Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Simpsons: Season 29 Episode List

You know how the writing staff sees something they are interested in that occurs in pop culture, and it takes them a full year or two to incorporate it into an episode, even if it was a flash-in-the-pan that lost all relevance well before the episode airs?

Well, its almost been a full year since Donald Trump was elected to be President of the United States.  I can only fear how what I'm sure are the writers' sheer contempt for Trump will seep itself into this season.  Will it be quick shots during couch gags?  Will there be an episode dedicated to the mockery of him or a lookalike?  Will Lisa just shout "FUCK TRUMP AND FUCK WHITE PEOPLE" at random intervals?  How this season handles the President and all of the circus around him - and directed at him - will pretty much decide how terrible it will be.  Personally, I'm expecting sheer disaster.

Season 29 Overall Score: ---
Favorite Season 29 Episode: (posted after 10 episodes)
Least Favorite Season 29 Episode: (posted after 10 episodes)

1) The Serfsons
To Air: October 1st

2) Springfield Splendor
Features multiple guest stars as themselves.  Dead in the water.
To Air: October 8th

3) Whistler's Father
To Air: October 15th

Episodes yet to be given airdates:
Treehouse of Horror XXVIII
Haw-Haw Land
Grampy Can You Hear Me?
The Old Blue Mayor Ain't What She Used to Be
Singin' in the Lane
Mr. Lisa's Opus
Gone Boy
Frink Gets Testy
Homer is Where the Art Isn't
3 Scenes Plus a Tag from a Marriage
No Good Read Goes Unpunished
Fears of a Clown (It - the movie - reference, see this is what I mean)
Forgive and Regret
King Leer
Lisa Gets the Blues
Left Behind
Throw Grampa from the Dane
Flanders' Ladder
Heartbreak Hotel
Treehouse of Horror XXIX (Season 30 confirmed, I guess)

Change for Season 29 onward


Site-related post here.

You might have noticed it took me forever to review the last three or four episodes of Season 28.  Well, several months ago, I welcomed my first child into the world, and so he's as well as other personal matters have kept me very busy the last few months, with me only really being able to squeeze in a review once a month or so.

Season 29 is just around the corner, but there's no way I'm going to be able to keep up with it if I attempt to write reviews as I have.  So, from here on, this is what's changing:

  • No more lengthy story recaps.  I'm not even sure if people enjoyed them even with my sarcastic tone on some of them.  These take up a large amount of my time so from here on, I'll just provide a quick little one or two line bloop and then get to the review.
  • The length of my reviews will probably be the same, maybe a little longer if I have to explain a particular part of an episode that irked me (or, in theory, I enjoyed).  Depending on how dull or unique an episode is, the review might be a line or two, or maybe a few paragraphs, like it has been.
  • For every episode to this point, I've provided a single screen cap from that episode, usually with an attempt at a witty or sometimes snarky caption.  I still intend on providing both, but I might crop screen caps from here on out.
  • I'm still deciding on what to do with the blog's side stuff.  I might stop/delete the Marriage episode post, just because its a mess right now.  I only update character spotlights once every few months at most anyway, but you'll notice its been a full year since I did my last one.  Still, I'd like to spit out a new one at some point coming up.
Hopefully I won't fall too far behind.  We'll see, Season 29 starts the Sunday after this post.

Dogtown (S28, E22-618)

This was animated with an "who gives a crap" mindset.  You should see it in action.
Plot Summary
His car out of control in an alley, Homer is forced to stop it by ramming it into either his dog or Gil.  He opts for the latter, who attempts to sue him for the injury.  However, in court, the jury takes Homer's side after its learned that he spared his dog to injure Gil.  Santa's Little Helper appears in court to seal the deal, and Homer gets off with no penalty, much to Gil's frustration.

Later, as Homer enjoys his mild celebrity over the trial, the mayor decides to take advantage of this goodwill by making Springfield a safe haven for dogs.  Dogs all over come to Springfield to play, and laws are enacted to allow them to do whatever they want.  The town vet warns against this, as soon the dogs will realize they are the alphas and wreak havoc, and soon enough Milhouse's dog leads such a charge.  All of the dogs in town, including Santa's Little Helper as well as Willie, own the streets despite the mayor's attempt to rescind the pro-dog laws.

Realizing the the dogs need to know humans are in charge, Gil takes it upon himself, sort of, to do the task.  Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa go searching for their dog, only to find the feral pack.  Cornered, the two are saved by Marge, who kicks the alpha mutt far away, leading her to take over control of the pack before Gil even had a chance to do anything.  Marge safely returns the now playful dogs back to their owners while even downtrodden Gil befriends a dog (albeit the same one that led the dog rebellion in the first place).

Quick Review
It was an okay episode.  A couple of annoying things in it kept it from scoring higher, and while there were some decent lines here and there overall it wasn't enough to really cancel out the negatives.  I'm not particularly upset with the episode or anything, but I guess it wasn't that great.

Final Score: 6.6

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Moho House (S28, E21-617)

"Hey we have another important black character with a course voice
that we need to cast."  "Should we find a guest star or wh-"
Plot Summary
Marge and Homer are having marital difficulties, again.  They attempt to patch things up at the nuclear plant, an attempts which is going well.  Its witnessed by Mr. Burns and a wealthy friend of his, Nigel.  The two are at odds at whether "true love" exists, with Nigel claiming that the "true love" they're witnessing on the security camera isn't real.  He bets $5 million that he can break Homer and Marge up, which Burns accepts.

That afternoon, Nigel forces Homer to go drinking with him under the veiled threat of punishment.  At the bar, Nigel notices that Moe is attracted to Marge and decides to use this to his advantage by hiring Moe to head his new classy bar.  Homer doesn't get home until late, and Marge refuses to hear his side of the story, putting their marriage on the brink (again). 

Nigel invites the Simpson couple to the new bar (Moho House), and the two immediately go their separate ways once inside.  Moe catches up with Marge, who is more than open to even his advances.  Still, at the end Moe is unwilling to go all the way and sheepishly retreats.  Nigel, eyeing a victory, sweetens the bet: his own fortune to Burns, or Burns forfeits Smithers.  Realizing his peril, Smithers attempts to force Homer to reconcile by giving him a gift to give Marge, but Marge realizes the ploy right away and runs off in tears.

Moe, realizing his part in this story, invites Marge and Homer separately to Moho House and gets the two to reconcile at his own sacrifice.  This, coupled with Homer's last-second callback to nostalgia, and Marge decides to forgive Homer (again).  Burns wins his bet (though Smithers gets his revenge by tricking Burns into believing Nigel was never there, thus saving Nigel's fortune), and all is back to what it was.

Quick Review
Its a marriage episode whose final act was a sloppy mess.  That said, many of the gags in this episode worked in its favor despite the retreaded theme, leaving it as (sadly) one of the stronger episodes of the season.

Final Score: 7.3

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