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

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