Monday, October 31, 2011

Episode 3: Treehouse of Horror XXII

Hey look, a Halloween episode by The Simpsons that has actually aired before Halloween. The last time that happened? Treehouse of Horror X (Okay Treehouse of Horror XX aired before Halloween, but October 18th is too early to count it). So does that mean this will be good like the first 10? Only in the Twilight zone, I'm afraid. Let's celebrate Halloween with the scariest thought possible: Another horrible episode.

So the episode begins with Bart, Lisa and Maggie all coming home from Trick-or-Treating as Marge decides to give them 'healthy alternatives' as the kids walk off moaning (But she never took their candy, what are they complaining about?) The next morning, Marge gives Homer a bag full of candy (Wait, when did she get their candy? Oh wait, this is leading up to a predictable ending, my mistake) and she tells him to take it for donation. However, the Psycho theme starts playing and Homer decides to take the candy for himself and gets stuck in a canyon with a rock wedged on his hand (It doesn't make sense in context, you're not missing anything).
Aron Ralston, you are not
So after Homer gets told a helicopter won't be there for 20 minutes (Great to see them use their cameos oh so effectively), Homer decides he needs to bite his hand off... didn't they do this EXACT same joke in The Blue and the Gray from last year? THEY DID! You lazy bastards!! Didn't work then and doesn't work now. However he fails on the first two tries and in a flashforward, he finally bites his right arm off (With no real effort apparently) and when he opens the bag, it turns out to be vegetables, which prompts him to shout NO at the top of his lungs (Not as bad as Vader's 'NO!' but it's close). This prompts a cut to Bart, Lisa and Maggie all eating their candy as we FINALLY get the title sequence at the 2:35 mark. Okay, mini rant here:

  • WHY THE FUCK DID THEY FEEL THE NEED TO MAKE THAT 2:35 LONG OUT OF A 21 MINUTE EPISODE?! I'll fix it quickly: Bart, Lisa and Maggie all get their candy, dupe Marge and Homer that night and cut to them in Bart's room that night eating the candy. Voila! I just cut out a little over a minute and it's just as effective. But no, that would require them to actually put effort into 3 6-minute segments, now it's far less effort for them. That was long and pointless, let's move onto the first segment.
The Diving Bell and the Butterball
The segment begins with a POV shot from Homer as he opens his eyes to see Bart and Bart goes running off. We're informed by Marge that Homer is paralyzed and he cannot speak or move from his spot on the floor (YES! YES! YES! He cannot speak, oh glorious days, wonderful days... wait a second, we're going to hear his narration throughout aren't we? Dammit! So close). So of course, to find out what happened to Homer, we go into a flashback as we see Homer decorating the house as a spider crawls into the decorations and he accidentally grabs it, acts like the Homer we all (unfortunately) know and loathe, causing the spider to bite him (I like how the writers expect us to care if he lives of dies, for me, he's the missing member of this season's Jersey Shore). Back in the present, we see Marge caring for Homer as Homer loves Marge for what she's doing, only to be sidetracked by Marge's cleavage... Classy. We then see Lisa reading to Homer as Homer decides to try to get rid of Lisa by farting.
Dad, you look absolutely ridiculous
It doesn't drive her away as he would like, but then Lisa realizes that Homer can control his farts and thus communicate with other people... excuse me a minute... *Screams obscenities at the top of my throat in the woods* ...I mean seriously?! What the fuck?! Did the writers really think that the Master and Cadaver segment was so amazing, they had to top it with a segment even Family Guy would be ashamed of? And the worst part? To even associate this with The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is a complete insult to that movie and despicable  You know what, this segment's lost me already, I'd quit right now and move onto the next segment, but I owe you all the knowledge of how this plays out, *Sigh* let's continue. So Lisa creates a code for Homer's farts (Are they really taking this serious?) and Lisa reads a romantic letter to Marge which ends with the line "For further communication, I will need more beans" (*Facepalm* Ugh I hate this segment) Homer then is put outside as he ponders about life, but that's interrupted when he gets bitten by a glowing green spider and we see *Sigh* Spider-Homer... how did this segment just get worse?
And because the writers have the attention span of a 5 year-old: Homer farting webs...
We then see Dumbass-Homer (Not calling him Spider-Homer anymore, I like this name better) as he swings into some robbers and then farts a web onto them... did I just type that? My brain is melting here. The episode ends with Homer taking Marge back home... I just realized nothing happened here, it just a bunch of scenes with no real connections between each other, this felt like it was written by someone with ADD, God this was terrible, next segment.

Dial D for Diddly
(How many times can they use the same title like this?) The segment begins with Flanders narrating as he's driving through downtown Springfield watching all the crime and sin being committed around him. After Nelson's mom tries to seduce him (Which leads to a "Yale School of Prostitution"... the hell?) we go into that bit which was shown at the comic-con (still makes about as much sense out of context as it does in context). After Ned watches Mr Burns dump nuclear waste into the lake (Am I the only one who thinks Mr Burns would be too lazy to do it himself, maybe with Smithers, but not by himself) Ned gets instructions from God himself to kill Mr. Burns (Okay the odds right now stand at 'Homer imitating God' as the favorite, followed by Reverend Lovejoy, Chief Wiggum, Comic Book Guy and 'God himself' being the underdog). After killing Burns, Ned talks about how he's now God' soldier against sin... and his next assignment is to kill Patty and Selma. After Ned questions that, God gets angry and it's revealed that Homer has been talking through a voice modulator to convince Ned he's God (Hey look at that, I predicted their 'twist'on the first try. This writing is predictably God-awful).
I present to you all; King Louis XVI... wait sorry, it's just Burns, my mistake
It's revealed that Ned's Bible has the other transmitter and Ned NEVER questions this even though Homer basically gives himself away with his latest bit (Doesn't Ned have Mensa-level intelligence? Oh right, just forget that, the writers did). After a terrible Roadrunner parody of Ned killing Patty and Selma (How was that funny? They basically did the opposite of what made those cartoons funny. I just think to Bart's Inner Child for how this is done correctly) Homer then gets Flanders to kill more people because he can... I'm sorry where's the humor again? The past two segments have failed to have any horror feel, so it should fall back on humor, the problem is that there is no humor, so this segment is just boring right now. However, Flanders FINALLY catches on and tells Homer he's going to kill Homer for sending him to hell.
Even God hates Jerkass Homer
However, Jerkass Homer scoffs off his death threat and taunts Flanders to the point that God removes the ceiling just so he can choke Homer and kill him (Hooray! Can we play that again? That was so satisfying). Marge comes in and asks God to return everything to normal (Again, did they just think Master and Cadaver was such a great segment or something?) and God says he can't because Satan will get upset. The segment ends with Satan treating God as his servant and Maude appearing as Satan's mistress... I've got nothing, the writers didn't know how to end this segment.

In the Na'vi
Hey look, it only took them about two years to finally make an Avatar parody. Anyone want to take bets on how long it takes them to do a Smurfs 'parody'. I'm going say three years, seems about right for their timeline. Okay, enough screwing around. The segment begins with Chalmers addressing everyone in the giant mech suit from the movie about the planet they're on (Didn't that suit come at the very end? Oh right, logic has no place here). Chalmers hands it over to Krusty as apparently they're on the planet to get some 'Hilarium' which makes people laugh at anything (Oh... so that's why Al Jean was looking for a space shuttle last month). After Chalmers picks Bart to play the role of Jake Sully, Lisa puts Bart in the pod where he goes through a vortex and ends up as a Kodos/Kang alien (Give them credit, they could have easily made the vortex the Doctor Who vortex in the opening).
Watch out for the TARDIS, Bart
After a pointless bit with the bullies, we see Alien Bart and Alien Milhouse trying to fly but failing and this forces Bart to walk, but not after an Alien Taxi with a terrible accent arrives (These jokes are terrible). After Bart gets eaten by a plant, some random female Alien (Obviously Neytiri) saves him and then instantly falls in love with Alien Bart (This segment gets the most time and yet somehow feels like the least amount of effort was given). After some more padding with not-Neytiri scolding Alien Milhouse for hurting nature (Why is she yelling all the time? I don't get it, in Avatar, none of the Na'vi yelled, so why include it here? It's not poking fun at them, it's just random.) not-Neytiri (I don't care what her name is) and Bart have... sex? What the HELL is going on? The Dunwich Horror's ending wasn't nearly this confusing. Afterwards, AB accidentally spills the beans about him being from Earth and he tries to explain Earth to NN. NN doesn't get what AB is talking about but believes Bart (Wait what just happened?). AB then finds out that NN is pregnant and apparently this means that they need to give NN some 'Hilarium' to prevent her from getting cranky, if this seems rushed to you, don't worry, nothing about this segment is redeemable so far.
Eww... don't you know where that stuff has been?
I'm trying my hardest to have this make sense, but it's near impossible with the material given here, I don't think I get it. Kang (Or Kodos) tells AB that the Hilarium is secreted from the queen's drool and Alien Milhouse calls the base to tell them they found it (Oh, by the way, Alien Milhouse is now with Bart, despite leaving him a while ago. Consistency be damned!) AB scolds AM for betraying the aliens (Not that AB has enough character development to explain why he's now supporting the aliens. Dear God this hurts me physically) and faster than you can say 'bullshit' the military arrives and they decide to shoot up the aliens... WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS?! In Avatar they killed the aliens because Jake said the Na'vi wouldn't give up the tree no matter what. Here, they come in guns-a-blazing shooting up the place after finding out where the source is. And the scenario is totally different as requesting for 'Hilarium' would be much easier than obtaining the stuff from Avatar. Ugh, the writing style for this show is simply: Watch a movie, forget all purpose and meanings of ANYTHING from the movie, replace characters from movie with Simpsons characters. It's just so pathetic how bad this is. After some of the aliens get killed, animals start coming out of nowhere and start shooting things out their faces (Or mouths) to fight the military... I give up, let's end this as quick as possible.
Ahh, I get the joke. A robot within a robot; Robotception!
After a boring fight ensues, Chalmers gets into a bigger mech that his mech controls to fight a bulldozer animal controlling a bigger bulldozer animal (And the joke is?) The segment ends with NN, Kang and Kodos saying that they would have given the humans the Hilarium if they asked because they don't believe that anything belongs to anyone (This isn't a satire of Avatar, the writers missed the point of Avatar completely... urge to kill rising!) The show itself ends with everyone saying Halloween is over and to begin Christmas shopping to stimulate the economy (Remember the ending to Bart Simpson's Dracula and how the Christmas ending was meant to be ridiculous? To hell with that, THIS ending is the funny one... If you'll excuse me, I've got a bottle of Prozac with my name on it).

Final Verdict: This was just putrid, possibly worse than last year's, we had a segment with farting Homer, a segment that felt repeating the same scene ad nauseum would work and a segment that's not topical, funny nor gets the point of satire whatsoever. The writing was awful, the jokes were terrible and none of these segments FELT like a Treehouse of Horror segment, they felt more like incomplete episodes. I pray that this results in a drop in the ratings moreso and FOX decides to cancel that new extension given to this show.

Final Grade: 1.8/10 Will give you nightmares, but not the type you want

Friday, October 28, 2011

Episode 5: Treehouse of Horror XVIII

When was the last good Treehouse of Horror? Five? Ten years ago? Maybe even further back, either way this one doesn't reverse the trend and is another piss-poor attempt at the Halloween special. So without further delay, let's take a look at today's subject.

The episode begins with Marge addressing the audience acknowledging that it's past Halloween, but they're still celebrating anyways (Translation: If this show was still good, we'd have this BEFORE Halloween). After Marge kills some promos, she decides to cook them into a meatloaf and each slice gives us part of the title sequence.

E.T. Go Home
The segment begins with Marge having Bart go get some butane from the shed as Bart notices a glow from the shed out back (Personally I would be more surprised a shed that never existed is in my back yard, but I digress) Bart throws a baseball and ends up hitting Kodos in the nuts causing him to come out in pain. Kodos claims to be an alien who comes in peace, but after his gun falls out, he tries to hide it by saying it's a deodorant applicator and shoots himself while repressing the pain (After 18 encounters with these aliens, I'm surprised Bart didn't just grab the gun and shoot him on the spot). Inside, Bart shows Kodos his toys and Lisa comes in and is happy to see an alien in Bart's room. Bart and Lisa promise not to tell anyone about him, and Kodos tells them that he would like to phone his relatives as he gives them a handy list of things they need to get (Gee I wonder if the alien bent on world domination has plans of world domination?)
I wonder how the female taste with tartar sauce
After a scene of Kodos building said phone with Bart and Lisa, we see Kodos in the shower as... oh God no! Homer comes in and thinks that the giant green object with a glass dome poking above the shower curtain is Marge (Yeah it's understandable how he could mistake the two). After Homer gets Kodos to massage his butt (*throws up in mouth* I want to know the asswipe who thought that was funny) Homer finally realizes it's not Marge and screams (Okay so that's two out of three for Homer's character traits; Being an assclown, and screaming all in his second scene). After Marge says he can stay, Bart notices a van with men in body suits coming for Kodos (How did they know he was there you may ask. Because they read the script, no other given reason). However Homer has a plan to distract them as he gives off a southern Belle accent when they get to the door and comes to the door dressed as Abraham Lincoln... What. The. Fuck? I'm not angry so much as confused to what amount of drugs the writers were on when they wrote that scene. The agents get in and Lisa mocks them for being too late as Bart and Kodos haven't gotten very far in their escape (The irony's not lost on me, it just isn't funny). After Southern Belle Homer says goodbye to the agents (Why do the writers insist on Homer being about as funny as Paulie Shore? You know what? I take that back, Paulie Shore's not THIS bad)
I'm going to give you to the count of three before we shoot you Mr. Simpson
Bart and Kodos get to a roadblock where army personnel are waiting for them with guns (This is the perfect chance to make fun of the change to walkie-talkies and you MISSED it? I know it's obvious, but there could have been a joke about it there). Kodos blasts them and they ride off. In the forest Kodos reveals that he's evil and he plans on bringing shock troopers to Earth to take over the world. Kodos then activates the teleporter, but after they all arrive, the military arrive and shoot them all, killing them where they stand (How very anticlimatic, if I cared, I'd be disappointed). Bart then aims a gun at Kodos, but is unable to shoot because of their one-day friendship, prompting Homer to shoot him. The segment ends with Kodos being dissected alive until Homer smothers him with a pillow (Can Homer be on the other side of that pillow instead? No? *Sigh*)

Mr. and Mrs. Simpson
The segment begins with Homer and Marge in what appears to be a therapist's office talking about how they've grown apart (Well seeing as how they're nothing like their original characters, I can see why). We then go into a... dream? Flashback? Future event? I'm going to say flashback based on the ending, but it might have been helpful to say something along the lines of "It all started X months ago". Homer goes into the kids bathroom as he turns into a Bond-esque headquarters with Mr. Burns telling him to kill Kent Brockman because he revealed where Burns hides all the energy to jack up the rates over the Summer (*Sigh* Another  'You'll have to Google this to understand it' jokes. By the by, I DO understand this joke, I just didn't find it funny the first time). Later, Homer informs Marge he'll be home late and Marge tells Homer she'll be gone for the night as well (Okay, I've never seen the Mr. and Mrs. Smith movie (Either one) so I don't know how well this follows the movie). At a party celebrating Kent Brockman (Don't know why, they just are) Homer goes up to the top of a construction site where he tries to ready a sniper shot. He is obstructed by some woman who ends up stabbing Mr. Brockman in the least subtle way possible (If it wasn't for the fact that the police are completely inept, I would say I'm surprised Marge gets away with her assassinations).
Wait a second, that's the building across from my window... Nice knowing you guys
Homer shoots wildly like a 5-year-old and reveals the assassin to be Marge (That came out of left field, I for one am shocked). Homer gets back home where he confronts Marge but doesn't reveal his knowledge of what she is. At... dinner I guess, I mean it's gotta be close to 11 or 1 AM given what we've been told, Marge gives Homer some food and Homer like an idiot, eats it all and asks for seconds before pulling out a gun and they exchange gunfire (I never thought I'd find a shootout between a husband and wife to be so boring, but here we are). After the drawn-out fight with bad jokes ends, Bart and Lisa come down to all the wreckage and Homer sends them back up with the promise of ice cream (Again, isn't it around midnight or so?) After Homer points a crossbow in Marge's face (Okay, why are they trying to kill each other again? No, seriously. I don't think there's a reason why they're trying to kill each other) Wiggum appears and Marge shoots him with the crossbow. Homer and Marge have sex on his body and we cut back to the office where it's revealed it was Skinner's office and the segment ends with Marge and Homer shooting him (So what actually happened here I do not know, it was just boring, bland and repetitive).

Heck House
The segment begins with Bart, Milhouse, Lisa and Nelson going Trick-or-Treating as Agnes stiffs them on candy. Bart decides to get even by 'tricking' her as they all throw water balloons at her. Afterwards, they decide not to give people an option which leads into a montage of them all 'tricking' people while Lisa disapproves each time. Okay, I feel I need to explain my stance on this right now:

  • This COULD have been a decent idea, of them ALL committing simple fun pranks like smashing pumpkin, egging houses, TP-ing trees, etc. Two problems, one they go too far in their 'tricking' to the point of criminal felonies such as B&E and manslaughter, it loses humor value instantly. Two, having Lisa always give that "I don't approve of this" look really removes her from the story and they might as well have not even included her if all she was going to do was be a buzz-kill. Would those changes have made this good? I don't know, but I feel like it could have been made decent. let's move on.
Now this has humor because she stiffed them and this is a reasonable response
This is not because they're just flat out robbing him
Afterwards, all the townspeople approach Homer as he tells them to relax, until Bart drops a pig on Homer's head and he can't see. Ned Flanders then approaches the townspeople saying he can fix them, of course though, the mood has to be ruined by the pig dragging Homer around (Even when the scene's not about Homer, the writers make Homer an assclown). After stealing from Lenny, the kids pass by the church with "Heck House" in Neon lights. The kids go in and are unimpressed by Ned's exhibit. After praying to God to help him scare the kids, Ned turns into the devil and sends the kids to hell (Lisa thinks her punishment being the same is wrong. I might have agreed, except you never stopped them, so you're just as guilty). After they all fall into chairs and are strapped in, Devil Ned shows them people committing the 7 deadly sins and how they will lead them back to Hell. The kids promise never to sin again and they're all transported away. The segment ends with normal Flanders wishing us a happy Halloween and saying we're all going to Hell for watching any FOX programming (Okay, small kudos for the jab at FOX)

Final Verdict: This was rather mediocre, but at the same time, not terrible. The jokes weren't really funny, the writing was bad as well and none of the segments stood out. I felt that the Mr. and Mrs. Simpson was the worst and Heck House is debatably the best, but not by much. Really, it's just not worth your time as the only thing horrifying about it is just how bored you'll be by the end.

Final Grade: 3.5/10 There are much better things to watch this Halloween.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Treehouse of Horror XXI

Have any hope for this year's Treehouse of Horror? Well looking back at last year's abomination might give you second thoughts.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Lovecraft's Corner #9: The Resurrected

Trick 'r Treat! Halloween is my favorite time of the year - when you ask people to watch a horror film with you, they almost always say yes instead of questioning your tastes. Heck, I can take my Lovecraft anthology to classes and no one comments or gives me weird looks.
Speaking of Lovecraft, this is my treat to you guys (or another trick): another review of a Lovecraft adaptation! Today's film is "The Resurrected", also called "Shatterbrain", a 1992 film that I believe has earned the right to the alternate title. It's based on "The Case of Charles Dexter Ward", one of my favorite Lovecraft stories, and appears to be relatively obscure. Does it deserve this reputation? Will it shatter your brain in a good way or a bad way that leaves you screaming for therapy? Let's find out.

Yes, spoilers ahead. As always.

We start with credits - light radiating from a single spot as the words "The Resurrected" rise up, and turn red before the main cast is listed. Nothing terribly special - budget was only 5 million. Then again, to be fair, this story shouldn't require a large budget to adapt, and I can still have hopes. The credits then cut to a large building with a thunderstorm going on overhead - and a Biblical quote appears on the screen. I don't get why adaptations will throw in religious references when they're seeking a quote, though at least this one's relevant - oh, right, movie. So, it then cuts inside, where a man goes into an office to tell his superior Charles Ward has escaped - ah, this must be the mental hospital. Hopes rising. They go to his room to find a terrible mess - a decapitated body, blood everywhere, and what looks like the remains of an explosive. "What in the hell happened here?" Just a Great Old One rave, sir, nothing to worry about. They find Ward's suitcase outside - and then a lightning bolt takes us to a new place in a city - specifically 'March Agency', where a man is speaking into a recorder discussing 'the case of Charles Dexter Ward'. The prelude to the events sounds rather like your typical ramblings of a Lovecraft protagonist. Hopes higher. Say, how far in are we anyhow? ....Five minutes? Movie, if you end up dashing my hopes after these first five minutes, I am going to trash you.

The flashback starts, three weeks ago, in the city of Providence. ...compressed timeline, I can cope. After some talk, it then goes inside an office with our protagonist, John March, meeting a lady named Claire Ward.

....please be the mother, please be the-

She talks about how her husband (crap. Another love interest) has moved out of the house, will not talk to her, and is suspected of smuggling corpses. He had left abruptly from a party to his laboratory and stayed long in the night, with shouts coming from the place. She told him to stop being so loud, and, in response, he moved to the country with his assistant, Dr. Ash. Out there, he's apparently been working late into the night and receiving long boxes. March promises to investigate, sending someone to talk to the police. He goes out to Pautuxet Valley, commenting in his narration that it seems like "they're hiding something". Pautuxet is Innsmouth, got it.

He stops at a gas station and, after a jump scare, discovers dogs are terrified of something. He asks for directions and is advised to follow the smell of Death. He finally finds the new lab and tries talking to Ward, camera shaking slightly (yeah, low budget. Oh well). Ward turns him away, not giving any real information about his activities. As he drives away, he narrates as he passes by a cemetery.

After finding an article with the title straight from the book, March receives a call from his police contact, who says they found eight boxes of old human remains and learned that there's been a rash of tomb-snatching of occult scholars over in Europe. However, Ward denies he ordered the bodies and can't be prosecuted since there's no proof.

March meets Claire again over dinner (learning they haven't been together long) and tells her about the bones. She says he first acted strange when he received items from a freshly-deceased obscure relative, mostly papers referencing Joseph Curwen. They visited Curwen's old house (Ward's current place) and found, concealed under wallpaper, the painting of Curwen. He then continued digging into Curwen's things. The two visit her home, discussing Ward a little, and then go out to the lab to find refrigerated animal blood, the trunk of items (emptied) and a picture of "Saturn Devouring His Son" (which, at first, I mistook as a reference to Pickman, though I now understand that story's inspiration).

Going home, March learns he has a message from one of Ward's neighbors. When calling him doesn't work, he drives to his home to find the police there. The man's dead and, lacking any other answers for the gruesome mutilation and blood all over the room, chalk it up to "animal attack".

To paraphrase some of the other watchers, it's great how not even the officer giving that explanation believes it.

March immediately suspects Ward but doesn't tell the police. He instead returns to the office, with the feeling he's being watched, works on the computer, and has a nightmare in a lovely blue tint, that starts with footage from the movie and grows increasingly....uh, odd. Don't think Freud can help you there, pal.

One of his employees comes in to find out he'd spent the night. The next comes in to announce he'd quit smoking, and the three just hang out until Claire comes in. If the two employees survive after that, I'll be amazed.

So, March informs Claire about the neighbor's death. Claire, in return, has a recording of Ward sounding extremely desperate and warning them about Dr. Ash. So, naturally, the two visit his new place. The man from before tries to refuse them, but Ward, speaking in a hoarse whisper, invites them in. He speaks a bit oddly, and Claire tries to get him medical help. He turns her away and seems to forget simple dates; he won't even leave to celebrate the anniversary of his marriage and refuses to tell them what he's doing, only that he requires six weeks. Claire leaves, distraught, and March drives her away. She swears he's not Ward; March suggests perhaps Ward is a bit delusional and thinks he's possessed by the ghost of Curwen.

March continues keeping an eye on Ward, learning about his activities to prove he's insane. They gather a lot of information - ordering fresh blood, bank thought his signatures were forged, possible tunnels in the area - and eventually get the police to seize him to be committed.  Claire, worried for her husband, follows, and ends up being caught by Ward as a hostage. Way to help. This is why I hate Lovecraft love interests, they are so useless.

March tries to help and get attacked; luckily, this frees Claire and allows the police to subdue Ward in a straitjacket. At the mental hospital, Ward claims a need for fresh blood and raw flesh to stay in control; not having it would leave a "damnable mess". The doctor also mentions to March and Claire that Ward's metabolism and respiration is irregular and slowed and that he doesn't expect him to be released.

Claire is awoken late at night, later, by March going through the trunk and finding a diary sewn into the side. Specifically, the diary of Ezra Ward.

(Note: there's a slight skip. There may have been a scene missing)

The next day, the agency and Claire discuss the contents - Curwen was oddly old, considered to be a warlock, and smuggled odd things into his home. Ward discusses how he explored the area to find proof of Curwen's malice and kept in contact with Eliza, the wife of Curwen who was supposed to marry Ezra. Eliza tells him about the odd shipments and a strange wound he had received and refused help for. He observes shipments of dead cattles and coffins, along with a secret doorway near the river. While Ezra awaits the decision of the town's council, a rainstorm washes away the river bank, causing something odd to wash up. Hey, just like the sto-


Hot damn, I guess we know where the movie's budget went.....

Anyhow, they burn that THING and decide they'll take care of Curwen. 100 privateers march on Curwen's barn, breaking in - and the diary ends there without detailing the results of the raid. Depressing.

So, next scene is a news reporter detailing a murder of yet another one of Ward's neighbors and another murder. Both are equally mutilated. The idea of telling the police comes up, and is shot down for the fact no one would ever believe it. They decide instead that, since Claire technically owns the place, they can legally blow it up - but she'll only do it once they know what's down there. March and the other man from the agency drive to the farmhouse and, on the way, get a jump scare courtesy of Dr. Ash and a rearview mirror. C'mon, movie, be better than that.

So they arrive at the house, where Claire is waiting for them. They grab the explosives and guns and go inside down to the cellar to find the entrance to below the house. It's located under a cabinet, not exactly well-hidden, and releases a foul stench when opened. Probably either corpses or Arby's after a few days.

So, of course, the three descend into this hellhole, and we find out in the process they only have one flashlight. Being in the private detective agency must pay horribly. So, past the ladder down is a spiral staircase leading further down. Ominous music crescendoes to...a fork in the path and a lantern. C'mon, movie, you're better than that. Just get Merlin in and then deal with - oh, right.

So, one path is blocked, forcing them down the other path. There are doors down the path, but they're all locked. This is probably a good thing; for all we know, there are more abominations behind those doors, including the monster from earlier, heirs to the Great Old Ones, and Uwe Boll films.

So, Claire finds an unlocked door, taking them to a room filled with books and a.....I'm sorry, in my version, it's too dark to see. Anyhow, so the flashlight goes out briefly (FORESHADOWING!) and then they find the diary of Joseph Curwen, which implies he had eluded death. There's also an interesting passage about ripping flesh off of improper owners and a drawing of two skeletons connected by fleshy strands. Betting this'll be important later.

The next room is a lab full of beakers and urns. March thinks it's a swell idea to tip one over to see the contents. The other guy from the agency thinks Curwen was just mad, so March takes a bit of ash, sprinkles it on meat lying around, and drips elixir on it, growing a horribly deformed hand and proving Curwen was right. Gotta love these effects, no sarcasm intended.

The flashlight dies, just leaving them with the lantern, as they investigate further to find a large, damp chamber lined with covered and uncovered pits. One emitting smoke is still growling, and closer investigation shows it to be one of the near-human abominations, which March only calls "Mistakes or screw-ups". You call them that, I call them the best argument ever for the eradication of science and magic arts.

The three get ready to go when they encounter one of the abominations above ground (and I learn pausing on these things is a BAD idea). The lantern is dropped, breaking it, and they use matches to light their path briefly. The other agency man is grabbed and pulled down a pit, accompanied by the most wonderful crunchings. Yeesh. ...still, I called it. He didn't survive to the end.

So, the match goes out, they light another, the abominations are attacking. While trying to escape, Claire is knocked out, leaving March to save her and destroy this hellish place. He tries fending them with a shotgun and then manages to push one down a pit. The flashlight dies as Claire wakes up, leaving them one last match to leave with and several of the abominations still lurking about. The match stays lit long enough to find a new lantern and, oddly, Charles suitcase. March sets up the explosives, and they flee into the storm outside, Claire unconscious again. March blows the place to hell in a very satisfying moment and then drives to a hospital to deal with Claire. The doctor says she has a concussion and is pregnant - relevancy uncertain. March goes back to his office to examine Charles' suitcase - inside is Dr. Ash's sunglasses and beard, along with bloodied bones. No question about what happened.

A lightning strike takes us to March's arrival at the mental hospital to visit Ward - and calls him out as the actual Joseph Curwen. He then tells Curwen he blew up his lab and brought Charles' bones to the hospital. Curwen points out that March would not be taken seriously and then explains how he returned (along with an awkward scene showing Curwen regenerating in front of Ward in nothing but skin....awkward does not even begin to cover it), the creation of Dr. Ash, and the fate of Ward. Gotta say, it takes guts to eat your own flesh and- *shot* Sorry. Anyhow. Curwen keeps lecturing March about what he's accomplished. He then mentions that he, as the dead, is still hungry - and breaks through his straitjacket. March tries calling in help, but Curwen punches him. An aide comes in, but Ward demonstrates supernatural strength in killing him.

Curwen approaches March - he will kill March but go unpunished due to his insanity, feign a recovery, and effect release. He then bites into March, who reveals he grabbed a vial of the resurrective elixir and throws it at Ward's bones, which then then reassemble into a moving, talking skeletons that starts ripping the flesh from his bones. ....I'll let Kriken sum this up:

Kriken_8: A skeleton killing a zombie... Why hasn't this been used in more movies?

Red energy starts escaping Curwen - flesh starts attaching to the skeleton - and the resulting energy burst destroys them both. March opens the window for air, then throws out Ward's suitcase to make it look like he'd escaped. He bandages his wound and then leaves, and his narration resumes briefly. He made it look like Ward escaped to spare her the truth. As he leaves, the orderly asks him how Ward's doing, and March replies, "Resting peacefully."

So, how is this as an adaptation? Pretty good, really. It follows the story faithfully - there are moments where they even quote the dialog straight from the original story - and while changes are made, it's mostly to fit into the new date of the story or because other elements *coughMerlin* were not included. The timeline's compressed, but I think only the fans of the original story will realize that. The horror of the abominations Curwen fashioned are captured pretty well in this film and the detective manages to come off as a convincing character. Also: a zombie killed by a skeleton. You will never see that again. This is definitely one of my favorite adaptations, and I'd recommend it to Lovecraft fans. Kriken? Your thoughts?

Thank you RBY. Next to Re-Animator this has to be my new favorite adaption. As a horror movie, I feel it works very well relying more on atmosphere and creepy set designs rather than jump scares (Okay a few time) and horrible effects. For such a low budget as you indicated, the effects are rather magnificent in my opinion, they aren't lifelike, but they are scary and you will remember them. As for the downsides, Claire was rather bad and the movie seemed to bog down at certain points. But overall, if you want to see a good horror movie for Halloween you've never seen before, I'd say check it out

Monday, October 24, 2011

Simpsons and Disney: Referencing

Since there isn't a new episode again and I'm beginning to see signs of reviewer withdraw. But not to worry, The Simpsons will air it's Treehouse of Horror next Sunday and I advise you all to avoid it. Anyways, onto the point of this post, in honor of Moviefan12's 1 year anniversary I thought I'd take a look at how The Simpsons would satirize Disney. Now of course, I'm not going to list EVERY parody/satire, I'll just list some of my favorite ones.

Steamboat Itchy
I think this is the most famous example, in Itchy and Scratchy The Movie, the staff decided to put in this little jab at Disney by parodying Steamboat Willie and while there are quite a few differences, you have to appreciate the attention to detail in trying to make this as close to the original as possible.

Itchy and Scratchy Land
Of course, a reference to Disneyland, but they also throw in a reference to Euro-Disneyland as well. The entire episode was full of little shots against Disney, ranging from the park, to the parade, to referencing Walt's antisemitic behavior. I find it amusing how Itchy and Scratchy; a parody of Tom and Jerry are more often thrown in for the writer's Disney parodies.

Okay, I'm throwing this in because it rather funny in the way they presented this.

Duff Garden's "Small World"
Okay, you could argue that Duff Gardens itself has elements of Disneyland as well (Or any major amusement park) but their 'Small World" ride always cracks me up. It also teaches the very important lesson of don't drink the ride water, ever. It will mess you up.

Roger Myers
Again, this is one that needs little explanation. Just your basic Disney executive stand-in

The Day the Violence Died
Another episode just full of taking shots at Disney, from parodying Walt's first cartoon of Oswald That Lucky Rabbit to referencing Walt Disney being frozen. Again, Itchy and Scratchy seems to be the fallback for the show when referencing Disney.

Now I know there are many more I could have listed, but I'm satisfied with what I put together here. Anyways, happy 1 year anniversary Moviefan12 and here's hoping your next year goes by as well as your first.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Episode 4: I Don't Wanna Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

If an episode airs and nobody laughs, does it make an impact? Well that's the question for this episode today, an episode with nothing memorable about it in a season that's very forgettable. I don't think I've ever had a more apathetic feeling towards an episode after watching it than this one. It's just so... 'blah' I can't even get angry at this one. With that said, let's see why it's so bland and forgettable.

The episode begins with Marge dressing Bart up nicely as Homer doesn't know why. After the writers butcher the "Talking to brain" joke (It's not that hard of a joke, how do you screw it up?) Marge tells Homer that there's going to be a ceremony for Lisa tomorrow. After Marge tells Homer that he needs to be there (And listing off the times Homer missed his kids events, I find it sad that I give credit to this episode for NOT making their flashback sequences over 10 seconds long) Homer decides to come to the ceremony only after "negotiating" with Marge on how drunk he's allowed to be... I'm sorry, was that meant to be a joke? The next morning, Homer gets ready as he mistakes Maggie for a tie and puts on milk as cologne... did the writers forget their Ritalin? I didn't see anything actually funny about that scene. Anyways, Homer's driving to the school and gets there about two hours early so he decides to continue his book on Superman... wait, what? After some more unfunny padding (Remember the freeze frame jokes from the 90's? Yeah they figured they could turn them into 10 second stills so that we can sit and 'enjoy' them) we see Marge at the bank as the man in front of her opens fire and tells everyone he's robbing the bank (For a moment, I thought he was just testing the accuracy of his gun. I would never have guessed bank robbery).
After some bad jokes when pointless bank robber #2 pulls his own gun out (If he has a name, I don't care, he lasts for all of two scenes) we cut back to the ceremony where Homer decides to go into jerkass mode as he mocks 'Marge' for not being there (You know, if the writers knew Homer at ALL they would know that he would be concerned that she's not there since she would never miss something like this. Oh wait, that wouldn't be 'funny' what am I thinking?) When Homer decides to call Marge during the ceremony so he can gloat (This is our main character everyone... are we supposed to root for him or wish a slow painful death upon him?) the robbers get paranoid and pointless robber #2 shoots randomly which happens to kill Ol' Gil just as he had 2 days let til retirement (Okay it was his first day not 'two days til retirement' although the latter is still more ironic than the former). After pointless robber #2 flees, Lou tries his hardest to explain to Wiggum that an armed robbery might be taking place (Wiggum's dumb, but not THAT dumb).
Hey! The animation took a step up now
Back at the ceremony (Oh yeah, this proves to be utterly pointless, literally NOTHING happens. Yeah Skinner talks, but really think about it, nothing actually occurs, it's just padding) Marge calls Homer and tells him that she's being held hostage and Homer decides that trying to comfort her is for humans and 'comically' tells her everything that would get her killed (Okay, seriously, HOW do people find this guy funny? I get the fact that all he does is spout 'jokes' and has no real character anymore. But he is such an unrelatable jerkass, why would anyone like him?) Back at the bank, Dwight (The robber) locks all the hostages up (Which is why in the next scenes they're all outside the vault... Is the concept of continuity THAT hard to grasp?) where Dwight gets hit by a lot of dye packs and turns blue (But don't worry, in the next scene he's perfectly alright, if you need me I'll be walking out the door to my lawn only to end up in my kitchen). After some more padding by Wiggum (I just realized, we're over 8 minutes in and we're STILL on the bank robbery, the pacing here is atrocious) Marge decides to try to talk some sense into Dwight as she recommends he surrenders himself.
Now I expect you all to stay put while I rob the bank
Hmmm... I guess the honor system doesn't work after all
Dwight says he has no family and can't go back to prison and says he'll turn himself in if Marge agrees to visit him. After a dated 'Chinese lead paint' joke (I get it, it just helps date this episode terribly... how many times will I have said that by the end of this season?) Marge agrees and the standoff is over (Well we're at the 9:10 mark now, thank God for padding or the writers may have needed to put in real jokes and story). Dwight is taken away as he gives Marge and ominous statement that he'll see her soon and this makes Marge uncomfortable (Just avoid him, he has no way of knowing anything about you). Later, Marge tells Homer that she's afraid to visit Dwight in jail (Really? The way I saw it, I thought she'd be ecstatic to see him). Later, we see two scenes of Marge not visiting Dwight and this ends up making Dwight needy for attention from her (*Yawn* sorry, nothing interesting is happening, there's not really much to say here). Later, Marge starts coming up with excuses not to see Dwight as she gets a call from him and hangs up when she doesn't get a response (How he got her number I will never know, and neither will the writers). Later, Marge is watching the 'Plot device' Channels' latest original movie: Guilt Trip, a movie about a guy on death row who hopes to see his mom and she never shows up (Eh my titles are better than their half-assed attempts). In a transition to the prison a la Cape Feare (Except ruined by the image of Ralph holding the balloons, I don't get why, it ruined any atmosphere the scene may have tried to create) there, we see Dwight escape the prison a la Shawshank Redemption only to see a pipe nearby with spring water (Yeah, Dwight always getting screwed is a running joke that's not really funny)
I don't think I've ever seen a more appropriate metaphor for this show
After Marge finishes the movie, Dwight pulls out a newspaper with all the information he could ever need to locate Marge (The only way the writing could have been lazier was if he was handed the script in episode). After a 75 second Itchy and Scratchy cartoon (Remember when they were put it for entertainment value and not to help pad out the running time?) Kent Brockman gives a bulletin saying Dwight escaped and Marge becomes afraid now. After a montage of Dwight following Marge around (You get the drill, padding, padding, padding and no substance. This is just so boring right now) Dwight catches up to Marge and forces her to drive him to an amusement park (Oh right I forgot to mention, in some painfully obvious foreshadowing, Dwight's mom abandoned him at an amusement park). After passing by some signs with 'joke' ride names.Dwight reveals that all he wants is for Marge to give him the day at the park that his mom didn't (Just three more minutes, I can take this).
Hey Dwight? Is that a pickle in your pocket or are you just happy to see Marge?
Doctor Hibbert then approaches Krusty at the amusement park where they notice Marge and Dwight, Krusty suspects foul play and Hibbert shows Krusty that the police are at the amusement park too (You know, by the looks of how Marge and Dwight traveled, this amusement park seemed to be in the middle of a desert, why is everyone here?) After Lou tries to tell Wiggum about Marge and Dwight, Dwight gets Marge to take him on the ride where his mom abandoned him. Wiggum tries to apprehend Dwight on the ride but fails and Dwight, in an act of kindness for Marge sacrifices himself to jam the gears (What a sad death, I'll go prepare his tombstone, it's 'Dwight Bugeye' right?) Of course he lives and the episode ends with Marge visiting Dwight in prison (Healed from his wounds... there's nothing indicating how long she took to visit him, so I'm calling this lazy writing).

Final Verdict: This episode was boring, I mean nothing about this was memorable, the jokes were mediocre, the writing was stupid and the pacing was all over the place, ranging from plodding at the beginning to rushed ending. In short, this was boring, stupid and very forgettable.

Final Grade: 2.3/10 As I write this part, I forgot what started this episode

Monday, October 17, 2011

Quick Analysis: The Simpsons and Skills

I've beaten this topic into the ground so many times. Whether it's the occasional comment within a review, or a response to a comment in my blog, the writers have become extremely lazy when it comes to a family member getting a new skill. Really, I'm somewhat surprised that The Simpsons doesn't have an entire page dedicated to "Instant Expert" on TV Tropes, but seeing as the people who update those pages doesn't care about this show anymore, it's understandable. I could go through the past 5 years alone and describe just how lazy the writers are when it comes to this, but instead I just want to do a simple compare and contrast of how the show did special skills correctly and how they do it today.


Example 1: Deep Space Homer
  • This is the one I always refer to when making this argument, and for good reason, it's near perfection in terms of how to give a main character a new skill. So Homer has absolutely NO training as an astronaut whatsoever, so of course when he's recruited as an 'Average Joe Astronaut' he struggles with the training. He basically fails at every test imaginable and is about to be sent back home until Barney screws it all up by getting mentally drunk. And even when Homer's about to board the shuttle, he gets cold feet and runs off. The point I'm trying to make is that Homer is human here, he is flawed, he is not perfect, in fact he's far from perfect. He's the last guy who should ever go into space and through a cheap publicity stunt, he ends up going into space. And because of all this, we can laugh at Homer's antics and root for Homer to succeed.
Example 2: Bart gets an F
  • Nothing really special to list here. Basically, Bart, in his underachieving ways does his hardest to avoid getting held back, even going as far as to study all day while it's a snow day to avoid failing. It's almost all for naught as he fails the test he was studying for and only through extra knowledge does he barely pass. Bart is human, he tries his very hardest and can only muster a D-, granted that's comically absurd, but it's better than the idea of this long time underachiever getting a 100% after studying for one day.
Example 3: Homer the Smithers
  • Homer gets absolutely nothing right about being Mr. Burns'assistant and it's only after he fails again at his job that he actually does something right for Smithers. Homer's rather incompetent and this episode knows that. It knows Homer wouldn't get how to be Mr. Burns' assistant and it never deviates from that idea. In short, the episode knows what it is and what it's supposed to do.


Example 1: Homer Scissorhands
  • I think I've explained this one to death, but let me do it one last time. So Homer, who has been bald for a while can not only cut hair with hedge trimmers on his first try, but can cut hair perfectly with said trimmers. He can then style a random woman's hair without knowing how she wants it whenever he wants to and when he tries to screw up, he just cannot. Homer's not human, Homer's a bad fanfiction character, who can do whatever he wants, whenever he wants and cannot fail. He fails to be relatable and thus all humor from his antics are drained instantly.
Example 2: Boy Meets Curl
  • Okay, pushing objects + good at sweeping with a broom does not mean you will be a good curling team. Anyone who has actually tried this can tell you it's much harder than it actually looks, but loe and behold, Homer and Marge just see it being done, and faster than the writers can say "Ka-ching" they're in the Olympics and win a Gold medal for the US. Remember when they actually had to TRY to be good at something new?
Example 3: Homer of Seville
  • So Homer, with absolutely no history of singing opera (I said opera, not barbershop) is not only good at singing on his back, but gets some of the best opera singers coming to him for advice. And to top it all off, his fat ass gets a huge fan following, including an obsessed fan who wants his love child. Anyone else get the feeling that this was just some self-insertion fanfiction meant for but Al Jean just ended up saying "Fuck it, we'll take that. We've got nothing else."? But that's just speculation, not fact (Provable fact).

One more set as an actual compare and contrast: Homerpalooza vs A Midsummer's Nice Dream
  • These are rather similar in concept, but are vastly different in execution. In Homerpalooza, Homer realizes that he's not cool anymore and when he tries to be cool, he fails and just alienates himself before accidentally ruining an ending which results in him discovering a talent the show can use. Nothing special here, Homer's not popular, he's in fact hated by the audience at the show and only through an accident does he get his chance to do something, something that only requires him to stand still, nothing else. In A Midsummer's Nice Dream just the opposite occurs, Homer decides to be a pompus jackass when hearing his favorite comedy duo do their best bit. Instead of being chewed out by the audience, they embrace his ruining of the bit. And after he's the cause of the duo breaking up, the audience then cheers for him when he goes onstage to finish the act himself. There are at least two things wrong with this; 1) The writers are delusional idiots that believe Homer is liked no matter what he does. In reality, Homer would be either escorted out by security or attacked by the audience for being the cause of breaking them up. 2) With absolutely NO stand-up experience whatsoever, Homer masters the bit on his first try. I don't care how well one knows a bit, or a scene, knowing it and actually performing it in front of hundreds are two totally separate things.
There are MANY more examples I could do, but I think I've made my point clear here; The classic episodes would actually develop skills or make the character struggle at something unfamiliar to them. Nowadays, development takes too much effort and all the time that could have gone to development is instead devoted to padding.

So there's not going to be a new episode next week either, not to worry, I'll have something up anyways.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Episode 3: Midnight Towboy

...We're near the halfway point of October and already these episodes are already getting under my skin. No, I'm not quitting on you guys, I'm just wondering how we live in a world where FOX decides to go from "45% paycut or we cancel your show completely" to "Extended through 2014" in less than a week. I knew this would end up happening, but I didn't think it would be THAT short. Anyways, back to another season 19 review, oh please put me out of my misery already.

The episode begins with Marge trying to put Maggie to sleep, but Maggie doesn't want to go to bed yet. After Marge tries to convince Maggie to sleep, we get a scene of Homer, Bart, Lisa, Ralph and Milhouse all in togas as they are celebrating the new pledges... What the fuck am I watching here? This scene comes completely out of nowhere and leads to nothing, all it served was the punchline to "Everyone else is asleep". I'll give the writers credit here, they had to TRY to make a punchline that bad, humor that bad isn't done overnight. Not even a minute in and I'm already ranting, sorry about that, let's move on. After Marge struggles to put maggie to sleep, she decides to make Maggie a bottle of milk, when she asks Homer to hold Maggie (By the way, nobody's in their togas anymore, continuity is for the weak) Maggie jumps from Homer's grasp and Marge drops the milk bottle. After Homer cries over spilled milk (No worries, this is not made subtle at all) Homer goes to the Kwik-E-Mart where he finds out that they're out of milk (Okay, the joke involved here isn't bad, so kudos). After a trip to Moe's bar for some milk (Which isn't funny, see it all balances out in the end) Oh and I guess, Moe's been drinking some of that paint as well. Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa convince Marge to look online to deal with Maggie, this goes about as well as you'd expect from a mother on the internet (Oh come on, this joke was better suited for 2001, not 2008).
Come on mom, why don't you ever use this computer we just bought?
Afterwards, we get a rather brief montage of Homer not being able to find milk Homer ends up in Guidopolis where everyone is a bad Itallian-American stereotype (And here I thought they would all be Japanese-Americans based off the town name). After some unfunny sign gags (That they stop on for a couple of seconds, remember how if they had something funny in the background, they'd gloss over it and make it a VCR gag? Yeah, nowadays they think that these 'jokes' are so great that they need to pause so that the audience can admire them) Homer goes into a convenience store where the owner tells Homer "I got your milk right here" while pointing down, to which Homer explains that he thought the owner meant his crotch (Stop explaining your jokes! They're not funny to begin with). Some woman then come in and informs the store that Homer's car is being towed so Homer goes out to try to reason with the towman.
If you want some milk, it's gonna cost you
The towman gives Homer a lift to the impound lot as Homer decides he needs to make a fat joke, er I mean get his registration so he gets into his car, which causes the towtruck to go airborne for a second (Okay, minor nitpick here, but later on, the towman has no problem carrying Homer under one arm. Keep your jokes consistent, that's all I ask). On the way over, Homer goes into dumbass mode as Louie (Nametag) tries to tell Homer in a subtle way that he's his own boss and he works whenever he wants (So Homer's IQ in this episode is going to be 'moss under a rock' *Sigh* let's move along). After they get to the impound lot, Louie sells Homer a towtruck and gives him one rule to being a towtruck driver for Springfield; stay in his own territory (Okay they list two, but the second one is a terrible joke). Oh and in case you're wondering (All two of you) the milk is never brought back up again, not even a token line of "Hey honey, here's the milk" *Sigh* let's continue. Back in Springfield, we see Homer towing random people (Nothing really to note, although I was surprised it wasn't a montage)
Hey, the 90's called, they want their lame surf-like montage back
but fear not, for the padding comes in the form of a pointless scene where Bart is skateboarding off Homer's towtruck and when Homer brakes hard, Bart crashes and dies, the end... but medical science means nothing as crashing into a truck while presumably going 40 MPH results in a short blackout (Oh you fucking teases, you had a chance to end the show right there) Yeah, yeah, hate on me because I like the idea of one of the main characters dying which would end the show. But seeing as they have nothing in common with the characters we knew and loved from the 90's, they're just animated robots to me, I could care less what happens to them. Anyways, back home, a woman from the program they mentioned earlier (C.R.I.E.) tells Marge that she needs to let Maggie become independent and she takes Marge away from Maggie. After about 10 seconds, Maggie is now totally independent of Marge (Great development there, for a moment, I thought we might actually see Marge and Maggie struggle to stay away from each other over the course of a couple of days and in the end, both realizing that they need to allow the other some independence. But nope, 30 seconds is all the development the writers could afford).
Uh, Marge? You're doing the "I am a MAN!" thing wrong
After Homer tows a helicopter (No it's not funny in context) Homer goes to Moe's where he spends some of his new money on designer drinks for everyone. Lenny reveals he's parked longer than he should have in the one-hour zone and Homer tows Lenny's car (Am I missing something? What's the narrative flow? "Homer tows a bunch of people after getting a towtruck"? It just feels messy and unfocused, sort of like the anti Mr. Plow, but that's just me). The next morning, we see Maggie being able to sustain herself perfectly fine (Replace development with the same scene of 'Maggie is independent' ad nauseum, because that's not lazy at all). After Homer does some terrible title dropping (Ow, ow, ow that hurt) we get to see a bunch of cars on the Simpsons' front lawn (By the way, two things I want to note on the Sunday School bus; 1) Only shows up when it's needed for the scene (Wasn't there when Skinner passed by) 2) They animated Ned, but couldn't be bothered with animating the kids in the foreground because...?)
Seems like there's nothing on the street there...
...Except for that teleporting bus... wait, what?
We then cut to the bar where everyone in town is mad because Homer's towing their vehicles (Hey I've got a solution, PARK LEGALLY YOU DUMB FUCKS!) Yeah I know this town doesn't like to obey the law (See Wiggum as their Police Chief) but this just turns into a 'C' plot I guess that goes nowhere. I'll explain when we get there. Oh and by the way, another joke explained in that scene, I think that brings the total of 'Don't explain the joke' to 3, with a few that are debatable. Agnes then tells everyone that she has a plan to get rid of Homer and she whispers it to everyone (Gee does it have anything to do with that "Stay off my turf" rule mentioned earlier?) At the border of Guidopolis (Ugh) they put a car next to a fire hydrant, paint a handicap space next to said hydrant and put a bunch of tickets under the windshield and finish it off by covering the billboard of "Welcome to Guidopolis" (Okay stupid nitpick here, a handicap spot next to a fire hydrant? How stupid do they think Homer i- nevermind I just answered my own question) Meanwhile, back home, we see Maggie yet again being independent, but this scene adds Marge losing here mind as she comforts a bag of potatoes (This scene isn't charming it's flat out creepy, get this woman help!)
I will love you and feed you and I will call you Norman
Back at the border, Homer notices the car and decides to narrate to himself how if this were a TV show, this would be the end of act 2 (Ow... even their fourth wall jokes are terrible) Louie (Yeah he's still exists) then confronts Homer about the car being on his turf as he knocks Homer out prompting a credit stating "End of Act 2" (You know what, at this point, the Joker doesn't even care that they're doing this anymore) Act 3 begins with Louie driving his truck while towing Homer's truck, which is towing Homer (Umm... Tow-ception? I'm sorry, I'll never say that again) all the while, Homer doesn't shut up until he hits a pole. At Louie's Home, he effortlessly carries Homer with one arm (Consistency, what's that?!) and then drops Homer into a dungeon of sorts where Homer finds a bunch of other towtruck drivers down there as well (So when will Louie start making his skin suit?) Back in Springfield, we see people not parking correctly (This is quite possibly the worst satire against anarchy I've seen. And no I'm not making that up, Lenny flat out states it, I'm just going to mail my dictionary to the writing staff with some post-its marked next to key words, 'subtle' is one of them). Back Home, Homer calls and tells them not to worry about him, that was pointless, let's move on. Back in Springfield, we see that the whole town has gone into anarchy because ONE towtruck driver isn't there anymore, God, this is stupid.
Are we sure this is about parking? Looks more like downtown New York
Like I stated before, I'm not quite sure if this was supposed to be the 'C' plot because it just kinda happens, it starts up and then never resolves itself, I don't know what the hell this is supposed to be, oh right, it's filler, let's move on. Back at Louie's dungeon, Homer tells the rest of the towtruck drivers some movies he saw. You know what, screw it, I'm just going to cut out the filler and get straight to the end. After Marge worries some, Maggie decides she needs to go find Homer, so through the help of Santa's Little Helper and lazy writing (SLH apparently doesn't need to smell anything to track Homer down) they get to Louie's house, attach the tow hook to the bars and free Homer and the others. The episode ends with Homer and Maggie coming home where Maggie decides she wants to be Marge's baby again and be dependent.

Final Verdict: This episode sucked, the writing was very lazy, the jokes were bad and some were terrible (Mostly the explained ones) the characterization was rather bad and in the end it was really padded. Maybe cloning Mr. Plow wasn't as great of an idea as they thought when they originally green-lighted this script.

Final Grade: 2.4/10 Very forgettable and not worth your time

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Homer and Lisa Exchange Cross Words

Clue: Does this episode provide quality entertainment? 
Solution: 2 letters, starting with 'N'

Monday, October 10, 2011

Quick Analysis: The Simpsons and Technology

Since there was no new episode this week, I decided to push this up a week. I know I should have done Midnight Towboy here since I missed it on Friday, but I elected for this instead. Now, this is going to be a segment where I take a look at something done in the modern episodes and explain how they either stray away from the classics or remain rather close. So without further ado, let's take a look at how the show handles technology. (Note: I'm sure I'll miss a couple of examples that could help my point, if you can think of anything I missed, just post them in the comments)

The two biggest examples that have been drastically changed in my opinion is the car and the TV.

The Car:
The car was basically a piece of junk that a lower-middle class American would probably drive; bent fenders, occasional tailpipe falling off, manual locks, roll-down windows, etc. but perhaps the one change that rubs me the wrong way the most (Not going to throw a fit about it though, just annoys me) is the change from them having an 8-track player to CD player. Now having a CD player isn't necessarily a bad thing, but I can't help to feel that the CD player was a springboard to the GPS, IPod, and other modern technology (Heck there was even a subplot where Homer had a car just for the sake of the writers to throw in as much technology as possible). Really, the 8-track really defined how crappy the car was in my opinion and they kept it for a long time, which really helped to represent how rather poor the family was. This leads me into the TV argument.

The TV:
The TV change really symbolized just how badly this show did not belong past the 90's and just how out-of-place it feels today. The rabbit-ear antenna again was an icon of this show, it really represented the 90's rather well, being a kid of the 90's, rabbit ears were a huge part of growing up, fidgeting with them and having no two channels getting the same reception with a certain alignment. But with less and less need for them including the forced change to DTV, the need for rabbit ears was dying and thus the show changed as well. They scrapped the rabbit ears, along with the bulky TV for an HD flatscreen... this is the same family that would go hundreds of miles to shop for 'Panaphonics' and 'Sorny' the idea of them having a flatscreen is just so very wrong and the additions they added (Tivo being the worst) just really shows us that this is a show out of its time era.

Now those are the two biggest, but I'll go over some of the smaller points in smaller detail

Cell phones:
Just... NO! Why don't we just resurrect Animaniacs or something and throw Wakko or Yakko texting pictures of their junk to the censors as pranks (Although that would be funnier than any texting-based jokes this show has attempted). The point remains as this is another out-of-place reference that the writers just don't understand how to integrate naturally with the show (Seriously, cell phones are never just a side object of a scene). You can call this point as a "It's different so it sucks" but really, seeing characters like Mr. Burns using a cell phone or seeing something like a family member texting just doesn't feel right.

Video Game systems:
Yes I know that Bart basically had an Atari 2600 in season 1 (Moaning Lisa), but again, the writers just don't get how to incorporate this and make it funny. If you didn't know it already, I HATE the Wii references in this show, fortunately there haven't been too many, but when they're placed in they are terrible and miss out on SO many jokes. Or how about video games in general, remember that "Bart playing WoW" episode (Because I don't, it was very forgettable) or how about in that oh-so clever 9-0-2-1-0 'parody' where Homer spends about 30 seconds teabagging a guy in a not so subtle Halo knock-off? Moaning Lisa had some clever jokes about Mike Tyson's Punch-Out that poked fun at the game, now? They just find footage on Youtube of people playing these games and do exactly what they do.

Apple Products:
RIP Steve Jobs, now that we have that out of the way, let's talk about this a bit more in detail. How many times between season 1-10 can you recall a family member using a portable CD player or tape player? Now, how many times in the last 5 seasons alone can you think of an Apple product of some sort being used by one of the family members? From memory (Correct me if I'm wrong) the latter wins here, heck there was an entire episode dedicated to Lisa having an IPod, was it funny? Did it make fun of the IPod? Did it satirize how dependent people are becoming of their portable MP3 players that losing it would cause most people to go into a state of panic? The answers to all of those questions is a resounding no, it was just "Lisa has an IPod and we reference a huge IPhone bill" (Rule of comedy; make sure your references make sense, just because they're both Apple, doesn't mean they connect).

Really all I have to end this on is just this thought; The writers are losing their audience by the week and losing touch with the modern world. So instead of going back to what made them so great, they will just throw in as much technology and references as possible hoping in vain people will watch and say "Hey I know that event" or "Hey I own that item" or even "Hey I knew that thing". The reality is that it dates the episodes miserably, and it's not that enjoyable the first time around. With all that, I'll see you guys again later.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Monday, October 3, 2011

Episode 2: Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts

Where to begin with this one? The concept itself isn't terrible, but it's not original either. The idea of Bart being able to learn something outside of school has succeeded before, but that was with good writing as well, this just feels like wasted potential, much like many modern episodes. Although what gets under my skin a bit was how this was promoted. It was promoted more for the audio clip of Theodore Roosevelt rather than what the purpose of that actually was. It just helps to support the idea that to the staff, guest stars mean more than the substance of the episode. Before I continue, I just want to put one thing in:
That makes this review far better because I got Teddy to appear, right? RIGHT?!

So after the opening (Okay, the couch gag was funny, for the first 5 seconds) we see the family go to a school fundraiser (Which Homer feels the need to explain the sign, can I just stuff a sock doused in chloroform down his throat yet?) Inside we see Skinner start up the school auction (Side note, we get to see Edna there, I've got 20 bucks on the fact that Edna and Ned's newfound relationship will never be addressed again and the writers are too dumb to throw in clever jokes about them being together now with scenes like that. But hey, what do I know?) During the auction, Homer goes into complete jerkass mode as he feels the need to interupt Skinner multiple times and discourage people from buying things (Oh Homer... Fuck off!) Skinner then gets a crank call from Bart who bids ridiculous amounts for each item and Skinner never questions this (Nevermind the fact that these amounts are ridiculous, how about the fact that Bart cannot disguise his voice to save his life and yet nobody notices this. I mean, it's not that hard to tell it's Bart, I could tell from the first word).
It's a good thing I'm as dumb as a brick
After a quick glossover of all the items Bart won, Bart then breaks in with his cheesy British accent and reveals that it was him who made all those bids (I don't know, for some reason I feel like Bart would end this prank by telling Skinner over the phone that he can't pay for any of it and then promptly hang up. It would protect Bart AND humiliate Skinner in front of everyone. But that's just me, this works too). After everyone leaves, Skinner approaches Homer about getting some of the money Bart "Bid with" and Homer goes into maximum jerkass by condescending Skinner for about 20 seconds with no real jokes put in (Each episode with him acting like this makes me yearn for his death). The next day, Chalmers insults Skinner for being fooled last night and Skinner decides to stand up to Chalmers and challenges Chalmers to deal with Bart himself (Wow, that scene was actually decent, Skinner stood up to Chalmers, it had some humor and it gives us a sense of direction now. I might actually like this episode). After the other teachers in the lounge applaud Skinner, Chalmers accepts the challenge (Watch Whacking Day much?) After Chalmers leaves, he realizes that he might be screwed since the last experience of teaching didn't go so well, as demonstrated with a pointless, unfunny dream sequence (To it's credit, it's only slightly padded, it could have gone on for far longer).
Huh, I have a real reason for being here. It feels good
Later, we see Chalmers trying to teach Bart history at the library, hope seems lost until Chalmers sees a picture of Theodore Roosevelt and decides to show Bart some books and audio clips of Teddy Roosevelt (And now my introduction is about as deep as their clip and yet I am not making a big deal out of it). The plan works as Bart wants to learn more (Too bad he didn't demonstrate it with actions, instead he stated it). Later, the library is about to close as Chalmers decides to take Bart horseback riding to show him a park that Theodore created (More padding, let's move on). After Bart and Lisa get into a small verbal feud about which Roosevelt was better (...whu?) Grampa breaks in to express his own hatred of certain people (Can't figure out how to end a scene? Just throw Grampa rambling in, that'll work). The next day, Bart is lecturing Milhouse, Nelson, Dolph, and Jimbo about Teddy as they get the idea to ask Chalmers to learn more about Roosevelt through him. Chalmers then accepts the idea citing that the school system is failing as it's aimed more towards not hurting people's feelings and loving (Hold on, hold on. Is this a satirical take on the modern school system? I think this is the closest this show has actually come to satirizing something in a long time. Granted it's not done well at all, but it's the closest thing in a while).
You kids these days with your Ipods, and your HDTVs and your Zzzzz....
Chalmers proposes the idea that they take a trip to Springfield Forest where they can go searching for a rumored lost set of glasses worn by Roosevelt (Ah great, this is quickly turning into a 'Our boy got a boo-boo on your unauthorized field trip' type of story. *Sigh* well it was good while it lasted). Later we see the group in the forest beginning their adventure (Okay to give credit there is a funny, short 'bear almost eats cub' joke after "There are no bad fathers in the wilderness" line). The next morning we get a scene that I think is supposed to develop Chalmers, but it's far too short and out of place. Chalmers and Bart then hear Nelson as he's on the side of a cliff with a pair of spectacles claiming that they're Teddy's. As expected, the branch he's hanging from breaks and he falls (Called it) Later at school, Chalmers gets scolded for what happened to Nelson as Mrs. Muntz decides to sue Chalmers. Chalmers gets fired and he walks home attempting to cry after Otto crashes the bus (It doesn't make any more sense in context). The next day, Bart complains about how Chalmers would have taught class differently as Edna tells Bart to rest his head on his desk. Bart's desk has soda residue which leads to a funny-at-first-but-yet-again-they-took-it-too-far gag with Bart walking home with the desk stuck to his arm. He sees Chalmers at the lake as Chalmers is too depressed to talk to Bart.
God dammit! Can't I fish in peace? I do have a life you know.
At the treehouse, Bart gets all the guys together (Plus Kearney, wait, why is he here? *Goes to recheck previous scenes* he wasn't in the original group. Did the writers forget that fact?) to get Chalmers his job back, but of course this scene doesn't have any potential humor alone, so Homer comes in to ask them if they've been cyberbulling each other (Wow, that added nothing and brought the narrative to a complete halt for about 30 seconds, but hey it was so essential because it was 'hilarious'.... *Sigh* I'm getting too old for this shit) Bart then tells everyone that they're going to take over the school and not give it up until Chalmer has his job back... Grade School Confidential much? But before that can go down, Homer returns and... you get the point, despite being a main character, he adds little to the actual show now-a-days. At the school, Jimbo distracts the secretary as Bart sneaks into Skinner's office and gives the signal to Dolph and Kearney who were distracting Skinner (The signal was basically that everyone's car lights were on). This causes all the teachers to leave and all the doors and windows are locked. Bart informs the teachers that the school is under his control and it gets a reaction when the teachers realize that their checks are in there (Honestly, I think it would have been funnier if the teachers didn't care).
Attention teachers! My hair is being covered by this awesome hat
After Skinner fails to get in, Bart organizes the students in the gym (To be explained later, hopefully). Outside, we see the police surround the school (And apparently a cameo from the FOX News helicopter, I guess that's Al Jean's "Take that FOX News"... WEAK!) and Kent Brockman interviews Marge and Homer because he was called by Bart saying that an escaped Octopus is on the roof of the school and... oh wait, sorry wrong episode, it's because Kent read the script (I know Skinner knows, but Kent doesn't know that to our knowledge). Marge tries to explain that Bart's mad because Chalmers got fired, and Channel 6 thinks it would be hilarious to annoy Homer by covering his face with a picture of Bart hanging himself so Homer can inexplicably get annoyed and get his face on TV. Wiggum tells Bart that he needs to surrender and Bart refuses until he knows that Chalmers will get his job back (Oh just go grab some hot dogs, strap them to your body and call it a bomb). Chalmers then arrives and tells Bart to stand down as he's proud of what he's learned under his tutelage.
Thank God you're standing right there, right now, Comptroller
The standoff ends with Wiggum dropping his gun which shoots Comptroller Atkins (Who just happened to walk right next to Wiggum just as he drops his gun... lazy writing saved the day) and he reinstates Chalmers. The kids all run out (What was the point of putting them in the gym?) as Milhouse drops the photocopier and goes crazy. The episode ends with Chalmers and Bart on horseback in the park as Chalmers tells Bart that Night at the Museum is the most informative work of Teddy (Gotta throw that "movie which came out in the past ten years" reference in there somewhere). Oh and by the way, Theodore Roosevelt gets a credit as a special guest voice, I call foul because he never got a choice in this.

Final Verdict: This episode was rather average, actually better than I expected, but still it ended up being a Grade School Confidential clone mixed in with Whacking Day which helps support my theory that the better Modern Simpsons episodes are those that just rehash old ideas. The writing was okay, with some good areas and more bad areas, the jokes were rather mediocre with a few exceptions, and in the end I felt like it could have been a decent episode with some good writing. But like most modern episodes, you'll probably forget it in a week

Final Grade: 5.5/10 I can't help but feel that this is a high point for the season.