Thursday, March 31, 2011

April Schedule

4/1: Around the World in 30 Days: Part 1
4/4: In the Name of the Grandfather
4/6: Lovecraft's Corner #4: The Dunwich Horror (1970)
4/8: Lovecraft's Corner #4: The Dunwich Horror (1970)
4/11: The Great Simpsina
4/13: Wedding for Disaster
4/15: Around the World in 30 Days: Part 2
4/18: TBA
4/20: Eeny Teeny Maya Moe
4/22: Around the World in 30 Days: Part 3
4/25: TBA
4/27: The Good, the Sad, and the Drugly
4/30: Around the World in 30 Days: Part 4

Monday, March 28, 2011

Episode 17: Love is a Many Strangled Thing

Before I begin this review, let's go over our checklist to see if we could predict the success of this episode in advance:
  • Title is a rather lazy pun off another title? Check
  • Pointless cameo from a big name guy? Check
  • Rather stupid plot that makes no sense for the character? Check and check
Okay, maybe that's not the best way to prejudge an episode. But with all that in mind, let's take a look at this week's abomina- er I mean episode.

So our episode begins (After having the Futurama ship fly by in the opening. Tip to the staff; don't show us better stuff we could be watching) with Mr. Burns doing a plant inspection via 1800's balloon (Although this does seem like something Burns would do, it's still a rather bland sequence). After the balloon goes out of control, Lenny gives Homer and Carl guns from his trunk to shoot down the balloon (Because he went hunting, huh. Interesting, Lenny would bring loaded guns to work, this episode would probably be 100 times better if it was about Lenny going Postal on the plant. Just saying). Of course though, Homer can't just shoot down the balloon, he needs to do a needless ritual and then shoot at everything EXCEPT the balloon (Ah yes the ever efficient "padding" it always seems to work on people who just don't care). Homer eventually does get the balloon down (Which apparently the plant is right next to a church... weird) Burns then gives Homer a reward of tickets to a game with no promotion that day (Because that's... funny? Insulting? Insinuating? I don't know, and I doubt anyone else know either). After the family looks around inside the stadium (I'll admit, there's the occasional decent joke in here, but the rest aren't worth an emotion) they go to watch the game (Is it just me or is the stadium the size of a small city? Just saying)
Well, considering who's writing this, that shouldn't be too hard
At the game, the jumbotron asks for the fans to make asses out of themselves (I know who wins! It's Lisa isn't it?) So after a few scenes that kill some screen time, we see that Bart's uninterested in dancing and Homer tries to encourage him to join in, but then ends up embarrassing him on the jumbotron after Bart continues to tell him to stop and how it's not funny (I concur, this isn't funny, stop now). Oh yeah quick note, Lisa's more than willing to join in with Marge and Homer for this, but Bart isn't? Did the writers just forget their characters or something? This is more something Lisa would do. Bart then gets angry at Homer for causing him to wet his pants in front of everyone, so Homer apologizes to Bart and Bart is reluctant to forgive him, thus leading Homer to wonder how he can get Bart's love back. Or that's how it would have gone had this show been written by competent writers, instead Homer does a half-hearted apology while at the same time trying to start the wave like a complete moron (How sad is it when it takes me all of 5 seconds to rewrite this episode into something decent?) So let's see, it took about 6 minutes for us to get to "Bart's embarrassed in public" isn't padding just a wonderful thing? Later that night, it seems that Springfield has nothing better going on as Bart wetting himself makes the evening news in an unfunny drawn out scene (Okay seriously? What the hell writers?)
Who does this "Kriken" guy think he is bashing our show?! I'm going to complain about him on my Liveblog
Homer then feels a little bad about what he did and Marge berates Homer for what he did to Bart causing Homer to make it seem like Bart's nothing more than a pet dog with a broken leg (Just when you think the writers can make Homer redeemable, they pull him back to his hole and throw him another shovel). As Bart's overhearing all this, he goes online and sees how Jimbo and Kearney make fun of Bart via Skype (Look, it didn't work when you used this in Bart Mangled Banner and it doesn't work now). Marge tells Homer that he needs to take advantage of this to improve his fathering (Oh for Fu- HOW many times has this plot been used in the past 3 seasons ALONE?! I'll give you a hint; TOO MANY TIMES!) After Homer gives Marge some sarcasm to the idea, she enrolls Homer in the 24/7 "How to be a Better Father" school (Yeah I'm pretty sure these sort of things have "Calling hours" so you can't just call in the middle of the night). At the class, we see Homer, Apu, Kirk, and two random guys along with the teacher Dr. Zander (Don't ask why these guys are here, they are entirely pointless. You could have just had this class full of clowns and it'd make about as much sense).
The staff recently polled some fans and they wanted to see these 4 guys with Homer in this class
Dr Zander then asks Homer about what his experience of being a father has taught him and Homer tells a random story when he tells Zander that he strangled Bart for name calling. Dr. Zander, being a human is appalled by Homer strangling Bart (Relax Doctor, Bart's neck is now made out of silly putty so it's all good). After Homer seems proud of what he does to Bart (I'm pretty sure he strangles Bart out of blind rage and not just "You exist! I'll strangle you boy!")  After a flashback to show how Homer strangled Grampa when he was little (Ah, yeah... BULLSHIT!) Dr. Zander dimisses class. One week later, we see that Dr. Zander only wanted to talk with Homer at the seminar. Dr. Zander then tells Homer that based off his one story that he needs to take an extreme treatment method to cure Homer (Yeah because weeks and weeks of therapy and hard work never do anything. Always resort to the Ludivico treatment, right?) Dr. Zander then calls in Kareem Abdul Jabar and the session begins with KAJ looking like Homer while Homer is given a Bart-style wig as Dr. Zander tells Homer that he needs to realize what it's like to be a young terrified little boy (Great, you want to turn him into a pansy. I swear if this ends with Homer jumping out of a window and ending up in a hospital being fed grapes by Marge, I quit).
This is 50% physical humor, 50% padding and 0% substance
After we see KAJ strangling Homer initially, we get a montage of KAJ strangling Homer for days (This is just beyond stupid. I mean at least the "Spanking treatment" in Hurricane Neddy had some charm. This lacks all of that). After all that strangling (Because harm to Homer a thousand times is funny, right?) Homer sits on a couch and Dr. Zander decides that Homer's cured (Now everytime he sees a neck getting strangled, he'll start to get nauseous and get down on his knees and start gagging). Later, Homer informs Bart that he's cured, and to prove this, Homer has Bart throw some eggs into a fan and everytime Homer tries to strangle him, all he can see is KAJ (They somehow found a way to make that pointless cameo fit into more scenes of the episode. Dammit, I lost my bet). After Bart sees Homer freak out over his hallucinations, he decides to take Willie's tractor into the school and wreak havoc (Because... I honestly have no idea... hello? Logic? Reasoning? Bueller?). Edna tries to stop him, but Bart points out that Homer's afraid of Bart now (I still don't see how that prevents Bart from being punished. There are still school rules and Marge is more than willing to punish him). After some padding by Bart (It's funny because it's not) we see that Homer's having a nightmare about Bart being the parent while Homer's being the abused child (This episode's becoming more and more painful by the minute). After that bit of pain, Marge gets a call from the school saying that Bart's out of control (Because as we all know, schools call right in the morning and give specific details like "Out of control").
Big deal, Edna has nothing on that Chinese man in Tianamen Square
After Marge suggests therapy for Bart (And Homer shoots down the idea of two people in the same family needing therapy *Bites tongue*) she goes to the counseling center as she finds out that Dr. Zander's not there (I guess she couldn't tell it was abandoned by oh let's see THE BIG "FOR LEASE" SIGN or what about the fact that IT'S BOARDED UP?! It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out). Marge goes to find out that because of the economy him and a lot of other unnecessary expensive luxury providers are out of a job (In 5 years this won't seem dated at all). Marge gets Dr. Zander to agree to help reverse what he did to Homer as SOMEHOW this led to Bart becoming a bully (Seriously, this makes no sense at all. I'd get it if it was just Bart to Homer, but apparently it's Bart to everyone. That's a lot to buy there writers, that's a lot to buy, and I ain't buying it). We then see Dr. Zander take Bart and Homer out on a trip to the wilderness, as we need our obligatory "Snake in Homer's pants" joke (You see this face?! Oh yeah, you can't, well I'm not laughing) After a stupid scene involving Bart having Homer getting hurt by cacti (If Homer gets hurt maybe once in a blue moon, it's be funny, but it gets tiring seeing Homer get hurt a dozen times per episode. You can't make that your running gag for EVERY episode) we then see that Marge decided to kill some screen time by "Bonding" with Lisa over doing nails, making brownie sundays and watching 4 sad movies (The last of which isn't shown but makes Lisa cry. My guess is it's The Simpsons Season 24)
Oh mom, don't remind me of that shitty Season 20 release. It was so forced and terrible.
After they kill some more screen time (Seriously, this feels very shoehorned in, it's unresolved in the end, and UTTERLY pointless. Was the script 1 minute too short?) Dr. Zander has Homer set up on a tree with a noose around his neck assuring Homer that Bart will cut the noose when he jumps down (Or he falls to his death and we're free of this crap forever. Come on Bart, don't cut the noose!)  After Homer jumps, Bart decides to text Moe "I am a wiener" (Great, another memorable joke raped by the writers. Hey, while you're at it, why don't you have Homer take his family our for some "Zero-fat, low-calorie unfrosted "rich in antioxidants" chocolate malts"?) Dr. Zander, angry at how Bart could care less about Homer decides to strangle him himself and realizes why Homer strangles him constantly. Bart decides to cut Homer down and he saves Bart from Dr. Zander. The episode ends with Homer and Bart relaxing inside of a tree agreeing that therapy works (Bull-fucking-shit! I want a refund for this crap).

Final Verdict: This episode is terrible, the story doesn't flow at all, the jokes are just lame, the writing is terrible, and there's no point to ANYTHING in this episode. This is just a very frustrating episode that starts nowhere and ends nowhere. It's also very (And I emphasize very) forgettable, I couldn't write up the review by memory, there was nothing memorable about this. In the hands of competent writers, this may have been a pretty good bonding episode between Bart and Homer *Cough* Boy Scoutz in the Hood *Cough*, but in the hands of these writers, it's a joyless mess.

Final Grade: 2.0/10 Will this season just END already?!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Episode 13: Gone Maggie Gone

Dear Lord this episode is pretentious, everything from the attempts to be like National Treasure mixed with The Da Vinci Code to the jokes to the characters is all annoying and stupid. I feel that anyone who thinks this is a clever puzzle story really needs to step back and realize the plot canyons this episode provides. Now let's get on our Sherlock Holmes hats, smoke a pipe and discover why this episode should have been gone with Maggie. Oh yeah, I apologize for the length of this review in advance, as it's longer than my normal review, thanks for the cooperation.

We start off with a narration explaining how man was ruled by science and industry but is now ruled by prophecies, puzzles and signs in the skies (Since when? ...the Mayan thing? Only a small minority believe that!)(So in other words, we are moving backwards in evolution. Well seeing as how this show's gotten stupider and stupider, I don 't doubt that they think this). Oh yeah, in case you couldn't tell what this show's supposed to "satire", the writers put on the chalkboard that this episode is a "Da Vinci Code Spoof". Don't you love it when the writers think we have the mind of a retarded seven-year-old? So after that bit of exposition (Quit being boring, you're boring everyone), we see that there's going to be a solar eclipse and Kent Brockman freaks out because the eclipse viewer wasn't pre-made (Hey it could be worse, you could try viewing Twilight: Eclipse)(NEVER AGAIN!).
All the subtly of a burning house
In a CGI shot we see the moon causing the eclipse over America (But in reality the shadow is way too small. Yeah I might be reaching here, but a partial solar eclipse takes up a few thousand km in diameter, while a full takes up a few hundred km in diameter. In this it's apparently only a full eclipse. In other words Physics is officially out of this episode. Wow, that only took 1:30, that's just under 1 minute after I stopped caring). During the eclipse we see some jokes about what happens when it goes dark during the day (Vampires come out? Bats come out? Nerds come out?)(Hit and miss) and we see the Simpsons preparing to view the eclipse (They acknowledge here that there are different phases of an eclipse. So that means they knew a solar eclipse has two different types of shadows but didn't give a rat's ass enough to animate it). Homer breaks his viewer and Marge gives him hers which causes her to miss it and hear about everyone loving it. Upset, Marge decides to look at it without a viewer and burns her eyes burn out as soon as some sun rays come through (She should have shared with Maggie, how would she remember?)(.....SCIENCE! It's what this episode LACKS!).
MY EYES! The invisible goggles do nothing for the stupidity of this episode!
Okay where do I  begin? Staring into the sun for 3 seconds does NOT burn your retinas, just staring at it like that would at worst cause minor retina damage that would not become apparent for hours and at worst cause some blind spots. You'd need to be looking at the sun through a telescope for the same period to come close. In other words, YOUR STORY IS STUPID! After a trip to Dr. Hibbert to give Marge treatment for her illogical condition (It's not even the worst thing so I'll buy it for now), we cut back to home as Homer and the family is taking care of Marge. We see that there are rats in the kitchen (Homer lampshades the fact they are referencing Ratatouille. Because as we all know just saying the name of a movie equals humor, right?). Afterwards Homer goes out to get some rat poison (Still using his hair to control himself, how is this funny?). After getting the rat poison (In Shelbyville, for some reason) Santa's Little Helper fights with Maggie for the poison (Okay I know this is a stupid question but why did Homer bring Maggie and the dog with him to buy rat poison? Did he know how the plot was going to go and knew he needed them along? This plot hole hurts).
Because as we all know, you MUST bring your baby and pet along while buying poison
After Homer lampshades the plot hole while driving (That doesn't make up for it, it's still stupid), Homer decides to take a boat across the river to get to Springfield (wait, he can't buy rat poison in Springfield? ......Why?) but he can't take everyone as they're too heavy (Interesting how leaving the poison and the dog behind would make the boat light enough. I guess physics really did leave)(Why haven't you?). Homer breaks the fourth wall by asking the audience and accidentally kills Pr. Frink with some poison (Remember once upon a time when the show kept some mild form of continuity? E.G. When a character left or died, they would stay gone? No? Me neither) and we're left to solve the puzzle we learned in 5th grade (The puzzle, though, wasn't they were too heavy but the tiger couldn't be with the goat in the boat at the same time)(Or there wasn't enough space for all three). Homer gives us all the answer and starts by rowing Maggie across, SLH decides to swim but Homer says no to that idea (How dare SLH bring logic into this show, doesn't he know this season is meant for drooling idio-... nevermind). When Homer leaves Maggie on that side, a nun picks up Maggie and Homer fails to get her back (Making the riddle *Entirely pointless*). We cut back to the home where Homer tells Bart and Lisa about what happened and Lisa volunteers to infiltrate the church to find Maggie.
I guess the whole "Buddhist" thing was just a phase
At the church, Lisa goes in as a "poor little sinner who's lost her way" and gets in (There's also a joke that seems funny on paper but when executed seems so wrong; maybe it's just my dirty mind). We then see Lisa look inside a nursery that doesn't have Maggie but does have some insults against Catholics (I'm not going to allow this to get to me but I will point them out). After Lisa asks if they have any other babies (in an unfunny exchange), Lisa questions why they'd lie to her like that (I don't know, maybe it's none of your business, you're just a newbie to them)(You know, if she was going to blow her cover so soon, why bother with the cover at all?). We then see a mural at the top of the building of Saint Teresa pointing to a jewel in a hand owned by Monty Python (Do yourselves all a favor, go watch Monty Python, it's so much funnier and better than this crap). Lisa finds out from another sister that she needs to find the jewel to find Maggie (This is the point where you should shut it off. The payoff isn't worth it. Well if you had expectations it isn't worth it). The nun points Lisa to the first clue and exits dramatically (Or turns into a vampire! But not one that sparkles, they suck).
It's the source of Monty Python's comedy!
Lisa reads the first clue, which is in Latin that translates out to "Seek God in Heart and Soul" (Okay when did Lisa learn Latin? Or better yet, how the fuck is she able to memorize Latin, it's a pretty difficult language. The plot holes will continue to get larger trust me)(That said, Latin is usually taught in high school by an experienced teacher, spending about five hours a week on it, not counting homework or simple memorization. Just think about that for a few minutes). Lisa concludes that the clue means play "Heart and Soul" on the piano *Bangs head on table*. Yeah sure, this 300-year-old puzzle starts off with a song created in 1938 so why not? So after playing a lyric, the piano opens up and reveals an intricate device that takes forever to get to the next clue (Even Lisa finds it boring how long it takes, that's a bad sign when your own characters find your plot boring). So let's recap, Lisa needs to find a jewel that's centuries old by playing a song created 70 years ago to open up a device that looks like it belongs more in "Chitty Chitty Bang Bang" and these nuns created this. Time for the booze(Me first!).
Can YOU believe nuns made this?
So after some padding (The device takes up about a minute of screen time, the staff must have been very impressed with their animation or something), we see Homer dressing his arm up like Maggie to fool Marge (It's not funny and leads to nothing, I apologize for even adding this in). We cut back to the device finishing up to open a chamber with the next clue in English this time (Consistency, what's that?) Lisa decides to read every other word for no reason other than she was given the script (Seriously she doesn't read it through once, just assumes it's every other word. Hello writers, normal people would usually read it once through and then try to decipher it)(And even intelligent people know you can't assume you know the cipher right away). It turns out that Lisa needs to find the biggest ring in Springfield as we see a lot of rings we don't usually see. The writers then decide to allow us to play again and find the biggest ring (Well let's see considering it had to be around post-1938 I'd say that Hollywood like sign). Lisa then breaks the fourth wall after the commercial break as it turns out she was talking to Milhouse about the riddle (You're not Deadpool, Lisa, just stick to being pretentious to the townspeople). Lisa figures it must be the "ring" from the bell in the bell tower (That comes in for this episode). Back home, we see Bart filling in for Lisa so that Marge doesn't get suspicious about where she is (Too late, Bart, we know the real Lisa's still missing).
Bart, do I even WANT to know what you do on the weekends?
We cut back to Lisa unmasking Skinner and Comic Book Guy as they reveal that they too are looking for the gem because they are with the Freemasons -er, I mean the "Brethren of the Quest" (Quest? For the One Ring? Hmmmm). Skinner exposits the history of the gem after Lisa blackmails him (Goody, because we didn't have enough plot holes already). It turns out that Saint Teresa had a vision of a gem that would usher in an era of peace and harmony (Big deal, I see those all the time when I'm high)(Really? I just see the Blue Beetle ta- ....never mind). She then sent some nuns to the new world to find the gem (Acting like pirate though, because heaven forbid they actually worship God or act like Catholics *Bites tongue*). After setting up a convent, word got out about their mission for the gem (Lousy security). Benjamin Franklin tells George Washington and King George III about the gem and they (I'm not kidding here) "Staged a phony war of independence" to search for the gem... Words escape me people, I've heard of shitty conspiracy theories, but this is the WORST.
It's a good thing this whole thing is fake. Otherwise, that British soldier might have felt a lot of pain there.
I know it's supposed to be a "joke", and I'm not supposed to take this seriously, but it'd be about as funny as them saying that Hitler used the Holocaust so he could find the treasure of the Baltic Sea. YOU DON'T DO THAT! There was NO thought put into this, the writers just must have looked at National Treasure and said "Hey! We can make our own half-assed version of that". Hundreds of Thousands of people DIED in that war and all you can say was it was fake?! THIS IS STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! STUPID! (Besides, then what was the rationale for the War of 1812? Second chance to search? At least National Treasure came up with a decent reason to include the Revolutionary War...) I'm this close to cracking people. The nuns then fled to Springfield (Contradicting stories from Lisa the Iconoclast. You know writers, you're not giving me ANY reason to give you credit yet), and it turns out that the gem will be revealed on the first full moon after a solar eclipse (How do we know this is true? It's been over 300 years since the search for the gem took place and nobody's found it yet. I say it was a drug trip St. Teresa was on). Lisa then reveals that she went to the belltower because it was the biggest ring, CBG shoots that down by revealing it's a fake bell and she's a condescending bitch (Okay he doesn't do the latter, but seriously, the writers need to stop writing Lisa as this smart-alec condescending bitch. It's not like her at all). Lisa then finds out the real answer and they all head to the giant SPRINGFIELD.
Subtly; Because thinking is just too damn hard
When they get there, Mr. Burns is already there with his "Faithful Albino" (Get it, because he's that guy from The Da Vinci Code, because this plot was SO subtle. What? You're not laughing? Can't blame you). Lisa then finds out there's a clue on the RING (What) which is "Great Crimes Kill Holy Sage" and she deduces it must be an anagram because of the way it's worded (Makes sense; now can you explain how she knew to use every other word?!). We see Lisa trying to solve the anagram while Skinner and CBG are forced to dig their own graves (Because... it's funny?). After the break we find out that the anagram spells out "Regally the rock gem is Lisa" *Bangs head on wall* How the fuck does that make any sense?! Are you really trying to say that St. Teresa sent her nuns to North America to search for a 'gem' that wouldn't be born for 300 years!? This is honestly some of the laziest writing I've seen in this show and quite possibly any show. Smithers tells Mr. Burns that Lisa IS the gem and it's not in her (This plot device was bad in Men in Black 2 but that had more logic because SHE WAS ALREADY BORN when the message was made)(When MIB 2 makes more sense, you've royally screwed up). Lisa is proud that God would make her the gem (And try to bring her back to Christianity. Just fuck off writers, fuck off) and the gang go to the convent via Mr. Burns' chopper (Get to the choppa!).
There are a lot of things you don't get writers. Like why kids like Cinimmon Toast Crunch 
While they're flying over, I have so many questions, like:
"How many people named Lisa have there been in Springfield in the past 300 years?"(965)
"How many times have there been an eclipse where they chose the wrong Lisa?"(Three)
"Why would God pick Lisa of all people to restore peace and order to the entire world?" (Because it went so WELL with Veidt!)
Thank God there's booze to remove any memory of these questions *Drinks*. At the convent the nuns are singing "O Fortuna" *Drinks some more* and Lisa smugly comes in as the "Gem child" (Seriously why is she such a prick?). The lead nun tells Lisa she's wrong and it turns out that Maggie is the Gem child *Preps myself for a lobotomy*(Ick, NO). This was stupid enough already but now you're going to say it's Maggie?! Oh my God, it's officially happened, the writers have thrown up their hands and just said "Fuck it, we don't care, our audience will buy anything we say". Well it turns out that Lisa misinterpreted the anagram and it really said "It's really Maggie, Sherlock" (And even Lisa points out that that anagram requires you to solve it incorrectly first - and how did the nuns know it'd be Maggie?! ....WHAT WAS THE POINT OF THIS PLOT?!).
Even M. Night Shyamalan would find this "Twist ending" stupid
When the sun rises we see that everyone is nice and happy all because Maggie was placed on the throne (Bullshit!) Lisa finally believes it's her (Because the writers didn't believe it themselves when they read it back). Marge comes bursting in (Still blind) and grabs Maggie which instantly means no more peace and prosperity (Oh fuck it it's almost over)(Wait, how'd Marge find out?). Maggie then pulls off the bandages to which Marge sees Maggie (Wait a minute Dr. Hibbert said the bandages must stay on for two full weeks yet she takes them off the next day and is perfectly fine. It looks like sense of time went with Physics on vacation)(And we're next). Marge says she couldn't allow her child to stay and God wouldn't want her to sacrifice her for the good of the world, again (Charming *Hits her over the head with a Bible*). Homer gives the convent Bart and we see that when he sits on the throne, all hell breaks loose (You mean EVERYONE'S forced to watch this season FOREVER?! NOOOOOO!!!!!!)

Final Judgment: This episode is terrible. This is the type of episode where the writers say, "Hey we can reference any movies we want and you'll accept it". The writing is terrible, the jokes are terrible, the plot is beyond stupid and the plot holes are big enough to fill with every piece of merchandise The Simpsons ever made. This isn't the worst episode but I rank it low because, frankly, this is just the writers thinking that we have no minds of our own and we have to accept this.

Final Grade: 0.8/10 Watch something else, The Da Vinci Code doesn't have as many plot holes as this (Can we go to Italy now? I hear Florence is lovely this time of year)

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Updates about the Blog

Hey readers, this is Kriken, just wanting to give some news and notes. First off, as you can see, I have set up a poll for the order of my theme month next month. Yes I will go back to the 3 posts a week format and move the season 20 reviews back to Wednesday. I'll be posting my April schedule around the end of March, like usual, I can only list the episodes that are scheduled to air. RBY and I are working hard on the next Lovecraft's Corner, I think you will all like the next installment, it should be rather good.

But since, updates aren't what you want to see, I'm also going to include a preview of Sunday's episode.

According to Fox (Yeah this is just a cut and paste, so sue me) the story is:

"When Homer inadvertently humiliates Bart in front of a stadium crowd, Marge encourages Homer to enroll in a fathering enrichment class taught by therapist Dr. Zander. Shocked to learn that Homer often strangles Bart for mischievous behavior, Dr. Zander conducts a series of treatments with the help of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to teach Homer what it feels like to be young and small. But when Bart learns that the therapy sessions have transformed Homer into a pushover, he takes advantage of Homer and becomes a school bully. Hoping therapy could also cure Bart of his bullying habits, Marge enlists Dr. Zander's help to patch their relationship."

So, where do I begin? First off, why does Kareem Abdul-Jabbar even need to be in this story? By my understanding of that synopsis, he'll appear for one (Or two) scene to hurt Homer and leave. When this show was great, it managed to give its guest stars an actual purpose in the episode, now it's just "Hi I'm *Insert celebrity here* and I just decided to pass by Springfield to say hi. Oh, there's my *Insert exit method* gotta go." Secondly, do we really need an episode dedicated to Homer's strangling of Bart over the years? I mean, I'm all for someone getting help if they need it, but this is a mainstay of the show. I just have a hard time envisioning Homer voluntarily going to therapy because of something he does all the time. Yeah I know all will be resolved in the end, status quo will be achieved, but I just have a hard time even trying to accept that this concept will even air. This has "Duffless clone" written all over it (If you replace beer with violence, and humor with painful dialogue). Maybe I'm just nitpicking here with the whole "Homer will go into therapy over strangling Bart" but it just seems so wrong to me, maybe it's just how bad the season's been to date and I'm just putting on the "This episode sucks" blinders. Who knows, maybe the writers might actually make a funny episode, maybe it'll be okay, maybe hell will freeze over, who knows?

Friday, March 18, 2011

Episode 12: No Loan Again, Naturally

This is one of those episodes that looked like it had potential from a story perspective, but like many others in recent memory, suffers from poor execution. The idea of Homer having to live in a house that's owned by Flanders does raise some interesting ideas, but it just seems like the writers really didn't try to come up with these ideas. Let's review this and be thankful our property isn't owned by Flanders.

The episode starts with Homer and his family preparing for their annual Mardi Gras party (Which apparently they've done since Bart was born, interesting)(I think the show celebrated Mardi Gras before. Not at Homer's house). Marge is concerned about the cost of the party and Homer tells her not to worry about it (I would put in a "Translation: " joke in, but I assume you all know what it leads to). At the party, Quimby opens the party (Including an overlong joke about him and his wife, who said jokes need effort?) everyone seems to be having a good time. Marge tells Homer to invite Ned (To which he gives no resistance...wait what?)(.....what?) and Ned accepts the invitation (The fence joke shouldn't have been placed in, it wasn't funny with Homer and it wasn't funny the other two times). When Ned gets there, he instantly becomes a buzzkill by announcing when it's Ash Wednesday (So Ned coming over proved to be entirely pointless. Great writing, wouldn't you say? Oh yeah for those of you wondering "Was there any point to this party?" the answer is; no. You could easily replace the party with "Homer does something expensive" and it'd be just as sensible)
Quick! Name all the people in this photo who belong at a Mardi Gras party
The next day we see everyone hungover and Homer cleaning up the yard of beers. Lenny asks the sensible question in how Homer can afford this and Homer gives us a lesson in Economics 101: he takes out a home equity loan so that he gets money and the house gets stuck with the bill (Yeah because in 3 years this joke wont become dated or unfunny right?). Lenny lampshades what we're all thinking (at least someone has a bit of intelligence) and Homer takes back his Mardi Gras beads for questioning him. We then see Marge find a piece of mail indicating that their mortgage rate would be increasing and she takes Homer down to the mortgage company to find out why (They even include a bad line about it being the first day of Lent. Next year for Lent I'm giving up shitty Simpsons episodes. I think I'll manage somehow). Ol' Gil then gives them their new monthly payment (Yeah he works for the mortgage company now. I guess when consistent jobs are optional anything's possible), which is too expensive for them. Because of this, the Simpsons' house is foreclosed and we see the family packing up a U-Tote truck (Better than MyPod, but not by much).
If only this meant they were leaving television. If only
Gil lampshades about failing banks and how CEO's got out great during the government bailout (These topical plots are really getting on my nerves, I could watch episodes from 10 years ago and not have to look up the newspapers about what went on at the time to understand their jokes). As we see some people inside the house inspecting it for themselves, we find out that Homer stole all the copper wire but forgot to disconnect it causing him to get shocked (Homer getting hurt, because it only happens about a dozen times per episode now). The next morning we see Marge crying over the loss of the house (While finding memories in the house) and Homer attempting suicide by hanging himself from a tree but bringing down the tree and crushing his car (I don't know what to say, Homer attempting suicide IN FRONT OF HIS KIDS. You know the idea of Homer killing himself sucked in season one. But at least he didn't want his family to see him commit suicide)(...there are no words for the face I'm making). We then see the house up for auction as Mr. Burns bids $100,000 for the house to store his cufflinks (-_-).
What a great father, no care for his kids at all
Mr. Flanders sees the Simpsons walking off in shame to which he bids $101,000 on the house and Mr. Burns doesn't bother to outbid him (You know that's pretty good for a 5 bedroom, 2 bathroom, two story building). The Simpsons come back and Ned explains that he bought it back to rent it to them and Marge is grateful for it. As they're about to put their stuff back we see Homer going upstairs to grab the "Surprise" he left for the new owners (It turns out to be a bouquet of flowers wishing the new owners treat this house with respect. Okay for as bad as this season's been I have to give credit for this scene and how Homer actually cares about something)(.....can I just say, 'Awwwwwww'). Okay, maybe I didn't give this episode its due diligence, maybe I just had a skewed perspective because of the season itself being shitty, or maybe we should watch the last two acts to be sure. At the housewarming, the two families get a picture as Bart puts up a picture of him making a face to ruin the picture and Lisa smacks him (Hooray for violence). Later, we see there's a leaky faucet and Ned volunteers to fix it which Marge at first refuses but then accepts. After he fixes it Marge begins to ask him to fix some other things in the house and we see Ned unclogging a pipe and trying to fix an electric socket (I expected a montage there, methinks this episode is lulling me into a false sense of security).
Marge dreams of Flanders
After Ned leaves, he gets called in the middle of the night and he refuses to come over to fix a gas leak. Homer then badmouths him on the phone because he refused to come over and we see that the family is using said leak to cook food (Oh goody, another bad joke). Homer then continues to badmouth him at Moe's (keeping in mind that Flanders took care of a lot for them and saved their homes, and that the house has ALWAYS been falling apart....yeah). Moe suggests that Homer goes to the media and expose him for the horrible landlord he is (Okay now I know why I dislike this: the entire premise is that Flanders saved the Simpsons home and Homer repays that gratitude with rudeness and selfishness. If I were Ned, I'd evict them to teach them to be grateful for what they had). Later we see that Channel 6 news does an investigative report on the Simpsons home (Dear Lord, did they just run out of stories to air that week or something? Oh wait it's season 20 writing, my mistake) and, based on some weak evidence, the story makes Ned out to be a horrible person (With a Hitler mustache, devil horns and a Detroit Lions fan shirt. It's funny because it's topical, right?) Ned then does the sensible thing after that and gives Homer the month to get out of the house.
I guess when you've sold your soul as much as this show has, you get a vivid image of the devil
Homer tries to plead with Ned, but, it's no use as Ned's too angry at the moment (I know someone's going to call BS on Ned's behavior here, but using Hurricane Neddy as an reference, he does store up anger and can release it all at once, so I'm going to let this one go). Later, Homer tries to trick Flanders into thinking Jesus wants the Simpsons to stay but it doesn't work (By Homer getting everything imaginable wrong)(At least he's lucky Jesus didn't show up from Colorado, or he'd kick his ass). After Ned places a notice of eviction, Homer points out a loophole that they can stay if a resident is over 65 (Grampa). The plan takes effect but Homer thinks they all have be in the residence for it to work. Marge points out that only Grampa needs to stay and she suggests they all go out for an outing (which results in some pretentious lines from Lisa). The family keeps Grampa occupied with a DVD and sneaks out. On the way back, Homer exposits what they did and Bart lampshades the fact they already know what he said (Ah, writing at its finest: complete crap). When they get home they find out that Ned took in Grampa and evicted them while they were gone. Homer decides to try out the "Tempting Fate" trope and it doesn't rain.
The E! True Hollywood Story: The Simpsons after 1999
We then see the family at a homeless shelter where they're all miserable (Serves them right. Wait I'm supposed to root for them aren't I?). We cut back to Ned about to sign two new tenants that would be perfect for him when Ned realizes he misses the Simpsons and he tells them they can't live there (The couple tells him they'll sue. I'm assuming for breach of contract but considering they never made any payments I don't see how they could win, a landlord does have a right to say no to a new tenant if they want to). Ned gives the Simpsons their house back which causes all the other neighbors to want to move out. We end with Homer saying he hates the neighborhood (And they hate you right back).

Final Judgment: This episode isn't bad but it's not really good either. The story had its moments but there were times where you were left scratching your head at the stupidity. The writing is up and down (Mostly down), the jokes really aren't that funny and the characters act weird at times. But to their credit, I believe this is the most in-character the family has acted all season. There was much more potential but unfortunately it got left on the table, it's better than the episodes surrounding it, but that's not saying much.

Final Grade: 4.3/10 Just an average, mediocre episode

Thursday, March 17, 2011

St. Patrick's Day Tribute: A look at "Homer vs the 18th Amendment"

Happy St. Patrick's day everyone. As a part Irish man (About 1/8th or so) I gotta wear as much green as possible and find every way to embrace the traditions given for today (However I'm not drinking as I know people who've been in DUI accidents before and today's one of the worst days for that). So anyways, the point. I thought about what exactly should I do for St. Patrick's Day. I already did a review of Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes so that's out of the picture, I'm going to do the In the Name of the Grandfather review later so that's out. So then it hit me, talk about a GOOD St. Patrick's Day episode and we're in luck, one of my all time favorites and it's from season 8 Homer vs the 18th Amendment. Instead of a review, I'm just going to simply talk about why this episode is what it is (And that would be great).

The main reason that this is one of the (If not the) best St. Patrick's Day episode from this show is because of two reasons.

  1. There aren't too many St. Patrick's Days episodes around
  2. The majority of the other episodes are from post-season 10
But aside from all that, this episode is great on its own and a pretty good satire as well (Yeah, this is when the show COULD do a satire without loudly announcing it and doing a piss-poor job with it). So I'm just going to begin with the St. Patrick's Day part and just talk a little about my favorite parts of it.

  • When Bart enters the school and isn't wearing green everyone immediately looks at him and starts pinching him (It only takes 41 seconds to get the first joke in. Now a days, it'd take about 2 minutes or so)
  • While Bart's getting pinched to death, Lisa tortures him further by getting more students to pinch him (I really like this because it's sort of Lisa's little "Take that" to Bart. Especially after what happened the episode before)
What a nice sister
  • Homer's and the bar flies are all at the bar early in the morning (I like how Homer, Lenny and Carl could all care less about work, as today's a drinking day)
  • Moe's poisonous green dye cracks me up
  • The designated drivers joke makes me snicker
~Just beat it! Beat it! Beat it! Beat it!~
  • The St. Patrick's Day parade is pretty amusing considering how it embraces Irish stereotypes
  • I like how the animators put effort into giving the citizens a green theme, whether it meant green clothes or green hair
  • I find it funny that beer is shot out to the public in the middle of a public event. I'm more surprised the women didn't complain about this
  • Huh, Lenny was at Moe's and the parade at the same time, who knew he had explosive teleportation?
  • You know for as long as it lasted (3:30) it was very memorable and very funny (A lot more jokes than today's episodes)
This episode was very memorable for the whole "Beer Barron" plot, but the St. Patrick's Day plot was very essential for leading into the prohibition storyline. It gave us an idea about how overreactive Helen Lovejoy is and just how one incident can be blown out of proportion to lead to what it lead to. In short, there isn't really a St. Patrick's Day themed episode (That we can hang our hat on) but I'd say that this is close enough.

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone, and remember drink responsibly.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Episode 16: A Midsummer's Nice Dream

Okay before I even start this review I want to get one thing clear; I have NO idea who Cheech and Chong are. I grew up in the 90's so they were before my time and I've never heard their work before. Granted I saw their cameo on South park, but that's not enough to know their style of comedy. Maybe one day I'll go watch some of their stuff online, but for now I cannot judge their performances on this show fairly as all I know is that they were basically a comedy duo that were based on the Hippie era. With all that out of the way, let's take a look at today's episode.

So the episode begins with Kent Brockman doing a news report about how Cheech and Chong are coming to Springfield (Where they were born apparently) to do a reunion show. Homer, being a big fan (I'll buy it) is excited by the news. After some backstory explaining how they became what they are today (With their jobs as meteorologists, sure why not?) Bart asks Homer who they are. Homer is upset that Bart doesn't know who they are and takes Bart and Lisa to the attic to show them some of the albums of Cheech and Chong that he owns. After Homer gives Lisa some albums to read off (You know, it only takes about 2-3 at most to get the point, they have 6 titles) Homer 'hilariously' realizes that he was smoking a blunt of asbestos (I guess that happens when your character seems to have eaten lead paint for a living).
Um dad... when did this become That 70's Show?
At the "Clampitheater" *Tumbleweed* we see Krusty introduce Cheech and Chong (After a seemingly long monologue. Seriously, it feels longer than it really is). The show begins with Cheech and Chong doing their "Dave's not here" bit where Homer shouts out the punchline before Chong can say it (Come on Homer, let the actors do their bit without interrupting them). After the audience starts chanting "Dave's not here" he gets up and tells Cheech that he's not going to "Sell out" anymore and he begins doing cartwheels across the stage (Um... why?) Cheech asks Chong what he's doing and Chong says that he wants to do new things and is sick of doing things safe. Cheech insists that people paid good money for the bit and Chong walks out on the show (I'm not sure that the writers meant this or not, but you can easily replace "Cheech and Chong" with "The Simpsons" and it would describe the show perfectly. A bit more on that later). After a 4th wall joke (One point for the argument) Marge tells Homer to help Cheech as he knows all the punchlines. After being adamant at first, he goes on stage to finish the bit (So if I were to walk into a recording studio and start spouting off Season 4 lines, would I get a job on the show?) After people start inhaling some weed smoke (Where did that come from?) they start laughing at the bit as things are funny when you're high (Much like this show).
I don't care who's on first! Who's on second?!
Afterwards, Cheech offers Homer the role of Chong and Homer agrees. Later, we see Homer say goodbye to Marge as they leave each other with some bad dialogue (Is natural dialogue such a foreign concept to this show?) On the road, Cheech tells Homer (Chunk) that he really needs Homer to be on his A-game as the fans are much more critical of their bits now (Sound familiar?) After Cheech gets rid of Chong's image from all the merchandise he owns, we see Chong set up an audition for his new comedy partner (You know what Chong reminds me of in this scene? He remind me of those caricatures of hippies that are amazed by the concept of business). After some unfunny performances, we see Skinner do two terrible bits (And this is even by the standards of their normal jokes). Chong, impressed with how bad he is decides to take him on as his new comedy partner (Oh, so this is how the staff gets new writers). I guess the writers remembered that Marge and Lisa are supposed to be characters so now we see both of them walking down the street with Santa's Little Helper as he chases a cat. When Marge and Lisa catch up, they find out that it's the Crazy Cat Lady's house and they go in to retrieve SLH.
Lisa Simpson and the Temple of Cats
When they go in, they find out that the Cat Lady is a hoarder and has a serious problem (Most original plot I've heard in months). Lisa and Marge decide that they'll help her with her problem as we find out that Moe's been videotaping Marge to send to NBC (Wow, that was essential to the story). We then go to Homer and Cheech as Homer acts like a jackass and Cheech tries to tell Homer that comedy is hard work and the fun is seeing the audience smile from their hard work (You mean like seasons 3-8?) We then go to Marge as we see that's she's assembled a team to help clean out the Cat Lady's house (While she's she's watching a play production of Cats, creativity is optional in writing right?) After they finish cleaning out her house, the Cat Lady thanks her (Yeah she can talk now, I'm calling bull) and Marge sees certain stuff being thrown out and decides to take it for herself (For some reason, I don't know logic went out the window 10 seasons ago). Later we see Homer and Cheech do another bit and afterwards, Homer goes into pure filler time (It's probably something dealing with C&C but like I said, I've never seen any of their stuff). After that waste of time, Cheech takes Homer to an art museum which is also pointless (Seriously, you could cut out the last 1:40 and not have to change a single line of dialogue).
Skinner! Are we still on for tonight?
Later we see "Teach and Chong" do their own performance as Skinner sucks and Chalmers is in the audience to insult him (Okay seriously, this relationship between Skinner and Chalmers is borderline psychopathic. I mean I could chuckle at first that Chalmers was around Skinner all the time, but now it's just creepy. Does Chalmers have no life outside of Skinner?) We then see Bart and Lisa walk home from school as they find out that Marge has become a hoarder worse than Crazy Cat Lady (Yes I noticed some of the specific items in the piles, so do not point out what's in there, I do not care). Lisa then tries to call Homer to help them, but Cheech tells Homer that he shouldn't take personal calls while they're rehearsing because they're professionals (Which is why in the next bit involves Homer and Cheech dressed up as dogs sniffing each others asses. The irony is not lost on me, I'm just not laughing). Homer then comes home to get Marge to stop as he brought Cat Lady over to help.
We're sorry for this episode, but maybe if you watch it again while you're high it might make sense
Crazy Cat Lady then starts to see all the stuff and she goes insane and starts grabbing stuff. Homer takes Marge away and that storyline ends (Wow, that was excessively unfunny and pointless, way to go writers). Later, Homer gets Chong to reunite with Cheech onstage as they forgive each other and go on with the act. The episode ends with Bart looking like an elf with weed-based clothing giving us our epilogue.

Final Verdict: This episode is very "meh", it's not good nor is it really terrible (Okay that maybe is a lie), just meh. The writing is bad but bearable at times, the jokes are very hit and miss (Mostly miss), neither plot was interesting and the subplot was terrible. On a positive note, the show actually used their guest stars for the story rather than just plugging them in for the ratings. Really, this episode was very forgettable and didn't really conjure up any reason for me to re-watch it. I can usually say an episode either makes me happy or makes me angry, this one is really just in the middle ground. Whether it was intentional or not, it really felt like a self-parody of the show as fans are more critical, want the old stuff and the new stuff isn't what you expect.

Final Grade: 2.9/10 Dan, stick with voice acting, writing really isn't your strong suit

Friday, March 11, 2011

Lovecraft's Corner #3: The Crimson Cult, aka The Curse of the Crimson Altar

I'd like to open this with a brief apology: this review should've been posted March 9th. However, when the movie was first obtained, it was discovered, much to my dismay, we had obtained a Spanish version. It wasn't until the 10th we found an English version available on Youtube.

With that out of the way, I just want to say, Dreams in the Witch House is one of Lovecraft's few stories that I could imagine being adapted to film with few issues. There are not indescribable monsters or anything so confusing that an audience could not understand it. This month's movie, The Crimson Cult starring Boris Karloff and Christopher Lee, is supposed to be an adaptation of that story - at least according to the Internet, since the movie itself never credits Lovecraft. It's possible the Internet is wrong; that would explain a lot about this movie.

I've only reviewed two adaptations to date, but, in those reviews, I try to keep the synopsis relatively snark-free. That being said, I had to break my rule on that - there is no way to sum up this movie without at least acknowledging the issues the summary will present.

Our movie opens onto some bizarre ceremony with a blue-skinned lady, a guy in leather, a goat, and a woman chained to a bed (and I'll leave it to you readers to come up with the dirtiest joke). After a person named Peter Manning signs a book for the blue-skinned lady, we cut to a British business. We know it's British because they talk about pounds instead of dollars. The owner, Robert Manning, receives a letter from his brother, dated ten days ago, along with a candlestick holder and a spring-loaded knife. For some reason, this prompts him to go to the lodge the items came from (since it's a sign his brother is missing...somehow). There, a wild party is going on and, honestly, even the strippers don't do anything to hold your attention. Robert then meets the owner's niece, Eve, and then the owner himself, Morley (aka Christopher Lee). Moorley claims to have never seen Peter but offers Robert a room for the night. Robert sees Eve again, who claims the house is spooky. If the house was meant to be creepy, introducing it with wild reveling was probably a bad idea.

Getting back on track (which is more than I can say for this movie), Robert introduces himself as Bob to Eve and propositions her without success. The two briefly discuss Peter, and somehow Moorley eavesdrops at that exact time. Eve then leaves, and the butler, Elder, comes in (I thought it was Elda. Any of you who watch, let me know if it's just me). He leaves a candlestick holder on the table, which is identical to the one Peter had mailed. The movie then cuts to Eve and Bob with Morley, talking about the festivities (I think) when Professor Marsh (aka Boris Karloff) comes in. Before you ask, no, he's not a geologist - he's a local historian. He tells Bob about Lavinia Morley, a woman accused of witchcraft who proclaimed innocence and then cursed her accusers.

Readers, I'm officially starting a drinking game. Every time an ancestor curses people, take a shot. Two shots if it wasn't in the original story.

Anyways, Lavinia was found guilty and burned at the stake, and the viewers then get to see the town re-enact the burning. At one point, it's compared to Guy Fawkes Day. Who knew the burning of Lavinia Morley had such powerful political ramnifications? Anyways, after the celebration, Elder brings the candlestick holders to the witch, while... something turns in the background. He also promises to retrieve ...well, honestly, I'm not certain. Elder then speaks of guilt over something never revealed. In the next scene, Bob goes back to his room to be surprised by Elder, who warns him to flee and avoid the graveyard. Bob, being the horror character he is, goes to investigate. He finds Morley and Marsh waiting for him in the cemetary, and they take him back indoors for a drink and a brief discussion about Elder. Bob then decides to turn in for the night.

While sleeping, Bob dreams of orange kalaidescope effects, his brother, and the blue-skinned lady, who is Lavinia. When he refuses to sign her book, she wakes him up by stabbing him. I guess she collects autographs. Dude, help a woman out, she's dead, might as well give her the flippin' autograph. So, after that dream, which he discusses with Eve, Bob goes out for a walk and is shot at. Bob then confronts his attacker angrily and is only stopped by Marsh. Angry Bob learns the man who shot at him is Marsh's servant, mute, and was aiming at a bird - and then Angry Bob is shot at and dies. The end.

Sorry, the writer wasn't Pastis. I'll go on.

After Angry Bob undies, he goes into town to look for his brother without success. He returns to the lodge, realizes his brother used an alias, and finds Elder in his room with a spring knife. Elder then tells him his brother is dead. This prompts Bob to talk to Morley and threaten to call the police - except, it seems, no one takes Elder seriously and Morley just tells him to sleep. Another dream brings another attempt to get Bob's autograph, which fails, prompting another stabbing. Bob, meanwhile, sleepwalks to the lake, where he is awoken by a cop who notices Bob has been mysteriously wounded. Bob goes back to the lodge, where Eve treats his wounds and then they have sex... No, really, that actually happens.

After some nice "Healed wound" sex, Bob walks around and notices some blood near the wall. This leads him to inspect the panel and find...a scret passage! He goes in to find....! Not much, really - dust, cobwebs - oh, this is supposed to be the room from his dreams. Uh-huh. He goes to report his experiences to the police who, true to form, don't believe him, even though the cop he's talking to saw his stab wound. He then decides to talk to Marsh, who identifies the spring knife as whatever it was the witch had called it, and identifies figures in his dreams as mere archetypes. It's then mentioned that signing a book traps a person (you say so, Boris), and that Bob's ancestor had been one of Lavinia's accusers (and clearly rightfully so). After this, Bob returns to the house to show Eve the room. They find the book, and Eve rips out a few pages in order to find out whose signatures they were. Bob keeps exploring, with a frog croaking somewhere despite being indoors and above ground, and finds his brother's bracelet and Elder's body. Funny how he wasn't missed before. Bob then leaves offscreen, and Morley comes in to find the room has been disturbed.

Eve, with the vicar's help, identifies the signatures as relatives of Lavinia's accusers and goes to inform Bob, only to be caught by her uncle. By the way, the turning thing earlier was a multicolored lampshade. Wondering where I can get one. So, anyways, after the police ignore Bob AGAIN, he returns and is captured by Morley. While Morley secures Bob and Eve and spreads gasoline around the room, Marsh learns that Eve knows about the witch's room. Just before Morley kills Eve for 'betraying' Lavinia, Marsh's servant shoots his hand. Morley starts the fire, but the servant frees Eve and Bob, and Eve, Bob, Marsh, and Butler McBadass escape. Marsh then reveals Morley was insane and had a split personality who thought it was Lavinia, a powerful witch. As the house burns and firefighters try to put out the fire, a figure is visible on the roof. It's Morley, who turns into Lavinia and laughs maniacally over the credits.

This story was confusing; there wasn't so much a plot as there was a string of events. Even the movie didn't seem to know what it wanted - it starts with psychidelia, tries horror, and ends with a mindscrew that comes out of nowhere. Keep in mind, I read the original story - it's not half as confusing, but it is far scarier. I can barely talk about this as an adaptation thanks to all the changes to the story that feel completely unnecessary. Two major characters get cut, the reason for the protagonist's arrival feels flimsy, the dreams are hardly frightening, and Eve contributes NOTHING to the story. Seriously, people might say Inception's confusing - I can say this movie is more confusing than a first-time viewing of Inception, and with nothing to make it memorable. Not even Karloff and Lee. Sorry guys, but you didn't.

Lovecraft fan or not, this movie's best viewed under the influence of marijuana or LSD. It'll probably be more coherent that way.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Episode 11: How the Test Was Won

Let's see, today we have an episode where nothing really happens but we're lead to believe that we need to care about this. Yeah you know the writing's good when the ENTIRE premise for the episode is deemed pointless at the end. This episode is shit and it's not just because of the half-assed ending. It's everything: the plot is idiotic, the characters aren't themselves, the- wait, I'm supposed to say this in the review itself. Let's dive into this episode and see why the test should have been lost.

We begin our episode (At the 1:50 mark of a 20 minute episode, yeah I show no sympathy for them complaining about more commercials when they pad out their episode like this) with Marge and Homer celebrating the fact that the new school year begins (Without Lisa. Odd, I thought she would have celebrated with them). At breakfast, Bart laments about how he hates school and Marge reminds Homer to send off the insurance payment (Homer then shows us in a LONG montage about how he gets hurt. Hey, where would they be without their padding?)(In a better place on the ratings?). At school, Principal Skinner talks about upcoming standardized testing while "mocking" the No Child Left Behind Act *Fake laughter*. Superintendent Chalmers then announces that the school will start to force the questions and answers into the kids' heads for the next two weeks via a mini-montage (Doesn't this defeat the purpose of education? What's the point of knowing something if you can't use it in practical living? This is why I hate tests and the only true measure of what you learned is how you use it. This sort of education turns our kids into robots who are incapable of performing tasks that they aren't directly taught)(Hrm. How do we test calculus then? Few truly practical situations that cannot use other methods)
Repeat after me; This plot is stupid, this episode sucks, this is devoid of humor
After some events that show this happening (They couldn't just make the whole thing a montage or use "2 weeks later" and develop the story more?)(Do not need to start a montage count) we see a whole scene dedicated to a poop joke...(I'll be in my car)(STAY). We see two weeks later (What was the point of those other scenes then?! No you can't have it both ways it's either one or the other. Go back to writing school!) we find out that Bart didn't take the practice test seriously. This doesn't concern Homer in the slightest because, to him, Bart has no future to throw away (How will he afford the trench coat so that he can be a drifter? I know he said selling oranges on the freeway, but fuck it, I like the drifter version). Afterwards, we see Homer eating food from the glovebox and we find out that he didn't drop off the insurance payment (But the writers felt that was too subtle so they do it two more times. The Simpsons; Because we're too stupid to figure anything out for ourselves). When Bart and Lisa arrive, Skinner and Chalmers approach Bart and tell him that he got a "Perfect Score", which upsets Lisa and makes her question how she did and what she got wrong (And ultimately screws her up in the real test. I've seen Lisa get less than perfect before and carry on, she's not a fragile nutcase, writers!)(Seriously, this is Lisa Simpson, not Jason Fox) 
Great review of this episode Bart, couldn't have done it better myself
Chalmers and Skinner tells Bart that he doesn't have to take the test and he's going to a pizza party with the other "Super Stars" on a chopper. When he gets on, he realizes it was a fake and the school's getting rid of the idiots to increase their average (Falsifying federal test scores, kidnapping, child abuse, it's all good). Chalmers tricks Skinner onto the bus and sends them away. After Skinner says what we already know, Bart tells everyone else on the bus that there is no pizza party and they're all being taken away to not dip the test scores (Maybe they should be left on the bus, since clearly it took them too long to realize what was already said. I think Nelson ate some lead paint or something). Skinner then decides to exposit their big plan for the six kids on the bus that we already knew (Did I mention that these writers think we're idiots, let me explain again: THEY THINK WE'RE IDIOTS!) After hearing this, they decide to act stupid (They must be method actors. By the way, if you think this is pretentious as well, well guess what? It's not over yet). 
Because we've already explained the plot twice, I think it's only necessary to explain it again
Homer gets to work as he finally realizes that he has the payment in the glovebox and he realizes that he cannot get paid if he gets hurt (And he can mock some State Farm and NationWide commercials as well while not insured. Yeah because when I think of this show, I think of dialogue that's so forced it belongs in wedding vows of a shotgun marriage). Homer then writes a stupid letter on the outside of the envelope (Because that's funny right?) and drops it off, but there's a catch: the owner will not be back until 3 PM so Homer has to be perfectly safe until 3 (What's that? Hilarious hijinks will ensue? The writers couldn't possibly be that cliched, right?) At school, Chalmers administers the test (Because as we all know, Superintendents have nothing better to do)(Wow, we were never that 'lucky'. Our TEACHERS administered it) and Lisa begins to get testing jitters because she second-guessed herself earlier (We can assume, thank God. The writers don't have her say that). Meanwhile, Bart and the gang get to Capital City as Bart and the bullies call Skinner a loser. The bus pulls over for Ralph to use the bathroom, after getting off Ralph reveals that he already went on the bus (Well that was necessary). 
I'd bet my computer that Brian Kelley had something to do with this scene
After that, we see that the bus was scrapped by the kids of Capital City and now they are all stuck in Capital City. But that doesn't stop the writers from bringing back that 'acting stupid' joke (I fucking hate that joke). After the gang goes through Capital City a bit (And runs into an intersection of streets named after Dr. King and César Chávez. I honestly don't get this joke. Why would it strike fear into Skinner?) we see Homer come home to find that Marge is having her book club meet to which he sees a lot of scenarios that could cause harm to the guests (Which ends with Marge making out with Lindsey. Classy)(Wut). We cut back to Lisa still stuck on the test while Chalmers decides to chew on the scenery a little (Wow, that had purpose). Back with the gang, Ralph got onto a garbage barge and Skinner looks on in shock. Oh boy what's the next scene, Skinner chalking up some goofy plan that works or- oh, they cut back to the book club scene. DAMN IT! 
Well, back at the book club we see Homer preventing four accidents in the space of the last 10 seconds ~Let's Do the Time Warp Again~ as Maggie shoots a knife into Mr. Burns' head that causes him to gush out blood (Character consistency? What's that?) Marge is forgiving of Homer because she shouldn't have expected him to mail the payment on time (Then why didn't you do it then? Did you just want leverage over Homer for a future occasion?) We then cut back to the gang as Skinner decides to use Bart's slingshot to shoot a message to the crane operator which backfires as it knocks him out (Was the paper made of lead?) We then see that the box he was carrying was filled with a piano generator that dumps out pianos that defy gravity (Physics is for losers). 
~Cutloose, from this show, before your brain begins to melt~
Skinner then decides to save Ralph by using the Law of Conservation on Angular Momentum to spin the crate away from the barge (Consistency, what's that? Seriously you cannot have pianos come out one at a time, defying the laws of gravity and then say you follow the laws of Physics ten seconds later, it doesn't work!) Afterwards, the gang gets on the barge which coincidentally is heading for Springfield Elementary (Who writes these deus ex machinas?) Back in the school, Lisa's about to accept being average when Skinner then barges in and tells everyone that the test doesn't matter anymore (Wow, way to completely undermine your episode entirely) which instantly makes Lisa smart again (Wow, I just had a brain aneurysm just listening to that)(I don't get it...I just DON'T). What better way to end this shit than for Skinner to overturn a nonexistent ban on dancing a la Footloose... Now if you'll excuse me I'm gonna wipe my memory with my good pal Jack Daniels.

Final Judgment: This episode is shit, the plot holes are big enough to rival the Grand Canyon, the writing is terrible, the characters are stupid and out of place, and above all, it fails to try to make any point that it was going for with that padded out ending. Honestly anyone who says this is good must really like inconsistency in their episode because this episode makes no sense.

Final grade: 1.5/10 Just crap plain and simple (P.S. Footloose is a very good movie even for those who despise musicals)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Episode 15: The Scorpion's Tale

At this point of the year, what can I say? I mean it's been an obvious trend that the ratings for this show go down right after New Year's, and the episodes coincide with their quality SOMEHOW managing to get worse and worse as the year goes on. At this point it just gets depressing how low this show continues to go, but in the spirit of fairness, I will look at this episode with open eyes, and who knows? It might be good. Let's find out.

After a rather unfunny joke about Roadrunner and Wile E Coyote (It still seems that the writers don't understand the concept of "Effort needs to be put in to make jokes funny") our story begins with the school taking a field trip to the Springfield Desert (I would say 4th grade, but Lisa and Ralph are there, I guess field trips are based more on whose characters are important and whose aren't. Oh yeah and Chalmers is there as well. Are you prepared for the Skinner-Chalmers spin-off show? Because the writers are still trying to force that on us).
The Simpsons Season 22
(Humorus Failus)
After a lot of padding (Just a lot of scenes that aren't funny and go nowhere. Are the writers just hoping the audience has no clue how a story arc goes?) we finally get what appears to be a plot at the 5 MINUTE mark where Lisa learns about flowers that cause aggressive animals to become calm (I mean seriously, this isn't a Shakespearean concept, it's simple elementary school storytelling: in order to keep the audience's attention, you need to give them something to invest in. 30 second scenes that aren't funny and go nowhere don't do that. I mean is this what TV has been reduced to? Am I going to be watching TV shows 20 years from now that don't start their plot until 15 minutes in a 20 minute show? I'm sorry for rambling here, but this isn't just a once in a blue moon occurrence, it's the norm for this show now.)(To answer your question, by the way, yes, yes it has been. Why do you think reality TV is so popular?) Anyways, after that, we then see the bus passing by the Retirement Castle as Grampa is being kicked out because he's being too cranky (That's never gotten him kicked out before, but whatever). After Bart and Lisa sees this, we see that Grampa (expectedly) ends up at their home and is cranky there too. Afterwards, we see a montage of Grampa rooming with each family member and he's cranky in every room (Hey, here's a thought writers: maybe having characters being more than just cardboard cutouts who give a one-note performance is a good idea. It gives us a reason to care and makes the rest of the story interesting. What's that? Too much effort? Oh well can't blame them for not trying). Later, Lisa turns the Flower (Springfield Silvertongue or SS for short... wait) into a spray, she tries to celebrate with Homer (In her extremely small room apparently. Perspective? Who needs that!?)
Dad look! The animators forgot to give me enough room for a bed, I have to sleep on the floor
But because having Homer care about what his daughter is doing isn't funny enough, he has to be condescending to her (You see what I mean about Homer's character?! NO! This is not his character, he actually CARES about his kids, even if he's bad at showing it. Go back to the writing room and fail again!) Homer then sees Grampa arguing with Santa's Little Helper and he gets an idea (But not at first and if you can't guess why, you clearly have an IQ lower than the writers). The next morning Bart and Lisa try to get out quick but Grampa gets up and actually acts nice and calm (This revelation is so shocking not even the family believes it. How bad is your writing when even your own characters don't buy it?) Lisa then asks Homer if he did anything to Grampa and Homer avoids the question by putting on the biggest shit-eating grin possible (Even the Joker would be ashamed of that face). Later, Lisa confronts Homer with Grampa and explains (Offscreen) why Grampa's so cheerful now. Grampa then kisses Homer because he's still under the effects of the SS and Lisa's angry that he's feeling a false happiness. Grampa explains that he doesn't care because now people like him because he's not cranky.
People being happy and joyful?! I won't allow it!
So of course Lisa, science expert and innovator, decides to flush the remainder of the SS sample down the toilet... WHAT!?!?! I MEAN WHAT!?!? You cannot be fucking serious! I mean wow, just wow this is stupid. This just really speaks for itself, and you know the worst part? We're only 9:45 in. This is going to be a painful one isn't it? You know what? I'm not going to call this Lisa impersonator Lisa anymore, I'm bringing the LINO name back for her because Lisa isn't this stupid. So anyways, after LINO disposes of this Nobel-Peace-Prize-worthy medicine, we cut to Moe's where Grampa is cranky again and disturbing the customers (Quick question, why is Grampa at Moe's? Feel free to never answer, it's not like your last episode made any sense). Homer is then approached by Walter who is a Pharmaceutical executive (I will just refer to him as Mr. Devil as it's apparent we are to assume the Pharmaceutical companies are all evil, what with their life saving medicine). He then takes some sweat from Grampa which has some of the SS extract and he takes it back to the company. Later, Grampa is given some of the serums and they find out it worked and Mr. Devil begins working on the drug immediately (But not without Homer acting like an idiot. Okay seriously, I haven't seen one scene he was in that doesn't involve him acting like a lobotomized monkey. The man DOES have character and can be used properly)(He did have one, but it consisted of two lines and him being mopey. was preferable).
Jeepers! I'm a furry!
After we see Mr. Devil's army of cloned bimbos (Who apparently are just projections of the writers as they have no personality at all) he drops them back home with some of the pills and gives them the usual "If they fell into the wrong hands" mumbo jumbo, look can we get this plot going or something? I've got a poker game in an hour. Bart then decides he needs to be the wrong hands and it's implied that he sells the pills to the Retirement Castle. After a few scenes of Bart selling the drug, we get a montage of the old people of Springfield being happy and content with the world. After LINO questions Bart about what he's doing (And "Hilarity" ensues. Where is the "MAKE IT ALL END!" button?), Homer and Grampa come home as they're both laughing and having a good time but realize that Grampa needs to be miserable or else LINO will get upset (I'm not making any of this up, this really happens).
It's okay Grampa, Hitler didn't mean to insult us on Youtube
When Grampa gets in LINO tells him that she's no longer mad about him taking the drug because he's happy... excuse me a moment *Walks away* WHAT THE FUCKING HELL?! NO! This makes NO sense, I don't care that this "Redeems" her in the eyes of the writers, two wrongs don't make a right. If you're going to have a character act severely out of character you might as well just keep with that path and not try to "Fix it" halfway through when you realized just how stupid it is. We never even see WHY she makes this 180! That's it! I'm done, honest to God I'm done, this is just SO stupid it's not even deserving of any more attention. Goodnight and goodbye! *Walks away only to be forced back* I've just been re-informed that I'm not allowed to walk out on a review and instead I have to take a long break, so after a long break I'm ready to finish this bad fanfiction. Anyways, LINO tries to apologize for being so stubborn (And out of character, oh wait no she doesn't, just wishful thinking) and Grampa forgives her. However, the drug causes Grampa's eyes to pop out of the sockets without him noticing (I guess those cataracts were worse than we thought). Lisa then notices that the scorpions had the same effect (But apparently with more time. Who says medicine would act consistently?) and it must be the effects of the SS (Which apparently causes the eye sockets to lubricate to the point of popping. Could just be orbital wobble). After Marge utters the cliche "At least nobody else has this" line Bart gives the cliche *Gulp* and shirt tug (Cliches make writing easier, as well as no plot, no jokes, padding, montages...)
I would show you a picture of the eyeless citizens. But then I realized, we need to remember this show was funny, so enjoy this visual gag
After we see a bunch of people playing with their eyeballs (Okay I'm a little grossed out by eyeballs, so, eww...) the family goes to see Mr. Devil. He at first goes against the family but changes his mind after seeing his motto on a Frisbee... I think my brain just melted a little just typing that. Mr. Devil then sees a "cheerful mob" who have come to ask for more of the drug because, as mentioned before, they're way too happy to be angry with him about the side effects (Or at least that's implied; if that's not the case then the writers really are stupid). Mr. Devil decides he needs to destroy the drug as Homer decides he needs to have a monologue that goes on for a minute with no humor or punchline (I was expecting him to end with "That's the joke" so I could quip with "You suck Homer!") Grampa then decides to give a speech to the people and convinces them all to give up the drug and fix today's society (Wait a minute, is this the writers' attempt to give this story a lesson? Is this their attempt to have a message? I gotta say this is so far from left field I'm pretty sure it came from Pluto). So the episode ends with LINO thinking that this episode had a lesson when in reality it was just as insightful as a class taught by a resident of the local Insane Asylum. (So, what did we learn today?)

Final Verdict: This episode is terrible! The plot is awful and atrociously paced. The characterization is just mind-numbingly stupid and inconsistent. The writing is amateur, the jokes are vomit worthy and the "Message" is half-assed and needlessly shoe-horned in. Bottom line, if you can't think of a good idea, it's usually not a good idea to go with a terrible idea.

Final Grade: 0.9/10 This is just terrible. Do yourself a favor and stay away from this one.