Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Looking for Mr. Goodbart (S28, E20-616)

This stuff is cringe central when the Simpsons parody it as poorly as it does
for someone familiar with the source material.  I wonder how stupid it looks
for those who aren't familiar?  Does it actually work for them?  It doesn't, right?
Note: this is the first episode to air following the 30th anniversary of the first Simpsons short Good Night.  It celebrated that fact by airing the Maggie portion of the short followed by a quick song about the anniversary.

Plot Summary
After Bart pulls off more tomfoolery, this time on Seniors day which gets even Grampa in trouble, Skinner gets the idea of his mother, Agnes, be escorted by Bart.  Quickly, though, Bart realizes how much Agnes dotes on the boy just because he shows basic affection for the old lady and decides to make a con out of it.  Soon, he's approached by another old lady, Phoebe, who is on to Bart's scheme but nevertheless offers Bart $100 to help out leave her retirement home for four straight days.

Meanwhile, Homer becomes part of the Pokemon Go Peekimon Get craze, which includes him walking into all sorts of dangerous situations in search of imaginary rewards.  Lisa agrees to join him because she, too, is a big fan of the game.  Eventually, Homer and Lisa agree to just spend real money to acquire the creatures, $600 worth.

Phoebe reveals to Bart that she's a nature photographer and the two enjoy the four days together. Afterward, Phoebe bequests Bart her camera.  Unaware of the meaning of the word 'bequest', Bart eventually learns that its to give an item away before dying.  Recalling relevant memories, including one where Phoebe admits she's going to off herself, Bart realizes he needs help, and recruits Homer and Lisa, whose wilderness experience have improved thanks to their time playing the game.  The two, alongside other veteran players, start their search in perhaps one of the worst animated sequences in recent memory, but ultimately Phoebe is found.

Evidently, Phoebe has found a new meaning in life and decides to not die, requesting back her camera though Bart gets her to agree to have the two of them go on more nature walks.  It turns out this was all a story (albeit apparently true) Bart told Grampa to explain why he was sorry for getting him in trouble.  Also, during all of this Skinner tries to man up but can't.

Quick Review
This episode was unfortunate.  The main storyline with Bart and eventually Phoebe was actually very decent and set itself pretty well for a good, emotional ending.  However, the Pokemon Go-ripoff sidestory, which was nearly a year late in being relevant and even less so in doing the reference well, ruins the main story by becoming a major factor in Bart's search.

The search, which turns into a simulation of the game with Lisa singing the song from the American version of the original anime, was probably the worst thing the show has done since maybe the Ke$ha incident.  The song, which as far as I know isn't even in Pokemon Go itself, was poorly sung and the visuals during the song was both unimpressive and unnecessarily edgy as well.  It completely destroys any emotional impact of Bart's story and, as a result, hampers what could've been one of the season's better episodes.

Final Score: 6.0

Friday, June 23, 2017

Caper Chase (S28, E19-615)

"We know who has made campus culture so stupid,
b-but we're afraid to actually say it, so lets
have squash players represent them!  We're g-good,
right?", probably thought the spineless writers.
Plot Summary
Feeling the need to secure nuclear power's place in the future, Mr. Burns intends to fund a nuclear energy wing at his alma matter, Yale.  Yale, like most modern "colleges" nowadays, declines his offer because its not diverse enough or too heteronormative, whatever that really means.  Upset, Burns later gets advice from Verlander, the owner of multiple low-end colleges to start up his own college, and Lenny further lets him know that you can set up for-profit colleges, so now Burns is all over that.

Burns relocates his plant workers to teach at his college because he doesn't really care at this point.  Homer is, at first, overwhelmed by the act of teaching (somehow) but Lisa, getting over her initial shock of the concept of for-profit colleges, helps instill a sense of passion for his work.  Despite not actually knowing about whatever it is Burns' college is supposed to be about, Homer's passion for teaching inspires his students in some way.  The man who previously gave Burns the idea for the college sees this and is able to get Burns to sell Homer's contract to the man.

Homer, alongside several shoehorned "smart" guest stars, are tasked by Verlander to teach an army of female androids, whose purpose is ultimately revealed to be to sign up for student loans at his colleges so he can rake up profits, I guess.  Homer gets wise to this plot and, after six months apparently, is able to short-circuit the androids by taking advantage of the college climate - the androids are college students, so Homer did something offensive to robots, triggering the androids so badly they exploded.  At the episode's end, he somehow gets the guest stars to teach things to his family.

Quick Review
This episode jumped between "college climate is absurd" to "Homer is a teacher" to "crazy villain plot C" to "college climate is absurd" again.  The guest stars, some of whom are notable but none of whom I feel like mentioning here, provide no real bonus to the episode - I could even say the episode could've benefited without their inclusion and have parodied versions of these people instead, they were that unimpressive.

There were some good jokes here and there but otherwise the episode was dull.  Its wasn't the political disaster I was partly expecting either.  Overall, its your typical zombie Simpson fare.

Final Score: 6.5

Thursday, March 23, 2017

A Father's Watch (S28, E18-614)

"Well, the character of John Homer is only partly based on me."
Plot Summary
Bart is still terrible at school.  Marge helps organize an event where an "parenting expert" tells parents that children do better with self-esteem, and that self-esteem comes from praise, endless praise preferably from trophies.  As Marge attempts to give Bart trophies for nothing, Homer gets the idea from Lisa to sell participation trophies to everyone while the fad is still hot.  Despite the success, Homer has Bart assemble the trophies, and Bart does so poorly.  Soon, Bart overhears Homer exclaim how big of a screw-up Bart continues to be.

Depressed, Bart catches Grampa's eye, who decides to pass on the Simpson family heirloom to Bart: an old pocket watch that's been passed down ever since it was stolen.  Feeling an accomplishment from "earning" the watch, Bart's self-esteem goes through the roof.  Meanwhile, upset her hard-earned trophies now mean nothing, Lisa helps organize another event where a different "parenting expert" no-nos trophies and advices parents be hard on their children again.  In the process, Homer's trophy business goes under.

Homer then catches Bart with the pocket watch, an item he had been hoping to acquire for some time, and is super jealous about it.  With the watch, Bart's self esteem and confidence continue to rise, until he loses the watch in the forest.  Bart tries to get Milhouse to help him find it but he only hurts Milhouse in the process.  Frustrated, Milhouse does find the watch but instead just sells it to a pawn shop.  Homer just happens by it to sell off his remaining trophy stock and buys his precious possession.  Bart, unaware of this, is in full panic mode when he learns Grampa set up an interview with the two of them about the watch.  Homer is about to go in and gloat but gives in to Bart's sadness and hands over the watch.

Quick Review
A pleasant surprise!  This episode was good!  (go figure, it wasn't even written by one of the series' regular "writers", Simon Rich filled in for this one)

The jokes were aplenty, the social commentary was limited but used to set up some good gags and the overall plot involving Bart, Homer and Grampa was as good as it'll probably ever be at this point.  Lisa wasn't even that annoying!

This season so desperately needed a gem, and now it has one.  Given what the next episode will probably be about, I suppose this score will be cancelled out soon enough.

Final Score: 8.0

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

22 for 30 (S28, E17-613)

I'm using this image to remind myself why I scored the episode
so low.  I'll probably forget in the future.
Plot Summary
If you're not familiar with ESPN's 30 for 30 series, basically its sports documentaries usually done very well.  This episode is basically that.

Bart, whose latest prank ends up with him in eternal detention, develops basketball shooting skills while in detention.  He becomes so adept at shooting he joins the school basketball team to annul the detention.  He quickly becomes a star player and, with it, the spoils in every sense of the word.  With Willie no longer willing to coach such an annoyance, Homer volunteers to coach, but even he has enough of Bart's showboating, and politely asks Bart to be a team player.

Fat Tony takes note of Bart's anger at Homer over this and convinces Bart to point shave (win by only a single point or two to be under the spread) to infuriate Homer while, unknown to Bart, Fat Tony would make a killing in bet winnings.  Bart was happy to oblige, despite his antics now drawing the ire of everyone in town because of how obvious the point shaving was, but Bart finally realizes his error when Fat Tony tries to give Bart some of the winnings then asks him to outright lose the finals.

Eventually, with the guidance of Homer and others, Bart defies the mob and just wins the finals for the team.  Fat Tony attempts to get Bart for the betrayal, but Lisa steps in, having found embarrassing information about Tony that forces him to relent.  Afterward, Bart stops playing after a tall kid makes him realize he's not that good.

Quick Review
This episode has lots of ups and downs.  Let's review them, shall we?

Ups:
  • Fat Tony was pretty good for the most part this episode.  He basically salvaged it, as much of it could be salvaged.
  • Some of the cutaway "interviews" were funny, like with Krusty and especially Grampa.  Milhouse's were mixed.
  • Most of the "security cam footage" bits were funny, as was the "FBI audio" bits.

Downs:
  • So, like four or five times this episode, it cuts to a guy who is clearly a mimicry of Stephen A. Smith.  Smith, for those who don't know, makes a living "debating" on ESPN morning/afternoon shows, but his style of "debate" is basically loud yelling at whatever "point" his poor counterpart may have made.  The mock Smith in this episode has no counterpart so its just him loudly yelling in general.  Easily, easily the worst part of the episode, he singlehandedly brought its score down by a whole point, he's was that bad.
  • There was a little sidebit which mentions Nelson's once-again-missing dad only to find out at the end of the episode that the narrator was Nelson's dad all along.  He reunites with his family only to disappear again.  Keep in mind, there was an episode during the early Zombie seasons which was supposed to bring his father back permanently and nothing happened to explain why he disappeared again.
  • Oh here's a fun episode with Bart and Fat Tony and Homer I guess how will they get out of it this tim- oh, its Lisa again.  Yawn.
  • Did you know basketball star Stephen Curry was a guest voice, but only provided his voice at the end?  And that he was actually paid (I presume) to say "nothing but nerd"?  Please fire the person who set up that "joke".  If it was Curry himself, please tell him his humor needs work.
  • Louie, Fat Tony's goon, was rather chatty in this episode.  It was meant for gags, but it got annoying pretty quick.

So you might notice the downs are more lengthy than the ups.  I wanted to enjoy this episode, it has a some goodwill going for it, but there was just too much against it.  It ends up being a weaker episode for this season, which is saying quite a lot.

Final Score: 5.8

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Kamp Krustier (S28, E16-612)

Krusty's oldest friend bails him out yet again.
Plot Summary
This episode acts as a direct sequel to Kamp Krusty, which took place 552 episodes ago but whatever.  You may recall from that episode that the kids were going crazy at the poorly managed camp until Bart led a rebellion and took it over before Krusty came in and made up for it by taking the kids to Mexico, and that with the kids gone Homer was becoming a better man in most ways until he learned of Bart's rise to camp despot then Homer returned to his old self.

The episodes picks up after Krusty returns (most) of the kids from the camp.  The kids are immediately go to therapy, and when signs of PTSD are met with days off from school, Lisa quickly declares she's fine while Bart insists he's as traumatized as they come.  Bart takes full advantage of this situation, for some reason using the opportunity to sleep with his parents in their bedroom.  Due to this, Homer can't continue getting any from Marge like he could before so he instead decides to go to work early.  Then, he slowly but surely relearns how to become a productive member of society, but for some reason must give up sex to continue this way of life.

A short time later, Bart's faked trauma turns real as he recalls a repressed memory from camp.  Forcing Lisa to remember as well, the two start to go nuts over that.  Meanwhile, Marge is becoming frustrated with Homer's new persona and the two get counseling, where they're told that returning the kids to the site of their trauma will fix things, somehow.

At the site of old Kamp Krusty, which Krusty has flipped into a modern adult spa for legal reasons, probably, Bart and Lisa fully remember their repressed memory: a kid named Charlie helped the two make an attempted escape from the camp via canoe but they capsized and Charlie was presumed lost and killed.  However they soon found out that Charlie survived, is an adult who worked as a spy for a magazine while at camp, and now works at the adult spa, who woulda thunk it!?  Meanwhile, Homer finally gives into Marge's wishes and shuts down his brain so that he can let Marge do him a bunch.

That's basically the episode.

Quick Review
This episode marks the second time in three seasons that an episode tries to piggyback off the success of a Season 4 episode.  The last time, when Season 26's The Kids are All Fight tried to act as a sequel to Lisa's First Word, it didn't work out so well.  The writers tried it again with this episode.  I don't know why they're doing this.  I think they're aware that Season 4 is well loved but I don't think they understand why, if these two continuation episodes are of any indication.

This episode ended miserably.  It had set itself up okay, though the Homer and Marge subplot was basically another dull marriage-themed episode in disguise, but once they reached "Klub Krusty", the episode didn't feel like trying anymore.  The resolutions were stupid and Krusty's two decent jokes were literally the only good things about the last few minutes.

If the writers to do a continuation of Marge vs the Monorail may our respective deities take pity on us.

Final Score: 6.5

Friday, February 24, 2017

The Cad in the Hat (S28, E15-611)

When the show did the "we have stories for years" bit all those
years ago, I don't think the writers then envisioned the
show going as low as "Homer and Grampa play chess angrily".
Plot Summary
In a tale told by Bart and Lisa, the scene is set some time earlier.  At the beach, Bart buys a stick-on tattoo which doesn't work too well while Lisa buys a nice hat which earns her many compliments.  Quickly, Bart's jealously grows.  Meanwhile, Homer reveals his ability in chess, admitting that as a kid his father would force him to play as a means of coping with Mona's departure.  On the car ride back, Bart notices Lisa asleep and decides to toss her hat out the car and into the nearby trash dump.  Later that night, Bart is befriended by his guilt but claims that he only welcomes the gross representation of his guilt, at least to start.

However, the guilt gets to him and Bart decides to confess his crime to Lisa, who refuses to forgive him for his deed.  Desperate to make amends, Bart decides ultimately to find Lisa's hat, and after a few trials, does so.  Lisa is initially unwilling to forgive Bart even after this, but as her own guilt starts to set in, she does like her hat and the two eventually make up.

Meanwhile, as Homer continues to explain, as a kid he got tired of his dad beating him in chess so he got help from a chess master and was finally able to beat his father, the act of which forced Grampa to stop all chess in the house from then on.  Moe suggests that Homer's attitudes towards chess are actually subtle hints that he wants to actually murder him.  Homer freaks out and decides to quit but after getting help from renowned chess player Magnus Carlsen, Homer decides to face Grampa in a chess match.  Homer is winning easily, but realizes its not worth it and forfeits, showing he cares for his father by this act somehow.

Quick Review
It was an okay episode, though the couch "gag" ran a bit long and was pretty terrible.  Remember when those were short little gags and not minutes-long animated shorts?  Well, anyway, I'm rambling about that because the episode itself is, per usual, forgettable.  Magnus Carlsen, the chess player, was a decent guest voice.  Patton Oswalt, projecting himself as Bart's guilt, I'm sure, could've been worse, I suppose.

Homer's story was okay; although its actual plot was not that great, it was carried by its decent jokes.  Bart and Lisa's story had no redeeming qualities, however.  "Bart does bad thing to Lisa, Lisa gets mad/sad, Bart makes up for it" has been done a lot already, and much better than this.

Final Score: 5.7

Monday, February 13, 2017

Fatzcarraldo (S28, E14-610)

"We want the Family Guy audience." -these stupid writers
Plot Summary
After an aggravating night dealing with his sisters-in-law, Homer skips out to get a nice, calming, fattening meal.  However, the Krusty Burger as well as every other fast food place has since updated their menu with the latest food fads and Homer can't get his fix.  Homer has to leave town to find something that fits his palate, and finds a lone chili dog stand -Deuce's Caboose - with which he gorges to his heart's content.

Later, Homer learns from Grampa that, as a boy, Homer was left there while his parents underwent unsuccessful marriage counseling.  It was through Deuce that Homer gained his love for chili dogs and other fattening foods.  Though Deuce doesn't seem to remember Homer, Homer resumes eating at his stand, inviting his friends to eat there as well, causing Krusty Burger and similar outlets to lose sales.  Later, Homer decides to take Lisa (whose school radio program got shut down in a very brief sidestory) to the stand, only to find in horror it has been sold.

Deuce sold the stand to Krusty's food empire so he can retire, but as Homer sees the immediate price markup and likely loss of quality, Homer quickly latches the food caboose onto his car and takes off with it.  Lisa, doing one final radio bit, is able to convince several other fatasses to help Homer out in his chase, but the antics eventually lead to him and the caboose hanging on by a thread over a bridge.  Deuce runs up, having remembered Homer, and helps him back up with the caboose falling to its end.  The two reconcile, and that's that, I guess?

Plot Summary
This episode serves as a good definition of Zombie Simpson "dull".  Too many references, not enough jokes.  Glen Close returns to voice past-Mona for a couple of lines, but she clearly phoned it in both literally and figuratively.  Lisa had a tiny little insignificant sidestory that really served no purpose and offered no laughs.  Although not entirely irredeemable, there isn't anything in this episode worth a watch.

Final Score: 5.3