“Looky here, cardy-board tubes!” – Cletus
“Now we can have indoor plumbing, just like they’s got at the women’s lockup.” – Brandine
“They spoilt you, Brandine. Sometimes I don’t even know who you are anymore.” – Cletus
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 “morose”).
Charlie Sweatpants: Ah, sweet liquor eases the pain.
Mad Jon: As painful as it was, at least this one had two actual plot lines.
Charlie Sweatpants: Neither of which I can stomach sober.
Mad Jon: That seems to becoming rather uncommon in this season.
No one is asking you to like them.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d be hard pressed to declare this the worst episode in Season 11, there are a lot of contenders, but this one is as bad as Zombie Simpsons gets.
Mad Jon: It does have a lot of the major characteristics eh?
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh boy, does it.
Mad Jon: Extreme and maybe even permanent character change? Homer tagging along at all costs, more physical comedy attempts than word count…
Charlie Sweatpants: All that an more.
If possible, I’d like to work backwards here.
Mad Jon: Let’s do it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Both the ending with Barney and the coffee and the ending with Marge pretending to have given away the bike are pointless filler because the actual ending left the original plot threads completely unresolved.
The major conflict is a forest fire that doesn’t break out until the sixteen minute mark, and once it finally does, half of what happens next contradicts things we just saw.
Mad Jon: So you are saying they saw a crack in the dike and tried to stick some gum in it?
Ha, I spelled it dike.
Charlie Sweatpants: This wasn’t a crack, this was more like trying to build a dam out of leaves and old newspaper.
Then setting it all on fire when it didn’t work.
Mad Jon: Yes well, you have always been the wordsmith.
Charlie Sweatpants: Barney suddenly can’t fly at all and is tempted by alcohol for no reason, and Bart and Lisa get trapped even though we saw them walking away before the fire started.
Homer can apparently fall out of the helicopter and rescue his kids.
Mad Jon: I do recall being curious how they got trapped by a fire that started when they left.
Charlie Sweatpants: There was a bear, briefly.
Mad Jon: Who also escaped the fire although he was in the middle of it.
Charlie Sweatpants: And, to make everything super fucking annoying, all of it is played for suspense. Like we’re supposed to take the rescue seriously when Homer just flipped the helicopter over and Barney can land on a bridge.
Mad Jon: G-forces have no effect on severe alcoholics? I don’t know.
Charlie Sweatpants: But they did hold onto the camera. I mean, someone thought that part was important.
I cannot, in any way shape or form, understand how anyone who could’ve remembered that part could also sign off on the rest of the fucking thing.
Mad Jon: That was their crowning achievement.
Charlie Sweatpants: I feel like Hugh trying to enjoy the Simpson family . . . nothing works. There is no conceivable level on which even a tiny bit of this works.
Mad Jon: Sure there is, you have to be 6.
Maybe 5. I dunno.
Charlie Sweatpants: Going further back from that, we get Homer and Barney fighting like some kind of teenage couple, which comes out of nowhere, happens painfully slowly and obviously, and then goes away.
Mad Jon: I have that in my notes as “awkward encounter between Homer and Barney”
Charlie Sweatpants: Childish Jerkass Homer is just as aggravating and entertainment free as regular Jerkass Homer.
Mad Jon: Homer is pretty unbearable throughout this one.
Charlie Sweatpants: Only Sober Barney here is way, way, way less fun than Sober Barney in “Deep Space Homer”, and even that little part of “A Star Is Burns”.
Or “City of New York vs. Homer Simpson”.
When did Barney – of all the characters on this show – become an overly sensitive asshole?
Mad Jon: It was reminiscent of Barney from “City of New York vs…”, he was panicky and slightly mean, but at least he had a good line. And the scene was better, and it ended as soon as possible.
Charlie Sweatpants: Going before that, why was there that odd, and quickly dropped, subplot about Homer being the new Barney?
Did they make Barney dance?
Mad Jon: I don’t remember that ever happening. And I would have to go back through years of tape to figure out where he normally sat, but I would guess it was relatively random.
Charlie Sweatpants: I recognize that the gang at Moe’s has come a long way from the recognizably blue collar bar Burns wanted to go slumming in, but these guys have stopped acting the least bit human.
Mad Jon: They are where they need to be when they need to be there. At least according to the writers.
Who are not in the right here…
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t think they’re in the right, but that does imply that they made any coherent decisions during the making of this episode, which is a contention I can find no evidence to support.
I mean, they inserted a rubber ball bouncing noise when Bart threw the camera on the ground. What the hell was that?
Mad Jon: Oh yeah.
Charlie Sweatpants: That’s what I’m talking about when I say they’re just seeing how much they can not care and still get paid.
Mad Jon: Where are we in the backwards progression?
My notes suggest lots of horns.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d say were about to Homer taking Barney to AA for some reason, but I’m happy to skip that and go right to the beginning where Barney, in contrast to everything we’ve ever seen from him ever, becomes a morose drunk.
Nobody remembered my birthday? From a man who openly admits that the years after he got out of the service are kind of a blur?
No. Ten thousand cocktails no.
Mad Jon: Can’t imagine it. But here we are.
I have never paid attention, but this sobriety thing comes and goes for like the next decade, eh?
But again, I’ve asked too much.
Charlie Sweatpants: It does, but that’s like worrying about twitching or evacuation after the corpse is already dead.
Shit, literally, happens.
Mad Jon: Well put.
Charlie Sweatpants: I really hate this episode, is all.
It was as unnecessary as it was unfunny.
Mad Jon: That is correct. It was both of those things. Although I did like the scene where Barney was harassing Lisa with the planets for foreigners. Mainly just that one cut though.
Charlie Sweatpants: Feh. It’s no “Mr. Gumble, this is a Girl Scout meeting.”
Mad Jon: That was much better.
But that’s about it, I can’t think of anything that wasn’t making me count the seconds until it was over. And that includes the beginning that we haven’t mentioned. Albeit short.
Charlie Sweatpants: The garbage thing?
Mad Jon: Yes that thing.
Charlie Sweatpants: I almost forgot about that, but then, so did the episode.
Mad Jon: I don’t even know what kind of context to put it in my mind.
Charlie Sweatpants: Garbage seems appropriate.
Alright, anything else here? My hate neurons are dry firing at this point. They need rest.
Mad Jon: I really have nothing else.
Dave: I’ve said nothing and I’m spent.
Mad Jon: And you are a better man for it.
Charlie Sweatpants: Honestly, for all my vitriol and Jon’s contempt, Dave’s silence is maybe the only comment this episode deserves.
The sooner the world forgets it ever happened, the better off it’ll be.
Dave: Pretty much.
Charlie Sweatpants: You clever bastard.
Dave: Why thank you.