Synergy Has a Nostalgia Hangover

Homer Goes to College5

“Duh, Homer, why are we down here?” – Bernie
“Aw geez, I told you Bernie, to guard the bee.” – Homer Simpson
“But why?” – Less Gifted Employee
“Oh you guys are pathetic, no wonder Smithers made me head bee guy.” – Homer Simpson

Having read more of these IGN Simpsons reviews than I care to think about it’s become clear that they just don’t put a lot of thought into them.  Case in point is this week’s review which has only two main elements, 1) praising the show for being on the air a long time, and 2) retelling the various setups that made up the plot.  Number 2 is pretty standard for these reviews, but I think the presence of number 1 is mostly a carryover from the last few weeks.  IGN got locked into nostalgia mode over all the 20th anniversary stuff and just sort of mindlessly kept going with it.

February 1, 2010 – After their 450th 451st episode focusing on Krusty and a celebratory special spreading the love and dissing Zombie Simpsons, it was nice to have things get got back to the familiar level of suck with "Million Dollar Maybe." And by familiar level of suck, I mean watching what’s left of Homer do what he can to make his family happy, while screwing it up as he tries random, crazy shit. Sunday night’s episode had Homer yet again letting down Marge, winning a million dollars for “plot” reasons, spending it all without her knowledge for some reason and still finishing the half-hour in the arms of the woman he loves. All this and laughs, too.

Things started with Homer and Marge preparing a musical toast for a cousin’s wedding contrivance. But on the day of the wedding contrivance, Homer opened a fortune cookie stating this was his lucky day. At first, Homer blew off the fortune: "Any part of a cookie you can’t eat is just a waste of time." But his luck did indeed start to turn as crashing into a vending machine resulted in its contents raining down for Homer’s enjoyment for some reason. Instead of heading straight to the wedding contrivance, Homer stopped to buy a lottery ticket and got stuck a very long, very slow line for about three hours for one more unknown reason. It was a fun hacktacular set up, leaving Homer feeling plot guilty about missing the toast and unable to tell Marge that he was instead buying a winning lottery ticket. It was a nice touch ate some time to have Lenny and Carl help convince Homer that the fortune cookie may be right. I especially loved the headline from the Beijing Daily Worker: "New Fortune Cookies Vaguer, More Accurate."

To further stretch things out Homer used Barney to pick up his winning check, a good majority of which went to Uncle Sam: "This money will go to partially cover the cost of a study to decide what to do with the money." Unable to tell Marge about the money (yeah, still), Homer instead bought things anonymously for his family. Watching the various ways in which gifts were discovered was quite fun killed a lot of clock, starting with Homer throwing Bart into bushes disguising a new washing machine, and ending with Marge pulling a new pearl necklace out of Maggie’s diaper. But the ruse dumb ploy couldn’t last, and soon Bart discovered Homer’s secret money tree, setting up a second series of unrelated clock killing skits. This included a randomly hilarious scene with Moe showing up out of nowhere, menacingly stating "Don’t forget my cut." When questioned about it, Moe responded, "I just go around saying that and hope it’ll be applicable."  When questioned about that, the writers responded, “We just go around sticking characters in and hope people don’t complain.”

Bart first convinced Homer to indulge a little help fill screen time with the cash, resulting in rides on a zero gravity plane and a personal concert from Coldplay. Fittingly, Chris Martin was the only band member to get lines. Though the scene had some chuckles made no sense and wasn’t funny, Martin’s appearance could have been replaced by any number of celebrity rock stars. The good times didn’t last, and soon Bart was threatening to tell Marge Homer’s secret because it was getting time to wrap things up. To keep him quiet, Homer basically became Bart’s slave. This was reminiscent of about six episodes of every sitcom ever and had been done ten thousand times better Homer becoming Patty and Selma’s slave for a similar secret-keeping reason in "Homer vs. Patty and Selma."  But since this was only a small focus of this episode done poorly and for no reason, with an entirely different viewpoint, it didn’t feel like a retread so much as its own brand of suck.

Filling out the episode was a decent plot with Lisa buying the retirement home a Funtendo Zii. She got the idea in a great scene with Mr. Burns trying out the videogames at the store: "Wait. I’m shooting at Nazis? That’s not how I remember it." This was an adequate B storyline in that it’s hard to see how they could’ve stretched the A plot any thinner, with enough laughs to keep things interesting, but never getting too complicated and taking the focus away from Homer and his predicament. Ultimately Yawningly, in the main storyline, Homer told Marge the truth and everything returned to the status quo. Homer’s cherry blossom testament of love was yet another sweet ending over-animated, under thought-out  set piece to a long line of Simpsons Zombie Simpsons sweet endings over-animated, under thought-out  set pieces, punctuated with a very funny "Phew!" visual gag. This was a fun dull and funny disorganized episode focused on Homer and his always dysfunctional relationship with his family — just what we’ve come to love and expect after 20 10 years.

7 Responses to “Synergy Has a Nostalgia Hangover”

  1. 1 Celia
    2 February 2010 at 7:48 pm

    The best (most relate-able) thing about this episode was when the bride at the wedding cried and said “why won’t she stop?” Because seriously, why wouldn’t she stop? Why won’t they ever stop? The ruined toast was particularly unfunny, the curiously unmoving line was unfunny, the whole thing with the old people went from merely bland to depressing at the end and I’ve decided the “Ricardo Bomba” joke was horrible (on which note, did the show always do such jokes at the expense of the fans? Could it be argued that one of the slopes downwards began when the writers thought saying “fuck your balls” to the people who faithfully watch whatever they pump out was funny?).

    As I said before, for some reason, this episode really seemed to hit it home to me that the end of funny has been reached and then left far behind. At this point, they might as well reveal that one character is HIV positive while another character discusses having been raped as a child – because I really don’t think anything could render the show less miserable than it already is. The fact that people on the No Homers forum and the Onion AV Club were saying that this episode is a magnificent example of how the show is getting so much better, or whatever it was they said is just more proof (should it be needed) that the various writers could come and take a huge shit on their bed, and they’d say on fan forums that “well, maybe it wasn’t as solid a movement as the show has produced in the past, but I thought it was a good firm effort and they hardly needed to wipe at all!”

    • 2 February 2010 at 9:45 pm

      No, this is how the NHC would rate the following imaginary scenario:

      “Man, did you see Homer taking a shit!? That was the best dump ever! Did you see how the poop all came out in a neat swirl? It almost looked like DQ soft serve! Mmm…DQ soft serve!”

      The end credits were right: “The best IS coming and is probably here!”.

      Grade: A+++

  2. 3 Lovejoy fan
    3 February 2010 at 9:32 am

    Before I go any further, I’d like to say how nice it was of the writers to not only remember Lovejoy exists, but to give him some decent material. Too bad the rest of the episode was complete shit. I can’t say the same as Celia (for me, that point occurred with “Wedding for disaster”) but this was a really bad episode.

    • 4 Celia
      3 February 2010 at 10:51 am

      I don’t think I’ll watch the next episode (it’s the one about curling), just look at the screengrabs to see if any minor characters I like get a nod. Aside from anything else, the next one appears to be a “Marge and Homer’s troubled marriage, oh noes!” one, and I don’t think my frail nerves can take it. A man on a bicycle rode into me yesterday, the week’s been more exciting than I’d have liked.

      • 5 Lovejoy fan
        3 February 2010 at 3:39 pm

        Sorry about the guy with the bicycle. And yeah, it sounds like we’ve got another “marraige crisis” to look forward to.

        I used to look at screengrabs until recently, when I (rightly) realised that was no way to review a show, but this episode doesn’t even seem worth watching, so go ahead. For what it’s worth, I hear Skinner and his mother are involved in some way.

        • 6 Celia
          3 February 2010 at 4:33 pm

          Ah, I’m all right really. No injuries, just a bit of a shock :)

          Anyway, the Wikipedia article for “Boy Meets Curl” says:

          They end up participating in a mixed-doubles event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver with Agnes and Seymour Skinner.

          No mention of the marriage crisis thing, but I’ll still look at the screengrabs and read reviews before I watch the thing.

  3. 4 February 2010 at 1:14 am

    Given that the shitty episodes of The Simpsons must surely now outnumber the great ones – and the latter will increasingly be in the minority with every new season – isn’t it likely that future generations are going to look back on The Simpsons and ask what the hell the fuss was all about, and dismiss the show in it entirety? Talk about the show befouling its own legacy.

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