Not Another Top (X) List – Top 10 Worst Episodes of The Simpsons Season 10

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Hello, and welcome to another edition of…

NOT ANOTHER TOP (X) LIST!

And Season 10 of The Simpsons was subpar.

But it also didn’t suck too much.

Excellent, now that I have both sides of The Simpsons fandom declaring war against this stupid little blog, let me explain.

Yes, Season 10 of The Simpsons was a noticeable step down from Season 9 – which was itself a step down from Season 8. Many of the complaints I had in Season 9 – sketchy characterization, weaker plots, sillier endings, a thinner reliance on effective social analysis, etc. – not only remained in Season 10, but also became more egregious, neutralizing any sort of positives found in those episodes such as the jokes that I laughed at, any decent social insight, etc.

Most fans will remember this season for an overreliance on two cliches – the guest stars and the plot thread of “Homer Getting A Job”. Alone, they resulted in some dodgy moments – Homer helping Mr. Burns become loved, Dolly Parton breaking Homer and his acquaintances out of Super Bowl jail with her lipstick, etc. Together? …oh, boy.

But if it seems like I’m being too negative, there were a fair number of episodes that ranged from “fair” to “good”. The good ones really would hold their own in the golden era, while the “fair” ones still contained some level of societal insight, quirky comedy, or a combination of both – as well as flaws that were less egregious or more forgivable overall. (And before I continue, I’ve decided in the act of fairness to honor the three best episodes of the season, in ascending order. Stand up, “Lisa Gets an A”, “Wild Barts Can’t Be Broken”, and “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”. Kinda interesting that my favorites were Lisa-centered episodes, for various reasons.)

So let’s dive into the worst of the worst. X=10, and we are looking at…

THE 10 WORST EPISODES OF SIMPSONS SEASON 10!

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Scullyfied Simpsons: “Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo” (Season 10, Episode 22)

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Worth noting – it ain’t the last time Homer winds up attacking a national sovereign.

Knife goes in.
Guts come out.
That’s what Osaka Seafood Concern is all about!” 
– Osaka Seafood Concern Squid Mascot, supporting his company and his nation by gutting himself.

Airdate: May 16th, 1999

Written By: Donick Carey and Dan Greaney

Plot: Their savings depleted, the Simpsons have to rebuild their hopes of taking a vacation. After scrounging in dangerous ways, they are able to afford last-minute plane tickets to an unknown destination – this time, Tokyo, Japan. Bart and Homer are interested in the tastes of home… tastes that get them arrested and rapidly deplete the family’s savings. Running out of money, they are forced onto a game show to get plane tickets back home.

Review:

You know, I had the strangest dream. I spent two years watching one of the most iconic comedy shows in the history of the western world decline into a shell of its former self, resorting to goofy climaxes and transforming their central character into a pompous dolt. It was a strange dream, one that also had me start watching a show about rebellious aliens and…

…oh, wait… it wasn’t a dream. Damn.

Yup, I’ve finally reached the end of Season 10. And having jumped over truckers and captured the Loch Ness Monster, what else to do but go out with a travel episode? Continue reading

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

Scullyfied Simpsons: “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love” (Season 10, Episode 21)

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“Don’t worry, folks – he’s not dead! I still hear some faint signs of life.” – Jerry Rude. No, he’s not describing the show, although it really doesn’t matter too much.

Airdate: May 2nd, 1999

Written By: John Swartzwelder

Plot: A new megastore comes to town – Fortune Megastore, to be exact. There for the debut is affable billionaire Arthur Fortune, who tosses his money into the audience and genuinely creates excitement. This is to the frustration of Mr. Burns, who realizes just how disliked he is. For some reason, he goes to Homer to see how to be beloved. Hilarity, apparently, ensues.

Review:

Last time on Scullyfied Simpsons (which, admittedly, was just a couple of weeks ago)…

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…do I even have to review this episode? I mean, that .gif pretty much sums up what we are in for here. Mr. Burns? The tyrant who ordered the Rolling Stones killed, who even as a Howard Hughes hypochondriac still came off as menacing (“Hop. In.”), who ruled over Springfield with an iron fist and was only kept out of the Governor’s mansion thanks to his own hubris… reduced to that scene.

And this was written, mind you, by John Swartzwelder. I honestly think he was messing with the writers, and they were just too apathetic to change the script (or wanted to mess around with Swartzwelder by airing the episodes in the first place.)

On one hand, I don’t think I have to go any further. This might be the worst episode of the Scully era – and the previous worst episode was only five episodes ago. And we have two seasons left of this insanity.

…but that would be flat-out giving up. I might as well try and put in more effort to reviewing this than the writers did in, well, writing it.

Continue reading

Scullyfied Simpsons: “The Old Man And The “C” Student” (Season 10, Episode 20)

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Oh, dear! Now you’ve done it!

          “I want some taquitos!” – Jasper. No, not that one…

Airdate: April 25th, 1999

Written By: Julie Thacker

Plot: The IOC’s plan to give Springfield the 2000 Summer Olympics falls apart when Bart’s comedy routine offends the entire committee. As punishment, Skinner forces him to volunteer at the Retirement Castle. He finds the environment there overly restrictive to the elderly. Lisa, a frequent volunteer there, disagrees and argues that the environment there caters to their desires. Cue a One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest parody.

Meanwhile, Homer’s attempts at making a mascot – Springy – collapse with the Olympics bid. With an entire crate of springs to sell, he decides to embark on – guess what – a new career selling springs. It does not go well – particularly for Lenny’s eye.

Review:

Let’s be real here – the elderly aren’t treated well in The Simpsons. I mean, when this show was on all four cylinders, nobody was (“nuts and gum” was not a compliment), but man, oh, man, did the elderly get the shaft. Rather than wise and learned elders, they tended to be crotchety, senile (“I SAID FRENCH FRIES!”), dumped into decrepit retirement homes where they decline in more depressing ways than ever before… even the most successful senior in the show is not only a ruthless and heartless businessman (for now, at least), but hysterically behind the times in some areas. (“I’d like to send this letter to the Prussian consulate in Siam by aeromail. Am I too late for the 4:30 autogyro?”) It’s all about waiting out the clock until they die, which knowing The Simpsons, is a long, long, long time.

Since I compared the last Simpsons episode I reviewed to a Season 2 episode, may as well do the same here – this time with one of my favorites, “Old Money”. There, the Retirement Castle is dilapidated, everybody wants to take the elderly’s money, their families them on token trips while ignoring their interests, etc. Should somebody ever accuse The Simpsons of being weaksauce, I will throw on episodes like “Old Money” – which manages to fuse brutal social satire with a rather sweet ending – to inform them that this show once had guts.

Speaking of which, “The Old Man and the “C” Student”. 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.

Review:

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

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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

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

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

Scullyfied Simpsons: "Marge Simpson in: Screaming Yellow Honkers" (Season 10, Episode 15)

“Anger is what makes America great. But you must find a proper weapon for your rage.” – Sgt. Crewe. Personally, I watch Simpsons episodes produced during the show’s decline and complain about them on a blog.

Airdate: February 21st, 1999

Plot: While trying to flee a variety show, Homer sees the four-wheel strength of the Canyonero. He goes to buy it, only to get the “F-Series” – a version of the car targeting women. His fear of being labeled gay has him toss the keys to Marge (read, has him hotwire her old car). Marge gets behind the Canyonero, and immediately gains some impulse. Unfortunately, this translates into road rage – one that gets her sent to Traffic Court. This proves ineffective, though, and eventually, her license is suspended… just in time for an incident at the zoo that, for some reason, requires her help. (Go on, guess why?)

Review:

As I mentioned in my review of “Coach Steven”, America seems to be the nation that runs on pure, unbridled Id. Power seems to permeate from every single thing we do – the biggest homes, the most powerful cars, the most passionate politics, etc. Granted, this is a broad generalization, but there is truth in the stereotype of the powerful American. Here, this episode takes a look at the SUV – arguably the most powerful type of car in existence – and how even the meekest of us can become power hungry. Unfortunately, it’s in execution where the episode falls apart. Continue reading