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

Steven Universe Review: “Open Book” (Season 1B, Episode 20)

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FYI – This is the perfect screenshot to use if you ever want to milk some money off of clickbait! You won’t believe what happens at the wedding! #21 is the cooliest!

“It completely dropped all the anti-authoritarian stuff and described a wedding cake for 50 pages!” “Yeah! That cake was worthy of 20 pages – tops. There weren’t any strawberries on it!” – Connie and Steven, starting an in-depth analysis of a book series. Truly, they are the Siskel and Ebert of the book world.

Airdate: March 19th, 2015

Written By: Hilary Florido and Katie Mitroff.

Plot: Connie is miffed that her favorite book series, The Spirit Morph Saga, ended with the two protagonists getting hitched. Having heard her rant about how the ending defied everything the book was meant to represent, Steven allows Connie to generate her own ending of the book in Rose’s Room. And as is the way in Rose’s Room, everything goes south, as well as a bit psychological.

Review (note: not 4000 words. I may be insane, but not that insane):

So…

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…how do you follow up on that?

I mean, the writers had to know that “Rose’s Scabbard” would drain the viewers emotionally. Let’s also combine that with the fact that there exists a wide swath of fans – myself includedthat consider it their single favorite of Steven Universe. So, how the hell were the Crewniverse going to follow up on what was arguably their Mona Lisa?

They didn’t have to, strangely enough. Thanks to Cartoon Network, they were able to slide “Rose’s Scabbard” at the start of a weeklong sequence of more dramatic and plot-driven episodes, up to and including the season finale. Thus, the writers had carte blanche to do whatever the hell they wanted.

So… what about something of a two-hander to change things up? Continue reading

Steven Universe Review: “Rose’s Scabbard” (Season 1B, Episode 19)

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Kid… believe me. You haven’t seen the half of awkwardness.

“It held your mother’s sword. Nothing else could fit so perfectly.” – Pearl, not even trying to hide her crush on Steven’s dead mom when talking about the titular scabbard. And believe me, it just gets more unnerving from there…

Airdate: March 9th, 2015

Written by: Rebecca Sugar, Ravin Molisee, and Paul Villeco

Plot: At the Strawberry Fields, Lion unearths an old scabbard. Pearl instantly recognizes it as one to Rose’s sword and begins waxing quite a bit of nostalgia over it. Determined to have Steven comprehend it’s importance, she takes Steven to the storage cave where the sword is said to reside… and is shocked when Steven not only knows how to access the armor and weaponry, but that the sword lay in Lion’s mane. In fact, Pearl is quite shocked that Rose even had a lion in the first place.

A breakdown ensues.

Review (WARNING: LONG REVIEW AHEAD):

In 1990, the Pet Shop Boys released their single, “Being Boring” – a song about a man’s idealism being compromised by the inexorable march of time. Once mingling amongst the crowds of parties inspired by “a famous writer from the 1920s”, he’s now alone, having formed his own successful path while those around him, including his partner, died. In spite of its comparatively weaker chart performance, “Being Boring” has become Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe’s most acclaimed song, and it’s easy to see why. It combines beautiful vocals; melancholic themes of love, loss, and regret; and gorgeous instrumentation.

Bizarrely, that song reminds me of this particular Steven Universe episode, “Rose’s Scabbard”. I know what you might be thinking – doesn’t this connection seem a bit tangential? A pop record and an episode of a cartoon? When you put it that way, it might be. Still… may as well go to another dynamic duo – that of Steven and Pearl.

Full disclosure – Pearl is my favorite Steven Universe protagonist, and probably my all-time favorite character. Sure, many fans might feel enthralled by Garnet, or might really believe in Steven. Personally, though, Pearl is one of the most complex and well-written characters in western animation – behind the intellect she possesses is a character full of neuroses and faults, yet one that remains lovable.

Makes sense, then, that one of my favorite characters is the main focus of an episode that is cited as a fan favorite. 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

Movie Review – Star Trek: Generations

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Two captains. One destiny.” (Image stolen from the Memory Alpha)

“Who am I… to argue with the captain of the Enterprise?” – James KirkWell… the former Captain of the Enterprise, missing for 78 years?

Premiere: November 18th, 1994

Written By: Brannon Braga and Ronald D. Moore

Directed By: David Carson

Plot: In the year 2293, the first voyage of the Enterprise-B goes south when the ship has to perform a rescue mission. An energy wave comes into contact with the ship, taking with it a scientist that was rescued, as well as Captain Emeritus James T. Kirk.

In the year 2371, the Enterprise-D comes into contact with that same scientist – Tolian Soran. He wants to continue his observation, but Picard prevents him from doing so. Going mad, he kidnaps Geordi, trades him to some Klingons, and holes up on a planet where he can shoot a rocket into the sun, bringing the energy wave – the Nexus – over to him. Only one man can stop him… but he himself is emotionally shaken up, having lost his brother and nephew. So… what about two men?

Review:

Three hundred posts, give or take. Hot tamale, that’s… three hundred more (give or take) than I thought I would post back in February of 2013. Guess I got into this reviewing thing a bit, eh?

Two years ago, in an attempt to combat a lull in my reviews (because of a relative lack of content from Gravity Falls and Red Dwarf), I decided to take up reviews of Star Trek movies. It actually helped – a jog of my brain helped me start reviewing Steven Universe, and I managed to bang out five of the six movies over the second half of the year – only skipping Wrath of Khan because I reviewed it a year prior. My intent was to review the four TNG movies in December, but personal commitments led that astray, and my review of The Undiscovered Country wound up coming out on Christmas.

Now, I’m back reviewing the TNG films – and I’m about to formally move this blog over to WordPress. And what better way to start (and end) than reviewing the bridge between TOS and TNG – Generations?

Well, it’s a bridge weaker than the one in this film. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “The Old Man And The “C” Student” (Season 10, Episode 20)

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Oh, dear! Now you’ve done it!

          “I want some taquitos!” – Jasper. No, not that one…

Airdate: April 25th, 1999

Written By: Julie Thacker

Plot: The IOC’s plan to give Springfield the 2000 Summer Olympics falls apart when Bart’s comedy routine offends the entire committee. As punishment, Skinner forces him to volunteer at the Retirement Castle. He finds the environment there overly restrictive to the elderly. Lisa, a frequent volunteer there, disagrees and argues that the environment there caters to their desires. Cue a One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest parody.

Meanwhile, Homer’s attempts at making a mascot – Springy – collapse with the Olympics bid. With an entire crate of springs to sell, he decides to embark on – guess what – a new career selling springs. It does not go well – particularly for Lenny’s eye.

Review:

Let’s be real here – the elderly aren’t treated well in The Simpsons. I mean, when this show was on all four cylinders, nobody was (“nuts and gum” was not a compliment), but man, oh, man, did the elderly get the shaft. Rather than wise and learned elders, they tended to be crotchety, senile (“I SAID FRENCH FRIES!”), dumped into decrepit retirement homes where they decline in more depressing ways than ever before… even the most successful senior in the show is not only a ruthless and heartless businessman (for now, at least), but hysterically behind the times in some areas. (“I’d like to send this letter to the Prussian consulate in Siam by aeromail. Am I too late for the 4:30 autogyro?”) It’s all about waiting out the clock until they die, which knowing The Simpsons, is a long, long, long time.

Since I compared the last Simpsons episode I reviewed to a Season 2 episode, may as well do the same here – this time with one of my favorites, “Old Money”. There, the Retirement Castle is dilapidated, everybody wants to take the elderly’s money, their families them on token trips while ignoring their interests, etc. Should somebody ever accuse The Simpsons of being weaksauce, I will throw on episodes like “Old Money” – which manages to fuse brutal social satire with a rather sweet ending – to inform them that this show once had guts.

Speaking of which, “The Old Man and the “C” Student”. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Mom and Pop Art” (Season 10, Episode 19)

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“Greats are always trying new things, like Michelangelo, or Shaquille O’Neil!” – Marge Simpson. Maybe I should frame this quote and send it to Al Jean.

Airdate: April 11th, 1999

Written By: Al Jean

PlotHomer’s attempts to build a backyard barbecue pit go rather awry when the parts and the instructions fall into the cement. (“Le Grill? What the hell is that?”) After his attempts to return the… barbecue, I guess… fail, it winds up crashing into the car of Astrid, a member of the local “Original Art” scene. Taking an interest in the disaster, she invites Homer to a local gallery, where Mr. Burns buys his art (to collect the royalties, presumably). Thus begins his new career as an artist.

Review:

Season 2 of The Simpsons is one of the show’s more underrated seasons. I mean, yeah, seasons 2-8 were (with one or two examples later on) sublime all around, but Season 2 is often skipped over, as far as I can see. It doesn’t seem to have the rubbery charm of 1, nor is it acclaimed like 3. It’s a shame because, in my view, Season 2 is when The Simpsons really began to kick into top gear.

Among the episodes in season 2 is “Brush With Greatness”, an episode that explores Marge’s artistic talent. The episode focuses on Marge rekindling her high-school interest in art – one that was crushed by a callous teacher. Her big challenge in rekindling her love is trying to reconcile her technique – focusing on one’s inner beauty and goodness – with a mandate to paint Mr. Burns for his new wing at the museum. It’s a fantastic episode, although I could say the same for most of Season 2.

Now, we get something of a sequel. Eight years on, and the overall tone of the show has changed dramatically. Rather than an ensemble focusing on the Simpson family as a whole, we instead get a sequel focusing on Homer’s accidental foray into absurdist modern art. So, is this episode a genuine Mr. Burns, or a quick painting of a sad clown? Continue reading