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

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Scullyfied Simpsons: "Bart the Mother" (Season 10, Episode 3)

Now to figure out which one is Chirpy Boy and Bart Jr. The madness! THE MADNESS!
Airdate: September 27th, 1998

Synopsis: Bart kills a bird, raises it’s babies, and it turns out it wasn’t the bird’s babies that he was raising.

More specifically, Bart defies his mother by hanging out with Nelson, who just acquired a BB gun at an arcade. One false move, and not only is a bird dead, but Marge finds out and decides to give up on trying to interact with him. Feeling utter guilt, Bart decides to raise the eggs as his own… and lizards wind up hatching.

Review: Ah, ZZZZZZ… oh, sorry, where was I? Oh, yeah, this episode. A pretty blasé, boring half hour… well, the first two acts, anyway. The third act, I don’t know what happened.

The first part of the episode is so boring, that I don’t think I’m gonna go in depth here. This might be my shortest review since I don’t even know when.

Basically, the first two acts are “Marge Be Not Proud”… but with BB guns and birds instead of video game theft and christmas. I think the use of Nelson was an attempt to show how bad first impressions can be, except that, it actually makes sense that Marge wouldn’t be a fan of Bart hanging out with Nelson. That, and at least “Marge Be Not Proud” actually used subtle emotions, instead of the dramatic over-explaining in this episode… as if the audience were too stupid to know that Marge was fed up.

What a sea change.

Not only that, but I think the character traits explored have been handled better in previous episodes. Marge’s over-protective, somewhat hypocritical principles were already touched upon in “Itchy and Scratchy and Marge”. Bart’s own self-doubt was already hit upon in “Bart Gets an F”, and his relationship with his mother, “Marge Be Not Proud”. All of these episodes handled those conflicts in more complex, interesting ways.

The moments after Marge gives up are definitely better – not that much, but still. Bart, feeling guilt, raises the bird for himself. While I don’t think Bart feeling a certain level of guilt is out of character (I refer you to “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baadasssss Song”, and his guilt over getting Skinner fired), here, it goes a bit too over the top, and thus, feels a bit out of character for him. Or maybe the episode’s boring-ness got to me. That, and it did give us a gold Troy McClure film strip… unfortunately, it would be the last ever. (See below.)

Now, the third act is actually pretty decent. As wacky a twist it was, the reveal of the lizards actually added some strange sense of life into this episode. Plus, having Bart try to defend his lizards actually creates an interesting parallel. In the end, I think that “Bart the Mother” was trying to put Bart in Marge’s shoes – that he will still defend what, to an extent, are his children, even if they give people some hell.

Oh, and I did like the twist on environmental balance. The lizards were an invasive species who were killing off other animals. To an extent, this provides the question – is it part of the circle of life? Are we really doing harm by leaving these animals/reptiles be? As far as I know, this environmental analysis was unintentional, much like the ending to “Trash of the Titans”, another episode that I have mixed feelings for. Kinda cool that we aren’t in the anvil dropping zone yet, that the writers can still do subtle social commentary.

Too bad this episode wasn’t that memorable.

Let’s just wrap it up here – it’s a rather boring episode. Sadly, I think it could’ve been sweet if it didn’t take a path that was far too similar to “Marge Be Not Proud”, and syphon the comedy from that episode. Analyzing Bart isn’t a bad thing, but they’ve done it quite a bit better. (Take a look at “Bart Gets an F”, or “Bart Sells His Soul”.) It passes, but that’s more because nothing in this episode really offended me.

Tidbits:

  • Interestingly, Nancy Cartwright has cited this as among her most-loved episodes, because of the soul searching. Not gonna bash her opinion… just disagree with her.
  • This was the last episode written by David Cohen before he left to create Futurama with Matt Groening. Interesting that around the same time Futurama premiered, The Simpsons began its fall from grace.
  • On a more somber note, as I alluded to above, this was also the last episode to feature Phil Hartman – this time, in the aforementioned Troy McClure film strip. For those unaware, on May 28th, 1998, Hartman’s wife shot him three times before turning the gun on herself. A coroner’s report suggested that she was under the influence of drugs. It was a shocking and grisly end, and silenced one of the greatest comics of the 80s and 90s. Out of tribute, the writers decided to silence their characters. For that, I give Mike Scully respect. Similar props to Al Jean, for keeping it up with Hartman’s characters.
Favorite Scene: The Troy McClure script. You will be missed, Phil.
Least Favorite Scene: Marge turning her back on Bart was done far better in “Marge Be Not Proud”, mainly because of subtlety.
Zaniness Factor: 2.5. Lizards? Really?
Jerkass Homer Meter: 1.5 – mainly for getting beaten up at the batting cage. Granted, I did like the lightbulb gags.
Score: 5.5

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 25: "Natural Born Kissers"

Nothing like your 11th anniversary to realize you have old cake in the fridge.

Airdate: May 17, 1998

Synopsis: It’s Marge and Homer’s 11th anniversary. However, recent events (such as having their anniversary dinner at a family restaurant) have them fear that the zest in their marriage has run out. While trying to get a motor for their freezer, the two get stuck in a muddy driveway in the middle of farm country. Hiding out in a farmhouse, the risk of the farmer catching them inside reignites the fire in their relationship, and the two realize that their relationship reignites when the risk of being caught in compromising situations increases.

Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa find Abe’s old metal detector. After finding tons of junk, the two eventually locate a copy of an alternate ending to Casablanca. Let’s just say, the ending isn’t what one would consider a classic.

Review: Shorter review than normal here, because there isn’t too much to dissect. Earlier episodes did the “zest in love life” plot better, added more pathos, more character development, and were funnier. It seems like this episode was just done to appeal to fanservice, as well as see how far the writers could “push the envelope”, and didn’t really bother to make that many other benchmarks in terms of quality.

It’s amazing that, by the standards of the show, this was one considered one of the more “risqué” episodes. Remember- around this time, “South Park” was stretching the boundaries of what a cartoon could show. It seems like this episode was constructed as a response- a more risqué, envelope pushing episode. Nowadays, it’s a relatively tame episode. Strip away the more “edgy” content, and what you have is a rather pedestrian episode- Marge and Homer have a marriage crisis, a plot point which would be a cliche of the Al Jean years. If you want to be “edgy”, at least have substance.

I don’t know- maybe 12-year-old me might have liked it because it was “edgy”, but with years gone by, I just feel like it’s a typical Scully-era episode- decent situation, zany buildup, zany ending. It’s far from the worst offender- it’s still a bit funny, and characterization was pretty decent, if milquetoast – but it’s not the most outstanding thing I’ve seen this show do.

The message of the A-plot? Don’t break the law. It’s too much trouble for everybody involved.

Strangely enough, I found the B-plot a bit more interesting than the A-plot. Bart and Lisa finding an old movie actually could’ve made for a decent A-plot in and of itself- sort of a remake of “Three Men and a Comic Book” meets “Lisa on Ice” meets “Day the Violence Died”. We could’ve seen some great character interaction between the two- something we really haven’t seen all season. Here, finding an alternate ending to Casablanca only allows for enough material for a B-plot, and with what little time it’s given, it’s executed very well.

In fact, that plot showcases the satire aspect of The Simpsons more than the original. In trying to find treasure, Bart and Lisa come across an ending to Casablanca that is far, far happier than the one in the movie. It’s pretty clear that the ending is a spoof on the strict standards set for movies well into the 70s- movies like All that Heaven Allows, for example, had to slip their depressing messages under a thin cover of “happiness”. Casablanca is well remembered because it’s ending wasn’t happy, and it’s characters didn’t just stick themselves within archetypes, and the movie was more than just a simple romantic drama.

This episode also reveals, rather ironically, that a bad ending can erase a lot of goodwill that a piece of media built up prior to the climax. If there actually was an ending like that, and it got slipped in, I doubt Casablanca would be as popular as it is now. Hear me, Simpsons writers? Finish strong- otherwise, you will encounter the wrath of geeks! (Ah, who am I kidding- they stopped caring years ago.)

The moral of that story? Metal detectors are time sinks, and cliches are awful. (Al Jean musn’t have paid too much attention to that last point.)

Game, set, match for season 9. Next up for our trashing? Season 10.

Tidbits:

  • I’ll admit right now- the setup to the A-plot is pretty funny. Marriage in a rut, plus old cake, plus forgetting to close the freezer? Brilliant. (Just wondering- why was the fridge also open? Ah, never mind.)
  • Gil’s back! Remember- he used to sell shoes? Now he sells cars… and can’t do that well at all. Methinks that’s going to be Gil’s character- an utter failure at everything he does. He probably wouldn’t have been used as much in later seasons if Phil Hartman hadn’t been shot. What a shame.
  • I just love the look on Maude’s face when she notes Ned’s obvious golf advice. It’s the face that shows, as happy as their marriage is, there’s still some small differences between the two of them, rather than Maude just being a female Ned. I love those subtle moments of character… when I catch them.
Zaniness Factor: 1.5- even with the ending, the episode is still relatively grounded.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 1. In fact, I think Homer is a bit milquetoast here. Calm before the storm? I hope not. (Hint: it probably is.)
Favorite Scene: Nothing too outstanding in this episode, but I found the “Casablanca Alternate Ending” brilliant enough to get this award.
Least Favorite Scene: Let’s face it- the second half of the A-plot was just an excuse to push the envelope. Oh, and Homer gets hurt a lot during that.
Score: 7. Barely. 
Now, to end the season (and other seasons of Scully’s era of The Simpsons), I’m not going to do a traditional “wrap-up”. Rather, I’m going to include that in a “Not Another Top (X) List” post. That post? The 9 worst episodes from Season 9.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 23: "King of the Hill"

Airdate: May 3rd, 1998

Synopsis: After a disastrous outing to a church picnic, Bart realizes that Homer is pathetically out of shape. Homer, disappointed in himself for failing his son, decides to take up an exercise regiment, complete with trips to the “gyme” and eating Powersauce bars. Impressively, with the help of Rainier Wolfcastle, he manages to build up sizable muscles within two months, albeit developing a bit of ego along the way. One particular trip to the “gyme” has Homer and Bart meet up with representatives from Powersauce, and Bart convinces Homer to take up on an offer to climb the super-tall Murderhorn. The executives sponsor the trip along the way, turning it into an ad campaign… even having sherpas help Homer.

Review (SPOILERS): Watching these past few episodes has been like a pendulum. We had “Trillions” show the assassination of satire, “Girly Edition” show the brilliant satire formed over the previous eight seasons, “Trash of the Titans” show Homer get a job and act like an asshat all the way, and this episode, actually extending pathos to Homer. Is this the last we’ll see of a sympathetic Homer? Who knows? (Hint: probably.)

This episode chooses to look at one of Homer’s defining physical features- his rotundness, and how it contrasts to society’s expectations of machismo. It’s a bit strange that, given the relative zaniness of these past few episodes (Cuba? Really?), this episode actually has a somewhat realistic portrayal of Homer’s health and what happens when he exercises- even though he gets muscles in two months, he’s still not presented as fit. The way this episode portrays his strives to get healthier actually makes you feel for Homer through the entire episode.

Unlike future episodes, which will show Homer become macho thanks to the power of a dietician, this episode shows the fraudulence of certain “schemes” to healthy living- that is, food in “health bar” form. This actually shows a realistic viewpoint of that scheme- eating the bars seems to motivate Homer. When the rug is pulled out from under Homer (mmm… Chinese newspapers), he rejects the Powersauce Executives fears that he won’t make it to the summit… only to embrace it after almost dying.

He only truly abandons his quest after he learns something about his father. Why? Eh, it’s a plot arc introduced in the third act. I would’ve placed something a bit earlier, but it fit with the pacing of the episode. Still, he realizes that there can be no greater shame than what his father did, and that whatever he does is still more dignified. I won’t spoil it, but it is a pretty dark moment.

While Homer does dip in a little bit of “Jerkass” territory here, it’s relatively minor and somewhat excusable- with the pathos built up, it’s understandable why his ego inflated a bit after gaining some muscle. Likewise, the resolution of the plot is a bit… strange. Still, somewhat alleviated by Homer’s pathos.

Getting back to the macho part, this episode does take some shots at society’s expectations of macho-ness via Wolfcastle. The muscles. the feats of strength. Yet, he won’t do the impossible in real life- climb the Murderhorn. Granted, his reasoning is justified, but still. The Gravity Falls episode “Dipper Vs. Manliness” did a similar episode 15 years later- one that criticized masculine stereotypes. Being that “Manliness” happens to be one of my least favorite Gravity Falls episodes, I find it strange how an episode from the waning years of The Simpsons can best a similar episode of a show which might be my all-time favorite.

Not much to say here, really. A good episode, albeit relatively unmemorable (except for “gyme”), probably the last before Scully’s brand of Simpsons fully takes over.

Tidbits

  • The mockery of advertising is brilliant. The Powersauce executives are annoyingly hysterical- they’re more callous about death and danger than Mr. and Mrs. Valentino! 
  • This just in: Powersauce is amazing!
  • Note to self: always use “gyme”.
  • Apologies for being out these past couple of weeks. Writers block, plus new blog, plus a new semester, does not motivation make.
  • One last note: this will likely be the last blog post under the current URL. At the latest, as of the posting of my review of the next Gravity Falls episode, “Northwest Mansion Noir”, the URL will change to starbug1729.blogspot.com. I would preemptively bookmark it, if I were you.
Favorite Scene: Every scene with Abe and McAllester is brilliantly done. Nothing says character development like those scenes.

Least Favorite Scene: Eh… can’t name a scene that stood out for it’s weaknesses. All of them were necessary to the plot.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 1.5. Homer gets a bit more aloof and callous when he gets fit, but it’s immediately balanced out by the pathos in the episode.

Zaniness Factor: 2… mainly for the last three minutes.

Score: 7.

Update- 2/2/15: Not related to The Simpsons, but I’ve just learned/realized that Geraldine McEwan, who played Cassandra in Red Dwarf, died recently. In tribute of her, I post this quote from “Cassandra”:

Cassandra: All of the Canaries will be dead within 1 hour, except for Rimmer…

Rimmer: YES!

Cassandra: …who will be dead in 20 minutes.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 18: "This Little Wiggy"

Airdate: March 22nd, 1998

Synopsis: After noticing that Ralph is constantly bulled due to his “off” character, Marge arranges a meetup between Ralph and Bart, much to the latter’s chagrin. As Bart realizes the power his father lords as the chief of police, such as having the master key, Bart begins to use Ralph to break into various places, like a toy store, a bakery, and a local jail.

Review: If ever I were to pick the best “valentines day” episode of any show ever, it would probably have to be “I Love Lisa”. Not only does it have a simple yet compelling story between the ditzy yet soft-hearted Ralph and the intellectual yet occasionally aloof Lisa, but it also showcased that Ralph was more than just a prop character, a “kid in the back”. He was a loner, ostracized because of his ditzy behavior, yet was an utter savant when it came to the stage. It’s probably my favorite “holiday” episode of The Simpsons by quite a margin. If ever you need proof that the classic seasons of The Simpsons were able to craft some of the most fantastic characters in TV history, watch that episode.

I bring that episode up because, again, Ralph is the center of an episode revolved around him. You can feel the difference in the two episodes. One gives him natural character development that pulls at almost every emotion imaginable, whilst not being overly sappy. The other tries too hard to be funny, and as a result, it seems to reserve its characters to joke fodder. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 17: "Lisa the Simpson"

Airdate: March 8th, 1998

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Synopsis: After Lisa fails to solve a brain teaser that the other students got instantly, a series of unfortunate events (such as a diorama) begin scaring Lisa about the quality of her intellect. Grandpa eventually tells her of a trend that various Simpsons have, where their intellect declines over the years, calling it a “Simpson Gene”. A frightened Lisa tries to fight back against the suspected decline, only to fear that she’s becoming lowbrow and low-class.

Review *SPOILERS*: Is it possible for one scene to make an entire episode just seem mean spirited? It’s a pretty damn hard feat, but “Lisa the Simpson”, which seems almost perfect, just contains one little scene that drives me spare.

Yes, it’s a Lisa-centred episode. Some of the best Lisa-centred episodes focus on her relationship within the clan of The Simpsons: she’s probably the most down-to-earth of the group (Homer and Bart are Homer and Bart, and Marge is occasionally spacey). Even so, she’s portrayed as a bit aloof, reserved with her intellect in the dumb town of Springfield. So, an episode that seems to take her down a peg, show that she can still fall into the same traps as the rest of the town? That’s a good idea. We did see her take up an angry activist moment in “Lisa the Vegetarian”, where, in pushing her beliefs via pig-napping, made her little better than Homer “You Don’t Win Friends With Salad” Simpson himself. However, to see this normally intellectual character enter a period of self-doubt, thanks to family coincidence… that makes for an entertaining episode.

And, for the first two and a half acts, it is a very gripping episode. Having Lisa deal with the fact that she might be damned to the same amounts of insolence as the rest of the town of Springfield is surprisingly emotional. You see, she was slipped up by a mere brain teaser that the rest of the kids got in seconds. Is she overanalyzing the brain teaser? Maybe. It’s Lisa Simpson: in a town of the average joes, she’s the one who looks too deep. That’s a really creative way to show that a character that’s normally an ace has her human flaws.

Led on by, well, Grandpa about Simpson history, and taking on more activities with Homer and Bart (i.e. watching When Buildings Collapse on FOX), Lisa enters a state of resignation, submitting her brain to “one last meal” at the Springsonian and the Jazz Club. It’s actually pretty damn emotional to see her try and fight, even going as far as to make a futile attempt to plea to the town of Springfield to increase their horizons. She knows it’s futile. She just needs to be heard.

Of course, there was the ending, where Homer brought in several of his relatives. It rotates between hysterical and heartbreaking, depending on what mood you’re in. The context of Lisa’s worst fears being confirmed truly contrasts with Homer’s relatives describing their careers as “I step in front of cars and sue the drivers” and “Jug Band Manager”. It’s truly fantastic.

Then the real ending happened, and I wanted to chuck my DVD out.

You see, Homer only brought in the Simpson men: the women are fantastic successes. Why? Well, apparently, it’s genetic: the “Simpson Gene” is apparently only carried on the Y chromosome – thus, only men are affected.

Translated: Simpson men are damned to be idiots, while women? Raging successes.

Let’s ignore that Herb Powell was a raving business success, who was only failed by the American buyer, who wanted everything in a car, yet wanted the design to take few risks (and to not have it cost $82,000). Let’s ignore that Abe is a fantastic military strategist, who is held back by his senility and his desire for a more active life getting the better of him. Let’s ignore that Homer has flashes of great intelligence, only held back by a weak upbringing and years of alcohol consumption. Let’s even ignore that Bart could be fantastic at anything– he merely has a short attention span, and maybe some other learning disability. Nope, now all Simpson men are just idiots.

Yup, this is apparently a happy ending. Why? Lisa was validated.

Look, I’ll get this off my chest right here and now: I am pretty pro-feminist (and yes, I am a male). I support equality of the sexes, I am in full support of the advancement of women’s rights, the objectification of women or the reduction of them into mere tools drives me up the wall, I feel that America (and to only a slightly lesser extent, the rest of the world) has quite a way to go when it comes to neutralizing sexism and objectification of women, and I feel that there is a dearth of well-written characters who are also female.

That being said, in my opinion, this ending is less a testament to feminism and more outright misandristic. Basically, Homer and Bart are openly told that, because they are male, they are basically damned to failure. Yet, this is a happy ending. Why? Well, Lisa can solve the damn puzzle.

I’m just hoping that the scientist that told Lisa about the truth about the gene was just lying to save Lisa’s sanity. Even then, the fact that the men are presented as idiots yet the women are presented as successes still comes off as a bit sexist, eh?

It’s a sign of things to come: later seasons of The Simpsons have had troubling gender-related politics, trying to present itself as a feminist, progressive show, when in reality, creating female characters that were little more than props or satellites for other characters.

I don’t really know what to think about the main plot. As good as most of it was, the ending just threw me. Even the very last two lines in the episode can’t really save the ending for me. It’s a major dent in the quality of the episode.

Oh, and Jasper gets trapped in a Kwik-E-Mart freezer, and Apu and Sanjay turn the mart into a tourist trap. It’s a pretty good subplot.

Tidbits:

  • This is the last episode not produced by either Mike Scully or Al Jean in some form (until Season 22-ish), and the second to last one for four years to not have Scully at the helm. Eh, can’t always end on a high note.
  • This episode was also written by Ned Goldreyer. He did some work on the UPN’s adaptation of Dilbert, one of the most underrated animated sitcoms of all time.
  • Give Dan Castellaneta credit: the fact that he can do all of the voices of the male Simpsons? No wonder why he’s getting about $300,000 a year as of late!
  • Oh, and I apologize for the long hiatus/vacation. For some reason, I just couldn’t motivate myself to put something down on paper… that, and there was that Simpsons marathon on FXX.
  • Also, Gravity Falls will be back in September. I might be able to put down a few more Scullyfied Simpsons episodes… or, I might return to Red Dwarf. Maybe.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 1
Zaniness Factor 1.5. Having an old guy survive a freezer? Eh, not stupid.
 
Favorite Scene: Lisa’s plea to the town of Springfield really shows the power of the writing this show once possessed. It’s gut-wrenching, funny, awesome… it’s just sublime.
Least Favorite Scene: The ending, though, just left an awkward taste in my mouth.
Score: 7

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 11: "All Singing, All Dancing"

Airdate: 4 January, 1998

Synopsis: Homer claims to hate musicals, revealing his disdain after renting a musical that Homer thought was a Clint Eastwood western. The rest of the Simpsons note the irony of this, stating the mere fact that the family (and the entire town) tend to break into song on a semi-regular basis. Meanwhile, Snake tries his hand at robbery… and reveals his distaste for musicals.

Review: This will be a short one; it’s meh. It’s a clip show; what more do you expect? I’m not really going to go into depth here, though.

First, let’s get this out of the way; the clips themselves are sublime. The first eight seasons of the show featured some damn good music. My favorite would have to be a tie between “In the Garden of Eden” from “Bart Sells His Soul” and “We Do” from “Homer the Great”.

Now the original material. It starts out great: “Paint Your Wagon” was pretty damn funny. However, by the start of the second act, it runs low on gas. While most of the characters are, well, in character, for some reason, I just can’t see Snake backing off as easily as he does. Maybe it was an attempt at character development. Maybe they just realized they needed something to keep the plot moving. Who knows?

It’s also worth noting that not even the writers wanted to do this episode; the ending makes this pretty clear. Worth noting that this episode came out shortly after the release of the CD Songs in the Key of Springfield. Thus, I blame FOX executives for the dryness of this episode.

That’s really how to sum it up: it’s just a largely forgettable episode. I’ll give it a pass, but only because it wasn’t as nonsensical as “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”, and it reminded me of more entertaining episodes. If you want to watch a good clip show, watch “So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show”, “Another Simpsons Clip Show”, and “The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular”.

Tidbits: Just two.

  • At the end, a shotgun is fired during the credits. Two blasts are heard on one occasion. Said occasion is when Phil Hartman’s name comes up. Five months and change after this episode aired, Hartman’s wife shot him dead before turning the gun on himself.
  • David Mirkin was credited as the executive producer. For once, Mike Scully is absolved of blame.

Favorite Moment: “Gonna paint your wagon, gonna paint it good…” SING ALONG!

Least Favorite Moment: Snake leaves because he figures that the family would not make good hostages… because they sing. Just seems a bit off for him.

Zaniness Factor: 1.5, mainly for the singing.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 1. (That’s a first, I think).

Score: 5.5.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 7: "The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons"

Airdate: November 16th, 1997:

Well, there’s 1 Mrs, Nahassapeemapetilon.

Synopsis: At a bachelor’s auction (think the auction from Batman and Robin, with more humor), Apu receives a wide variety of bids, and begins realising the positives of his bachelor lifestyle… just in time to be reminded of his arranged marriage to Manjula. Apu’s mother comes over to remind him herself, and Apu fakes a marriage with Marge, much to Marge’s chagrin and the disappointment of Apu’s mother. Homer hides out at the retirement house, stealing the identity of somebody else. When Homer returns, Apu’s mother realizes the truth, and declares the wedding proceed as planned.

Review: One of the pitfalls of the Mike Scully era was that it tried to alter the characters and their dynamic with other characters in an attempt at character development. However, these newfound characterisations were not focused on as much because, during the Scully era, the world revolved around Homer Jay Simpson. This is not a huge problem in this episode, but you can still see the signs of Scully’s era setting in with the long form changes being put on the back burner.

Really, this episode also felt like a Jean-era episode in some aspects… as in the plot. It just seemed far too close to standard sitcom fare. Granted, there still is a good twist (the wedding must proceed as planned, instead of the “follow your heart” twist that the cliche sitcom would add). Also, the plot went everywhere. It seemed like, in the second act, that Homer became the center protagonist in a “hanging out in a retirement home” plot.

We must also mention that characterisation seemed to be a tiny bit off. Homer and Apu weren’t too bad, but Marge, Bart, and Lisa seemed to not do much of anything.

Where is this episode redeemed? Well, the humor. This episode contains tons of funny lines. Even at the retirement home, there is a good amount of humor, even if the plot was resolved in a cliche way. And besides, at least there is some substance in the plot. Not something I can say for the Jean-era episodes.

Favorite Moment: Even if I thought it was filler, the idea of the retirement home plot was good, if only because it still shows the cynicism of the show.

Least Favorite Moment: The wedding scene. It seems like they could’ve mocked it quite a bit more rather than the “Apu and Manjula get married and live decently” ending that occurred.

Zaniness Factor: 1

Zaniest Moment: Not available. It’s a rather pedestrian episode.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 1.5

Jerkass Homer Moment: Why did Homer feel the need to commit identity theft to try and escape Apu’s mother?

Final Score: 6.