Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Episode 17: American History X-cellent

Burns going to jail? Yes!! This episode is an homage to "Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile"? Yes!! What could go wrong with this? Poor writing on the two subplots and the main plot doesn't live up to expectations. $*&%!!!! Yet again this show is on the way up but if it were going back down, it would be underground. While it isn't a bad episode, it just doesn't have that feeling of something to want to watch on a rainy day. Let's begin with our review, shall we?

We begin the same way all great episodes begin: One scene that leads to a flashback that'll eventually explain this scene (I'm sorry it's not this episode, CSI: Miami has forever ruined this story type for me). We see two white guards and a black guard that couldn't possibly be Homer, Lenny and Carl (Sorry but it's so obviously them, you don't even need cliffnotes to figure this out).
Ok Mr. Burns, time for "The Room"
The guards open a cell with Mr. Burns inside and we begin our flashback (And the point of this is? We'll be seeing this scene again with an explanation so I really find this pointless). Anyways, we cut back weeks earlier to Mr. Burns forcing everyone to come to a company picnic where they will all be miserable. During the picnic, all the employees are miserable and after a mini-play, Homer suggests that they trash the place. After getting drunk and trashing his observatory, the police come to arrest Homer and gang but arrest Burns after finding out he's been stealing art (By the way the Tufts joke was stupid before and bringing it back up still pisses me off). As the entire town goes to mock Burns while he's carted away (Not driven, carted) Bart and Homer are berated by Marge not to throw rotten food at Burns (With a drawn out scene of Homer and Marge arguing which leads to Homer eating a rotten Jack-O-Lantern, need I remind you this takes place in July).
Ok Bart, time for our contractually obligated B plot. What say you about an ant farm?
After that, Marge tells Bart to play with Lisa and we are introduced to our underdeveloped subplot of Bart and Lisa taking care of an ant farm (Seriously, the plot seems like the writers threw it in last minute, it just doesn't seem interesting at all). Right before Burns is put in jail, he gives Smithers control over the plant (This leads to the point in which Burns turns out to be the writer as he controls what happens to Smithers afterwards). As Burns is being processed, Burns tries to blackmail the Warde but can't make out what he's addicted to (It's helium, who knew that was such a crime?). After more processing, we meet Burns' cellmate who is just as harmless as him (I laugh at Virginia, however the death of Yeardley makes it harder to laugh at them). We then cut to the ant farm plot as the farm is destroyed and only one ant made it (Wow, I care so much about this. This plot is so developed and *yawn*). As Smithers takes his new role, he decides to be a new type of boss; a friendly boss.
My first order as boss: Dress code includes pink shirts
We cut back to the ant farm plot (Do you really care about this? Each scene for this plot gets less than a minute and in the end, you feel empty. I'll explain when we get there) where nothing really happens outside of: "Leave my ant alone Bart" (I am serious nothing important comes out, it's just another example of a scene that could be deleted and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference). After Mr. Burns gets taken by our black preacher inmate (Yeah it's revealed later but it's better to characterize him now) Smithers finds out that the employees have been taking advantage of him and he turns into a worse version of Mr. Burns (thanks for the shirtless scene, classy Simpsons, classy). After we get our scene of the employees working too hard, we go back to the black guy trying to redeem Burns' soul through a dramatic scene and sucking out the evil inside him (I know this references one of the movies mentioned but I haven't seen either movie which I am ashamed of).
See, this is what happens when you eat at Arby's
After short scene of Bart and Lisa discussing what to do with their ant, we see the gang discussing their hatred of Smithers and getting Burns out of jail. We then see the scene that was in the opening and our episode nears an end. As the gang is about to take Burns out, the preacher tries to stop them. Our ant farm plot ends with Bart and Lisa releasing "Annie" into the wild where their dog eats her (And Lisa gives Bart an expression like it's his fault). OK why is this plot bad you may ask; no scene gets more than a minute screen time, the plot's not that interesting, and the payoff you usually get when a plot is over seems to be gone here, you're left with an empty void that nothing can fill. Mr. Burns explains to the preacher that he still had some evil and it multiplied and he must go back to his plant.
You're in my way, sir... I said, you're standing in my spot, sir.
The preacher explains that because he killed so many rich white guys he wanted to do right by one and he let's them go. Mr Burns takes back his plant as he reminisces about the preacher. We end with a scene of the Preacher and Fat Tony together in a cell.

Final Judgment: This episode's pretty good but there were points where I just smacked my head. The ant subplot was completely worthless and couldn't do it's role of padding the episode out. They probably could have used the time to further explore Smithers' role as boss at the plant.

Final Grade: 7.3/10 It's worth a re-watch at least once

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