Monday, October 8, 2012

Episode 2: Treehouse of Horror XXIII

You know, it's really sad when I need to double check what number this treehouse of horror is. It should be easy, whatever the season is, subtract 1 from that number and there you go. But because they've become so dull and uninspired, I don't even bother caring what the number is. So this time, we actually have a segment resembling a treehouse of HORROR as there's one based on Paranormal Activity... huzzah. Oh and just to further my inescapable enjoyment, Brian Kelley is the co-writer of this episode...

Opening Sequence
The opening sequence begins with the Mayan Empire predicting that the world will end by the 13th Bucktune (Or however it's spelled) unless a sacrifice is made. Remember how everyone made such a big deal about the whole 2012 thing in 2009-2011? It's not as big of a deal anymore now is it? So of course, Mayan Homer will be the sacrifice but Mayan Marge decides not to let Homer be the sacrifice. She tricks Moe (Through a bad dialogue exchange) into being the sacrifice and he gets decapitated instead, which is followed up with a "Head as a soccer ball joke" (Isn't the point of reusing jokes to prove you can improve on them?). So when they realize their mistake, Mayan Frink calculates what year the wrold will end and ends up with 2012, to which Mayan Quimby says they can blame Obama... Uuuggghhh. So we cut to the present where Homer is setting his watch according to Mayan time, why you may ask? BECAUSE JOKES ARE FUNNY IF THEY MAKE NO SENSE OUT OF CONTEXT!!! So when Homer looks outside, there are 3 Mayan statues that wreak havoc. The segment ends with the world being destroyed as Kang and Kodos almost get hit by the Lard Lad Donut thrown in space. Yep, that's the only time they show up.
Thanks Kang and Kodos, your paycheck is off to the left 

The Greatest Story Ever Holed
This segment begins with an atomic accelerator being demonstrated, but initially failing. This causes everyone to be upset with Lisa (Well considering the alternative, I don't see how this is worse). So after everyone leaves, the accelerator creates a small black hole that starts to suck things up (Okay the Willie joke did get a chuckle out of me). So the black hole meets up with a sobbing Lisa outside of the building the experiment was taking place. So after a few more people get sucked into the hole (Oh hi obligatory Ralph Wiggum cameo that's there purely for fanservice) Lisa decides to take the black hole home, she does this by sticking a stick into the hole... okay I have no problem with the black hole, as I've said before, Treehouse of Horror is allowed to have cartoon physics and leaps in logic because it's outside of the cannon universe, HOWEVER, that does not mean that they can break their own rules within the segment. There is no adequately explained reason why the black hole doesn't suck up the stick and Lisa too. I'm not going to talk about this anymore, but it did annoy me. Anyways, Lisa brings the black hole to the basement and she decides to show the black hole to everyone. So after Lisa tells everyone to avoid feeding the black hole, Homer gets too close and gets his fingers extended a la "Stretch Dude" (I half expected him to start raking up the clutter in the basement).
Homer: Dear God, this episode sucks so much
You know, looking at the black hole, there's a part of me that believes they wanted to do this to try to show off their distortion effects in animation as there's a slight distortion around the black hole at all times. Maybe it's impressive in the world of animation, but honestly I don't care. So after a montage of everyone feeding the black hole (Bart feeding it was funny, until he fed Edna into it) the black hole becomes bigger and starts sucking things up at will in the living room. We then see a giant crowd outside of the house as Homer admits he advertised the black hole as a waste removal site (The crossing fingers gag did get a chuckle, but it was followed up by an unnecessary billboard joke that brought me back down). So the black hole eats the house as people start throwing things into it. This prompts Lisa to say that if one more thing gets thrown in, it could reach critical mass. How does she know that all it takes is ONE more thing? Because the irony of something accidentally going in wouldn't seem as contrived if she said "Feeding it more and more will cause it to reach critical mass".
Lisa: I suggest you all go out for some fresh air before going on the internet and saying how much this black hole sucks
Of course, we cut to Milhouse hitting a baseball which lands in the black hole and thus everyone gets sucked in, well except the Simpsons who get sucked in last despite people further away getting sucked in before them. How you may ask? Main character immunity of course!However, the black hole doesn't suck up Maggie because it takes her pacifier and simply floats away... whatever, I'm not questioning this. So episode over, right? Nope, we find out that the black hole took everyone to another dimension as they appreciate all the junk Springfield sent them (Okay while dated, the Zune joke was a bit decent, at first).

UNnormal Activity
This segment begins with Homer shooting a bad V-log talking about how there have been weird things going on. Oh and by the way, the entire segment is shot in the perspective of the camera, I'm going to assume that was the style in Paranormal Activity so I can't complain about it. So later, we see Homer set up the camera in the bedroom as fast-forwarded footage shows something invisible messing around in their bedroom, the spirit even whacks Homer over the head with a golf club (What, was that Homer a stunt double as well?). So an hour after that, Marge is awoken to a thud and she goes to investigate it, Homer tags along (By panning around towards the corner to a non-existent door. Seriously, the camera goes past the door that leads to the hallways, but the animation completely forgets that and just creates a new pathway for Homer. Thank God for that HD animation, it truly shows the mark of quality). So after Homer tumbles down the stairs (Okay this joke is incredibly painful, Homer remarks "We have stairs?" ...You couldn't force a joke harder if you tried) we see the living room trashed as Marge insists that she doesn't know (Painfully obvious foreshadowing).
Marge: I don't know why rabid fans keep trashing our house, maybe if we make Homer more of a jerkass, they'll be appeased and leave us alone
So sometime later, Homer gets cameras installed throughout the house as later that night, Marge wakes up with a soulless expression as she just stares at him for 4 hours, followed by her staring at Homer taking a piss for another hour (Extended toilet humor; for when you run out of legitimate jokes). I mean, that toilet joke was for me the worst joke in the entire episode, and yet they fast forwarded it 3 times to put emphasis on it like they were saying "Isn't this just incredible?!". So sometime later (The days are rarely given initially) Wiggum comes over to investigate and comes to the conclusion that a family member made a deal with the devil, which causes Marge to get 'shifty eyes'. Oh and by the way, outside of the Mayan segment (Which doesn't constitute as a segment) Wiggum's death is the ONLY death in this episode, I'm just putting that out there. So on night 15, our devil spirit comes to collect Maggie but is stopped by Marge. Bart reveals the form of the devil as it turns out to be a Moe-like Devil (I would complain about it not being Devil Flanders, but I'm glad they didn't associate THoH 4 with this garbage).
No, no, no! Maggie's head should be turning a la The Exorcist
So Marge breaks down and confesses that she's to blame for Devil Moe as when she was a kid, she witnessed her sisters summoning the Devil in the attic and when he was summoned, Marge pleaded with him to spare them (By the way, the young versions of the Bouviers SUCK, I have nothing against Kavner, but her age really shows as her ability to change voices is minimal and they all sound like their adult forms. I know that sounds like nitpicking, but when we saw young Marge and sisters before, there were subtle changes that made them feel young. I don't get that feeling here). So Homer negotiates with the Devil to change the deal as Devil Moe says a three-some between him, Homer and another Demon will appease him *Headdesk*. So the episode ends with Homer, Devil Moe and some Demon in bed as apparently Homer is so disturbing in bed it causes Devil Moe to shout the safe word repeatedly... just one more segment.

Homer and Bart's Excellent Adventure
The segment begins with Bart at the Comic Book Store as he finds an old comic that he finds too expensive. Comic Book Guy tells him that the initial price is only good in 1974. So Bart wishing he could somehow go back in time sees a poster that reads "Fantastic Foreshadowing: The Boy Who Went Back to 1974"... do I even NEED to explain why this joke sucks? As he walks out Frink just HAPPENS to spawn right next to him on the road and declare that his time travel machine works. So after Frink just gives him the keys, Bart goes back to 1974 via a stream with James Bond Posters in the background (I would find this funny if I found the relevance to time travel). So Bart ends up in 1974 as Springfield looks much cleaner and sterile (Okay the Middle East protester was the highlight of the segment for me. Don't ever say I'm not fair). So after Bart's purpose for going back to the past is complete (Oh like you expected  there to be payoffs for anything) Bart overhears Dondelinger scolding Homer and Barney for smoking as he realizes that he's stumbled into the plot of The Way We Was. You know, I remember Family Guy had a recent episode that many considered good and reminiscent of the pre-cancellation episodes where Brian and Stewie go back to the pilot episode and experience it from a different POV. I wonder if this segment can mimic that success.
The difference between these two scenes is minimal, but the real doesn't feel wrong
So Bart decides to run in and we transition to detention where Bart explains to Homer that he's his unborn child and will cause him hell in the future. Upset, young Homer begins to strangle Bart just as Marge arrives. And here begins the man reasons for why I absolutely HATE this segment, altering the future a la Back to The Future is an interesting concept, however, when you alter the past by giving characters sudden mood changes for no reason, you immediately lose your premise. Young Homer was never a jerkass, but because the writing staff is composed of one-note uninspired 2nd rate monkeys, they can't mix BTTF and this show to make an interesting concept. It has potential, but that potential, like any other modern episode dies as soon as the word document is opened. Oh and a few more notes, because the animation style is sterile and the voice actors have aged, the cleanliness of the detention room combined with Young Homer sounding off  really offsets any nostalgia they attempted. Anyways, Marge says she would never go to the prom with a guy like Homer. So Homer, naturally is depressed that he scared off his love interest and realizes that he needs to find some way to get Marge back... oh wait, I keep thinking that these writers don't keep their heads up their asses, let me say what ACTUALLY happens. So Homer blames Bart, as Marge says she doesn't love him, Homer denies this, Marge calls him an idiot and Homer calls Marge and idiot... FFFFFFUUUUUUU- This just has Brian Kelley written all over it, although since nobody in the multiple re-writes changed this, the blame goes to every asshole involved with this. 
Now which seems more interesting? (I swear if you pick the top, you're dead to me)
So Bart finds out that his life would be better if Marge never married Homer as Homer continues to be a dumb jerkass trying to get Marge's attention (This segment is terrible and you should feel terrible for liking this). So after Bart convinces Marge not to marry Homer, he runs off and Homer chases him (With the whole detention thing being nothing more than a set piece, gotta love not giving a shit). So Bart goes back to 2012 and Homer follows him in the trunk. Bart finds out that his father is Artie Ziff and he's so much better off as Artie exposits about his life as if this was his first day in it. Oh and because there are too many instances like that, the writers really fuck up the whole "Alternate timeline" idea. The writers have so little faith in their audience, they feel the need to explain EVERY difference through characters who shouldn't know that there's an alternate timeline in place. Seriously, if I actually cared, I could go on explaining all the inconsistencies, but I'll just say that the time travel story here makes the one in Sonic 06 look like... well that's still terrible. So we see Young Homer staring into the house from a tree as Modern Homer is also staring into the house, they try to formulate a plan, but decide they need more Homers to make it work. So later, Homer approaches Artie and Bart to get Marge back. His plan is to fight them with an army of Homers from different time periods, naturally they fail in five minutes (Okay, that was a bit amusing, could've been done better, but given the standards...)
Finally, an army worthy of fighting the society of NoHomers
Marge suddenly goes outside and notices all the Homers beaten up and then for no reason decides that Homer was supposed to be the man she married... BASED ON WHAT?! Okay, I skipped over the other inconsistencies, but this is massive bullshit, the Young Homer went forward in time to 2012, therefore a Modern Homer shouldn't exist because he never grew up between 1974-2012, so thus the last encounter between Marge and Homer would be 1974 and that encounter left such a horrible taste in her mouth. So the episode ends with Marge taking care of all the Homers for no reason other than "Because destiny! That's why!"

Final Verdict: This Treehouse sucked, not as bad as last year's but that's really not something special. The best segment by far was The Greatest Story Ever Holed and even that was just okay at best. The Unnormal Activity was the closest to a Halloween segment, and it really accomplished nothing that Bad Dream House didn't do better (The Simpsons made a better parody of Paranormal Activity than the one that actually was supposed to parody it). The less I say about the final segment, the better. Overall, not worth a watch, and if you really want to see a better Modern THoH I'd reccomend XX or XIX is better.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Episode 1: Moonshine River

So great to be back, right? Right? With such a horrible episode to end last year's debacle of a season (Sans an episode or two) it's safe to assume that standards will be lower for this season. So what better way to open up a season than remind us of how many girlfriends our 10 year old boy has had over the 23 years and how few of them were before season 10. Woo... So let's truly begin.

Opening sequence: 1:26 (Nice reference to the short, but it felt too long for my taste)

The episode begins with the Springfield Grand Prix (Because they have that now, shut up). Not really much to say here, it's just rather boring and filled with meh jokes (The audience in the bleachers reminds me of an early Family Guy joke, maybe I'm just making connections that aren't there). So while the race is going on, we see Homer trying to drive through a gap in the race when suddenly a bike race is going on behind the family...the hell? You know what, I don't regret making the Family Guy comparison, this show has as much linearity as an oval. So later, we see a Ball for the after race where Milhouse and Lisa are dancing which prompts Bart to make fun of Lisa for liking Milhouse. Lisa replies that at least she has a date... let's see, how many times have I mentioned that the writers think Bart and Lisa are teenagers instead of children, oh right, TOO FUCKING MANY! The dialogue doesn't disprove my case either, it's stilted for two children (Brother and sister mind you) under 10 to be saying. I know I've said this before and I know some think "Well it's just fiction" but one of the drawing points of The Simpsons was the fact that it could challenge the boundary between fiction and reality. You knew the setting didn't exist, but the scenarios were played out like in real life. That mixture hasn't existed for years and as it goes on, and as it continues, the problems are harder to mask. Anyways, to retaliate, Bart turns around and suddenly Edna appears for Bart to dance with, I must say, Springfield must be loaded with inter-dimensional portals, because people appear out of thin air so quickly.
Bart: Wait a minute, this isn't how I had you two dance in my fanfiction
Lisa sees through the thinner than plastic wrap getup and says she's with someone that likes her and this is becoming very boring very quickly. At this point I'm just praying that the show gets hijacked by the ghost of Charlie Chaplin. I know it's not going to happen, but I have better odds betting on that happening  than this being a good episode. So Lisa zings Bart by saying all of Bart's girlfriends leave him once they get to know him for a week or so (Paging Jessica Lovejoy who actually liked Bart for being Bart. You there Jessica? Jessica? Bueller?) But in all seriousness, why is Lisa being such a bitch right now? Oh right, because the writers will never get her character and they just don't care. So after Bart realizes Lisa might be right, Edna disappears and suddenly Moe and a blow-up doll appear next to Bart to say she was right. You might be asking "But didn't Moe get hit by a train in the last episode?" Oh please, you were actually expecting that joke to be something more than a cheap throw-away? You stupid fools.
Bart: Hey aren't you supposed to be dead?
Moe: Eh, different writers
Bart: ...Tim wrote Lisa Goes Gaga as well
Moe: ...#*($
So after a painful second blowup doll joke (Ow my side) Bart goes through his box of junk and finds pictures conveniently taken of him and some girl as he laments about how his relationship don't last long (Bullshit! The first picture shows Jessica Lovejoy, that actually lasted some time. How do you screw that up?) So Homer comes by (Saying he'll be taking a popcorn bath... remember when Homer's acts were actually funny instead of random?) and starts to give Bart useless advice about how being rejected is hard for his age and pretends to drunk dial someone (This joke isn't funny, so it has to be used again within 30 seconds). Oh by the way, am I the only one who thinks the animation on the phone just doesn't match the rest of the room? The phone looks close to classic, while the room feels HD. It was the same problem as the Peanuts Halloween sketch, it's just jarring and not pretty to look at. So as Bart leaves (With a horrible looking door perspective, seriously there's something wrong with Bart's wall according to the door) Homer drunks dials Bart (Of course >.<). Bart goes on a mission to track down ex girlfriends, we begin with that girl nobody remembers from that episode that aired in season 20, followed by the girl from Little Big Girl (Although why she's with Jimbo is beyond me, isn't the father from Norway or something?) followed by the girl from prison, followed by that bi-polar bitch nobody liked. Notice how none of those girls I mentioned were from the Classic years, gee I wonder why, it's almost like the staff doesn't want to acknowledge the good years of this show.
Look at how interesting each set piece is, oh wait those are girls...
Bart's hunt ends with him looking for Mary Spuckler, the daughter of Cletus. So Bart asks Cletus where she is and he says she ran off, on the way out however, Bart gets a lead from another child that she went to New York City as he exits the scene by sitting in a truck that drifts into a pond... ha-ha-ha? So after Bart watches a tape of him and Mary together he begs Marge to go to New York City (Didn't he get roped into an engaged marriage with her and begged to get out of it? Wait, why do I know more about this shit than the writers who wrote this shit? AND WHY DO I CARE?!). So reasonable, Marge says they can't afford to go and Homer declares his hatred of the city. However, Bart says that now his two least favorite buildings are no longer there, Old Penn Station and Chase Stadium... I just have one thing to say; SCREW, YOU, WRITERS! There were many ways you could've made a Twin Towers joke, but this was disgusting and not funny. So Homer decides to have a flashback of when they last went to NY, but instead it's just a reference to The Sweet Smell of Success (See Selma's Choice for how to do an incorrect flashback). However, Homer and Marge decide to go to NY by swapping houses, however, the NYers go to Flander's house (Okay a bit funny) where they go on for too long (And joke ruined). So in NYC, we see some "Hilarious" sign jokes that the writers must have spent 30 seconds thinking of (Again, changing a letter does not a good parody make).
Homer: Well thank God NYC is such a nice, crime-free place. Wouldn't want to make fun of something that doesn't exist
So after the only decent joke in the episode (BURN IT WITH FIRE!) we get a callback to the Khlav Kalash  guy and now he owns a huge corner Khlav Kalash restaurant (I guess he wasn't immune to "Hollywood Simpson Syndrome" either). So the family splits up with Homer and Bart searching for Mary while Lisa and Marge seek out NY culture (Gee, does that sound familiar?). So after Homer and Bart take a cab, we see no response from the apartment that Bart was sent to. After Homer gives a long winded unfunny bit, we see a young rich girl approach Bart asking what he's doing. After a bit of chit chat, she reveals herself to be Mary and Bart's shocked that she's so high class. She reveals that she has a job that's not steady and she's ashamed of, a writer of SNL (Eh, I'd be more embarrassed if I was a writer of this episode). So we cut to Marge and Lisa as unfunny jokes about Broadway are spewed out... CUT! Cut the scene, that was pointless and unfunny, okay let's take it from the top people. We then cut back to Mary and Bart as Homer randomly gets hit by and air conditioner... I guess they really needed to shoehorn in that "Homer getting hurt=funny" scene somehow. So Mary tells Bart to meet her later as Homer comes over with ice cream but ends up trying to strangle Bart, but ends up strangling a lamp post. Now if you didn't think that was funny, don't worry, the writers decide to hammer it in more by having a cameraman randomly shooting the scene while Homer says "Hilarious" stuff.
Believe it or not, this is the ONLY scene involving crime in the City... *Sigh* I miss the days of Homer getting mugged after simply turning a corner.
So after an awful "NY has no crime" joke (Again, the season 9 episode was so much better) Bart and Mary talk about stuff with each point leading to a bad joke. So Mary decides to tell Bart about her life in a song... and it's so bland. I can't even make fun of it for being bad, it's just uninteresting. So after the song ends, Cletus randomly appears to take Mary back. So we see Marge and Lisa go to see a Shakespeare play but it gets delayed because the actors quit. However, since Lisa is a master director (Just roll with it) she gets amateurs to play the roles and the play goes off without a hitch. However, Lisa and Marge get attacked by the NY SWAT team by a giant hose (Okay, admittedly another decent joke, however, it's rather sad how quickly I was able to summarize that series of events, it was just so boring). So Cletus tells Mary she's coming home, but she excuses herself and take Bart with her, they then go to the train station where Mary leaves and tells Bart she'll miss him. So when Cletus asks Bart where Mary went (Along with a horrible hillbilly joke from Homer) Bart says no and they all decide to go back to Springfield. The episode ends with Cletus giving Bart a photo of Mary as Lisa is upset with the reviews of her play... da fuc? However, during the credits, the family asks for requests for a couch gag (They're running out of ideas I tells ya) and Homer says there was a stunt double who got hit with an AC unit (BS, it happens every week, to the writers, Homer is Gumby)

Final Verdict: This episode was very boring and unappealing. Granted there weren't many terrible moments, there wasn't anything to really make this episode stand out on its own either. The jokes were very meh with maybe a handful being decent, the pacing was actually atrocious, yeah I know I never mentioned it in the review, but this episode seemed to have too much going on while having nothing happen. The main plot is basically onscreen for about 5 minutes and the opening takes way too long to establish which girl Bart is going after. In the end, it's what would happen if the writers wrote The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson. Oh and no more "Final Grades" they're too inconsistent and often will not truly reflect how I feel about episodes compared to each other.