Season Eight Revisited (Part Two)

7. Lisa’s Date with Density

  • As a kid reading the Simpsons complete guide, I never understood the title. I thought it was “Destiny” and they made a typo. Even after seeing Back to the Future, it was still a bit of time after that I read the title again, and was like… oh. Now I get it.
  • In maybe like his sixth or seventh major appearance, the show is already making fun of Chalmers’ “SKINNER!!” This is the point where you would dial back the running gag after getting self-aware of it, but no, we’d be in for decades more of “SKINNER!” (and uninspired variations of it) being one of Chalmers’ only two jokes.
  • Everything about the telemarking scam subplot is an ominous harbinger for stupid and wacky Homer antics to come. Silly one-off stories like this or Homer’s sugar business in “Lisa’s Rival” work perfectly fine on their own, but it wouldn’t be long past this point where that exaggerated cartoony version of Homer would just be his “regular” character, an eccentric maniac who acts completely on impulse and gets off scot-free from all his crazy adventures.
  • “When she sees you’ll do anything she says, she’s bound to respect you!” Boy, this quote doesn’t bring back any painful high school memories at all!
  • “Guess who likes you” is still a very popular shitposting macro to this day. It also gave us this wonderful looping gif.
  • The premise of this episode is fairly simplistic, but it feels incredibly human, especially the scenes where Lisa and Nelson just kind of stand in silence not really knowing what to say with each other. Childhood romance is incredibly awkward, since neither of them don’t really know what they feel or what to do with those weird feelings. It all feels like it comes from an honest place. Lisa has this odd infatuation that she wants to control to suit her, but cannot, and Nelson, in the end, admits he humored Lisa because he appreciated deep down that she actually saw some good in him. Coming from a clearly broken home, it adds just a drop of emotionality to the character that really works. Eventually, Nelson’s “poor kid” label would become his thing, either to be the subject of scornful ridicule, or to elicit sympathy, sometimes both in the same episode. It sucked.
  • “You kissed a girl!” “That is so gay!” Every time in the mid-to-late-2000s where an episode would use “gay” as a punchline (which was quite often), I’d always think back to this line as another reminder of what actual clever writing used to be like.
  • Skinner yelling at Agnes to not look at the window at the mooning bullies feels like a good example at how the Seymour-Agnes dynamic was a bit more developed back then. There’s an obvious pathetic sadness to Skinner living with his mother, more or less under her thumb, but in moments like this, or in episodes like “Sweet Seymour Skinner’s Baaadaaasss Song” and “Grade School Confidential,” we see how Skinner is also acting as caregiver for this old woman, and has some kind of controlling hand in the household. In later shows, he’d become absolutely submissive to Agnes, which worked to heavily neuter the character, robbing him of his position of authority as the head of the school and Bart’s archenemy. …boy, I really didn’t mean to bitch this much about the modern-era show in this specific episode. A lot of stuff in it just ended up reminding me of how far things had fallen since this point.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “One of the best Lisa-based episodes ever, but more time should’ve been spent on the subplot (Homer’s telemarketing scam). I was glad to see that Nelson never actually showed any sign of changing his character, as the kiss was without sincerity. I own a Honda, so I particularly liked the beginning, but a Lisa episode is still a Lisa episode, and the best of those still only gets a C-.”

8. Hurricane Neddy

  • “The weather service has warned us to brace ourselves for the onslaught of Hurricane Barbara. And if you think naming a destructive storm after a woman is sexist, you obviously have never seen the gals grabbing for items at a clearance sale.” “That’s true… but he shouldn’t say it.”
  • The onslaught of panicked customers raiding the Kwik-E-Mart definitely gave me March 2020 vibes trying to go into any grocery store.
  • There’s a great attention to detail when the National guardsman is trying to get Abe to leave the nursing home, he does a perfect heel turn when he goes to leave the room.
  • It’s on-screen too long to be a “blink-or-you’ll-miss-it,” but I love that Homer has ripped off the back door to nail over his back window and it’s never highlighted as a joke.
  • The death row convict blowing away, then getting shocked by the power lines to everyone’s elation is such a crazy, grimly wonderful joke.
  • Fun animation of the Simpsons getting swirled around in the eye of the hurricane.
  • “Neddy doesn’t believe in insurance. He considers it a form of gambling.”
  • “God Welcomes His Victims” has got to be the greatest church marquee joke in the whole series.
  • There’s so many great moments as Ned tours his shitty new house: the toilet in the bathroom (“Ned, you ever try lugging a toilet up a flight of stairs?,”) the load-bearing Krusty poster, the upstairs replacement flooring… (“We ran out of floorboards there, so we painted the dirt. Pretty clever!”) It serves as the perfect last straw for Ned, showing on full display this entire town of absolute morons who are completely incompetent, yet they came out of the storm completely unscathed. Hey, have I mentioned Dankmus recently?
  • I love everything about the first two acts, misfortune after misfortune befalling Ned (he himself specifically compares it to the story of Job) until he finally, after eight seasons, loses his cool. However, I still don’t like the ridiculous explanation of his childhood therapy, which retroactively turns his “okily-dokilys” into suppressions of his incredible rage. I am absolutely all for an episode exploring what made Ned try to shut out all negative emotions in his life and how it deeply affects him, but the year-round spanking treatment felt way too silly when I would have rathered a more character-specific exploration. Ned admitting he hates his parents and the episode immediately ending feels like the ending of “$pringfield,” but rather than it feeling like a clever joke about addiction (“Maybe I should get some professional help.” “No, no, that’s too expensive. Just don’t do it anymore,”) to me, it just feels like teasing an interesting plot line that never actually happens. But despite my bitching, we do get the ever-useful classic line, “We’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas!”
  • “Ned Flanders, I mock your value system. You also appear foolish to the eyes of others.” “Past instances in which I professed to like you were fraudulent.” “I engaged in intercourse with your spouse or significant other. …now that’s psychiatry!”
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “It’s a waste of time to make an episode centering on a minor character. This format necessitates too many Simpson-less scenes. Also, the Ned-talk resulting from therapy is inconsistent with ‘Lisa the Vegetarian’ in which the clan talked like Ned. The slam at my alma mater didn’t help.”

9. El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer

  • I like the framing in the opening scene at Homer looking through the cut-out newspapers to each of his suspects. We also get this ever-useful reaction image at Marge’s limp excuse for why she’s suspiciously holding the scissors.
  • Since getting a dog a few months ago, I have had many a dog-dangling afternoon. I highly recommend it.
  • “Of course everything looks bad if you remember it” is yet another incredibly handy phrase this show has given us.
  • The cowboy Smithers scene was a syndication cut, and seeing it for the first time on DVD really baffled me. I still don’t have any idea what it’s supposed to mean. I guess his costume is pretty flamboyant, but he’s affecting a macho voice while asking Marge to dance… anyone want to explain this to me?
  • I really liked how Ralph was kind of lucid in this episode, innocently giving Homer the idea to use the candle wax. There’s a line between making him dumb and simple, and making him a braindead one-liner generator, and this show would very soon cross it.
  • Kudos to Dan Castellaneta for reading wax-lipped Homer’s dialogue with his mouth slightly open, really selling that he’s talking through the wax.
  • I like that right before Homer’s freakout begins, he laments how Marge wasn’t there to see him triumph over Wiggum. He grumbled about Marge’s no-beer promise when the two parted, but he still loves and values her company, even if he’s doing something all for himself. His great victory means less to him since he wasn’t with Marge, almost like she’s his soulmate! It’s a small, but important touch.
  • The animation in this episode is really just gorgeous, with so many great trippy visuals.
  • A while back, I was absolutely obsessed with the game “LEGO Dimensions,” a toys-to-life crossover game featuring many different franchises like Back to the Future, Harry Potter, Adventure Time, Doctor Who and so forth, where you collected the actual LEGO figures that appear in-game when you put them on the gamepad. The Simpsons was one of the first expansions released, with Homer, Bart and Krusty as playable characters, and the bonus level was based on this episode (you can watch it here.) The thing was, the game publisher was able to get the Simpsons license, but could only secure the voice rights of Dan Castellaneta (while playing as Homer and Krusty will trigger random quips, Bart is left a completely mute character.) In regards to making a game level using only existing show audio, this feels like the only possible episode they could have used, since the plot is really only focused on Homer. They dodged around it well enough, with Marge conspicuously left mute in the opening. They were still able to use Johnny Cash’s voice, so I guess his estate wasn’t hard to deal with.
  • While barely featured in this episode, Bart and Lisa get two fantastic scenes: Bart’s “Time for Chili” hat, and “So I says to Mabel, I says…,” which I’m still not completely sure what it’s a reference to or why it’s so funny.
  • Homer desperately running around the never-rotating Marge and her blowing away like sand is honestly kind of chilling imagery. 
  • Johnny Cash is the perfect wise voice for the Space Coyote, and he even does really great coyote growling and gnawing noises!
  • “We don’t have anything in common! Look at these records: Jim Nabors, Glen Campbell, the Doodletown Pipers. Now look at her records! They stink!”
  • I really love how act three is fueled by Homer’s insecurities. Unlike future Homer-Marge episodes, where Homer would do some incredibly stupid shit and get forgiven by Marge for no real reason other than the episode was almost over, it’s great that here and in “A Milhouse Divided,” Homer is more introspective about his relationship, wondering if he’s truly deserving of a saintly woman like Marge, a much, much more sympathetic portrayal than his future Captain Wacky de-evolution. The resolution is incredibly sweet, as Marge gives her believable and funny reasoning as to how she found Homer, revealing to him that she knows him better than anyone. The elation in Homer’s “Oh, Marge!” when it all dawns on him is palpable, it’s so endearing.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Bad animation, mostly flat jokes and a story that lacks depth makes this an all time clanger, to me. Homer’s quest for his new soulmate is handled rather improperly. I, myself, am tired of seeing stories about Homer and Marge’s relationship in jeopardy. The ending is so predictable and forced that it just totally falls flat. I didn’t too much care for the animation or most of Homer’s hallucination either. A few good jokes, but a story that leaves much to be desired.”

10. The Springfield Files

  • It’s pretty obvious from the start that this is an Al Jean/Mike Reiss show, considering almost half of the first act is just isolated scenes of characters talking about how it’s Friday. It’s a writing style that’s held firm since their years running the show, as well as The Critic, which can result in some funny individual moments, but makes the episode itself feel kind of thin and underdeveloped. This show feels like one of the “worst” examples; if you only left in the scenes that actually progressed the story, it’d probably barely be ten minutes. There could have been ways they could have beefed the story up a bit more, although, to be fair, I don’t really know how much further you can develop a plot as thin as “Homer sees an alien.”
  • The score at the end of the first act is really great. I don’t know if it’s meant to be specifically evocative of any music from The X-Files (besides the actual theme music when the “alien” appears), but it sets a real unique and ominous mood as Homer gets more and more lost and out-of-sorts.
  • I’ve never seen one episode of The X-Files, but I’m aware enough of the characters of Mulder and Scully to go along with their roles in the story. It’s also pretty curious that two years prior, Matt Groening cried foul at “A Star is Burns,” but I guess he didn’t have a problem with this. I guess he softened a bit in the time between, but it’s pretty interesting, especially since both episodes are Al Jean/Mike Reiss joints.
  • I’m still torn about the alien line-up gag. It’s kind of funny, but it kind of shoots a gigantic hole in the reality of the series to just have five aliens standing there in a police line-up. Also, Mulder and Scully are there to verify if Homer’s wild claims of actually seeing a real alien are true… yet they’re able to drag in Chewbacca and Marvin the Martian at the drop of a hat? The joke is a little too muddy. Also, since ALF is there, I’ll plug Phillip Reed’s ALF reviews again, since I just finished re-reading them for the fourth time and laughed my ass off just as hard.
  • “I’m like the man who single handedly built the rocket and went to the moon. What was his name? Apollo Creed?”
  • Even though I just bitched about isolated gags, I still love the man waking up from a 23-year coma bit (“Do Sonny and Cher still have that stupid show?” “No, she won an Oscar, and he’s a Congressman!” “Good night!” [dies])
  • The reveal of the Burns alien feels like such a classic moment, and part of me still loves how stupid an explanation it is, but really, what’s the deal here? Smithers explains how Mr. Burns gets all of these debilitating and disillusioning procedures done every week… and then just lets him wander around defenseless in the woods? I guess he just picks him up later in the night? It’s really kind of pushing the boundaries of logic a bit.
  • It’s odd that there’s no real wrap-up for Mulder and Scully. They reappear in the crowd at the very end with no dialogue, but it feels like they should have had an actual role in the third act, like they come back to Springfield after the alien footage gets released. They could still be skeptical, react in shock when the “alien” appears, then have some kind of conclusionary remarks before the big song. It would definitely make this feel more like a real crossover; instead, they’re just around for a few minutes in act two and leave.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Ugh, ugh, retch. I’m sorry, I really expected something funny out of this episode, but aside from the Nimoy intro, the exploding lie detector and a couple other small things, this episode’s jokes were predictable, corny, cheesy, dated, poorly thought-out and just plain embarrassing. The premise? Done to death. The crossover? Anticlimactic. I really hate to say this, but this episode blew.”

11. The Twisted World of Marge Simpson

  • Women don’t really have many robust roles on this show, but what we do see (at least in this era) was very good. The Investorettes is a great idea, this collection of bored housewives and single women exerting some independence via meager, quick-on-return investments. But when Helen wants to up the ante a bit, it’s too much for Marge to handle (“I’m not wild about these high-risk ventures. They sound a little risky.”) Most Marge episodes boil down to her wanting more excitement out of the house, which this episode kind of is, but I like that the framing of it is completely different, where she pushes herself out of her comfort zone to go toe-to-toe with her fairweather friends.
  • The pancakes in the mail joke is such a fantastic double-joke, carried over two scenes with two separate characters. Helen sternly telling Marge she’ll get her pancakes in the mail is funny on its own, then when we cut back to Marge having finished telling the family the story, Homer asking about the pancakes is even funnier, because of course that’s the one detail of the story he would hone in on. Also, bits that carry over from scene to scene really work to make the story feel more cohesive, as small as they are.
  • Fleet-A-Pita’s blatant whitewashing to rebrand scary “ethnic” food as an exciting “specialty” business venture makes for such a great scene. Cautious suburbanite Helen is cautious (“I don’t know about food from the Middle East. Isn’t that whole area a little iffy?”) but the saleswoman wins them all over thanks to “flavor sauce,” “crunch patties,” and her world-class chef “Christopher.” This episode is over twenty years old, and you still see this kind of white American-ization of foreign dishes, the scene plays as strong as ever.
  • Jack Lemmon does a great job, just the perfect person to convince Marge to invest, a simple, kindly man who forgoes flash for wholesome values. It sets up the perfect David and Goliath between her and the Investorettes. Fleet-A-Pita, the flashy new worldly food option with a heap of money behind it, and Marge’s made-in-American, family-run Pretzel Wagon.
  • The family helping Marge’s business out lends itself to some really sweet and funny scenes, from the phony ticker tape parade to avoid littering laws (“Welcome back, space girl!,”) Homer diligently acting as pretzel inspector, with a taped on label over his work shirt and helmet, and Homer actively talking up the Pretzel Wagon to his co-workers as she arrives at the plant (“Why, it’s one of those pretzel wagons the movie stars are always talking about!”)
  • Something about Cletus yelling out his enormous list of kids paired with their incredibly slow walking out of the house and into place on the porch makes that scene extra funny, capped off by Cletus’ big goofy grin at the end, extremely pleased to have outsmarted his way to free food (“I should’ve said limit one per customer.” “Should’a, but didnt’a.”)
  • “‘Copyright 1968.’ Hmmm, determined or not, that cat must be long dead. That’s kind of a downer.”
  • Whitey Ford’s unconscious body lying on the field is such a hilarious image.
  • Frank Ormand being dead, and the reveal of his executor being dead as well (“They were in the same car!”) feels a bit too dark, which is saying something in a season with both Shary Bobbins and Frank Grimes. Maybe because both those episodes ended with the guest star’s death (one built up to, one a shock joke), while here, it’s a scene where we find out the kindly old man is dead, and the ending twist is another old man is also dead. Not quite as funny to me.
  • This feels like one of the last great appearances by the Springfield mafia. Their third act montage of muscling other foodstuffs off Marge’s turf is full of great gags (Legs removing the little table from the pizza and smashing the box, escorting the Girl Scouts out of town by gunpoint), but even better, they use the Mermaidman and Barnacleboy music! Up, up and awaaaaaayy!
  • “You have twenty-four hours to give us our money. And to show you we are serious… you have twelve hours.”
  • Marge’s reconciliation with Homer at the end feels like a great summation of her love for him: “I don’t hate you for failing, I love you for trying.” Homer getting the mafia to help Marge without her knowing is an insane and dangerous idea, but, being the saint she is, Marge knew how it came from an absolutely pure place of earnestly wanting to help. It’s such a pure moment surrounded by the crazy Yakuza ending.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “If I could sum up this ep in a word, it would be ‘weak.’ Even before I realized Jennifer Crittendon wrote it, I started thinking that it was like the Country Club episode. I am seriously starting to wonder if maybe a female writer can’t capture the essence of The Simpsons correctly. And is it me, or has it been awhile since we’ve seen much of Bart or Lisa?” (surprisingly, this was written by a woman.)

12. Mountain of Madness

  • I’m not a coffee drinker, but Burns’ reaction face makes me want to be.
  • The unnamed ranger is this episode’s understated MVP. I love his measured voice, almost like a more muted version of Hank Azaria’s Adam West-esque beekeeper from “Lisa’s Rival.” 
  • It’s weird seeing Smithers with blue-tinted glasses in this episode. I don’t know at what point this switch was made permanent, but at some point, Smithers went from normal white eyes to having them slightly blue due to his glasses, which never made any sense to me, since that logic doesn’t apply to fellow eyeglass-wearers like Ned or Milhouse. It’s similar to another random design change where Professor Frink’s lab coat changed from green to white. At least in that instance, I understand the logic, as a white coat makes him easily recognizable as a scientist, but I still miss that green coat! #NotMyFrink– I love how irritated Smithers gets by Bart and Lisa. We typically only see him as Burns’ ever-obedient lapdog, but there’s undeniably some repressed feelings building up in him, both from the stress of his overbearing job and his eternally unrequited feelings. I also like how Bart and Lisa are both annoying in their own distinct ways: Bart is of course a dim little shit, searching for gold and not knowing how a watch works (“Wh-what comes after twelve?” “One.” “No, after twelve,”) while Lisa tries to tend to each and every woodland critter with a bum ankle or a light cough (”Aren’t there any healthy animals in this forest?!”) Has Smithers ever had any extended screen time with these two before or since? I can only think of Lisa getting Stacy Lovell’s address from Smithers in “Lisa vs. Malibu Stacy,” but that was pretty quick. It’s a pretty unique pairing, another reason I really enjoy these scenes.
  • “I’ve always felt that there’s far too much hysteria these days about so-called cheating. If you can take advantage of a situation in some way, it’s your duty as an American to do it. Why should the race always be to the swift or the jumble to the quick-witted? Should they be allowed to win merely because of the gifts God gave them? Well, I say cheating is the gift man gives himself!”
  • “From the mightiest Pharaoh to the lowliest peasant, who doesn’t enjoy a good sit?” Harry Shearer nails each and every one of these Burns lines.
  • Like in “Bart After Dark,” I’m reminded once again of Rocko’s Modern Life, which did their own trapped-in-a-cabin-by-an-avalanche episode, and a really great one at that. Seriously, guys, Rocko really does hold up pretty damn well.
  • I love the build-up right before Homer and Burns finally throw down, where their ghost armies close in on each other, the tension increases… and then they fade away as the two start fighting, their grandiose delusions melting away to just show these two cold and tired men attempt to kill each other.
  • The rocket cabin is a little dumb, but it’s absolutely worth it for Lenny’s ”Something’s wrong with its brakes!” I fucking love that line.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Stupid TV… be more funny! I find myself saying that a lot lately. I had thought this season’s biggest problem with the bad episodes was that they wrote the plots around the jokes. Well this week my words come back to haunt me, because this week there were few jokes at all. A few of the slapstick gags (which seems like the writers’ humorous element of choice for it these days) got me snickering but that was about it. And yet again Bart and Lisa are pretty much ignored except for a few inane lines. Still, it had a few moments, which were a few more than that horrible abomination of last week. C’mon writers, let’s get back to the dialogue and satire that made the show what it always was which is relatively absent most of the time these days.”

13. Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala-D’oh-cious

  • Seeing Lisa pull one of Marge’s looooong hairs out of her soup really shows what an enormous hassle her giant beehive must be. Those drains at the Simpson house have got to be clogged at least once a week.
  • As Homer attempts to expose the “man in drag” at his door, I’ll just say I recently watched Mrs. Doubtfire for the first time in 15 years, and it 100% does not hold up. Just an annoying and ugly movie.
  • All the songs from this show were on the soundtrack CDs, and I’ve heard them so, so many times. In “Minimum-Wage Nanny,” after Lisa yells at Bart for interrupting, I always misheard when he replies, “Just cutting through the treacle.” Never having heard the word ‘treacle,’ I heard it as ‘treehole,’ which makes absolutely no sense. Treehole like in the cover of To Kill a Mockingbird? To be fair to my young self, Nancy Cartwright doesn’t really emphasize the ‘k’ sound, so it almost kind of sounds like “tree-hull.”
  • Speaking of the soundtrack, it contains a full song cut from this episode featuring Patty and Selma, “We Love to Smoke.” I don’t know if it ever even got to the animatic stage; it’s a nice little song, but I understand why it was cut, since it’s completely separate from Bobbins and the main family. Also, the final line of the song, “Although we’ll croak before 2003,” would have only gotten funnier with age.
  • This is another episode I’ve seen a ton of times in syndication, and this moment always stuck out to me. During the slow push-in on the window where we first see Shary Bobbins, we hold on Marge’s incredibly dumb-looking face as the magical music swells, which kind of taints the moment a little bit. Couldn’t they have had Marge looking sad or defeated or something?
  • Maggie Roswell got a separate “Starring” credit for this episode, and it’s absolutely earned. Of the supporting cast, Roswell may not have gotten meaty regular roles like Pamela Hayden or Tress MacNeille, but her talents shone through in recurring characters like Maude Flanders and Helen Lovejoy, as well as a cast of random no-name one-off characters. Shary Bobbins was her spotlight show, doing so great a job that the producers decided to let her voice the character rather than Julie Andrews herself. Hearing her incredible talent here makes her later contract battle with FOX a few years later all the more aggravating.
  • This episode has my absolute favorite Willie scene. Him doing the Flashdance dance and him screaming at a not-blind Shary Bobbins (“It’s good to see you, Willie.” ”That’s not what you said the first time you saw me!!”), either one of those bits would have been enough to make it an all-time great scene, but both of them together? They’re just spoiling us.
  • Another misheard line I’ve listened to a hundred times: Abe’s “I think we got our umbrellas switched!” Great line, great act break, took an embarrassing number of times watching as a kid to understand what he was saying. Maybe it’s just me, but like Bart’s “treacle,” I can’t hear the “r” in umbrella, and the back half of “switched” fades out very quickly since Abe’s out the door by that point, so I can kind of see how I got confused.
  • If I may praise one specific moment of Roswell’s performance, it’s most definitely her exasperated “D’oh-re-me-fa-so…” under her breath as she scurries back to the kitchen.
  • Where the sizable amount of “filler” scenes in “The Springfield Files” bothered me a bit, I don’t really mind them here, since they’re mostly all stuff the Simpsons are watching on TV, reinforcing their sloth-like nature. Included is one of the best Itchy & Scratchys, the Reservoir Dogs parody where Itchy slices the head off of Quentin Tarantino. Asked to voice himself, Tarnatino apparently was slightly offended by his dialogue and turned it down, so I guess he got what he deserved.
  • The episode doesn’t really resolve Marge’s problem, but that’s kind of the point, as she explains she’s just going to emotionally disassociate and go with the flow from now on. “Happy Just The Way We Are” is a card-carrying ode to the status quo, and it’s wonderful for what it is, though it feels like another illuminating example of the Oakley & Weinstein years feeling like the would-be final years of the series. In another world, maybe they would have been. We can only imagine…
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “As fate put it, I couldn’t watch the episode live, and had to tape it; during any subsequent viewing, my thumb just ached for the ‘forward’ button, which speaks in volume. It’s not that I dislike music in the Simpsons universe, but I find myself uncomfortable around musical numbers, where people start singing out of the blue for no other apparent reason than to make sure it’s a real musical number. So, when facing song after song of ‘we’re bad, we’re rad, we’re a mess and we love it,’ I grabbed whatever humor was left, silently waiting for the real Simpson family to be back next week.”

13 thoughts on “Season Eight Revisited (Part Two)

  1. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “You’re just jealous because..” and heard in my head “there’s no clock in your hat.” I think I actually did say it randomly once, to much confusion. (Yes, I know the line was “You’re just mad,” but it can be applied to other sentiments as well.)

    Season 8 does feel like where the cracks are starting to show, but there are so many great jokes and individual episodes that it deserves its ranking among the classic seasons. Most shows would be lucky to have a season that includes “Treehouse of Horror VII,” “You Only Move Twice,” “Bart After Dark,” “A Milhouse Divided,” “The Mysterious Voyage of Homer,” “The Springfield Files,” “Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious,” “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show,” “Homer’s Phobia,” “Brother From Another Series,” “Homer vs. the 18th Amendment,” “Homer’s Enemy” and “The Simpsons Spinoff Showcase.”

  2. I can tell you I only realised it was Density a couple of years ago. I must have seen it a hundred times and not noticed.

    Wow. That little piece of animation in the hurricane is fantastic, and I’d never noticed the way the guard turns before either. The reveal of Ned’s therapy always struck me as odd. I mean, he’s polite because he’s religious? You could have had him genuinely questioning his faith, wondering why he was put in that situation and not Homer, a man who abuses his belief. His hippy parents are amusing, but I think they contradict his entire character.

    This ( kind of sorts “Mabel” out, although I don’t see any evidence that Bugs actually said that. One thing’s for sure, it doesn’t come from ‘The Great Gatsby’, as some would have you believe.

    I saw the ‘Files’ before I watched the actual show, but having seen all its seasons and movies, I have a greater appreciation for the episode. It has problems, and I half wish the framing device was Mulder and Scully’s investigation and not Nimoy’s retelling of events, which should cover any logical issues, like the aliens, but ends up breaking the fourth wall. ‘X-Files’ did a ‘Cops’ once, and it was literally ‘Cops’ meets ‘X-Files’, this is more like a cameo/extended parody than ‘Simpsons’ meets ‘X-Files’. I think that’s where the issue lies with Groening. ‘A Star is Burns’ is a genuine crossover in a way ‘Files’ isn’t.

  3. “Lisa’s Date with Density” is kinda a simplistic, bare-bones story that I feel anyone could write about but I still think it works well and it’s really sweet, even if it’s one of the weaker episodes of the season. It also showcases how awesome Nelson used to be before Zombie Simpsons wussified him. Back then, it took him walking with his pants down while the whole town uses his catchphrase on him to make him cry. I miss you, Classic Nelson!

    Yeah, I guess “Hurricane Neddy” is kinda a slippery slope with Ned’s characterization but I actually didn’t mind it so much. It’s not my favorite, but it’s still a worthy classic in my eyes.

    “Fun animation of the Simpsons getting swirled around in the eye of the hurricane.”

    Funny you praise that because I remember Dead Homers criticizing that scene for that cartoony animation being treated seriously which, to be honest, it bothered me too. Oh well, still a good episode in my books.

    I don’t have much to say about the crazy chilli pepper freakout but it’s still a really fun episode and the animation during Homer’s crazy trip is excellent and the emotional core about Homer’s insecurity about Marge makes me miss the old Homer even more. I can definitely relate to the old Homer in that even though I have complete confidence in who I am, I don’t feel like I’m good enough to be with the women I’d want to be with. Keep in mind, those women come from very high pedestals… Okay, I guess I’ve said enough. I guess I lied about not having much to say about this.

    “While barely featured in this episode, Bart and Lisa get two fantastic scenes: Bart’s ‘Time for Chili’ hat, and ‘So I says to Mabel, I says…,’ which I’m still not completely sure what it’s a reference to or why it’s so funny.

    Don’t forget “Either that or Batman really let himself go”

    I guess I could see why all those isolated scenes from the X-Files episode would irritate you, but I personally really liked them a lot. (Especially the one where Hibbert abandons Moleman in an X-Ray) I guess this is one of those lauded classics that you find super overrated like “Mr. Plow” or “Cape Feare.” Which I like to hear, even though I love all three of them.

    “Also, since ALF is there, I’ll plug Phillip Reed’s ALF reviews again, since I just finished re-reading them for the fourth time and laughed my ass off just as hard.”

    Finished reading those a few weeks ago. Wow, was that show terrible. ALF and Willie both completely blow Jerkass Homer out of the water. And don’t get me started on that awful AWFUL song from Episode 8.

    I guess I could see why Marge-centered episodes don’t get much love but I think that they’ve all been really solid so far, including the pretzel episode. Sure, the third act gets a little too goofy and the episode would’ve been a bit better with the false tension at the end but once again, a couple of nitpicks isn’t going to diminish my enjoyment of the episode. And remember, “Aim so low no one will even care if you succeed.” That’s my favorite Marge line period.

    “…but even better, they use the Mermaidman and Barnacleboy music!”

    Would now be a good time to comment on how goddamn similar Spongebob and the Simpsons are? Their early years are regarded as the golden years for both shows (Seasons 1-3 for Spongebob, Seasons 1-8 for Simpsons) but they eventually stayed for so long their new episodes suddenly became utter shit and the shows just weren’t good anymore. The difference is, at least Spongebob was able to get back on its feet in 2015 and enter a new renaissance whereas there will never be any hope for redemption with Zombie Simpsons and I hope the current season is the last FULL one. Thank you Daytona 500 once again for delaying ZS.

    “Mountain of Madness” is such an underrated episode. Like “Lisa’s Date with Density,” it’s a super similar premise that anyone can do yet the Simpsons still makes it work and be lots of fun. Sure, the suspense at the end is kinda forced but eh, whatcha gonna do? I was surprised to find out this episode was in the No Homers Top 100 but I’m glad it is. But you know what episode should’ve been in their Top 100? “Homer Loves Flanders.” Maybe it’s #101.

    Yay, Mary Poppins parody! This one’s a lot of fun, just like the other 164 episodes that came before this. And yeah, shout out to Maggie for her performance as Bobbins. It really shows the quality-over-quantity mentality the older seasons had when it came to casting. No way in hell would any of the double-digit seasons pick Roswell over Andrews. It’s just like how this same season chose Azaria over William H. Macy for Grimes. But could you imagine how awesome it would’ve been to have Macy on the Simpsons? Oh yeah, and the songs are great and I do love that “Cutting through the treacle” line.

    *Sigh* not looking forward to going back to Season 32 all though the upcoming episode’s premise actually sounds intriguing. Knowing the the season though, that temptation might end up just becoming a mirage and nothing will happen in the episode. I really hope I’m proven wrong.

  4. Of all these episodes, I think Hurricane Neddy stands out to me as my personal favorite. It’s the last episode where Ned… is Ned, if that makes sense. The episode starts out zany with hurricane prep nuttiness, where the Flanderseseseses are the most prepared, while Homer and family go into the basement like it’s a tornado (which some people have pointed out, such as in the Simpsons Archive, as a no-no due to flood risk) after Homer made a half-assed effort to weather proof his home and Marge had to make due with creamed eels and wadded beef for nourishment. Despite this, they survive, yet it’s the Flanders household that is completely obliterated, which is true to real life. The second act is more of Ned’s faith being tested; he loses his house and has no way to cover his losses thanks to not having insurance as well as people around him not particularly being motivated to reach out for support, he can’t rely on his business to make money cause folks have decided to look it for no apparent reason, and he can’t even turn to the Bible for comfort without it hurting him physically, making him question if his life of righteousness and piety was even worth living due to all the suffering he is enduring. I am by no means a religious person, but I felt like the show was doing a good job presenting a realistic case study of someone having his life fall apart and having his values be questioned as opposed to other shows which do these things just to crap on characters for a cheap joke or for the audience’s amusement.

    Later seasons would transform Ned into the ultra conservative, fundamentalist asshole the show would use to beat down on the Religious Right by having him lecture that the whole town must teach creationism as truth by using militant tactics or that he’s a TV watch dog that finds everything on television not the 700 Club appalling, defeating one of his characteristics in the earlier days, where he was an all-around better person because he was a good guy, with him being Christian as something that came later. The first time they would screw around with ruining Flanders would be a year or two when they made the claim he was 60 thanks to his clean living (not an impossible claim, just… weird), but the same episode would try to play on the idea that he was a boring ol’ biddy.

    But, back to the episode… “The House that Love Built” remains one of my favorite sequences in show history, and also illustrates how much the town sucks. According to the show writer, a freelancer named Neil Armstrong, he based it off of a scrapped SNL sketch that was inspired by the Shoemaker and the Elves, only the Elves were terrible at their job, so they not only would make shoes he couldn’t sell but use up all his raw material, so the shoemaker would then commit suicide at the end of the skit. The townsfolk had good intensions, but zero craftsman skills, so we got load bearing posters, a toilet in the kitchen, and a funhouse hallway leading into the master bedroom. Ned’s outburst is the culmination of an act of bad breaks, so he lashes out on the entire town. Seasons 7 and 8 were an attempt to build on the world, so having a character call out everyone for their flaws had an impact, whereas now it would be responded with said characters being proud of those flaws as it’s all they have.

    The third act isn’t as strong, given Ned is at the mental hospital, but it does have Dr. Foster, “We’ve tried nothing and we’re all out of ideas”, Jay Sherman, and Homer reading the literal cue cards before Ned confronts that he wasn’t fond of his parents’ beatnik lifestyle, which given his religious beliefs and preference for order, makes sense.

    My second favorite is “The Mysterious Voyage of Homer”, and there’s three random observations. 1. The animation in the second act (all done by David Silverman as he felt like only he could pull off the vision he had) was what gave me inspiration to want to draw stuff. 2. The fact they chose this for LEGO Dimensions was pretty impressive, despite the limitations in voice acting (not to mention content to make things friendly for a younger audience, since they had to remove references to alcohol, psychedelics, tobacco, and also got rid of swearing), meaning Homer would have to talk to himself a lot. There was a moment that bugged me, continuity wise, when it came to the tortoise, in which Homer kicks it twice. The pyramid rose as sort of punishment for his hastiness, so it was odd for Homer to attack the thing once again and then say the line. 3. For the love of GOD, I HATED THAT JOSH WEINSTEIN BROUGHT HIS DAMN WEINER KIDS TO THE COMMENTARY BOOTH FOR THIS EPISODE! They wrecked everything cause I wanted to hear about the episode as much as possible since Mirkin would often say dumb bullshit (like the time Silverman tried to explain why Radioactive Man: The Movie was chosen as a digital episode and Mirkin ruined the conversation) and Mike Scully episodes would descend into braying laughter or get sidetracked by a butterfly that flew past the window a minute into the session. Heck, Bill Oakley only bothered to do four episodes that season cause he felt like there was so little to discuss, so Weinstein was the source of information, and I wasn’t into “My Sister, My Sitter”, so the fact this episode got tainted by a pair of children asking questions about Homer’s shoes annoyed me as a neckbeard.

    Overall, I like the episode since, beyond the trip in the second act, it’s a rare instance of Homer questioning whether his dumb ass is worthy of being married to Marge and even ponders it philosophically, to the point of insanity, and seeks refuge from a lighthouse keeping robot (“Oh, wow!”)

    1. I’m actually really glad to hear someone else complain about David Mirkin on the commentaries. There’s so much interesting stuff to be said about seasons 5 and 6, but there’s so many times where he’ll do these dumb bits that aren’t funny, go on for so long and derail any conversation that might have been happening around him.

  5. I know the storyline between Lisa and Nelson is a cliché “good girl falls for bad boy” but it worked for me because it felt natural. The characterization was spot on and Nelson was at his best here. Even if they were not meant to be together, I prefer that over the Lisa/Milhouse BS any day of the week.
    About the “SKINNER!” gag, maybe is the funniest part of the episode. And I LOVE how Skinner chuckles when he says: “I guess is a little funny” when the kids laugh after he said “Right now Superintentent Chalmers is crying like a little girl!”
    “…boy, I really didn’t mean to bitch this much about the modern-era show in this specific episode. A lot of stuff in it just ended up reminding me of how far things had fallen since this point.”
    Please, don’t stop yourself from pointing out details like this one; it actually makes me happy knowing that I’m not the only one who noticed that.
    In modern episodes we often see Flanders scowling and getting mad easily. Here, they give us a very good reason why he gets frustrated and mad despite always been a happy, friendly guy. I agree with JDogindy that “Hurricane Neddy” is the last episode where Ned is Ned. And is one of my main reasons why I deeply wish the show ended after this season or at least after season 9. After this they would take a direction that it would not be for the better.
    In the “The Springfield files”, the isolated scenes don’t bother me if the jokes are funny. That’s why I like this episode and I dislike all the solo Al Jean era.

  6. Ugh, you mentioned the ALF blog again. I was reading it and following along with the show…until it disappeared from the Roku Channel, so now I don’t have a free way of watching it.

  7. I recently finished reading Robert Hilburn’s fantastic Johnny Cash biography and was a bit disappointed that he skipped over Cash being on The Simpsons. An odd thing to be disappointed about, i know, but I love that episode and it felt like a small missed detail in an otherwise very detailed book.
    Also, “In your face, space coyote!” is a line that I’ve used quite a bit irl. My brother and I used to quote it all the time as kids, usually when one of us beat the other at something.

  8. I too heard “tree hole” for years before realizing it was “treacle.” In fairness, I was 12 years old when the episode first aired and didn’t learn the word “treacle” until much later.

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