Posts Tagged ‘What to expect when Bart’s expecting

01
May
14

Compare & Contrast: Moe Pulls a Gun

The Homer They Fall8

“Hey, there’s something wrong with this guy, he’s not falling down!” – Kearney Sr.

“What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting” was such a shambles of a story that trying to compare the whole thing to another episode would be futile.  Finding just a few coherent seconds is hard enough.  But there was one moment that lines up perfectly: Moe pulling his shotgun on people threatening Homer.  Moe did almost the exact same thing in “The Homer They Fall”, only there it was quicker, funnier and made more sense for all involved.

To start, compare why Homer is there in each case.  In “The Homer They Fall”, he’s trying to squeal about Bart getting his belt stolen to the parents of the bullies who stole it.  Moe’s is a pretty natural place for that, especially once we see the parents in question (who presumably wouldn’t be hanging out at the next PTA meeting).  In “What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting”, Homer is at Moe’s with Bart, and both of them sit there looking like regulars (with Bart having a chocolate milk).  Is there any reason for them to be at Moe’s?  Well, no, there isn’t.  They were just fighting because Homer caught Bart selling his voodoo fertility services and then they’re at Moe’s.

Is Homer taking Bart to Moe’s to have heart-to-heart talks now?  That could be funny, but Zombie Simpsons doesn’t even try, it just has them say expository things that they could say anywhere:

Homer: What is your problem, boy?
Bart: Maybe when I’ve got a Dad who shows up in the morning with no shirt on and rocks on his face it sets, I don’t know, a low bar?

They make a bar nuts joke and then the gangsters show up, and that’s the scene.  What’s really incredible about this is that the heavily exposited subtext here is about Homer being a bad father, but instead of Bart pointing out that taking a 10-year-old to a bar is bad fathering, they have him recite something we already saw earlier in the episode.  It didn’t need to be Moe’s, it just was because Homer and Bart needed to get kidnapped someplace, damn it, and they didn’t care about anything else.

Along similar lines, consider the two groups of men who get threatened by Moe.  In “The Homer They Fall”, it’s three guys who are the beaten down and broken fathers of Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney.  They each look like their sons and the scene is a quick way of moving to the story about Homer becoming a boxer.  So we see Homer taking the grown-up version of the beating we just saw Bart take because Homer is no better at dealing with bullies than his son.  The guys are exactly the kind of fathers you’d expect, and the show lets us know without disrupting the dialogue:

Jimbo Sr.: That’s for telling me how to raise my lousy kid.
Dolph Sr.: And this is for the crummy life I’ve had to live.

The Homer They Fall7

Quick and funny one off characters, what a concept.

So while it’s just a quick throwaway scene to get the plot moving, we get three characters with a reason to be there, a reason to beat Homer, and a couple of good lines.

By contrast, in “What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting”, Legs and Louie just show up brandishing guns.  Why?  Well, because Fat Tony decided to act like a moron and kidnap Bart and Homer so that he can, that very night, perform a voodoo ritual to get a horse pregnant.  In addition to not making even the driest lick of sense, there’d been no intimation of any of that right up until drawn guns appear next to Bart and Homer’s heads.  A completely unexpected and massive plot swerve like that would be jarring if it weren’t so common.

Finally, we come to Moe himself.  Right after Kearney Sr. laments their inability to knock him down, we hear Moe pump his trusty shotgun and say:

“Fun’s over fellas!  If you’re gonna beat up my friend in my bar, there’s a two drink minimum.”

It’s a typically well crafted Simpsons line.  It fits in with who these characters are and what they’re doing, and it’s got a nice little punchline at the end.  The elder bullies back out cautiously, and we’re ready to move on with the plot.

Now contrast that smooth, short interaction with the hacktacular sitcom banter in Zombie Simpsons.  Legs and Louie grab Homer and Bart, and then this happens:

Moe: Not so fast!  Nobody comes into my bar and kidnaps two paying customers.

In addition to this being a repeat, it’s a much weaker repeat.  Why?   Well, for starters, there’s no punchline.  There isn’t even a setup for a punchline.  There’s part of a setup for a punchline, which Homer then completes:

Homer:  Aw, thanks Moe! . . . I, uh, must have left my wallet at home.
Moe: Take ’em!  Take ’em!  Fill their pockets with corn and toss ’em to the pigs!
Louie: Don’t tell us our business.

That’s an awfully long way to go for a joke that was done better seventeen seasons ago.  On top of that, the whole thing is drained of whatever life it might’ve had by the sheer weirdness of what’s going on.  Remember, we hadn’t seen Legs and Louie until just a few seconds before (as per usual, they just appeared out of nowhere) and we have no idea why they’re there.  The preceding scene was Bart doing voodoo for people and the next one is them getting threatened by Fat Tony in a stable.  The sheer randomness of it not only saps the scene and the jokes of any punch, but it makes it basically impossible to mentally engage with the show since nothing you’re seeing matters much for what comes next or even what’s going on right now.

When the bully dads were beating up Homer, we knew what was at stake and why and Moe acted like you’d expect Moe to act.  When Legs and Louie beamed in from wherever they were, nobody needs to be there and all anyone does is repeat worn set ups and banter like bored comedy writers.

28
Apr
14

Behind Us Forever: What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting

Chalkboard - What To Expect When Bart's Expecting

“Gotcha!  It’s April Fool’s for two more minutes.” – Homer Simpson
“Dad, it’s May 16th.” – Bart Simpson
“You were in that coma for seven weeks.” – Lisa Simpson

This week’s pile of horseshit starts with Bart’s chalkboard saying “You Can’t Play April Fool’s Jokes on April 27th”, which is their way of telling the audience that even they recognized this one as a wretched and unwatchable entry.  Homer and Bart serenade a horse in a cheap, wannabe Les Miserables parody, but that’s after Bart gets a bunch of people pregnant with voodoo, which was itself after they fell back on referencing as many comic geek franchises as they could (again).  The thing was such a mess that they had to tack on a fake beer commercial sketch at the end that had nothing to do with the rest of the episode.  Also, in this April Fool’s reality, horses can operate stereos.  Comedy genius, that.

– Great couch gag, and not only because it was a full minute long, shaving many precious seconds of stupidity off the rest of the episode.  Can they farm these out every week?  It’s really the only good part of the show.

– At least the bartender meeting didn’t take long.  We had to get right to the naked begging for geek approval of putting the characters in superhero costumes.

– Funding from Canal+ was a nice quick sign gag.

– Kirk getting sucked into a vacuum hose was pretty pointless.

– So, Willy’s naked in front of ten-year-olds?  They are asking us to just roll with a lot of shit this week.

– Oh, look, one of Bart’s many ex-girlfriends, and who is also apparently Chamlers’ daughter.

– And more creepy kissing.  I was really hoping that was behind us.

– So, are we gonna come back to the missing ingredient in the voodoo curse?  I have doubts.

– “So, your boy’s got magic knock-up powers, huh?” – Glad we cleared that up.

– Nice of Lenny to explain the joke before he complimented Homer on his virility.  Jokes that need to be explained first to work always land.

– You can tell how slapdash these stories are from the little things: That couple driving onto a baseball diamond for no reason, Homer just happening to walk past Bart’s voodoo show, Homer choking Bart in front of a two strangers who just sit there, the complete absence of Lisa, etcetera.

– Bart is now sitting at Moe’s with Homer.

– Homer’s lack of wallet thing was pure filler.

– Remember when Fat Tony had good lines instead of crap like “How would you like a cast over your face?”.

– “How is this my fault?” “I wouldn’t be here if you were more of a role model.” – Aww, they’re trying to make this about Homer and Bart’s relationship.  It’s like George Meyer left “how to write Simpsons episodes” instructions before he gave up on them and subpoint 2-3.b is “have an emotional connection between family members”.

– A horse just turned on a boombox to play “It’s Raining Men” so it could dance around for ten seconds.  I’d say the show has reached a new low, but we all know that isn’t true.

– And, after following a horse that casually walked out of its stall, we’re in a flashback montage.

– Homer is singing to horses to get them to fuck.  This is really bad, even by their standards.

– And then Homer gets kicked by a horse at the end.  How else could you wrap up that masterpiece?

– Hey, look, they’re aping the opening of Modern Family, a show that’s much better than this one.

– And we’re ending with a horse testifying at a trial in a random, SNL-at-its-worst comedy sketch.  Seems appropriate.

Woof, what a mess of an episode (and yet another total waste of Fat Tony).  That song was just brutal, and what the hell did any of that have to do with Les Miserables?  They long ago lost the ability to tell a story, but when they don’t have a b-plot and everything has to ride on one story it’s usually a bigger trainwreck, and this week was no exception.  I knew we were in trouble when Fat Tony kidnapped them with 8 minutes to go, but I didn’t expect things to get that desperate.  Yeesh.

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are worthy of that hacktacular crapterpiece.  Last night just 3.38 million people wondered whether or not that really was an ill timed April Fool’s joke.  That’s good for second place on the all time least watched list, replacing “Days of Future Future” which held the spot for only two weeks (and no other new episodes).  Eight of the ten least watched episodes of all time, including spots 1-7, are from Season 25.  Presumably the Lego episode next week won’t bomb quite this bad, but Season 25 is already locked into being the least watched season ever.

27
Apr
14

Sunday Preview: What To Expect When Bart’s Expecting

What_to_Expect_When_Bart's_Expecting_promo_3

 

Bart can’t stand art class. So he makes a voodoo doll of his art teacher. But when his spell makes her pregnant instead, he becomes a savior to Springfield couples trying to conceive. Then, he’s kidnapped to help conceive a thoroughbred race horse.

Cool. I was hoping there would be some voodoo this season. I guess I am slightly curious to find out what kind of spell Bart was attempting that would backfire and create life.  Only slightly though – only slightly.




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