Posts Tagged ‘Opposites A-Frack

04
Nov
14

Compare & Contrast: Burns Drills

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1l

“Oil, ho!” – Slant Drilling Worker
“Huzzah!” – C.M. Burns

“Opposites A-Frack” offers more than a few opportunities for comparing and contrasting.  Burns falls in love again, Homer gets a new job again, Burns asks Homer for romantic advice again.  I even briefly contemplated comparing it to those episodes on 30 Rock where hyper-capitalist Alec Baldwin has a secret affair with ultra-liberal Congresswoman Edie Falco, just for a change of pace.  But Burns drilling for gas underneath Springfield is too on the nose from “Who Shot Mr. Burns? Part 1” to pass up.

In both episodes, Burns is drilling into the Earth so that his mighty apparatus will burst forth with precious fluid.  But each episode handles him, his plan, and those around him very differently.  For a quick illustrative example, here’s Burns after Bart and Lisa walk into his unguarded fracking facility this week:

Lisa: This whole building is just a facade for a drilling operation.
Burns: Indeed it is.  Evergreen Terrace is built atop a massive shale deposit.

In addition to being phenomenally lazy script writing, this is also the complete opposite of the Burns we know and love/hate.  Real Burns doesn’t explain his evil plans to 8-year-old girls who break into his secret facilities.  Quite the opposite.  Real Burns builds secret drilling facilities and lets the townspeople find out only when they go to turn on their own well:

FrimbleAbout

Burns: That’s it, frimble about with your widgets and dobobs.  It’ll all be a monument to futility when my plan comes to fruition.

Look at that quote!  He isn’t merely content to drill for oil and screw over everyone else, he’s also gleefully anticipating the moment when his plan will dash their hopes.  That’s Burns at his evil best.

Moreover, Burns’ plan, both the drilling and the eventual sun blocker, don’t require him to do anything as patently stupid and self defeating as relying on Homer Simpson.  Season 26 Burns, of course, does exactly that.  Not only does he ask Homer to get the mineral rights contracts signed, but he compounds his mistake by trusting that Homer did it instead of making sure.

That last part is especially un-Burns-like because Burns himself is the one who discloses that not all the signatures are there.  What!?  Can you imagine Season 6 Burns stopping his drilling operation because he and only he noticed that one signature was missing?  If anything, breaking the law without anyone knowing would appeal to him.

The watered down Burns of “Opposites A-Frack” isn’t remotely the kind of distilled malevolence of the Burns in “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, but Zombie Simpsons wants us to still think of him like he is.  When, after his grossly out of character explanation to Lisa, Burns refers to the houses on Evergreen Terrace as “shanties and lean-tos”, we’re supposed to laugh at the contempt he has for regular people.  But the contempt isn’t there anymore because we just saw him pop-up out of nowhere to help Lisa understand things.

A similar hollowing out affects poor Smithers.  In “Who Shot Mr. Burns?”, he becomes increasingly conflicted about Burns crossing over from every day villainy into cartoonish super-villainy.  We see his qualms grow alongside the drilling operation (look at him in that picture at the top), and the sun blocker finally breaks him.  In “Opposites A-Frack”, Smithers basically vanishes for the entire episode.  It’s not as jarring as when characters appear for no reason, but unexplained disappearances happen almost as often.

Consider that when Bart and Lisa easily walk into the “secret” drilling facility, Smithers just stands there.  By the time Burns gets to that pointless committee hearing, Smithers isn’t even there.  Nor is he present when Burns barges into whatshername’s office.  Smithers is there when Burns selects Homer as his salesman, but literally doesn’t say a single word.  He is similarly absent when Burns asks Homer for romantic advice, both in his office and then again back at Burns Manor, which is even weirder because he’s at the door and then vanishes again.

DisappearingSmithers

Smithers . . . No Smithers.

Why did the man who never leaves Burns’ side disappear into thin air?  The next scene is Burns asking Homer for advice, and Smithers wasn’t required.  As usual, Zombie Simpsons forgets anything that isn’t happening right now.

Finally, in both episodes Burns drilling causes an earthquake.  The Simpsons handles it by having Grampa jump out of bed, shout “Earthquake!”, and then stand in his doorway while the entire Retirement Castle falls into a sinkhole.  The old people can’t do anything but call for the nurse.

Who Shot Mr. Burns Part 1k

Compare that to Zombie Simpsons, where, after a lot of pointless rumbling, Bart and Milhouse both fall out of the treehouse, while Lisa stands there waiting for her Etch-a-Sketch erases itself.  Then, in case we didn’t know what was going on, we get one of those oh-so redundant pieces of Zombie Simpson exposition:

Marge: Is one of the side effects of fracking earthquakes?
Lisa: Yes.

One is quick and punctuated with a joke.  The other is slow and punctuated with an explanation.

Season 6 Burns has a diabolical plan that he springs unexpectedly and sees all the way through.  Around him, his henchmen and his victims are their normal, hilarious selves.  Season 26 Burns has a dumb plan, explains it patiently, and then bungles it himself.  Around him, the show has to essentially airbrush Smithers out of the episode and constantly tell us what’s going on.  You can build great television around the real Burns, but you can’t even come close with the vacuous shell Zombie Simpsons has made of him.

 

03
Nov
14

Behind Us Forever: Opposites A-frack

Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish11

“Leave it to good old Mary Bailey to finally step in and do something about that hideous genetic mutation.” – Marge Simpson

This week on Zombie Simpsons, Burns does something we saw him do much funnier twenty years ago, but he also falls in love and becomes a softy for a while.  In between, Patty and Selma live with the Simpsons for a while, Marge, Lisa and Smithers vanish for most of the episode, Homer gets another new job, and there’s a big explosion.

– No couch gag this week, so what they left in must be pure gold!

– Marge is buttering Homer up with pork chops because Patty & Selma need a place to stay.  If you guessed that Patty & Selma weren’t in the house right up until they mysteriously appeared in the house as if by transporter, you win absolutely nothing.

– Homer is repeating the word “teensy” for some reason.  I guess that got a big laugh at the table read?

– So the conflict here is that Patty & Selma aren’t supposed to smoke in the house.  Homer has put smoke detectors all over the place to catch them.  Then it starts raining instantly so they can’t go outside.  The instant rain thing was funny in “Bart the Murderer” because it was a joke.  Here it’s a plot crutch for an already nonsensically weak plot.  It won’t be the last.

– Hey, a decent sign gag that didn’t get read out load “Once Your Lungs Go Black, They Never Go Back”.

– They put a new bathroom in the house for no discernible reason.  It’s under the stairs because Patty & Selma were by the stairs.  They want to smoke there because, for some other indiscernible reason, Homer didn’t put smoke detectors in the bathroom.  This show cannot even maintain a joke, much less a story.  It’d almost be impressive in its sloppiness if we hadn’t seen it so many times before.

– Hey, look, the main story has arrived!  The water in the bathroom caught on fire.

– Lisa just scrolled over a bunch of movies titles on her tablet.  They were supposed to be depressing documentaries, so most of them were just “noun of death”.

– Hey, it’s a joke free explanation of fracking.  I love it when they pre-explain things.

– So, Lisa and Bart just teleported into the Rich Texan’s office where she exposited for a while, before he told us he was going to dance, then danced.  I realize that sentence makes no sense to anyone who hasn’t seen this episode, but, trust me, you’re not missing anything.

– Lisa discovers there’s a fracking site in the neighborhood by looking at a satellite picture.  Why?  Because they’re keeping people away with a sign that says “Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame”.  How did she never notice this building that is in her neighborhood?  Don’t ask.  But they compound it by having her praise women’s basketball, which makes the whole thing make even less sense.

– Also too, the kids just walked into the building.  Then Burns and Smithers pull up in a cart and Burns begins explaining things to Lisa.  Is there any reason for him to do this?  No.  Is it the opposite of something Burns would actually do?  Yes.

– Lisa then exposits the existence of Maxine Lombard, a Nancy Pelosi type voiced by Jane Fonda.  I miss Mary Bailey.

– After a really boring and repetitive hearing, Burns just barged into her office for a slow, cliche filled fall in love moment between Burns and Not Pelosi.  They apparently slept on the floor under a flag for some reason.

– Hey, how about another non-sequitor?  Now Burns needs to buy the mineral rights under Evergreen Terrace.  How do we know this?  Because he just told us.  Does it have anything to do with his romance with whatshername?  Of course not.  Jebus this script is sloppy.

– And, right on cue, Burns picks Homer to be his salesman.

– We then get a series of quick cuts of Homer being good at his new job.  It ate some time.

– Marge and Lisa are opposed to this, of course, with Marge reminding that “the water was on fire”.  She will be saying this a lot.

– Homer wins some kind of debate with Frink (don’t ask) and now everyone has sold their mineral rights.  Burns, being Zombie Burns, has second thoughts and asks Homer for relationship advice.

– Homer has the “signed gas leases”, which are all complete except for Marge’s signature not being on one.  This somehow comes as a surprise during a ceremony to turn on the fracking.  Then Burns and whatshername have a breakup as cliched and nonsensical as when they got together.  Also, Smithers is back after a long and unexplained absence.

– Burns was going to fire Homer, but now they’re talking about relationships again.  Then a wrecking ball breaks into Burns Manor because whatshername decided to . . . you know what?  Screw this.  It’s too weird and nonsensical even to recap.

– Hey, there’s an NPR guy who shows up, tells us his name, and then wanders off.

– Now Burns and Homer are turning the fracking machine back on out of revenge or something.

– Want to know what’s happening?  The show will gladly tell you:

Marge: Is one of the side effects of fracking earthquakes?
Lisa: Yes.

Glad we cleared that up.

– Jane Fonda just showed back up out of nowhere

– And Marge just repeated the water thing for the sixth time or so.  Oh, and now Homer’s burning down the fracking thingie and it explodes.

– Because the ending was apparently not explained enough already, Burns is helpfully expositing it some more.

– And it ends with Burns and whatshername in bed being boring to run out the clock.  What a mess.

Anyway, the numbers are in and, sans football, they are expectedly terrible.  Just 4.24 million people wished they were seeing Burns run his Slant Drilling Company again.  That’s the lowest of the young season and good for #7 on the all time least watched list.

There’s a very clear dichotomy now between the weeks when FOX has a late NFL game and when they don’t.  The three episodes this year with a football lead were watched by 8.50 million, 7.34 million, and 7.64 million viewers.  The two episodes without a football lead in were watched by 4.32 and 4.24 million viewers.  FOX does have a late national game next week for the Futurama crossover, so I fearlessly predict that episode will get somewhere in the 7 million viewers range.  And while I’m still expecting the renewal notice any day, the show clearly can’t stand on its own anymore.

02
Nov
14

Sunday Preview: Opposites A-Frack

simpsons

Lisa brings in Assemblywoman Maxine Lombard (guest voice Jane Fonda) to put a stop to Mr. Burns’ fracking operation, but is taken aback when the two political opponents find themselves attracted to one another.

Oh boy, a politically charged episode guest starring Jane Fonda.  Also if the above picture is accurate, then implications of dry, wrinkly sex are sure to be abound.

 

 

 




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