Monday, November 26, 2012

Episode 6: A Tree Grows in Springfield

With an episode as dull as last week's, could the tide possibly be turned with this episode? *Checks FOX promotions* Well apparently the writers think that Homer throwing Bart into a Lion's den is funny... yeah and throat cancer is equally as funny. *Sigh* Why do I even bother to pretend to care?

Opening sequence: 1:03 Not terrible, but am I the only one who  finds the chalkboard gag more confusing than funny? Bart says 20 days of shoplifting until Christmas, but at the time of the airing, it would be 30 until 12/25. It's not a reference to the Mayan Calender either as that ends after 12/15. I feel like I'm missing something.

The episode begins with Homer sleeping outside as he dreams about being in a crazy version of the World Series where the announcers are food and the pitcher is Santa on steroids and... am I seriously writing all this?! So anyways, Homer bursts the ceiling and the field begins to flood as he wakes up to find out that it's raining and the rain is ruining his house. Responsible man that he is, he heads off to Moe's to get some alone time. Naturally when Homer gets to Moe's he tells Moe that he's depressed with his current life and is unsatisfied with how his life is going... excuse me a moment *Goes off to scream in another room* I mean, you've seen what I've had to say about the way the writers treat Homer, right? The LAST thing the man deserves is a depression episode about how his life sucks, that would be like having an episode where Burns laments that he doesn't have enough money or Barney lamenting about not drinking enough. Ugh, this will be such a fun episode. So Moe brings Duffman over for a party and Homer sulks some more about how his life sucks. Afterwards, Homer's car gets impounded and when he gets home, his sprinklers go off (Which he apparently owns for this one episode).
You know, life sucks when I'm not typecasted as an instant expert
Marge informs Homer that they're going to the school fundraiser and as he is then informed that Santa's Little Helper has mumps and it'll cost $800 to fix (Because using a cliche line followed by a cliche is funny, right?). So after a bunch of 'eh' jokes at the fundraiser, Skinner informs everyone about the raffle for the latest 'Mapple MyPad'... You know how I feel about that fucking joke, so I will just refer to it as the IPad since there is no originality to it anyways. So after a callback to a non-classic episode (The song "You'll never stop the Simpsons" with the line about Moe getting a cell phone. I'd rather watch that right now. Yes, I'd rather watch a clipshow that glorifies the cameos than this trash) Lisa informs Homer that she bought him a raffle ticket, say it with me now; Homer- "I never win anything" Lovejoy- "And the winner is Homer Simpson". I'm being dead serious, all they do is add a couple of new words, but the feel is the exact same. So Homer accepts his new IPad and suddenly it's a big deal for everyone that he won this (This would be okay if it was done to someone like Flanders who usually gets screwed, but I could really care less about Homer here). So we then get a series of scenes where Homer is playing around with his new IPad as the highlights include him translating what Mr. Burns is saying to the zoo scene I referenced at the beginning which then culminates with Homer falling down an open manhole and getting seriously injured with his IPad getting destroyed. Wait, did I just summarize an entire act in a single sentence? Guess so, I mean how else can you talk about stale, repetitive, outdated technology jokes?
We then find out that Homer's alright, but his IPad has been completely destroyed, despite Homer's pleas for it to not be true (Because the family in poverty needs to remind you that they can afford to destroy things like this on a weekly basis, wouldn't be surprised when the family gets a WiiU that gets dropped midway through the episode). However, because Homer's IPad is extremely important, God decides to grant Homer a miracle on his own IPad... I... Whu? WHAT?! My brain is hurting my head trying to escape the stupidity of that scene. I mean, why the fuck should God even give a crap about one guy and his lost IPad?! You know what? Let's see where this goes before I jump to any conclusions. So the next morning, Ned tells Homer that a miracle has happened and lo and behold, the word 'HOPE' has been written in sap on Homer's tree in the backyard. Okay, clearly a reference to the grilled cheese Jesus phenomenon in the recent years of *Checks Wikipedia* 2004... Okay, okay, there was the episode Lisa the Skeptic that came before that craze and maybe this is trying to be an homage to that. Too bad the staff is currently 0 for a million when it comes to doing good homages. So anyways, Homer goes to the bar and tells Moe that he's decided to believe that the tree is a miracle and he's in a much better mood.
Yeah, this isn't your father's Fossilized Angel
Later, he goes to church where he tells everyone about his tree and everyone is in shock and awe that the word 'HOPE' is on the tree. However, not everyone is buying it as we see that Kent is skeptical of the miracle. After Kent decides to make it his mission to expose the tree as a hoax (Totally never done before, right Lisa?) he tries to get information from the bar, but fails to get anything. Oh but we get a hilarious scene of Kent from his childhood where nothing funny happens as he finds out that "Not Mickey Mouse" is just a man in a mouse costume (Oh this episode is so comfortable, must be all the padding). So Kent Brockman reports about the tree as he shows footage of a person painting the 'HOPE' onto the tree with maple syrup and a paintbrush late at night. So after Brockman's arc of exposing the tree (Well that felt rushed and unsatisfying) the tree believers burn their hats and  are never heard of again... actually this is their first true mention, I mean they were in the scene where Kent was looking for information, but their formation and disband were the only 2 scenes we see them in. That sure doesn't sound lazy at all. So Homer sulks about his tree being a hoax as Marge tells Homer that he should feel good because the hope he got from the tree was real and somebody was looking out for him. The episode ends with us finding out that it was Homer writing the 'HOPE' on the tree as Steve Mobs (UUUUUUGGGGGGHHHHHH) tells God that his IPad is outdated and he cannot get Christmas off. You know, jokes like these might have been better if they were the focus rather than just throwaway jokes. Actually I lied, because 21 minutes is too long (Seriously?) the episode ends at 18:40 with a pointless bit at the very end that lasts for 2 minutes.

Final Thoughts: How does an episode with basically no plot still need 2 minutes of padding at the very end? I wish I could say that I could sum this episode up in a couple of words, but in reality this episode was all over the place and just really was a jumbled mess. Watching Homer sulk wasn't funny, watching a bad rehash of a decent episode wasn't funny and like a lot of recent episodes, a laugh or two does not redeem this piece of crap. Not to mention that a main focus of the episode is centered around a joke that I've hated since day 1. Horrible episode and I really can't think of where it'd rank for this season so far, probably pretty low.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Episode 5: Penny-Wiseguys

...I honestly don't feel a good snarky introduction from me, so do my work for me and think of one yourselves this week.

Opening sequence: 1:00 Really not much to talk about here, it's okay I guess

The episode begins with an attempt at nostalgia with the Holy Rollers facing the Pins Pals except Otto's replaced with some guy named Dan. The Pin Pals are about to win, but contrived writing forces them to forfeit right before the last throw. Really, some more does happen, but the pacing is just so awful in the first minute of the episode that it's hard to actually absorb it all in, even being allowed to pause and rewatch the episode doesn't help. So we then see Dan approach Luigi's as it turns out he works for Fat Tony... oh wait, no actually it's Fit Tony, remember Fat Tony died and then his convenient look alike cousin was retconned as the new Fat Tony. So Fat Bob (What, it's not like he's actually Fat Tony so why should I call him that?) needs a temporary replacement (He's on jury duty for the record) and of course, he picks the guy we were just introduced to because that's totally not lazy and cliche, right? So after a boring scene of Dan trying to convince everyone else not to kill him, we cut to Springfield Elementary as a concert is being held with everyone in the audience hating the music.
It's a good thing they just happened to have that anvil on standby
This prompts Bart to remember the music from Bugs Bunny which gets Homer to say "I sure wish an anvil dropped on my head right about now" followed immediately by an anvil hitting him...I honestly have nothing to say here. No "Another stunt double?" quip, no "These guys are getting PAID to write this" no "They aren't even TRYING to let the comedy feel natural". The writing will never change because no matter how much "New blood" they try to incorporate, the same toxic formula will remain in place, and as long as FOX and blind fanboys allow it to happen, they'll keep repeating the same shit over, and over, and over until we see "The Simpsons: Season 35 episode 12- Bart Kicks Homer in the Balls" a 16 minute episode with 14 minutes of commercials. Huh, I hate using up my weekly paragraph rant so early in the review, oh well, let's move on. So Lisa performs her Sax solo and then passes out after she finishes. Everyone is shocked and it's up to the school nurse to get her offstage, the school nurse turns out to be Willy... yeah Lunchlady Doris doubling as the nurse was how you do the joke correctly. So Dr. Hibbert tells Lisa that she needs more iron as he gives her "comically" oversized iron pills for her to take. After another boring scene of Dan not getting the trust of the mafia (Okay, the Joey the Arsonist joke was a bit amusing. Credit where credit's due), we see Lisa trying and unable to take the pills during lunch, this causes zombie lunchlady Doris to give Lisa some food to help her (Because she's been dead for years and only because of lazy writing around season 18 brought her back into the show. Seriously, this would be like bringing back Troy McClure because they couldn't come up with a new character, this is just disrespecting Doris Grau).
Lisa: This is delicious, what is it?
Doris: The gardener who overcharged me this past summer

Lisa likes it, but after Doris tells her it's made from bugs, Lisa tells her she promised McCartney she wouldn't eat meat (After this episode, I'm going to wash my mind of this shit and watch something good). But in all seriousness, I love how the show tries to reference earlier seasons as if they're responsible for those episodes, name 5 members of the current writing staff that actually had a hand in season 7, I'll wait. It'd be like an artist's drunk son trying to take credit for his father's work, he saw it happen, but he doesn't have the talent to paint any of his father's work. Anyways, Doris tells Lisa that vegetarians do eat insects without worrying and she should give this a chance. Okay, let's just list off iron alternatives that vegetarians eat all the time: Spinach, oatmeal, grains, nuts, soybeans, tofu, prune juice, oh wait, none of those would have the comedic value of a plot where Lisa eats bugs, how stupid of me. Later, we see Dan go to Moe's Tavern and Moe acts like he's late to drinking... okay we barely know a thing about this guy and yet the dialogue acts as if we've known this guy since day one. This wouldn't be so bad if I knew anything about the guy, but the writing is just so lazy I know next to nothing about him and therefore don't care about him in the slightest. After the whole "Dan is an asshole for showing up late" sketch is drawn out for too long, Dan tells them that he hates his job and Moe tells him to stick up for himself and such. Wow, that scene was so utterly vital and necessary to continue watching this tripe and dear God this is boring.
Please find this funny, nobody else does
So at school, we see some insect eating group welcoming Lisa as a montage of them dining on some meals made of insects begins... and my theory about the subplot has been confirmed, they just wanted to do gross-out humor with bugs so they said "Fuck logic, we'll just have Lisa eat worms!" So we see Dan start to assert himself and tells everyone to cut down on expenses, goody because mafia expenses is the height of animated comedy. So we then see Lisa plant some grasshopper eggs as if they were seeds when Snowball knocks over the bag and some stuff that makes them grow faster. After a scene that teases with Lisa eating shrimp (Fuck the writers, fuck the writers, fuck the-) we see Dan talk to Bob during a lunch break as Bob suggests he kill some personnel that are redundant (I'm sorry if this sounds boring, but I can't find a way to make this interesting. They have Steve Carrell and yet every scene he's been in has been boring, even Dan is just plain boring). So Lisa is in a dream sequence where she realizes that *Gasp* bugs can feel things and are living animals... I'm sorry, there's no wall hard enough to bang against that will express my utter shock at the stupidity of this writing. So after Lisa screams her way awake, she tells Bart to free the grasshoppers, he tries and fails as they're free in the basement. Boy howdy, I sure do hope this doesn't come back to bite them in the ass.
Somewhere Paul McCartney is crying and he doesn't know why
So Dan meets Homer inside his car and he tells Homer that he has to kill some people and he asks Homer to prevent him from killing the people. I could summarize the rest of the scene, but there's nothing TO summarize, it's just so bland. So later, Homer drives Dan to keep him from killing the people, when we then get a scene where can tell the writers just gave up and told Dan Castellaneta "Just say mumbo jumbo, it'll be hilarious". Funny how the two moments where the writers gave up both involved Homer. SO Homer ties Dan up in the basement (Insert bondage joke here) and Homer leaves him alone with all the grasshoppers (Do I smell contrived comedy brewing?) So after a rather bad sketch where Bart and Homer are watching "AFI 100 screams" with Dan screaming as well, Homer goes to feed Dan and frees him once he sees the grasshoppers everywhere.
Dan escapes and we cut to him trying to kill the people he was supposed to kill. However, Homer arrives everywhere Dan is and convinces him not to kill anyone, and after a long drawn out dialogue exchange with no action, they accidentally shoot Snake who was just acquitted from Fat Bob's trial as he tries to rob Apu (Umm... full circle?) Lisa releases the grasshoppers into the wild as the episode ends with Fat Bob declaring only 1 gun in the mafia and we see Dan working in the mall as a piercing guy.

Final Thoughts: This episode was very dull and very short on laughs. The humor was very contrived and while I did find some things amusing, I never did laugh. Neither the plot, nor the subplot had much potential and the whole "Lisa eats bugs" barely would work as a stand-alone joke, much less an entire subplot. Like I said earlier, the opening was way too rushed, but looking back, the rest of the episode seemed to drag WAY too much at times, especially with the plethora of scenes involving Dan talking to the mafia. Overall, probably the worst of the season to date and just not even worth a watch.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Episode 4: Gone Abie Gone

Sorry for the lack of review last week, personal life prevented me from doing an initial review of the episode. And as the week went on, I just found the idea of writing a review to be more and more pointless so I just decided not to watch the episode entirely and just scrap that review for now. Of course, I will get around to watching the episode later, but I just didn't feel that it was essential to get a review out last week. Now, onto this week, oh writers, you couldn't even wait 3 years to recycle yet another title. Now this wouldn't be a big problem if it was done every now and then (Even the classic seasons would recycle a title or two) but when 75% of your titles are just rehashes of old "parody" titles, you fail at your job. But hey, at least it's an original premise with Grampa leaving the retirement home... you know what, I've got nothing in terms of initial praise, let's just start.

Opening sequence: 54 Seconds. A bit amusing, but nothing to put up on the fridge

The episode begins with Homer eating at Krusty Burger when after a poorly done thought bubble gag (This joke DOES work, they just screw it up in this instance). Homer then orders some onion rings where Squeeky Voice Teen gets bombarded with people asking him for stuff (Apparently the staff is comprised of two people. Worst. Fastfood. Chain. Ever) as this results in him accidentally throwing the cooked onion rings on Homer, burning him (Let me guess, that was a stunt double Homer as well. No, i'm not letting that go, they acted like Homer getting injured is a once-in-a-blue moon event when in reality it's every fourth scene). So Homer goes to a lawyer where the lawyer makes his burns out to be worse than they really are and thus Homer wins the lawsuit against Krusty (If they're trying to make fun of frivolous lawsuits, this isn't the right way for two reasons. One, this is legit as his burns were caused by the company and not him failing to realize that hot coffee is hot. Two, New Kid on the Block actually made fun of dumb lawsuits over twenty years ago). So Homer wins $5000 and after going to the bar, Moe convinces him to put the money into an online gambling site instead of a bank.
Homer: Say Lisa, what do you think of my script?
Lisa: ...That's a recipe for pudding.
So Homer decides to put the money into the site and instead of simply allowing the joke to last for 5 seconds, it gets drawn out in the scene (Drawn out jokes always kill the joke and ruin what comedy it initially had). So later, Marge reminds Homer that they missed something yesterday, apparently they missed their meeting with Grandpa at the home... What a great transition, I mean there was absolutely NOTHING indicating that he was supposed to meet Grandpa during what I can assume was his day in court. I say assume because the timeline for the opening act is for shit as I have no idea whether it's been days, weeks or even months between the initial burn and this kitchen scene. Well I'll admit I did chuckle at the Blue Moon joke as it wasn't posted on the screen for an eternity for us to laugh at the joke. So when Marne and Homer gets to the retirement home, they find out that Grandpa isn't there right now, so of course, they must go looking for him (Ten bucks says that it's because Grandpa wants to throw a pity party for himself that the family never visits him).
Marge: Look Homie, it's memories from our glory days. Let's forget about them completely
So Marge and Homer go through Abe's stuff as Homer's dialogue ranges from meh to insufferable (Remember when Homer actually talked like a real person and his dialogue didn't sound forced? What's that? I sound like a broken record for bringing this up in EVERY review? Well if Homer actually sounded like a human being, I wouldn't have to keep bringing thing up). I'm sorry, but when I watch scenes of Marge saying "I'm sure this trunk contains his most valued possessions" and Homer replies with "So precious" and then dumps the chest on the floor, the irony is completely lost when it's repeated 3 times per episode. So Marge finds a coaster of a restaurant and Homer decides to take this flimsy lead and go with it, wait I lie, he doesn't decide that, he SAYS it. You know what I said about his dialogue ranging? Well remove the 'meh' option and make it 4 insufferable lines. So back home, we get our subplot moving as Bart loses some of Lisa's money on the gambling site. Lisa finds out and as soon as she's ready to log out, she decides to earn back the money Bart lost and thus begins our predictable subplot of Lisa having a gambling addiction. You know, normally I would write within the review how the subplot goes, but it's so cliche and predictable, I'll summarize it all right now:

Lisa makes a lot of money in a montage which leads to her getting one hand that makes her cocky enough to go all in with a predictable losing result. She mopes until Bart reveals that he won the hand but they're back to the $5000 she started with b/c somehow the site found out they were both under 18.

5 Simple steps for a lazy subplot
Step 1: Introduce your character to something different 
Step 2: Make said character good at this activity
Step 3: Character learns harsh reality of activity
Step 4: ...

Step 5: Twist ending!
There, 3 lines and nothing of value was lost. Anyways, Homer and Marge go to the restaurant on the coaster where Homer asks a simple question, but since he cannot talk like a normal person, the bikers think he's a narc and start to threaten him and harm him. However, the owner comes out and recognizes Abe in the photo ans tells the bikers to put him down. Okay stupid question that borderlines on nitpicking, we will see in a moment that the restaurant was classy when Abe worked there, why does he own it in the condition it's in? It's not a big problem, but it does raise some questions. So Abe was a busboy and he fell in love with a black female singer at the club. While trying to put this on some timescale is stupid, I'm going to assume the late 60's or so which would put this after Mona leaves the family and would mean that Abe's hairstyle is wrong and... wait I'm putting continuity into this. Ignore what I just said.
Oh the hilarity of seeing Homer needlessly getting harmed for the 7th time in the span of 5 minutes. That doesn't get old at all...
So in between more of Homer's awful dialogue ("My grandfather was an aspiring musician like Charles Manson" to name one charmer) the guy tells Homer that he was sorry for pushing them apart and to look up Rita Lafloeur (Oh and they try to make a gag out of the fact that the owner has a long name, but really naming him "Mr. Kamquat Pickles" would be funnier). So after Marge pulls out the script to conveniently find Rita's number (Yeah, yeah probably a yellow pages app. *Sigh* I'm getting old) Rita informs them that's she's Abe's wife. So Homer is distraught that Abe had another wife (He also had at least two illegitimate children and neglected his family, what do you expect from him) and they head over to Rita's place. Rita explains that she saw something in him under all his layers (So Grandpa is an ogre?) and she fell in love with him. Homer doesn't understand how he didn't remember any of this as he is shown to have witnessed this as a kid (Oh so we're going down the whole George Lucas path of inserting characters in stories to pretend that they have some sort of connection).
Sorry Young Homer, but not even you are safe from this trainwreck
So Marge decides to explain that this was after Mona left (Silly writers, trying to act as if this were canon) and in the flashback, Abe and Rita get married as it results in Homer getting harmed because he's stupid like that (IS HOMER GETTING HURT FUNNY YET?! NO?! WELL LET'S TRY IT 7 MORE TIMES!!!) So in the hospital, Homer falls off his bed for no reason (Once). Then Rita gets a call to perform in Europe as Homer sticks his tongue in an electrical socket while Abe is turned around (Twice). Abe decides that his retarded son is more important than Rita and he tells her he can't go with her (Apologies to retarded children everywhere as Homer would be a disgrace to those children). So after Abe sees Rita off, he decides to forget the memories by drinking it away at the bar, however Homer falls off his bar stool (Thrice). Okay this isn't even stupidity anymore, I think child Homer might just have a disease that's cut off his nervous system completely, get the child help now. Later, Rita apologizes for her scene being utterly useless and gives Homer some of Abe's cologne. This prompts them to go to a cologne store where it turns out Abe is working there. Look, the episode's almost over and I can summarize this very quickly, so let's do that. Abe gives the whole "You didn't pay attention to me" speech for the 65th time, Homer and Marge apologize, Abe accepts the apology and they go home. Okay, one joke that made me snicker was the jab at FOX, but more because it was a jab against themselves. So the episode ends with Abe back in the retirement home as Rita plays the piano to get Abe's attention and they play into the credits.

Final Verdict: This episode was very bland and forgettable. The opening act felt jumbled and had awkward transitioning. The subplot was very safe and took no chances, which in the end made it incredibly forgettable and gave you that sense of "I've seen this before in something better". The whole plot involving Rita and Grandpa was pure filler and just an excuse to make Homer a punching bag, now granted young Homer has been the punchline of injury jokes in the past, but those jokes made sense and weren't just mindless "Harm Homer". And the ending was very rushed, because the fact that Abe was missing between the 5 minute mark and discovered at the 19 minute mark of a 21 minute episode, there was no room for the whole apology scene to even take place. Overall, this was a rather bad episode and 2nd worse of the season next to Moonshine River for me (Keep in mind I'm ranking this out of 3 episodes, my midseason review will be more precise).