“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.
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