“While our organist is on a much needed vacation, we thought we’d try something new, so get down and put your knees together for the Christian rock stylings of . . . Kovenant!” – Reverend Lovejoy
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 (especially on “solemn”).
Today’s episode is 1114, “Alone Again Natura-Diddily”. Yesterday was 1113, “Saddlesore Galactica”.
[Note: Dave couldn’t make it again this week. I’m beginning to think this “job” of his is just an excuse not to watch Season 11.]
Mad Jon: I know we always talk about how off Maude’s voice is this season, but this is the most standout to me.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, yeah, they’re sending off a character in a very serious way – and they’re doing it because they were too cheap to pay the actress they’d been paying for more than a decade at that point.
If ever there was a clear indicator that FOX didn’t give a fuck about the quality of the show, that was it.
Mad Jon: I am not a fan of the character change episodes, but man, I am really not a fan of the ones that require an unemployed Homer to get things on track.
Especially when he has to hide in a mailbox for some reason.
Charlie Sweatpants: No arguments here. Homer is such a crutch in this episode that Flanders comes home from a date straight to the Simpsons house.
Mad Jon: This one feels like a repeat of the Vegas wife one. Except, you know, someone dies.
Charlie Sweatpants: Good call.
It’s got all the problems that one does, plus several more. I mean, Homer actually promises not to be a jerk, and then proceeds to be a jerk, and we’re still supposed to sympathize with him.
And Jerkass Homer is especially bad here because the rest of the episode is so damned solemn and serious.
Mad Jon: It really is. We have to support Ned through his loss, as well as his realization that he needs to move on, through the trials of that, and finally to the point that he learns he can be himself and still find love, I guess. And all the while all I can hear in the back of my head is "And that’s my queue to exit."
So I am supposed to feel bad and slapstick-y at the same time? Homey don’t play that.
Charlie Sweatpants: I know how you feel.
This one is a hot mess all over, though I’ll again say that there are a couple of good jokes and lines.
Mad Jon: I like the sign in the park at the beginning "Outdoor Sex By Permit Only".
Charlie Sweatpants: I’m partial to "War Rocks", even though it’s very dumb. But overall it’s just unwatchable because it jumps back and forth between maudlin and profound and dumb and loud so fast that you don’t know whether to turn off the television or punch it.
Mad Jon: "This isn’t a war, it’s a murder…" "This isn’t a war, is a mudah!"
I also am partial to war rocks, but at the same time I shame myself for it.
If it was anyone but Homer, fine. But not Homer.
Charlie Sweatpants: Like "horny" on the Scrabble board is funny, but is also instantly cut off as Flanders does the incredibly un-him, unbelievable, and stupid thing and mails Homer’s stupid dating video in.
And then it ends with a despicable meet cute between Flanders and the Christian singer babe.
Mad Jon: Yep, I couldn’t feel that scene either. The idea of him playing scrabble with himself is one thing, but the words on the board made him feel too much like "The Simpsons Movie" Flanders that I hate so, so very much.
Charlie Sweatpants: Like, Maude’s been dead for ten minutes, and we’ve already given Apu kids this season, so if there’s one thing we need, it’s to make sure Flanders has a woman waiting for him.
Mad Jon: A hot Christian musician at that.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s the cheapest possible emotional resolution, which is fitting with the rest of this thing, but still pretty awful when you think about it.
Between that unwatchably poorly paced story and some of the worst Jerkass Homer ever, the few good lines and ideas just can’t compete.
Mad Jon: There really weren’t that many of them anyway.
Although I did like the fax machine strapped to Lindsay’s leg.
Charlie Sweatpants: She was an early text message adopter.
A Pentecostal ska band is an awesome idea, and it’s funny that Flanders’ cock hangs past his knees, but the rest is way too nauseating to stomach.
Mad Jon: Why have hamburger when you can have steak? I probably say that almost daily.
Again though, one line against a thousand.
No competition here.
Charlie Sweatpants: Starwipe is excellent, but as you said, it’s heavily outnumbered.
I feel like I’m saying this a lot lately, but I really hate this episode.
Mad Jon: You have been saying that a lot, but it has been justified, so don’t feel bad.
Charlie Sweatpants: It’s Season 11, my expectations are pretty low by this point, and this one still stands out for being both awful, and a preview of equally dumb things to come.
Mad Jon: This is going to get worse before it get’s better…
Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed it is. But not tonight.