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.


  1. I gotta say this was an improvement from last weeks catastrophe, I actually laughed at a few parts and the plot wasn't all bad. I do think this episode could have used no involvement from homer, and for Bart to actually act like a kid.

  2. The line about promoting him to super-duperindendent made me think of Nintendo 64 Chalmers... Playstation Chalmers? Gamecube Chalmers?

  3. You didn't mention the scene where Lisa makes Bart think there's a phone in the broom closet, making Bart open the door ands seeing Lisa with her tongue out. That was a pretty funny moment.

    Also, this episode is also similar to "Sweet Seymour Skinner's Badassssssss Song", just with Chalmers instead of Skinner.

  4. @Alkhani In the previous two seasons (At least for me) there was that ONE episode (Maybe two) that I actually thought was decent. I'm gonna say this fills up that quota.

    @Anonymous Super-Nintendo Chalmers is what you're thinking of

    @Klutzux I debated on that, it did get a chuckle out of me (Although I regret not mentioning Chalmer's line to Bart about seeing horses that Homer wasn't betting on, that was good as well). That's another story I forgot to mention, but that helps to illustrate what kind of 'Frankenstein's monster' of an episode this is.

  5. This episode wasn't bad (at least when Homer wasn't being a comedy killer), but I can't get over the fact that the Family Guy episode got ranked lower than this once-in-a-while episode.

    They could have used any historical figure from American history and the plot would have been the same.

  6. "but I can't get over the fact that the Family Guy episode got ranked lower than this once-in-a-while episode."

    Out of curiosity where? Family Guy beat them in TV ratings (6.91 to 6.12 million viewers)or are you talking review wise?

  7. Yeah, I think they did give this weeks episode a bad review. I must have the whole ratings/review thing in reverse.

  8. I knew that, I was just wondering what they'd promote him to. Or maybe demote him to Colecovision Chalmers.

  9. Maybe the lack of Homer helped it.

  10. I do not know where else to put this in, but here is some potentially good news for you, Kriken. They might have finally gotten the message.

    Fingers crossed.

  11. Yeah I saw that yesterday, I thought about talking about it, but really there's not much more I can say that hasn't already been said about that article.