After a disappointing ending for season 20 I gotta admit, I had low expectations for this season really expecting this to be its last season. My hopes were not raised after finding out that Seth Rogen would be guest starring and partially writing this episode. After watching this, it really exceeded my expectations, but it is still just an above average episode that isn't too special. Let's begin our review into this new season.
We begin this episode with Bart and Milhouse mocking Comic Book Guy, causing him to go to his backroom to get away from them. Bart and Milhouse then find a comic book created by CBG called "Everyman" who's main power is to grab a comic book and take the powers of whatever the superhero of that comic has (The identity of "Avery Mann" is about as subtle as Peter Parker changing his name to "Arachnid web-slinger"). The comic itself isn't really worth mentioning, but after CBG gets praise for it, he decides to start selling "Everyman" comics and they become a hit
Final Judgment: This episode wasn't strong but it laid the foundation for an adequate season. If only the rest of the season could have been this way. I'm not a Seth Rogen fan, but honestly his lines were not funny at all; they ranged from stupid to dull with no traces of funny to be found. Any hopes were dashed away with next week's episode, prompting a full-fit rage.
Final Grade: 5.4/10 nothing special but it's not bad either.
Episode 2: Bart Gets a Z
I gotta admit, episodes like this one is why I do this. Even though I haven't seen this episode in 5 months before rewatching this episode for the review, I honestly felt sick just thinking about this. This is probably one of the best examples of lazy writing, cultural relevancy up the wazoo, and everything that is contributing to the decline of this series. With that out of the way onto the review. (I also want to point out this is one of Matt Selman's few bad episodes, as he is a good writer)
So we begin with Mrs. Krabappel's morning where then we see her at a red light with some high-schoolers make fun of her for singing an "old" song. (Two minutes in and already I look for drugs to calm me down. That's a bad sign people) In case anyone could tell that the Simpsons now takes place in 2009, the writers decide to remind us by having all the students have their cell phones out texting in class (I'm sorry, but considering that in my high school I would get detention just for having it out, I'm not buying this BS at all). Mrs. Krabappel then decides to do the most logical thing: confiscate their phones, which pisses off Bart and the others (How dare she take away devices that hinder the class from learning and are usually banned during the day in most schools. Let's go burn her house down!). Bart then convinces the whole 4th grade to collect liquor to get Mrs. K drunk and their plan actually works; Mrs. K becomes really drunk the next day and is fired. Bart feels guilty for getting her fired but before his conscience can do anything we meet a candidate for most annoying character ever in a Simpson episode in Zachary Vaughn, who is apparently is from Tufts University (ooh, I really don't care and it doesn't sound the least bit impressive Mr. Jackass)
Final judgment: This episode is boring, annoying and above all stupid. While it's all right to have the occasional cultural relevant item in your plot, it's not a great idea to center a plot around an annoying teacher who would be laughed off from special ed students. And really Mr. Vaughn ranks in my top 5 WORST characters ever in Simpsons with just so many moments that make you want to hit something.
Final Grade: 2.5/10 a better title would have been The Simpsons get a 'Z'
Episode 3: The Great Wife Hope
What happens when you take the plot from Marge vs. Itchy and Scratchy but with a far less memorable plot and a much different matter? This episode!
Sorry for the unoriginality of that but really when I watch this all I see is just that episode if it were less memorable. Let's continue on with the review.
We begin with Marge going "Crazy Bowling" as she admits that when she typed "girls having fun" on Google she encountered about a million porn sites. Marge then notices that there are no men at the bowling alley (save for the cashier in the background but we'll ignore that) where we then find out that all the men in Springfield are watching Ultimate Punch, Kick & Choke Championship (I'll just refer to it as MMA). During the scene there isn't really much to note with a few jokes that weren't worth mentioning here. The next day, Bart participates in a school version of MMA as he beats up Nelson under the dome jungle gym (I don't know what it's called, so sue me). While Bart is fighting we get to see Lisa in the most uninteresting moment for her as she just seems so monotone and forgettable while Marge goes to find Bart. Marge finds out about MMA and decides that a sport that is well-liked and well-funded should not be allowed in Springfield. (At least her campaign against Itchy and Scratchy was that it was targeting impressionable kids; this time it just seems petty). I would also like to note here that while I could care less for WWE and things like it *submit your hate-mail here* I was a wrestler in high school and having one-on-one fights is a perfectly legit sport that actually requires a lot more conditioning than people give credit for so I just did not like how Marge didn't like this sport because it's too gory (not like people don't lose teeth in NHL or break limbs in NFL). I did like how Marge bought Homer off with pie and that scene did make me laugh. Marge then protests outside the MMA building but fails so she decides to protest inside where the TV audience just realizes how stupid her campaign really is. After getting in the main cage Chet Englebrit challenges her to a fight to determine the fate of the sport where she accepts. In order to get ready Marge prepares in the best way possible, by doing a routine that even dancers would laugh at. This scene also contains a great thing in what not to do "Show don't tell" as Lisa reminds us that's she a feminist needlessly. After Marge goes cutsie with the ribbon Homer decides that trainer her properly with training by Dredrick Tatum, Akira, Mr. Burns and the bullies. The Burns part proves to be unnecessary as it's just there for a pointless scene involving the fact that Burns is weak. Hey, newsflash: WE ALREADY KNEW THAT! The scene is nothing more than padding and the story would probably flow better without it. Chet decides to remind Marge about the fight and proves to have the most incompetent henchman as he doesn't know when to shoot off the fireworks (which is a little funny). We then see Lisa try to convince Marge to get out as Homer tries to put himself in her place for the fight, that leads to the joke of Moe taking Homer as Marge to his class reunion which is rather funny. Marge then prepares for the fight as then the fight begins... with a cheap shot by Chet. Dick. Huge continuity gap, right before Marge gets punched, we see Barney in the crowd, while Marge is getting up, we then see Barney in Moe's Tavern (Betcha you didn't know Barney could teleport did you?). Bart then goes in to fight Chet even though Marge agreed to the fight and this should be some violation of a rule, oh well. After seeing Chet attack Bart, it makes Marge angry enough to start winning as Chet "taps out" but then tries to cheap shot her but fails. Marge then talks about how she won't fight anymore even though nobody's around anymore. Marge and Homer leave as Bart and Lisa decide to settle their sibling rivalry in the septagon, in which Lisa wins a la Mortal Kombat.
Final Judgment: This isn't a bad episode, but the plot is near the same as Marge vs Itchy and Scratchy, showing a little bit of laziness by the writers. This episode is far better than last week's - but that's not a high standard.
Final grade: 6.1/10 It's not bad and it's actually something that's worth re-watching when you get the chance.
Episode 4: Treehouse of Horror XX
Is there such a thing as a bad Treehouse of Horror? The answer, no. Even though terrible writing has plagued this series as of late, it always seems like the Halloween special is immune to this disease that has afflicted countless episodes. Before we move on I'd like to make the statement that I am a huge Alfred Hitchcock fan and if you haven't seen his work, see it. His work is some of the most magnificent things ever to hit the big screen. Let's begin our review.
Even though the opening is sorta like a couch gag, I count this as part of my review because it really isn't that bad; plus, it has more to do with the episodes than many couch gags do. Our opening segment is "Dial "M" for Murder or Press '#' to Return to Main Menu" *stupidly long name but whatever* and it is essentially the plot from "Strangers on a Train" mixed in with other Hitchcock movies (I will note them out) *Note this segment is in black and white*. Our first Hitchcock references come in the title *Dial "M" for Murder" and the theme from "Psycho" *Hitchcock references: 2* Moving back to the story, Lisa is enraged when Ms. Hoover doesn't choose her for some school competition and gets detention for lashing out. Lisa then meets Bart in detention, and Bart gives her the idea to swap pranks to get revenge (Plot to Strangers on a Train). When she accepts, she ding-dong ditches Mrs. Krabappel as Bart sets up his alibi at the tennis match (Strangers on a Train and Psycho music again) *Hitchcock references: 5*. Lisa comes back happy about her part - until Bart reveals that he meant 'kill Mrs. K.', shocking Lisa (Bart's explanation for kill is very weak and not funny)
Our second segment is called "Don't Have a Cow Mankind" which is essentially an homage to "28 Days Later" (Which I have never seen so I'm sorry if I miss something) and "Children of Men" (Yet again no clue so I'll miss these references). The segment begins with Krusty unveiling a burger which turns out to infect people and turn them into zombies (They call them "Munchers" but I'm calling them zombies). 28 days later *weak laugh* we see basically all of Springfield has become zombies except the Simpsons (Really nobody bothered to attack them in the span of 28 days? It's not like their house is a fortress or anything.) Bart eats one of the burgers and doesn't become a zombie, making the family believe that he has something in his body that makes him immune (Yet again they call him "The Chosen One" but the payoff for that pisses me off so I just will say he has the "B-Antivirus"). After the terminator fails to save the family, Apu saves them and is later abandoned by the family. The car runs out of gas and they have to get to the safe zone by walking (What Lisa does to Bart brings back the nostalgic feeling when she poked the area of his tattoo in the first episode). As the Simpsons approach the safe zone, Homer becomes a zombie and is kept alive because they can cure him when they get there (Sure, why not keep someone who could be a potential threat to you if he were to bite you?). The Simpsons get to the safe zone where they are told that Bart needs to be killed in order to make a vaccine but Marge asks: "What kind of civilized people eat the body and blood of their savior?"... One minute *SCREAMS* Moving on, Bart decides that he can bathe in their food and that'll pass on the B-antivirus and the segment ends with Bart giving Lisa and a group of others Bart Soup.
Our final segment is called "There's no Business Like Moe Business" which is just a satire of "Sweeny Todd". I could sum up this entire segment in a sentence but I shouldn't so let's move onto the *Shudders* Halloween Musical (I can't believe I typed that). The segment begins with Moe singing about how ugly he is and nobody likes him. The tap isn't working which makes Moe go down to fix it which leads to Homer falling onto some pipes that lead to the beer tap. Moe uses the rest of the segment to seduce Marge by convincing her that Homer left her to be gay (Stupid musical). As Homer's friends drink his blood beer Marge becomes sad and her tears raise him from the dead. Homer beats up "Moe" (well, a ragdoll version), and our Treehouse of Horror ends on the entire cast thanking the audience to which Kang (or Kodos) falls asleep.
Final Judgment: This one is weak but not horrible, I personally like the first segment, but looking back it doesn't have much to it and I like it just probably more for some sort of "Hitchcock in Simpsons" nostalgia. The second segment isn't bad, just poorly executed and the third segment is probably one of the worst in years.
Final Grade: 6.4/10 Not a terrible THoH, but there are far better ones
Episode 5: The Devil Wears Nada
To me, Marge Simpson is a typical 50's mother: a woman who has good moral values when it comes to families and probably would berate a kid for wearing their pants too low. Then Marge appeared on on the Playboy cover and a part of my childhood died. Now I can't really bash this because I know that not everyone feels this way, but this has to rank in my top 5 things that I never wanted to see associated with the Simpsons. Now onto the review.
We begin the episode with Homer's supervisor retiring which then leads Mr. Burns to hire Carl as the new supervisor after he is able to screw a lightbulb in *insert lightbulb gag here*. Marge then partakes in a rather pointless plot *will explain later* about her group trying to raise money. I did like the bake sale gag as it made me laugh at just the sight of Bart and his friends eating cakes. However, the rest of this plot is just to further remind us that Marge was in Playboy as well as the chalkboard gag. We cut to Marge and the "Charity Chicks" doing their photo shoot with perhaps the second most annoying character in the history of this show (Seriously who keeps lobbying to bring back this Latino guy for more episodes, he's just flat out annoying in every one.) *Hey look a reference to Tiger Woods before the scandal* After cutting to a pointless conversation of Homer and Carl we see Marge's calendars with photos I'm pretty sure she didn't authorize (which in real life would get the photographer and publisher arrested but what do I know?)
Final Judgment: This episode was pretty stupid as it was just an excuse to say to America "Hey we're in Playboy, suck on it". With all we know about Marge and Homer, there is no true tension of either leaving the other and it just seemed like an old plot reused.
Final Grade: 3.4/10 It's not really worth watching the first time so why watch it again?
Episode 6: Pranks and Greens
So your episode airs the Sunday before Thanksgiving, what will your opening be? A parody of the 12 days of Christmas. I felt it was out of order to begin with, but considering that next week's couch gag involves Thanksgiving I really had to wonder if the production staff was on LSD or something. (Not much of an introduction I'm sorry). So let's begin our review.
The episode begins with Bart having a montage of his newest pranks at school as it ends with Bart destroying Skinner's car. Skinner then informs Bart that there was a better prankster than him but just leaves it at that for Bart to actually look him up himself. After that is our sub-plot about Marge having playdates with other mothers and babies, leading to Marge becoming such a conscious mother about what she provides as food. To be truthful I really, really hate this craze about how babies must eat certain foods, not drink out of certain cups and must be home educated a certain way. As far as I'm concerned, having your 1 year old eat baby food with some milk from a plastic sippie cup will not prevent him from going to Harvard
Final judgment: The main plot is actually written quite well but the sub-plot is where this episode falls flat of being considered a great. It has its ups and downs, but in the end it's a fairly decent episode. This also teaches us that subplot needs to work as well as the main plot.
Final Grade: 6.8/10 Not bad, but not good either
Episode 7: Rednecks and Broomsticks
So a week after you air your Christmas couch gag what do you do? Run a Thanksgiving gag, this did at first sour my view of this episode but because of good writing and plots that don't suck I was a changed man by the end of this. We continue into episode 2 of a 4 episode streak that in my opinion are the highlights of this season. Let's begin our review.
We start off the episode with the Simpsons leaving "The Snowed Inn" *laughs a little* after a ski weekend so that they can beat the traffic (which they don't). With the kids needing entertainment, Lisa suggests that they play "Bonk-It" (love the Bop-it reference), but Marge hides the batteries because anyone not playing it finds it the most annoying game ever. After the bit ends, Homer sends the car off the road and onto a frozen lake where he hits Bambi *Snicker*. As the Simpsons are about to freeze to death in the lake, Cletus goes to rescue them and gives them hospitality. I like that Cletus saved their lives and then offers Homer moonshine and never asks for anything in return. I guess that hillbillies are all right (As long as they aren't neo-Nazis)
Final Verdict: This episode is probably one of the few bright spots to me for this sub par season. Admittedly there are a few head-slap moments but it seems like the writers actually put effort into this episode to try to preserve the legacy of the series rather than make a quick buck.
Final Grade: 8.6/10 This is one of the few episodes of late that I actually want to watch multiple times, I have to wonder what deleted scenes were there and what the people working on it thought of particular scenes as well.
Episode 8: O Brother Where Bart Thou?
In our 4-episode streak, we hit the best of the streak with this episode. Now at this point in the series I actually had hope that if this show were to end after this season, there could be a good chance that it would end with dignity. As I would find out though, those dreams were taken to the woodshed and beaten with a baseball bat. Let's begin this review.
We start our episode with a snowstorm going on while Homer and Lisa watch TV (on their three-seater couch which now seems like a two-seater). We see them watching a show that delves into how candy is made as the show goes south after seeing how gelatin is made (Two things, 1: Why is Lisa shocked by how gelatin is made? Shouldn't she know something like this? And 2: I'm pretty sure they use the hooves of already dead horses instead of killing a horse just for its hooves). After Homer bumbles around with the remote, they finally get to another show; The Creative Arts Emmy Show *screams* (I really just love the expression by Homer and Lisa, it's just priceless). After that bit of padding, Homer insults Lisa's knowledge of global warming saying that it'll melt all the snow so he doesn't have to shovel. As he's skipping away mocking her, Lisa puts it aside in a way that I swear is just breaking the 4th wall a little *just seems like her reaction when told that this show gets another year*. After Bart goes through listening Skinner and Chalmers yank his chain about school closings (I thought that radio hosts did that, what are they doing there?) he celebrates like any kid would, not being able to go outside and instead stay indoors *Wait what?* After he is forced indoors, the power goes out leading into some okay jokes until you realize that in two years they've probably made more Obama jokes than they did Clinton Jokes in his entire administration (Seriously, I swear the writers are just getting lazy in terms of jokes so they just throw in an Obama joke to keep the episode going). After failing to be entertained by his balloon-powered TV (Seriously, there's snow outside you don't want to go outdoors?) he find Lisa and Maggie playing "runway" with Maggie as the Model and Lisa as the "Not-so-British" announcer. When Bart asks to play, Lisa takes full advantage of this by putting Bart in girly clothes. Lisa exposits that Bart wanted to play because Lisa and Maggie share a bond stronger than friendship: "Sisterhood", and he doesn't have a brother so nyah, nyah. This does raise a good question that's bugged me for a while: since when have Lisa and Maggie been good friends? Last major episode between them, Lisa had homicidal thoughts involving her. This just seems to really come out of nowhere but it does make our plot so let's move on. As Bart is convinced that he doesn't need a brother we see a semi-montage of famous brothers including the Marx Brothers, the Blues Brothers, the Mario Brothers, Sideshow Bob and Cecil, the Wright Brothers, the Smith Brothers, the Mannings, and the Smothers Brothers. My favorite scene has to be Eli and Peyton playing keep-away from Cooper *the oldest*, while I felt that the arguments for the Smothers Brothers just droned on a little too long. Bart wakes up, realizing he wants a brother as Lisa insults him yet again *it's a long way to go to get even there Lis*. After Homer and Bart clear the sidewalk and driveway, we get our South Park reference *which I love* as Bart *Stan*, Milhouse *Kyle*, Nelson *Cartman*, and Ralph *Kenny* talk to Bart about his parents having another boy (OMG Otto killed Kenny!! YOU BASTARD!). Bart puts his plan in motion as he cooks a five course romantic dinner (How he was able to cook all that is a mystery but I turn my suspension of disbelief up a notch for this scene). It backfires as Homer and Marge get too full and can't have sex, Bart enacts plan B which includes Milhouse giving Bart the Kama Sutra DVD to leave in Homer's TV in his room *Sure why not, Bart has his own TV* that backfires as they are middle age white people so they hurt themselves. Bart then gets the idea from the bullies to change out Marge's birth control pills with tic-tacs *See "Itchy and Scratchy Movie"* as Marge tells Bart that if she does get pregnant it could be with a girl *Cue the Sex and the City images*. Bart decides because of all this he'll go with a plan that cannot backfire; adopt a boy. It backfires as he cannot adopt and is kicked out, however a boy named Charlie follows him home to be his new brother. After a pointless scene of Bart showing the school Charlie *as if he were a dog* we get our montage of the episode. You know, montages can be okay, if you use them sparingly; this season, I swear, is trying to average a montage an episode and it pisses me off. Afterward, we cut to Bart telling Lisa about Charlie and why she shouldn't say anything (We also get a nice red herring as Lisa looks at him weirdly but nothing ever comes of it; the scene sets up for Charlie to be evil or for Lisa to take him away herself). Bart and Charlie then go to a Saw parody *which is probably better than the recent Saw movies* and they are then jumped by Wiggum after the movie. Bart and Charlie escape as they hide in a snowbank in the middle of town to avoid everyone else. Lisa manages to find them, convince Bart to let Charlie go, and they all get encased by the Plow King *nostalgic feeling*. Bart and Charlie pee a hole open to free them (Wow that sounded better on the screen). Charlie is re-adopted by a new family and we end with Homer taking Bart to a movie.
Final Judgment: This episode does have some annoying features but in the greater picture, it is a very well written episode that I really like and I think you should watch more than once to appreciate it. Sure the cameos are pretty forced, but it's a small bit that doesn't really seem to slow down the story.
Final Grade: 8.8/10 Best episode of the season and almost worth buying the season DVD, ALMOST.
Episode 9: Thursdays with Abie
Our high streak for this season unfortunately comes to an end with this episode. It's a real shame because now I actually have to earn the dignity of being a reviewer by explaining why most of the second half of the season sucks. But I enjoyed this little ride while I could, and as it's known, all good things must come to an end. Let's begin our review.
We start this episode with the Simpsons going to a water park as Grampa keeps complaining so he's left behind for the aquatic show (There's quite a bit of padding but I'm not getting into it). The family then watches their cheap imitation Sea World show of "Slimu the octopus" *weak laugh*. The show is nothing special outside of another Obama joke (God I really hate these jokes and they only get worse as the series continues). A young reporter sits next to Grampa, interested in listening to his story. Grampa tells the reporter about how during WWII his ship sunk and his crew tamed some sharks so they could live (http://www.ussindianapolis.org/story.htm the story of the USS Indianapolis, I thought this sounded familiar). After that uncomfortable realization, we cut to our subplot of Bart being assigned to spend the weekend with the class stuffed animal "Larry the Lamb" (I actually like this because I remember this back in elementary school with a stuffed bear). Bart doesn't want to look after Larry and Nelson acts as if Larry is his own son and tells Bart to love Larry. While Homer is cooking bacon, Flanders informs Homer of Grampa's story to which Homer claims that everything is backwards because his father is interesting ("That must mean Cathy is funny! ...nope" I loved that joke, pure funny). Act two begins with Marshall Goldman *The reporter* getting more stories out of Grampa including a story about Grampa giving Clark Gable "Gone With the Wind" before he became famous. After Lisa reads the article, Homer wonders why Grampa never told him (While Bart is cooking Larry in the background *snicker*) as Marge says he does and Homer just ignores him. As Bart continues to torture Larry, Lisa finally intervenes and takes Larry away from Bart so she can take care of him. Lisa gets even angrier when Bart says she doesn't care when he tortures real animals and she goes "King Leonitus" when he calls her a Hindu. Lisa then loses Larry after losing control of the stroller he's in and Larry falls into the sewers (Great now even the Simpsons have a sewer level). We cut back to the Retirement Castle as Grampa is telling Marshall a new story and Mitch Albom appears to get a story from Grampa as well (The irony is pretty funny because the title of this episode is based on his book which he states as he comes in). Grampa tells Mitch to beat it and the other people in the room very slowly approach him just to boot him out. Homer tries to reconcile but fails since Grampa considers Marshall his new son now. As Bart and Lisa leave to go to school, Lisa tries to pass off glued cotton balls and toilet paper rolls as Larry. Bart gets upset as he explains that everyone in his class will kill him *especially Nelson* if he doesn't bring Larry back. Homer tries once again to reconcile but Grampa blocks him out as Homer claims that Grampa can't still be mad at him as he proves it by loving his reflection (Narcissist). Homer tries to find someone else to be his new father but gets run out of Burn's Mansion by a dog. Bart and Lisa decide to skip school so that they can rescue Larry. Bart grabs the gym rope so he can get into the sewer and find Larry, Lisa drops him by accident and Bart gets stuck in the sewer. Back to Homer, we see him trying to get a story published to get revenge but he finds out that Marshall plans on killing Grampa so that he can win a Pulitzer prize for writing an article about him (Sure why not?). As Grampa and Marshall get on the train, Homer tries to warn Grampa but is unsuccessful in doing so. Back to Bart, as Bart is being chased by sewer rats; he encounters sewer cats and then finds Larry. He escapes using Larry on the pipe. However seeing as how he's made of cheap fibers, Larry tears in half and Bart is saddened by this (And he says rest of the weekend, when does this all take place? Grampa's on the train on a Monday and Bart and Lisa appear ready to go to school so what's going on? ~Let's do the Time Warp Again~). Marshall tries to kill Grampa but Homer breaks in (somehow catching up to the train and getting on top) and beats the snot out of Marshall. It's no use though as he's too tough to take down until Grampa stops the train and he gets buried under hat boxes. That's right: hat boxes are what beat him *drinks whiskey*. Grampa forgives Homer as he sees Clark Gable's ghost give him a ghost quarter for the shoe shine and the episode ends with Grampa telling the family what happened followed by Homer rambling on like Grampa.
Final Judgment: This episode is pretty good. It's not spectacular but both the main and subplots deliver just like they should. I don't think that the shark story was meant to (or did) insult anyone, but considering that there was a great tragedy in WWII involving sharks, I can't help but feel a little uncomfortable laughing at that joke.
Final Grade: 7.9/10 It's still worth watching once
Episode 10: Once Upon a Time in Springfield
Even though our streak ended last week, this episode isn't really that bad. Unfortunately, this episode does not measure up like the previous 4 so I had to exclude it from the streak. As I watched this for the first time, I could feel the winds of change as I knew some bad shit was coming, if only I knew, if only I knew. Let's begin our review.
We start the episode out with the Krusty Show as he and Teeny are shooting each other with flaming arrows at their crotches (weird). One of the arrows sets Mel's hair on fire to which Krusty then beats him with a fire extinguisher. We see that Homer and Bart find it funny while Marge is knitting and Lisa is doing her homework. OK this needs to be addressed, in order for this to work, the writers have to have Lisa not interested in the Krusty show, which is out of character and just plain stupid. After the show ends we find out that Krusty is losing ratings with young girls (no adequately explained reason; he just is) and either he needs to hire a female co-star or the studio will replace him with a cheaper alternative. As the family is having breakfast the next day Homer turns down Marge's donuts claiming he always gets free donuts at work. When he gets to work - Surprise! No donuts (or No! D'oh! Nuts! I loved that joke). Later we see Bart and Milhouse watching Krusty while Lisa is reading a book (OK this still pisses me off especially because they do not give any reason, not even a token mention of what the show did to turn her away). We see Krusty's new co-star Princess Penelope, whose main goal is to basically take away humor from a show and instead turn it into a bad Disney musical (I also get bad "Lisa the Drama Queen" flashbacks watching this bit). After seeing her, Bart and Milhouse hate the show and Lisa immediately loves the show again (Nice going executives, now you've alienated the male audience). I especially love how Bart puts on Milhouse's glasses to not be able to watch the show; if only the writers knew I did that for the bad episodes. Homer, Lenny and Carl are approached by a recruiter from another nuclear plant and he offers them a chance to work at said plant. Meanwhile, the Krusty Show gets a packed audience filled with girls and Krusty is pissed about it because now he's second fiddle. As Homer and Bart go to pick up Lisa, Bart notices that Krusty has basically been run out of his own show and he convince Krusty to get back on his feet and take back what is his (which leads to a funny series of events that basically belittle Krusty - until the last line, that is). We then see Homer, Lenny and Carl tour the Capital City Nuclear Power Plant as they get to meet Gary Larson and he draws up a nice cartoon. Moving on, Krusty goes to confront Penelope as she reveals to him that she loves him and Krusty becomes more willing to work with her (It's touching but considering some of the plots later on I thought someone would call sexual harassment on one of them). Act three begins with the new Krusty and Penelope show which is basically an hour of one of them sharing their love for the other (See that? That's your ratings down the toilet Krusty). Also, considering that Krusty is in his fifties to sixties and she has to be somewhere in her twenties, I die a little considering he's old enough to be her father (or even grandfather possibly). After a pointless presentation by Lisa's class ("I'm a Star Wars" was pretty funny though), we see Homer and the gang being treated to massages. Smithers sees this and informs Mr. Burns that they could leave and Mr. Burn's doesn't want that. As Bart and Milhouse watch the Krusty show the same way one watches season 20, Krusty proposes to Penelope on TV. Bart and Milhouse then decide that they must break them up and they start planning. The final act begins with wrapping up the Homer story as Mr. Burns offers the gang each two donuts a day (which are extremely good) for them to stay. Homer, Lenny and Carl agree and they are all seen enjoying their donuts at Homer's work station. After a news story to point out the celebrity marriage (And to point out that Penelope is just a Disney Princess. I knew it all along) we see the wedding take place. Bart tries to convince Penelope that Krusty has done this before and she will end up miserable. The writing staff then decides to piss on the grave of Eartha Kitt by having her lines recorded for a video right before her death (Pills, I need more pills). Penelope is unfazed but Krusty realizes that he will do the same and leaves her there. After Penelope performs as a street performer outside of a restaurant, she sees Krusty in the Seine river and he is willing to give the relationship a chance. We end the episode with a thank you from the writers claiming "The best is yet to come" (Liar, Liar, Liar!)
Final Judgment: While there were stupid moments and multiple times with padding, this was a decent episode. It seems that the writer put time into both the main and sub plots as both are very entertaining.However the character derailment of Lisa is proof again that this staff has no idea how to write for her and it's really sad. The biggest rift I have against this is that the relationship between Krusty and Penelope is never explained later, they even took Krusty out of the show for a while which to me indicated that he was still in Paris. But to say the best is yet to come was the biggest insult of all, I can't believe they put that line in with serious intentions.
Final grade: 6.3/10 It's okay, but nothing special
Episode 11: Million Dollar Maybe
Last's week's episode wasn't as good as the previous week's, and this one is just the same, a slippery slope that will lead into some of the worst writing I have seen in the history of The Simpsons. This yet again isn't a bad episode but it's just such a boring blah episode it's not really worth mentioning on any list of The Simpsons whether it be good or bad. Let's get on with our review.
We start the episode off with Marge and Homer singing "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off" as they explain that the song will be part of their toast for a wedding. The next day Lisa goes to the retirement home to find out that their TV doesn't work, so she goes out to get a conversion box. While at Circuit Circus (Real original, but it isn't even the worst thing) she finds Mr. Burns playing the display *sigh* "Funtento Zii" (I die a little inside) and decides to buy one for the home, forgetting to buy the converter. We then see Homer, Lenny and Carl all having lunch as each of them have a fortune cookie and each of the fortunes come true (How you can find the Lord after reading a fortune is beyond me but whatever). Homer's reads that it's his lucky day and he believes it after he gets free candy, finds a CD and drives recklessly without causing a crash. Homer then decides to use his good luck to by a lotto ticket with a jackpot of *imitates Dr. Evil* one million dollars. Things aren't good though as there is a huge line and Homer fears that he will be late for the wedding (With his luck today though he should be able to get the ticket, grab dinner and make it with 30 minutes to spare). While Homer waits in line we see that the wedding is taking place without him. Homer tries to stall by telling Marge that there's a very long train in his way (In the most annoying way possible). After he gets his ticket, we cut to Marge trying to do the toast without Homer and failing miserably at it (P.S. the song she sings can be a solo, just look at Christopher Walken's version). I gotta ask, what took Homer so long to get the ticket? One million dollars isn't that big of a jackpot in today's society and is the Kwik-E-Mart the only place in Springfield that sells lotto tickets or something? I'll end this plot hole now and continue with the review. While Marge is trying to entertain the audience (Including Krusty for some reason) we see Homer falling off a cliff as he passes by a pointless cameo. Afterwards we see Homer in the hospital as he finds out via TV he won the jackpot but realizes he cannot tell Marge that he skipped the wedding to buy a ticket. After Homer sends Barney to claim the one million (I mean $685,443) Barney gives Homer the money to hide in his tree. As Homer sees Marge doing the laundry the old fashion way (because laundromats aren't an option apparently), Homer decides to buy a new washer and hide it in a park (because claiming a work bonus makes no sense at all). Meanwhile, Lisa hooks up the Wii (I'm no longer referring to this as the Zii in this or future episodes) and the old folks start to like it. As the family *except for Lisa* goes through the park, Homer throws a frisbee into a bush where the washing machine is and then throws Bart into the bush after refusing to get the frisbee (He the throws Bart into a U-haul building). After a montage of what Homer buys for his family (who says money can't buy love?) Bart finds out about Homer's "Giving Tree" and convinces him (later blackmailing him) into spending the money more on him. After Moe makes a fake threat, we see Homer and Bart go to a Coldplay concert where the writers break a rule and give only the lead singer lines (When The Simpsons bring in a band, everyone gets a line regardless of importance). Next, Bart and Homer go into a zero-gravity ride where Bart starts to blackmail Homer (also there's a scene somewhat reminiscent of "Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory" where they burp to get to the front; ah, nostalgic memories). Lisa then returns to the retirement home to find out the orderlies ruined the Wii so that their jobs would be easier again. After Bart continues his blackmailing of Homer (Getting his dinner chair, dressing him up as a neanderthal for a school presentation, and treating him like a horse to get to soccer practice) Homer gets fed up and decides he will tell Marge what he did. Homer gets Marge into a hot air balloon and tells her what happened and she is surprisingly calm about it (I say it's because he won, had he lost she would have killed him, materialistic bitch). The episode ends with a orchid arrangement of Marge and one of Homer.
Final Judgment: It isn't a bad episode; but it borderlines on average. It has some flaws but it is something to watch when you get bored of watching a lot of other Simpsons episodes.
Final Grade: 6.1/10 Above average and better than a lot of the stuff on this show
Episode 12: Boy Meets Curl
We've almost hit bottom people. I really hate this episode with a passion. I feel that the writers could really care less about the quality now and just want to cash their checks before they bounce. On a side note, today's episode is written by Rob LaZebnik who I really hate. His work includes such garbage as Homer vs. Dignity, which made the TV Tropes "Dethroning Moments of Suck" list
We start the episode off with both Homer and Marge getting ready for date night as Homer is told by Mr. Burns to stay late to fix a pipe. Homer misses dinner put proposes the idea of them going to see a movie, to which Marge agrees. They go to probably the noisiest theater possible (The deciding factor in leaving is Ben Affleck as the lead. Not a good idea for this writer to imply judging a movie based on one person). Homer and Marge then find an ice rink where they decide to go ice skating. They can't, though, because the rink is being used for curling. Skinner explains the rules of curling to Homer and Marge as Homer decides to chew out the scenery with a completely pointless, out-of-context speech that can be mistaken for good writing (Seriously, this scene is just about as nonsensical as a person reciting the Braveheart speech after finding out his neighbor took the last of his sugar). After a montage of Homer and Marge curling (This is a running theme for the past few years and it makes the point of a montage worthless) Mrs. Skinner and Seymour approach them asking them to join their team. Six weeks later, Seymour tells Homer and Marge about their team being invited to Wisconsin to try out for the U.S. team for mixed curling as a demonstration event (The writer does know that it is a real sport at the Olympics right? Just how Skinner says it just makes curling sound like just something to entertain the audience). This causes Homer to imagine what the Winter Olympics would look like and the Olympic trials as well. Act two begins with Agnes telling Marge about how she ran pole vaulting in the Olympics and how Seymour *inside her still* ruined her chances by kicking just enough to knock the pole down. I'd like to know why they sent a pregnant woman into the Olympics, but whatever; there are far stupider things to come (P.S. because "Principal and the Pauper" has been ridiculed by Matt Groening, I expunge any continuity from that episode)
1: PHYSICS! The difference in friction between ice and cement would instantaneously stop the stone on the cement, the stone would have to be going as fast as a car in order to continue on the concrete.
2: The broom used in curling is to ADD friction to the ice and slow down the stone, sweeping the concrete would stop the stone even sooner if we were willing to accept the idea that concrete has no friction.
3. Come on, the stone has enough speed to go past the circle and through the same distance in concrete and just happens to land in the middle.
Look I understand there's suspension of disbelief, but this is just pulling it out of their asses. It doesn't take a physics major to tell you this isn't possible, even in the cartoon world (which the Simpsons do not use cartoon physics). By the way, that's not even the worst thing in this episode. Moving on after shattering the laws of physics, the Simpsons head off to Vancouver for the Winter Olympics. When in Vancouver, we get a callback from their movie when Homer meets up with the medicine woman and she demands he pays his bill. While at the games we see the opening ceremonies as they are directed by Ivan Wrightman *Ghostbusters* and as you'd expect, the ceremonies use the theme from Ghostbusters (because he couldn't possibly have an original idea to save his life, I need more liquor). After a scene showing Canadian version of Nelson and Milhouse, we get a scene of Agnes still trying to convince Marge to get rid of Homer from the team, but she refuses. I would go into the physics of Homer's ride, but it has no implication on the plot and it's never mentioned again so forget it. We cut to Lisa going out to buy more pins as she's out of money and she has to trade her pearls for a pin (The jokes in this scene are terrible). Bart then finds Lisa playing her sax on the street for money as it turns out she's become a pin junkie (By the way the "pin dress" just furthers my hatred of this episode as the dress just makes me feel uncomfortable looking at her in it). We go back to the curling semi-finals as Marge still stands up for Homer and his idiocy. When they go up for their turn, the announcer makes a joke about Lisa's pin collection, which leads to a scene that is equally as creepy as the "pin dress" scene (I know Lisa's fictional but considering that this is fictional Tom Brokaw, it's borderline pedophile what he says and does). We then see Homer deliver the stone weakly as now the writers decide to show off what they know about curling: nothing. Marge is able to get the stone back in motion by making a slight slope under the stone and is able to get the stone in the center but she breaks her right shoulder while doing so. Problems here:
1. Look at a curling broom; there is clearly a cm. or so between the edge of the top and the bristles themselves. Marge could melt the ice down to the bare floor but she'd be more likely to hit the stone before making that slope. Also that stone isn't moving because there's too much of a distance between where the slope would be and the stone itself.
2. Anyone who watched the Olympics knows that the brooms also control the direction of the stone, which is why there is always 2 brooms; if there was only one, the stone would head in that direction.
3. As soon as the stone loses momentum, the judge calls it at the spot of the stone, he doesn't allow wind to magically come and push the stone a few extra feet.
So now we're up to two huge plot holes, character derailment of Lisa and just bad writing. Goody, I can't wait for the last act. But before the last act we see that our announcer can be two places at once, Swedish people are emo and Dr. Hibbert is Team USA's doctor *downs some Prozac*. Anyways, the final act begins with Marge angry at Homer as she reveals "I'm left handed. I've been using my right hand all these years cause I didn't want to seem unusual in any way"... *slams fists on table* BULL! SHIT! This is just a lazy deus ex machina as the writers wrote themselves into a corner and just decided to throw this thinking we're all stupid. This isn't a clever plot twist, this is lazy writing! Go check out any scene where Marge is writing, she is clearly RIGHT handed! Oh yeah and the whole unusual thing, YOU HAVE THE BRIDE OF FRANKENSTEIN'S HAIR! That's not unusual to you? I need more Prozac and booze, God I hate this episode. Back to the Lisa plot, Bart convinces Lisa to hand over all her pins and finds out she lost her necklace. Bart then cons the dealer into trading her necklace for a fake pin and everything is status quo for Bart and Lisa. Meanwhile, the Olympic committee decided that the U.S. should forfeit because Agnes couldn't possibly take the place of Marge. Marge prevents Skinner from signing a forfeit paper and the match is on (even saying they will give a "Miracle on Ice", God I need more booze). The match ends with Seymour breaking his broom causing Marge to defy physics once more (Will this ever end?) Team USA wins demonstration Gold and our episode ends with Homer dancing with the fake pin which is just his mouth upside-down.
Final Judgment: This episode is concentrated suckage. The writing is horrible, the execution is horrible and above all this episode has way too many plot holes and character derailment to be remotely watchable by an average fan. So what would and episode like this get on IGN? 5.6? 6.2? 6.8 perhaps? Try 8.4. That's right, our good friend Robert Cranning gave this an 8.4/10. Words escape me people; he's probably a good reviewer but I think he's reviewing the wrong series because clearly he doesn't know much about the Simpsons.
Final Grade: 1.7/10 Congrats Mr. LaZebnik, you still cannot write Simpsons to save your life, bravo, bravo.
Episode 13: The Color Yellow
Oh boy, this episode. This episode makes me think all those hours of therapy were a joke. This episode is not funny, is not interesting, and above all SUCKS! I came in thinking that an episode that further goes into the Simpson genealogy would be quite interesting with little to no continuity to screw up and you could atone for Little Big Girl. How could you fuck up? Well our good friends Billy Kimball and Ian-Maxtone Graham found a way *P.S. Every one of Kimball's episodes save 1 was co-written by Ian and they all suck, seeing Ian's resume I put the blame more on Kimball than I do on Ian*. Let's get on with our stupidly written episode's review.
We start the episode off with Willie and Bart blowing up a stump which they couldn't just dig out (This leads to the stump crushing Skinner's Kia. Odd, I thought he owned a Toyota but whatever). This leads to Ms. Hoover deciding her class plan by looking at the stump and assigning the class family trees (See the resemblance yet?) While looking up her history she finds out that the Simpsons are all either criminals or boring (never mentions the Bouviers but Lisa's holding the idiot ball on that topic). Lisa then decides to go up into the attic where we see references from much better episodes lying about. Lisa also discovers a comically dust-covered diary of "Eliza Simpson" (Bet it took hours for them to come up with that name). The act ends with the family discovering she was getting a slave *gasp*. Lisa is saddened by the idea of having an ancestor who owned slaves (But the idea of murderers, psychos and bums are A-OK with her). We then go into flashback mode as we see Eliza writing in her diary on the day of a ball (It's not just this but why is it that every ancestor of any animated family is past family basically the family of present? This goes for you too Family Guy!). Eliza then writes (and monologues) that she's going to help the slave get to freedom (Hey Eliza, it hasn't been established that your family would help you so to us you're just informing them where to capture a runaway slave). While Lisa is happy Bart makes the point that the underground railroad isn't underground or a railroad to which the family agrees (Hey Simpsons, the black market isn't actually black and really? You think that Underground (hidden) railroad is a bad name, it's the symbolism of a railroad geniuses). Homer then decides to take the book away from Lisa as he tells her to quit while she's ahead (there's also a joke about Marge turning that into a poster with "ahead" not fully spelled out, it reminds me of the "Procrastinators convention: tomorrow" joke). After hearing the book talk to her *insert cuckoo clock joke here* Lisa decides she needs to read the rest of the diary. So Lisa puts a fan next to a ventilation shaft (I don't think that's a good idea, if the book's light enough to be blown away by a simple fan, the book would probably crumble, if not it would just stay in place). The next day Lisa decides to repair the book a little so that she can read it through. While Eliza is at Colonel Burns' ball (Maybe Montgomery's father?) Burns has the Waltz being played add a note and people fall down. Moving on, Eliza then breaks into Burns' barn and frees the slave Virgil. After they escape, they are chased by patrolmen and the diary ends mid-chase. Marge suggests that they go to the library to find the answers after the diary crumbles to dust (great to know history is in the hands of incompetents). When they get to the library, they find a cookbook written by Eliza's mother (Because all great diaries have chapters in their mom's cookbooks, didn't you know there are a few chapters of Ann Frank's diary in her mom's address book?). The cookbook reveals that Eliza and Virgil took sanctuary in a traveling circus after hiding in the bushes from the patrol (The nickel joke just further enrages me as it's so stupid to talk about currency you will never see, it makes about as much sense as saying $100 will be $1 million in 2178 money). Lisa is proud after hearing about Eliza taking Virgil as far as to her house (Yeah, this is character derailment, Lisa would want to know when and how Eliza got Virgil into Canada). Lisa then gives a presentation at school about her ancestors freeing Virgil (Calling the Simpsons "The first family of freedom" after freeing only 1 slave seems a bit smug, but, hey, my family was in Europe during the Civil War so what do I know?). After the presentation Milhouse (extremely out of character) reveals that Lisa didn't complete the research and he claims that Eliza's father gave Virgil back to Burns (Odd I thought Milhouse would get beaten to a pulp just to deliver a small note and here he is just calling Lisa out in front of the whole school)
Final Judgment: Boring, bland, forgettable the list goes on. Either way this episode is nothing special and honestly we could have gone on without this. Admittedly, there was potential but just like the past few seasons, this is the show where potential goes to die.
Final Grade: 2.8/10 It's just so blah, but it's better than Boy Meets Curl
Episode 14: Postcards From the Wedge
Our good friend Brian Kelly has once again reared his ugly head. For those of you who don't know, like LaZebnik, Kelly has had an awful history with writing for this show and he's been rewarded by becoming a producer for the show (Clearly there is no justice in the world). In his three attempts before this with full episodes, Kelly has written "Lisa the Drama Queen" *hurls on the floor* I'm sorry every time I even think of that episode I cringe. Moving on, he's also written "A Star is Born Again", which I don't like, and "Margical History Tour", which is crap (Also considering this is directed by Mark Kirkland, it seems to be more on Kelly). Seriously, we cannot allow these people to continue to poison the series, it has already lost its great reputation we cannot see it sink too much more. Let's move on and review this piece of garbage.
We start off with a pointless film shown to Bart's class (It's so pointless even Mrs. Krabappel says so, come on Brian you could have at least have made the film somewhat relevant to what they were doing). Afterwards, Mrs. K asks for everyone's homework. Bart didn't do it, forcing Mrs. K to write a letter to Homer and Marge. Bart attempts to stop the letter by setting off the fire alarm, but he fails to get to the letter due to the 6th graders saying the random things (might as well have put circus bears in the way, would've made more sense). Bart then in a last ditch attempt goes into the mail room but fails as Willy takes the mailbag away very conveniently. The next day Bart tries to give himself a false fever so he can get the letter at home, after one ear works, Marge decides to use the anal thermometer as he passes that too (I really don't wanna know what was going through the creative team's mind for this). Bart tries to grab the letter but Homer reads it first and is furious at Bart for his inability to complete schoolwork. OK this is where the episode goes south, as the story is basically Homer is mad at Bart for not completing his homework while Marge is more sympathetic. If you ever needed a good example of character derailment, this is it; Brian Kelly switched the roles of the parents so they'd be completely out of character (Oh booze, I drink to your health). After they confirm their new character traits in a small argument we see Bart doing homework while watching season 1 of Pokemon (It probably isn't but I'm calling it that), and Bart breaks the fourth wall by calling it fresh after so long. Simpsons, you went stale 6 years ago
1. Lisa never heard about the school having the crack or the tremor destroying the school.
2. Lisa never heard once about Bart's subway and how that caused the tremor
3. The note came with a map that only Bart had
The first time I watched it, I called BS on the letter because there are just way too many things included that could not possibly be there. Brian Kelly, you fail at mystery, you fail at Simpsons, and above all YOU JUST PLAIN FAIL! Marge and Homer decide that they need to stop Bart's plan and Homer shuts off the power to the train just before the school collapses (It then collapses just after the flag pole falls onto it). Homer and Marge punish Bart and the episode ends with my suspicions verified as Bart wrote the letter but Lisa will keep that secret (This ending is a little heartwarming but it's just attached to a bad episode).
Final Judgment: This episode sucks! Between crappy writing, poor plot and character derailment that even Uwe Boll
Final grade: 2.4/10 Brian Kelly sucks as a writer and he will probably still write one more episode before the series ends. May God have mercy on us all.
Episode 15: Stealing First Base
Oh dear God not this one. Yes while the previous three episodes are the bottom of the barrel this episode is the highlight *or lowlight* of the decline in this season. While my last three I bashed the writers I have to admit with John Frink he's really a hit-or-miss type of guy. He's not that good of a writer but he has enough good episodes to sorta cancel out the bad ones. Either way I hate this episode and let's get to reviewing rock bottom.
We start with a pointless scene of Homer showing us he cannot use a GPS (And Lisa can still be a prick when she wants to be). After Bart gets to his class (in the school that was destroyed last week)
Final judgment: THIS EPISODE IS SHIT!! I can't believe this was even made, the main plot was horribly written, the subplot had way too much character derailment and all around STUPID! The only thing worth seeing is about 1.5 minutes of Nelson and the blind kid and even that's pushing it.
Final Grade: 1.4/10 Thanks, writers, for this trip down shit lane.
Episode 16: Greatest Story Ever D'ohed
An improvement! But not a significant one. This episode is extremely dull and boring - seriously, I think I only laughed 3 times and I believe one of them wasn't because the scene was meant to be funny. Yet again an episode with potential that is just wasted *sigh* I miss the good old days when I could be proud to watch this show. Let's review this episode and get enough coffee out for twelve.
We start off with Flanders holding a bible study with culturally relevant words placed in (I think the writers realized how stupid some of their references are and just slipped that in as an apology). The bible study is then interrupted by Homer being Homer with a slip-and-slide in his backyard. We then see the character derailment of Flanders as he just berates Homer immediately when he confronts him. Lovejoy suggests that Homer should come with the group to Israel, to which Ned is skeptical but eventually is accepting of. Flanders goes over to a now grass-skirt wearing Homer (The Pagan reference is SO subtle) and invites him to Israel. Homer declines but Marge accepts and Homer whines a little about it. After an unfunny incident involving Homer and airport security, we see Krusty who decided to make the pilgrimage to Israel to avoid hell (To which Lisa points out Jews don't believe in hell). At the hotel we get to meet our tour guide; Jakob who is yet another guest star that does nothing but spout out unfunny dialogue (He's like that guy who thinks he's funny but in reality he's not). After what seems like an eternity by Jacob, Homer decides to but in and delay the tour by going to the breakfast buffet. After that, we get to see Mr. annoying still ramble on for a good portion of his scenes (Seriously, the writing for him is TERRIBLE, he comes off more annoying than funny). Flanders then hoping that Homer will stop being Homer asks for him to show a little interest in Israel instead of being an ignorant tourist. After Homer continues to piss all over what Israel stands for, we see the group viewing the Wailing Wall Homer and Bart get into a "fight" as Bart mocks Homer's prayer and Bart prays for him to die. Bart gets away by skateboarding on top of the wall, as Jakob's niece Dorit chases him down. She catches up to him and beats him down with Krav Maga (Israeli military fighting technique) and kneeing him in the crotch about a dozen times (OK that is funny). As the tour group goes to the Church of the Holy Scripture, Ned thanks God for being there and giving him Homer as his burden. He then finds Homer sleeping on the tomb of Jesus as that really starts to piss off Flanders. Homer and Flanders are then banned from the Church as Flanders then tells Homer his soul has no possibility for salvation and leaves infuriated. Homer then follows Ned to the outskirts of town as he goes into the desert where a sandstorm strands him out there. Homer then wanders the desert as he starts to get dehydrated and beings to starve where he hallucinates the "Veggie Tales" vegetables (Just roll with it) telling him he is the messiah(Who knew the anti-Christ would be our savior?). After Homer is then taken to the room, it's then told that Homer's suffering from "Jerusalem Syndrome" (Yes it exists, but I'd say he's more suffering from dehydration that caused his delusions). After Homer escapes, the family goes to the Dome of the Rock to prevent him from doing something stupid (too late). On their way there (And our final visit from Jakob Yay!) The family (Plus Flanders) sees Homer giving a speech to try to unite all faiths as one religion (Um Homer, it's a bit more complicated than that, there's a reason that Jews and Christians consider each other to be different). It is then forgotten as Agnes and Dr. Hibbert declare themselves as the messiah. As multiple nut cases, er I mean people with Jerusalem Syndrome board the plane, we see Homer's OK, Ned's at peace with Homer and Lisa gets the window seat by kneeing Bart in his crotch.
Final Judgment: This episode isn't nearly as controversial as I thought it would be but at the same time, it's boring. The tour guide comes off as annoying rather than funny, the plot itself was nothing special and when you come down to it, it's not that memorable.
Final Grade: 4.7/10 Not bad, just bland
Episode 17: American History X-cellent
Burns going to jail? Yes!! This episode is an homage to "Shawshank Redemption" and "The Green Mile"? Yes!! What could go wrong with this? Poor writing on the two subplots and the main plot doesn't live up to expectations. $*&%!!!! Yet again this show is on the way up but if it were going back down, it would be underground. While it isn't a bad episode, it just doesn't have that feeling of something to want to watch on a rainy day. Let's begin with our review, shall we?
We begin the same way all great episodes begin: One scene that leads to a flashback that'll eventually explain this scene (I'm sorry it's not this episode, CSI: Miami has forever ruined this story type for me). We see two white guards and a black guard that couldn't possibly be Homer, Lenny and Carl (Sorry but it's so obviously them, you don't even need cliffnotes to figure this out). The guards open a cell with Mr. Burns inside and we begin our flashback (And the point of this is? We'll be seeing this scene again with an explanation so I really find this pointless). Anyways, we cut back weeks earlier to Mr. Burns forcing everyone to come to a company picnic where they will all be miserable. During the picnic, all the employees are miserable and after a mini-play, Homer suggests that they trash the place. After getting drunk and trashing his observatory, the police come to arrest Homer and gang but arrest Burns after finding out he's been stealing art (By the way the Tufts joke was stupid before and bringing it back up still pisses me off). As the entire town goes to mock Burns while he's carted away (Not driven, carted) Bart and Homer are berated by Marge not to throw rotten food at Burns (With a drawn out scene of Homer and Marge arguing which leads to Homer eating a rotten Jack-O-Lantern, need I remind you this takes place in July). After that, Marge tells Bart to play with Lisa and we are introduced to our underdeveloped subplot of Bart and Lisa taking care of an ant farm (Seriously, the plot seems like the writers threw it in last minute, it just doesn't seem interesting at all). Right before Burns is put in jail, he gives Smithers control over the plant (This leads to the point in which Burns turns out to be the writer as he controls what happens to Smithers afterwards). As Burns is being processed, Burns tries to blackmail the Warde but can't make out what he's addicted to (It's helium, who knew that was such a crime?). After more processing, we meet Burns' cellmate who is just as harmless as him (I laugh at Virginia, however the death of Yeardley makes it harder to laugh at them). We then cut to the ant farm plot as the farm is destroyed and only one ant made it (Wow, I care so much about this. This plot is so developed and *yawn*). As Smithers takes his new role, he decides to be a new type of boss; a friendly boss. We cut back to the ant farm plot (Do you really care about this? Each scene for this plot gets less than a minute and in the end, you feel empty. I'll explain when we get there) where nothing really happens outside of: "Leave my ant alone Bart" (I am serious nothing important comes out, it's just another example of a scene that could be deleted and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference). After Mr. Burns gets taken by our black preacher inmate (Yeah it's revealed later but it's better to characterize him now) Smithers finds out that the employees have been taking advantage of him and he turns into a worse version of Mr. Burns (thanks for the shirtless scene, classy Simpsons, classy). After we get our scene of the employees working too hard, we go back to the black guy trying to redeem Burns' soul through a dramatic scene and sucking out the evil inside him (I know this references one of the movies mentioned but I haven't seen either movie which I am ashamed of). After short scene of Bart and Lisa discussing what to do with their ant, we see the gang discussing their hatred of Smithers and getting Burns out of jail. We then see the scene that was in the opening and our episode nears an end. As the gang is about to take Burns out, the preacher tries to stop them. Our ant farm plot ends with Bart and Lisa releasing "Annie" into the wild where their dog eats her (And Lisa gives Bart an expression like it's his fault). OK why is this plot bad you may ask; no scene gets more than a minute screen time, the plot's not that interesting, and the payoff you usually get when a plot is over seems to be gone here, you're left with an empty void that nothing can fill. Mr. Burns explains to the preacher that he still had some evil and it multiplied and he must go back to his plant. The preacher explains that because he killed so many rich white guys he wanted to do right by one and he let's them go. Mr Burns takes back his plant as he reminisces about the preacher. We end with a scene of the Preacher and Fat Tony together in a cell.
Final Judgment: This episode's not bad but there were points where I just smacked my head. The ant subplot was completely worthless and couldn't do it's role of padding the episode out. They probably could have used the time to further explore Smithers' role as boss at the plant.
Final Grade: 6.5/10 Maybe worth a watch sometime
Episode 18: Chief of Hearts
A Simpson and Wiggum are friends? Where have I hear that before? *"I Love Lisa" and "This Little Wiggy"* Yeah we have all been waiting for this pairing of Homer and Clancy and this episode delivers... to the wrong address. Seriously at times this is a good episode but having the relationship be more like a boyfriend/girlfriend relationship really detaches me from this episode. Also this episode has a terrible subplot that makes you wonder what drugs the writers were on. Let's get on with it and review this episode.
We begin with Marge taking Bart and Lisa to a party for Dylan (Who apparently nobody know if Dylan's a boy or girl based on the two separate parties going on in the front yard). This does have a point as Bart is introduced to "Battle-Balls" which is essentially the closest Japanese fad here (Even though it wasn't a fad anymore and they insult Pokemon and Digimon which were two of my favorite shows growing up. Thanks Fox, really appreciate that pissing of my childhood). By the way, that's the only screen time Lisa gets, she never shows up again and she didn't even get a line, we've reached a new low people. After that moment of stupidity, we get another as Homer enters the bank with a candy apple in his coat which a woman overly mistakes for a gun (I didn't know there were people in Springfield dumber than Homer but apparently we found them). Homer is then found guilty for bringing food into a bank (Makes more sense than the actually crime) as he's sentenced to 100 hours of community service (There's a funny bit with Homer begging for jail, but not getting it). Homer then goes to his community service as he gets out of it by bribing Wiggum with food (By this point, the writers are completely clueless about the concept of continuity as Krusty's there with no explanation about what happened in Paris). Homer and Wiggum then become great friends as we see our first glimpse of the boyfriend/girlfriend motif shown as Clancy is shy about Homer looking back at him (I'm sorry but I don't really like these jokes). After a scene showing Wiggum and Homer together, we see Bart at the playground as he challenges Ralph for a rare card (Yeah Pokemon encouraged gambling on the schoolyards I know, I know. I won my Venusaur that way). Martin then reports this to Skinner as he assumes that Bart is a drug dealer... Wait What?! Where does this come from?! He looks out the window and assumes that Bart would deal narcotics ON SCHOOL GROUNDS to RALPH! This is only the second scene for this subplot and already I hate it. Back to Homer and Wiggum, after Homer gets Moe on Amber Alert, Clancy decides to reveal to Homer he's very lonely and his friendship with Homer is all he's got (Jailbird then kills the moment by explaining he's been in the back for 10 hours *lol*). Skinner and Chalmers decide to tell Marge of their suspicions of Bart being a drug dealer (Nope, I wont go any further. This plot? It's too stupid to deserve an ending. If they really did suspect Bart of this, they'd pull him to the office before bringing his parents in. Writers YOU FAIL!) OK fine, Marge decides to take this shaky information and she will pay more attention to him for suspicious talk. After Marge hears convenient dialogue, we see Wiggum and Homer on the edge of a rock looking over Springfield. They are then brought back after Fat Tony commits an armed robbery and Eddie and Lou detain them. After a little argument, Tight Lips grabs Homer as a hostage, this leads to a struggle between Clancy and Tight Lips which results in Wiggum being shot. As a montage shows Homer being there for Clancy, he wakes up to Homer next to him (Even though Lou was there longer and slept in the next room for a week). After Homer asks to leave, we see Wiggum become possessive as he says Homer can't leave him. Marge goes searching through Bart's room for drugs (Where can I get some drugs to help me forget this?) Bart comes in and finds Marge invading his privacy (Marge everyone! A woman who'd rather invade her son's privacy rather than ask him about this problem). Marge then finds out about Battleball and likes it prompting Bart to flush his toys down the toilet. As Homer complains to the bar about having to be with Wiggum, Clancy breaks in to bitch out about how Homer's a bad friend (Seriously, this is a pretty stupid scene when you break it down). After Homer watches guilt TV, Eddie and Lou go to Homer explaining they haven't seen Wiggum in days. Homer then finds Clancy on the rock as they find Fat Tony and his mafia are creating knock-off clothing. They fail to detain them and are instead taken captive by Fat Tony and mafia. As they sit in the trunk apologizing for what they've done Wiggum, in an out-of-character moment is actually competent (Who knew?) after Homer convince him he can do it. Clancy happens to change the CDs with his tongue (Just roll with it) as that causes them to pull over and it allows Wiggum to get free and arrest Fat Tony. Eddie and Lou show up as Homer and Clancy decide to lessen the friendship as Homer harasses Flanders in the end with the police copter.
Final Judgment: This episode is OK but disappointing, not what you'd expect from a Homer-Wiggum pairing but it does have its moments. The subplot though is terrible and fails to do its job and at points makes you want to shut off the episode. I never thought a main voice actor would be shut out from an episode but here we are (This is actually the second time a main character has been shut out as Bart wasn't in "4 Great Women and a Manicure").
Final Grade: 6.8/10 A little disappointing
Episode 19: The Squirt and the Whale:
Let me first start off by saying I usually love these Homer-Lisa episodes as they can be very touching and shows an underused relationship between the two polar opposites in the family. That being said this isn't one of those good examples. My biggest problem with this episode is that even though it's supposed to be heartwarming and touching because Lisa lost a whale she knew for a day, it's negated for me because for the majority of that plot Lisa holds the "Idiot Ball" which makes her too stupid to call for real help (like EPA, PETA, etc.) Let's begin our review.
This episode begins with a rather pointless trailer for an extremely stupid movie idea (Quick, someone call Uwe Boll!) when Homer then starts to unplug all the electronics. This is very uncharacteristic for him especially considering he unplugged the TV but it's offset with his trait of being very stingy with money. Lisa recommends that they look at alternative energy so they head off to an expo which apparently takes place at night instead of daytime. I guess the only reason for that was to include a very stupid joke that Homer keeps EVERY light on to deter burglars (which doesn't work). Homer then decides to purchase a wind turbine to power his house and decides that instead of lowering his electric bill by sending electricity back to the nuclear plant, he wants to be totally dependent on a windmill he just bought. After realizing that his windmill is one that only provides power when the wind blows instead of storing energy for future use he decides that his family will live intermittently *cue montage with bad music*. probably the only funny part in that is when Bart and Lisa start fighting each other with the Wii-motes, er i mean Zii-motes. So after a little pointless exchange between Homer and Flanders, Lisa gets Bart to move the windmill so that she can watch House. After Bart prays for wind, God sends gusts similar to that of a category 1 hurricane. With so much wind the house gets overpowered and defies all laws of science by having the TV emit radiation instead of just blowing out. After all the damage, Bart and Lisa go out to see the damage done. They arrive at a beach to find a beached whale. Lisa immediately goes for help by asking the worst people she could possibly ask (really, this thing of Lisa losing her smarts about this situation really detaches me from this plot). So she goes to tell her parents which leads to a pointless belt joke and a plot device of Marge reading about beached whales dying in a magazine she's never been known to read before. The rest of this plot in act 2 is essentially:
Springfield crowd: Let's do something! *fails*
Springfield crowd: Let's do something! *fails*
Springfield crowd: Let's do something! *fails*
Lisa stays behind and then dreams about her father doing something she should have done at the beginning: get professional help. She wakes up to find her whale dead. The next few minutes of the episode is Lisa being mopey while hearing things that can't be helping her psychologically. She finds the whale's calves and then sees them being attacked by sharks which leads to the most annoying lines of dialogue in the episode. Homer comes with a boat as environmentalists explain that she should let nature do its thing. We then have an unfunny slapstick routine that is saved by the whale's *insert relationship here*. The episode is ended with the whales rejoicing and the family is happy again.
Final judgment: While the idea is nice, there are too many head slap moments to make this a good episode. This episode tries to be heartwarming but fails miserably. The writing is sub-par, the jokes aren't there and it's just rather annoying.
Final Grade: 5.4/10 This episode is just a big pile of BS
Episode 20: To Surveil with Love
What can I say about this episode? Well when the opening is more memorable than the actual episode, you're in deep trouble. But couch gags do not make or break episodes so that will not factor into my review. Also when your main plot seems like a joke from 2007 in an episode airing in 2010, you're screwed. Let's begin our review of this episode.
This episode begins with Homer at the bar when "Duffman" comes in and does his best imitation of Duffman because he couldn't afford the license to Duffman's original music. Either way that leads in a somewhat weird series of events that has Homer leave a duffel bag with a rod of plutonium alone at a train station. Meanwhile, Nelson trips Milhouse which leads to Lisa (who is sitting across from him for no reason) berating him for tripping him and making fun of him. After the annoying "logic", we see a woman who invites Lisa to join an unknown debate team; she accepts and we cut to Lisa debating some girl about carbon emissions from cars. We come to realize why this debate team has never been mentioned before as all: it is is just a kindergarten argument where the winner doesn't win by having the better argument but by being better at making fun of their opponent
Final judgment: This episode is just so blah, I really love 1984, it is perhaps one of my favorite books of all time and the writers just give it the middle finger. I do not feel that same sense of a great plot while watching that plot that i get while reading 1984. The subplot of Lisa's hair was stupid as it was just pointless, poorly done, and didn't really make you feel any different about Lisa.
Final grade: 3.2/10 Read 1984, you'll get such a better feeling
Episode 21: Moe Letter Blues
What is Robert Cranning smoking? Seriously, I don't think we're watching the same episodes. An 8 for to Surveil with Love?! WHAT THE FUCK?! IT WAS HORRIBLE! Mr. Cranning do us all a favor, READ A FUCKING BOOK! Let's move on to this review.
This episode starts off with Moe narrating about how he knows everyone's problem and at the bar I did like the Barfly Rodeo, but that was the peak in my opinion. The episode then moves onto the Simpson family in the living room watching Krusty as a not-so-funny Itchy and Scratchy is put in for a little padding. Homer suggests that he take the kids to an island to allow Marge to have the day off. After Homer, Reverend Lovejoy and Apu board the ship, they are given a letter from Moe saying he plans on leaving and plans on taking one of their wives with him. The act ends with Moe having a monologue with their guest star.
A couple of problems though:
Strike 1: Marge would never leave Homer, they have had worse problems in the past and never left each other before. (3 gays of the Condo doesn't count, Homer left Marge)
Strike 2: Moe claims to leave town forever yet the season finale is centered around him so that aspect is thrown out the window.
Strike 3: Are any of us to believe that Moe COULD get with one of their wives?
Not even one act in and this plot has 3 strikes. Folks, we're in trouble. Let's move on.
Act 2 begins with all of them conveniently not having communication with their wives as Homer causes the ship to explode on the dock (a little funny). We then see Bart locking up Apu's kids and "torturing" them which impresses Lisa that Bart does know his history. I though am wondering where Jessica Lovejoy is throughout the island. The rest of Act 2 consists of Homer's flashback to him being an ass at his mother-in-law's party. This does contain the funniest joke in the episode only because of the irony. Ned goes up to Homer as his "friend" and claims he will be the shoulder angel to his 400 devils. Anyone who remembers Ned in Tree house of Horror 4 is just on the floor laughing at that. Act 3 contains flashbacks for Manjula and Helen when they were disgruntled with their husbands. So all three of them realize it could be anyone of them. By the way, the theme park operator sorta creeps me out, I don't know what they're referencing, but I don't like him. I also had to ask what ever happened to the Love Tester and Mechanical Bull Moe had in his bar? Why replace them with the video game? The bar that only a handful of guys go to by the way. The act ends with a pretty funny joke about how the theme park is still a dump. The episode ends with all three husbands going home and realizing everything's all right and that Moe was just yanking their chains.
My final verdict: I have never been so bored with an episode of The Simpsons ever before. The plot was linear with no surprises, there was no drama and all the false tension kept me from enjoying this. There were a couple of jokes that revived my interest but as far as story, this was a very boring episode.
Final Grade: 3.3/10 Just very boring and predictable
Episode 22: The Bob Next Door
What can I say about Sideshow Bob? Only the fact that his episodes are the only ones that can never suck and it stays true today. Sideshow Bob is easily my second favorite character (next to Lisa), I didn't expect this episode to be a great Bob episode but it did do better than what I expected it to do. Let's begin with our review.
The episode starts off with a town meeting discussing how the town is broke so Quimby released some of the low threat inmates. This leads to a few unfunny jokes about what some of them do as it then leads into a new neighbor living next to the Simpsons (you know the house that never has a recurring character outside of Ruth from the early seasons). Marge and Lisa watch as the neighbor seems to be a high-class guy based on what he has and Bart decides to humiliate him. Bart then approaches him as Walt then introduces himself to Bart, causing him to immediately flash back to all the "Hello Bart" scenes including two pretty funny new ones
Final Thoughts: The plot was good but the whole Face-transplant thing really detached me from this episode more than it should have. The idea is good for Bob to try to get revenge, but the execution is just awful. While it's not the worst Sideshow Bob episode, I can name 7 better ones.
Final Grade: 5.4/10 This is just annoying
Episode 23: Judge Me Tender
Riddle me this dear readers; What do you get when you combine a weak main plot with an Indecisive B plot with a pointless 30 second C plot? This Episode! Since Thursdays with Abie, the series hasn't had a decent sub-plot to complement the regular plot. That trend continues with this episode (7 episodes in total). I expected not to like this because it would push Idol in my face, as it turned out that was a lie. That all aside, let's begin our review.
The episode begins with Bart and Homer trying to make Santa's Little Helper as ugly as possible so that they can win an ugly dog contest. Between the opening scene and Moe arriving is just a lot of padding so I won't discuss it. Moe arrives with nobody wanting to sit by him with even Mrs. Skinner burning a chair that defies physics. We then see Krusty failing as a judge by just saying what each dog reminds him of. It is at this point I would like to point out he is supposed to be a judge, not a critic - there is a difference people. Moe then ends this nonsense by insulting Krusty and taking the job himself to which the audience has a change of heart about him. After watching the dog show, I wondered if there was any system to who actually won (was it based on the funniest insult? biggest reaction from the audience? Really I have no clue). The Simpsons win with their "butt dog" (the same town that ran Bart out for cheating in a race mind you) the audience goes to praise Moe for his one-time judging. I have always wondered why someone in Springfield can do something just once and then they are the master of it by everyone (case in point in Act 2). After Moe agrees to judge a beard contest, we get our funniest joke of the night when he stands next to guns and instead drives out his customers with flickering lights *cue Alone in the Dark flashbacks* (P.S. the Love machine is back where it belongs now). Afterward we get our running gag of Lisa trying to sell Band Candy which to me isn't that funny (plus I don't wanna know why she is in a bar). We begin our B story with Homer deciding to spend more time at home *plot scenarios: 1* ( I know this isn't the right term but I'm just trying to show they somehow mess up the process of starting at point A and getting to point B with pointless scenes that bring the story to a halt). One boring montage of Moe judging later we cut back to the B plot with Homer making stalkers look amateur by the way he is able to be wherever he wants. We end this act with Moe meeting up with a bad agent who offers him a lot of crappy shows for him to judge and all are canceled save Idol so Moe decides to do it. As Moe heads to Fox studios we get a montage of LA to "Sweet Home Alabama" (I Guess "Going to California" wasn't good enough). After Marge can no longer stand Homer being around, she sends him to a sports bar to get drunk there *plot scenarios: 2* where then he finds out he isn't welcome there. And now because the show was too short, the writers decided to settle the dog's sensitivity issues with a poorly executed pep talk from Lisa about him being a great dog (you'll never get those brain cells you lost watching this scene). Moe then talks to Simon about how he will do as a judge which leads to paparazzi taking their pictures. Marge then finds Homer taking apart the washing machine *plot scenarios: 3* and Marge is just irate about Homer. Grandpa then suggests that Marge introduce him to golf and she agrees. Simon shows Moe about how people hate Moe for being a mean judge with even Ralph cussing Moe out. Act 4 begins with quite possibly the best way to evacuate a room; a bad singer singing happy birthday on Idol. Somewhere an Idol fan jumps off a rooftop at just the stupidity of this. We then have each judge do their thing (I assume) as then we get to Moe who praises her while chewing out the desk. Simon then insults Moe's review as the "Band Candy" joke is shoved in, Moe then threatens Simon and is booted off the set. As Homer prepares for golf *plot scenarios: 4* a golfer tells Marge about how golf has taken over his life. Marge then grabs Homer and has sex with him prompting the joke "I'm the Tiger Woods of sex" (I don't get paid enough for this). Oh yeah, by the way, this subplot was set up as Homer takes up golf, and the golf scene DOESN'T EVEN LAST 30 SECONDS. I mean talk about lazy, what was the point of building up to that scene if you weren't even going to use it?! Moe comes back to the bar where Homer is and we end this crap with Rupert Murdoch having Moe put Jay Leno on who then makes light of the oil spill with an NBC joke.
Final judgment: When you put an episode together that makes me look like a credible reviewer, that's pretty bad. The main plot was stupid and boring, at no point did it ever draw me in and make me give a crap about Moe. The subplot couldn't decide what it wanted to do so it just jumped around from one underdeveloped scene to the next. And the less I talk about their "C" plot the better
Final Grade: 4.0/10 This is the weakest season finale since season 19 and seeing how that ran over into the crap that was season 20, I have low expectations for season 22.
An English proverb states "All good things must come to an end" while we all know this series is seeing its expiration date soon, thankfully the series did not end with this season. It would be a shame for a series this great to end on such a low note. To say this is a horrible season is a bit harsh, it had its high notes and it did deliver three top-notch episodes (They made the nomination list for my top 50 episodes). But like the past 8 seasons, the season was plagued by more crappy episodes than good ones. Since I've been watching this for the past 6 years, every year the show seems to get worse and worse with the exception of this season (But really Season 20 was so bad, mentioning it gets a 1-way ticket to purgatory).
This season did start off positive with "Homer the Whopper". I really came in to the season with low expectations after season 20 ended with a crappy version of "Much Apu About Nothing" but after "Homer the Whopper" I saw hope in this season. Then along came "Bart Gets a 'Z'" and disappointment soon set in again.
After that we go through an up-and-down series of four episodes that don't really define the season too much.
There is light though as we got our 3 episode highlights staring with "Rednecks and Broomsticks" which proves that the writers are capable of writing a good plot. "O Brother Where Bart Thou?" which is yet another good plot with jokes that is the closest thing to season 8 writing in a long time. And ending on "Thursdays with Abie" which yet again proves that subplots can be written just as well as the main plot.
There were two average episodes afterwards but then the bad writers reared their ugly heads in. With Horrible episodes like "Boy Meets Curl" and "Stealing First Base" the season seemed could not be salvaged. The rest of the season had its ups with "The Squirt and the Whale" and "The Bob Next Door" but was outweighed by crap like "To Surveil with Love", "Moe Letter Blues" and "Judge me Tender".
This season is one of the worst seasons I've seen so far from this show. While there are some memorable episodes, it's all together a bad season with bad writers. "Things get better with age" does not apply to this show, I really hope next season is its last and it goes out on a high note.
There were a few things I noted particularly with this season. I noted a few times in the season that there were too many montages, and after counting them, it turns out there were 19 montages in a 23 episode season. That's close to 4 montages every 5 episodes and it defeats the purpose of the montage. Also, doing something not many people would have noticed, I counted the lines for Lisa per episode. In season 20 I had an equation basically determining the quality of an episode is based on the number of lines for Lisa (More on that in my season 20 review). After doing a full count, Lisa averaged about 23 lines an episode (But closer to 20 if you remove the Eliza lines from "The Color Yellow") and the sad part is, in 5 episodes, Lisa got just 10 lines (5 lines in 4 of those episodes). I don't know what the writers had against Lisa this season but she was the first cast member to be completely shut out of an episode.
Final Grade: 5.1/10 It's just not that good it can be considered better than other shows on TV, but that's not a high standard