Scullyfied Simpsons: “Kill the Alligator and Run” (Season 11, Episode 19)

KillTheAlligatorAndRun

“This family has hit a new low! We’re on the run from the law, totally lost, no car, no money, no clean clothes, and it’s all your fault.” – Marge. Spoiler alert – the word “divorce” is not mentioned once in this episode.

Airdate: April 30th, 2000.

Written By: John Swartzwelder

Plot: After taking a test in a book of self-improvement quizzes, Homer begins to fear that he only has three years left on his lifespan. Emotionally disturbed, he goes off the deep end, to a point where a psychiatrist recommends that he takes a vacation down in Palm Corners, Florida.

OOPS, SPRING BREAK TIME! It sends Homer insane, to the point where he commits a couple of misdemeanors in the process, but gets off easily thanks to the town sheriff. After Spring Break, he is so excited, that in the midst of his party, he runs over the town’s mascot, the alligator Captain Jack. With the whole family facing arrest for something Homer has done, they decide to hide out in plain sight as workers at a diner in the middle of nowhere.

Review:

For the past five and a half years, I have been taking a look at the Mike Scully era of The Simpsons. In many ways, it is the dorkier equivalent to the study of the implosion of the Roman Empire. Everybody has their theories – some rational, others more theoretical, a scant few completely insane and rooted in somewhat odious rationales. What I ultimately am looking at in terms of analyzing the collapse of The Simpsons is what the symptoms reflect.

Right now, what I’m sensing is that the show collapsed due to a fatal combination of arrogance, inexperience, and the limitations of the traditional story engine, sourced from the writers’ room and the FOX Network executives, at war with both increasingly disillusioned fans and worn-down staff (animators and voice actors, respectively.) Sometimes, the writers thought they could go to war with fans. Other times, they thought they could juggle an ability to tell an emotionally moving story with revenge against an errant voice actor and the quest for ratings. As you can probably gather, the writers didn’t do a good job at many of these forays, because even in normal episodes, the show was becoming increasingly outlandish in lieu of silly, callous instead of merely cynical, and downright incompetent in terms of framing a story, characters, et cetera.

With around 60 Scully-era episodes under my belt, I’ve mulled over quite a few contenders for the show’s event horizon, the moment when the show’s collapse was cemented forever. And I’m not going to restate my arguments here, since it would be a waste of time for all involved.

All I know is that this time, I have watched a Simpsons episode that I sincerely believe would’ve been better off if it was penned and edited by a room full of cocaine users. It is so insane, so incoherent, so mad, and so incompetent that, for the first time in my years of reviewing this show, I have to sincerely question the sanity of Mr. Michael Scully.

I don’t know how else to guess the thought process that was behind “Kill the Alligator and Run”. Continue reading

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Scullyfied Simpsons: “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” (Season 11, Episode 14)

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Full disclosure: every screencap here is taken from Frinkiac.

“Homer? You are the worst human being I have ever met.” – Ned Flanders, “Hurricane Neddy”. Give it three seasons, Flanders.

Airdate: February 13th, 2000.

Written By: Ian Maxtone Graham.

Plot: A trip to the nature preserve results in the Simpson clan encroaching on a racetrack. At a race later that day, they meet the Flandereses on the top deck of the bleachers. Unfortunately, a rather tragic series of events unfurl, and Maude winds up knocked off the stands to her death. Ned has to cope with the loss of his beloved… which he does with the help of a man.

A certain man.

That caused his wife’s death.

Review:

The debate over the decline of The Simpsons has often lied in the sentiments and degree of said decline? Not only is it often debated how long the show entered the rough spot (if it hit said spot at all), but there’s also the debate of how far the show sank. As I mentioned in my review of “Saddlesore Galactica”, there are plenty of fans that do watch the show to this day, and argue that while there has been a decline, that the fans that call for the show’s cancellation rely on hyperbolic sentiment.

They argue that the golden years were so illustrious, that nothing, short of nothing, could match them. These fans argue that the Dead Homer Society faction of fans – in effect, the #WengerOut of the Simpsons fandom (and that’s neither a complaint nor a compliment) – are either relying on rose-colored glasses or have such impossible standards as to ruin a perfectly good show for themselves and others.

And you know what?

That’s fine by me!

If you want to enjoy new episodes of The Simpsons, that is absolutely cool. I disagree with your argument that it’s particularly good (or even watchable) television, but again, that’s my opinion. Even Zombie Simpsons – a blog with probably the most thorough analysis of the show’s decline out on the internet – argues that their visceral reaction to the show’s current state is only exacerbated because the golden years (seasons 1-7, according to them) were, in their eyes, so brilliant as to be part of the American canon.

To a cynical select few, it might come off as being part of the #WengerOut-esque bandwagon, this idea that we should kill off this institution of American television because a few nerds on the internet are angry. Which, alright. It’s the internet. You don’t have to go far to find insolent jackasses.

To those few, I want to disclose that what I am about to say, and my rationale thereof, is only a very slightly hyperbolic take on my own personal beliefs. Very slightly, in fact. Yes, I know this is just a show, but it revolves around my all-time favorite TV show. And therefore, where I am coming from is pretty clear.

Here we go…

“Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” is the single most infuriating piece of fiction that I have covered or very likely will ever cover on The Review Nebula. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Make Room For Lisa” (Season 10, Episode 16)

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Cellular service is all about communication and unity. Community!” – Omnitouch Executive, trying to convince Lisa that having a cellular tower in her room is a good idea. She’s not the most infuriating character in that scene.

Airdate: February 28th, 1999.

Written By: Brian Scully.

Plot: Lisa undergoes a day from hell when her trip to a traveling history exhibit goes sour. All thanks to Homer, who manages to damage the Constitution, because comedy. To pay for it, he has to put a cellular tower on top of the roof – taking out Lisa’s bedroom for the machinery. (Turns out the government privatized our nation’s treasures.) And it all goes down for her from there…

Review:

Wow, it’s been a while since I took a look at the start collapse of The Simpsons. Now that we’re in the depth of the show’s decline, may as well come back to see if it’s still falling over…

…yup. Still falling over. Alright, everybody – tuck your pants into your socks, cos this is gonna be a whopper of an episode. And by whopper, I mean my god, is this one a trainwreck. Continue reading