Scullyfied Simpsons: "I’m With Cupid" (Season 10, Episode 14)

 

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“Both of my ears are filled with nougat!”

 

“You told me that it was an American tradition to work all the time and not see your wife!” – Manjula, to Apu. Give it 17 years, Manjula…

Airdate: February 14th, 1999

Plot: In 2005, in response to developments regarding Anglo-American relations, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe penned “I’m With Stupid”, a satire on a theoretical romance between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush.

Whoops – this is a television episode… Patrick is afraid that his parents will mock him for being rather stupid. Therefore, SpongeBob decides to take up the role of “The Fool”.

…I’m sorry, this is “I’m With Cupid”, not “I’m With Stupid.”

Apu’s relationship with Manjula is on the rocks. Apparently, the life of a convenience store manager isn’t exactly conducive to free time. To make it up to her, Apu goes all out in his Valentines Day celebrations. This, though, alienates the wives of Springfield’s men. They all proceed to sabotage the actual Valentines Day celebration.

Review:

Two years ago (because I am a lazy bum), during my coverage of Season 9, I reviewed “The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons”. There, my complaint lied in the fact that the episode revolved around Homer’s antics, and was overall rather pedestrian. In hindsight, though, I can recognize some of the character development in that episode, even if I would’ve preferred more. That, and it was a pretty funny episode.

“I’m With Cupid” serves as a follow up to that episode… but it ultimately feels a bit underwhelming.

The end of “The Two Mrs. Nahassapeemapetilons” had Apu and Manjula connect over some shared interests, a sign that maybe this arraigned marriage wasn’t going to be so scary after all. It was a generally sweet end, even if it wasn’t the best. There was bound to be conflict sooner or later, and I’m glad that the follow up to that episode touched on it.

Personally, I feel that the plot could’ve been aided by a bit more of a focus on any schisms in their personalities. Indeed, we do get a quick analysis of this – Apu takes a lot of pride in his (long, long) workday, whereas Manjula is more self-deprecating in her analysis. Bit of a divide, but it could have paid off. Maybe they could’ve looked deeper into whether or not their personalities are compatible, and whether they’re willing to work on it.

“I’m With Cupid” chooses to focus more on Apu making up for his busybody schedule by showering Manjula with these lavish gifts. Yes, in trying to apologize for overworking himself at the Kwik-E-Mart, Apu instead goes to overwork himself in gifts. I really like the irony of this situation. Manjula doesn’t necessarily mind, since the two are connecting a bit more. Admittedly, that itself is a quirky subversion on the “you didn’t have to get me anything, and you sorta missed the point of what I said” cliche.

The plot gets going, so to speak, when the townspeople find out about Apu’s more lavish gifts on Manjula. Admittedly, I did like the underlining of how every other couple has a schism in their relationship once the wives realize that their husbands aren’t going all-out Apu, and in fact, are acting more in their own interests most of the time. Focusing on this would’ve been alright, but the show takes another path – most of the husbands getting together to plot revenge against Apu. Again, this is a rather interesting twist on a cliche.

Unfortunately, the execution – again – seems to border on the loopy.

It’s no “tree dominoes”, thankfully. It is, however, rather silly. Homer and Company stalk Apu around town, and the former tries to sabotage the latter’s skywriting message… and partially succeeds, causing the script smoke to explode in midair. Yeah, they overdid it a bit. The last act actually feels like they wanted any way to end this episode. Therefore, we get quite a bit of padding, up to and including an (admittedly a little funny) Elton John cameo.

In fact, the entire ending seems thin. Homer sabotages the message, gets injured, and manages to “surprise” Marge with roses. I guess it was supposed to be a rebuke to the idea that people change when their marriage is on the rocks… but it just feels empty. I personally preferred “The War Of The Simpsons”, where, when confronted with his own self-serving actions (albeit after one pulled in with his impulses), he reconciles where the particular conflict started. It was handled in a way that was heartwarming, and the episode was still funny.

Here? Jerkass Homer wins again. I am really starting to dislike this character.

Eh, at least Apu managed to get Elton John to play “Your Song” on the top of the Kwik-E-Mart. I would be confused, but Apu was apparently friends with the McCartneys, so I’ll let it slide. That, and the ending is cute, I guess.

I guess this episode is a rather cute, serviceable affair, but it feels a bit too empty for my tastes. It seems like the writers were too focused on gags rather than make a full, filling story. Bottom line? Watch “Put Your Head On My Shoulder” instead.

Tidbits:

  • Much has been made of the fact that among the group looking for revenge includes Flanders and Moe. Strange choices, honestly, and while the episode does try and justify it, it’s a rather questionable excuse they use. My question, though, is this – what about Kirk Van Houten? I know he’s divorced, but still. Seems like they missed an opportunity there.
  • The opening of this episode includes a rushed science project that ultimately is sabotaged by somebody looking for a quick thrill. That feels more symbolic than it should be.
  • Side note – has anybody else been following the Steven Universe: In Too Deep event thingy? Loving it!

Wrap Up:

Zaniness Factor: 2.5. Would’ve been a 1 until Homer decided to confront a pilot.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 2.5. Again, Would’ve been a 1 (maybe a 1.5) until the exact same thing.

Favorite Scene: I really liked Homer pretending to understand Apu and Manjula’s argument… in Hindi.

Least Favorite Scene: Yet, I also disliked Homer’s confrontation with the pilot – as well as the payoff of that scene – quite a bit.

Score: 6. This is mainly because of the choice laughs in the episode.

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