“Do I detect a note of sarcasm?” – Lindsey Naegle
“Are you kidding me? This baby is off the charts!” – Professor Frink
“Ooh, a sarcasm detector, that’s a real useful invention!” – Comic Book Guy
For the third summer in a row, we at the Dead Homer Society are looking to satisfy your off-season longing for substandard commentary on substandard Simpsons. This summer we’ll be looking at Season 10. Why Season 10? Because we’ve already done Seasons 8 and 9 and we can’t put it off any longer. Prior to Season 10, we watched as the show started falling over, this is when it fell over. And while the dust wouldn’t settle completely for another season or so, there is no bigger gap in quality than the one between Season 9 and Season 10. Since we prefer things to remain just as they were in 1995, we’re sticking with this chatroom thing instead of some newer means of communication that we all know just isn’t as good. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (happily not on “Plopwell”).
Today’s episode is 1022 “They Saved Lisa’s Brain”. Yesterday was 1021 “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love”. This week we’ve also got a special guest, our old friend Bob Mackey.
Charlie Sweatpants: The Mensa one, on the other hand, is one of my favorites in Season 10. It’s not without its flaws, none of them are, but this one I do watch with some regularity.
Bob Mackey: I agree it’s much better.
There are a few rough spots, though. I’m not sure about the whole gross-out contest thing.
Mad Jon: ‘Lisa learns a lesson’ episodes have been giving me second thoughts by this point, but I liked how they handled this one.
Charlie Sweatpants: I was okay with the gross out contest for the first two minutes or so, but it definitely goes on too long. Though I’m always up for the "Planet of the Apes" type music for a riot.
Both the contest and the B-plot are stretched, but they’re stretched between an actually coherent plot, which I appreciate. Especially just having sat through "Monty Can’t Buy Me Love".
Bob Mackey: The B-plot seems like it was intended to completely clash with the tone of the Lisa story, just in case anyone was bored.
Mad Jon: For a Homer does something crazy plot, I was just fine with it.
It wasn’t that funny, and he was a little obliviously jerky, but I can live with that.
Charlie Sweatpants: Judging by the ending, I don’t think they had quite enough A-story, so they plugged this in.
It did give us "Light is not your friend", which always gets me. The photographer in general is underused, but her constant grimaces to make me smile.
Mad Jon: Agreed.
Bob Mackey: I do like the first shot of Bart peering in the window in complete shock.
Charlie Sweatpants: And Homer saying "But I was gonna score" only to get shot down by Marge with a very blase "No you weren’t" works as well.
The first Bart shot is a decent shock laugh, though that’s where it feels stretched. I mean all that really happens is that the photographer comes over twice.
Bob Mackey: They did pick a good group for MENSA though.
Charlie Sweatpants: Still, for a B-plot in episode number 225, things could’ve been a lot worse.
Mad Jon: Agreed on both of your points.
Charlie Sweatpants: Agreed. The Mensa gang works, especially how you can tell they already know and slightly dislike each other.
Like how they argue behind the door before Lisa gets there, or how Naegle yells at Comic Book Guy for unsubtly staring at her chest.
Mad Jon: It is a pretty tight knit group for a town large enough to have 13 stores that start with ‘Le Sex’
I also like the gazebo reservation form scene.
"How many gazebos do you she-males need?!"
Bob Mackey: Didn’t Quimby just flee in terror at the mention of those reservation forms?
Charlie Sweatpants: The fact that Wiggum mistakes their Renaissance costumes like that is exactly the kind of unintentionally horrible thing he would say.
Quimby jumps ship because he can’t see that it’s about the gazebo reservation thing. He runs just on one line about deserving that lottery money.
It’s not the world’s must subtle turn, but it’s quick and it moves.
Mad Jon: Yes, it does get out of its own way. Which is better than it dragging on.
Charlie Sweatpants: Most of the A-plot is like that. It’s not a brilliant satire or anything, but it doesn’t linger over anything too long.
Bob Mackey: Yeah, every scene moves the story somewhere.
Charlie Sweatpants: It gets out of the way of the many truly inspired lines, which goes a long way in my book. In addition to “Light is not your friend”, there’s the “traditional Santa Claus”, “that’s too clever, you’re one of them”, the sarcasm detector, Grandma Plopwell, and the “municipal fortress of vengeance”.
In theory, Homer and Marge are in the crowd that threatens to crush Lisa in the gazebo, and there’s no real reason for Stephen Hawking to have to save her, but they don’t dwell on it. There’s no shot of Marge screaming over the horns of suspense.
Mad Jon: The end was very "It started falling over, then it fell over"
Charlie Sweatpants: I can overlook things like that for a quick Willie/Scottie joke about not having the power.
Bob Mackey: Was this hawking part pre-Futurama?
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, this episode was pre-Futurama.
Mad Jon: oh sure.
Although it did have the doughnut shaped universe.
Bob Mackey: Okay, they seemed to use him in the very same way.
Charlie Sweatpants: No wait, I stand corrected, this one premiered two months after Futurama started.
The Hawking one wasn’t until the next year, though.
(Oh, epguides.com, how would I get along without you?)
Bob Mackey: I don’t really hate this one, but I bet there was a much, much better Futurama airing that night.
Charlie Sweatpants: Apparently "A Big Piece of Garbage" aired two days later.
FOX never did give that show an actual time slot. Bastards.
Anyway, Hawking is good here. His whole presence is a bit gratuitous ("Stephen Hawking!" for the entrance isn’t my favorite), but most of his lines work well.
Bob Mackey: Larry Flint is right! is a good line.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, I’d forgotten about that one.
Anything else here? I always find there’s less to talk about when the episode is better.
Mad Jon: True that. I don’t have anything else to add really.
Bob Mackey: Uh I wrote a paper about this episode in grad school?
Charlie Sweatpants: Really?
Bob Mackey: The whole episode is an allegory about academia, and that’s all I’ll say.
Charlie Sweatpants: I could defend that for maybe five pages, beyond that it’d get thin.
Bob Mackey: This paper has an asking price of $50.00, by the way.
Charlie Sweatpants: Ha.
And with that well placed plug, I guess that’s it. Bob, thanks again for joining us.
Mad Jon: Thanks Bob
Bob Mackey: Not a problem, we should do this more often.
Charlie Sweatpants: There’s a whole season of Zombie Simpsons coming up. Believe me, you’re always welcome to share the torment.
Mad Jon: Agreed
Bob Mackey: Excellent.