Monday, July 11, 2011

A Deeper Look At: The Scorpion's Tale

We continue this series with an episode that really annoyed me this past year.

Issue #1: The characters
This issue takes on Homer, Lisa and Grampa in this episode. Grampa gives an annoying one-note performance for the first act and it's played way out of proportion for what real Grampa acts like. Lisa's an idiot here and never gives two thoughts about anything which is just absurd for her. And Homer... this was quite possibly the worst performance by him this past season. This is the episode I point to when people would ask me "How has Homer been stripped of personality?" he has all of TWO lines that aren't jerkass comic relief.
If you will, allow me to expand on Lisa's actions. She discovers a drug that appears to create a sense of euphoria but decides to get rid of it because she 'doesn't know the side effects' and 'she doesn't want to see people 'falsely happy'. If I may address the latter first, this is coming from the girl who was on antidepressants. Now, if she was worried about people abusing the drug to get high, fine. However, she should know more than anyone that some forms of depression are simple chemical imbalances that NEED outside treatment. This reasoning is incredibly hypocritical and ignorant, two things Lisa is not supposed to be. Now, to address the former excuse, Lisa's supposed to be a genius, so she should know, that's how all medications start. The PROPER response is not to flush away the drug but to continue testing. That's how pharmaceuticals work. I know people think animal testing is wrong and, given that the drug's effects are discovered later, it would probably disturb more than a few viewers, but really, that's how the side effects are figured out. There's also human testing, but, well, we all saw what it did to people, and it wasn't done in a controlled environment either... Hey wait.
Testing? Research? Why would I bother with that?
Okay I'm going to cut you off RBY, you can continue later. To add onto Lisa's character being utterly stupid, she makes a weird heel turn by saying that she's okay with Grampa taking the medicine despite us never seeing her between flushing the medicine and that scene. It really comes off as lazy as her development is told but we never see anything to understand WHY she changed her mind.
I say I'm okay with it, therefore everything's resolved.
My biggest problem with Grampa as stated above is that he's so one-note in the first act it gets painful. His crankiness is so Flanderized that when he becomes happy, everyone in the family is absolutely shocked that he's acting different. It's just very lazy writing.
If I stop complaining, I die
Homer's character here is awful, everyone of his lines was just painful and stupid. The only way his character can work is if The Simpsons incorporates a laughtrack. His actions make no sense (Why did he spray his shirt with the medicine? Why did he bellydance with Grampa? Why did he drink the supplement that gave him a wolf tail? Why was he dancing topless around his burning car?) Point is that Homer for a while has been stripped of any real character and this episode is just a great example of that.
Me have character, me brother of Joker

Issue #2: The padding
I felt that I would only say the opening, but Homer's little soliloquy without a punchline at the end was painful on my brain. I mean, if the opening five minutes did ANYTHING to try to set up the storyline for the rest of the episode it'd be okay (See The PTA Disbands for a good example) but it was rather a bunch of non-sequitors that led nowhere and weren't funny. So the class goes on a field trip (Which apparently has only 2nd and 4th graders and the supervisors are Skinner and Chalmers?... whatever) and a bunch of stuff happens before Lisa finally stumbles upon flowers that make scorpions tame. Were any of the events funny? No. Did any of the events have any effect on other events? No. Could we have re-arranged them in a random order and not spotted a difference? Yes. This opening seems to be more 'bad Family Guy' than 'Simpsons' and that's never a good thing. (Image from DeadHomerSociety.Wordpress)
So... Can you tell what's going on here?
Did anyone actually believe that the "message" was planned from the beginning? If so, I have a place for you to spend a couple of months in, the walls are nice and padded and you get a free coat. For everyone else, that ending was utter BS and lazy. It's nonsensical: the message is that crankiness somehow automatically equals competence...I think. That, or age creates wisdom which, while nice and has truth to it, is completely unrelated to the the episode we just watched. There's just no logic behind this 'moral', and it brings to mind the 'Wheel of Morality' (Except this is playing it dead straight).
I'm going to say that the message here is to have a vasectomy as early as possible

Issue #3: The eyeball ending
This ending was purely meant for a shock reaction in the hopes that people would actually remember this one. Something to the effect of "You remember the episode where all the eyes pop out of the people's sockets?" Fortunately for us, that failed miserably. What I can only assume to be the writer's sick sense of humor for this really just came off as creepy initially, and then nothing as the eyes were treated as nothing more than novelty glasses as there were no real consequences for what happened to the eyes. In short, it was stupid and not funny and the writers should be ashamed of this.
Big deal, I can get the same effect at the Dollar Store

There's also the realization that this essentially means that the FDA allowed this drug to get past without any kind of testing - no animal, no human, NO kind of testing. I'm sorry if you're against animal testing, but it's for this kind of reason it exists - to catch damaging side effects before they can harm the public (same principle applies to smaller human trials). There's the implication that this episode took place over a week or two, give or take - most drug trials for animals alone need at least a MONTH (due to their smaller side, side effects show up faster. Humans require FAR longer). What the hell did this company do, falsify dozens of pages of data?! Bribe the FDA official?! HOW did this get out to the general public! (And if you say, Bart sold it, guess what, that doesn't excuse it. It's a minor selling what could be misconstrued as a designer drug, that got out from a professional pharmaceutical lab. Assuming Bart was never arrested, that company probably had to declare bankruptcy after all the liability lawsuits and the fines from the FDA)
It's alright, we've done no testing whatsoever, so you should be safe

1 comment:

  1. I hate this episode for a few reasons, one:
    Lisa is a selfish narrow minded prick that real Lisa would never do, at least real Lisa would study the drug or look into it before she opposed it.
    Two: We don't get to the plot till the 4 minute mark! That's just lazy, especially since there aren't a lot of jokes to make about the desert and the ones they made were not funny.
    And lastly: The end was out of context and lazy.