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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 25.11 - Specs and The City


crazyforkate

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blog-specs.jpg 

specs

Apparently, this episode is along the lines of "The Simpsons meets Google Glass". Ooh, aren't we trendy? Forgive me for thinking this might not be the pinnacle of the series.

We have basically no opening credits - just an advisory to "Drink and Bet Responsibly" from the Duff Blimp, then a shot of the Simpsons running through their garage. We abruptly cut to the living room. No, it's not the couch gag, it's the episode. I'm confused too. Homer watches the Super Bowl. Bart steals his beer and hangs it over telephone wires like a pair of shoes. Homer climbs up a tree, tries to grab the beer, and hangs out for several hours, intermittently electrocuting himself. This wreaks havoc with the town's power. I bemoan the man's increasing stupidity. When did he stop being a character, guys?

Bizarrely, at that point we get the television title card with the creators' names on it. So...that was the couch gag? But the next frame says one month earlier, but that was the episode, too? Also, the Super Bowl is next week, so I'm pretty sure this was out of order. I'm so confused, guys, and we're only a minute or so in.

Okay, we go back one month to Christmas, where the nuclear power plant is fully staffed. Bah, humbug. Homer hangs inanimate carbon rods on a Christmas tree. Carl lets him know that the company Christmas gifts are about to be announced. Since they have traditionally been lousy, no one's holding their breath. Burns shows up with "Oogle Goggles", which are - yeah, Google Glass. Sorry for insulting your intelligence.

The guys are thrilled with their new gifts, and take turns looking up information and calling each other. We get a meta joke about the opening credits, which is as insufferable as usual. Burns, meanwhile, reveals an ulterior motive to this sudden generosity - he's wired all the glasses to an elaborate surveillance system, Dark Knight-style. Now, the employees must be on alert at all times, at work and at home. Gee, I wonder how that feels. The cameras also have murder buttons, but they don't work.

Time passes, and soon enough it's Valentine's Day. The kids have to give a card to every student in the class. Lisa's cynical, Bart's resentful, and Marge just wants them to make their stupid class Valentines and be quiet. We get an educational video warning of the "dangers" of being the unpopular kid with no valentines. Oh, come on, this stuff never works. As I recall, I was always the kid whom everyone conveniently "forgot" despite having class lists sent home. What ever happened to the days of Ralph Wiggum getting only one card, leading to one of the show's best episodes?

Homer can't get over how awesome his glasses are, though it drives Marge insane. In fact, everyone is soon tired of Homer's constant infodump. He wears them to drive, eat, and even snuggle. This last one prompts Marge to leave the bedroom in disgust.

The next morning, Marge is pissed off and Homer tries to make amends. He promises to give them up. The kids all fight over the glasses, but Marge wins out. Oh, boy! What crazy hijinks will this lead to?

On V-day, the kids nervously line up with their cards for Nelson's approval. Turns out he takes the whole enterprise a little more seriously than one would have thought. A boy brings in a substandard product and is dragged away. Bart gulps. He steps forward, but suddenly changes his mind. He takes a stand and declares that he won't give a valentine to a bully. Everyone stops dead. Nelson says he'll let Bart live - if he produces the perfect Valentine in one week. A depressing commentary on the nature of resistance, if you ask me.

At work, Homer finds himself increasingly alienated from his bespectacled coworkers. He desperately searches for a new pair of glasses. Marge, meanwhile, uses Homer's pair to look through recipes. She soon finds herself enchanted.

Homer goes to ask Mr. Burns for a replacement, but discovers the boss missing and the monitors on display. (By the way, the monitors offer some good Easter eggs if you bother to look.) Homer feels violated, and rightly so. However, he soon finds himself sucked into the world of his coworkers. Through his own glasses, he is also able to check up on his wife. He watches Marge commit such sins as hiding the ice cream and inviting Grampa to lunch.

Bart and Milhouse confer about the Valentine, and the process looks awfully like a Mad Men pitch. Of course, they refer to this. Unfortunately, it is not nearly as productive. Bart laments over the mere existence of the holiday, because it only leads to trouble. Amen, son, amen.

Homer continues to follow Marge through her day. This takes a worrisome turn when it's revealed that she's secretly seeing a therapist. Rather than turning away like a decent husband, Homer listens in on the session. Of course, it comes back to bite him when he turns out to be the subject of all her complaints. Homer runs crying to Moe. The bartender assures him he's the greatest guy ever, and advises him not to tell her that he's been spying (Moe knows this from experience). He suggests finding a way to "bump into" Marge at the therapist's office. At home, Marge is sunny while Homer is sarcastic. This does not bode well.

Bart comes up with a card, and it's simple and brilliant - it reads "I Fear You". Inside there's a poem, which includes the delightful line "You're a sociopath in need of a bath." Bart explains that he was inspired by the nature of Valentine's Day itself. It's a holiday based in fear, as people are coerced into giving gifts out of terror of the consequences. Nelson is skeptical, but soon gives in to his emotion, admiring the fear expressed in it. They actually hug it out. It's weird, and the other kids waste no time commenting on it.

Homer arrives for his therapy appointment. He hides behind a door and waits for Marge, but when he overhears her talking about how much the sessions mean to her, he remembers that she always seems to be happy on her appointment days - and miserable before. For the first time, it dawns on him that she might need this. He tries to back out of his appointment, but rather than using the time to vent, he has the therapist give him a haircut. Luckily, though, Marge doesn't see him.

At home that night, Marge is in a good mood. Homer starts to confess what he did, but Marge laughs off the idea that it could have been anything really bad. He takes this as a "get out of jail free card" and keeps his treachery secret. Marge tells him a funny story, and afterwards they snuggle. However, Marge still has the glasses on. Burns is watching the monitors, and gets quite the eyeful...

It really should have ended there, but we get a tag scene with Lisa and Ralph anyway. Apparently, he gave her a valentine with a tooth in it. Ralph suggests that she plant it and "grow a new Ralph". Lisa assures him she likes the old one already, and wishes him a Happy Valentine's Day. He colors himself green to get ready for St. Patrick's. I half-expect to see a Hallmark sponsorship logo at the end.

So, overall the episode was pretty decent. I enjoyed Bart's trick with Nelson, though the bully's reaction seemed a bit forced. The show was smart to get away from the technology gimmick as fast as possible, using it instead to drive the main plot - which was pretty decent, overall. It led to a surprisingly adult moment in the marriage, and a good development for Homer. At the beginning, I was ready to throw in the towel - but it turned out to be a pretty enjoyable half-hour.

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