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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.5 - Opposites A-frack


crazyforkate

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blog-burnsfonda.pngburnsfonda

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.

 

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