Monday, November 29, 2010

Episode 7: How Munched is That Birdie in the Window

How much does Bart love his dog Santa's Little Helper? More than he would ever love a bird. There are many things wrong with just the concept alone that you know this probably isn't an episode you'd want to watch twice. But who knows, maybe the writers got their heads out of their asses and maybe they put some effort into this one. With that out of the way, let's find out.

After a long introduction (Seriously, why are the introductions anywhere from 1 minute to 1.5 minutes if there's so much padding in the episode already?) we see Rod and Todd in their beds scared because of the thunderstorm outside. But it's okay, Ned calms them down by telling them it's angels bowling (And we abruptly cut to angels bowling... whu?) Well enough with that pointlessness as we cut to Homer telling the kids a scary while they're all in Bart's bed (I'm not going to ask why, but I will let you guys ponder why they're all in Bart's bed). Homer's story then goes into flashback mode as I'm left to wonder if this story or the thunderstorm will have any implications on the plot or if they're just padding. As Homer continues to scare his kids, a pigeon flies into the room and scares Homer off (Let's see we're at the 3:20 mark when that happens, so I guess the writers have a lot of lost ground to make up). Lisa notices the pigeon's hurt and decides to call the number that's attached to the bird's ankle (Am I the only one who would assume that a number on a band on the leg of a pigeon would be a tracking device and not like a dog collar?) It turns out that "Wise-Guy" owns the pigeon and he refuses to take the bird back if he can't fly. After Lisa tells Bart to take care of the pigeon, Bart tries to hand it off to Lisa. Lisa then reveals that she can't stand pigeons (Okay I'm just going to look back at Lisa's character 101 *Flips a few pages* Ah, here we go. Lisa had a problem with Bart's lizards killing pigeons in Bart the Mother, so I'm calling bull on this character development).
Get your wings off me you dirty stinkin' bird!
After a montage of Bart taking care of the pigeon (Goody) Bart tries to release the pigeon (Okay his name is Ray) and Ray comes back to Bart. Bart tries to leave Ray but ultimately decides to pick him back up (Predictable relationship: check). Back home, Homer constructs a coup for Ray but with some lampshading, the coup falls apart into the individual pieces it was created from (Have you ever had one of those jokes where you try too hard not to have it like others where it just ends up being unfunny? That's this in a nutshell). After some more pointless scenes the family turns on the plot device channel (Is that only available through Voom or something?) Bart then decides to turn Ray into a carrier pigeon after the commercial (Let's see how long this lasts *Starts stopwatch*). Meanwhile, Lisa asks Marge why she's so repulsed by pigeons and how it doesn't make sense (Hey wait a minute, stop pointing out the shitty writing Lisa! That's MY job!) After an unfunny bit with Lisa being a member of EVERY environmental group possible (Except for the Protection of Nazi Squids) Marge then tells Lisa that everyone has an animal they can't stand (For anyone who grew up in the 50's it's The Birds). 
Uh, mom? Dad's been letting in wild animals again
I really don't get this, is this trying to be a subplot where Lisa goes through a journey to get over her non-existent fear of pigeons? Why put it in? It just makes no sense to me, but maybe I'm nitpicking here, let's move on. After a bit where a opossum scratches Marge's leg we get a few scenes of Ray delivering messages to random people (I hated the Burns one while mildly enjoyed the Bart-Edna one). We then get a montage of Ray delivering messages (Because 1 montage wasn't enough). Afterwards, Moe tries to entice Bart to train Ray as a racing pigeon and this leads to Homer having a daydream with him winning that race and celebrating with Danica Patrick (Wasn't that cameo so necessary? I mean, how could the plot have advanced without it? I'm glad this show relies so heavily on these types of cameos). After Bart opens the coup, Santa's Little Helper grabs Ray and through a chase, accidentally eats Ray (That actually lasted longer than I expected). We then cut back to the family having a burial for the pigeon that makes the burial of a marine go to shame.
Let go of my toy bird!
After another scene where Bart expresses displeasure towards SLH, the chorus sing an inappropriate song for the funeral. After another Bart-SLH scene we see Bart watching and episode of Itchy and Scratchy while his off-color dog sits on the couch (Seriously, someone tell the animators how to use a color palate because SLH is not that dark of a brown). This I&S is honestly one of the unfunniest ones I've ever seen, and I'm not trying to be like "Worst episode ever" here, but this tries SO hard to take all the funny figures from 1930's (When the cartoon takes place) and just is over-the-top unfunny. At school Skinner tells Marge and Homer to let Bart continue to sulk because it helps both Bart and the school. Marge is upset as you'd guess but Homer doesn't care and neither does Skinner (Yet another useful scene I see). Marge and Homer decide to take Bart to therapy as Homer acts as stupid as the writers intend him to be (When was the last time Homer was an actual character and not comic relief in this show? It sure has been a while). Dr. Thurston then tells Bart that he's right to be angry at SLH but SLH's natural instinct got in the way of logic, causing him to attack the bird. Dr. Thurston suggests that Bart forgive SLH and be the bigger man. Right when Bart's about to hug SLH, SLH attacks a rubber duck and Bart then decides against forgiving him.
I'm sorry that we saved you from that race track, next time we'll leave you there
Dr. Thurston tells Bart to leave and then tells Marge and Homer that SLH must go because he's too aggressive (Wait a second, SLH destroying things based on instinct and the possibility that he may have to go... Holy crap it's Bart's Dog Gets an F all over again. And for a second I thought this was only going to rip off 1 storyline). We then see Homer load SLH in the car with the kids as Bart's still angry at SLH. Marge then reveals that they're giving SLH to an person who owns a farm upstate, Lisa gets a bit upset as Bart could care less (Hasn't Bart been through worse with SLH before and tried to defend him?) After they give SLH to his new owner, Bart gets emotional in saying good-bye to him, but still ends up being a complete jackass about the bird (For crying out loud, BART KNEW THAT BIRD FOR ALL OF MAYBE 2 MONTHS! Why does he care more about that bird than he does his own dog?) After Bart asks for some alone time with SLH, Homer lets out an ostrich and the ostrich starts attacking Bart.
Save me Yeller, er I mean Lassie, er I mean Santa's Little Helper!
After Bart tells SLH to attack, SLH remembers what Bart said and sits down confused. Bart decides to strangle the ostrich himself thus destroying any tension created from the scene (Yeah I know the whole "Dog saves boy" scene is cliche. But it works and it establishes the dog's love for his master. I mean the scene in Old Yeller where he saves Travis from the hogs (This is from memory so I apologize if I get details wrong) it really established how Jim would have a hard time shooting his own dog in the end and how much they love each other. Here it's just "You wont help? Well stay here and rot, why would I care?") Afterwards, Bart apologizes to SLH because he listened to him (Sure, why not?) the family goes home as the ostrich on their roof wakes up and tries to strangle Homer.

Final Verdict: This episode is less than average, it's not as bad as the previous ones, but that's not saying a lot. It's not that funny, the A plot was recycled and pretty out of character for Bart, the B plot was filler and made no sense for Lisa, the cameos were pointless and helped to illustrate just how pathetic they are in the show. And worst of all, the scenes do not flow well together at all. You could essentially put all the small plot points on individual notecards, throw them on the sidewalk and make a more comprehensible story. All together it's not horrible, but there are better things to watch.

Final Grade: 3.8/10 Like I said below average episode that really isn't worth it

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