358. The Girl Who Slept Too Little

(originally aired September 18, 2005)
Another curious episode that doesn’t seem clear on what it’s supposed to be about, so in place of a concrete story, we have a lot of isolated segments and time filler, none of which are actually funny or entertaining. Construction of a stamp museum starts up behind the Simpson house, leaving them understandably upset and they start a protest. In the end, the museum is moved to the site of Springfield Cemetery, and then that is placed behind the Simpsons. Beyond the odd fact that all of this is being built in a residential area, how the fuck did they move the whole goddamn graveyard? They couldn’t have dug up all the bodies, but if they did, it could have made for an interesting show. So I guess there’s a bunch of rotting corpses lurking under the stamp museum, which would make for another interesting show. But here, it’s that Lisa is frightened to sleep in her room, which apparently is the only one that faces the graveyard, which is absolutely not the case, since we’ve seen Bart’s room face out that way a hundred times. We go through the whole freaking episode before the very end when someone gives a very simple solution to the problem: have Lisa close the goddamn curtains. Simple as that.

A frightened Lisa sleeps in her parents’ bed the first night, which elicits a very odd response from Marge. Rather be understanding of her daughter’s fears, she lectures her in that she’s going to have to sleep in her own room. Even after she and Homer spend the night in Lisa’s room to see it’s not so bad, and they see how insanely spooky it is in there, she still has this unusually condescending attitude toward her, very unlike the nurturing overbearing mother she normally is. Then for some reason this leads to the two of them going to see a psychiatrist, who diagnoses, with little information and without Lisa actually there, that an inattentive upbringing led Lisa to suppress her childhood fears, and she has to learn to properly deal with them. What’s all this about? For some reason, no one seems to understand how an eight-year-old girl would be frightened by a creepy as hell graveyard sitting outside her window. Lisa vows to conquer her fears by staying a night in the cemetery, and ultimately she does. And that’s the end. The story is so aimless and empty, and we get stuff like them visiting the stamp museum and extended laughless TV parodies to fill in the gaps. A very perplexing, confused episode.

Tidbits and Quotes
– Another thing modern Simpsons uses and abuses: the music montage. In place of writing a normal sequence of events, we’ll just move right past it with a gag-filled montage. Here, it involves Marge sabotaging a construction vehicle causing it to burst into flames with the driver in it, and Homer practically nude jiggling and riding a mower. Entertainment at its finest! Also, one of Homer’s new catchphrases seems to be a long, extended moan, that is also annoying as shit.
– I did smirk at Marge’s unusual hostility toward Sesame Street’s Count Von Count (“Go back to your own country!”) But odd that I think about it now; she’s the first person to express worriment and tenseness about the graveyard, and yet she still exhibits no sympathy toward Lisa?
– The visit to the stamp museum is really completely unnecessary to the story; the only thing it does is introduce the Wild Things… sorry, I mean Wild Beasts. Does it count as a parody of you’re basically just stealing the actual thing and changing the name?
– Homer and Marge return home from a party and openly badmouth the other guests. Lisa overhears this and inquires why they’re badmouthing people she thought were their friends. This sequence lasts long enough that I thought it was going to have some bearing to the plot, but nope, just more killing time.
– I guarantee they had that Itchy & Scratchy lying around and just shoved it in this episode. But why place it right at the climax? It’s so shitty too. Cats is so boring that Scratchy kills himself! Again, pot to kettle, guys. Pot to fucking kettle.
– We haven’t seen Dr. Nick in a long while. I did think it was delightfully morbid of him to impersonate Dr. Octopus with severed arms (“Bye Lisa! And remember, you have a check up next Thursday!” “We don’t go to you anymore! We have a better doctor!” “Oh, congratulations!”) Then Wiggum is doing a manhunt for him in the cemetery… man, this episode is basically eighty percent filler.
– The only good thing in this episode is the direction. There are a lot of great shots of the spooky cemetery, and some cool camera moves and shots in Lisa’s dream.

20 thoughts on “358. The Girl Who Slept Too Little

  1. This has got to be the most unrealistic episode of The Simpsons ever made. They desicrate the dead, for a fucking stamp museum!
    What a waste of great animation.

  2. At this point, the writers don’t even know how to execute good ideas. I love the idea of Bart’s car bed not having brakes and crashing him repeatedly into walls while he’s trying to sleep. It feels like a Mirkin kind of gag to me. But having Bart say “ow” every time the car hits a wall makes the joke too repetitive.

    I have to say, I got a big laugh when they quickly cut away from Willie getting bashed on the head. Like you said, fantastic direction.

      1. Ah, I managed to get it for a dollar or two at Waldenbook’s during a closeout sale. I’m reading it for a second time. There’s a wealth of little-known and interesting information in it, to be honest. Of course, there’s a lot more stuff that we already all know. It’s mostly an insightful, informative read but I wouldn’t give it more than, uh, 3 stars (Amazon-rating-wise). If you ever see it supercheap you should pick it up imo. I’m going to sell my copy after I get done with it again, actually.

  3. I do agree this one feels rather empty, is unsympathetic towards Lisa, and has a LOT of filler not directly related to Lisa conquering her fears, but there are some pretty funny moments regardless:

    -“Stamps rule! I mean, suck!”
    -(during Homer’s chants, he spouts out a four digit number) “Wait, that’s my pin number, everyone forget about that.”
    -“I’m not stopping you, Homer.” “And you won’t, unless you can leap through FIRE!!”
    -Milton Burkhart saying he became a children’s author because his comics for Playboy were deemed too filthy
    -Wiggum gradually removing all his clothes, then later being up a tree like a cat
    -The aforementioned Dr. Nick gag (though to be honest, it’s also kind of confusing, since Dr. Hibbert is clearly now down to Dr. Nick’s level)

  4. Ha, good points Ian! Esp. about the comparison of Dr. Nick to Dr Hibert these days. There are many good Simpsons books out there, I think The Gospel According to the Simpsons and a few others which elude me atm are pretty good.

    1. Yeah, the Gospel book is great. As was ‘I Can’t Believe It’s A Simpsons Guide’, though obviously that’s now been superceded by Mike’s fine work here.

    1. The best of the season? Good LORD. I’ve not seen all of this season but this episode was an utter mess, and largely joke-free. Didn’t find insane naked Wiggum or graverobbing fugitive Dr Nick funny, possibly because I remember the first 8 seasons and the kind of humour the show used to have.

      (Just baulked – three times – at using ‘season’ when my Brit brain tells me I meant ‘series’.)

      1. Yeah, I never thought any season could be worse than 13, but 17 took that cake and ate it, and then barfed it.

  5. One joke that had me laughing at this one was when Bart learned Lisa tricked him to going with her to the graveyard and he angrily threw a rock at her. Lisa just blocks it with a garbage can lid with the most nonplussed expression ever.

  6. I remember watching this episode with my mom. She literally raised me with Classic Simpsons episodes(good old 90s), but she hadn’t see a Zombie Simpsons episode in a while. Watching this episode she was kinda confused, and with all the sincerity of the world asked me:
    “Why the characters talk and act like dumb? Did i miss something about the plot?”
    “No, mom, now characters are always like that.. sadly”.
    “They talk like the characters from a show for toddlers. Are they starting to do The Simpsons for little children too?”
    “Not on purpose.. They are trying to be serious actually”.
    “Maybe I’m stupid, but i don’t understand what is happening”.
    Don’t worry, mom. No one does.

  7. Do we have a tally of episodes titled “The ______ who _______ too much/little”? I think it’s even higher than riffs on “A Star Is Born.”

  8. To me the central point of this episode is the NIMBY concept (Not In My Back Yard). I found this quite interesting. Perhaps they’ve should work this topic better, but it’s clearly the critic about the american society.

  9. I used to think this episode was not bad, but after watching it today, good god it is awful. There are quite a few jokes I like, such as when Homer and Marge do find sleeping in Lisa’s room scary and I did laugh when Wiggum is up in the tree naked and then just appears in his uniform a second later after he is told about whatever it was (I suddenly can’t remember it now). The rest though, I do agree with. I sat there stunned at how stupid everything was. It wasn’t like dreadful bad like the previous episode, but it wasn’t even good either. That whole montage was completely out of character and left me silent in disbelief that that was actually happening.

  10. This episode was as aimless as it gets. There were so many scenes that, in a normal show, should have been evolved into actual plots – the NIMBY protests against the stamp museum construction, Lisa inquiring about why her parents badmouth their friends behind their backs, Willie’s brother burying people alive, Dr. Nick being a grave robber hunted by Chief WIggum – but none of these lead anywhere. They’re just things that happen, and then other things happen. Such inconsistency would be ok if this were a show built on absurd humor like Spongebob or Ren & Stimpy. But The Simpsons takes its humor from satire and characterization, and for that you’d need actual stories that have some kind of point.

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