“I’m sorry, boys, I’ve never expelled anyone before. But, that pig had some powerful friends.” – Dean Bobby Peterson
“Oh, you’ll pay! Don’t think you won’t pay!” – Richard Nixon
Posts Tagged ‘Homer Goes to College
“The watchdog of public safety, is there any lower form of life?” – C.M. Burns
It would be one thing if Zombie Simpsons merely repeated ideas and stories that had been done on The Simpsons. Given the enormous catalog of episodes, it’s certainly understandable that scenes and concepts would need to get recycled from time to time. Hell, that was understandable way back in the heyday of the show.
For example, Season 2’s “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish” has a great nuclear plant inspection, where we see gum used to seal a crack in the cooling towers, a plutonium paper weight, and ankle deep toxic waste. But all that doesn’t detract in the least from the inspection in Season 5’s “Homer Goes to College”, because instead of showing us the same things again, it gives us a completely different set of horrifying looks into Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.
For starters, the inspectors show up during nap time, where meltdowns are averted by sleepy hound dogs and Smithers is curled up at Burns’ feet. When the surprise inspection team rings the bell, Burns denies them entry and tells a pathetic lie about old fashioned cookies before the inspectors start hacking at the door with an ax. The inspection hasn’t even started yet and already The Simpsons is at full speed, tossing off jokes and ludicrous ideas as fast as possible.
Compare that to the – ahem – “inspection” in “My Fare Lady”. Instead of nap time and Homer falling asleep on the “Plant Destruct” button (“Please Do Not Push”), Burns just happens upon Moe, who has been hired as a janitor, mopping the floor. (This whole thing is so inconsequential that we don’t even get an establishing shot and a crow screech.) That immediately leads to a standard Zombie Simpsons joke, wherein the punchline takes forever to arrive, and is patiently explained to the audience:
Burns: Hey, swabbie, you missed spots there . . . another one there . . . and there! Every other spot is begrimed!
Moe: It’s called a checkerboard floor, you unwrapped mummy.
At that, the camera helpfully pulls back to show us the aforementioned checkerboard floor. Hi-larity.
No sooner has that happened then Smithers walks up with a bunch of inspectors in tow, “Sir, the NRC is here for a surprise inspection”. Huh? Even by the standards of incompetent Zombie Simpsons Burns, this is head spinning. These guys just waltzed into the plant without Burns (or Smithers, apparently) even knowing they were there? Somewhere, Season 5 Burns is scoffing at his successor’s haplessness. One second they’re not there, the next they are; there’s no lie about cookies, no ax, no nothing.
In Season 5, once the inspectors do get in, we see them testing the plant employees while Burns and Smithers gaze down from above. Except, of course, for the three workers who’ve been strategically diverted down to the basement with the important job of keeping a bee in a jar.
I always wondered what these guys did at the plant. Accountants?
Down in the basement we see a glowing rat, dripping ooze, and several spilled barrels of toxic waste. No other mention of them is made because it doesn’t need to be. Moreover, the inspectors have no idea these three geniuses (and the improperly stored nuclear waste) are here. They’re in the parking lot testing the employees. Here’s the Zombie Simpsons version of the same thing:
See the glove? The inspectors didn’t.
While Moe asks penetrating questions like, “You’re the head inspector, huh?”, nothing else happens except the unacknowledged gas leak and the slowly inflating glove. It’s easily the best part of this scene, but it also makes the inspection team even more bland and boring than they already were. (Thanks for the meandering story about your Queen cover band.) The scene is Moe telling them they can’t come in after they’ve already come in, followed by them, despite already being inside and being, you know, federal nuclear inspectors, meekly accepting that and shuffling off screen.
This is basic stuff, the audience getting to see characters with personality do things instead of just listen to somebody we don’t know talk about something we don’t care about and can’t see. To be fair to Zombie Simpsons, the inspection in “Homer Goes to College” is given more screen time, so things like nap time, bee guarding, and Homer causing a meltdown without any nuclear material being in the truck have a chance to breathe. But it’s not like “My Fare Lady” was crammed with other great bits. The episode has three different driving montages, one of which goes on for well over a minute.
Not that extra time would’ve helped. More lines for incompetent Burns, more background jokes explained, and more of the nothingburger inspection team aren’t going to make “My Fare Lady” any better. When the NRC shows up in Season 5, there’s a big ominous musical cue, and they begin to methodically test employees. These nondescript cardboard cutouts (only one of them even speaks) get silence and deserve it.
“My first day of college. I wish my father was alive to see this.” – Homer Simpson
“Hey!” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
“How long have you been back there?” – Homer Simpson
“Three days.” – Abe “Grampa” Simpson
(Sorry for not getting this up yesterday. The day got away from me.)
Season 26 picked up right where season 25 left off: a time eating guest couch gag, many needlessly self voiced celebrities, characters explaining how they feel and what they’re doing, and plenty of other boring nonsense. The A-plot was about Krusty being sad and involved the much hyped character death, which turned out to be the nothingburger we all expected. (The fact that the media is so easily and repeatedly trolled by Zombie Simpsons may be the funniest thing about the show these days.)
The B-plot was about Lisa being worried about Homer’s health all of a sudden. We know this because she basically narrates the whole thing for us, including how she’s feeling and the ending that was already nonsensical before the school bus crashes into the Simpson back yard.
– Count me among those who generally like the guest couch gags. It’s nice to get something new and interesting, and since the writing staff doesn’t have to do any plot or dialogue, they’re often very decent. But this one was pretty bad. It was a decent concept and had a neat look to it, but it took way too long given how little actually happened and how repetitive the images were.
– This popcorn thing is really dumb. It was also done much, much better in “Realty Bites”.
– “Cheap to Produce” was at least quick.
– Ugh, this Wiggum crime photo thing. I thought the Family Guy stuff was going to be during their episode.
– Hey, look: crappy jokes, self voiced celebrities, and canned laughter.
– “Nobody warned me this roast would treat me the same way as every roast I’ve seen and laughed at.” – Unnecessary exposition rolled up with a cheap excuse for the idiot nonsense they just made us sit through. Stuff like this really demonstrates how much the show has deteriorated. Krusty knows what a roast is. It’d be fine to have the roast get to him, bum him out, etc. Instead, he acts depressed and surprised from the get go because Heaven forefend characters and the story might move along in reaction to what happens rather than just because.
– That swapper joke could’ve been funny if it had made sense.
– Hey, look, Bart just showed up out of nowhere to tell Krusty what to do. Seamless.
– This is certainly a pointless death scene.
– And now it’s time for a funeral that improbably includes the Simpson family.
– Hey, the B-plot showed up. I’ll let Lisa explain, “Dad, I’m worried about your health. I don’t want to lose you.”
– Remember when they only included Sideshow Bob when they had something really great and fun to do? Long time ago, that.
– “No mimes!” is a decent sign gag.
– And “The elephant and I had our differences” is pretty good. It’s also short, understated, and unexplained. Not a coincidence.
– Is it technically an Itchy & Scratchy cartoon if Itchy’s not in it?
– Oh, for fuck’s sake, “Kids, I’m experiencing a crisis of conscious.”
– This is a cruel waste of Maurice LaMarche as the TV critic.
– Lisa’s back to explain what’s happening in the B-plot again.
– Did David Hyde Pierce just wander past the recording room one day? That might have been even more pointless than the Sideshow Bob cameo.
– Past Krusty shows were a lot better when they were about collective bargaining agreements.
– Similarly, Krusty’s binges used to be more fun. They even had the Stanley Cup.
– “Krusty, have you fulfilled the promise you made to your father in the dream you never told anyone about?” Even by their cheat standards that’s lazy. They weren’t even painted into a corner or anything, they just can’t move things forward without explicitly telling us what’s going on. Then Bart appeared out of nowhere.
– And now Homer is wrapped in bubble wrap, then there was a car crash and then Lisa explained, out loud, how she was feeling for the fifth time or so. Mercifully, this B-plot is now over.
– Bart apparently knew who Krusty’s dad’s favorite rabbi was. No, it doesn’t make any sense. But at least it was short.
– Oof, the “Jewish Heaven” song is really weak. There are like three lyrics, most of which are just “Jewish Heaven”, and the rest is just visual references of famous Jews.
Anyway, the ratings are in and they are much improved. Last night, 8.50 million people lost hope after the FXX marathon reminded them how good the show once was. That’s way up from last year’s premier, though at least some of that is attributable to the Eagles-49ers game. It’ll be curious to see whether or not that holds up next week when FOX doesn’t have a late NFL game. Was it mostly football, or did all that hype actually make a few million people want to start watching the show again?
“Don’t worry, Mr. Simpson, we can take care of ourselves.” – Black Nerd
“Uh, wallet inspector.” – Snake
“Oh, here you go. I believe that’s all in order.” – Fat Nerd
“Whoa, I can’t believe that worked!” – Snake
“Hey, that’s not the wallet inspector.” – Homer Simpson