Synergy Sweats the Details

“Springfield doesn’t want places like this!” – Marge Simpson
“I think I know what Springfield wants, sugar.” – Belle
“Oh?  I’ve lived in this town for thirty-seven years.” – Marge Simpson
“I’ve lived here fifty-two years.” – Belle
“I’m third generation.” – Marge Simpson
“Sixth.” – Belle
“Get out of my town!” – Marge Simpson

What do you do if you’re tasked with writing a glowing review of a Zombie Simpsons episode in which the main plot is so transparently awful and pointless that even the most bought out of reviewers would have a hard time making it seem otherwise?  If you’re IGN you damn the main plot with faint praise and then laude even the worst of the irrelevant supporting scenes as comic genius.  You may even cite lines that idiots think are clever, like “Because this is not to my taste, no one else should be able to enjoy it.”

That quote, which I’ve seen widely cited as one of the better ones from this episode, is tantamount to an admission that Marge had no reason to do anything she does in this episode.  When she campaigned against Itchy & Scratchy she did it because Maggie attacked Homer.  When she campaigned against the Maison Derriere it was because it violated her conception of her wholesome little town.  This time her motivation is a mindless declaration.  That’s really all there is to it.

As always, I’ve edited out the synergy.

October 12, 2009 – I wasn’t thrilled when I learned that this was going to be a Marge-centric episode, and it didn’t help that she was going to be fighting in a mixed martial arts fight this season wasn’t going to end out of embarrassment after the first two episodes. That just seemed silly to me. Flashbacks to Marge the bodybuilder came to mind the desert of boredom I crawled through in Season 20. Not good. Turned out the storyline wasn’t was as terrible as it could have been. But what really made me enjoy tune out The Great Wife Hope” were the peripheral bits, characters and jokes outside the main storyline that barely existed. There were many, and they were funny.

And it It started with Marge explaining how she came up with the idea for “crazy bowling.” As she explained, she simply Googled “girls having fun” and, after looking through 97,000 pages of pornography, discovered the odd sport. That’s right, in 2009 Zombie Simpsons had the bold, edgy nerve to make a joke about internet porn. Elsewhere in the bowling alley we got to were forced to see the Crazy Cat Lady bowl a strike with one of her cats, but no men could be found. They were all at the Springfield Sports Arena watching the Ultimate Punch, Kick & Choke Championship, because MMA is America’s most popular sport. Even Bart was caught up in the excitement, and soon the boys at the elementary school were fighting under the jungle gym. Marge caught on showed up for some reason and decided to try and put an end to the sport: “Because this is not to my taste, no one else should be able to enjoy it.”

Marge’s quest started with picketing the events, but that made too much sense so it was quickly dropped and she soon found herself face to face with the founder and CEO of the league, for some reason. As the face of the sport, he challenged Marge to a match, for some other reason. If she won, he would shut down the industry, for some final reason. This had a ring of Vince McMahon to it, but the character didn’t come off as a McMahon parody, he just sat there as an all too convenient foil. In fact, it was hard to get a fix on this character (and, as you can see, even harder to get a fix on his name and its spelling.) It was of one the weaker aspects of the episode; as this role never felt even if it had felt complete or fully explained, it still would’ve sucked. His fight with Marge was also underwhelming a complete waste of time, even though it was the motivation for much of the episode. Thankfully, there were plenty of other things squeezed in around this bout to make the episode an enjoyable watch, unfortunately they were also boring time fillers.

The first big laugh-out-loud pointless moment for me came when Ralph Wiggum was being used as the bell during the schoolyard fights. Marge’s dislike of the sport was summed up hilariously with a couple of quick lines. The first was “God didn’t give you legs so you could use them as scissors.” She also claimed that “‘Ultimate’ makes everything worse,” to which Otto, who was there just because, countered, “Not Frisbee!” Nelson also had a great a clock eating, exposition filled scene as he revealed he hopes to become an event planner when he grows up. Later, Carl became annoyed with Homer for suggesting he knew Drederick Tatum because he was black and would know all black people, it was just as pointless as it sounds. Carl then stated, just as you’d expect from such a lazy and obvious setup, “Actually, Drederick and I are very good friends. We met through Dr. Hibbert at a party at Bleeding Gums Murphy’s house.”

This led to one of the highlights nonsensical middle of the episode, as Marge went from Simpsons character to Simpsons character training for her big fight. After working the tattoos with Drederick, Marge learned jujitsu from Akira, classic wrestling moves from Mr. Burns and general hooliganism from the elementary school bullies. It’s almost as if the writers had no creativity whatsoever and were just filling in lame set pieces with their existing characters, regardless of how boring or humorless it might be. This part had a great, mercifully short bit with Martin and Principal Skinner found inside the bullies’ punching bag, for some reason.

Though the main storyline felt rather was ridiculous (in a completely unfunny way), it set up plenty of laughs equally tedious situations for the characters surrounding it, no matter how stupid it might be for one of them to be there. I even felt the The very ending was a classic moment for the series Zombie Simpsons. After the big fight ended, Bart challenged Lisa to settle their bad blood in “the septagon.” The episode seemingly ended on a freeze frame of their fight about to begin, but then came back to show Lisa knocking Bart out with one punch. It was completely pointless, had no joke, and ate up time that the show had nothing else to use for. This almost felt like a kind of moment that could have closed out the series is pitch perfect Zombie Simpsons. I loved loathed the bit, and the episode was fun, too just as bad.

2 Responses to “Synergy Sweats the Details”

  1. 14 October 2009 at 9:36 pm

    “That quote, which I’ve seen widely cited as one of the better ones from this episode, is tantamount to an admission that Marge had no reason to do anything she does in this episode. When she campaigned against Itchy & Scratchy she did it because Maggie attacked Homer. When she campaigned against the Maison Derriere it was because it violated her conception of her wholesome little town. This time her motivation is a mindless declaration.”

    That reminds me of a moment from season 9 which crystallised the transition of Lisa’s character from misunderstood voice of reason to one-dimensional proselytising PC thug. Specifically, in “Bart Star,” when Lisa tries to make herself the centre of attention by declaring that she’s joining the kids’ football team (“That’s right. A GIRL want to play football! How about that??”) then is crestfallen when she finds out there are already four girls on the team, before admitting she doesn’t even like football and running off. At the time it was an amusing enough moment, but in hindsight it pointed the way for the rigid one-note characterisations of Zombie Simpsons. Whereas before Lisa would try to make a furore because she sincerely believed in something, now she’s just making a mindless declaration coated in smug preachiness. Marge’s showboating in this season 21 episode sounds like much the same.

    • 2 Charlie Sweatpants
      14 October 2009 at 9:48 pm

      That’s a good point. It worked once or twice when they made fun of how – for lack of a better word – “established” the characters had become. Now that’s all they are and it stopped being funny a long time ago.

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