629. Frink Gets Testy

Original airdate: January 14, 2018

The premise:
A town wide exam to determine each Springfielders’ intelligence ranks Bart dead last, but when an incensed Marge to confront test creator Professor Frink, it’s revealed that Homer is in fact the stupidest man in town (WHAT A SHOCK).

The reaction: Springfield gets their IQ (or rather, Frink’s incredibly alternative PVQ) tested as a result of Mr. Burns believing the apocalypse is coming from an old Orson Welles introduction to a movie, and he plans to build a doomsday ark and only wants the best and brightest to travel with him. Got it? Remember the Burns who, upon impending nuclear meltdown, wouldn’t let Smithers use the sole two-seated escape pod (“I like to put my feet up.”) I don’t know how much Burns would really care about saving humanity, but if he were to extend some empathy for his fellow man in a time of impending crisis… it sure isn’t what’s being done here. This is gullible Burns, followed by mindlessly happy Burns, wantonly smiling as Frink interrupts his meeting with MENSA for a literal song and dance to introduce his super accurate PVQ intelligence assessment system. Anyway, the PVQ results are announced on the local news, with everyone’s name and score scrolling at lightning speed. Marge is easily able to pause and find each family member one after another, which I’m not sure if that was supposed to be a joke or not. Disheartened to find Bart literally scored a 1, Marge confronts Frink about it, who then discovers that due to his sloppy handwriting, Homer is the true ultimate dummy. Act three features Homer being depressed and humiliated about being Springfield’s biggest idiot… this is news? Are we seriously over six hundred episodes in and we’re doing this episode? Springfield is full of absolute morons, some of which are his closest friends, why would he feel ostracized? In the end, Marge reassures Homer and urges him to take steps to improve himself, starting with his penmanship, which I just now realize is referring to the reason his test was misidentified in the first place. I dunno if it’s just me or the show, but sometimes it’s hard to connect the dots like that because these episodes seem to not care less about the stories they’re telling. And it’s certainly even harder to care when your episode is about Homer feeling sad about being dumb.

Three items of note:
– Lisa is smugly satisfied with her high PVQ score, but is shocked to find Ralph scored a point higher than her. Because she’s a crazy person, she takes to following Ralph around and observing him to see his brilliance. This culminates in a hilarious finale of the two ending up high up on a construction site on a steel girder. Man, I hate Zombie Ralph so much, he’s just a brain dead non-sequitur prop. Lisa ultimately confronts Frink about her score, who proceeds to raise her number just for the hell of it. Why did she go through all this nonsense to begin with? Oh, who gives a fuck.
– Looking through his file cabinet to recheck Bart’s score, Professor Frink thumbs past a few other files, one of which is labeled, “Smithers, Waylon, Soon To Be Wanda.” Sigh. In the past, we’ve seen a good handful of “jokes” such as this, where the only thing you’re supposed to laugh at is “they’re changing their gender! Isn’t that crazy?!” Future Lisa finding Martin is now Marcia Prince, the gym teacher Mrs. Pommelhorst leaving to become Mr. Pommelhorst, and so forth. We also have had at least two jokes featuring Smithers taking estrogen pills, despite him expressing no interest whatsoever into becoming a woman. It’s just so baffling that here we are in the year 2018, and for whatever reason the staff still thinks it’s a-OK making gags equating homosexuality to being transgender. They’re not the same thing. At all. I just don’t understand what they’re thinking. If anything. Also, beyond all of that, why the hell would Frink have written that on the label in the first place?
– The episode ends with Homer working diligently on his cursive, and leaving Marge a bunch of sweet poems leading up to the bedroom, with him passed out on the bed amidst a slew of pages with his reading glasses still on. Marge is understandably touched. I feel like that might have been kind of sweet if there had been more of a build-up and meaning behind all this. These characters are such shallow husks of their former selves, worn down by years and years of piss poor characterization and storytelling, that it’s like a shock to the system to me whenever there’s a moment that actually feels emotionally resonant.

One good line/moment: Maurice LaMarche as Orson Welles is always a delight. He has a considerable amount of screen time with a good two minutes of the opening, then appearing again in Burns’ dreams. Clearly the staff loves Maurice doing Orson, and who can blame them? But, I dunno… Orson Welles in 2018? Really? And it’s not like they’re doing anything with him that hasn’t been done many times over on this and other shows. The pinnacle still remains the “green pea-ness” bit from The Critic and that shall never be topped (“Oh, what luck, there’s a French fry stuck in my beard!”) Hell, a decade ago, they had young Orson Welles appear in a Treehouse of Horror segment doing his famous War of the Worlds radio play and the gullible suckers of Springfield believing it. That felt like a unique usage for the character. Here, it’s just like, yeah, it’s nice and all, but why is it here?

10 thoughts on “629. Frink Gets Testy


    I had the misfortune of accidentally watching this episode as a lay dumbstruck on the couch following the ending of the Saints/Vikings playoff game that immediately preceded this. The show was dreadful last time I caught an episode. I am amazed that it has managed to get worse.

    Utter garbage, but are we really expecting more at this point?

  2. I could not follow this episode for shit. It seemed to be just a lot of random things while copying the plot from the episode where Homer watched the movie “Left Below.” Hell, like 6 minutes of the episode was spent on Dr Frink spouting random nonsense about something called PVQ. Also, what the hell does Homer’s writing have to do with his intelligence level? Where was the payoff for Burns’ ark? Lisa never found out why Ralph did better than her. Instead, it was just a chance for them to do some lame ass cartoon reference with Martin. I miss the days when this show try to at least be somewhat grounded. Either way, NONE OF IT MADE ANY FREAKING SENSE!!!! Nobody was a character, they were just a plot device existing there because… well I don’t even know why they were there, they just were.

    Oh, and why was there a video clip in the background of that ice skater bitch getting her knee knocked in? That was like 25 years ago.

      1. Eh, I guess, but I can tell you 15 movies that are better than I Tonya. Some of them have Get Out, Logan Lucky, War for the Planet of the Apes, The Shape of Water, It, Thor 3, Spider-Man Homecoming, and Wind River in their title. 🙂

  3. “The pinnacle still remains the “green pea-ness” bit from The Critic and that shall never be topped (“Oh, what luck, there’s a French fry stuck in my beard!”)”

    This is one of my favorite animated comedy scenes of all time. Some jokes are funny but get progressively less so every time you watch them, but this is one of those exceptions that is funny every. single. time.

    Also, it’s pretty amazing that “The Critic” was only 23 episodes (33 if you count the webisodes) but managed to be funnier in that short run than a good third of “The Simpsons” at this point.

  4. I actually think it is good that this episode had a good, emotionally resonant moment with Homer writing poems for Marge. Am I giving this episode too much credit considering that plot about Homer’s poor handwriting had more payoff than the other two plots that just sort of fizzled out? Yes. Is the too much credit worth it to me? Definitely. We need to see more of this from the new seasons if they can come up with new classic stories to build up to that stuff.

    I do not believe that any show, not even The Simpsons or Family Guy or Spongebob, don’t “deserve” to get better and be as good as they once were because they tarnished themselves too much. It’s kind of like It’s a Spongebob Christmas where…when the characters feel like themselves again, it pretends that other terrible episodes came out before it didn’t exist. Should we let the bad that has happened get in the way of the good that should happen? Mr. Enter says no. I also say no. Why should we let bad episodes get in the way of a new good episode that avoid the common problems of other episodes surrounding it?

  5. There is a buildup and meaning behind Homer’s cursive poems to Marge. He scored lowest on the PVQ test because of his poor handwriting among other things, and these heartfelt poems to Marge are what were supposed to help to improve that PVQ. It showed me that even the worst people can get better. Maybe you didn’t see this meaning behind that last scene of the episode, but I did.

  6. I can not and do not deny that Frink Gets Testy feels even lazier than your usual new episode of The Simpsons when it starts a couple plot lines it will not finish and tell Lisa nothing about why Ralph scored a higher PVQ score than she did, but why do you have to ruin good moments you liked by nitpicking them with additional comments like “But, I dunno…Orson Welles in 2018? Really? And it’s not like they’re doing anything with him that hasn’t been done many times over on this and other shows.”

    Even though you told me in your first post about The Simpsons Movie that you do not go into every new episode looking for reasons to dump on them, statements and opinions like this do not help your case. Frink Gets Testy has a few jokes that are actually still funny to intelligent people who are old enough to watch The Simpsons back in the 1990s or had enough time to catch up on the early seasons when the early seasons were old, but you are so hung up on the better, more exemplary past of Homer Goes to College and The Critic, you know how to take the fun out of any good jokes in the present moments of your life. You have to ruin nearly every good or okay moment in a new episode with something The Simpsons did earlier to make us view it in a less favorable light when it was okay on its own! I am talking about comparisons like when you said Gina Vendetti ain’t Jessica Lovejoy or when Holidays of Future Passed ain’t Lisa’s Wedding.

    You are so hung up on the past of The Simpsons, you almost can not allow yourself to enjoy any part of the present, even when they write a legitimately good story with soul and consistently-written characters that is not a bare-bones laundry list of story beats or just a parody of a better film/TV show! You named one good moment in Pay Pal, an episode that I thought was very bad to begin when I watched it, when The Itchy and Scratchy Show was doing a clever parody of Ratatouille, before picking apart every little thing about it and saying “Looks like this section that’s supposed to be positive turned pretty negative.” I also hate how much people like you even dare to nitpick the animation and art for being too clean compared to the early seasons. That how technology for animation just is now. Most of them have great visual design (there is the occasional badly-designed one) and they do not need to have fluid animation all the time! Nobody complains about the art and animation of newer shows like Bob’s Burgers, Central Park, The Great North, Craig of the Creek or Amphibia being too stiff, stilted or sterile – because they are not!

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