(originally aired March 30, 2008)
Another stupid episode with two stupid stories; one an absurd over-exaggerated repeat of a theme we’ve seen before, and another that’s just… stupid. Marge is inspired to take up ballet by a commercial for a new dance academy, having done so in her youth. Despite having not done it in decades, she seems to be quite good, until she gets one cramp and her instructor tells her to get lost. Lisa chews him out, and he notices that she, for some reason, is standing feet out with perfect posture, and accepts him into his program. So Lisa’s a dancer now for some reason… haven’t we seen this before? But the bigger issue is Marge living vicariously through her daughter, which we’ve seen before in “Bart Star.” As coach, Homer pushes Bart hard and showers him with praise, wanting him to be the star athlete who has his father’s support that he never was (“You shouldn’t pressure Bart like that.” “Well, if you know a better way for me to live through your son, then I’d like to hear it.”) It was done very believably and subtly. But now… (“The important thing is someday I’ll be watching my little Marge dancing at Lincoln Center.” “Lisa, Mom. I’m Lisa.” “Of course, you’re Lisa. Lisa the dancing Marge girl.”) Has she gone insane?
So in the academy, Lisa finds that the other dancers get their grace and slim frames from smoking, and she discovers that inhaling second hand smoke benefits her as well. So I guess this is sort of like their very special smoking show, but since Lisa’s only eight, and the writers love to write the kids older, this was their way of getting around it. It doesn’t even matter, since in the end, it all de-evolves into a gigantic farce. Speaking of, the B-story involves Homer’s homemade stockpile of jerky getting ransacked by a couple of raccoons, and his endeavors to capture them, all with “hilarious” results. He only calls off his attack when he sees their little raccoon family, and look! They all look like the Simpson family! And if you didn’t get it, Homer names each one! And we see the little Homer raccoon strangle the Bart raccoon! This shit is stuff I’d expect from a Saturday morning cartoon, not the fucking Simpsons. The two plots “cross” when Homer lets one of the raccoons loose to steal the dancers’ cigarettes, causing them all to completely lose their shit after intermission. It’s insane and weird, Lisa quits ballet, and the episode’s over. Yet another stinker.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The episode begins with the Simpsons attending the midnight release of the final Harry Potter… sorry, Angelica Button book. When was the last Potter book released in relation to this show’s airing? Oh yeah, two years ago. Each family member gets a book, Lisa skims through the entire thing on the car ride home reading out the main plot beats, finishes, and they all throw their books out the window. Then they go watch TV. Totally in-character for Lisa to do.
– I like Azaria’s voice for the dance instructor. He’s kind of funny. I guess.
– Disturbing bit where Marge mentions she fell out of ballet when her breasts off-set her balance… because they came in one at a time.
– More compare and contrast: in “Last Tap Dance in Springfield,” Lisa wants to give up dancing. In this show, Homer wants to pull Lisa from the class because of the second hand smoke thing. In “Tap,” Homer and Marge lavish Lisa with praise and happiness over their “little Broadway baby.” It’s laid on a bit thick, but feels very real, two parents who are just in awe of their little girl’s interests. In this episode, Marge is a crazy person, making a gigantic ballerina cake and acting like without her daughter fulfilling her dream, she’d just up and die. She’s just way, way, way too into it.
– The ending is just batshit insane. Without cigarettes, the dancers go a little nutty. And by nutty, I mean fucking bonkers. One tries to smoke her finger. One suckles on a No Smoking cigarette sign painted on the wall. One smokes a program. One rips hair from her head to smoke that. They hadn’t smoked for about an hour, and they’re doing this. But that’s the joke, right? The problem here, and it’s a consistent problem with the show now, is their penchant for over-exaggeration. It just becomes too much, it becomes too absurd to be funny, and makes the show feel less real to me.
– I did like the dance instructor’s dramatic exit, continuing all the way down the block and onto the bus. That’s about the only thing in this show I liked though. Then the episode ends with Homer forcing Bart to train to be a luchador for some reason.
13 thoughts on “415. Smoke on the Daughter”
I’m entirely convinced they come up with their shitty episode titles first and then try and fill in the episode as best they can.
Another episode about the bear in the cart?
I think I remember this one? I don’t know, I may just be remembering the earlier dance episode. The subplot sounds like one of those ones that made me turn off the televisual device, so I’m not sure anymore.
Whatever, last 29 episodes, it’s nearly done.
Since Homer was involved in both the A-plot and B-plot, they could’ve easily excised the weaker of the two stories (the beef jerky/raccoons). Yeah, the raccoons appear in the finale, but still.
Three dialog exchanges I particularly enjoyed in this one:
-“Have you ever wondered what I do in there?”
^ Finally, a bit of the smartass Bart is back. Even if -does- happen to be another gay joke.
-“Marge, those who can’t do…”
“No, they got home. How can they teach if they can’t do?! Get out!”
-“(on the phone) WHAT? OH MY GOD! Well, I’m going to settle this once and for all! Meet me at the place we discussed.” (hangs up)
“Who was that?”
* “Go home”.
Any time Homer isn’t on screen, all of the other characters should be asking “Where’s Homer?”
Yeah, I found this episode to be utter crap when I first saw it, so much so that I actually couldn’t even bring myself to watching the entire episode again back in July. Normally, no matter how bad an episode is, there is at least one joke that is hilarious, but this is an episode that had nothing redeeming in it at all. Still, it isn’t the worst episode of the series, but it is definitely up there.
As if the ending isn’t batshit crazy enough we get bit from Lisa.
“I want to talk about a horrible practice afflicting millions of Americans. For years we’ve known how dangerous it is. It stunts your growth and it’s marketed to children. I’m talking about ballet! Ballet is unnatural and unfair to women. I shall now cast off the shoes of oppression!”
What? The message is so left field I don’t know what to make of it. Is it just supposed to be a “screw the audience” joke, or is that the real message of the episode? It doesn’t work either way.
It’s just a dumb bait-and-switch, since you think she’s going to talk about smoking, except it fails because I could predict the joke the second she opened her mouth.
The episode begins with the Simpsons attending the midnight release of the final Harry Potter… sorry, Angelica Button book. When was the last Potter book released in relation to this show’s airing? Oh yeah, two years ago. Each family member gets a book, Lisa skims through the entire thing on the car ride home reading out the main plot beats, finishes, and they all throw their books out the window. Then they go watch TV. Totally in-character for Lisa to do.
The next episode will feature Lisa reading Harry Potter… JESUS CHRIST I KNEW IT WAS THE SAME SEASON BUT THE NEXT DAMN EPISODE TOO! ugh……………..
What the flying fuck is that ending all about?
This sounds like A Very Special Episode indeed. It also sounds like this episode was better when it was called “Last Tap Dance in Springfield”….and that episode was not particularly good itself.
Have we really come to this? Shitty knockoffs of already mediocre episodes? Are we at the point where there’s Classic Zombie Simpsons and Worse Zombie Simpsons?
Both episodes pale in comparison to Lisa the Beauty Queen. Watch that for a masterclass in how characters actually respond to each other in a believable and touching way. Plus the shots at the cigarette industry are much sharper and funnier.