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

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