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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.

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