Season Five Revisited (Part Two)

6. Marge on the Lam

  • “Marjorie, please! I enjoy all the meats of our cultural stew.”
  • As Homer is desperately trying to reach for the soda can in the vending machine, I like how we cut back to Lenny and Carl’s blank expressions two times, then for no real reason, they run off in terror when Homer gets stuck (“He’s done for!”)
  • The opera performing at Springfield High School definitely feels more appropriate than the fancy performance hall we saw back in “Bart the Genius.”
  • I really like how Homer’s protests against Marge going out alone never comes off as chauvinistic. He’s more like a little kid asking his mom when she’ll be back. As we follow him wandering aimlessly by himself to create a fulfilling night out, we see that married life has given his life a sort of comforting structure, and without Marge, he’s lost. It’s a sweet through-line running through the episode.
  • Mr. Burns talking on the phone like a teenage girl from the 50s is one of those gags that’s just so bizarre, but it only works because it goes by so quickly. Random humor works best when it’s not dwelled upon, and also in this case, only if there’s some thread of logic to the joke (Burns being an old man whose mind is mostly stuck in the past).
  • It goes by really quick, but I love the gag at Shotkickers where we see Willie on the mechanical bull, yelling to anyone who’ll listen, “How come no one else’s chair is doing this?!”
  • Marge’s awkward dancing at the underground club is really adorable.
  • The tone switch between young Homer’s manic glee at smashing the weather machine and his dumbly serious fawning over Marge (“You got real purty hair…”) is so funny, but also weirdly sweet. Homer may love being a craven buffoon, but he loves it even more if Marge is there with him.
  • “She’s become a crazed criminal just because I didn’t take her to the ballet!” “That’s exactly how Dillinger got started.”
  • Kent Brockman’s bizarre on-air breakdown gives way to another amazing “Please Stand By” card.
  • I’ve never seen Thelma & Louise so I really don’t know how closely the Marge/Ruth story mirrors the movie, outside the famous driving off a cliff ending. I guess Ruth was sort of retro-fit to fill the role of whichever one was the live wire, but it still stays in line with what little we learned about her from “New Kid on the Block.” I definitely feel like Ruth would have been a welcome recurring character, a great instigating element to push along Marge stories. Instead, she came back only one time ten seasons later as a female bodybuilder in that episode where Marge got roided up and rapes a whimpering Homer in their bed. Sigh.

7. Bart’s Inner Child

  • What exactly is Krusty doing with a normal house in a residential area? Maybe it’s just for storing hot, under suspicion items like that trampoline of his. Whatever the reason, I love how serious he is once he offloads it to Homer, and of course his amazing reappearance when he aims a shotgun right at Homer from the porch (“You just keep right on drivin’.”)
  • Very nice POV shot of Homer looking down on Marge from the trampoline.
  • The first act features Homer at his silliest, a grown man who throws down everything at the chance to make a paltry couple bucks having neighborhood kids bounce on a trampoline. Between that and the Looney Tunes homage with him throwing it off a cliff, this is one ridiculous first act. But it works within the context of contrasting Homer’s spontaneous, childlike behavior with Marge’s grounded, worrywart nature, setting the plot into motion.
  • Man, I love how absolutely painful some of the sound design is in this episode with kids eating shit off the trampoline. My favorite is when Wendell’s arm just smacks down on the metal bar with an incredibly loud hit, followed by his cry in anguish. It really sells just how much excruciating pain this demon trampoline is causing.
  • It’s kind of interesting following Homer’s accusation that she’s too straight-laced and no fun, Marge sits up in bed, revealing she’s sleeping in the nude, which we’ve seen her do every so often. We also get a pretty obvious reuse of animation where in the following single shot of Marge, we see the hem of her nightgown, since it’s an old shot they retimed the lip sync to.
  • This little strut of Homer walking in and greeting his wife with, “What up, Marge?” is one of my favorite pieces of animation of the whole series. I guess it’s meant to re-establish how carefree Homer is versus Marge, and it’s so damn charming to me.
  • Another slam dunk from Phil Hartman as Troy McClure in the Brad Goodman presentation. His reading of “My God, it’s like you’ve known me all my life!” always makes me laugh out loud.
  • I still love the joke when the Simpsons pull up to the Brad Goodman seminar and Homer recaps why they’re there. It’s one of those gags that’s so weird and makes no sense if you’re not really thinking about it, how it’s commenting how “unrealistically” shows and movies are structured that characters will repeat information for the benefit of the viewer to other characters who should already know said information. As TV has evolved over the decades, some cliches and narrative devices have grown as well, but there are still tropes like this that bug me. My biggest eye roll is when shows will unnaturally recap what’s happening immediately at the beginning of a new act after the commercial break. I understand why they do it, but sometimes it just sounds weird how a character will just reiterate what’s happening for no real reason. As much as I love the show, Bob’s Burgers is a big offender of this.
  • Brad Goodman may not be as infamous as Hank Scorpio, but he’s a perfect Simpsons character with a ton of great lines (“I may not have a lot of ‘credentials’ or ‘training,’ but I’ll tell you one thing: I’m a PhD in pain.” “There’s no trick to it. It’s just a simple trick!”) He’s actually a more grounded version of Lyle Lanley, a sweet-talking shyster who blows into town, hawks a feel-good solution and gets the hell out of there with a briefcase full of cash. While Lanley was a song-and-dance man selling an extravagant monorail, Brad Goodman is a more realistic figure, an unqualified, soothing manipulator who, as Lisa keenly observes, is “just peddling a bunch of easy answers.”
  • Thanks to this episode, I always pronounce “iced cream” like Mr. Burns.
  • This is probably my favorite depiction of Springfield devolving into mob violence, where we see a bunch of our favorite characters slowly get more and more at each other’s throats specifically (“You know, you really irritate me, Skinner, what with your store-bought haircut and excellent posture!”) I also love how in this episode and “Rosebud” we see how easily the mush-brained mob can be redirected (“They’re heading for the old mill!” “No, we’re not!” “Well… let’s go to the old mill anyway and get some cider!”)
  • The McGarnigal ending feels like it was a late addition, especially since the last fifteen seconds are playing over an exterior shot of the house. I wonder if they had a different ending that they scrapped in favor of a funny TV parody.

8. Boy Scoutz N The Hood

  • The honey roasted peanuts scene was included as a track on one of the old Simpsons soundtrack albums, and I honestly don’t know why. They would sometimes include dialogue leading up to or out of songs from the show, but this is the only track that’s literally just an entire scene with no music. It does immediately precede the “Springfield, It’s a Hell of a Town” scene, but there’s no narrative connective tissue between the two, so it still doesn’t make any sense. But having listened to those CDs over and over again, I can recite the entire scene flawlessly decades later. Who knows what that memory space could be better suited for? I’ll never know…
  • In every 7-Eleven I’ve ever walked into, I always think they’re called Squishees before remembering they’re actually Slurpees. At my high school, they had a Slush Puppy machine in the cafeteria and I’d get slushies there all the time, and they were a greater ratio of syrup to ice than Slurpees were.
  • I collected the Playmates Simpsons action figure line when I was younger, and one of the final figures they produce in the last wave was Brain Freeze Bart, modeled after Bart’s Squishee-induced freakout. It was such a weird choice for a variant, removed from the episode’s context, he just looks really strange. But I still bought him anyway.
  • The face on the Toothless Joe gum packaging is power plant employee Gummy Joe. Guess it’s a lucrative side hustle for him.
  • Speaking of the Songs in the Key of Springfield CD, the “Springfield” song track has an extensive intro (Apu making the syrup Squishee) and outro (Bart finding out he joined the Junior Campers and the opening of act two at the kitchen table) As a kid listening to it, I thought Bart’s line “I’ve made my bed, and now I’ve gotta weasel out of it” was about him literally making his bed.
  • Speaking of Playmates, Scout Leader Flanders was another variant figure I had. I got into collecting the figures a year into their production, so I missed out on a lot of the major characters who were older and much harder to find or more expensive. That being the case, the variant figures released in later waves were good for me to have major secondary characters in my collection. But for every interesting or logical variant like Prison Sideshow Bob or Plow King Barney, you had more uninspiring ones like Scout Leader Flanders or… Resort Smithers.
  • Bart’s debt collecting badge is an amazing blink-and-you’ll-miss-it joke.
  • I think Ernest Borgnine is only second to Buzz Aldrin for greatest sport of a guest star who just gets ridiculed and abused. He’s literally introduced walking out of the bathroom, and things just continue to go downhill from there. He’s so funny though: his petering out laugh to cheer up his camper, his quiet defeat upon finding his pocket knife missing upon being cornered by a bear, and one of the best lines of the whole show (“Hey, where are the sissy and the bald guy goin’, huh?”) And if that wasn’t enough, the last scene is him getting killed by Jason Vorhees. RIP to a great one. In real life, that is, not in the episode.
  • My favorite Sea Captain jokes are the ones that show just how incompetent and miserable he really is. This might be his best random appearance, unable to even keep an inflatable raft afloat (“Yarrr, I don’t know what I’m doin’.”)
  • It’s a great touch that we see Homer wearing a map as a paper hat in Bart’s fantasy on how he’d be a screw-up, then in reality, we see Homer doing just that, and ending up having his map hat get blown away.
  • Sugar-posting became its own category for Simpsons shitposting, and it’s produced some amazing content.

9. The Last Temptation of Homer

  • Bart’s faculty parking lot prank is definitely one of his smartest. It’s kind of another example of how Bart is actually a pretty smart kid, just not in the way most adults probably want him to be.
  • “It’s ‘photosynthesis’! Damn your feeble brain!”
  • The emotional journey Homer goes through in this episode is just fantastic. At first, he’s completely stunned at his immediate physical attraction to Mindy and chooses to just ignore these feelings. When he finds them unavoidable, he tries everything he can to try to squash them, but it proves to be to no avail. As we get into act three with him and Mindy in Capital City, it’s as if the fates are manufacturing everything into place to get these two together, and Homer can feel it, and it’s torturous to him. While “Life in the Fast Lane” depicted Marge as semi-understandably conflicted about choosing Homer or Jacques in the end, it’s appropriate that the flip-side episode would have Homer thrust into a possible infidelity scenario through no fault or action of his own, instead of him just being a horny two-timer. Homer definitely works best when his perversions are more innocent, like him talking about being attracted to Wonder Woman, or him dreaming about naked… Marge. 
  • “Homer, what’s with you? You’re talking during a coffee break!” “Yeah, you usually just take the box of donuts into the bathroom.”
  • Who knew that bar napkins were so wise?
  • I think Michelle Pfeiffer is kind of underrated as Mindy. Not only does she do a great job emulating Homer’s vocal mannerisms (her “Mmmm”s and “Can’t talk. Eating,”) but she also plays her as just as flummoxed by her crush with Homer as he is to her. The scene with her and Homer in the hotel room at the end is really so beautifully acted, with her clearly open to having sex with Homer, but not wanting to unless he did, communicated in a quiet, honest way.
  • Gotta love that Ringworm ad. I also feel like they wrote out “National Ringworm Association” for the end card, realized the acronym was NRA, and threw in the “The Other N.R.A.” in as a bonus joke.
  • “All I’m gonna use this bed for is sleeping, eating, and maybe building a little fort! That’s it!”
  • Burns releasing his Wizard of Oz monkeys in response to Homer and Mindy ordering room service is not only a syndication cut, but I also definitely saw “Another Simpsons Clip Show” more times in syndication in this episode, so my brain not only forgets the monkeys scene, but immediately jumps to Madame Chow’s, because that’s the scene that comes next in Homer’s retelling of the story in the clip show. Anyway, the joke’s not that great anyway, so whatever.
  • The “As Seen on 60 Minutes” mention on the Springfield Power Plant booth is great. There’s also a bunch of copies of Burns’ book from “Blood Feud” for sale, which is a nice callback.
  • Again, I just love the end scene with Homer and Mindy. And it’s lit so beautifully too. I absolutely love Homer’s innocent “Well… maybe I want to” regarding he and Mindy doing anything. Dan Castellaneta effortlessly imbues Homer’s voice clearly in turmoil with himself. He doesn’t know what he wants at that moment, and you can tell just in the performance.

10. $pringfield (or, How I l Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Legalized Gambling)

  • I love how Mr. Burns just awkwardly walks away from Henry Kissinger at his office door. He doesn’t even bother wasting energy shutting the door in his face. It’s also pretty sweet that we later hear he walked into a wall without his glasses, that’s more karmic suffering than that detestable war criminal has gotten in real life.
  • “I propose that I use what’s left of the town treasury to move to a more prosperous town and run for mayor.  And, er, once elected, I will send for the rest of you.”
  • Burns’ 24-hour laughing fit about the crippled Irishman is such a hilarious sequence. Him guffawing on his knees in church is one of the funniest images of the whole series.
  • You know when you have false memories about something you remember watching on TV but never actually happened? When we first see Burns Casino, after Burns mentions his new venture needs to have “sex appeal and a catchy name,” for some reason, my brain remembers a tag on that scene where someone says, “What a catchy name!” and Smithers standing next to him says, “What sex appeal!” Clearly, I am remembering this wrong, but every single time I watch this episode and get to that part, my brain thinks this imaginary scene is going to happen but it never does.
  • Speaking of celebrities who are good sports, Gerry Cooney makes a pretty pathetic appearance, getting knocked the fuck out by Otto. I guess he’s known for his glass jaw? I don’t know anything about him, but I’m all for more celebrities getting punched in the face on TV.
  • The Rich Texan makes his first appearance here, a character who would many seasons later get dusted off and reused ad nauseum (he shot his guns again and screamed “Yee-haw!” I love it when he does that!) But for now, he was a great one-off character (“Homer, I want you to have my lucky hat. I wore it the day Kennedy was shot, and it always brings me good luck.” “Why thanks, Senator!”)
  • Much ado has been made in the last year or so of The Simpsons predicting future events, most of which are bullshit, but the show most certainly called Roy getting mauled by that tiger a decade prior to it happening.
  • There’s just so much going on in Homer’s “photographic memory.”
  • The Rain Man scene definitely makes no sense if you don’t know the context, which is a real strike against it. I haven’t seen the movie, but I know Dustin Hoffman is supposed to be an autistic savant or something, and the punchline of the scene being Homer mimicking his screaming fit doesn’t feel very appropriate nowadays. They’d have been better off cutting this and replacing it with the James Bond deleted scene, which is much funnier anyway.
  • Gotta love Krusty’s herpes song. I also love how the scene just ends in bitter silence between disgruntled performer and disgruntled audience.
  • “Freemasons run the country!!”
  • The Boogeyman scene is the basis of yet another tremendous Dankmus remix. Also, if you haven’t gone to their account and binged all their remixes at this point, what the hell are you waiting for?
  • Robert Goulet is a great example of an appropriately used guest star. It’s logical that he would arrive in Springfield because Burns paid him to play at his casino, and it’s funny seeing him get roped into playing in a kid’s treehouse (“You from the casino?” “I’m from a casino.” “Good enough, let’s go.”) His rendition of the kiddie “Jingle Bells” is just lovely.
  • I love the dramatic camera turn when Homer finally confronts Marge (“You broke a promise to your child!”) The whole episode has been mostly all goofs, but the effects of Marge’s addiction have been slowly building, leaving Homer a powderkeg that eventually erupts in him going wild in the casino, but when he finally settles back down (“Think before you say each word,”) the scene becomes appropriately serious, but just long enough for it to feel meaningful, before the cruel hands of the status quo prevent any real change from happening (“Maybe I should get some professional help.” “No, no, that’s too expensive.  Just don’t do it anymore.”)

9 thoughts on “Season Five Revisited (Part Two)

  1. I’m torn between whether or not I think “Careful, they’re ruffled” or “Hey, wait a minute, hold on here: This bandstand wasn’t double-bolted” is the greatest delivery of a single line by a guest star in the show’s history.

  2. You know when you have false memories about something you remember watching on TV but never actually happened? When we first see Burns Casino, after Burns mentions his new venture needs to have “sex appeal and a catchy name,” for some reason, my brain remembers a tag on that scene where someone says, “What a catchy name!” and Smithers standing next to him says, “What sex appeal!” Clearly, I am remembering this wrong, but every single time I watch this episode and get to that part, my brain thinks this imaginary scene is going to happen but it never does.

    About this part, there’s a deleted scene on the DVD set with Homer and Smithers saying just that

    1. Ahhhh, I just watched it, very interesting!! I watched the deleted scenes one or two times on the DVD, so I wonder why that bit in particular is the one that burrowed into my brain…

  3. The ‘TV sucks’ convo between Bart and Homer from ‘Itchy & Scratchy the Movie’ is also a track on the same album I believe- I too wondered why that and the honey roasted peanuts bit were included, guess they just wanted to break up the album a bit?

  4. No kidding – Ernest Borgnine has died in absolutely every movie I’ve seen him in, so I find it hilariously fitting that he doesn’t even survive his Simpsons guest appearance.

  5. “The opera performing at Springfield High School definitely feels more appropriate than the fancy performance hall we saw back in ‘Bart the Genius.'”

    I really hate how underutilized Springfield High School is. So many events have to be tied to the elementary school just because of its familiarity. We don’t even know who the principal of SHS is. (“Future-Drama” made it Seymour Skinner which I thought was so goddamn lazy, though I did like Kearney as assistant principal)

    No one ever mentions the joke of Otto drinking a smart drink. It’s one of my favorite jokes of “Marge on the Lam.”

    “Bart’s Inner Child” is such an underrated classic episode and Brad Goodman is such an underrated character. I’m sure a lot of people complain about how Goodman never comes back after the second act, but it works because it makes him seem more grounded and realistic. During the crazy shenanigans happening at the Do What You Feel festival, Goodman’s probably scamming Shelbyville or Ogdenville. It really helps drive the imagination that many episodes from recent years fail to do.

    “Sugar-posting became its own category for Simpsons shitposting, and it’s produced some amazing content.”

    Fuck yeah, sugarposting! I love those videos! One of them made a scene from the godawful “The Mansion Family” actually funny!

    Mindy Simmons is so fucking cute. I think it has to do with Pfeiffer’s performance. Call me a weirdo, but I’m kinda turned on by Simmons’ “Think unsexy thoughts” after we just heard Homer whisper it earlier. And yeah, her final scene is amazing too.

    On a different note, that bar napkin message sums up my high school experience.

    What I love about “$pringfield” is that it’s basically following all these brief character arcs. It’s not one or even two big impacting stories, it’s just four or five mini-stories that occasionally connect and center on Marge, Lisa, Bart, and Mr. Burns. Even so, this seems like an episode that was focused more on jokes than writing, but I’m glad it was because the amount classic scenes and lines from this episode are countless. I think it’s one of the funniest episodes in the show. Even Homer’s tearful confrontation with Marge skillfully blends the drama with the comedy. “Then Maggie laughed. She’s such a little trooper.” I may be the only person to have this episode in my Top 20. Prove me wrong!

  6. * “You know when you have false memories about something you remember watching on TV but never actually happened? When we first see Burns Casino, after Burns mentions his new venture needs to have “sex appeal and a catchy name,” for some reason, my brain remembers a tag on that scene where someone says, “What a catchy name!” and Smithers standing next to him says, “What sex appeal!” Clearly, I am remembering this wrong, but every single time I watch this episode and get to that part, my brain thinks this imaginary scene is going to happen but it never does.”

    You’re talking about a scene that does indeed exist. I highly doubt it aired in any form as it was cut before the episode had aired, but it is in the deleted scenes special feature on the season 5 DVD.

    1. With my phone not refreshing on this page after I initially clicked, I just now realized someone already replied with this.

      I’ll show myself out.

  7. Kissinger’s cameo in $pringfield is an example of “Republican Bashing” that WORKS, for four reasons. 1) It is kept relatively subtle. 2) It makes Kissinger himself the butt of the joke rather than saying “look how funny this cheap dig is” 3) Kissinger boasting about his work on the Paris Peace Accords (The treaty signed late in Vietnam that led to his infamous Nobel Prize win) feels like a rather sharp attack on the way over the various regime changes/imperialist aggressions he authorized and supported were ignored in favor of this relatively minor achievement – of course Kissinger would be ludicrously proud of the Accords. 4) Even the most anti-Communist hawks would admit that a serious figure refusing to pick their glasses out of the toilet and getting hospitalized as a result works as slapstick at the expense of authority

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