Scullyfied Simpsons: “Simpsons Bible Stories” (Season 10, Episode 18)

lovejoy-reads-from-word-one
From word one… word… one.

Airdate: April 4th, 1999

Holy Macaroni, another anthology episode! Twice in a season, this is the start of a decade-long trend that would have the show producing at least one extra “three-part anthology” episode every year or so… at least, it felt like it. This certainly isn’t the first one – that went to “The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase” in Season 8 – but is the first one to keep the fourth wall intact.

Between Season 10 and 19, and discounting the Treehouse of Horror there were nine “three-story” episodes – averaging out to nine per year. The trend was broken with the bizarre decision to split the third act in half – there was a “four-story” anthology in “Four Great Women and a Manicure”, but that was the last one. (Side note – I swear to god that the four-act structure was sabotage on somebody’s part to try and kill the show faster.)

With that in mind… “Simpsons Bible Stories”. Continue reading

Advertisements

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Maximum Homerdrive” (Season 10, Episode 17)

“If you wanna be my lover
You gotta get with my friends
Make it last forever
Cos friendship never ends…”

“Don’t you have school?” “Don’t you have work?” “Ah, touche.” – Homer and Bart, recognizing just how silly these plots are getting.

Airdate: March 28th, 1999
Written By: John Swartzwelder.
Plot: The Simpson family (bar Lisa) go to the Slaughterhouse, a steakhouse where the waiters kill the cow in front of the patrons. One menu item is a 16lb steak that only two people finished – Tony Randall and trucker Red Barclay. Homer decides to take on Red… but while Homer loses, the contest doesn’t end too well for the trucker. Feeling remorseful, Homer decides to take on Red’s last route to Atlanta, and Bart hops on for the ride.

Meanwhile, Marge and Lisa decide to install a new doorbell – one that plays “Close to You”. Their patience to have somebody ring the doorbell wears thin, however, and eventually Lisa takes the plunge… one that will ultimately prove detrimental to the neighborhood’s sleep schedules.

Review:

Oh, yeah! Set your amps to max, turn your hairdryers to Max Power, switch your radio over to Max FM, and take your son Max over to Lake Destiny, because we’re in for our second Maximum episode in a row! Time to shift it into “Maximum Homerdrive!”

Through my life, the “road trip” has been a favorite pastime of mine. Thus, episodes of TV shows revolving around road trips seem to lure me in. And I have to admit it – “Maximum Homerdrive” is actually an episode I rather like. Yeah, it’s silly, contains a rather thin plot, and probably the pinnacle of “Homer Gets A Job” plots that dominate Season 10. But, for some reason, I get a nostalgic feeling with this episode.

Under a critical lens, though… how does it hold up?
Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: "I’m With Cupid" (Season 10, Episode 14)

 

d1590-screen2bshot2b2016-05-202bat2b12-56-482bpm2b1
“Both of my ears are filled with nougat!”

 

“You told me that it was an American tradition to work all the time and not see your wife!” – Manjula, to Apu. Give it 17 years, Manjula…

Airdate: February 14th, 1999

Plot: In 2005, in response to developments regarding Anglo-American relations, Neil Tennant and Chris Lowe penned “I’m With Stupid”, a satire on a theoretical romance between British Prime Minister Tony Blair and US President George W Bush.

Whoops – this is a television episode… Patrick is afraid that his parents will mock him for being rather stupid. Therefore, SpongeBob decides to take up the role of “The Fool”.

…I’m sorry, this is “I’m With Cupid”, not “I’m With Stupid.”

Apu’s relationship with Manjula is on the rocks. Apparently, the life of a convenience store manager isn’t exactly conducive to free time. To make it up to her, Apu goes all out in his Valentines Day celebrations. This, though, alienates the wives of Springfield’s men. They all proceed to sabotage the actual Valentines Day celebration.

Review:

Two years ago (because I am a lazy bum), during my coverage of Season 9, I reviewed “The Two Mrs. Nahasapeemapetilons”. There, my complaint lied in the fact that the episode revolved around Homer’s antics, and was overall rather pedestrian. In hindsight, though, I can recognize some of the character development in that episode, even if I would’ve preferred more. That, and it was a pretty funny episode.

“I’m With Cupid” serves as a follow up to that episode… but it ultimately feels a bit underwhelming. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "Weirdmageddon II – Escape From Reality" (Season 2, Episode 19)

5f53f-escapefromreality
It may be better than perfection, but is it better than life?

Airdate: November 23rd, 2015

Synopsis: Dipper, Wendy, and Soos venture into Mabel’s bubble prison… the happy land of Mabeland. Pop music fills the air, 80s cartoon characters thrive, lawlessness rules, and waffles guard Mabel’s office. Thankfully… waffles guard Mabel’s office, so the trio are able to get in. There, Mabel all but bribes Soos and Wendy with their desires, leaving Dipper to try and avoid any sort of temptations brought on by the bubble.

Review (SPOILER-TASTIC): The announcement on the Friday before “Escape From Reality” aired that Gravity Falls was to reach it’s denouement after two seasons was, let’s face it, not that shocking. There had been speculation from the moment Season 2 was announced that the show wasn’t long for this world (DisneyXD’s scheduling made it seem longer than it was), and Alex Hirsch’s Tumblr post this past Friday simply served to put whatever speculation there was to rest. In fact, it’s actually a good thing at the end, because we don’t get to watch the show rot into a charade of guest stars and recurring “marriage trouble” episodes, nor do we get to see it smash a mirror, screaming “How’s Annie” with no word on what the hell is going on.

Kudos to Hirsch.

Anyway, before we go out, we get a second (and last) penultimate episode of the season that delves into the mentality of one of the central characters. Last season, it was Stan. This time, it’s Mabel. Continue reading

Gravity Falls Review: "The Stanchurian Candidate" (Season 2, Episode 14)

 

0fec2-screen2bshot2b2015-08-282bat2b10-28-132bam
The GOP Election Debates were less insane than this!

 

Airdate: August 24th, 2015

Synopsis: With President Barack Obama being constitutionally prohibited from running for a third term, many people apply for the most powerful office in the Western World. These include a social democratic populist, the spouse of a controversial former president, an eccentric right-leaning populist billionaire, and the brother of a controversial former president, among many, many others. “Hilarity” ensues, especially concerning cloths, servers, and hairpieces.

Uh, I mean, Prime Minister Stephen Harper has Governor General David Johnston call elections so he can get a fourth consecutive mandate. However, he faces critiques from the public and his competitors, which include a bearded dude, a hippie, and the handsome son of a former politician, over his controversial justice legislation, his questionable handling of the economy, and his somewhat awkward management of the nation’s institutions and public services. Said handsome son, hippie, and bearded dude, meanwhile, face questions on their leadership and whether they’ll split the vote… again.

Uh, I REALLY mean, Stan decides to run for mayor of Gravity Falls, after the long-serving mayor dies. He does so because of insecurities that have surfaced after Ford came back. He runs against Bud Gleeful… whose son was locked up, thanks to Stan. Unfortunately, he’s more gaffe-prone than his poll numbers (starting at zero and bottoming out in negative numbers) will allow. To try and salvage Stan’s candidacy, they try and commit mind theft via a tie that Ford invented for “Reagan’s Masters”. Bud’s campaign manager, some dude that’s in prison, one-ups Stan by literally overtaking Bud’s mind with a spell.

Oh, that dude in prison? Gideon.

Review (SPOILERS): Politics! Is there a word more thrilling to the human soul? Since the dawn of time, decisions had to be made. One idea of governance is Democracy – allowing for more than just one person to decide. The Ancient Athenians laid the groundwork for (very limited) democracy. The Roman Republic established separate houses to (in theory) balance the wants and needs of the experienced versus those of the common man. The English Parliament (later the Parliament of Great Britain), the American Congress, and the Assembly of the First Republic kick-started the modern democracy we all know and love… even if the latter didn’t last long.

While the system is generally kind – let the average joe and jane send representatives to voice their interests – there are a lot of awkwardnesses in the campaign process, and within the after-effects of said elections. “The Stanchurian Candidate” exploits the idiosyncrasies that are found within the races and campaigns – this time, with the end goal to be the mayor of a small town. How does that go?

Unfortunately, as far as the writing for this episode goes… not the greatest. Continue reading

Movie Review: Star Trek: The Motion Picture

Released: December 7th, 1979

Eh… I can think of at least a few comparisons. (Taken from Wikipedia.)

Synopsis: The year is 2273. Monitoring station Epsilon Nine detects an energy being heading to Earth, destroying three ships of the Klingon Empire and said monitoring station en route. Starfleet dispatches the newly refitted Enterprise to investigate. Headed by Admiral (temporary Captain) James T Kirk, the departure is sullied somewhat by a dispute with Captain (temporary Commander) Willard Decker (Stephen Collins). Commander Spock also boards, noting that while on Vulcan removing his emotions, he sensed the energy being. Also aboard is Navigation Officer Ilia (Persis Khambatta), who once had a romantic relationship with Decker.

Being that this ship is newly refitted and that most of the controls need to be tested, you can probably guess that this will end well.

Review (SPOILERS, MAYBE): Y’know, for a movie which almost screams “disco” in its costumes and sets, Star Trek TMP is actually a rather slow, cerebral movie. It’s common knowledge that the movie has something of a reputation for its slow pacing and lack of “action” sequences, in favor of special effects and a 2001: A Space Odyssey experience. The question is – does this detract from the movie, or give it a charm?

Well, it depends on your viewpoint. In my view, the movie has a good idea, but it wasn’t meant to launch the movie franchise. Even if it had to launch the movie franchise, just a few edits could’ve really improved this movie… mainly in the special effects department. Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: "Lard of the Dance" (Season 10, Episode 1)

Airdate: August 23, 1999

Synopsis: At the dawn of a new school year, Lisa has to meet up with a transfer student. Unlike the previous transfer student, this new transfer student, Alex Whitney (Lisa Kurdow, Friends), is a fashion-oriented, modern “adult”-like child in the same grade as Lisa, who still enjoys the pursuits of childhood.

Meanwhile, Homer gets the first of many, many, many jobs this season when he realizes the market value of grease. He and Bart try and usurp grease from various sources… including the school.

Review: The tenth season premiere is, in some ways, a bit of a “Deja Vu” moment. By which, I mean, it’s all but a remake of “Lisa’s Rival” – Lisa meets a new girl and has a rocky relationship with her, and Homer enters a money-making scheme.

It’s how these two episodes execute their plots, though, that differs vastly, and in the case of the “Homer” plot, makes this episode weaker in comparison.

Lisa’s plot revolves around what seems to be an attempt to treat children like tiny adults in society. It was relevant then, and it’s relevant now. We see children given access to cell phones, allowed to operate credit cards, dressing up in styles more suited for adults, etc. It’s a bit concerning, given that the mind of a child is not as developed as the adult mind. I’m glad that the show addressed this. Honestly, this shows that even the Scully era – one lambasted by reviewers for transitioning the show to a mindless sitcom – could tackle social issues. It’s early yet in Scully’s tenure, though.

My problem, again, comes from the execution, which seems a tad bit uneasy.

On one hand, I can appreciate the idea that Lisa does have a more “childish” streak – we’ve seen it in earlier episodes, and it makes the character more believable. However, here, it seems like they stuck in traits that the writers thought second graders like Lisa had. The end result is an ending monologue that has some issues with character – I don’t really buy into Lisa supporting the idea of “talking in church” and “chewing with her mouth open”.

I also find her being appointed manager of the school disco and her bouts of maturity including watching The McLaughlin Group, while somewhat funny, to be a bit of a harbinger of her future characterization as an overt political activist who acts like a college student… which is a bit ironic, if you think about it. Of course, it could be (and probably is) a stab at the aforementioned show, but I just thought the coincidence muddled some of the comedy.

Otherwise, I think that it was relatively “color by numbers” – Lisa is unpopular, and there’s something like a “be yourself” message at the end. Granted, this is more complex than “Lisa Goes Gaga”, in that it takes on a social issue, but still. I think “Summer of 4’2” was an overall more inspired, unique take on the idea, with a somewhat more “involved” plot involving sibling rivalries and the dynamic of geekery. Here, it’s a bit… simpler. Lisa is ostracized for being uncool, but is right all along because the cool kids don’t know the first thing about the “adult” things they’re supposed to do.

But, because I l want to end the discussion of the plot on a positive note this time, I will say that Alex Whitney is actually a fresh twist on the old “uptown girl” cliche – she’s sweet, not actively harmful, and seems to be more unaware of the realities of a new demographic than anything else. She’s sympathetic, and Lisa Kurdow does a fantastic job playing her. (I’ve never really watched Friends, but now I’m tempted to watch a bit on Netflix.)

Bizarrely enough, the title of the episode comes from the B-plot. A harbringer of the “Homer Gets A Job” cliche, Homer (and Bart, because writing) try and make money off of recycling grease. Minor in the grand scheme of things, it’s still quite a bit lackluster. It’s full of the typical “Homer Gets A Job” cliches – Homer acts like a jackass or an idiot, does something that is obviously not going to make him money, and gets hurt while doing so. “Lisa’s Rival”, again, handled this in a better light,

What bugged me is the idea that this behavior was normal. Even in episodes like “Deep Space Homer”, Homer’s trip into space was treated realistically, with other characters acting like real people despite the zaniness of the situation. Here, Homer is all but egged on by the entire universe. Back in my review of “Lost Our Lisa”, I mentioned that Homer’s rant at the end showcased that the character was being transformed into something of a Mary Sue – one that the writers would use as a vehicle for their fantasies. It isn’t too bad here – he doesn’t come out the victor, is relegated to the B-plot, and doesn’t meet a celebrity.

Still, to see Marge suggest somethings for his “zany scheme” is a tiny bit out of character, and shows the universe start to bend to his will. In the show’s defense, Marge’s suggestion of an “emu farm” indicates something that is relatively tame. I think – I don’t know much about Emu farming. Oh, I also forgot to mention Homer gets hurt – he’s beaned with a shovel, punched, strangled with a hose, and having an eyeball pop out. That last part, I did not make up. That’s something I’d expect out of a show made by Seth MacFarlane. He survives all of this with nary a scratch.

Again, because I want to end on a positive note this time, I will say that the episode had quite a few great jokes:

  • “North Kilt-town”
  • Skinner recognising right off the bat that Lisa’s probably the only person raising her hand – a tad bit silly, but whatever.
  • Homer takes note of the large amounts of grease on the fast food worker’s forehead. “My god, you’re greasy!”
  • Homer forgot to attach the barrels to the car before his trip to the school.
  • Even Lisa’s paramecium insult her by pairing up.
  • “Acne Grease and Shovel”
Despite this, the episode is relatively lacklustre, and not one I would be too quick to watch again.
Tidbits:
  • In an age where mobile phones are commonplace, it’s worth noting that having a cell phone was seen as something of a “white collar” thing during the 90s – as in, generally speaking, people who primarily made decent money in the finance sector had cell phones. This stands in something of a contrast to today, where most people have cell phones. Thus, the allure of Alex having a cell phone is much stronger if viewed from a “1998” perspective.
  • There’s something a tad bit confusing about Groundskeeper Willie using the school’s kitchen as a sort of shower. I know he lives on school grounds, but at first, it seems like he was just there because the plot needed a conclusion. However, given that he’s the only janitor at the school, he might be doing some overnight cleaning work (or at least, on the clock for it).
  • This was the last episode directed by Dominic Polcino. Not the greatest way to leave.
  • This episode actually aired as a special episode. Y’see, in America, broadcast TV shows are normally contained from September to May, when the ratings system is most active. The reason, according to Wikipedia, was to get a good lead in for the pilots of That 70s Show and a Holding the Baby. The former became something of a cultural icon – ironically enough, it launched the career of Mila Kunis, who became the second voice of Meg in oft-accused Simpsons ripoff Family Guy. Holding the Baby’s success can be measured in that it’s Wikipedia Page barely has information on the show, and according to it, the show didn’t live to see whether President Clinton would be acquitted or not. (Oh, and it was based off of a somewhat – at least – obscure Britcom.)
Zaniness Factor: 2, mainly from the cartoonish fight between Homer and Willie.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 3. Zany job, virtual invincibility to pain, and pulling Bart out of school to work a blue collar job? Yeah.
Favorite Scene: Have to go for Lisa trying to force Milhouse to go with her to the dance as a date… before realizing what she’s become. Even if the rest of the art in the episode is somewhat dry, the reflection in the glasses is a good, if slightly cliche, film/animation direction technique.
Least Favorite Scene: The entire third act has several scenes, but it’s a dead heat between Lisa’s somewhat uncharacteristic end monologue, and Homer and Groundskeeper Willie’s overtly cartoonish fight.
Score: 6.5.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 24: "Lost Our Lisa"

Worst. Bus ride. Ever.

Airdate: May 10th, 1998

Synopsis: Lisa’s attempts to go to a museum exhibit crash when Bart does something stupid with props and glue. (Surprise, surprise.) Marge is not a fan of Lisa’s proposal to take the bus… so she gets approval from Homer. However, Lisa didn’t look at the bus schedule and winds up in the middle of nowhere. It’s up to Captain Wacky to rescue her!

Review: This episode, in my opinion, is just a weaker version of “My Sister, My Sitter”- Lisa tries to get out of potential trouble with her parents. However, whereas that episode had damn good pacing, a great setup, and believable characterization… this episode has Homer hijack the plot so that a drawbridge can close on his head.

Elaboration? Fine.

Yes, the first part of this episode is Lisa… TAKING THE PUBLIC BUS! THE HORROR!! THE HORROR!!!

Actually, the bus system in the United States is actually a tad bit more confusing if you’re not inside a major city. I mean, have you seen the Suffolk County Transit bus system out here on Long Island? Not exactly straightforward… nor is it as point-by-point as it is in New York City. Marge’s concern is pretty damn realistic… and guess what, she was right!

Lisa winds up in the middle of freaking nowhere!

Actually, this is somewhat believable characterization for Lisa. Sure, she’s a brilliant intellectual who might be the sanest in the family. However, when you think about it, she makes decisions that can be utterly brash and insane. There was no need for her to look at a bus schedule, and it came back to bite her.

I actually felt like this episode could’ve been a decent, if well-trudged through, character analysis for Lisa. Is she really as mature as she appears to be? We’ve seen her go to cruel lengths in “Girly Edition”, and here, she seems hell-bent on going to the museum, no planning, no consideration of the consequences.

Still, it’s a Scully-era episode. This, of course, means that they have to stuff Captain Wacky into the plot somewhere.

That’s the problem that seems to dominate the second half of the second act, as well as the first half of the third. Homer leaves work, tries to find Lisa, and proceeds to suffer only minor injuries from otherwise mortal wounds. He drives through a bunch of planks. A drawbridge crashes on his head. Cars run over his skull.

On one hand, he appears to suffer no damage, barring some tire tracks on the top of his head.

On the other hand, this leads into a part of the episode that is criticized by some Simpsons fans. For example, Simpsons fan Mike Amato, in his “watch them all” blog “Me Blog Write Good”, dissected Homer’s speech at the end of the episode– one where he encourages Lisa to take risks. Here’s his interpretation:

When Lisa vows she’ll never take a stupid risk ever again, Homer slams the brakes and informs her otherwise, claiming that stupid risks make life worth living, and that’s why he has so many crazy adventures. So yeah, instead of being an average American man who has dramatic and absurd scenarios befall him (which is part of the reason why they’re funny), now he’s Captain Wacky, actively doing stupid things on impulse. It’s astounding how jarring this scene is; even Lisa in-universe seems kind of perturbed by her father’s statements. Homer loves the thrill of adventure? […] His whole diatribe is almost like his new mission statement, as from this point on he’s pretty much always up to some wacky hijinks, a fractured caricature of his former self.

Mike Amato is pretty spot-on with his assessment, so I’ll just build on it a tad bit.

Now, in the writers’ defense, Homer has a point. Sometimes, you do have to take certain risks- you shouldn’t be milquetoast. I also think he might have been coming off the “rush” he got from almost dying- thus, having a slightly different outlook on life.

The problem here is that besides coming at a time when the character was “evolving”, we have to remember that this speech was given by Homer. There was no reason for it other than the writers found that Homer was available. To me, this is the moment when Homer began charging full-steam to Jerkass Homer-ville – one where he did whatever impulses or fantasies the writers had because they’re awesome.

Now that I’m done railing against that, I must admit that Homer is actually relatively sweet here. He goes to rescue Lisa, and despite almost dying, he and Lisa get to spend some quality father-daughter time together. It’s actually a pretty sweet ending.

It’s a cute episode, indeed, but one with a flaw that just seems too much like a bad omen of Jerkassery and Zaniness.

Tidbits:

  • Uh… Lisa wants to go see a bunch of artifacts from Egypt. The title of the program? “Treasures of Isis.” That might come off as a tad bit awkward to those that don’t read up on their history.
  • Personal note: I never encountered a “split weekday schedule” bus – Suffolk Transit only does Weekdays and Weekends.
  • One more note: the “Not What He Seems” review won’t be up until probably the end of the weekend.
Favorite Scene: There’s something particularly heartwarming about Lisa and Homer at the end of the episode. This show still has a bit of heart left.

Least Favorite Scene: Homer getting a drawbridge closed on his head… not so much.

Zaniness Factor: 3. Homer getting all those injuries and surviving? This is a cartoon now.

Jerkass Homer Meter: 2.5, only and only for his “risk” rant. It isn’t so much “callous” as it is “out of character”.

Score: 6.5.

Scullyfied Simpsons: Season 9, Episode 22: "Trash of the Titans"

CURSE YOU, RECYCLING CALENDAR!

Airdate: April 26, 1998

Synopsis: After OFF celebrates “Love Day” (a second Valentine’s Day meant to make more money for big business), there is a heap of trash. Failing to get the trash out in time, Homer insults the garbage men, causing service to be cut off. Weeks and piles of trash later, Marge finally writes an apology letter. Rejecting this claim, Homer goes straight to the top – Sanitation Commissioner Ray Patterson (Steve Martin), and after getting thrown out, decides to run for Sanitation Commissioner himself. Running on a populist platform of “can’t somebody else do it”, he wins in a landslide… and his policies threaten to bring down the town.

*WARNING: SPOILERS IN REVIEW”Review: Great. Right out of one of the better episodes of the season, we get an episode that showcases probably the most blasted aspect of Scully’s era- mischaracterization of Homer Jay Simpson. And this is the two hundredth episode. That’s a good sign, eh?

Actually, taken as a whole, this episode seems to continue with the satire found in “Girly Edition”- picking apart an aspect of American society. This example is somewhat more over the top than “Girly Edition”- this time, we take a look at the pitfalls of populism.

American society is practically built on pseudo-populism. It was a bunch of “average joes” that drove the British Empire out of the land now part of the United States of America. America was one of the earliest “modern’ (read- post Renaissance) nations to experiment with a representative democracy, and a head of state that was from the people, not a monarch. The anti-federalists, representing the populace, managed to get a Bill of Rights in the constitution, guaranteeing basic freedoms for the people.

Unfortunately, populism has it’s drawbacks. Given that the average joe is often less aware of the risk factors when it comes to certain ideas, their plans can often end in disaster. For one, you can’t expect low tax while maintaining the same level of public services- you either have to cut services or raise taxes. Often, people believe that everything should be done to their exact beck and call, and that they shouldn’t have to pay the piper.

(Full disclosure: I consider myself a liberal/social democrat- you know, tax the rich and nationalize certain necessities of life, such as health and water- although even I don’t think that ideals such as Homer’s are sustainable without changes.)

This episode sends up those populist ideals- Homer runs for sanitation commissioner, wins on his populist ideals, tanks the budget on his wacky plans within a month, doesn’t think to ask for a budget increase, and ultimately trashes the town.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “Dude, this episode sounds pretty decent. What’s wrong with it?”

Character.

Thing is, this episode seems like it was “plot first, stick characters wherever second”. Homer was the centre character- they stuck him in. It’s pretty awkward. It’s hard to see Homer get this arrogant, this angry, this active. His behavior during the campaign is brazen- cutting Patterson’s brakes? Yet, the town (and freaking U2) spontaneously break out into song about how his administration is going to be awesome… I think (I’m not sure if it was a dream by Homer).

On one hand, this could be seen as a mockery of the overt populist ideals exhibited in American society. Yet, I can’t see Homer putting this much effort in political participation, and being this callous in doing so. It seems like everybody eggs on his behavior a bit too much- even Lisa doesn’t stop Homer from the fateful trip to City Hall. Granted, the town is populated by idiots, but it still stretches believability. Thankfully, there is actually a realistic backlash- the money is blown through rapidly, Homer’s plan to make money back fails, and he is deposed. Oh, and he’s not a mouthpiece for the writers. Yet.

Ray Patterson is actually one of the more confusing one-off characters that the show has had. He spends the episode blasting the extreme populism that Homer exhibits, and the fact that people are cheering him on. Once all is said and done, he high-tails it. On one hand, he’s pretty damn sympathetic, as well as hysterical. On the other hand, it seems to be a recognition by the writers that Homer’s becoming this “centre of the universe” character, and that they don’t really care.

The middle of the third act also shifts the show from a political satire to a “green” episode. It’s not too over the top, but it’s still a bit jarring. It does seem like the writers forgot where to go, and pumped in the last few minutes just to bring everything to a conclusion.

Admittedly, the comedy in the episode is good enough to downplay any potential flaws. Examples?

  • The concept of Love Day itself. Board member is fine with a dip in sales during the summer… and is promptly dragged out.
  • Kisses-Make-Me-Boogie-O-Lantern
  • “Dad, you’re always telling me and Bart to apologize!” “Yeah, but I’m always secretly disappointed when you do.”
  • During their stop at the PopMart tour, U2 plays “Pride”… as Homer gets dragged out of the concert and beaten up. This is broadcast on the mega-screen behind U2.
  • “I think I’ve got the perfect solution!” “You better, cause those garbagemen won’t work for free!” “D’oh!”
  • The Simpson family instantly thinks Homer’s plan to replenish the sanitation budget involves drugs. It does – drugs and weapons are brought in from New York City.
  • Once Patterson is reinstated, he goes up to the strains of the “Sanford and Son” theme, and, in a span of ten seconds, makes this speech… purely deadpan:
    • “Oh, gosh! You know, I’m not much on speeches, but it’s so gratifying to see you wallowing in the mess you’ve made. You’re screwed, thank you, bye.”
    • Cue the “Sanford and Son” theme as he washes his hands of the situation.
  • Plan B. Zany, but shocking enough to be hysterical.
Still, besides the comedy, the flaws in this episode are a bit hard to look past. Too much annoying Homer, the buildup is a bit far-fetched, and both of these combined makes this episode a bit of an “off” viewing experience.
Tidbits:
  • Steve Martin’s delivery as Ray Patterson is fantastic. I think he might be the best guest star in the Scully era. Granted, we have three more seasons, but I got a bad feeling about them.
  • U2, on the other hand, just seem to be in this episode to get “down with the kids”. Bono’s faux-pandering to Homer is funny, but the scene just seems superfluous.
  • Note to self: whenever somebody says something stupid, play “Fur Elise” in my head.
  • (Added as of 30 May): Fun fact: the city of Toronto once wanted to turn an abandoned mine n Northern Ontario into a landfill for Toronto’s stuff. Socialist leaning city councillors Jack Layton and Olivia Chow played this episode to the council, and they eventually reneged on their decision. Jack Layton would go on to become the leader of the socialist-leaning NDP, taking that party to their largest federal victory ever. Layton himself called the show “the single most important influence on progressive social commentary in the world”. Remember, this was back during the more “third-way” 90s.
Zaniness Factor: 3. Would’ve been a 2, but the last minute is bizarre enough to push it to a 3.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 3. Would’ve been a 4, but he gets punished appropriately enough.
Favorite Scene: Anything with Ray Patterson.
Least Favorite Scene: I like U2 as much as the next guy, but their scenes were pointless!
 
Score: 6.

Gravity Falls Review: "The Love God" (Season 2, Episode 9)

 

8aa4d-screen2bshot2b2014-11-272bat2b2-05-502bpm
Romance – the sweetest and the cruelest of all emotions.

 

Airdate: November 26, 2014.

Synopsis: Dipper, Mabel, Wendy, and the rest of the teens find Robbie in a graveyard, mourning his love life (or lack thereof). Imagining herself as a matchmaker, Mabel decides to examine the psyche of Robbie and get him into a love life. Her attempts to match Robbie up with mobilephile Tambry seem to fail, until she manages to procure (read: steal) a potion from a rocker who claims to be a Love God (voiced by John DiMaggio). The two fall in love, but their romance causes a row within the circle of teenagers.

Review (SPOILERS AHOY): Let’s cut to the chase – this episode is among the weakest in the short history of this show, mainly because of the ending. But, let’s save why for a bit later on.

This is the first episode written by Simpsons showrunner Josh Weinstein. He, alongside Bill Oakley, ran the last two “classic” seasons of The Simpsons, with episodes taking on a somewhat more “domestic” role, exploring the emotions of the characters and how they interact in the unit of Springfield. This is compared to the episodes run by David Mirkin previously, which tended to use the characters to place themselves in wacky situations that showed the problems of society, and Mike Scully thereafter, which tended more towards campy plots with characters (like Homer, Bart, Homer, Lisa, and Homer) inserted because celebrities are cool. This episode is indicative of Weinstein’s run – it’s by far the most “down to earth” episode this season, showing an exploration of the characters within the town.

Continue reading