“Bart, could you go get the cupcakes?” – Marge Simpson
“Cupcakes? Cupcakes. Yes. Sweet cakes for all.” – Bart Simpson
As part of our tireless efforts to demonstrate the many ways Zombie Simpsons fails to entertain, Season 23 will be subjected to the kind of rigorous examination that can only be produced by people typing short messages at one another. More dedicated or modern individuals might use Twitter for this, but that’s got graphics and short links and little windows that pop up when you put your cursor over things. The only kind of on-line communications we like are the kind that could once be done at 2400 baud. So disable your call waiting, plug in your modem, and join us for another year of Crazy Noises. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “water weenie”).
In one of the more telling segments of “Beware My Cheating Bart”, all manner of thinly mammary-related foodstuffs are paraded before the audience. First there’s a suspiciously round mound of mashed potatoes, then Grampa calling Bart a “boob” and talking about chicken “breasts”, and finally Marge bringing over a plate of round cookies with little chocolate nipples in the middle. The premise of all of this can roughly be translated as, “hurr, boobz funny”.
Now, plenty of people (myself very much included) have a healthy inner 9-year-old that will usually find something like that at least mildly amusing. There aren’t many parts of the human body that aren’t at least kinda goofy, and there’s certainly no harm in the occasional cheap laugh. What’s so amazing about Zombie Simpsons is that they managed to screw up even this most basic form of comedy.
Hershey kiss nipples and noting that chickens also have a part on them called “breasts” are silly and juvenile, but the scene where they do this is anything but. It gets introduced with a shocked looking Bart accompanied by the string music of suspense, and that’s before Marge and Grampa proceed to inadvertently traumatize him. Bart spends the whole scene genuinely freaking out, which makes me, the audience member who likes to indulge his inner 9-year-old, unsure how to react. I can’t giggle playfully because Bart is losing it, but there’s no deeper humor or satire either.
When Bart goes for the cupcakes in “Duffless”, he’s also traumatized, but there it’s a call back to earlier in the episode as well as a wonderfully salacious Kubrick parody. Bart’s freak out is part of the gag instead of a distraction from it, so there’s no mismatch between what’s going on and what’s supposed to be funny.
It’s also worth pointing out that, in the previous scene, Zombie Simpsons resorted to the ye olde tyme movie/television shortcut of we’ll-show-the-girl-from-the-back-because-we-can’t-show-her-from-the-front whereas The Simpsons had a mentally conditioned 10-year-old reach for actual sugar tits on network television. One of those displays a great deal more creativity than the other.
Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to begin?
Mad Jon: Oh sure
Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we quickly dispense with the couch gag? I thought it was cute, but it went on too damn long.
Mad Jon: And weirdly depressing, even with the happy ending. Nothing like watching a cartoon couch kiss it’s child goodbye before committing garbage-cide to get me in the mood for a comedy
Dave: Having had the pleasure of ignoring much of this season, I did think the gag was, as you say, cute.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, the idea of Homer actually having sex with a piece of furniture is a little odd. I confess myself slightly impressed that they got that on television, but about halfway through I was pretty much ready for it to be over.
Mad Jon: It did drag on.
But that’s pretty standard nowadays.
Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed it is. Witness the "flame war" between Shauna and Comic Book Guy.
That could’ve been kinda funny, instead they dragged it out way too long, and had them dancing around each other instead of just standing there ignoring each other before one of them declares victory or something.
Mad Jon: I suppose that’s how it ended. I couldn’t tell what CBG was rattling on about.
Or why he let them in and acted un-CBG before calling Jimbo.
Charlie Sweatpants: Or why Bart would think to go there in the first place.
Were they planning on hanging out there all night or something?
Mad Jon: Perhaps.
Why Bart thought that CBG would allow that at all is also confusing.
Charlie Sweatpants: I dunno, though since the entire Bart falls in love with a teenage girl thing was beyond nuts, I guess I shouldn’t nitpick.
Mad Jon: This is a romance that started with Bart commenting on how he wasn’t ready, then led to a makeout montage.
Dave: It happened already. With another one of Jimbo’s girls. Better the first time.
Mad Jon: This one was slightly more graphic.
Charlie Sweatpants: And made less sense.
Mad Jon: I dunno how I feel about Bart seeing boobs.
Dave: In what sense?
Charlie Sweatpants: The thing is, they didn’t even need the romance angle. Bart and her could’ve just become friends, like he’s the kid brother who tells her Jimbo’s no good for her or something. The whole romance/make out/visual second base thing just makes it weird and less believable without being in any way funny.
Mad Jon: Yeah, probably
Charlie Sweatpants: Jon, was there more to your boob thought, or was that it?
Mad Jon: Not really, it just felt a bit greasy.
Charlie Sweatpants: The whole thing was greasy. Real greasy.
Mad Jon: What really agravazes me, was the mall shoplifting scene.
Not only was that idea a whole plot in the worst episode ever, he has no fear of shoplifting, defying the guard, and then blowing up the mall jail somehow. All with absolutely no consequences.
Other than then getting to see boobs.
Charlie Sweatpants: All true, but Bart’s behavior throughout this episode see-sawed back and forth between little kid and capable adult.
He’s terrified of getting back to his house because the bullies are in it, then he’s in the treehouse and they’re down in the yard. He’s nervous around Jimbo, then he’s suddenly telling Shauna what to do. If this episode was the only thing you knew about him, you’d think he was bipolar.
The mall security guard was annoying because, well, everything here was annoying. They created an unnecessary situation, then literally blew it up when they couldn’t think of another way out of it. Quite frankly, I think the whole thing was to get the Segway in there, but that’s just a guess.
Mad Jon: I can see the Segway angle.
Charlie Sweatpants: And while we’re on the subject of jokes and one scene characters that sucked and went on too long: the lifeguard.
Mad Jon: Yeah, that happened didn’t it?
Dave: I’m shocked they bothered to write a series of jokes about that at all, seeing as the first wasn’t particularly funny.
Mad Jon: Low hanging fruit I guess. As rotten as it may have been.
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know where they were, I don’t know who he was supposed to be, I don’t know how Bart escaped after they had him tied up with water weenies, the whole thing stunk out loud.
Mad Jon: Yeah, why Dolph and Kearney let him go made no sense. But meh.
Charlie Sweatpants: Why Marge had them hang up the laundry also made no sense. I’m not honestly sure there isn’t a single scene in this episode that did make sense.
For example, even at the very beginning, I can think of no earthly reason Bart would actually go see the little elves movie. Not a single one.
That goes for the Marge and Homer plot too. The whole Lost thing was lame, and Marge not knowing what Homer was doing defied even this show’s standards of stupid.
Mad Jon: So what? Marge and Homer’s marriage was threatened by a TV show that was cancelled years ago?
Charlie Sweatpants: It was more Marge was mad at Homer for lying to her, though since she has to have an IQ of about seventy to not have known he was lying, it didn’t have much kick to it.
Mad Jon: What do you think he did with the treadmill after he got caught and it disappeared?
Charlie Sweatpants: Um, treadmill gnomes? I don’t know.
Mad Jon: Did you guys realize that the first horn music showed up when he got the fortune from the cookie?
Charlie Sweatpants: I didn’t, but it wouldn’t surprise me.
There was plenty of that kind of fake suspense throughout. Like, what was with Lenny, Carl and Moe at their house near the end?
Mad Jon: At the discussion group that ended in an armed standoff?
Charlie Sweatpants: I get that none of them even remotely resemble real people anymore, but they treated that like it was normal. It was just weird.
Did we lose Dave?
Dave: No I’m here
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, good.
Dave: Just not contributing as much as I ought to be
Charlie Sweatpants: Enh.
Mad Jon: I wouldn’t feel bad about that if I were you.
Charlie Sweatpants: Nor I.
Dave: Ha. Thanks.
Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, I don’t think there’s much left to talk about. I mean, the A-plot was weird and only really had one element, Bart and Shauna getting into trouble. The B-plot was rankly stupid and only had one element, Homer freaking out about their terrible Lost takeoff.
There just isn’t much more here. Even by their standards, this one is hollow and simplistic. It’s not even manic enough for there to be some really insane things happening.
Mad Jon: Ralph did crash a cop car into a tree under the supervision of the Chief of Police.
But again, that didn’t really shock me.
By the way, was the make out in disguise montage something I should have recognized?
You know, the one that had Bart driving a nice car around?
Charlie Sweatpants: There was one bit that I think was supposed to be Rain Man, but other than that I’m not sure.
Mad Jon: Oh well.
Charlie Sweatpants: Wow, I just realized that this episode so numbed my brain I didn’t even notice Bart or Ralph driving cars.
Mad Jon: One led to the other, but it doesn’t really matter.
Dave: If I saw that, I’ve since suppressed it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Best to keep it that way.
Mad Jon: I got nothing. That was an unhappy 22 minutes for me.
Dave: It happened, and now it’s done. We get to move on again. For a little while.
Charlie Sweatpants: How Zen.