“You’re playing days are over, my friend. But you can always fall back on your degree in Communications! Oh, dear Lord.” – Dr. Hibbert
“I know. Is phony major. Lubchenko learn nothing! Nothing!” – Anton Lubchenko
For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes. This year we’re doing Season 11. Why Season 11? Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show. Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (surprisingly enough, not on “Lubchenko”).
Today’s episode is 1111, “Faith Off”. Tomorrow will be 1112, “The Mansion Family”.
[Note: Dave couldn’t make it this week, Mad Jon and I are jealous he didn’t have to watch these.]
Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to get started?
Mad Jon: I am.
Charlie Sweatpants: Bart as the healer/preacher it is, then.
Like “Little Big Mom”, I think there could’ve been a good episode here. And like “Little Big Mom”, I want to like this episode but just can’t.
Mad Jon: Agreed, I was telling my wife that I wasn’t not looking forward to watching this one, but then I realized why I never watch it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Which is?
Mad Jon: Well it is a rich tapestry.
I am sure it will fall along the same lines why you want to like it, but can’t get your head around it.
The common Zombie characteristics are here, and it really could have been a good one. There are lots of good lines, and some solid ideas, but always something is lying around the corner to cut off the potential for sustained enjoyment.
Charlie Sweatpants: The “potential for sustained enjoyment” is a good way to put it.
I can buy Bart becomes a faith healer among the students at the school. He can exploit people’s faith for his own benefit, learn a lesson (but not really) and there you go. But I can’t buy Bart taking all of Lovejoy’s flock, then letting Milhouse get hurt, then seeing Homer crippling a kicker to have Fat Tony show up and all the other crap that makes the ending a swirling mess.
No sooner is there something decent than things get bizarre and out of hand again. And in so many different ways.
This is also one of the few times I can recall wishing the opening wasn’t related to the rest of the episode.
Mad Jon: Why is that?
Do you feel the opening would have been better on its own, or t’other way round?
Charlie Sweatpants: The football game/float subplot was a great source of how bad the ending got. If they had dropped that for a straight Bart-as-preacher angle, the ending might not have ended with Fat Tony and flying legs.
And the opening, which is the best part of the episode, would have been better off, particularly if they transported Lubchenko’s immortal “Is phony major! Lubchenko learn nothing!” to the banquet.
Mad Jon: Oooh, that would have been better.
Charlie Sweatpants: Right?
Though I’ll never get why they replaced Dean Peterson with that weak Dean Wormer knock-off.
Mad Jon: I liked the opening, but I was also a fan of the scene when Bart meets Don Cheadle.
Why on earth was Dean Peterson not the same guy?!?
He didn’t do any of the things that the typical Dean Wormer knock-offs normally do.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, he was mean, old and crotchety. Though he does get some good lines.
Mad Jon: Not the same. Take for example the Futurama version.
That was good.
This was weak.
Charlie Sweatpants: “A 7-5 football team doesn’t come cheap” and “Professor Rocko and Chancellor Knuckles” being my two favorites.
Mad Jon: I was about to point out that he did have some of the best lines.
Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed on the guy from Mars University. What he loves about being dean of students is the peace and quiet and the respect he receives.
But the opening quickly leads to the bucket thing, which leads to the revival for some reason, which does give Don Cheadle a couple of good lines but makes no sense all the same.
Mad Jon: Yeah, I know. The random event machine didn’t skip a beat this time.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d forgotten that they got to the revival meeting by just crash landing there.
Mad Jon: Me too.
Charlie Sweatpants: I mean, Jebus, I know this episode has no transitions whatsoever, but that was abrupt, even for a car crash.
Mad Jon: I couldn’t figure out what was going on, I thought it was the circus or something and I just didn’t remember.
Charlie Sweatpants: Nope, they just drop it out of nowhere.
The story priorities here are just weird. Like, they spend that whole seen showing Bart acquiring that tent, and then they skip over just about anything that would lead Lovejoy’s entire congregation to it.
It’s the same with Homer at the game. He’s got a BBQ in the stands, he jumps onto the field, and all this other crap, but they never explain why he’d want to build a float, or why he’d be able to build a float.
Mad Jon: He went from BBQ in the aisle to drunk in the seat, to aware of the fact he isn’t on the field, to drunk driving his float.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yup.
Mad Jon: In addition to your valid float related items. There were 3 floats, and Homer, by himself, makes one.
Charlie Sweatpants: And don’t forget that he just shows up in the locker room with Hibbert (who is the team doctor for some reason) to heal Lubchenko.
Mad Jon: Also true.
Charlie Sweatpants: Or that Fat Tony materializes out of nowhere.
Mad Jon: Yeah, just had to throw that in I guess. Couldn’t let Bart try to heal Lubchenko without Homer being threatened by a laser guided ice pick.
Charlie Sweatpants: There still are good jokes though. The Keith Jackson impersonator is okay (like his “an overdue salute to halftime itself”), and this is where “Lubchenko learn nothing!” landed, but at this point in the episode I have so little idea what’s going on that I’m not even sure if Fat Tony is serious or an apparition.
Mad Jon: The associations are pretty loose here.
But again I think that there is really too much going on to allow a simple mind such as mine to focus on the two major plot lines.
Charlie Sweatpants: Neither of them makes a half lick of sense, is the problem.
And that’s before Fat Tony shows up out of nowhere for one of them.
The whole thing is just a giant mess, and yet we’re supposed to take the ending seriously?
Mad Jon: Yeah whateves.
I do have to ask, why did Lenny blink 3 times after the cow college comment preceding what I assume was the commercial break?
Charlie Sweatpants: I’ve always liked that. Well, not the blinking, but that stern nod he gives. Like it’d be fighting words to contradict him.
I’m also a fan of Brockman getting pissed at “fever”, though I could’ve done without the pan off camera for his nerdy nephew writer.
Mad Jon: The nephew was probably too much.
Charlie Sweatpants: Any other standouts for you here?
Mad Jon: I enjoyed the preacher and Bart’s discussion of religion as full coverage against accidental death.
But other than that, not really.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, Cheadle’s delivery on “wow, that’s a good angle” is a definite highlight.
But this one remains basically unwatchable in my book. There’s just way too much stupid.
Mad Jon: Agreed.
But I have an easy solution for us, we can continue not watching it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Good. Onto Burns Manor, then?
Mad Jon: Yep.