groening". I can't wait to see what scintillating writing was deemed more important than the couch gag. Lisa is dismayed when a bald eagle devours all the birds at her new feeder. The vicious creature even attempts to take Maggie, but is satisfied with Homer's hair instead. Bart and Milhouse manage to trap it in the house, Marge prepares to cook America for dinner, and Homer almost loses an eye in the effort. Lisa begs them to take it to an animal rescue, or at least try to save it themselves. You know, for a smart girl, you should know that having a killer bird in your home is a wildly bad idea. Miraculously, they survive an offscreen month with the bird. "Squawky" is released into the wild and promptly hits a spaceship? which... lands in their backyard and OH JESUS CHRIST NO NOT ANOTHER KANG AND KODOS EPISODE. Actually, it's just Elon Musk. Lisa's impressed and Homer worshipful (though he thinks it's because Musk invented wheels on suitcases). Lots of fawning over the big celebrity, even though he can't act his way out of a paper bag. Seriously, it's extremely embarrassing. You're better than this, Simpsons.  Homer invites him to the nuclear plant. Lisa sneaks along. They also have Musk writing notes on paper instead of talking, which is probably a blessing, since this dude CAN'T ACT. Lisa discovers the guy has no self-esteem, as he is running out of ideas. However, he begins to take cues from Homer's babble. That's right - Homer is the unwitting muse of Elon Musk. He even has fun doing it! Once at the plant, Musk begins stuffing the suggestion box with ideas, because apparently he's given up on the idea of "patents" or "money". Mr Burns notices them, and decides to look for the writer. Smithers introduces Burns to Musk, though the old man mistakes him for Henry Ford. Musk insists that Homer is a font of brilliant ideas. Burns hires him as a consultant for a steal and they get to work. Homer and Elon continue to be friends, hugging it out on top of the nuclear reactor while violins play. Soon enough, Musk unveils all his big plans, including forcing Groundskeeper Willie to electrify the school manually (think giant wheel), some kind of vacuum monorail, and much to Frink's chagrin, the "Glayvinator". More mindless fawning over Musk. Pass me a drink, please. One person who shares my feelings is Smithers, who distrusts the inventor and attempts to talk Burns out of collaborating with Musk. All he gets is a pack of hounds sicced on him. Soon enough, the town feels the effects of Musk's bold changes. With driverless cars everywhere, there are no accidents - but on the other hand, Arnie Pie in the Sky has nothing to do. Homer instructs his car to "park at work so people think I'm there", while Bart overrides it into manual mode and goes for a jaunt. Despite all these great changes, there's one problem - Musk reports that they're losing millions of dollars per quarter. Burns is stunned and attempts to trapdoor him, but it instead plays what the writers think is a Powerpoint. Everyone gets laid off, the town sinks into a depression, and everyone goes all sepia-toned and bluesy. Elon Musk's name is mud. Burns confides to an injured Smithers that he's going to have the man killed. Meanwhile, Homer lies awake worrying at night, feeling guilty for his former friendship with Elon. It's all very homoerotic. Er Homer-erotic. Marge even advises him to break up with Elon gently. Burns proceeds with his assassination plans, hiring an elderly man who is apparently still a good shot. While Musk spouts off endless ideas, Homer sits there looking sullen. The bullet smashes the window. Musk jumps on Homer, saving his life and barely missing death himself (though the recoil kills the assassin, go figure). Homer chooses this moment to dump him. Poor little Elon's heart is broken. Best romance ever. And yeah, I didn't say Bromance. So Elon leaves in his space ship, though he has to drop off stowaway Lisa first. However, the man does leave her a bit of hope, by building a state-of-the-art technobirdhouse. Homer can't help but shed a tear. Up in space, Elon reveals the thing that will keep him sane on his journey - a little hologram of Homer, sharing his mindless genius for eternity. Apart from the weirdly touching Elon/Homer stuff, this episode was pretty thin. Lots of squealing over the celebrity (and what an iffy cameo that was), but not much in the way of plot, character development or message. All in all, this episode felt tired - there was nothing being brought to the table. Since they went to all this trouble to bring in Elon Musk, isn't it a shame he couldn't invent us a better episode? FJ Discussion Thread    

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crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.11 - Bart's New Friend

I'm still wary after last week's abomination of an episode, but I will soldier on. Lend me your ears, fellow FreeJingerites. And let us pray, fervently, that this episode written by pre-Freaks and Geeks Judd Apatow can heal our broken fan hearts. Aaand we get "Snowmen don't have carrot penisies" as our chalkboard quote of the week. Dear god, someone pass me a Flaming Moe so I can repress this. The couch gag is somewhat more tame, parodying "Goldilocks" with Homer, Marge and Bart as the bears. They find Lisa curled up on their couch, and proceed to attack her. However, they wind up eating Homer instead. Okay, what is this obsession with killing Homer? Did he come to life and sleep with all the writers' wives or something? Anyway, the whole thing turns out to be a story Homer is reading to Maggie, who looks traumatized. Let the episode begin. Homer attends a coworker's retirement party, where he finds out that the guy retiring has been the second safety inspector of 7G all these years - the bulk of his work mainly being to cover Homer's mistakes. Since Homer didn't even realize the position existed, he is stunned. An existential crisis ensues. The retiring man tells him he always felt Homer had something special, "like rooting for the Cubs". (The coworker, by the way, is played by famous funnyman Stacy Keach.) When the time comes to sing "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow", Homer can't make a sound. He arrives home depressed that he actually has to do his job. The next day, he recommits to his work, ignoring Lenny and Carl and relentlessly studying the workings of the plant. Even Lisa thinks Homer is pushing himself too hard. Homer retorts that the economy makes hard work necessary, though he seems to have a rather bizarre notion of the options available to him. To relax him a bit, Marge offers to take the family to the circus. In fact, this makes Homer remember a childhood trip there when several people died, but he's still game. In fact, he can't even relax at the circus, desperate to keep in touch with work. I have to say, this Homer-as-workaholic plot is actually providing some laughs. Who knew. He winds up getting into an altercation with a clown, which prompts him to take the family home early. Bart begs to go see the hypnotist, "Sven Golly". The hypnotist manages to pull a Good Will Hunting on Cletus, so he is clearly a man of true talent. Homer is predictably chosen as the next volunteer. He is reluctant, and only chooses to when Lisa claims it improves efficiency (in reality, she just thinks it would be funny). Sven Golly tells Homer that he will become ten years old when he wakes up. It turns out that this pretty much turns him into Bart. Unfortunately, midway through the act, Sven Golly is arrested for some sort of Rock n Roll Hall of Fame fraud. I dunno, I liked this episode better when it was called Office Space.  Homer is brought to Dr. Hibbert, who concludes that he is in serious condition, since he's so childish that he thinks beer is disgusting. The doctor urges Marge to find the original hypnotist and reverse it. On the bright side, Homer and Bart seem to be getting along better than ever, though Marge wonders if she will ever get her husband back. She takes up knitting to get over certain - deprivations. Is it just me, or is Dan Castellaneta deliberately imitating Robin Williams in Jack? Same plot, same mannerisms, and the actors have been compared before (and indeed, Castellaneta took over the Genie after the first Aladdin movie). An interesting idea - let's keep track of it. Homer is sent to school with Bart, which turns out to be a great experience. However, Homer tells Bart that he never wants to grow up and have a spouse and family. Bart is shocked, but philosophical about it, and decides that pranking him will be suitable revenge. Bart's solution is to refer to Homer as "a kid" or "my friend", which seems to keep the man content. He's an able playmate, a great protection against bullies, and a very loyal pal. They have a whole montage of friendship, which mostly recycles jokes from previous episodes. In the interest of fairness, Marge asks Homer to spend some time with Lisa. In fact, Lisa is delighted by Homer's new status, as this is likely the only time he will ever enjoy her saxophone music. Still, his closest relationship is with Bart, who is desperately afraid that Homer will change back into an adult. Unfortunately, he accidentally gives up the secret - though Homer still doesn't quite figure it out. The police find the hypnotist, which delights Marge and Lisa, but sends Bart into a spiral. Desperate, he takes Homer and runs away. They wind up at Itchy and Scratchy Land (where they really should have been last week), despite this taking several hours back in Season 6 - a new location, perhaps? In the twentyish years since that episode, the park seems to have become an even more blatant Disney parody. The cops catch up with them soon enough. Homer is reluctant to return to his old self, but with Marge's pleading, he eventually acquiesces. However, he does say a heartfelt goodbye to Bart, telling him to "stay ten forever". Sly. Marge asks the hypnotist to fix her husband, only changing things so he likes cuddling after sex. A confused Homer comes back to adulthood. He decides that it must have been a bender at Moe's, and begs Marge to forgive him. The next day, Homer returns from work to find his son depressed. Bart mentions something about a friend. Homer recounts a tale of a friend he once knew, who was possibly his best friend ever. Bart makes his usual quip, Homer goes to strangle, and swaps it out for a hug at the last minute. Needless to say, it doesn't last. A little while later, Marge finally gets her cuddle after decades of marriage. Awww. The tag scene shows Wiggum and the hypnotist playing chess in a futuristic bubble. Wiggum believes that the hypnotist is the true Wiggum. Also, Loki shows up for no reason. The end. It was a good balm to last week's crude mess, even if it wasn't the funniest thing ever put on television. The jokes didn't fly left and right. That's okay. The renewed friendship between Bart and Homer was easily the episode's highlight, amusing yet sincere throughout. Interestingly, there wasn't even a real B-plot. It was just Bart and Homer, being the friends they never get to be on the real series. This is an example of how the Simpsons should try new premises. I am curious to see how much Judd Apatow's original draft resembled the final product (my guess is, not much) - but what we have here is of real value, too. FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.10 - The Man Who Came to Be Dinner

That's right, you guys - it's the Simpsons-Are-Going-To-Rigel special, featuring everyone's favourite aliens-cum-presidential-candidates, Kang and Kodos! Yes, yes, despite myself I'm excited, too. Will anyone get eaten? How about probed? Is a half-assed Orson Welles imitation going to narrate? So many questions, and the answer is before us. Let the intergalactic hijinks begin! Short opening credits - just the title with Otto sliding down a rainbow. The couch gag involves the Simpson family staring at interpretations of themselves in an art museum, all based on the works of famous artists. I could name them all if I wasn't feeling lazy. They get bored, so Homer pulls out a remote and "switches the channel" on all five paintings. The family sighs with relief. The family goes to a Disneyland ripoff, which isn't Itchy and Scratchy Land for some reason. The trip is nearly ruined by hours of Bart and Lisa's "Are we there yet?" routine. All the jokes from the Itchy and Scratchy episode are recycled, more or less unsuccessfully, though there is a great TSA-parody segment. Also, half the park has been made over to accommodate "Diznee"'s recent purchase of the "Cosmic Wars" franchise. Okay, there's parody and then there's just being lazy. Much like this section of the episode, the park is pretty underwhelming, and the Simpsons are soon bored. Just then, Bart notices a cool new ride called "Rocket To Your Doom". There's no line, so the family goes ahead and boards, despite Lisa's trepidation. Before they know it, they are on the ride, and are shocked to find themselves in outer space - for real. The aliens are their usual selves, courteous and sophisticated yet oddly threatening. Lisa is still the biggest skeptic. Homer buys into it, though, and asks for some snacks. He is given potato chips, and flies around eating them. So to recap: that is the second time this episode that we've parodied a Simpsons parody from twenty years ago. Dear God, this show needs to be put down. Also, is it just me, or is the animation weirdly "off" this episode? Kind of old-fashioned and more "cartoon-y". Hard to explain. Lots of references to media taking place in space, including Homer cutting his arm off with a lightsaber, repeatedly. They land on Rigel-whateverthefuck, where Homer has a last-minute panic and tries to return to Earth. The aliens manage to suppress him. Riding on top of Kang and Kodos's car in a tied-on dog crate (it may be outdated, but I lol'd), the Simpsons discover a whole new planet. It's kind of a purple Tattooine. The family is enthralled with Rigellian society at first, but this fades when they are informed that they will never leave. The Simpsons are put in a zoo, next to all the famous aliens in our culture, plus a kitten. Through the glass, Lisa befriends her Rigellian counterpart, but cultural misunderstandings get in the way. The group attempts to adjust to their new, warped surroundings. A trained "humanologist" is there to help them on the journey. Oh, and the aliens are going to eat one of them - but the Simpsons have to decide which one. Marge decides that they will put it to a vote, while Bart reminds them that Sophie chose the boy in Sophie's Choice (ugh, we're really going to go there?). Naturally, Homer is voted out. In fact, the family seems despicably happy to get rid of him. Maggie helpfully draws him a farewell card while Lisa lectures him about how he should have been vegetarian all along. What? The "Chomping" begins, hosted by two aliens who look exactly like the announcers from The Hunger Games. In fact, the whole thing is basically a take-off on the series, which annoys me because it means we'll never see that Hunger Games Treehouse of Horror segment I've always dreamed of. A children's choir sings a cannibalistic version of "Suo-gan". I wish I was making that up. Suddenly, a transporter beam sends out a tube, which takes Homer away in the nick of time. While the Simpson family confuses the aliens, Homer is taken in by a group of hippie resistance aliens, who seek to stop the Chomping for good. They enjoy hearing about his "primitive culture", but are shocked when he expresses concern for his "sex-mate" and "spermlings". They show him a spaceship, only good for one passenger, which will take him back to Earth and provide him with anything he desires. Sort of the Room of Requirement in space. Homer immediately envisions Flanders, AND HIS SONS, dead and hanging from the ceiling. Wait, wait, wait, back up. Homer has long hated Flanders, but come on! Especially after last week's touching moment between them, this is a real low for the show. I'm so disgusted I can hardly stand it. That was just awful! However, Homer's vision changes, and instead of piles of donuts and dead Flanderses, he sees his family. He decides that he has to go back for them. They are being prepared to take Homer's place in the Chomping. However, he is simply captured alongside them. They are taken to the Queen, who eats a piece of Homer's ass. Yes, that happened. However, the food makes her ill. The humanologist reports that humans are completely indigestible - or at least, fast food-eating humans. The Queen dies, and the angry aliens send the Simpsons back, instead of just killing them like I would have done. Also, their memories will fade, so I guess we're back to "Principal and the Pauper" territory. The last few minutes are actually a pretty decent Star Trek parody. Too bad the rest of this was a stinker. Yes, it was that bad. It was up there with Homer getting raped by a panda and Frank Grimes turning out to have a son. It was god-awful, to be honest. Apart from a few sight gags, it was completely out of the Simpsons universe. I don't mind wacky premises - if I did, I would have stopped watching over a decade ago - but this one had no basis in logic and was filled with gags of horrifically poor taste to boot. The Flanders one is a good example, as is the Sophie's Choice thing, but how about the Disney ripoff burning their guests to death with acid? This is doubly bad because the season started out relatively well, considering how late it is in the run - sure, it wasn't classic, but it was a step up from previous seasons. The jokes didn't land, the show plagiarized itself, the characters did not resemble themselves at all, and nothing, absolutely nothing redeemed it. This might have worked as a Treehouse of Horror segment. As an episode, it careened off the rails pretty fast. One has to wonder if they did this on purpose to be cancelled. At this point, I'm inclined to think that it's the only option the show has. Bottom of the barrel, folks. Bottom of the freakin' barrel. FJ Discussion Thread  

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.1 - Clown in the Dumps

Before we get into the premiere of The Simpsons' twenty-sixth (!) season, a couple of notes. First, the famed character death is supposed to occur this episode, which was moved from last season (and no, it was not Mrs. Krabappel, her untimely demise having been forced by Marcia Wallace's sad passing). Based on the episode's title and the hint last year, I'm guessing it's Rabbi Krustofsky. Second, just in case you've been on Mars lately, the Simpsons-Family Guy crossover is playing tonight, on the latter show. I'm not going to review it because life is too short to spend hours trying to get anything out of Family Guy, but it's there if you want to check it out - I'll definitely be giving it a look. We get the clouds with Flanders floating by as an angel - nah, it's not him - and get a billboard advertising Jimbo's bullying services. Bart's chalkboard gag informs us that Homer is not going to die tonight. Surprisingly, the opening credits are not chock full of death references, which is highly disappointing, but Lisa does play the harp in her band. The couch gag is actually pretty hilarious, as Homer takes a special remote and moves himself back in time, so that he looks like Tracy Ullman-era Homer. Then it moves forward 10,000 years to reveal a futuristic Jellyfish!Homer, and to be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if it's still running then. We also get really weird, distorted Simpson family members. It's kind of frightening, like something out of The Ring. I am so having nightmares tonight. The gag was created by Don Hertzfeldt, who makes experimental cartoons like the Oscar-nominated "Rejected" (you might know it for "my anus is bleeding!"). WARNING: Link is very gory with lots of blood n' guts. Anyway, once we're past that little vision of terror, we find Milhouse, Homer, Bart and Lisa sitting down to watch a Krusty roast. It's pretty merciless, as roasts go, with Jeff Ross and Sarah Silverman making guest appearances. Krusty is driven to despair, claiming he has no friends, and ends the show early. He decides to revamp his comedy and takes to performing on the streets. Bart suggests, rather stupidly, that he go talk to his dad, theorizing that rabbis always cheer people up. However, even his own father thinks his comedy's "ehhh". (And yes, that is the glorious Jackie Mason returned. It totally is him getting whacked, isn't it?) ...and it turns out that I'm right, as the good rabbi expires mid-sentence. We cut immediately to the funeral, where Krusty attempts to do his father right, even having the "Itchy and Scratchy" theme rewritten in Krustofsky's honour. The mourners are not impressed. Meanwhile, Homer also seems to be falling ill in the congregation, prompting a huge amount of worry from Lisa. (Also, would someone as pious as Krustofsky really have such a liberal-looking Rabbi at his funeral? Just saying.) Lisa follows her father around, badgering him about his eating habits, as she's scared of losing him. Homer completely ignores this. Marge offers Krusty words of sympathy and botches it, naturally. Krusty also receives words of comfort from Kelsey Grammer's most reliable paycheck Sideshow Bob, who promptly gets into an intellectual catfight with a drunken Sideshow Mel. Krusty goes to a therapist, a former clown himself, and describes himself as "a sad, tragic clown - like Liberace". As always, the therapist suggests going back to Krusty's childhood, so we get a flashback from the Simpsons version of The Jazz Singer. Basically, it's the same stuff from Like Father, Like Clown, which we've all seen, and if you haven't you need to go watch it right now. I'll wait. [embed]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sYxbSRpVJ3s[/embed]   Krusty leaves his therapy session no better than before, and his show is a dreary mess. You know, just like Like Father, Like Clown, only he had his dad CAN NEVER REUNITE. Then we get an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon called "Breaking Dad", because of course we do. Unfortunately, it doesn't live up to anyone's expectations, as it just features Scratchy getting blown up by a kid made of dynamite. Krusty goes berserk at the sight of a father being killed, then falls back into despair. (Also, a word appears on this show that I never thought would appear on this show, revolving around decades-old prerecorded applause.) Anyway, Krusty decides to quit the show, costing Mel his job in the process. The local TV critic, a weird cross between Orson Welles and Roger Ebert (played by Maurice Lamarche), gives an acerbic tribute of Krusty's terrible comedy and crass personality. Faced with retirement for the umpteenth time, Krusty finds himself less than fulfilled. Lisa remains paranoid about her father's health, and it's not very snarkable, as we all go through this at some point. The latest incident involves sleep apnea and a breathing machine. Meanwhile, Krusty's falling apart, though Mr. Teeny has found success on Broadway in The Odd Couple. (And yes, that is David Hyde Pierce as himself playing Felix Ungar, though it is sadly not Neil Simon as himself chuckling over his own genius.) Bart arrives to cheer him up, suggesting a Classic Krusty binge-watch. However, due to his aforementioned lack of talent, it doesn't have the desired effect. He goes on a different binge, comes down with alcohol poisoning, and becomes...the second character death of the episode. Or so we think. He arrives in Jewish Heaven, where "even Portnoy has no complaints". Ziing! Here follows a barrage of Jewish jokes, about one in five of which are genuinely clever ("Joe Lieberman Presidential Library", anyone?). Before anyone gets too carried away, however, Rabbi Krustofsky shows up to explain the real Jewish belief in the afterlife, and get in one last dig at his son's sense of comedy. He asks that Krusty do good in the world. Krusty wakes up in the arms of two paramedics, and declares that he has to change his life. Meanwhile, Marge goes to see Miss Hoover, who is concerned about Lisa's new obsession with her father's health. Krusty launches a bunch of dubious charities, but still doesn't feel right. As he's walking away, he runs into Bart, who has just been to Temple (huh?!) - but not for the reason you would think. Homer wakes up to find himself cocooned  in bubble wrap like some kind of elephant pupa. He immediately realizes the problem, and tells her that you can't cut yourself off from life. However, just then, Otto crashes the school bus into the yard. Homer is saved by the bubble wrap, and he and Lisa gleefully proceed to pop it. And thus our B-plot has a happy ending. Meanwhile, Bart brings Krusty to synagogue, where they watch the rabbi (a longtime favourite of Rabbi Krustofsky) in action. He tells a whole bunch of Krusty's jokes, which the congregation enjoys. Krusty concludes that his father did respect him after all. We get a brief musical sequence of Krusty and his dad in Jewish heaven, singing a tweaked version of "Cheek to Cheek". The episode is dedicated to Louis "Father of Dan" Castellaneta, and the credit sequence is a collection of scenes from Krusty's roast. It's good to be back. So it didn't have the heft of Like Father, Like Clown. Of course it didn't. It never could, because that shit is classic, and you can't touch the classics. But quite apart from some cleverly timed sight gags and solid one-liners, it really did pull off the poignant storyline that the Krusty/Rabbi Krustofsky plotline always reaps. Though the character death wasn't quite as dramatic as expected, it did work as part of an understated and nuanced episode, which really devoted a lot of attention to a complex relationship between characters, and finished up the decades-long story beautifully. The guest stars weren't horribly intrusive, and it was downright delightful to see Jackie Mason play the old rabbi one last time. Even more interestingly, the B-plot actually had some connection to the rest of the episode, and though the meat wasn't really there, it echoed the dominant themes quite nicely. For a show on its 26th season, this was a pretty good demonstration that The Simpsons still has it, even if they don't always show it. It was a good start, and even after all this time, leaves me looking forward to the rest. Now, if only I could get that terrifying couch gag out of my mind...   FJ Discussion Thread    

crazyforkate

crazyforkate

 

Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 25.9 - Steal This Episode

  While the Simpsons hasn't really been funny for a good decade now, they still turn out an occasional gem. Will it happen this week? Let's find out.   No opening credits to speak of - just the clouds. Homer is dismayed to have the new Radioactive Man reboot spoiled for him at the watercooler. In fact, everyone's talking about the new movie, so he has to hide all over the plant, and then the city. Even Reverend Lovejoy spoils it in his sermon. Why Homer hasn't gone to see the movie by this point is beyond me. Luckily, Homer realizes this is possible, probably burning the two brain cells he has left. The Simpsons go out for a family movie night, leaving Maggie with a nice grad student. A hilarious parody of modern moviegoing follows this, poking fun at product placement, overpriced technology and gritty reboots of superhero franchises. Homer laments the decline of the modern cinema, finally snapping his 3D glasses in anger. He is immediately kicked out. After this, he is understandably feeling down, so Bart offers to show him how to illegally download the movie. We get a "Fox Censorship" sticker and some NASCAR footage over the actual lesson, so no tips there, though I imagine about 90% of this episode's viewers are watching it via such dubious methods. Homer loves the movie, and is extremely grateful to his son. They even have a tender father-son moment, which is rare enough in this series. At work, he is about to brag to Lenny and Carl about the movie, only to hear that they've moved on to the new James Bond. They suggest he go to the theatre, to which he lets them in on his dirty little downloading secret. His friends are intrigued. They hoist the Internet pirate flag and have an illegal movie marathon at Homer's place. Inspired, Homer decides to set up an underground movie theatre of his own. No, not the cool kind that shows Andy Warhol movies still banned in New York - the kind in Homer's backyard where you watch shaky bootlegs of modern blockbusters and pay very low prices. At "Cinema Pirate-diso", all of Springfield has gathered, even Flanders, who really should have a problem with this. The first screening is a great success (and a spot-on parody of Judd Apatow's Funny People, complete with Paul Rudd and Leslie Mann). Marge, however, was under the impression that Homer had permission to screen this, and is horrified to hear that he's showing it illegally. Stricken by her conscience, she sends a cheque to the studio covering the price of a movie ticket. The executives use it to snort cocaine. However, she stupidly included a letter to explain the cheque, and when the studio gets wind of it, they immediately send the FBI to Springfield. We get yet another Homeland parody (seriously, twice in one season) as we are taken into the world of the FBI Movie Piracy team. They of course take their job way too seriously, and are off to take out the Simpsons, guns and all. FOR THE CHICK FLICKS! Just as Homer's family and friends sit down to watch the Star Wars Episode VII knock-off, the FBI burst in. And OH MY GOD the FBI leader (Director Gratman) is played by Will Arnett. I am going to die, officially. This man is a comedy god. To see him on the Simpsons? That's it. I'm done. Short of a full Arrested Development reunion on the show, this is my comedy intake for the year. So Homer is arrested, and mistakenly pinpoints Superintendent Chalmers as the snitch. A quick-thinking Bart tries to blind the agents with copyrighted material, but Gratman shoots through the laptop. As Homer is dragged off, he begs Marge to find his betrayer. She bites her lip. Homer is taken to Springfield Penitentiary, where the inmates (including Kevin Michael Richardson) especially disdain him for the horrific nature of his crimes. Soon they are full-on beating him, and the bus winds up crashing on a train track. Fortunately, the train happens to be going on the other track, so he simply hops it back to Springfield. At dinner, Bart and Lisa wonder who the snitch could be. Marge tries to tell them that stealing is wrong. Neither is convinced. No, not even Lisa. Overzealous do-gooder that she can be. Homer comes back, and they're delighted to see him. However, he has to be hidden from the police. Lisa takes him to the only safe spot she can think of - the Swedish consulate. Oh, COME ON. Sweden is lax about piracy, yes, but they've been pursuing the Pirate Bay for years. Canada is much more liberal on these matters - you cannot be arrested for illegal downloading in that country. Literally - it's covered in extra taxes on electronics. Also, why is there no Lisbeth Salander cameo if they're doing something Swedish? I DEMAND MY POP CULTURE REFERENCE. The FBI drives up and blasts death metal to smoke them out, but since they're dealing with Swedes, it's no big deal. Homer thanks Marge for sticking by him, but she can handle it no longer, and confesses that she is the Judas. Homer drops his meatballs in shock. Marge tells him that she only meant to do the right thing and it got way out of hand. Terribly hurt, Homer gives himself up. Nothing else matters now. At Homer's trial, the prosecution calls Judd Apatow to the stand. He makes a passionate case while Seth Rogen cries, and Homer is soon found guilty. I silently mourn the second season of Freaks and Geeks. The pain is still there. Always. The judge asks if he has anything to say, and Homer refuses to speak. Marge, however, comes back to his side and begs him to defend himself. He tells of what he tried to do, and soon has the sympathy of all the Hollywood bigwigs. Immediately, they rush to get the film rights to his story. All charges are dropped. Lisa wonders how this could possibly make sense. Gratman/Arnett explains that though they're made up of corporations, they still like to think they fight for the little guy - a real grain of truth here. Channing Tatum is cast as Homer, and as a special surprise, the people of Springfield set up a screening in his backyard - complete with a bootleg. Homer is outraged that they're pirating his movie, and refuses to see the irony. Even Marge thinks he should STFU. However, now that he's making a profit from the film, the tables are turned. The end. Over the closing credits, Bart and Lisa go to the movie. Channing Tatum (the man himself, natch) gives an inspired performance. Too bad the kids are the only viewers. A few more digs at the FOX network, and we're done. In general, I felt this episode was pretty strong. Like most of the later seasons, it's fairly creaky, but the guest actors added some punch and there were good gags here and there. Best of all, it told a tight and well-written story. The Simpsons is so tired a show that even the best writing can't make it good - not anymore. But for now, I'm happy enough to sit and watch. On my legal television, of course. FJ Discussion Thread

crazyforkate

crazyforkate



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      mollysmom

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      AliceInFundyland

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