“Bart, this is Patches. And what was your name?” – Lisa Simpson
“Poor Violet.” – Poor Violet
“Oh, I don’t like where this is going.” – Bart Simpson
There’s no new Zombie Simpsons until September, so we’re going to spend the summer overthinking Season 9. Why Season 9? Because we did Season 8 last summer, and Season 9 was when the show started becoming more Zombie than Simpsons. Since we’re too lazy to do audio and too ugly to do video, we’ve booked a “chatroom” (ours is right between the one with the sexy seventh graders and the one with the bored federal agents pretending to be sexy seventh graders). So log on to your dial-up AOL and join us. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (surprisingly enough, not on “akimbo”).
Today’s episode is 910 “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace”. Tomorrow’s will be 904 “Treehouse of Horror VIII”.
Note: Dave was called away due to a half-witted oaf shortly after we started, so this is mostly a two man affair.
Mad Jon: Well then, shall we pick an episode to discuss?
Dave: Why don’t you do the honors?
Mad Jon: Fair enough, I would say the one I didn’t like, but it would be more accurate to say we should start with the one I liked the least, which would be Miracle on Evergreen Terrace. Unless of course, there are any objections.
Charlie Sweatpants: How I loathe Miracle on Evergreen Terrace.
Mad Jon: It is most loathsome.
Dave: It’s a bit of a trainwreck.
Cloying and sitcom-y to the core.
Charlie Sweatpants: Good way to put it.
Mad Jon: Miracle on Evergreen Terrace is to the unnamable “One Bad Episode” what your stepdad beating you with a brick is to him beating you with a wrench.
Although I am feeling a bit dramatic this evening.
Charlie Sweatpants: I wouldn’t go quite that far. Masonry and metal are about as painful as each, and I don’t think we reach either one this early in the long, sad decline of the show.
Mad Jon: I was more or less making the statement that one reminds me of the other in a “different” kind of pain.
Charlie Sweatpants: “Marge Be Not Proud” which, I agree, it is impossible not to be reminded of while watching this one, is more like getting whomped on in a non-life threatening way by someone you thought was your friend.
Mad Jon: Well put.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s got some good/excellent individual jokes, but everything is smothered by a plot that doesn’t make a lick of sense, doesn’t care about not making a lick of sense, and yet forces you to play along if you want to enjoy what there is here to enjoy.
Mad Jon: And it is abound with horns.
Charlie Sweatpants: And string music. So much pointless suspense.
The car crash scene is particularly egregious.
Mad Jon: The writers must have again felt we would have to be prompted for emotional response.
I do enjoy Brockman’s reports.
Charlie Sweatpants: I think I get what they were going for, there are at least three or four times in this episode where they attempt to turn Christmas show cliches back on themselves, but getting to those cliches required such use of them as to make it seem half-hearted.
Brockman in this episode is a good example of that, especially when he turns on them and then thanks them.
We get it, he’s a soulless reporter who doesn’t care, but to get to that punchline about it being a good story requires an enormous amount of joke free, cliche ridden horseshit and it’s just not worth it.
Mad Jon: I am once again impressed with your ability to put so much critical thinking towards an episode that is so absolutely off-putting.
But I also agree.
I wasn’t so offput by Brockman, but that may be because I didn’t view him as a cliche the same way I did with a lot of the other crap in this crappy crapfest.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well there are a lot of decent jokes here.
Mad Jon: There are some.
Charlie Sweatpants: There’s Lisa’s thing about “nothing could be as fun as that looks”, Apu responding to “You only live once” with, “speak for yourself” and the orphans.
Mad Jon: All good.
I especially like the snowmobile line.
Charlie Sweatpants: Also, this is the episode that gave the English language “craptacular”. And that’s the gift that keeps on giving.
On the other hand, that whole scene with Homer trying to decorate the house is a pale imitation of the one from “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire”.
Dave: “Craptacular” is, in fact, one of my most frequently used words.
Mad Jon: That was truly terrible.
Especially the falling off the roof and get tangled in the cords.
Charlie Sweatpants: There, Homer fails and is humiliated. Here they’ve got to hurt him before making the joke . . . what, exactly? That the lights are all akimbo?
Mad Jon: Also there was more moaning in this scene.
Charlie Sweatpants: Homer falls off the roof in Season 1 too, but it’s done very briefly. Here it’s a whole punchline. There it’s something they know is funny so they just pass over.
Mad Jon: I remember the original fall. This one was, as you have pointed out, much different.
Charlie Sweatpants: Speaking of scenes and jokes that had been done better before, Bart’s dream about needing to pee isn’t nearly as good as Flushing Meadows from “City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”, and neither of them is even remotely on a level with Burns’ cliche ridden speech to Homer in “Last Exit to Springfield”.
Mad Jon: Agreed.
Excellent timeline by the way.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, this was about when the show began taking jokes it had done already and pretending that they were new.
Mad Jon: You can only make so many episodes without running into the need for pee jokes. And they are all quite similar. But this just points to the fact that this dog was about ready to be taken out back and shot anyway.
Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed.
And while there are several things in this episode that are great, there’s also a lot that falls flat. The whole Jeopardy! thing is utterly bizarre, ditto Homer’s – excuse me – Jerkass Homer’s fight with the car heater and stunt at the cash register.
Mad Jon: Those were all bad, but this is when the Zombie Homer Fish crawled out of the sea and started growing legs. The heater fight, (wow I never realized I would ever use those two words in that order) and the cash register stunt were very much proto-zombie. And Alex Trebek is in the early stages of the Simpsons throwing on celebrities for 20 seconds every single week.
Charlie Sweatpants: Trebek at least got one decent gag, I always wondered what happened to people who ended up negative on Jeopardy! (brief aside: fuck you, Wolf Blitzer). But the cash register thing in particular always bothered me because it really is Homer being maliciously selfish.
Mad Jon: And why would snow come through the heat vents? Wouldn’t black smoke have been better?
Charlie Sweatpants: Nothing would’ve been better.
Mad Jon: Touche Salesman.
The cash register scene was also led to by the parking on multiple handicapped spots (again).
Charlie Sweatpants: I knew there was another repeated joke here, I just couldn’t think of it.
Well, I’m about done. The only other thing I’ll say is that the ending sucks. There’s no conflict or resolution, the story just sort of peters out. The Simpsons are despised! Okay, now they’re not. The end.
Mad Jon: And there is a dishrag.