456. Stealing First Base

stealingfirstbaseOriginal airdate: March 21, 2010

The premise: When the school’s two fourth grade classes are joined, Bart meets Nikki, a spunky fellow skateboarder he develops a liking to. When he kisses her, she freaks out, causing her litigious parents to come down on the school, which institutes a strict “no touching” policy. Meanwhile, Lisa feels discouraged for being mocked for her overachieving nature, which is resolved from a random appearance by First Lady Michelle Obama.

The reaction: Another thin, confusing outing. It’s another Bart-gets-a-celebrity-girlfriend episode, but this one doesn’t seem to even want to bother to try. Sarah Silverman voices Nikki, who goes back and forth whether she likes Bart or not, for no other reason or joke other than them girls be craaaazzzy! As with other girls in the past, we barely know anything about her character, and once again we get twenty minutes of confused, whiny Bart, which seems to be a favorite of this season. As barebones as this feels, we get a B “plot,” which is really only like three scenes. Lisa gets an “F” and is discouraged. Then she’s on the playground and kids inexplicably think she’s cool because of her failing grade, but it snaps right back to resentment when Miss Hoover confirms she actually did get an A. Then Michelle Obama appears for a three minute scene to give a speech about treating smart kids nicely with no jokes in it. At one time, the Simpsons were an unfortunate lot of losers; things would never quite go their way, but they would always find a way to make peace with their lot in life and find some form of happiness. Now, if Lisa’s feeling down, the fucking First Lady appears out of nowhere to cheer her up! Lady Gaga too! Jesus.

Three items of note:
– Both plots are still so very short on content, we get three fucking montages. We see Bart and Nikki skateboard in an elaborate fashion, which I guess is them bonding? Or something? Then we see another extending Itchy & Scratchy, this time “parodying” Koyannisquatsi. Itchy & Scratchy shorts are meant to be… short, just these ridiculously violent bursts of energy, and if they are long, they better have a damn good payoff. Between this and the House “parody” from last episode, it’s clear it’s nothing but filler. But the most egregious example, the most pointless montage in the show’s history, is at the end; Nikki gives Bart mouth-to-mouth, and we’re treated to Simpson-ized recreations of famous kisses in movie history. From Here to Eternity. Lady and the Tramp. Spider-Man. WALL-E. There’s no jokes here, they just animated these sequences, except for the Xenomorph alien tongue kissing the girl’s cheek, which is ripped from The Critic. What the fuck is this? Why waste a minute of screentime on this montage, which adds nothing to the story? Ugggh…
– The assembly scene is pretty disturbing, where Skinner and Willie at first are forced to make out in front of the students, but then over time appear to be enjoying themselves? So we’re treated to seeing a shot of them behind Chalmers appearing to be very passionately sucking face. Dude… what?
– I don’t understand the Michelle Obama thing… it’d be one thing if they actually were able to get her to do the voice, by all means, if the First Lady is willing to do your show, book her. But here, like with all celebrity appearances nowadays, it’s just an extended ass kissing session. She makes a grand entrance, totes how smart and accomplished she is, emasculates her bodyguards with her muscular arms (which is really our only “joke”), and leaves. I’m not saying you have to rip on her, and I’m certainly not looking to get political with this, but if you’re going to put the First Lady on your comedy show, maybe it’d be a good idea to include some… comedy. Novel concept, yeah?

One good line/moment: Quick line at the beginning from Skinner on the whereabouts of Edna (“Mrs. Krabappel had to go to Portland; apparently the people she hired to reprogram her sister from that cult ended up being an even worse cult.”)

8 thoughts on “456. Stealing First Base

  1. IMO, the only good bit of the episode was during the movie kiss montage. One of the shown scenes is Michael’s kiss to Fredo in Godfather Part II, which obviously doesn’t carry the same implications as the rest of the kisses shown. Other than that, another forgettable episode with a non-ending that will be reset on the next episode.

  2. The kissing montage is yet ANOTHER “parody” of the movie Cinema Paradiso, a critically acclaimed Italian film in its day set in the early 20th century. The climactic “kissing montage” is the result of the main character assembling all of these kisses that were edited out of various movies that their cinema was showing over several years and accidentally screened decades later in a final romantic and nostalgic climax.

    Roughly a decade later when Youtube got big, people would often make their own kissing montages of various new and classic movies with the same music used in the Cinema Paradiso montage.

    The Simpsons episode clearly chose the more hackneyed route by just making it a fantasy sequence and hardly with any jokes during a moment where such a grand gesture just isn’t appropriate. The Simpsons montage is clearly cribbing Cinema Paradiso since they’re using the same music.

    Though I wonder how Willie knew she was kissing him and not giving mouth-to-mouth. I guess she really was just making out with him during that fadeout…

  3. “There’s no jokes here, they just animated these sequences, except for the Xenomorph alien tongue kissing the girl’s cheek, which is ripped from The Critic.”

    I love that scene from Alien 3.

    Michelle Obama appearing was odd, I like her though, so the scene was ok with me.

  4. I kinda like this one mostly because Nikki seems to be have the most personality out of all of Bart’s girlfriends post-Jessica Lovejoy. I enjoyed their scenes, at the very least, including the kiss montage.

    I agree the assembly scene went too long, and by the end the kiss between Skinner and Willie looked way too disturbing.

    The next episode on your list is incredibly hated, but I don’t think it’s too bad. Certainly not as offensive as other crap we got this season and that we’re getting next season (SPECIALLY next season, which has a whole bunch of the worst ever)

  5. I agree with the comments, though at least in tacling the paranoyer about kids behaviour we have a semi good theme, even though it is just played for cheap and disturbing laughs.
    one thing however saved this episode, nelson and the blind kid. I love the fact the blind kid actually is a realistic kid, and zing’s Nelson, and that Nelson over reacts. a wonderful portrayal of what disabled people actually go through on a day to day basis and also a rare media appearence of a blind character who isn’t either pathetic or super human.

    1. I agree with you. I loved the C-plot of Nelson and the blind kid. It’s also a pretty cool and rare occasion to see a subplot focusing on a non-Simpson character. The truth is, I don’t really have a problem with the “joke-free” scene of Angela Bassett as Michelle Obama telling the students who made fun of Lisa that overachievers like her and Martin deserve better treatment because they will be running this country one day. It is still a thousand times better than the entirety of Lisa Goes Gaga for sure.

  6. It’s pretty clear the writers came up with that complete ass-kissing of Michelle Obama hoping they could woo her to do the show. However, I don’t understand why they didn’t have different dialogue ready when she refused. Well, actually I kind of do. They were probably so happy to have those “evil” Republicans out of office that they wrote the Obama bit.

  7. “Now, if Lisa’s feeling down, the fucking First Lady appears out of nowhere to cheer her up! Lady Gaga too!”

    To me, all that might do is just make the kids make her feel more down, just so they can get someone they like to come to the city. Like, “Hey, if we cyberbully her, maybe Hillary Clinton will come here!”. And trust me, judging from what we’ve seen from Zombie Simpsons, that reasoning could be in a reasonable realm for this show.

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