“Dad, why are you singing?” – Lisa Simpson
“Tell a lie! Tell a lie!” – Homer’s Brain
“Because I have a small roll in a Broadway musical. It’s not much, but it’s a start.” – Homer Simpson
“Bravo.” – Homer’s Brain
I gave up on this episode halfway through (read more and you’ll see why). The basic idea is that Lisa wants to go to band camp, but Homer loses money in a poker game to Moe’s elderly, ex-Broadway star girlfriend. (I am not making that up.) Said ex-Broadway star comes over to the house and then takes Lisa on tour, wacky hijinks ensue, etcetera etcetera, and then at some point the credits roll.
The couch gag is a kind of Star Trek doodle that probably never should’ve left the upper right corner of some bored person’s script.
We open with a West Side Story “Tonight, Tonight” song opening for poker night. Most of the lyrics are the word “tonight”.
Lisa: “to save time, I’ll start describing the favor.” There’s an extra layer of laziness and audience contempt when they pre-exposit the exposition.
Lenny just fell out a window.
Now they’re doing an Inside Out thing in Homer’s head. Helpfully, it restates what’s going on (again).
And Homer loses at poker. Barney is now driving a dart board like a steering wheel. Feh.
Late at night, Bart pokes his head into Lisa’s room to re-exposit the plot. Thanks, Bart! I was confused as to whether or not Homer losing at poker would impact Lisa going to band camp.
The old Broadway lady is at dinner with the family now. They’re recounting stories. Tell, don’t show!
Here’s a typically boring and haplessly constructed series of events:
- Homer tries to flatter the old lady by saying “tell me you’re writing a book”. Then . . .
- Bart starts choking himself with his necktie, which causes the camera to pan away from her and over to him. Then . . .
- Homer grabs Bart and says, “sit down, boy, we’re trying to show this dame that we’re deserving of her pity”. That neatly restates the thing we’d just had explained to us twice. He continues:
- Homer: “Where’s that crutch I gave you?”
Bart: “There’s nothing wrong with my leg.”
Homer: “There will be!”
- Bart then bashes Homer’s leg with a crutch, so . . .
- Homer screams in pain, then . . .
- He pretends to hobble around on the crutch when the old lady, who’s been sitting there the whole time, is put back into frame. Homer then restates the plot once again. Pre-explained jokes, repeated exposition, no sense of object (or character) permanence; Lordy, this show is bad.
Lisa is now playing saxophone for the old lady, then pulls out “Laney’s” albums and reads the covers to us while she shows them. This form of storytelling, reading out loud while showing us the accompanying picture, is usually reserved for librarians reading to kindergartners. It is also sadly typical of Zombie Simpsons.
Marge is arguing with the old lady, then Grampa chimed in before saying, “I’ve been here, I’ve just been quiet”. Things like this are why I’m convinced the writing staff knows how shitty these scripts are and is long (LONG) past the point of caring.
You know what? Fuck it. Let’s skip forward three minutes and see what’s happening . . . the screen is panning over a bunch of empty theater seats and balconies before Milhouse appears from nowhere to tell us he got a ticket and then Lisa describes what we just saw.
Let’s skip ahead another three minutes . . . the old lady is singing (Lisa’s part of the band). Moe, in the audience, then tells us what we just saw, “Cheering for someone getting a word right. That is a low bar.” Indeed. Three more minutes, please . . .
Moe and the old lady finish the episode in a “visiting New York City” montage. But there’s one of those post-credit sketches where Homer is arguing with an Amish guy who’s related to Flanders. I watched 51% of this carcass, that should be enough.
So, the ratings for the last two episodes are in and very little has changed. The one from two weeks ago, “Friend With Benefit”, did not have the benefit of an NFL lead-in and was endured by only 3.5 million viewers. (Fun fact: the headline of that article includes the words “family”, “guy”, “series”, and “low”.) This one did have an NFL lead-in and managed 5.64 million viewers, almost exactly a million less than the previous episode that had football protecting it from apathy. Overall, ratings: still atrocious.