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)


  1. Are you mentally impaired? The Simpsons is a cartoon comedy, you watch it for the jokes, not the plot or anything else. You said somewhere that others don't know how the show works? Well, neither do you.

  2. Oh no, my life is ruined. One guy on the internet says I don't understand basic story structure, I must now go find a noose and hang myself in shame. Thanks you for mistaking an adult sitcom for a sketch show, I was truly in the dark about this. Bless you stranger as you have clearly shown your superior intellect by saying stories do not need structure.