Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Episode 18: The Great Simpsina

Before I start this, I just want to say two things. First, At the beginning of the year, I predicted that Elementary School Musical would be one of the 5 worst episodes of the season, to date (Before this episode) I would rank it somewhere in the 4-7th worst episode. The point being, I want to rescind my prediction as I want to continue this blog into next year.  Second, I gave the writers WAY too much credit in my Love is Many a Strangled Thing preview. I said that the writers now a days randomly introduce a guest star as they're usually in Springfield for "X" reason and then they leave through means of some random occurrence in some random means of transportation. In reality, the writers don't even bother to give their celebrity cameos a proper exit, instead they just disappear without any mention of when or how. Okay with that rant out of the way (Keep it in mind though as this episode is full of celebrity cameos) let's take a look at how (And why) Lisa becomes interested in magic (Again what an original concept. Hopefully this time Lisa doesn't become a scam artist).

So our episode begins (Without an opening. Not even the title card or TV credits. Okay when I said I'm sick and tired of long openings, I didn't mean cut it all together) with the family at a peach orchard picking peaches (Why are they there? What motivated them to pick peaches? Your guess is as good as mine) After a rather long and dull series of eve- zzzzz.... sorry where was I? Oh right, dull events, the family takes home about a thousand or so peaches that they picked, thus initiating a montage of what they do with the peaches (Yeah screw the idea that the family could even afford that many peaches, this montage was ESSENTIAL to the episode). After the montage, Homer takes Marge to  massage parlor where he'll distract her while Bart, Lisa and Maggie take the peaches away (This takes place at the 2 minutes mark, making the past two minutes *Entirely pointless*. Goody, and here I thought openings should actually have purpose in the grand scale of things. Obviously I was wrong) I'm sorry, but I can't let this go yet, the writers wasted 3 and a half minutes (Taking the peaches away takes about another minute and a half) for nothing but filler, at the BEGINNING of the episode. I really hate it when they waste time throughout the episode with pointless subplots, but to basically just say "From the very beginning we're wasting your time, and there's nothing you can do about it. Ha ha!" just pisses me off.
Now to go hide all the good humor from the audience. It's a good thing we hid them under these peaches
Anyways, back to the padding, er I mean episode. After Homer tells Marge about the peaches (Laziest plot resolution ever!) we see Lisa walking down a street unaware of where she is. However, the street reminds her of Sesame Street (...um why?) and gets attacked by a raccoon causing her to leave behind the peaches and run away (We needed the peaches because?...) After Lisa runs into some random house (Wow, am I the only one getting Lastest Gun in the West flashbacks? Probably, that episode was dull and forgettable) she hides in a sarcophagus when she sees someone getting home (Oh yeah, they included a stupid joke in there as well. That is all) A man then opens the door and notices his book has been moved causing him to stab the sarcophagus with knives (I don't know, insert your own reason here) only to reveal that Lisa's no longer in there. We then hear Lisa in a trunk as the man opens it up and glares at her. The man then asks Lisa who sent her as she tells him that she just stumbled into his house (Breaking and entering; it's all right if the door's unlocked). Lisa then asks the man how she got into the box and he reveals that the house (And himself) is magic.
Dude! I can see the string holding it up
After the man performs some more magic tricks to impress Lisa (Really this is the main bulk of the "Lisa-Great Raymondo" storyline. I wouldn't mind it so much if it were just a scene or two, but unfortunately that's not the case) he introduces himself as "The Great Rymondo" (You know you could have done that BEFORE showing off). As he tells Lisa a bit more about his past works (Along with a couple of shots of his posters. It feels so unnatural, I probably would have complained about this alternate way as well, but why not a flashback or two? Seriously, there's never a flashback for anything, I'll explain as we go further along). After some more dialogue between Lisa and Ray (Yeah I'm just calling him Ray now, too lazy to call him by the full name)  Ray shows Lisa around his house and some of the things he's proud of (Including a mirror that shows Lisa dying of obesity. Okay, not funny man, especially when we consider how they made an episode with Lisa dealing with an eating disorder (Which I'll get to someday). That's just wrong writers) Ray then shows Lisa a picture of him performing the "Great Milk Can Escape" that he learned from Houdini himself (Yeah this episode was meant to fall around the birthday of Houdini, I'll give them props for that, but not for renaming the water cell escape trick).
Hate to tell you this Ray, but you look stupid in that milk can
Lisa notices that Ray seemed to love his assistant which Ray reveals that she was his wife and she died years ago (Okay here's one of the instances where this could have been something. I feel that if the writers went more in-depth with the Ray-Esther relationship, it could have made Ray a much more interesting, sympathetic character. How did they meet? How did they fall in love? How did she die? How does he mourn her? It would make future scenes much better) Lisa then asks Ray if he'd be interested in teaching her and he refuses at first claiming women are not meant for magic. However, Ray warms up to the idea and gives her a simple trick to do and she does it immediately becomes and instant expert (Yeah the writers abuse this trope WAY too much in modern episodes, for the sake of this review though, let's move on). After some more dialogue between Ray and Lisa we see Lisa back home performing an easy coin trick on Homer, which of course causes Homer to go into "Unfunny Jack-Ass" mode (Seriously, remember when he was funny because of the environment around him and not because he fell for obvious pratfalls and contrived dialogue? That was Homer Simpson, this guy is nowhere near his level). After a pointless scene involving Grampa (No reason why he's there, he's just there. Doesn't he need to go back to the Retirement Castle to bitch and moan some more?) Bart then starts complaining how Lisa shouldn't be a magician and how that's his thing (What? You're basing 4 minutes from one bad episode as your defense? Grow up!)
Abra-Cadabra I have pulled our next story out of thin air
After he has trouble opening a Krusty Magic Kit (Which he just happened to have... Oh come on it's Lisa who's magic here, not Bart. He can't pull things out of thin air) Lisa performs more magic to cause some scissors to come out of his mouth (And of course Homer, being the complete retard he is starts shaking Bart because (sic) "Let's see what else you're hiding in there. I want my pot of gold"... I seriously could not make this up if I tried). Later, Lisa goes to show Ray that being an instant expert has allowed her to master some card tricks as we see that Ray is upset. Ray then shows Lisa that a punk illusionist (Cregg Demon, wow subtle. Who's his assistant? Mary Hellspawn?) and we get to see his act which consists of him combining magic with Hot Topic (If the objective was to make him as unlikable as possible, mission accomplished writers).  Ray then moans about how he disgraces magic with his pathetic act and how magic is about mystery and illusion. Afterwards, we go into another montage, as we see Lisa perform her magic on the schoolgrounds, for Ray and we see some posters for her (I really got to ask something; WHY?! Why are there so many montages?! Oh screw it, this is already getting long enough). Oh yeah, Lunch Lady Doris is part of this (And Doris Grau is rolling in her grave) Afterwards, while Lisa is cleaning up Ray's house (Since logic left a while ago, the answer I'm going to give is "It's magic, it doesn't have to be explained") she knocks over a bust of Houdini to reveal Ray's secret room.
Oh my God! A giant metal can!
After Lisa decides not to look at the secret of the "Milk can escape" Ray comes in and decides that he trusts her enough to reveal the secret (Why does he trust her now?) Ray tells Lisa that if magic is not passed on it's lost forever as he opens a pocketwatch with a picture of his late wife and reveals he regrets not having a child (This is what I meant earlier about developing Ray. I know I should feel sad for him, but because he's about as developed as a cardboard box, I don't care). Later, Lisa sets up the trick at the playground as she goes into the can and the crowd watches (Surprisingly Skinner's there but not Chalmers, I really expected the writers to include him there for no reason) Lisa then shows up behind the audience and they applaud her (You know so far, this isn't a terrible episode, well outside of the peach thing. It's bad, but not terrible, let's see how long that lasts). After the show, we see Lisa signing autographs as a nerdy boy asks Lisa if she'll do it again and wants to be sure she'll be safe (And he says "I can see why they call you The Great Simpsina" Ladies and Gentlemen, we have "Horrible title placement"!). Lisa reassures him that it's safe by showing him how she does it (Uh yeah WHAT?! This was that "Schoolgirl crush" thing? It lasted for all of 45 seconds and she didn't even hesitate to show him how it works. No wonder Ray didn't trust her, she'd probably give away his PIN number to a boy who just says hello) The boy then runs off to reveal that he's the son of Cregg Demon (Dun! Dun! Dun!) and he tells his father how it works and they drive off as Lisa feels terrible about what she did and she puts the lid back on the can (To which Bart puts a rock on top of it. I don't mind this joke, but that just seems malicious of Bart, she could die).
Now when I put the lid back on, promise you wont mail me to Abu Dhabi
Later we see Demon giving a press conference telling people he's going to do the "Milk can escape" at the World Magic Championship (...Wait what?!) Lisa tries to apologize to Ray for spilling the beans and he tells he to leave. After she leaves, we see Lisa throwing away all her magic stuff, only for it all to return on the shelf (It's magic, it doesn't have to be explained). Homer tries to comfort Lisa (Although real Homer would be nice for this moment) after spouting out another contrived line (Seriously, he's human writers, not a robot) Homer decides to take a baseball bat and talk to Ray (Doesn't Lisa not want Homer to use a baseball bat against people who make her cry?). After Homer gets captured in a net (Offscreen of course. *Sigh* It's magic it doesn't... you know the rest) Homer tries to convince Ray to give Lisa another chance and Ray contemplates that as Homer suddenly falls asleep... I, I got nothing. We then see Lisa doing a magic trick where different animals appear in a cage after she removes a white blanket (*Sigh* It's magic, it doesn't have to be explained) Ray then enters her room and forgives her, but not until after she helps him stop Cregg Demon (I probably should have came up with a new name for him).
*Sigh* only torturing Maggie brings me joy anymore
So at the World Magic Championship (Did I seriously just write that again?) we see Cregg Demon get introduced for his "Milk Can Escape" trick to "Milkshake"... weaksauce! After Cregg puts himself in the can (I wish I were in that can) Homer, Lisa, and Ray get there and think it's too late to stop him. However, it appears that the trick has backfired on Cregg and he's stuck (Oh killing people is so funny. I'm off to take a chainsaw to Nick Saban's face because it'll be funny). Ray decides he cannot interfere and Lisa's upset that Ray's going to allow Cregg to die (This show is a comedy, right?) After Lisa pleads with Ray some more, Ray says magicians hate to be rescued and he goes off to "The little magician's room" where we see a bunch of midget magicians... wow, just wow, they pulled off the worst joke EVER uttered on national television. Give them a hand! Lisa decides she needs to rescue him as each of the guest stars gets introduced by Lisa as if she were just reading it from Wikipedia. Copperfield tells Lisa that they switched the trick can with a regular can because they hate the way he steals their tricks and the way he performs (Great justification for murder there). After Lisa tries to reason with them, the magicians attack Lisa (With various tricks, it's lame). Ray then shows up and the great showdown is set up, all right it's Raymondo the Great vs. David Copperfield, Penn, Teller, and  Ricky Jay.
Wild magicians appear. Go Raymondo!
I can't wait, this is going to be great, this is going to be intense, this is going to be... a giant letdown, DAMMIT! I mean, Ray takes them all out in a way that makes Bugs Bunny seem subtle in comparison; he cuts a rope that causes a beam to crush them... LAME! After Lisa thanks him, Ray gets Cregg out and Cregg decides to quit magic (It's magic it doesn't have to be... oh screw it, magic does not work that way. It's just a bunch of illusions and tricks, there is no spells or teleportation that actually work. Now that I got that off my chest, let's finish this). At the next show, we see Ray take off his head and play around with it, only to reveal that it was Lisa dressed up as Ray (On stilts) as the real Ray comes out. Ray announces that Lisa will be doing the act as he leaves for his dressing room. Lisa apparently can levitate (It's magic, doesn't need to be explained) and then turns Bart into Milhouse (Magic, you know the drill). The episode ends with Ray hallucinating his wife as he shares a dance with her (Yet another scene that is supposed to generate an emotion, but because of the lack of development, I do not care).

Final Verdict: This episode is bad, but not terrible, it pisses me off because I felt like it actually had potential. I know I'm going to sound a bit crazy for saying this but; unlike more recent episodes, this episode could have had rather unique storyline (Yeah I made the comparison to Bart's magic story, but the magic storyline here actually lasted more than 4 minutes) there were so many missed opportunities for jokes and the cameos are just wasted. There were times where real emotion could have been felt if the characters were more developed and the writing just needed to be average. I really felt that if the whole "peach plot" had been dropped entirely and the time had been spent developing the magician, this episode would have been average (Not good, but average). The jokes are rather blah and nothing really sticks out. All and all, I still wouldn't recommend it, but I can't say that it sucked either, it's just very 'meh'.

Final Grade: 3.5/10 You get the feeling that this could have been okay with good writing


  1. You forgot the gag where Homer imagines Flanders steaoling his "greatest secret".

  2. I thought about putting it in, but my review was running long and I just couldn't justify it (I also missed the bullies throwing Bart gag, which I thought was a little funny)

  3. I agree the beginning was absolutely pointless and the song was not only irritating but reminded me of when “Family Guy” made fun of Randy Newman. I also became very hungry for a fresh grown ripe peach. The rest of the episode was not so great except for them making fun of Chris Angel, which was deserving. I’m catching up on the last 3 weeks since I started recording again after not watching for a few years. Now I have more time to watch though since I can use my iPhone when I’m out thanks to my DISH Network employee Sling adapter. I have one more episode to watch.