447. Pranks and Greens

pranksandgreensOriginal airdate: November 22, 2009

The premise: Bart is shocked to find he is not Springfield Elementary’s greatest prankster, an “honor” held by twenty-something manchild Andy Hamilton (voiced by Jonah Hill). Feeling bad for his poor lot in life, Bart attempts to help Andy get a job. Meanwhile, Marge comes under fire from her fellow Springfield mothers for serving their babies unhealthy snacks, so she resolves to go completely organic.

The reaction: This is another one of those shows that really illustrates how the writers don’t know how to write for Bart anymore. He feels jealous of this Andy character, then enamored by him, then for some reason is goaded by Lisa into thinking he’s a loser and wants to help straighten his life out. Remember the great cutaways to Bart’s mind showing him as a wandering drifter, betting all his money at a casino and losing, or becoming a literal monster from testing food additives? He’s ten years old, he thinks those are awesome depictions of adulthood. Why the fuck does Bart care about this guy’s life? By the second half, he’s like this stern parent figure to Andy, a role that just doesn’t make sense with Bart at all. And another tension-free ending that they try to play up for drama; you know as soon as you see that worm truck that it’s all part of Krusty’s act, but we’re stuck watching two minutes of them pretending it’s not. As for the B-story, it’s pretty much a collection of the most basic health food jokes (Buying organic is expensive! Carrying a reusable grocery bag is effeminate!)

Three items to note:
– We see before Andy’s master prank, Skinner was actually a laid back, cool dude? That just doesn’t compute with me. Also, how could he have NOT seen the entire fucking pool is filled with worms as soon as he walked outside?
– Andy waxes on about how in his day, they couldn’t film their pranks for YouTube. It feels like such an odd line, considering Bart has been ten since 1987. Seeing the Simpsons utilizing new technology has always felt weird to me; it took a while to get used to them just using a computer.
– At Marge’s Mommy meets, we see baby Gerald and his equally unibrowed mother; he’s Maggie’s infant archnemesis, but I guess you gotta work with the characters you got. Though there’s one token random mother and child thrown in there to fill out the group. Also ridiculous is you have Selma and Ling, who just wordlessly go along with the crowd in shaming and deserting Marge.

One good line/moment: Looking at old newspaper records on a monitor, Bart commands, “Zoom in and enhance!” Lisa shrugs, and simply pushes Bart’s head closer to the screen.

11 thoughts on “447. Pranks and Greens

  1. This one isn’t too bad. I’d agree with your comments regarding Bart’s character and the Healthy Food subplot, but I think this one has several good jokes and lines that make it watchable. My favorite moment is the scene where Bart goes to ask Krusty a favor and then Krusty proceeds to list several things he’s not allowed to do. (“For you kid, anything, anything at all, although I won’t read screenplays, that’s for your protection. Oh, and you can’t ride on my private yacht. And I won’t give a struggling youngcomer his first chance, I won’t give a broken downhack his last chance. I won’t buy you kids booze, the judge was very clear on that. Now, what can I do for you? Oh, and I don’t sign footballs unless you’re dying and reverses back to me after six months if you’re not dead.”)

  2. I barely remembered a damned thing about this episode. But your description of the finale with the worm tank brought back my suppressed memories. Thanks a million.

    Wimpy Bart returns later this season in “Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?”, where he gets all mopey and depressed because he doesn’t have a little brother. And he was also the focal point of “Bart Gets a Z” earlier in the season. I don’t know why the writers suddenly decided that Bart is melancholy and serious-minded all the time. It’s like they took that one stupid joke from “The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” and turned it into his defining character trait.

    1. For nearly every character, there’s an episode from the classic era that, though fondly remembered, essentially “broke” that character, in the sense that the Zombie writers have latched on to it as the hallmark of how that character should be portrayed.

      For Bart, we are left with the mopey wimpy Bart of “Marge Be Not Proud.” It worked in that episode but now that’s all we get of him.

      (Other examples: Perpetually aggrieved lefty Lisa came out of Lisa the Vegetarian, Jerk-ass Homer was born from Homer’s Enemy, dottering fool Burns from that one with the ketchup/catsup scene, and so on).

  3. Allegedly the title is a reference to Weezer’s “Pork and Beans”. If there’s ever been a greater example of someone grasping at straws I’d hate to see it.

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