This week’s IGN Zombie Simpsons fellatio is an exercise in sloppily faked enthusiasm. Lisa’s teacher is Miss Hoover, not Mrs. Hoover (part of the fun of Ms. Hoover is that she very much wants to be Mrs. Somebody and isn’t). Then there’s “science water”, which very pointedly isn’t capitalized in the episode but is in the review. There are also a couple of basic editing errors. If you’re going to pretend to enjoy something you’ve got to pay attention to the details or else your paramour/meal ticket might become suspicious.
Anyway, here’s the edited, synergy-less review. Enjoy:
May 4, 2009 – “Waverly Hills, 9021-D’oh” was a fantastic episode example of just how far The Simpsons has fallen and was quite possibly my favorite of the season. It followed the family, with the exception of Maggie who was conveniently absent, as they tried to work the system to get Bart and Lisa enrolled at a more prestigious elementary school and it did so with hilarious references its usual lumbering, expositive style and smart storytelling half-baked nonsensical twists. And it was funny boring. Very, very funny boring.
After Marge became over-hydrated sampling Science Water the opening conceit, she snuck into Springfield Elementary to use their lavatories. She discovered cartoonishly terrible conditions, overcrowded classrooms and teachers that just don’t care, all of which have existed for a long time but which must now be painstakingly spelled out for the audience. Marge watched as Mrs. Ms. Hoover reached tenure and proceeded to let Ralph teach the class have a small cameo: “Class, in what year was one plus one? The answer is, the Amazing Ralph.” She took her complaints to Principal Skinner, but was simply met with a stocked wet bar hackneyed gag that’s been done better in several earlier episodes.
The idea of getting the kids into school in Waverly Hills Plot Necessary Suburb soon took hold. There was no a forced comparison between the two schools. Waverly Hills had an auditorium and a gym that are in separate rooms, which we’ve seen at Skinner’s school many times! Whereas Springfield Elementary combined math and gym to create “dodge book.” To beat the system, Marge suggested they rent a cheap apartment in Waverly Hills Plot Necessary Suburb to gain residency and then send the kids to school there. With this basic set up, the episode was free to cover what often results in the best episodes two tracks of tepid zaniness: the kids dealing with school, and Homer trying to pull off a scheme. Bart and Lisa have often been thrown into new school-related situations, though rarely do they have this little to actually do with school, whether it’s both being sent to the same grade (“Bart vs. Lisa vs. 3rd Grade“), adventurous field trips (multiple episodes) or Lisa posing as a college student (“Little Girl in the Big Ten“). The episode didn’t waste much time establishing the situation ramping up the wackiness. Bart sealed his reputation in a hilarious bit with Chief Wiggum “arresting him” in return for Bart going to Ralph’s birthday party. The fact the that Wiggum was trying to make the same deal with Fat Tony and his cronies made the bit all the better take even longer. Bart then made Lisa cool in the most hacktacular way possible by telling the Waverly Hills Plot Necessary Suburb elite that she was best friends with Alaska Nebraska, the well-named Hannah Montana parody who showed up for one scene to monologue a while.
It all played out exactly as one might expects from formulaic television, but with a level of funny that has become all too common rare in these latter double-digit seasons: little to none. The school storyline bits involved time wasting set pieces such as Chalmers and Skinner conversing like a married couple, Milhouse stuck playing hide-and-seek for three weeks, Ellen Page (Juno) voicing the cynical Alaska Nebraska (“Could you tell I lip-synched that whole speech?”) and the Caitlin trio delivering some of my favorite lines from the episode lines which, like last week, were funnier in ‘Mean Girls’: “Those are last year’s shoes! Kill her!” “Also, it’s Lisa.” “Kill her twice!”
Equally as good time consuming was the storyline about Homer and Marge establishing residency. Homer’s tour of apartments with Cookie Kwan was a lot of fun ate some clock: “I can’t afford this place, it’s way too fancy. Sometimes there’s not a train going by.” The best part most mechanically plugged in pop culture reference was having the residency inspector be the coin-flipping Anton Chigurh from No Country for Old Men. (Homer: “Heads! I mean, tails! I mean, on it’s side!”) His use of the air gun to validate Homer’s parking was hysterical conformed exactly to type. This storyline had a great twist meandering middle to it, as Homer needed to live in the apartment in preparation for a random inspection. The story conceit then basically became about Homer role playing life as a college bachelor, down to pretending to meet Marge for the first time at a party: “How about you, me and my wife have a two-way?”
This brilliantly predictably turned into Marge taking over Homer’s life and apartment, as new girlfriends often do on television. When the kids were ready to return to the status quo finished getting chased around Plot Necessary Suburb, Homer and Marge decided it was time they had their home in the suburbs wrapped things up. Overall, “Waverly Hills, 9021-D’oh” was a smart tedious, funny formulaic episode that not only continued the trend of great dimwitted post-HD-switch episodes, but also outshined them all could’ve spewed from the Powerbook of the laziest Hollywood hack.