Failing to Make Fun of James Bond, Bravo Zombie Simpsons

Chalkboard - The Spy Who Learned Me

“Well, here we are at the Brad Goodman lecture.” – Homer Simpson
“We know, Dad.” – Lisa Simpson
“I just thought I’d remind everybody.  After all, we did agree to attend this self help seminar.” – Homer Simpson
“What an odd thing to say.” – Bart Simpson

Near the end of “The Spy Who Learned Me”, Homer and Marge are running away from a nameless (and apparently Bolivian) guy who has just pulled a gun on Homer.  This is the dialogue . . .

Marge:  Why is he trying to kill you?  And why did she call you her love?
Homer:  It was all a training exercise to make me smooth for you.  Of course, she fell for me, and of course I wanted no part of her.  Now the only one who can help us is Stradivarius Cain. 
Marge:  The guy from the movie?
Homer:  I’ll explain later!  Strad, come back!  I know you’re in there!

. . . and then Homer bashes himself in the head a few times with a rock.  I like this scene, not because it’s funny or entertaining, but because it crams virtually every problem from the rest of the episode into a single moment. 

To begin with, it’s mostly unnecessary exposition.  Take “Now the only one who can help us is Stradivarius Cain”.  There is absolutely no reason for Homer to say that.  The audience already knows who he wants to see, and while it’s true that Marge doesn’t, she’s about to vanish from the scene without explanation, which is another problem this episode has in spades.  From Nelson robbing kids right from Willie’s hand and Krusty just appearing in that movie to all those women Homer hits on, “The Spy Who Learned” me has a boatload of mysteriously appearing and disappearing people.  And there’s the fact that the scene itself makes no sense: no one else at this fancy party noticed the violence or the gun, Homer and Marge make it to the woods in no time at all, and, despite the fact that the guy compliments Homer on his hiding skills, Homer wasn’t hiding at all.  He was standing up and talking out loud, a very poor way not to be seen.*  When all is said and done, this scene is so dense with problems established earlier in the episode that, in a weird, funhouse mirror kind of way, it’s almost like an actual plot climax. 

There was a B-plot as well, something that started about childhood obesity but then ended with Nelson getting into ludicrous shape with help from a personal trainer.  It had many of the same problems, starting with the fact that Krusty’s mansion is shockingly accessible to anyone who wants to wander into it. 

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are just awful.  Last night only 4.75 million viewers realized that their imaginary friends say more interesting things than that total waste of Bryan Cranston.  That’s good for #2 on the all time least watched list, and means that (counting a tie between Season 22 and Season 23 at #5), all five of the five least watched episodes ever have come this season (numbers are millions of viewers):

#1  23-13    4.33    The Daughter Also Rises
#2  23-20    4.75    The Spy Who Learned Me
#3  23-18    4.86    Beware My Cheating Bart
#4  23-16    4.96    How I Wet Your Mother
#5  23-19    5.00    A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again
#5  22-18    5.00    The Great Simpsina

The Season 23 average is now a mere 6.31 million viewers.  That’s more than 10% down from Season 22’s 7.10 million, which was already the lowest rated season ever.  As recently as five years ago this show was averaging more than nine million viewers per episode, now it’s barely two thirds of that. 

*Mr. Idle, you’re better than this. 

15 Responses to “Failing to Make Fun of James Bond, Bravo Zombie Simpsons”

  1. 7 May 2012 at 6:33 pm

    The “Bolivian guy” thing really struck me as icky, pointless racism. First Homer’s at this upscale bar, and it’s a (relatively) realistic scenario, then suddenly—because he’s dark-skinned and has an accent, I guess?—this guy pulls a gun on him and chases him around. Ugh, what a dreadful episode. At least Bryan Cranston was good, if you ignored the actual words he was saying.

    • 2 Stan
      7 May 2012 at 8:16 pm

      Well, apparently his sister-look-alike was his girlfriend or something. But I had no idea he was Bolivian. He could’ve been Portuguese for the same fucking reason and I’d have never told the difference.

  2. 7 May 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Something I realized that I forgot to mention last night, Eric Idle’s documentary had the SAME NAME as the documentary from Season 14’s “Scuse Me While I Miss The Sky.” Only the character died in this one.

    • 4 Anonymous
      8 May 2012 at 1:10 am

      Reminds me of a fun Zombie Simpsons game… find all the episode titles that derive from the same source as previous episode titles.

      Moaning Lisa, Moe’N’a Lisa, Mona Leaves-a, Loan-a Lisa
      Mr. Lisa Goes to Washington, Mr. Spritz Goes to Washington
      O Brother, Where Art Thou?; O Brother, Where Bart Thou?
      A Star Is Burns, A Star Is Born-Again, A Star Is Torn
      The Old Man and the Lisa, The Old Man and the “C” Student, The Old Man and the Key
      Alone Again, Natura-Diddily; No Loan Again, Naturally
      Moe Baby Blues, Moe Letter Blues
      Homer Simpson, This Is Your Wife; Lisa Simpson, This Isn’t Your Life
      Million Dollar Abie, Million Dollar Maybe
      Mypods and Boomsticks, Rednecks and Broomsticks (one season apart!)
      The Wettest Stories Ever Told, The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed

      …I have to stop. This is getting too depressing.

      • 5 Bartist
        8 May 2012 at 6:34 am

        Depressingly there’s also Take My Wife Sleaze, Brake My Wife Please, Take My Life Please.

  3. 6 Stan
    7 May 2012 at 8:18 pm

    I think they’ll end the show past 25-th Season. It would be the only humane thing to do (before it turns into garbage that only those who like commercials will watch).

    Also, if their last episode will be Behind the Laughter 2 I’ll forgive them everything.

    • 8 May 2012 at 12:08 am

      I, too, the only logical way to end it would be a Behind the Laughter- or 138th Episode-type way, but they’d fuck that up too I’m sure. We’d DEFINITELY not get a quote as good as “Fame was like a drug, but what was even more like a drug were the drugs”.

      In other news, everyone, BREAKING BAD: SEASON 5 (PART 1) [yes, it’s being split into 2 8-episodes-a-piece parts… eh] premiers “this summer”. I dunno WHEN “this summer” but murmurs say July. Hurray!

      • 8 Stan
        9 May 2012 at 1:22 am

        For me doing a finale in which they say “please forgive us for the fifteen years of fucking this show up” would rightfully earn them an apology.

        • 9 Patrick
          9 May 2012 at 8:18 am

          And if the finale is made in SD 4:3 on traditional hand-painted cel animation would be a big plus too :)

        • 10 Thrillho
          9 May 2012 at 1:54 pm

          I say they end it by revealing that all the double digit seasons were in Maggie’s imagination.

        • 11 Charlie Sweatpants
          9 May 2012 at 2:52 pm

          Co-sign each of these. Unfortunately, if the cancellation scare from last fall is anything to go by, they could easily get caught with nothing specific for a finale in mind. If they had gotten canned, they were going to hold back that “Bart goes to Christmas future” episode and use it as the finale.

  4. 12 swarmingwithmagicrobots
    8 May 2012 at 7:56 am

    Here’s something to think about. “A Totally Fun Thing Bart Will Never Do Again” won accolades(see A- from AV Club, laugh, cry), and then the episode following it is the second lowest rated in the series’ entire history.

    If Zombie Simpsons can’t retain viewers even after producing a supposedly great episode(see also “Holidays of Future Past”)… Then I think it’s game over. Ratings in a tailspin, writers’ best efforts can’t stop it? That’s the end stage of a TV show right there, even if it’s named “The Simpsons”.

  5. 13 FireFlower
    8 May 2012 at 9:30 am

    I also noticed that Declan Desmond used the SAME documentary title during his first appearance on the show. This was his third time on The Simpsons.

  6. 14 lennyburnham
    8 May 2012 at 1:15 pm

    The worst exposition was the act that ended with Homer saying, “I have vacation days and my family doesn’t know!”

    Way to end on a strong joke, guys.

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