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.


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: “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.


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

Scullyfied Simpsons: "Viva Ned Flanders" (Season 10, Episode 10)


“Couldn’t we have gone to Branson instead? C’mon – you can’t hate Andy Williams!”


Airdate: January 10th, 1999

Synopsis: Dust from the demolition of Burns’ casino sends the Simpsons to the car wash. There, Homer finds out that Ned uses the seniors’ card to get a discount. At church, Homer gets a confession out of Ned – he’s actually 60 years old. His youth comes from a rather clean lifestyle. However, Ned comes to think about his point in life – that he just might be a bit too predictable.

Upon seeing Homer act like an idiot, he tries to get advice from the man. Homer’s advice involves going to Burns’ Casino… which was blown up. Therefore, the two take a road trip to Las Vegas. Homer’s lifestyle eventually makes an impression on Ned, and the two wake up the next morning hungover, in a suite, and married to two cocktail waitresses.

Review: In the season 5 episode “$pringfield”, the town decided to legalize gambling, with Mr. Burns as the main investor in the initiative. With Burns’s Casino, “$pringfield” lampooned the entire casino establishment – the encouragement of gambling even towards addicts, the incompetence at trying to quell problem gamblers from their worst urges, and even the hidden vices that are found in the most unlikely of characters – in that case, it was Marge that turned out to be a gambling addict. It was a quirky episode, and a fun one at that.

In this episode, “Burns’s Casino” is blown up. And while it’s unintentional, I can’t help but feel the irony, as this episode does a damn good job spitting on the classic era.

Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: "Homer Simpson in: "Kidney Trouble"" (Season 10, Episode 8)

Airdate: December 6th, 1998

Truly a heartwarming moment… that will be spoiled in two seconds.

Synopsis: The whole family (plus Abe, for reasons needed to generate the plot) take a trip up to Bloodbath Gulch, a ghost town turned tourist trap. There, Abe drinks way too many sasparillas, and Homer refuses to stop for a rest stop on the way home. End result? Abe’s kidneys blow out, and Homer is the only available donor. While initially willing to go through with the procedure, fears brought on by his friends cause Homer to bolt from the operating table.

Review (SPOILER): To paraphrase Futurama, Mike Scully, you raised my hopes and dashed them quite expertly, sir! Bravo! Yup, two steps forward with “D’oh-in” and “Lisa Gets an “A””, and one moonwalk back with “Kidney Trouble”, among the most despised episodes in The Simpsons history. So, my expectations heading into this episode were lowered quite a bit.

And I still left, not only disappointed, but disgusted.

When Homer’s transition from “loveable, if somewhat insensitive and self-serving goofball” into “obnoxious madman cartoon” is discussed, this episode often comes off as an event horizon of sorts. Something about, I dunno, letting your father die because you don’t want to take the risk of a kidney operation comes off as more than a bit callous.

However, before I utterly tear apart the writers for massacring one of the greatest characters in sitcom history, I do want to play “devils advocate”, or at least, try and play “devils advocate”.

The big hangup people have with complaints about this episode is the fact that none of the risks were exposed by Doctor Hibbert beforehand. On one hand, no, Homer was not made aware of the risks until his friends informed him, and the nurses wanted him to sign a liability waiver so that the hospital wo

However, not only did the fat jackass shoot down Hibbert’s attempts to give advice (we can assume that the doctor was going there with his “long wait-list” thing), but his reasons for being petrififed were as follows – he wouldn’t be able to handle getting drunk, and his organs would be harvested after he died. (And besides, even if Hibbert didn’t care, that’s a rather bit off for his character.)

Let’s see… the “Abe being a rather ineffective father” defense? Well, that would’ve at least been interesting (if rather macabre) if it was explored beyond a flashback, and if Abe was a nuisance in this episode. And even then, Homer’s treatment of Abe crosses a line itself, so that piece of “devil’s advocate” is shot. (At least, in my view.)

Oh, there’s the “friends focus on bad and are idiots” argument… shot down by the fact that, really, Homer ignored the Doctor’s warnings about negative side effects in the first place.

Other than that… yeah, nothing here in the sympathy department.

He trashes his father’s kidneys, leaves him to die on the operating table, is concentrated on his own shame when he tries to go to sea, comes back apparently remorseful, leaves Abe again, and then wants to poach his ten year old son’s kidney at the end. Certainly no Ace Rimmer we’re dealing with.

Not helping is that, yes, everybody fawns over the idiot over the 22 minutes for being “brave” and “courageous”. Yes, the kidney transplant has risks, but Homer blew out his dad’s kidneys in the first place. Even his cowardice is treated more with a sense of mild-to-moderate disappointment from his family rather than the utter disgust that it should’ve been treated with. And everybody is so forgiving at the end of the episode…

It would’ve been more tolerable if this episode tried to have a consistent tone. The story tries to be this sobering one about an old man whose kidneys blow out, and what is a plot point? Homer disgusting a ship of lost souls. That’s about as insane and loopy as any prior episode, it bears little bearing on the plot… it’s just like the writers wrote themselves into a corner, and needed to kill two minutes. It clashes with the episode, and doesn’t alleviate from the utter misery that is a beloved character on his deathbead, thanks to the main character.

What else can I say? I came in with rather low expectations, and was blown away with how inept this episode was. We still have almost 3 seasons to go, people.


  • Look, I know that Abe has been something of the butt of many jokes regarding how the family treated him – stuffing him in a retirement home and all that. Thing is, here, it just seems to cross a line of discomfort, where the entire family hates him despite not being as annoying. (And even if I did factor earlier episodes in, no, that is not a justification for letting him die of kidney failure.)
  • I did find Homer’s declaration that “the sea forgives all, unlike those unforgiving mountains” rather interesting. Not only a decent use of continuity, but the mountains were where Homer found out that Abe took a rather cowardly way down the Murderhorn. Ironically, there, Homer realized that he couldn’t beat the shame of that. In this episode, I think he did. (And no, Abe wanting to eat McAllister is not a justification for leaving him to die.)
  • The closest thing to medical satire that I could find is Marge saying that by donating his kidney, Homer cut his life expectancy significantly, so Abe could get a slight extension. Three problems, though. First off, coming out of Marge, it sounds rather callous of her. Second, Homer had his kidney stolen from Dr. Hibbert (which is rather off for him.) Third off, he didn’t sacrifice his kidney, and threatened to steal it back. How can you defend this man?
  • OK, there was the liability waiver joke.
  • I’m not even angry that the writers flunked biology, since kidneys don’t explode that way, but that’s only because the rest of the episode is so bad.
Zaniness Factor: 3. It would’ve been a 2, but the episode tries to combine a serious story with something as out there as “The Ship Of Lost Souls”.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 4. Oh, is Homer a selfish coward in this entire episode. Easily the most odious he’s ever been… so far.
Favorite Scene: Again, I did like the liability waiver joke. That, and “Bloodbath Gulch” was cute, at least for the first couple minutes.
Least Favorite Scene: There are so many scenes in the third act I could choose, so I’ll just go with the end – Homer reaching for his son’s kidney. Loveable character, writers. Who wrote this junk…
John Swartzwelder?
One point deduction, because I expect better from him. (Not that I would be too much more lenient towards a rookie, but still.)
Score: 1.5. The half a point is for a couple minutes at Bloodbath Gulch – and even then, you could just watch “Selma’s Choice” for similar jokes and not want to punch your TV screen. An utterly deplorable episode.