Blimps and Flashbacks Everywhere!

Chalkboard - 500 Keys

“Hey, can I drive?” – Barney Gumble
“Well, I can’t see the harm.” – Duff Blimp Pilot

There is one thing I completely enjoyed about “500 Keys”, the closing credits.  Not just because it meant the episode was over, but for that violin rendition of the theme song.  It was nicely done and will make a decent addition to the ever expanding catalog of different versions of the Simpsons theme. 

There were a couple of other things I didn’t completely loathe, but as is typical of such things, the episode promptly ran most of them into the ground.  Skinner telling his mother that it was his birthday not their anniversary comes to mind, but then it dragged on.  A quick joke about a “key party” was funny and made sense before getting stretched past the breaking point with a flashback.  The cake store at the beginning was one of the better scenes they’ve done all season.  Unfortunately, whatever little smile it put on my face was wiped out by the completely unnecessary and unbelievably stupid drive home.  That’s one of those things that’s so obviously filler it’s genuinely hard to imagine anyone who isn’t heavily sedated laughing at it. 

Overall, the tiny sparks of life were crushed beneath the huge number of Family Guy style flashbacks and asides, pointless danger and suspense (why were the mannequins drowning them?), and a mystery that was as dull as it was long.  The keys of the title served to give them a paper thin excuse to take a bunch of random sketches and throw them all together, and they ran with it, all the way up to the blimp.  And we mustn’t forget the blimp, which Homer can learn to fly, forget to fly, and then learn to fly again all within the span of a single scene. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are bad, but not as bad as I was hoping.  An even 6.00 million viewers wondered what was up with Otto’s voice last night.  That’s lower than all but a handful of episodes this season, but it’s a bit higher than last week.  If next week’s season finale comes in at 5.57 million viewers or less, Season 22 will displace Season 20 as the lowest watched ever.  Slightly higher than that will tie it with Season 20. 

9 Responses to “Blimps and Flashbacks Everywhere!”

  1. 1 Matthew
    16 May 2011 at 2:55 pm

    Why would they copy an episode that wasn’t even that good? If they’re gonna recycle old episodes, at least recycle one of the good ones. I can remember when Trilogy Of Error first aired, I thought to myself “boy, Simpsons just ain’t what it used to be”. But now that episode looks like a classic compared to this one.

    But I still give them credit for the chalkboard gag and some mildly funny moments. This episode wasn’t great, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as the guest star plagued episodes that for a while were becoming a weekly occurence.

    BTW, anyone catch Comic Book Guy’s cameo on Cleveland Show last night? I normally can’t stand that show, but I liked CBG’s cameo. Best Worst.Cameo.Ever. Pretty sad when the funniest Simpsons moment came on an other show.

  2. 2 Stan
    16 May 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Well, here’s my little review of that episode.

    On the plus side:
    – Short couch gag (finally!), although here it could’ve actually been longer, just for the sake of the viewers reading all these messages.
    – The plot idea itself wasn’t bad, although they kinda got to it the lazy way. I recall an earlier episode, in which Bart and Ralph yoinked the town key from Chief Wiggum, and both the idea and the possible reality of it happenning were better.
    – “key party” joke… Okay, well, unlike many people here, I wasn’t quite sure they were talking about THAT kind of thing, so yeah an explanation was helpful. Though the flashback they did wounded severely the joke, and the Kirk+parrot thing killed it off thereafter.
    – In the whole blimp ride, the only funny point was when Homer told gaming directions to Bart, though once again instead of ending the joke freely, they had Homer say the obvious “just shut up and fly the blimp, boy”. You don’t say it after a 10 second interchange of funny replicas, unless you just feel like stop laughing. My guess was it simply didn’t fit.
    – Their mystery plot had an interesting pre-twist story development, as to actually find out why in the name of fuck they had this kind of room hidden there. Past Skinner explanation killed it completely, so when they set out to find the bus (which they did in the most ridiculous manner, as it seemed to pass more than 5 years waiting until Lisa lands in there), it got rotten tomato boring. Otto tried to save the day with his Inception joke, but to an audience taken for zombies eager to watch until the end, that last remarque was more out of place than Homer and Bart’s blimp piloting joke. He might as well have said “I hope when we fall, we don’t drown as waterboarded Guantanamo prisoners”. Same effect.

    On the minus side:
    – First five minutes of the episode. Terrible. ZS at their laziest.
    – Poop express train was the stalest plot B ever, thick with fart humor as the rest of their side plots. That and the blimp ride hopefully completed each other to come to a decent B-plot for once, but separated they both *snicker* blow.
    – “And the day before that”. “And the day before that” “And the day before UNGGHHH BRRRRAINS!!!” Pontypool, anyone? =)
    – Zombie Skinner and Zombie Chalmers. Trying to understand how come they’re zombies.
    – A whole lot of other, unnamed and unmemorable crap they did here in there, in hopes to either fill the time or to pass a laugh. Family Guy is good at that, in every scene you get away with at least a chuckle or a snort. ZS transform them all into yawns. And please have a nice dinner when you hear about bowel obstruction syndrome. May that help you swallow food.

    ‘Nuff said.

  3. 3 Joe C.
    16 May 2011 at 3:44 pm

    I pretty much agree with Charlie…if it weren’t for the flashbacks and Family Guy-style of stretching out a gag for too long, then this episode wouldn’t be THAT bad for a ZS episode. However, in usual ZS fashion, we’re treated to about 5-8 minutes worth of unnecessary lines, one-liners, off beat jokes, and pointless cameos (why did Reverend Lovejoy spew Nelson’s line?).

    • 4 Stan
      16 May 2011 at 4:23 pm

      Edna’s “Oh no, would someone please think of the children” in Bart’s Little Helper, said in monotone as it was, was funny. And partly because Edna doesn’t care about children at all, she’s one of those lonely women who need affection in their lives, not self-satisfactory work with juniors.

      Lovejoy saying “ha-haw” was another out of place joke. Absolutely random. Jasper could’ve said it better.

      • 5 ecco6t9
        17 May 2011 at 2:30 am

        No, children, no! Your education is important. Roman numerals, et cetera. Whatever. I tried.

    • 6 Joe C.
      17 May 2011 at 2:33 am

      I also need to point out the “gag” where Homer almost swallowed Maggie’s head whole. It literally made me gag!

    • 7 Lovejoy Fan
      17 May 2011 at 7:56 am

      I’m just amazed they even remembered to USE Lovejoy for a pointless cameo. Oh, you clever writers; you remembered he existed at last. Bravo. (Oh, and why didn’t they use him for the toy train thing? It’s a TOY TRAIN!)

      But yeah, it was a really random joke and wasn’t even funny.

  4. 17 May 2011 at 4:32 am

    Definitely the best episode of the season for me, for what it’s worth. Maybe it was the wine, but I found myself chuckling a couple of times, particularly Barney’s “The guys at my AA meeting would love to hear about this!”

    I’m going to copy Stan and bullet point stray observations…

    – Lisa played the violin in the opening sequence, which related to the mystery theme of the episode. I hate to stand up for ZS, but it would’ve been nice to see more variety in the older seasons’ opening credits (undoubtedly, however, it would not have been NEARLY as simple to change, and the focus went into the episode itself, plus I’d take the infinitely superior animation of the classic episodes any day). Still, I guess it is one, nice little thing you might say about ZS.
    – The couch gag was actually good.
    – Poop Express train, as immature as it was, made an amusing one off joke. It’s exactly the sort of stupid thing Homer would buy Marge for their anniversary. An entire B plot, though, was absurd.
    – In that vein, and as many people have said, there were so many jokes that, kept clean and simple, would’ve worked well. But I actually can’t recall any that weren’t drawn out for as long as possible.
    – Failing cancellation of the entire show, they would be wise to retire Otto’s character completely.

  5. 9 lennyburnham
    17 May 2011 at 8:45 am

    Good: Couch gag.

    Bad: Umbilical cord joke.

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