Christmas Spectacular Thing: The Simpsons: Season 23, Episode 12: "Moe Goes From Rags to Riches"



Airdate: January 29th, 2012

What more needs to be said?

Synopsis: Moe’s talking rag narrates it’s own history, from medieval times to it’s time in Moe’s bar. Not making this up. Meanwhile, Bart and Milhouse have a falling out.

I don’t know what I need, a nap or pep pills.

Review: My brief synopsis should let you know that there are few words to describe this episode.

Short review: This episode was the pits.

Long review: Who wrote this? Really, who wrote this crap?

I mean, there is insane, and then a talking bar rag talks about his life. What. Were. They. Thinking?

Nothing makes sense in this episode. The rag just… exists. No rhyme nor reason for why the hell he can talk. This is just an excuse to put Simpsons characters in historical times (see “Tales from the Public Domain”, “Simpsons Christmas Stories”, hell, any non-THOH three-part episode). Admittedly, seeing the progress of Western Civilisation did please the historian in me, but even then, it was sullied just to show Simpsons characters in “unique” settings.

There is no rhyme or reason for pretty much anything in this episode. A good chunk of emotion is forced, the B-plot is one of the most banal in the history of the show (and also makes no sense) (and ALSO is intertwined with the A-plot, dragging us back to Modern Springfield kicking and screaming), half of the characters are just pathetic (Moe sleeps in his own bar. That’s how low he has sunk), little within the stupid historical segments makes sense, etc.

Oh, and Moe is a yeti. This show has run out of petrol.

The worst part is that this episode is just dull. It’s not as bad as Saddlesore Galactica or our next foray into ZS patheticness. It’s just… boring. It’s an attempt to be postmodern, yet the writing is so shoddy, that it comes off as tired and cliche instead.

The only problem is that, as bad as this episode is, our next episode is worse.

Favourite Scene: I’ll give Jeremy Irons credit; he can certainly do voice acting.

Least Favourite Scene: Do I HAVE to pick?

Score: 1.5. (Jeremy Irons gives this an extra half of a point).

My Christmas Gift to You!

Well, it’s December! That means two things:

  • It’s the end of Matt Smith’s run on Doctor Who. Sorry.
  • It’s CHRISTMAS!!!! Or, for those Politically Correct types:
Image stolen from the Political Correctness Gone Mad page on TV Tropes. My apologies to TV Tropes.

It’s the season of giving, to reunite with family, to listen to nonstop Christmas music on the radio (which probably started on Halloween), to stuff yourself with food, to go to church/synagogue/mosque/etc., and for all of those TV shows to air cheesy specials from past and present!

Given that this is the blog’s first Christmas, I’d figure that the best type of celebration involves one where you watch me go insane. Therefore, for this very first “Geek Zone Christmas Spectacular Celebration Thing”, we will be taking a look at….

…wait for it…

… Season 23 of The Simpsons. No, that’s not a typo.

Season 23 of The Simpsons is probably the worst season in the history of the show. Sure, Season 11 ain’t going to win any golden prizes, and most of anything past season 9 is subpar, but I will give most of those seasons credit: up until season 20, those seasons had traces of nostalgia in them. I got into the show at season 16, and enjoyed watching until sometime into season 21. Even after that, I kept watching into season 23, although I got less concerned if I missed an episode or two.

Season 23 has none of that. It was partly insane, partly hipster-esque, tried to be relevant when it wasn’t, took the easy way out, showed a world of sunshine and rainbows when the classic era would’ve showed a world gone mad, ect. The end result was, for the most part, either insane or boring. At the end of the season, after watching the finale, I decided that the show was too far gone to continue watching on a regular basis. While I HAVE watched episodes since (on occasion), I was much more active in deciding not to watch the show. (I have watched season 25, sort of as a time killer, and from what I have seen, it is marginally better. Marginally.)

Watching season 23 as a whole would drive me insane, so I have decided to pick the three most infamous episodes of the season. I might throw in a bonus episode, the one good episode of the season, but don’t count on it.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 6: Bart Star

Airdate: November 9th, 1997

Synopsis: With most of Springfield’s children rendered unhealthy, participation in Pee-Wee Gridiron Football increases. Ned Flanders starts out as coach, using his kindness and Nelson’s strength as an athlete to keep the team undefeated. However, Homer’s heckling from the stands causes Ned Flanders to quit and give the job to Homer.

Homer quickly takes over, and initially is tough on the team, cutting people left and right. However, he begins favoring Bart, after remembering how tough Abe was on Homer. The team goes down the tubes in Bart’s one game, and Bart tries to get out of playing. Homer refuses to play without Bart, causing Bart to quit the team. A rift ensues between the two.

Reaction: This episode is quite good. Not “shake the world” or anything, just quite good.

Probably the worst thing in the episode is that, while Homer’s behavior in the episode is very much a satire of the typical sport family/coach, and a wonderful one at that, they also give off awkward vibes of what was to come from the character. That, and “Lisa on Ice” did it first. In second place, there was the pointless joke between Marge and the cashier, which is just stupid. Also, Lisa’s preachiness about the pigskin, while still funny, is also a sign of things to come under the Jean era.

However, this episode is still pretty good by classic Simpsons standards (which means that it is utterly brilliant by Modern Simpsons standards). I loved Joe Nameth’s cameo (partially because I follow New York sports), Homer is at least given SOME rhyme or reason for his callous behaviour, the plot isn’t too wacky (and when it was, it was quite funny), and the episode still contains that biting satire of the pre-teen sports world in America. Are we really cruel enough on our kids that we will make snarky comments when they lose? Are we that invested in pee-wee sports? Is it too much?

I don’t have a whole lot more to say about this episode. It’s full of satire and has aged relatively well. Slightly weaker than The Cartridge Family, probably due to slightly more zaniness, but still, a good episode.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 2. His heckling of Flanders and cut-happy persona make him more callous than normal, but his interactions with Bart are realistic enough to save him.

Zaniness Factor: 1.5.

Favorite Moment: Hank Hill watching Springfield trounce Arlen.

“We drove 2000 miles for this?

Least Favorite Moment: Read “Jerkass Homer Moment” above.

Score: 7.75 (Rounded to 8 for Labels).

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 5: The Cartridge Family.

Airdate: November 2nd, 1997

Synopsis: A football (association) game turns into a city-wide riot. (Oh, Springfield, you!) Not wanting to spend a lot of money on a security system, Homer decides to invest in a gun… freaking Marge and Lisa out. Lisa cites her opinion on the 2nd amendment, and Marge feels no more safer with a gun in the house. Not helping is the fact that Homer acts like an idiot with his gun. Marge wants him to get rid of the gun, and Homer pretends to comply. Pretends is the operative word… and when Marge finds out, she bails out of the family, with family in tow. Meanwhile, Homer tries to impress the NRA, including a meeting at his house… which ends in a substandard manner for Homer.

Review: Oh, boy. Our first regular Mike Scully episode and there are TWO signals of the things to come in the future: Jerkass Homer and Preachy Lisa.

I’ll get the Preachy Lisa out of the way: it’s relatively mild. She does preach a bit about her opinion on the 2nd Amendment. Granted, this is evened out later in the episode (see below), but it casts some bad vibes. Al Jean must’ve seen the episode, thought “Lisa should share her opinion more”, and thus came “G.I. D’oh”. (And no, I might not do regular reviews of the Jean Era. I’ll just sum it up right now; somewhere between season 17 and 20, the episodes went from either being “interestingly bad” or “noble failures” to just being a cluster of nothingness and sitcom cliches.

Jerkass Homer, meanwhile, is placed into the episode with a bit of vigour. He acts reckless with his gun, lies to his wife, hides a gun in the vegetable crisper, and shoots a TV and his beer. However, he will get off relatively easily in my eyes this once, because this episode was trying to make a point. The message of this episode was that “Idiots like Homer should not own a gun”.  And he DOES apologize at the end. Still, this episode does bring some bad vibes.

Still, it is a pretty good episode. Really, with recent incidents involving mass shootings and gun violence, this episode has become more relevant than ever before. This episode is relatively even-handed, and it does show both sides in a flawed light: the ending shows some gun control advocates as blatant hypocrites, and the other gun owners are shown in a good-guy light. On the other hand, Homer is shown as a “take that” to the few pro-gun rights advocates who are insane, using their gun for everything and refusing to listen to the needs of the family over their own selfish desire. Also, some of the gun-owners in the show are shown to be quite brash. For those wondering, the staff of The Simpsons is split on the issue; John Swartzwelder (the writer of the episode) is pro-gun, while Matt Groening is sternly anti-gun.

(And let me make this clear: I am invoking the rule of cautious commenting judgment on this article. If comments appear full of insane rhetoric and the conversation goes well-off topic and turns into flaming each other over politics, the review goes down and the comments go bye-bye for a while. This is your warning.)

And besides, this episode tackles the gun rights issue in a funny way. Most of the humor connects, like the football riot, the “potentially dangerous” joke, the Sleep-Eazy motel, the NRA meetings… without Jerkass Homer and Preachy Lisa, this would be a 9, easy. Instead, their characterisations are taken a bit too far, and it does some damage to the score.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 2.

Jerkass Homer Moment: Four words. Gun. In. Vegetable. Crisper. No wonder why Marge bailed on the family.

Zaniness Factor: 1

Favorite Moment: Kent Brockman announcing that Mayor Quimby has declared mob rule.

For the next several years, it’s every family for itself!

Least Favorite Moment: Not a huge fan of “The Waiting” montage. Given that montages would slowly take over the show, it is another sign of things to come.

Score: 7.5