Scullyfied Simpsons: “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner” (Season 11, Episode 3)

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“Only your father can take a part-time job at a smalltown paper, and wind up the target of international assassins!” – Marge Simpson. Don’t worry, ma’am – at least he hasn’t become the enemy of the Federation of Jockeys. Yet.

Airdate: October 24th, 1999

Written by: Al “President for Life of The Simpsons” Jean.

Plot: While on a field trip to the Springfield Shopper newspaper, Homer winds up tracing the smell of food back to a food critic’s retirement party. His love of edibles convinces the paper’s manager (played by Ed Asner) to ask him to run a pilot. Unfortunately, he can’t write a good review, so Lisa helps him land the job. While things go well at first with his glowing analysis, he’s pressured to shift to a more critical tone. The lengths he goes in this new style not only alienate Lisa, but lead a mob of restaurant owners to plot his assassination.

Review:

The art of critique is strange. The cliché “everybody’s a critic” comes from the fact that anybody can look at a work of art and deem it either sublime or subpar. And on the age of the internet, even a dork like me can rant about Steven Universe, and somebody can read it before clicking onto Roger Ebert’s review of My Dinner With Andre. Such is the brilliance of our relatively egalitarian society, as well as the beauty of the internet.

But what, exactly, makes a good critic? That’s a question that can only result in subjective responses. If on one hand, you take a critical eye to everything, then you come off as an unpleasable grouch. On the other hand, if you take a positive view of everything, you come off as a sycophant to the show. The latter, personally speaking, is my biggest fear. I’ve criticized Gravity Falls and Steven Universe on occasion, but I sometimes wonder if I was (or am) too loose on occasion because I love(d) the show so much. And many of my early reviews, man… I don’t delete them on the grounds that, hey, we’ve all gotta look back on our early stuff sometimes and wonder how far we’ve come.

The art of critique is put on display in “Guess Who’s Coming to Criticize Dinner”, episode 3 of Season 11 of The Simpsons. So, let’s critique an episode… about critique…

…this is strangely meta… Continue reading

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Composer Alf Clausen (And Orchestra) Sacked from The Simpsons

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Taken from the Simpsons wiki.

After 28 years, Alf Clausen has been fired as the composer for The Simpsons.

He confirmed the info to Variety.com on Wednesday night, noting that he was told the show “wanted to move in a different direction” and all that, and learned about his firing via a telephone call. This also brings an end to the show’s use of an orchestra – the compositions will be a one or two person operation (like Brad Breeck from Gravity Falls or Aivi/Surrashu from Steven Universe.)

Speculation from Variety was that the orchestra was costing too much, and the accountants decide to strike and increase profit margins over at Gracie Films or 20th Century Fox, or something.

To be fair, I will give management the benefit of the doubt on a few areas.

Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Brother’s Little Helper” (Season 11, Episode 2)

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C’mon people – this poetry isn’t gonna appreciate itself!” – Bart Simpson, of all people. Drugs – they do weird things.

Airdate: October 3rd, 1999

Written By: George Meyer

Plot: One of Bart’s stunts during a Fire Prevention event at Springfield Elementary results in the destruction of the gym. Having had enough, Skinner concluds that Bart has Attention Deficit Disorder, and makes his enrollment at the school conditional on a prescription of Focusyn – an experimental drug meant to combat ADD symptoms. While Bart does become much more focused, there’s also the odd side effects, such as a paranoia about satellites spying on him…

Review:

Well, episode 1 of Season 11 was a bust. Next time I want to watch a satire of Mel Gibson, I’ll just throw on that South Park episode where he turns into Daffy Duck and goes full blown Road Warrior because two kids dared criticize his movie. Not even the shifty-eyed dog could save that.

Thankfully, the season does improve with “Brothers Little Helper”. While flawed, I do think it does more to capture what The Simpsons can do at its best – analyze our society, in this case, mental disorders and how we diagnose/treat them, alongside the pharmaceutical industry. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Beyond Blunderdome” (Season 11, Episode 1)

 

Homer yelling at Mel Gibson in "Beyond Blunderdome"
Our hero – proclaiming his wife as property because Mel Gibson is at the front door. Were these writers trying to make him unlikable?

 

Movie tickets? That’s hardly worth destroying a car!” – Homer Simpson. To be fair, that is a fine piece of logic, that I’m sure will carry through the season.

Airdate: September 26th, 1999

Written By: Mike Scully

Plot: An electric car manufacturer entices potential buyers to test drive with possible gifts. Homer’s reward for test-driving (read, destroying) the car is two tickets to a test screening of Mel Gibson’s newest movie, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington. While Marge (who is infatuated with Mel) loves the movie like most of the audience, Homer is much more critical. It’s Homer’s critique that gets through to Gibson, however, and the duo embark on a controversial edit of the film to amp up the action.

Review:

Wow! I’m actually impressed! I can tell from this episode alone that Season 11 is going to be haphazard. That takes a special kind of effort, writers, but you showed it! Good for you – enjoy my somewhat neurotic rant on this episode.

Yup, Season 11 starts off on a rather… less than satisfactory note with the aptly-titled “Beyond Blunderdome”. (They tried to make a punny, and they made a funny in ways they didn’t imagine.) So, what do we have here? Jerkass Homer? Homer getting a job? Zany schemes? Jerkass Homer getting a zany job? Well, you guess right if you got the latter, but there is one big issue with this episode that would damage it, even without the Mike Scully cliches.

It’s a love letter.

To Mel Gibson. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 11 Preview

 

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Taken from Wikipedia

 

“Does anybody care what this guy thinks?” “NO!”

Well, here we are… Season 11 of The Simpsons. We are halfway through the Mike Scully era. And from the looks of things, I think we might be in the doldrums here.

I mean, consider that this season premiered just weeks before the 10th anniversary of the first full episode of The Simpsons. The show had spanned through the 90s, had made it through both the Bush Sr. and Clinton eras, saw the rise and “fall” of Grunge, and even was one of the few shows to cross from the pre-Internet and “internet” generations. There were and are people (myself included) who have never known the world without The Simpsons on TV.

But this success can’t last forever. Continue reading

Not Another Top (X) List – Top 10 Worst Episodes of The Simpsons Season 10

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Hello, and welcome to another edition of…

NOT ANOTHER TOP (X) LIST!

And Season 10 of The Simpsons was subpar.

But it also didn’t suck too much.

Excellent, now that I have both sides of The Simpsons fandom declaring war against this stupid little blog, let me explain.

Yes, Season 10 of The Simpsons was a noticeable step down from Season 9 – which was itself a step down from Season 8. Many of the complaints I had in Season 9 – sketchy characterization, weaker plots, sillier endings, a thinner reliance on effective social analysis, etc. – not only remained in Season 10, but also became more egregious, neutralizing any sort of positives found in those episodes such as the jokes that I laughed at, any decent social insight, etc.

Most fans will remember this season for an overreliance on two cliches – the guest stars and the plot thread of “Homer Getting A Job”. Alone, they resulted in some dodgy moments – Homer helping Mr. Burns become loved, Dolly Parton breaking Homer and his acquaintances out of Super Bowl jail with her lipstick, etc. Together? …oh, boy.

But if it seems like I’m being too negative, there were a fair number of episodes that ranged from “fair” to “good”. The good ones really would hold their own in the golden era, while the “fair” ones still contained some level of societal insight, quirky comedy, or a combination of both – as well as flaws that were less egregious or more forgivable overall. (And before I continue, I’ve decided in the act of fairness to honor the three best episodes of the season, in ascending order. Stand up, “Lisa Gets an A”, “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken”, and “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”. Kinda interesting that my favorites were Lisa-centered episodes, for various reasons.)

So let’s dive into the worst of the worst. X=10, and we are looking at…

THE 10 WORST EPISODES OF SIMPSONS SEASON 10!

Continue reading

They Gave 110% – Homer Simpson Enters Cooperstown

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Well, Mr. Burns had done it.
The Power Plant had won it
With Roger Clemens clucking all the while.
Mike Scioscia’s tragic illness made a smile.
As Wade Boggs lay unconscious on the ballroom tile…

I just want to give a quick bit of congratulations to The Simpsons for getting Homer Simpson into the Baseball Hall of Fame – primarily for their brilliant “Homer at the Bat”.

Probably the most memorable episode of The Simpsons third season (if not my personal favorite), “Homer at the Bat” really did strike gold as to the appeal enclosed. It was silly, both in the sheer amount of baseball legends it featured playing for the Power Plant and the situations they faced themselves in keeping them away from the championship. However, beneath that was the idea of a small softball club getting taken over by baseball supremos, and our hapless and quirky protagonist getting shafted to the side, absolutely crushing him. It also played with sports cliches – Homer doesn’t go back in because his replacement was unavailable or out of sympathy, but out of strategy. There was no “save the orphanage” trope – it was all just to add another $1M to the pile.

It also played with sports cliches – Homer doesn’t go back in because his replacement was unavailable or out of sympathy, but out of strategy. There was no “save the orphanage” trope – it was all just to add another $1M to the pile of a multimillionaire’s vault of money. The reasons why the legends wound up taken out show the idiocy, selfishness, and bouts of just plain insanity in Springfield. (“Pitt. The. ELDER!” “Lord Palmerston!”) And the win? It was not heroic and dramatic at all. It expands not just the universe on a large-scale level, but a more local level, also.

Oh, there’s also the small matter of the episode being the first to outdraw The Cosby Show in the ratings. Yup, this was the episode that proved that The Simpsons were the show to watch, and that for good or for ill, that they were here to stay.

Other episodes were cited as well – the rather emotional yet still brilliant “Dancing Homer”, focusing on Homer’s brief stint as a baseball mascot, and the quirky “Hungry Hungry Homer”, which had him take up a protest to keep up his hometown team. It’s been a while since I saw the latter, admittedly, but I will attest to the former also being a damn fine reason for induction – a brilliant analysis on the league system of Baseball through the eyes of a mascot. (“That stuff may play in the sticks, but this is Capital City!)

Still, there’s a reason “Homer at the Bat” has gotten so much praise from the baseball community. It’s hilarious, quotable, and yet still felt like the writers gave their all in it – doing their research and writing such vibrant comedy without sacrificing the show’s traces of heart. It deserves to be a reason for putting Homer Jay Simpson amongst the greats of America’s pastime – as both a parody and a loving tribute. The national pastime truly becomes one with probably the most influential TV show in American history… how poignant.

We’re talkin’ softball, from Maine to San Diego.
Talkin’ softball, Mattingly and Canseco
Ken Griffey’s grotesquely swollen jaw.
Steve Sax, and his run-in with the law.
We’re talking Homer, Ozzie and the Straw…

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo” (Season 10, Episode 22)

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Worth noting – it ain’t the last time Homer winds up attacking a national sovereign.

Knife goes in.
Guts come out.
That’s what Osaka Seafood Concern is all about!” 
– Osaka Seafood Concern Squid Mascot, supporting his company and his nation by gutting himself.

Airdate: May 16th, 1999

Written By: Donick Carey and Dan Greaney

Plot: Their savings depleted, the Simpsons have to rebuild their hopes of taking a vacation. After scrounging in dangerous ways, they are able to afford last-minute plane tickets to an unknown destination – this time, Tokyo, Japan. Bart and Homer are interested in the tastes of home… tastes that get them arrested and rapidly deplete the family’s savings. Running out of money, they are forced onto a game show to get plane tickets back home.

Review:

You know, I had the strangest dream. I spent two years watching one of the most iconic comedy shows in the history of the western world decline into a shell of its former self, resorting to goofy climaxes and transforming their central character into a pompous dolt. It was a strange dream, one that also had me start watching a show about rebellious aliens and…

…oh, wait… it wasn’t a dream. Damn.

Yup, I’ve finally reached the end of Season 10. And having jumped over truckers and captured the Loch Ness Monster, what else to do but go out with a travel episode? Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “They Saved Lisa’s Brain” (Season 10, Episode 22)

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“Oh, a sarcasm detector. That’s a real useful invention!” – Comic Book Guy. Standout quote. Glad it came in this wonderful season!

Airdate: May 9th, 1999

Written By: Matt Selman

Plot: Springfield’s culture, never particularly highbrow, hits a low point when a contest asking contestants to embarrass themselves collapses into a full-blown riot. In response, Lisa pens an open letter begging the townsfolk to better themselves. That letter catches the collective eyes of Springfield’s MENSA chapter, who encourage her to join. Despite a bit of terseness in the group, their concerns about Springfield’s culture gain more prominence when they inadvertently cause Mayor Quimby to skip town. Following the town charter, they take over as a quasi-junta.

Review:

OK, 21 episodes down, two to go in the tenth season. Only took me about two years to do so. And after that complete and utter debacle of the last episode, these next two might close the season out on a high note.

There is a sort of bizarre coincidence, though, that I’ve noticed. Despite this season overall being quite focused on Homer’s increasingly bizarre antics, the debut and penultimate episodes of the season take a closer look at Springfield’s favorite intellectual, Lisa Simpson, and examines just where she fits into this strange society. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love” (Season 10, Episode 21)

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“Don’t worry, folks – he’s not dead! I still hear some faint signs of life.” – Jerry Rude. No, he’s not describing the show, although it really doesn’t matter too much.

Airdate: May 2nd, 1999

Written By: John Swartzwelder

Plot: A new megastore comes to town – Fortune Megastore, to be exact. There for the debut is affable billionaire Arthur Fortune, who tosses his money into the audience and genuinely creates excitement. This is to the frustration of Mr. Burns, who realizes just how disliked he is. For some reason, he goes to Homer to see how to be beloved. Hilarity, apparently, ensues.

Review:

Last time on Scullyfied Simpsons (which, admittedly, was just a couple of weeks ago)…

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…do I even have to review this episode? I mean, that .gif pretty much sums up what we are in for here. Mr. Burns? The tyrant who ordered the Rolling Stones killed, who even as a Howard Hughes hypochondriac still came off as menacing (“Hop. In.”), who ruled over Springfield with an iron fist and was only kept out of the Governor’s mansion thanks to his own hubris… reduced to that scene.

And this was written, mind you, by John Swartzwelder. I honestly think he was messing with the writers, and they were just too apathetic to change the script (or wanted to mess around with Swartzwelder by airing the episodes in the first place.)

On one hand, I don’t think I have to go any further. This might be the worst episode of the Scully era – and the previous worst episode was only five episodes ago. And we have two seasons left of this insanity.

…but that would be flat-out giving up. I might as well try and put in more effort to reviewing this than the writers did in, well, writing it.

Continue reading