Crazy Noises: Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo

Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo2

“Don’t ask me, I don’t know anything.  I’m product of American education system.  I also build poor quality cars and inferior style electronics.” – Americatown Waiter

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 (especially on “Garabedian”).

Today’s episode is 1023, “30 Minutes Over Tokyo”, otherwise known as “The Simpsons are going to Japan!”.  It’s the last episode in Season 10 and brings this summer’s Crazy Noises series to a close. 

Mad Jon: You want to get on this thing?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yes, let us finish Season 10.

I may be feeling a bit more grandiose than usual because this is the last episode and Zombie Simpsons is starting again on Sunday, but this one seems like a good representation of the entire season. Nothing makes sense, but there are enough good lines that it isn’t terrible.

Season 10 seems to generally not make sense, and whether or not there are good, quotable lines is usually the difference between whether or not it’s a watchable episode.

Mad Jon: Oh sure. That has been a clear marker this summer.

I enjoy repeatable bits. And frankly I am ok with this episode as well.

Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly. This episode has a lame story, jumps around for no reason, features pointless suspense . . . and yet I don’t hate it because there are a lot of damn funny scenes.

Mad Jon: There are parts that, as you have aptly described, just don’t make sense, but there are funny things in this version of "The Simpsons are going to ____". Which I believe was in the dialogue.

Charlie Sweatpants: All destination episodes (The Simpsons are going to _____) exist on a scale from "Bart vs. Australia" to "Simpson Safari". This one is closer to the latter than the former, but not by much.

Mad Jon: Middle of the road-ish. Agreed.

  We are about 1 year away from them going to Delaware anyway…

Charlie Sweatpants: I get that nasty "mention all the landmarks" feel when Lisa counts off places from the hotel room, and this one definitely suffers when it cuts from one stereotypical thing to another (e.g. sumo wrestling -> Japan jail -> square watermelon), but there’s enough local humor to salvage it.

I’m not sure how much of that is George Takei nailing every line and how much of it is the fact that the writing hadn’t gone completely to seed yet, but there it is.

Mad Jon: Takei was a very bright lamp here.

The material for the end was pretty decent too, so I guess it’s a bit of both. I most certainly liked this one better at the end than I did at the beginning.

Charlie Sweatpants: Me too. The beginning isn’t without its charms, but this whole thing is an excuse for Japan jokes, and those don’t get going until they get to the toilet.

Mad Jon: I like the toilet.

Charlie Sweatpants: Man, do I love the toilet.

Mad Jon: I am also a fan of Chuck Garabedian.

  I was especially happy that he was a one off character.

And that although some of the bits during his part wore on, he as a character didn’t

Charlie Sweatpants: Garabedian’s good, but his seminar fails because those Zombie habits of cramming in every possible character are already happening. Burns is at this thing why?

Mad Jon: I agree with that. Burns and the unending Monopoly guy were not so good. Although I guess they didn’t get filthy rich writing a bunch of checks.

Charlie Sweatpants: I kinda like Mr. Moneybags. There was just no fucking reason for Burns to be there.

Mad Jon: Fair enough, I feel that part could have done better with Monopoly guy just nodding or something, instead of talking a bunch and getting in the car.

  But that’s just me.

Charlie Sweatpants: I kinda liked that, "Pure Baltic Avenue" is funny. I could’ve done without the penny under Homer’s skin though.

Mad Jon: Ugh

Charlie Sweatpants: But that’s a matter of taste, the point is that they were reaching for wackiness in the kind of seminar in which they didn’t used to need it.

That didn’t happen with Brad Goodman or Lyle Lanley, or even the Trapezoid guy. It’s a huckster seminar, you shouldn’t need crap like that.

Mad Jon: Agreed.

Charlie Sweatpants: My favorite Garabedian moment is when he goes through their garbage. That wouldn’t have worked for the earlier flimflam men, but at this point "You fat cats didn’t finish your plankton!" is the kind of quick gag that keeps this episode from becoming tedious.

Of course, for it to work they had to go to the 33 cent store, which is maybe the best individual scene in the entire episode.

Mad Jon: Ha, yeah that’s funny.

Charlie Sweatpants: Everything from having Skittle-brau and Cool Ranch Soda (which would sell in real life, by the way) to the "Mexican Council of Food" is great.

Though the pre-Japan parts aren’t without their problems. The cyber-cafe is dumb pretty much from start to finish, as is the scene at the airport. Homer stealing from Ned is pretty weak too.

Mad Jon: I hate the Cyber-cafe and the Homer and Ned scene makes me feel anxious.

Charlie Sweatpants: I could see anxious, but the bigger problem for me is the sheer stupid of it. It’s kind of a funny idea, but it feels like taking the concept of Homer stealing/"borrowing" from Ned to an extreme that makes it less funny than when he was just collecting power sanders and TV trays.

Though I suppose that’s another thing you could chalk up to just generally being Season 10. They’re both repeating and stretching a lot of concepts this season.

Mad Jon: That sounds about right.

I dunno. Again, even with the poorer parts, I like this episode more than I hate it. Much of that has to do with Chuck and the Japanese game show host, but for Season 10 I don’t think I need to look much further than those.

Charlie Sweatpants: Oh, I agree. But even the game show has almost as many problems as it does jokes. There’s a volcano full of needless suspense at the end, and Homer gets hit by lighting enough times to make me think I’m watching Itchy & Scratchy. It’s mostly made up for by lines like "He seems okay, but he is being burned internally." But only mostly.

Mad Jon: Can’t really argue with you on that.

Charlie Sweatpants: The entire time they’re in Japan they’re jumping from one unrelated set piece to another ("Simpson Safari"), but what makes it okay is that the jokes when they get there are good ("Bart vs. Australia"). Americatown is funny, the battling seizure robots are funny, even some of the jokes at the completely dumb seafood factory are good.

The problem is the hyperactive way they leap from one to another. Emperor Clobbersaurus and a dumpster full of "Sumo Thongs" make me laugh, that Homer is sitting ringside and just climbs up to grapple only to be congratulated by the emperor doesn’t.

  This entire episode is those kinds of ups and downs.

Mad Jon: Again, I have no arguments with your description.

I think I would still put this one somewhere in the upper half of Season 10 episodes.

  It scares me to think of how much I would beg to watch this one instead of all but one of season 11

Charlie Sweatpants: I might go all the way to three or four in Season 11, but it’s been awhile since I took a close look.

Mad Jon: I am almost certain I wrote something exactly to that effect about a year ago.

  Again, ugh.

Charlie Sweatpants: That’s a 2012 problem, so don’t worry about it right now.

Mad Jon: You always know what to say to cheer me up.

Charlie Sweatpants: In the meantime, I think we’re in basic agreement on this one. Any final Season 10 thoughts?

Mad Jon: I can honestly say that there were more good lines in this season than I remembered there being before we started watching them this summer. So that’s a plus. On the downside the plots were almost all as terrible as I thought they would be, minus a few.

Charlie Sweatpants: I can’t really disagree with any part of that.

Mad Jon: I can also honestly say that the Season 10 discs that have enjoyed their time out of the closet probably are about to go right back in.

  Well I guess there isn’t any probably about that…

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah, there just isn’t much that’s attention grabbing here. Like Mackey said the other day, there was probably a better Futurama on when most of these were broadcast.

Mad Jon: That was an excellent and valid point.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, I guess that about wraps it up for Season 10. Does Season 23 count as Godzilla related turbulence, or is it just seizure robots?

Mad Jon: If we survive we can figure that out in the spring.

8 Responses to “Crazy Noises: Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo”

  1. 1 ecco6t9
    21 September 2011 at 4:57 pm

    This episode is approved by the Mexican Council of Food.

  2. 2 Wrinkledlion X
    21 September 2011 at 6:18 pm

    I love this episode. It’s admittedly on its way to becoming full Zombie Simpsons, but it’s still very enjoyable. Especially since it seems to be the last vacation episode that actually stands out in the slightest… It’s amazing that later seasons can’t even make the foreign countries interesting.

    21 September 2011 at 10:32 pm

    Homer walking through the paper walls has always been hilarious to me. Pretty classic one-second gags. Always really liked this episode. You guys hit upon this point many times, but this — and other episodes from around this time — worked best when they kept the jokes/quotes fast; they didn’t always hit, but they were already (usually) onto the next one before you had time to go, “Meh.” There is only a bit of time-filler/dragging in this episode, which would eventually be one of the key Zombie devices — extending shit that’s funny for one second, to shit that’s 2 minutes long.

    BTW, I caught a few Season 22 Zombie re-runs on Fox the past few Sundays and I dunno if it’s a local thing (I’m in Indiana) but they completely cut out the intros the last few weeks… I’m assuming they did this to cram even MORE commercials into a 30 minute timeslot (with 20 minutes of episode) but jesus. I’m not talking the “Simpsons logo; chalkboard gag; then cut to family getting home; then couch gag” short intro; I’m talking “Simpsons logo; then go straight to episode”. Like, a 5-second intro, if that. Nearly half the “episode” is commercials!… Have they been doing this for a while? Cuz I was just catching the episodes on downloads for a while, and they almost always had the full intros, though I’m not sure what source the rips are always from.


  4. 4 Chris
    22 September 2011 at 2:21 am

    Scully and his gang of writers knew how to write funny lines, they just didn’t know how to write The Simpsons. I rewatched some of these episodes recently, and there’s no question the show had a much better sense of humor during Scully’s years than they have anytime recently. Jean’s era features all of the stuff you hate about Scully’s years, but none of the humor to offset some of that. Which, of course, makes it unwatchable.

    Sometimes I think Scully gets a bad rep, because he had the unenviable task of following up on some of the greatest seasons of television history. And his episodes weren’t ALL horrible, although it started getting that way in season 12. But then I remember it was his era that brought us Simpson Safari, Saddlesore Galactica, Kidney Trouble, Homer vs. Dignity and Kill the Alligator and Run, five of the worst episodes in the show’s history. Then I don’t feel so bad for him anymore. I wll say, though, that his era at least had a sense of humor. I cannot say the same for Jean’s solo work.

  5. 5 kokairu
    22 September 2011 at 8:14 am

    I really don’t like the Japan episode at all, or at least, when I last watched it I don’t remember it being distinguishable from the terrible episodes that came both before and after. For me, it is just a travel episode, no better or worse than their trips to London or Brazil. The New York one works, because I think the writers were making some unique observations about a city they probably know quite well. In the Japan one, like most of the others, they’re taking very stereotypical aspects associated with the country, ticking them off one by one in some form of a ‘joke’, and shoving them in there wherever. Australia does hit this territory too, unfortunately, but the pre trip scenes are worth it, plus there are some very quotable lines. For season 6, however, it’s probably the weakest in the series.

    Maybe I need to watch Japan again with an open mind, but all that springs to mind when I think of it is the awful seizures scene.

    • 6 A.BRA C.ADAVER
      22 September 2011 at 3:49 pm

      Now that you mention it, I’m actually surprised that the Charlie thought the seizure robots bit was funny. I thought that was easily the weakest part of the episode. I get the whole joke, the whole Pokemon thing and whatnot, but it just went on forever and seemed a bit silly.

      Then again, as I’ve said before, I do kinda dig season 12’s HOMR, which I thought had an equally ridiculous “Japanimation” scene (which I found amusing, at least). What is funny changes from person to person of course.

  6. 7 Andrew
    22 September 2011 at 9:02 am

    Good – on the game show when Homer’s wish was for a dinner at Americatown
    Bad – Homer changing the channel with an eel.

    Good – Weird Magazine
    Bad – Jim Belushi filming a movie on the plane

    In conclusion, Thirty Minutes Over Tokyo is an episode of contrast.

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