“You know, Bart, I don’t think this is such a bad present. Maybe you just shouldn’t talk into it as loud as your father does.” – Marge 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 “nightmarish”).
I’ve mentioned already, and do so again below, that this episode was thick with wretchedly unneeded exposition. There were plenty of examples, but one that struck me as both particularly illustrative of Zombie Simpsons and especially pointless came near the beginning when Homer was wrapping up his stupid apology party. Here’s Homer asking the crowd if they forgive him:
The crowd cheers, and then they cut to Carl who says, “Ain’t no problem that free food and free booze won’t fix.” They immediately cut back to Homer:
Standing right next to the microphone, Homer says, out loud, “Free? Uh . . .”. Naturally, no one hears this. The next time Homer speaks . . .
. . . everyone can hear him again. Homer’s next line is yet another expository word evacuation about his sheets being dry now, though at least for this last one they bothered to get rid of the microphone:
Not only is this another example of Zombie Simpsons forgetting that people who aren’t in a shot are still in a scene, but both of the lines no one managed to hear didn’t tell the audience anything we didn’t already know. Zombie Simpsons: making scenes unbelievable for lines that don’t need to be there.
Mad Jon: Do you want to get started on this?
Charlie Sweatpants: No point delaying things.
Mad Jon: I guess not.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d like to begin by asking a simple question. When did they start treating Frink’s insane inventions seriously?
Mad Jon: I suppose when it became convenient.
I couldn’t tell you the exact point in time however.
Charlie Sweatpants: Like everything else, I assume it was a slow process.
Mad Jon: It happened so gradually, I didn’t even notice.
Charlie Sweatpants: The Death Ray prototype was funny, the Gamble-Tron was funny. Then at some point it was self tapping shoes, and from there it’s just gotten worse.
In Season 9 he invented a teleporter, but that was a Halloween episode.
By my count, this was the second time he’s invented a machine that let Homer probe the depths of his unconscious.
But without actually looking things up, I guess I’d have to go with the self tapping shoes. Though at least in that episode they took a stab at it making sense that he would run into Lisa. Here he literally fell from the sky.
Mad Jon: Literally.
Charlie Sweatpants: Greek myths make more sense than that.
Mad Jon: The thing that bothered me the most was that Marge wasn’t really surprised. Here’s Frink, out of nowhere, and now he’s got an idea to solve a problem he already knows about that is affecting her sex life, and they go right to it. There wasn’t any attempt at a decent plot progression. They went right for the gratification.
Charlie Sweatpants: I didn’t even notice that, but you’re right.
Mad Jon: But that kind of story telling has been the norm for a while, so meh. I believe there are worse problems here.
Charlie Sweatpants: Many.
Hell, in that same vein, why in the name of Christopher Nolan did the cops show up and break into the Simpson house?
Mad Jon: That was a big problem. Not only is it apparently illegal (for some un-disclosed reason) to use a machine on willing subjects to probe their dreams, it is also immediately detectable by all three local police officers.
Charlie Sweatpants: It was one of those things that was so blatant that I sat up and noticed even through my usual Zombie Simpsons stupor.
Mad Jon: I even stopped playing on my phone!
Charlie Sweatpants: And that was before he and Frink got into a fight which mattered for a second before being dropped entirely.
Mad Jon: A slow motion fist fight.
Charlie Sweatpants: We’ll just add that to the list of shit that made no sense. I think they had an "Inception" bingo card they were trying to fill out.
Mad Jon: Hopefully somebody won a beating.
Charlie Sweatpants: Not likely.
Though, to be fair, there were plenty of things that had nothing to do with anything. For example, why was Death normal, and then it had a jetpack, and then it was Homer’s mom?
Mad Jon: Is that how she got there?
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, that’s what I’m confused about. If she was there the whole time, why did nothing happen earlier. But if she wasn’t there the whole time, then how did she get there?
Even if it was just Homer’s mom in that final dream, why was she dressed as Death?
And, yes, I realize I’m asking questions that no one bothered to come up with an answer for.
Mad Jon: I suppose we could find this answer along with a real explanation of why all that crap had anything to do with Homer wetting the bed.
Absolutely no foreshadowing at all. All of the sudden he’s wetting the bed. And after a nightmarish (for me) adventure through everyone’s dreams or something, we find out he wants his parents to be together?
Charlie Sweatpants: Oh no, that has an answer. It was about fish and a marriage and Cletus and possibly the Alan Parson’s Project, which I think was some sort of hovercraft.
But even that didn’t make sense, since going fishing was apparently what triggered everything.
I’ll include my usual I-don’t-care-about-inter-episode-continuity disclaimer, but it’s not like we’ve only ever seen Homer go fishing once or something. The man likes fishing.
Mad Jon: Was it? I never really understood the trigger.
Charlie Sweatpants: I was also unclear, because it didn’t make any sense even within this episode, but they did at least say that was the reason.
Mad Jon: I though at the end they were going to switch from the Inception type episode to the end scene from that Leonardo DiCaprio movie where he was an insane guy who thought he was a cop.
Charlie Sweatpants: J. Edgar?
Mad Jon: No, it was about an island or something.
Charlie Sweatpants: Sorry. Couldn’t resist.
Mad Jon: The thread that would bind that episode would be Leonardo DiCaprio, which is more of a thread than usual.
Charlie Sweatpants: True enough.
Changing the subject slightly, this is a direct quote from the middle of the episode, and might not even be in the top five for most grotesque exposition:
"Deep down I must be feeling guilty about getting my friends in trouble."
And that wasn’t even the time Homer exposited while standing in front of a live microphone in front of all of his co workers.
Mad Jon: I have a note on my paper when that quote happened:
– Possibly worst plot forwarding dialogue this season.
Charlie Sweatpants: I made a note as well, "Hello, exposition police, there’s been a homicide."
Mad Jon: …. it made more sense to me when it happened.
Charlie Sweatpants: So did mine.
Mad Jon: There has been some serious explanatory dialogue this season, but this may be the most obvious piece of evidence that the writers either don’t care or really think that their remaining viewers are complete idiots.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d vote both. I mean, despite all the "let us tell you what’s happening while you watch it", there were still a bunch of things that wouldn’t have made sense if you hadn’t seen Inception or at least knew a little about it.
Mad Jon: That’s usually a bad thing.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah. Here it was more of a lateral move.
Mad Jon: I guess they felt the need to go deeper.
Charlie Sweatpants: I felt I needed a stronger sedative.
Mad Jon: Touche salesman.
Overall, however, I feel the most bothersome part was that the plot as a whole was devoted to Homer as a bedwetter. I think he even mentions towards the beginning that this is the last embarrassing thing he had never done or something. When I read the description on my DVR, it elicited a "Sigh…. Ok."
This is what it’s come to. This.
Charlie Sweatpants: There is a steep and undeniable decline between relatively oblique references to Milhouse and Ralph being bedwetters and it being the main element in a plot about Homer.
Mad Jon: In the way there is a steep and undeniable decline between a can of Pringles, and an empty can of Pringles that your brother has shit in, yes.
Charlie Sweatpants: Ha.
Can I assume you have some equally feculent vitriol stored up about the brief but wholly dumb scenes at the power plant?
Mad Jon: I dunno, that took a lot of effort.
However, I do have thoughts.
I thought the only serviceable line happened there. When Carl stated that he was pretty sure the referee they beat up was actually a kid who works at Foot Locker.
I didn’t necessarily laugh, but it was short and sweet.
Charlie Sweatpants: I did like that line, but it felt like the kind of thing that could’ve been done better.
Mad Jon: Of course, but the hindsight of the last few years tells me that it could have been much, much worse.
Charlie Sweatpants: Also true. It just bugs me when the best things are those cheap setup-setup-punchline type gags.
Mad Jon: True enough.
Other than that, I was a little bothered that Homer’s first trip to that particular employer in sometime was only a lead-in to part of the plot about bedwetting that made him think he has wronged his ‘friends’.
And didn’t another car get out before Homer did?
Charlie Sweatpants: It looked like it. But it also looked like Burns was staring right the fuck at Homer when he was getting pissed off, and they dropped that like it never happened.
Mad Jon: Oh well.
Charlie Sweatpants: The fact that Burns had him up on the stage was also particularly annoying. I know Burns is incompetent now, but after having him watch Homer steal stuff, putting him up there as an example was particularly galling.
Mad Jon: And how does he know Barney doesn’t work there?
Charlie Sweatpants: And why would Barney think he does work there?
Mad Jon: Equally valid question.
Charlie Sweatpants: Anything else here? As usual, I have a small list of little things that sucked but were so unrelated to anything that they can only qualify as minor: Bart dancing in the sky, the way Marge didn’t notice the bed wetting, the ending that hailed for no reason. But I don’t have much to say about them other than that they made no sense and weren’t funny, which isn’t the world’s most insightful commentary.
Mad Jon: Yeah, there were a bunch of little things, but as you have stated, most do not warrant discussion, even from someone as petty as I.
I don’t have anything else constructive or otherwise to add.
Charlie Sweatpants: That, at least, is in keeping with the spirit of the episode.