Monday, November 21, 2011

Episode 6: The Book Job

Oh great, an episode where the writers think they're satirizing tween books (Because it worked so well last time) and a plot from a movie that's 10 years old and they think they're being topical with it. Okay, nevermind the fact that Family Guy actually did this idea two years earlier (Oops) but when they did it, Oceans Thirteen was two years old, so you could argue a restored interest in the first one. Here, the writers live in a timeless vortex where it's never quite the year that's actually happening. Eh, whatever, let's take a look at their attempt to mock tween culture, shall we?

The episode begins (Without an opening sequence. Is this going to be a new feature of the Matt Selman era?) with Marge and the kids at some performance of animatronic dinosaurs, which they see and the majority of the audience flees from (Was that meant to be some sort of joke? It wasn't as funny as they thought it'd be). Back inside, the performance goes on as the dinosaurs all die out and apparently it turns into an environmental PSA (Well that came out of left field; speaking of things coming out of left field, Homer's now there. Wasn't in the establishing shot, so I'm going with teleportation). Marge tries to get Bart to take the message to heart (All 5 seconds of it) but Bart decides that an asteroid will kill them all and they should just trash the place, to which Jerkass Homer agrees and Marge joins in as well... WHAT?! No, seriously, what the hell was that? One minute Marge is hoping a message affected him, the next minute, she's trashing the place just as well. So it looks like a new feature to the Matt Selman era as well includes inconsistency in script writing within a scene. THIS IS ELEMENTARY SCHOOL LEVELS OF WRITING!
Lisa: Marge, I am disappoint
After the writers try to fix that error (This is even worse because it implies that Marge was swayed by Bart. HAS MR. VEBBER EVER WATCHED AN EPISODE BEFORE SEASON 10?! I don't think so) the family goes walking around and finds a gift shop. Homer tells them they can each have one toy and after Bart and Lisa bicker about toy size and quantity (Here's a simple solution, each gets a similar size toy. Oh wait, there's no way to transition to comedy from that, my mistake). After Homer tells them that only Maggie can have a toy, Bart throws a rock towards Homer (I know what they are, and I'm not degrading myself to acknowledging that 'joke') and misses terribly but in the process, knocks off a headpiece from one of the employee's costumes. Lisa recognizes the woman (Okay, who is she, because I don't know. But judging by her round eyes, I'm going to assume not a guest star) and starts chasing her with Homer. After Homer gets tired and sleeps in a T-Rex's mouth (Making his inclusion in the chase entirely pointless) Lisa catches up and reveals that the woman is T.R. Francis, the writer of the Harry Potter parody books (You remember, the series that hasn't been brought up since season 19. Judging by how stupid the writers think their audience is, I'm surprised they think that their audience would remember something that long ago).
Look Lisa, it's time I told you the truth, your characters are all fake
After Lisa asks some questions, Ms. Francis reveals that she's not real and she's just some actress who helped make up the life story to help sell the book (And this is about as high as my enthusiasm will go, because in the hands of competent writers, they'd think something clever, but in the hands of these guys... let's watch)(Why not use ACTUAL cases where this happens instead of J. K. Rowling? Like Brian Kelley!). Ms. Francis reveals that marketing research is done to determine what sells and gets a bunch of women desperate for a job to type thousands of pages non-stop so they can sell multiple books to fans (I never thought I'd be so disappointed with something so serious, but I can't help but feel that an answer of "1000 Monkeys at 1000 typewriters" or "Mythical creatures were captured and forced to type their way to freedom" would have been funnier) Lisa then runs away crying because her favorite book series has been exposed (Doesn't seem to stop the Twitards). After Homer is arrested for sleeping in the prop (Yeah, he was still pointless), Lisa decides that she wants to burn all her books (Seems like a bit of an overreaction to me, I mean does a book drop in quality just because it wasn't written like you thought it was? I mean people still enjoy Avatar despite it not having an original idea).
Lisa, what did the fire department tell you last time about attempted arson?
After Lisa lashes out a bit towards Marge, she then starts bitching towards Homer about how the books are really created and how they make millions, which gives Homer an idea (No Homer, you're too stupid, you thought a meth lab was a restaurant. You'd probably think that Twilight is a better romance than Romeo and Juliet). After the title of the episode flashes across the screen (Feel that pain in your body? That's the writers beating you with a 2'x4') Homer starts talking to Bart in an arcade a la Ocean's Eleven about writing books to make money (Not a good idea to remind us of much better things we could be watching right now). We then see Bart and Homer recruiting people to write a new tween book (They seriously use the term tween, another small part of me dies knowing that The Simpsons will go down as one of the shows to use the word tween). The crew consists of Seymour Skinner, Patty Bouvier, Moe Syslak, and Professor Frink (Eh screw a logical group, these characters are good enough) and Bart seems to think that he's missing someone (Oh I know this answer; LOGIC! Oh wait he said someone, not something, my bad). Lisa walks into Bart's room and discovers their plan and is disgusted that they're writing a book for profit *Bangs heads against desk* (I wonder what she thinks books should be written for. While I'm not a big fan of 'just for money', writing novels IS a legitimate job) and to show them, she'll write a book all by herself (I'm sorry, is this show a comedy or a drama? This doesn't feel like a comedy at all).
All right, time to write a best-seller based on my life. I wonder if "My Struggles" is taken.
The next morning we see Lisa start her novel on her MacBook (Yeah because this family is so stinkin' rich that even Lisa can have an Apple Laptop. No, this isn't one of those cheap 400 dollar laptops, Apple laptops are expensive). However, she gets distracted by a bunch of things such as internet games and her CDs (Yep, this is totally what Lisa would do for a project that she's dedicated to... I hate this already). After another title card explaining what's going on. (YOU'RE NOT OCEAN'S ELEVEN YOU'RE SUPPOSED TO BE THE SIMPSONS GET IT THROUGH YOUR HEAD!) We see the group discussing what tween books have in common, Homer gets the brilliant idea to just take all those attributes and make a story with that as the premise (So in other words; be unoriginal. Writers, stop putting your philosophies into the episodes). After Homer is told that the vampire tween genre is overdone, the group tries to scram, but Bart decides they need to go in a different direction (I like how they have every opportunity to this point, but have not made fun of Twilight. Putting non-comedic writers in a comedy doesn't end well). They come up with the idea of a troll instead and are approached by Neil Gaiman to co-author their book (Yep, because famous people literally fall from the sky in Springfield just when they are need for the plot. I would talk about how lazy this is, but I think you get the point).
Hey! Keep your hands off him, Neil Gaiman is awesome.
After Moe threatens to kill Neil (Random violence is funny, right?) he's accepted onto their team as we see Lisa in the background trying to write her novel, but, of course, she keeps getting distracted (Okay, how many times are they going to replay this same scene? I'd normally guess three, but that wouldn't be enough filler for the episode). After a montage showing Lisa's non-progress vs. Homer's team's progress (Yay for filler!) we see that Homer's team finished and of course they didn't screw up at all (So I guess another one of Homer's many talents is writing novels as well, their laziness knows no bounds). Back home, we see Lisa pacing back in forth where her desk is normally (Consistency, what's that?) and she finally gets some inspiration, but she realizes her idea is The Little Mermaid and determines that writing is too hard (...what. The. Hell.)... The line 'Writing is too hard", Lisa writing a novel herself... OH DEAR GOD IT'S LISA THE DRAMA QUEEN ALL OVER AGAIN! Quick! Bar Juliet from Springfield now! Lisa then notices Bart and Homer printing their book in Lisa's room from a printer on her desk (Oh my God how stupid are these people? The printer was not there in the previous shot and as mentioned before, that desk cannot exist there as physically, there is no room for it to be there. I guess Springfield just exists in a dimension that has no time or space).
Continuity? Yeah right
After Bart and Homer rub it in her nose that they're finished (Oh go jump off a bridge the both of you) we see the group take their novel to a book fair and present it to a publishing company named TweeLit Inc. (I see that creativity is still optional in the writing room. But what do you want to bet that everyone in the writing room thought that name was brilliant?). The man tells the group that he loves the idea and he would publish it (Because Homer can do whatever he wants. Next week, he'll be a physicist); however, because there's no fake author or fake backstory, he cannot accept it (Okay, I did find them taking a shot at Stephen King to be funny. But in all seriousness, Stephen King is great)(Mileage may vary on recent works, but they could've used Richard Bachman). After the book disappears from the table, Homer and the team walk away regretting not thinking of that (Oh hey, the book magically reappeared). Bart suggests that they find someone to pose as the author. They find Lisa at the fair and Homer tells Lisa that she can be their author (and Lisa has no problem whatsoever with going along with what she was fighting against in the first place... There are no amount of expletives to express my frustration towards this writing)
So your backstory is that you were constantly misunderstood by incompetent writers? I'll go with that.
Lisa tells the publisher a fake backstory and the publisher buys the book for exactly one million dollars (Okay, so how is this making fun of the publishing business? Again, having monkeys at typewriters would be funnier. Oh wait, typewriters are pre-2000, they'd all have MacBooks, my mistake). At Moe's Bar, the team celebrates and Lisa can't believe she sold out her beliefs in a moment of weakness, however to try to hide that lampshading of character derailment, Bart mentions how she'll get attention from boys and she forgets what she said (Another example of how the writers forget the ages of their characters as they views Bart and Lisa as teens instead of children). Frink comes in with an advanced copy of their novel as everything has been changed to make it a vampire book (Congratulations Twilight, you are no longer the worst vampire book of all time) Afterwards, the publisher tells Homer that the market testing showed that the vampire version was better than the troll version and explains how Twilight involved a golem initially (It took them 16 minutes to make a Twilight joke?! I'm just going to go weep in a corner for about 30 minutes)
Yeah this was the best they could think of in an episode that targets Tween culture... I weep for our future
After they all complain about getting screwed, Neil explains that they actually did care about their novel and not just the money (If only ever writer actually cared about the quality of their work). Everyone decides that they want revenge, but Bart only cares about the money until he finds out his favorite part was changed as well (And he rips the check, no you idiot, you cash the check AND get revenge. Actually the family seems to have an infinite source of money so I can see why $1 million isn't worth keeping). We then see the group (Minus Lisa, well seeing as she disappeared from Moe's Bar earlier, I guess she was written out) outside the headquarters as they plan to swap out the data with their original book data. After a montage of the group going through headquarters (This is rather boring, I wonder what's on the SYFY channel?) the group gets to the room with the central computer (You know, I just realized something. HOW did they know the schematics of the building? I don't know, but just watch out for that gaping plot hole while watching this scene).
Who knew the book publishing business was this competitive?
The publisher (Does he have a name? *Goes to check* nope, I'll just call him Bob) informs them that he was tipped off and he reveals that Lisa tipped him off. Lisa explains that with this novel, she'll get recognition and she'll be allowed to write the sequel (Who is this person and what has she done with Lisa?) Bob then enters the password, gives Lisa the USB drive with the book and Lisa apologizes to Bart as she hugs him right before putting the USB drive into the computer to be published (I can tell you the twist right now; The USB drives were switched when Lisa hugged Bart, it's too obvious) Later, Homer and the group feel defeated but when they pass by a bookstore they see their original book and Lisa tells them that she pretended to betray them and switched the drives when she hugged Bart (Called it, predictable writing is predictable). The group then gets to see everyone enjoy their book as Lisa finds out that Neil was credited as the author instead. The episode ends with Neil on a beach as he explains that there were three drives and he won again (Okay that was probably the best scene of the episode, but Neil Gaiman instantly rose this episode from crap to mediocre just by existing).

Final verdict: This episode was pretty bad, but not as bad as I thought it would be. I think the biggest problem (Outside of not making fun of Twilight, seriously, that's like shooting fish in a barrel) was that this episode took itself way too seriously. This is a comedy, not a drama. The jokes weren't good, nor were they that bad either, the episode resembled having a plot and the writing was meh and forgettable. In short, this is another "Not terrible" episode in my opinion and if you wanted to see Ocean's Eleven with Simpsons characters... there's probably a better fanfiction already made.

Final Score: 3.9/10 Not terrible, but wouldn't recommend it either


  1. Yeah, I see why this and the previous episode were scored like this now. The episodes aren't the horrendous mess they were when the season started but they still suck. Lisa some how manages to act dumber than Homer (Asshat Homer!!!) and they took the weakest shot at Twilight possible, these writers should be ashamed of themselves (if they know what shame means).

  2. Yeah my scores are usually relative, i.e. I didn't think these last two episodes were as bad as let's say "Replaceable You" or "Falcon and the D'ohman" but not as good as "Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts". They all suck, but it's on a relative scale.

    This was one of those episodes I felt maybe COULD have worked. But between taking itself too seriously and the character derailment of Lisa, it failed miserably IMO.

  3. Homer WAS in the dino expo from the beginning. Before Marge comments about how cute it is that the kids came to see the dinosaurs, there is a shot where te whole family is there, including Homer

  4. *Goes back to check* Oops, you're right, there was a brief scene I must have overlooked. But between the following scene JUST showing Marge and the kids and this show's tendencies to add and drop characters from scenes randomly, I assumed the latter. Sorry about that, I'll try to keep the mistakes to a minimum.

  5. The only bright point of the episode was the smoking dino reference to Gary Larson. Otherwise this episode sucks, destroying nature of all characters involved (Homer and Petty allies, wtf?). Also I found it completely boring. 3.9/10? No way, 1/10 at best!

    -- Arccos --