Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9 Episode 9: Realty Bites

Airdate: December 7th, 1997

Truly brings new meaning to the term “open-air” house.

Synopsis: Tired of either being cooped up in the house all the time or dragged on one of Homer’s outings (such as a police auction), Marge decides to take a career as a realty agent. Working for Lionel Hutz’s Firm, Red Blazer Realty, Marge’s career instantly goes south due to her brutal honesty. Fearing that she may be sacked, she realizes she might have to lie, up to and including lying about haunted houses to the Flanders clan.

Meanwhile, at the aforementioned police auction, Homer buys a convertible, loving every second of it. However, the convertible belonged to career criminal Snake, who vows revenge.

Review: The bad news is that Homer is turned up to “Jerkass” through the first and last parts of this episode. The good news is that the A plot is pretty good… when it involves as little Homer as possible.

The plot of “Marge wants to take a second job” is tragically nothing really new; “Marge Gets a Job” did it first (duh) and did it best, taking on a critique of the relatively misogynistic workforce that still exists (to an extent) today. “Realty Bites” is not as relevant, but I can still get the critique of the real estate market; in the late 90s and early-mid 2000s, property owners would do anything to try and move homes, just to make profit. Of course, this wound up collapsing in 2008, causing the property/financial crisis in (among other nations) the US, Greece, and Ireland.

Phil Hartman produces a bittersweet role here as Lionel Hutz, who has taken a break from the legal arena to concentrate on property. It really fits his role as a snarmy, desperate man out for a quick buck despite being incompetent. The “bitter” part comes in here… this was Hutz’s final speaking appearance. Five months after this episode aired, Hartman was shot dead by his wife, who proceeded to commit suicide. It’s ironic that one of the funniest actors in the show died as the show was slipping in quality, yet it makes the circumstances of his death no less sad.

Anyway, back to the review.

This episode’s A-plot is almost good, if somewhat pedestrian and rehashed. The B-plot, tragically… isn’t. The reason? Homer.

He literally does nothing except act like a complete and utter maniacal idiot during the entire episode. He buys Snake’s car, drives on the sidewalk (amongst other things), and gets into a long, boring car chase with Snake (who manages to walk out of prison.) Crazy crap happens, and the car single-handedly destroys a house… by crashing into the front, not damaging anything that might be a support beam. Reality? What’s THAT??? Nobody is arrested, and you can take a guess at the person that suffers from it. Here’s a hint; it ain’t Homer.

In the end, it’s a watchable, somewhat funny episode, dogged down by Homer being far too annoying… which would not get any better anytime soon.

Favorite Moment: As Lionel is showing how house flaws can be spun by realtors into positive traits, he shows Marge one particular house.

Marge: “That one’s on fire!”

 Hutz: “Motivated seller!”

Least Favorite Moment: Am I the only one who didn’t care for Kirk Van Houten’s arm getting sliced off? The worst part? According to Scully, that scene, when suggested, caused mass laughter in the staff room due to how unexpected it was. It just seems unnecessarily dark and THOH-ish.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 3.Homer drives on the sidewalk while his family is in the car. Yeesh!

Zaniness Factor: 2.5. The car chase. All of it. It’s. Just. Stupid.

Score: 6.5

Gravity Falls Review: Season 1 Wrap Up

Remember: in Gravity Falls, there is no one you can trust.

So, you have a show airing on the teeny bopper vehicle Disney Channel. Alright, some skepticism is always expected.

It’s a cartoon. OK, Disney is known for its good cartoons.

First season, most Disney Cartoons (hell, most shows in general) are trying to find their footing, gain some depth, etc.

Well, Gravity Falls has just finished it’s first season… and it has already established itself (at least in my insane mind) as not only a fantastic show, but quite possibly, the best show on American TV. Continue reading

Not Another Top (X) List: Top 6 Best Episodes of Gravity Falls Season 1

Well, yesterday, we looked at the top 5 worst episodes of season 1 of Gravity Falls. It was hard to pick the 5 worst, simply because the season was so good.

Now, onto another hard task; the top 6 episodes of Gravity Falls season 1. This was hard merely because the season was so fantastic, it produced god-knows-how-many candidates for the title of “best episode”. Narrowing it down to 6 was a hard task.

So, without further ado, here are…


Continue reading

Not Another Top (X) List: Top 5 Worst Gravity Falls Episodes of Season 1

Remind me to add graphics to this image. (Image taken from Google Images. I apologize.)

Well, I’ve done it. I have covered 10 hours of television. The first season of Gravity Falls was fantastic. From the plot, to the characters, to the drama, to the humor, everything was close to (if not outright) well done.

However, I don’t believe in perfection. Between that belief, and the fact that as an internet reviewer, I must produce a decent output of “negative” content, I have decided to look back and see what 5 episodes were the weakest this season. I might say something different compared to what I said in the review; I apologise for that. Again, these episodes are not necessarily bad. Flawed? Yes. Bad? Not really. This season was, by TV standards, excellent; these are just subpar compared to the high standards of this awesome show.

So here we are, back at another segment of “Not Another Top (X) List!” This week, X=5, and we’re looking at the…

Top 5 Worst Gravity Falls Episodes of Season 1!
Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "Gideon Rises" (Season 1, Episode 20)

Airdate: August 2nd, 2013

Took a page out of Duloc, eh?

Synopsis: With Gideon now in control of the Mystery Shack- uh, I mean Gideonland– the Pines Family (and Soos) have to crash at Soos’s Grandmother’s house. The world seems to be falling apart; Gideon has Waddles, the kids have nowhere to go, Stan’s store is gone, and Wendy will be shipped off to her cousin’s logging camp if she can’t hold a job in Gravity Falls. (In this economy? Enjoy the logging camp!) Threatened with being sent back to Piedmont, CA for the rest of Summer, the twins have to resort to drastic measures to try and take down the shack.

As this is happening, Gideon reveals the reason de jure for his takeover of the shack… as the last traces of his sanity evaporate. Stan, meanwhile, is trying to get used to the fact that his life is all but trashed… when he notices something fishy with the Gideonland buttons

Review (SPOILERS MIGHT BE AHEAD): Let’s get this out of the way; the ending. I can’t say I enjoyed the basics of it that much, given that everybody and their mother expected it. In a show that twists and turns every other day of the week, this just seems like a weak end. Still, can’t fault the excellent music and the creative visuals.

Hell, you can’t fault the episode that much. It really is pretty damn good. Continue reading

Red Dwarf Review: Series V Wrap Up

Well, we’ve reached the end of Red Dwarf V. Considered by fans and critics alike to be the best series of Red Dwarf, it’s pretty hard to disagree.

So I will make a small disagreement.

On one hand, Red Dwarf V was not really that consistent when it came to quality. Red Dwarf III was much more consistent, with not a single episode ranking below a 7.5 score (and only 1 episode reaching that low, the somewhat inconsistent “Timeslides”). Two episodes in Series V ranked below a 7; the somewhat cliche and/or dry “Terrorform” and “Demons and Angels”.

However, the four episodes this season that didn’t receive low scores are among the best episodes of Red Dwarf ever. “Holoship” took a tragic look on the love life of Arnold Rimmer, showing his emotional complexion. “The Inquisitor” gave us a look on the complexities of Lister’s character, and how and why he is considered the hero of the show, no matter who gets top billing. “Quarantine” gives us a deeper look inside just how messed up Rimmer can go, especially under a holo-virus, as well as the overall dynamic between the Boys from the Dwarf. And “Back to Reality”, the best ever Red Dwarf, gave us an idea of what would happen if our main characters had a pivotal part of their characters inverted or nullified.

In terms of character, barring the two duff episodes listed above, this series really showed the zenith of the characters. Rimmer is as complex and rounded as ever, going from a tragically sympathetic figure that was molded by outside circumstances into the character we all know and love, to a deranged egoist who makes you wonder how the Boys from the Dwarf haven’t pulled the plug on his hologram yet. Lister takes the role of the moral and strategic center, as he displays a desire to do good for the common man, only kills in strong situations, and can plan ways to get out of sticky situations. (He still forgets to add parts when reconstructing Kryten). Kryten establishes himself as the smart guy, providing whatever scientific exposition is needed for the day, as well as humor surrounding his knowledge of the Space Corps and technoid concepts.

Even the Cat, who doesn’t get a lot of development in this series, gets full mileage out of every line he gets in the show. He is the plucky comic relief of the crew, so that makes sense. Even then, we are reminded in “Back to Reality” just how shallow the dude is.

The only series that this was bad for was Holly; reduced to little more than a gag character, by the end of the series, Grant Naylor had decided to finally retire the character.

Production wise, this was a darker season… literally. There was stronger use of dark-lit rooms. Even the ship’s beige seemed to take on a darker tone to it. Set development was pretty damn creative; even the clunkers had well-developed visual effects.

Really, elaborating more for this series would be worthless. This series is all but fantastic. Even if you never watched the show before… watch this series. Even if you dislike sci-fi, or are not a fan of Red Dwarf, watch “Back to Reality”. The four episodes that are good in this series are sublime TV. The two that aren’t still had a ton of potential, as well as tons of funny lines.

Still, is this my favorite season? Not really. Series III was much more consistent in its quality. Still, this season was pretty fantastic.

Red Dwarf Review: Series V, Episode 6: "Back to Reality"

Airdate: 26 March, 1992

Synopsis: Starbug is investigating the wreck of the SS Esperanto, which was conducting seeding experiments at the bottom of an ocean-covered moon. Apparently, despite the success of the ship, all the members committed suicide, apparently as a result of a toxin. Suddenly, Starbug (whose members suddenly become depressed) has to evade a giant squid. They crash…

…and thus, ends the Total Immersion Videogame Red Dwarf. Final score? 4%.

The people playing the game wake up, and slowly not only realize that they outright played the game wrong, they also get oriented to who they once were. Kryten was played by half-human cyber-cop Jake Bullet, who was a mere traffic officer. Lister was played by Sebastian Doyle, the voter colonel of a fascist state who headed a secret police to take people away. Rimmer was played by Billy Doyle, a miserable failure and the half-brother of Sebastian. And the Cat? Horror of all horrors, he was played by Duane Dibbley, a geek with no sense of fashion nor grace. Despair sets in, especially once Jake Bullet kills somebody that reveals the pure horror of the world they exist in.

Review (SOME SPOILERS MAY BE AHEAD): This was the first episode written for Series V, which was thought to be the last series due to cast issues (for one, Robert Llewellyn was going to do Red Dwarf USA, and Chris Barrie was to work on The Brittas Empire. Thus, the episode was pushed back to the last one, in case it was truly the end for the Boys from the Dwarf. Juliet May, who directed this, had trouble confining to the sci-fi atmosphere of the show and resigned midway through the series.

So, how low could this go? Well, let’s just take a look at a review or two or four of this episode.

“If there is one show to watch again (and again and again), then this is most certainly it.”  – Stacy Kidd, Den of Geek’s “Top 10 Red Dwarf Episodes”.

“And so, one of the immutable laws of the universe asserts itself – poll Red Dwarf fans on their favourite episode, and ‘Back to Reality’ will win.” – Fan site Ganymede and Titan, on the episode placing 1st in the 20th anniversary survey.

“Well, this is it – the pinnacle of human endeavour. The videotape containing this one should be behind bullet-proof glass in a museum. It’s no less than perfect, with an inspired mix of ingenious plotting, brilliant writing, and stunning performances. This video could cure cancer.” Reviews by Gavrielle, taking a look at Series V. 

“It’s just shy of 1000 points ahead of it’s rival – by far the biggest margin – and it’s the favourite episode of 18% of Red Dwarf fans. It won the “Smegzine” poll in 1992, the Better Than Life poll in 1999, the G&T poll in 2008, and it’s our second non-mover. Back To Reality is quite simply a remarkable piece of television.” – Ganymede and Titan, on the episode placing 1st (again) in the Silver Survey in 2013.

(Apologies to those whose quotes I used. Shoot me an email if you want them removed.)

So, all those quotes indicate that this episode is quite popular. And you know what?

They are right.

I don’t believe that things can achieve pure perfection. However, “Back to Reality” comes pretty damn close to breaking that threshold. It is one of the most well-constructed TV episodes ever.

The reason de jure of Red Dwarf’s popularity are the well-crafted characters and the humor that revolves around them. “Back to Reality” takes this to the hilt, all while adding plenty of drama surrounding the characters.

First, there’s Jake Bullet. The centerpiece of Kryten’s character is that, no matter how much of a superego he is, he is simply unable to bring himself to kill humans; it’s in his programming. Jake Bullet has the option to stun a human with a weapon he uses. He instead kills. Thus, he is driven to the emotional brink, contemplating terminating himself (i.e. suicide).

We then have Sebastian Doyle. As much as Lister is an unambitious slob, he is also a firm believer in the goodness of the average man, as well as independence and a skepticism of authority. He is quite clearly the most moral character of the core four. To see him in an absolute dictatorship, overseeing a secret police out to kill dissenters of a fascist state, goes against every single one of his principles.

Now, Billy Doyle. Rimmer and Billy are both pathetic lowlifes who have quite clearly failed in their life. However, Rimmer has tried to justify this by blaming other people. To an extent, Rimmer has a good excuse; his upbringing was pathetic. Now that Billy and Sebastian had similar upbringings, with Sebastian being more successful in theory, he could no longer blame his past for his failures. He puts it best:

“This is a nightmare! I’m on the run from the Fascist Police with a murderer, a mass murderer, and a man in a Bri-Nylon shirt!”

On the subject of the Bri-Nylon shirt, we now go to Duane Dibbley.

Duane Dibbley?

This episode pretty much states what we have long known/feared; the Cat’s personality is as thin as a New York Pizza (relatively speaking, of course). The Cat’s focus is on his self-image and grace, as well as being the most action-oriented of the three. Duane has none of that; he wears suspenders, has an overbite, and a bowl cut. He has no sense of action or grace. With the one outstanding trait of the Cat nullified, Duane has no sense of self-worth.

Beyond character, the writing is brilliant. There is little unnecessary exposition; even Andy’s “Welcome Back to the Real World” sets the tone for the “We really suck” attitude that encompasses the characters over the next 15 minutes. The twists and turns add to the humor and character development.

Production-wise, this episode really stretches it. The acting of everybody is fantastic. The cop, played by Lenny Von Dohlen (Harold Smith from Twin Peaks), is shown with a borderline lust for his cruel job… and it is fantastic. Nothing is overt; emotions are first seen in the faces. When Sebastian realizes what his job his, his face quickly becomes pained.

It’s a very small detail, but look closely at Sebastian’s face. you can tell that he is truly shaken by the reveal that he was only a mass murderer.

The car chase that follows, well, is unique. Let’s just say it really helped with the budget. It really is fantastic and helps bring the episode to its final twist.
This episode has it all; fantastic characterisation, superb humor, sublime drama, effective special effects, awesome acting. In short, this is…

…the best Red Dwarf ever.

Favorite Scene: I should really just provide a link to the episode on iTunes. It really is that fantastic. However, since I have to pick, I will simply say that the car chase is sublime.

Least Favorite Scene: Saying this has a least favorite scene would be an insult to this episode. It’s simply fantastic.

Score: 10.