Season Eight Revisited (Part Four)

20. The Canine Mutiny

  • How little do Homer and Marge care about where Bart got an entire room full of new expensive items? They also have absolutely no questions about his story about getting Laddie at a truth-telling contest at a church two towns over. Like, yeah, that’s the joke, but it makes Marge (and to a lesser extent, Homer) out to be an incredibly gullible idiot in the process.
  • When Bart returns to find the repo men taking back all his stuff, he asks Lisa if their parents are home. Lisa replies, “They went for a walk with the Flanderses.” Say what now? Can you believe for even a microsecond that Homer would not only agree to go on a walk, but go on a walk with Ned Flanders? I get they needed Homer and Marge out of the scene, but any other excuse they could have written would have been more believable.
  • Last time around, I remember having an issue with this episode being about Bart and Santa’s Little Helper, but Bart never really regarding the dog or having any kind of connection with him to set it up. It’s not even about how he realizes he ignored this dog he loved and needs to work overtime to get him back. Bart actively ignores Santa’s Little Helper for most of the first act; watching this episode for the first time as a dog owner, those scenes of SLH being shut out made my heart hurt, and I found myself rooting against Bart even more through the episode. It also doesn’t even make sense he would pick Laddie; we don’t see much of a personal bond between the new dog and Bart either, but also, Bart loves SLH because they’re both disobedient screw-ups. The “perfect dog” shouldn’t have much appeal to a little hellion like Bart.
  • “Why did I have the bowl, Bart? Why did I have the bowl?!
  • On the Simpsons Archive, the madam in Bart’s dog-furnace fantasy is credited to Tress MacNeille, but it really sounds like Yeardley Smith to me, which is an absolute rarity. She’s voiced, what, a dozen characters over thirty years?
  • Baby Gerald blinks one eye at a time, that’s how you know he’s evil.
  • Moe’s repossessed floor is easily the best joke of the episode. It’s stupid by itself, but made even funnier that we just saw Bart walk into the building, and it was clearly much, much too small for the huge floor to fit inside of.
  • Bart prepares himself to beg for SLH back by wetting his hands to streak tears onto his face. Again, not making it easy on me to want him to succeed.
  • Bart sneaking into Mr. Mitchell’s house to take the dog is basically a joke-free action set piece, something we would see a lot more of going into the Mike Scully years. It sucks.
  • This really is the first giant dud of the series. I’m not a fan of “Secrets of a Successful Marriage,” but it definitely has its share of funny lines. This episode is just such a vacuum leading up to an overly dramatic ending that I couldn’t care less about. Though we did get Chief Wiggum feebly attempting to sing along to “Jammin’.”
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Finally, a solid Season 8 episode! As an utterly forgettable season nears its close, it’s good to have at least one episode that qualifies as an instant classic. Groundskeeper Willie was hilarious, as was the Comic Book Guy. And for a change, the ending was a) hysterical, and b) a complete surprise. Let’s just hope that ‘Canine Mutiny’ is not a fluke in a deteriorating series, but a sign that the Simpsons are back on track for good.”

21. The Old Man and the Lisa

  • We get two great gags within the first twenty seconds: Marge’s beehive smushed against the pillow before popping back into place, and the snippet of Colonel Dracula Joins the Navy (“Uh, Colonel?” “BLEHH!!”) The episode just started and it’s already better than “The Canine Mutiny.” 
  • “What a load of garbage. I’m ecstatic!”
  • I like that Burns’ internal dictionary for “redskin” is labeled as “usually taken to be offensive,” which seems impressively progressive for him. I also love “running dog: one who does someone else’s bidding: LACKEY (ie: SMITHERS)”
  • Burns’ incredibly sycophantic underlings (and Smithers) being responsible for bankrupting him is a good enough excuse to get this plot started, with good enough material as well (Burns reacting in horror at the 1929 stock market crash is a great moment), but it does seem a bit silly. I feel like either Burns would be smart enough to listen to his advisors (as we’d seen in other episodes like “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?” and “Homer Goes to College”) or his lawyers would know how to best placate their feeble old man of a client while still investing correctly to keep them all stinking rich.
  • I love how violently Skinner smashes into the tree and knocks it down, complete with the screaming and crying children inside, just completely undercutting the wholesomeness of everything that came before it.
  • Something I never noticed before on the bottom of Burns’ bankruptcy chart: “Prepared for You by ChartCo,” complete with little smiley faces.
  • Burns’ shopping trip feels like an extended, more exaggerated reprise of him trying to be self-sufficient in “Homer the Smithers.” While these moments would creak open the door to many, many pathetic, neutered Burns moments in the future, I can still appreciate them in the context of these episodes for what they are. Him getting trapped in the freezer is a bit much, but goddamn do I love me some ketchup-catsup confusion (“I’m in way over my head!”)
  • It’s a little on the nose with the one leaf waiting to fall, but I like Burns standing by the window, lamenting at this being the end of his life, his legacy. It’s actually kind of affecting, and a much-needed “real” moment following his more enfeebled behavior after losing his fortune.
  • I don’t know one damn thing about “That Girl,” but the sequence of Burns pursuing Lisa still works as a silly little montage. But I absolutely love how the song ends with the doorbell ring in time with the music. Such a small attention to detail that’s just fantastic.
  • “People, if we meet this week’s quota, I’ll take you to the most duck-filled pond you ever sat by!” “Hot-diggity! That’s how they got me to vote for Lyndon LaRouche!”
  • The reveal of the new recycling plant’s operations is so incredibly well done. It was set up with Lisa explaining the hazards of soda can rings to the sealife, and of course, Burns’ mind interprets this in a completely different way than her. It’s not like Burns was doing an act in seemingly reforming himself, this is just environmentalism through his own prism, that of a brutal, heartless capitalist.
  • Smithers walking into the Simpson living room at the end, asking Homer, “Why aren’t you at work?” definitely feels like a harbinger of things to come. The seat at sector 7G is about to get colder and colder as we enter the Scully years…
  • If you want, you can watch the episodes out of order and put this one last, so the series finale is Homer suffering a heart attack and dying. I can’t imagine the actual series finale, if we even live to see it, could be a more satisfying end than that.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Pretty much your Ho-hum 8th season Simpsons episode. A few good gags thrown on top of an unrealistic plot followed by an abrupt ending. Anyone notice that the writers’ things to be killing a lot of things on the show this season? Dogs, sea life, soldiers, James Bond… Some of it is funny because it is well done, but a lot of it seems to be done for shock value (like tonight’s episode), which isn’t especially funny (at least that’s what it seems like to me).”

22. In Marge We Trust

  • Snowball II scratching under the floorboards between the first and second floors feels like a grim joke, but I guess if the cat got there in the first place, it can find a way out too.
  • I love how painful Homer smacking his head on the backside of the pew feels, making his incredibly loud “DAMMIT!” even funnier.
  • Homer and the kids giddily scrounging around in the dump has shades of Scully-era antics, but it kind of fits in line with them being a not-so-well-off family trying to score some free stuff the more fortunate have discarded. Similarly, Homer getting attacked by the raccoon feels like a moment that would go on for twice as long and be incredibly annoying just a few years later, but here, it happens quickly, you get your laugh and you get out.
  • Reverend Lovejoy gets just the right amount of backstory: he was once an idealistic man of God ready to lead his new flock (“The sixties were long over and people were once again ready to feel bad about themselves,”) until he found himself getting pestered relentlessly by a neurotic Ned Flanders (“I think I may be coveting my own wife!”) until his spirit finally broke (“Finally, I just stopped caring.  Luckily, by then it was the eighties, and no one noticed.”) I wouldn’t be opposed to other episodes about Lovejoy, but this section is so satisfyingly succinct, I don’t really need anything else. We just got that terrible “Warrin’ Priests” two-parter last season that ostensibly was about Lovejoy, but didn’t tell us a goddamn thing about him, so I’ll pass on any further attempts, thanks.
  • “Mother’s gone too far. She’s put cardboard over her half of the television. We rented Man Without a Face,’ I didn’t even know we had a problem!”
  • “I’ve lost the will to live.” “Aww, that’s ridiculous, Moe. You’ve got lots to live for.” “Really? That’s not what Reverend Lovejoy’s been telling me.”
  • I absolutely love Homer dialing the phone at the library. I feel with these scenes that go on for so long, they can hit or miss with some people, but I think it’s great. The librarian shooting him a look before leaving, Homer not being able to remember more than one number at a time… fantastic.
  • In certain situations of meeting up with people, I feel like I would say “Let’s talk, why not?” a bunch, like the English-speaking Mr. Sparkle employee.
  • I assume the writers looked up a bunch of saints’ names and picked the most obscure one with the longest name they could (“St. Eleutherius of Nicomedia!” “That’s my name, don’t wear it out!”) His Wikipedia page is literally one line. Also included is an “In popular culture” section citing this episode, which is as long as the “article” itself, which is pretty amazing.
  • What more could I say about the Mr. Sparkle commercial? The entirety of that scene, complete with the intro and outro dialogue, was on one of the soundtrack CDs, despite it not being a song. The commercial section is certainly weird to hear only audio. Also, I really hope whoever designed the two logos merging into the Mr. Sparkle head got a raise.
  • The Sea Captain lamenting his lost Game Boy is one of those scenes that’s so dumb, but that’s why I love it. Losing your Tetris high score is no laughing matter.
  • Act three is where the episode starts to derail. The bullies are hassling Ned at the Leftorium, fair enough, but then they proceed to chase him out of town literally all night? It doesn’t really make much sense. The culmination also doesn’t really represent any character change. Marge’s “bad” advice didn’t really create Ned’s situation, and there’s nothing specifically that Lovejoy did to save the day, besides actually give a shit to try and save Ned at all. I’m not expecting a deep, thoughtful re-examination of Lovejoy’s faith, but something a bit more grounded and character-based would have been preferable to him attacking a bunch of wild baboons. At least they utilized his love of trains in some fashion, it at least added a character touch to the action sequence, which is more that can be said for similar scenes in the future.
  • “You’ve got to get him out of there!” “Jeez, I’d like to, but if they don’t kill the intruder, it’s really bad for their society.”
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Yuck! What a stretch for a story-line (Both ‘Mr. Sparkle’ AND ‘In Marge We Trust’). This episode was as flat as a five-year-old can of Coors Light. Could the ending be any less believable? Sheesh! At least we know Ned still runs the Leftorium and Rev. Lovejoy’s first name is ‘Tim.’ After ‘Canine Mutiny,’ I guess the writers were bound for a DUD! During Act 3 I was not ROTFL, as hoped. Instead I was RFRC (Reaching For The Remote Control).”

23. Homer’s Enemy

  • Frank Grimes’ sad backstory is still great of course (clashing wonderfully with Kent Brockman’s enthusiastic narration.) I still love the implication of seeing the footage from inside the car as little kid is being abandoned, implying not only did his parents film this devastating moment, but later made the video public in some form, or provided Channel 6 with the tape after the fact.
  • I feel like Burns hiring the dog as his executive vice president is a little too silly, but I really like when he’s chewing out Grimes later and you hear him growling.
  • Just like Julie Andrews almost voicing Shary Bobbins, I can’t imagine anyone else bringing Frank Grimes to life than Hank Azaria. I knew he had based the voice on William H. Macy, who I had thought was actually considered for the role, but apparently according to Wikipedia, producers were thinking of Nic freaking Cage for the part. While that would have been its own kind of amazing, it certainly wouldn’t have been the same character, and much less appropriate than Azaria’s take.
  • Frank Grimes perfectly rides the line of being just a regular guy we have some sympathy for, but also being kind of a pompous ass. Wiping his hand before he shakes anyone else’s, his special dietetic lunch, his manner of speaking with others, like his humorless response to Homer first calling him “Grimey” (“I took the trouble to learn your name, so the least you could do is learn mine.”) It brilliantly sets up the grand finale; if he was too likable, his tragic death would hit a little too hard, but giving him these foibles, as well as his continued obsession with Homer through the episode being his own undoing, almost softens the blow a bit.
  • I like that the “Bart Simpson” on the abandoned office door almost looks like it’s written in blood.
  • “That’s the man who’s in charge of our safety! It boggles the mind.” “It’s best not to think about it.” The first of many great meta lines.
  • Grimes’ angry tirade at the Simpson house is an all-time great, and now feels especially more venomous following a recent article about how unattainable the Simpsons’ standard of living is by modern standards. The Simpsons were originally supposed to be an average, but struggling American family, but nowadays? Grimes is right, their place is a palace. A huge house and kids on a single income? It’s like a fantasy for a lot of people I know.
  • This episode, of course, is like patient zero for Jerkass Homer… kind of. His irritating behavior driving Grimes to the edge teeters on the edge of being way too annoying, but it’s the whole point of the episode, and it never feels like it goes too far. The problem would come when these characteristics would bleed into the series and normalize, similar to Lisa’s militant liberal pestering from “Lisa the Vegetarian” or pathetic, feeble old Burns from “The Old Man and the Lisa.” Homer is saved in this episode because he still has a sense of shame and self-awareness, genuinely wanting to win Grimes over, as seen in him fretting before the big dinner. The scene where Marge finds him in the driveway is also strangely affecting, almost like he’s a kid afraid to go to school and face his bully. It’s endearing and sweet, two traits that Homer would soon shed in favor of selfish and irritating.
  • Syndication cuts the scene of Bart enlisting Milhouse as night watchman (losing the terrific line, “So this is my life. At least I’ve done better than Dad,”) leaving me to always find it weird that we just get the one quick scene in act three wrapping up the B-plot of the destroyed factory.
  • I love Smithers’ amused chuckle at Ralph’s converted Malibu Stacy Dream Home model. Burns is not as tickled by it (“It’s supposed to be a power plant, not Aunt Beaulah’s bordello!”)
  • Homer getting applauded by everybody, Burns included, definitely gave me chills about how often this dumb oaf would be commended town-wide for his dumbass actions in the future. That’s the thing with this episode, it’s holding a mirror up to the series and how nonsensical it’s become. Homer, once a schlubby everyman, has rubbed elbows with celebrities, nearly caused multiple meltdowns with no risk to his job, and been to outer space. He’s incapable of being the complete lovable loser he once was. So where to go from here? That’s when we get the real chilling harbinger line (“I’m better than okay! I’m Homer Simpson!” “Pfft. You wish!”) With that, we set the doors open for Homer to shed his sweet humbleness and become an egoistic lunatic in the Mike Scully years, engaging in crazy schemes and fucking shit up because why not? Once you open up this Pandora’s Box of exploring who Homer is, he really can’t go back to the way things were. And once again, this is another example, if not the biggest example, of why the show shouldn’t have gone past one more season. Episodes like this, “Poochie,” and big moments and others are fantastic isolated, but are slightly more sour when you remember there’s five hundred fucking more episodes that follow it.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review:I’ve never said this about any episode, because my opinions usually change on them. But this was by far the worst episode in the history of The Simpsons. I don’t think any other program will be able to top this one. Homer’s irresponsibleness is glaring, and the story focuses too much on Homer’s lack of professionalism, making him very unlikable. Frank, on the other hand, had many a good point, and got a raw deal throughout the entire thing. I actually felt sorry for him, instead of Homer. Our hero is sleeping through Frank’s funeral, and cracking an inappropriate joke during it. And everyone LAUGHS at it. This is perhaps the single most tasteless, cruel, cold-blooded moment in OFF’s history. Let’s hope this one is played few times in syndication, and buried as a ‘Lost Episode.’

24. The Simpsons Spin-off Showcase

  • This episode gets a big laugh right away at the quick zoom as Troy turns to camera, proudly shouting, “Spin-off!” Always the professional, doing his damndest to sell this bullshit. This show and “The 138th Episode Spectacular” are two-of-a-kind in this fourth wall breaking format, but this episode particularly feels like the embarrassed forefather of the future trilogy episodes, most of which are terrible. I certainly wouldn’t want them to have done “Spin-off Showcase 2,” but maybe a different kind of trilogy episode, like showing “What If?” scenarios or different moments in side characters’ lives with a shared theme or something. Instead, we got such riveting trilogy episodes like the one where they’re all about famous historical ships. Remember that classic?
  • Great exposition dump at the start of “Chief Wiggum, P.I.” explaining the impetus for the premise (“I still don’t understand, Clancy. Why give up your job as a small town police chief to open up a detective shop in New Orleans?” “Oh, lots of reasons, I suppose. Got kicked off the force, for one thing.”)
  • “Look, Big Daddy! It’s regular Daddy!”
  • Gailard Sartain earned his paycheck for Big Daddy just for the “BLEEAGH” noise he makes throwing Ralph at Wiggum before he tosses himself out the window.
  • The canned laughter is used so perfectly in “Love-Matic Grampa.” I can’t believe there are still sitcoms being made with laugh tracks, even ones that aren’t shot in front of a live audience. It feels like such a woefully antiquated format of storytelling. 
  • “I’ve suffered so long. Why can’t I die?” The only way this line could be improved is if the laugh track were put right after it.
  • “You know what’s great about you, Betty, is you’re letting your looks go gracefully. You’re not all hung up on looking attractive and desirable. It’s just so rare and refreshing.”
  • I still love Moe’s quick “He’s haunted!” aside in the laughing outro of “Grampa.”
  • Nice touch that the clock behind Kent Brockamn during the “Variety Hour” intro is in “real-time” for its primetime original airing, at around 8:20 pm.
  • “And now, a family that doesn’t know the meaning of the word ‘cancelled,’ the Simpsons!” A cheeky line when it was written, a dire threat over twenty years later.
  • Cutting back to the Sea Captain with his manufactured loud pipe whistle and floating hat for seconds before the finale always makes me laugh.
  • Gotta love Tim Conway booking it the hell out of there the second the show is over. I don’t blame him.
  • For the series finale, they might as well go for broke and give Homer magic powers and have Bart’s triplet siblings make an appearance. Fuck it, why not?
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “In answer to the question, ‘How do you keep the Simpsons fresh after 8 long seasons?’, you don’t. Let’s not drag it through the mud here guys. Like many episodes this season, it’s funny for about 2 minutes, then it degrades into absurd, outlandish jokes that are hard to follow and not particularly funny. If they had ended the show with ‘Summer of 4′ 2’’ I would have been pretty upset, but after seeing most of season 8, I’d say it’s time to put OFF to rest.”

25. The Secret War of Lisa Simpson

  • Of course Chief Wiggum would leave the police station door key under the mat.
  • Wiggum’s hippie mannequins are great. The woman getting ready to chow down on her “California cheeseburger” reminds me of reading through when I was younger in their ‘Horrors’ section, looking at all the different urban myths and legends, including the likes of the babysitter who was high on LSD and put the baby in the oven thinking it was a turkey, that kind of shit. Nowadays, the site seems to be focused on debunking fake news in fact checking all of the stupid phony bullshit we see in the news and on social media every minute of our lives. The nostalgic innocence is all gone…
  • “It’s not my nature to complain…” Just give it a few years, Lisa, your character will be ruined soon enough…
  • I really love the bit where everyone has to wait until the townwide ringing echo stops. It helps to further emphasize the enormity of Bart’s prank, and having a follow-up scene gives it even more weight.
  • A rebuttal to anyone who thought “Diary Queen” was believable characterization for Edna: her and Skinner toasting in celebration when Bart gets shipped off to military school (“You dream about this day for so long, then when it comes, you don’t know what to say!” “Edna, your tears say more than words ever could.”
  • The gag about the girliest cadet at Rommelwood certainly hasn’t aged well…
  • “Since you attended public school I’m going to assume that you’re already proficient with small arms, so we’ll start you off with something a little more advanced.”
  • This episode is a bit more of a slog than I remember. There’s not really much critique about military schools, you’d think a prime target for a show like this, it’s completely hyper focused on Lisa’s struggles, which all comes down to the other students giving her and Bart a hard time, the type of bullying and hazing you can get in many other different shows. Also, Lisa specifically wanted an academic challenge, and there never felt like there was any connective tissue of her feeling like she would be up to the actual physical challenges of the school. Why does she care about doing this?
  • “Good job, Simpson, although that’s more cursing than I like to hear from a cadet in peacetime.”
  • Act three is almost a deadzone between the training and the loooooonnnnggg sequence of Lisa doing the Eliminator. There’s so few jokes, and while Bart ultimately rooting for Lisa is sweet, it doesn’t feel worth the time investment. The greatest emotional moments of the series sometimes caught you by surprise, or were motivated through the story that was almost jam-packed with jokes. Here, the entire back half of the episode is devoted to Bart feeling bad for shutting Lisa out and making it up to her, with not much else to, as Bart himself once said earlier this season, “cut through the treacle.”
  • “The wars of the future will not be fought on the battlefield or at sea. They will be fought in space, or possibly on top of a very tall mountain. In either case, most of the actual fighting will be done by small robots. And as you go forth today remember always your duty is clear: to build and maintain those robots. Thank you.”
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “VERY, VERY disappointing. It’s amazing how far a show can fall in one season. The episode was so bad, I really must wonder why anyone bothered to make it. Seeing Bart spun on a propeller and Lisa firing a machine gun really made me feel like I was watching a show that just happened to contain characters from the Simpsons. Where’s the realism? The relevancy? Gone.”

24 thoughts on “Season Eight Revisited (Part Four)

  1. Not sure if you already heard Mike, but the show has been renewed for two more seasons. God help us all.

    Anyways, great retrospective as always. Next up, the Scully years. Oh joy…

  2. I always thought the “walk with the Flandereaes” joke was supposed to be funny BECAUSE it was out of character.

    Besides, maybe Ned invited them and Marge nagged Homer to go.

  3. Unpopular opinion but I don’t think Homer’s Enemy is the start of Jerkass Homer. His main motivation in the episode is just that he wants to be friends with Frank Grimes and wanting to be friends with the new guy at work is something I think most people can relate to and speaks well to Homer’s middle class roots. The thing with classic Homer is he almost always has good intentions in what he does, but goes about it in the wrong way, and I think his intentions in it fit that mold perfectly.

  4. Well, time to wrap up the final classic season…

    “The Canine Mutiny” feels like Part 2 of the four-part “Treacly Bart Series” following Dead Homer Society’s “favorite” episode. This and “Proud” definitely suffer from the same big problem: they both feel like generic teevee drivel with lots of sad and suspenseful horn music. The ending bit with SLH having to decide between Bart and the blind dude is so contrived. Why Charlie Sweatpants and Mad Jon thought this was better than “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show” is beyond me. I’m definitely on Dave’s side for both of those “Crazy Noises” But in spite of all that, I still like this episode. In typical Season 8 fashion, there’s enough jokes and classic moments that save “Mutiny” from the shitty plot. At least for me. But I won’t deny that this is still one of the weakest classic episodes. Then again, Season 8 is known for having other super-weak classic episodes like “The Homer They Fall,” “Lisa’s Date with Density,” “Hurricane Neddy,” “Grade School Confidential,” and the final Season 8 episode which I’ll talk about later. Like I said, I don’t think any of the Season 8 episodes are bad, but it does mark the beginning of the show’s descent into awfulness.

    “The Old Man and the Lisa” is another one of those weaker classic episodes but it definitely has a lot less problems. I have to give it props to the show for making Mr. Burns out of his element and look old and feeble work. The difference between this and “Monty Can’t Buy Me Love” (AKA “The Death of C. Montgomery Burns”) is that this show knows the core root of who Burns is being a heartless powerful miser whereas that episode that kills him just paints him as desperate and needy. Plus, having Burns work together with a little girl who is the polar opposite of him is such an interesting dynamic and a great and ironic way to have Burns climb back to the top.

    MIIIIISUTAAAAH SUPAKORUUUUU! UNNO YOI BESUTO WASHUUUUU! Love it, love it, love it! Love Mr. Sparkle, he’s the best part of “In Marge We Trust.” I wouldn’t be surprised if there were people who only loved this episode for Mr. Sparkle alone. But you know, the main plot with Marge and Lovejoy also is really interesting. Gotta give props to Bill and Josh for writing a nice emotional story to help us cheer for the good reverend. It’s great, at least, yeah… until act three where it gets way too goofy for my liking. The ending with Lovejoy saving Flanders from being attacked by chimpanzees would not be out of place in Season 10. Oh well, at least two excellent acts can cancel out a shaky third act. Plus, I did enjoy Lovejoy recalling his wacky zoo adventures in church. (“Now that’s religion!”)

    “I’ve lost the will to live.” “Aww, that’s ridiculous, Moe. You’ve got lots to live for.” “Really? That’s not what Reverend Lovejoy’s been telling me.”

    Hey ZS, this is how you make a suicidal Moe joke actually funny! Take note.

    Huh boy, time for Grimey… I still can’t believe that the show’s first shark jump is in one of the best episodes ever. That’s the funny thing with this. It’s our first look into Jerkass Homer yet for some reason this episode succeeds astoundingly with him. I know it’s basically a meta episode involving how outlandish the Simpson family has become and that Grimes is supposed to represent the viewers but did the staff at the time expect that this would later become the new normal? Homer in this episode is so funny but he’s no different than the unfunny jerkass Homer who framed his wife for a DUI and became a talented opera singer just from laying on his back. Actually, no. Compared to those awful, awful, AWFUL episodes, Homer in “Homer’s Enemy” still feels like a real person. But we have this episode to blame for Homer’s characterization in “Lost Our Lisa.”

    “…according to Wikipedia, producers were thinking of Nic freaking Cage for the part.”

    Dude, Nicolas Cage on the Simpsons would’ve been AWESOME!

    Not much for me to say about the “Spin-off Showcase.” All three segments are great but the third one has gotta be my favorite for how they parodied the “Brady Bunch Variety Hour.” I saw that on Youtube out of curiosity and it scared me. The Simpsons really exposed how shallow it was. Oh, and I love Tim Conway in a skunk suit; rest in peace, old man.

    “For the series finale, they might as well go for broke and give Homer magic powers and have Bart’s triplet siblings make an appearance. Fuck it, why not?”

    I don’t wanna talk about how show just got renewed again. All I’ll say is that it left me dead inside.

    Well, this is the last Season 8 episode. It’s a decent episode, I like it, it’s got some great classic moments and I love Willem DeFoe’s character. But like “Canine Mutiny,” it feels like schmaltzy teevee. There are some emotional moments that work. I like Lisa’s loneliness and isolation at the camp and the second act break of Lisa listening to a tape of Marge singing “You are my sunshine” is absolutely heart-wrenching. But I agree with you Mike that the “suspenseful climax” of Lisa on the eliminator is a bit too much and the ending with Homer and Marge tricking the kids into going to the dentist fell flat. I really does feel like the classic era ended on a whimper… well, not really. The classic era doesn’t truly end until “The Principal and the Pauper.” Even so, “Canine Mutiny” and “Secret War” should’ve been Season 9 episodes while “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson” and “Lisa’s Sax” should’ve been Season 8 episodes. Love those two, they’re both way too good for Season 9.

    “The gag about the girliest cadet at Rommelwood certainly hasn’t aged well…”

    Well, we’ll see about that.

    Well, see you when you revisit Season 9. It may not be a classic season but at least it’s the last good one. There’s plenty of good stuff I’ll be looking forward to there, even in the mediocre episodes. I’m still so glad you decided to re-review the older seasons. Thank you so much, Mike!

  5. A lot of your comments here can be summed up by, “This is a harbinger of things to come.” Still entertaining to read, but depressing at the same time.

    It’s also interesting that with these last few episodes, you can see Oakley & Weinstein start to burn themselves out. The ideas are still interesting, but as season eight comes to a close and season nine begins, the senioritis is starting to take over. The only other time this happened was with season four leading into season five. Most of the writers knew they were leaving, so they were a little more careless and let the show get away with things they would normally clean up. “Cape Feare” was the result of everybody being overweight, exhausted, and no longer giving a fuck. I’m assuming the same thing happened to Oakley & Weinstein because one of them ended up losing weight after they left The Simpsons and went to Mission Hill.

    I know the show is about to decline something fierce over the next few seasons, but I don’t think Mike Scully deserves all the blame for it. He’s a smart, talented guy and he had a strong vision. And even when the show started falling off, it could still pull off really funny jokes. I just think his vision wasn’t right for The Simpsons. From what I understand, the writers weren’t working insanely long hours after season eight, mostly because some of them had children and Scully was a huge hockey fan so he attended Los Angeles Kings games as much as he could. When you’re not spending as much time on rewriting jokes and coming up with names, the quality isn’t going to be the same.

    And there’s also the fact that The Simpsons was naturally going to lose its sense of purpose. There were many animated shows that came out after The Simpsons, but they didn’t last long and didn’t have an actual voice. They were just made to cash in off the success of something else. But then there was King of the Hill, and South Park, and Family Guy. These shows were doing things The Simpsons used to do, or was no longer capable of doing. Television had evolved because of shows like The Simpsons, and it wasn’t going to be able to keep up regardless of whether or not it was still really good. The direction the show took just ensured that the decline happened ahead of schedule.

  6. “The Canine Mutiny” is definitely lower-tier classic Simpsons, but like a lot of lower-tier episodes from this season, I feel like the jokes are enough to save it.

    In fact, in the interest of fairness, I figured I’d present some other funny jokes from that episode apart from the ones mentioned in the recap (which are all legendary):

    *”Ooh, a note from Publisher’s Clearinghouse…saying we’re out of the running.”
    * The various junk mail about killing termites, ending with one that says “Save the termites.”
    * “Income? Whatever I finds, I keeps.”
    * “Your phony credit card is no good here. Now make like my pants and split!”
    * Lisa’s response when Bart tells her the pep pills are making her suspicious.
    * “Bart says he won him at a church carnival two towns over.” “In a truth-telling contest, right, Bart?” “To the best of my recollection, yes.”
    * “Oh yeah, a dog like this you have to feed every day!”
    * “We didn’t see nothin’ if you didn’t see nothin’!”
    * “So I committed a little mail fraud. Haven’t I been punished enough?”
    * “Smithers, I believe this dog was in Skull and Bones.”
    * Bart’s “Nah, that’s not too likely” after his horrific vision of what could have happened to SLH and the foghorn after asking “Where are you boy?”
    * “You gave both dogs away? You know how I feel about giving!” (although the series did try to ruin this by making Homer’s hatred of charity a running gag.)
    * Homer’s dumb motivational speech, ending with “Rats! I almost had him eating dog food.”
    * Everything from Groundskeeper Willie’s scene. (“I also ‘ate the mess he left on me rug. You heard me!”)
    * The real MVP of this episode is Agnes with her two lines: “He un-holied the Holy Water” and “Buy something or get out…angel!”
    * “He’s no longer among us.” “You didn’t crucify him?”
    * I do love the fact that SLH’s new owner would rename him Sprinkles.
    * “I may be blind, but you just ran into a closet.”
    * The POV of SLH chasing his tail while Bart and Mr. Mitchell are trying to get him to come to either of them.
    * “Oh man, if this is the wrong house, I quit!”

    So yeah, a lower joke ratio than the classic episodes but a much higher joke ratio than a typical modern episode. I’ll take what I can get. 6/10

    1. Yeah, I think Mike was a little bit too negative in his review. This episode isn’t in the top ten, even for this season, but there are more than enough good jokes to make it worth watching. That whole thing about Homer trying to get Bart to eat dog food is such a weird joke that I don’t think would be in an episode now. Not just what Homer’s saying, but the rhythm and pacing of the show in 2021 is completely different from what it was in 1997. It wouldn’t be able to accommodate it.

      I heard this on the Talking Simpsons podcast, but “The Canine Mutiny” is one of the few episodes under Oakley & Weinstein that used the full opening sequence. Normally, they used the short version to start episodes earlier, but the podcast speculated that around this time is where O&W really started showing signs of fatigue.

  7. “following a recent article about how unattainable the Simpsons’ standard of living is by modern standards.”

    Care to link the article? I’m curious.

      1. Might be attainable in a crappy town like Springfield. I always figured property values were low over there.

      2. That’s what I figured when I was thinking about it, but Springfield is also home to Krusty, an internationally beloved celebrity, and his production studio, and has been host to many high-profile celebrity guests, so it can’t be THAT much of a jerkwater berg.

      3. Springfield has an international airport and a zoo. Those aren’t things you usually find in small, middle-of-nowhere towns.

        OK, I guess there are small towns that have “zoos,” but they’re usually closer to “animal sanctuaries” than what’s depicted on this show.

  8. Bart ignores Santa’s Little Helper for pretty much all of the series, except in episodes focused on SLH (or episodes where the plot might otherwise demand it, such as Who Shot Mr Burns), in which we’re suddenly treated to a shmaltzy pile-on about how SLH is Bart’s best friend and the most precious thing in the world to him. Which is kind of the problem I have with SLH focused episodes – we’re asked to become invested in a bond which, so far as we can tell from the rest of the series, isn’t actually all that strong. You allude to the idea that Bart loves SLH because they’re both screw-ups, but to be honest I don’t think the show has been interested in that connection since Season 2.

    Also not going to lie, ever since I learned that Nicolas Cage was the voice the writers initially had in mind for Grimes, I’ve felt nothing less than intense regret that it didn’t happen, and I haven’t been able to see Grimey in the same way since. It would have altered the underlying gag with his character somewhat, but I find the idea of Cage spewing those tirades at Homer absolutely mind-blowing.

  9. Rommelwood is supposed to be miles from Springfield, so how on earth did Bart hit Skinner’s car? Did he fire some kind of “magic” grenade, or is he the greatest marksman to have ever lived? It’s a good gag, but the Kwik-E-Mart exploding in ‘SSSBS’ made more sense, as the mortars were fired from Fort Springfield.

    “…like showing “What If?” scenarios or different moments in side characters’ lives with a shared theme or something.”

    Yeah, but they’d have needed a “What If?” machine for that, and they won’t be invented for another thousand years, at least according to that show from the future. That and the Finglonger, of course.

    1. “Rommelwood is supposed to be miles from Springfield, so how on earth did Bart hit Skinner’s car? Did he fire some kind of “magic” grenade, or is he the greatest marksman to have ever lived? It’s a good gag, but the Kwik-E-Mart exploding in ‘SSSBS’ made more sense, as the mortars were fired from Fort Springfield.”

      Yeesh, I sure hope someone got fired for that blunder.

  10. Suggestion for the last ever episode: A love triangle between Selma, Itchy and Ozmodiar.

    In the same sense that most of the terrible joke plots from ‘They’ll Never Stop the Simpsons’ became actual episodes (yes, even Marge becomes a robot), the Spin-Off Showcase has Selma marrying Grampa as a terrible joke plot for Season 9 that later became real.

  11. Season 8 sure is an interesting one. It definitely feels like the crew thought it would be their last, cause in retrospect it started off really great and in these last few episodes I can kinda see some burn out in the storytelling.

    Season 8 was the first season I saw in full when I got into the show so I got plenty of nostalgia for it, but if I can be honest? I think the show’s decay started here. I still like it but I can detect some of the early symptoms of the issues we’d see in the Scully era and beyond (if season 9 put these symptoms in action, then season 8 was the test monkey), if that makes sense.

  12. There are definite signs here that the show was about to fall apart. But in the context of this season, they’re not that bad.

  13. “The Canine Mutiny” was a pretty good episode for season 8. Not as strong as other episodes this season but nothing to really complain about here other than the somewhat weaker plot.

    “The Old Man and the Lisa” was an average episode at best. Never one I remembered fondly though going back to it there is still a pretty decent episode here. It still holds my attention and Burns was at least still his classic self here for the most part.

    “In Marge We Trust” is another weaker episode. The Homer plot was fun but Marge and Lovejoy was just bland and the ending got too silly.

    “Homer’s Enemy” is one of my all-time favorites and never gets old. Grimes is perfect and his growing rage towards Homer is always fun to watch. Even the B plot with Bart and Milhouse was entertaining. I can’t say I was bothered by Homer at all in this episode as he was still in character, albeit exaggerated somewhat for comedic effect with Grimes. Homer really doesn’t start declining as a character until next season.

    “The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase” was a pretty good one. All three segments work well enough but it’s not one I revisit often.

    Loved “The Secret War of Lisa Simpson” and felt for Lisa in this episode. Her isolation and torture from other cadets made her struggles all the more sympathetic.

    Looking back and Season 8 is my third favorite season of the show so I’m always surprised when people say it’s the first season to show signs of decline as it was nothing short of amazing. I’d rank it above the first 5 seasons easily and even the few weaker episodes are still watchable.

    Sure, you could pick out elements here and there that would harm the show later on but none of them are a detriment to Season 8 itself.

  14. I love everything about Mr. Sparkle. You have very lucky dishes, Mr. Simpson.

    Librarian: Is this a local call?
    Homer: ….Yeeeeeesssss…..

    Homer was supposed to be a jerk-ass in the Frank Grimes episode. As you say, that was the point. The show recognized that the entire series had become utterly absurd. Homer wasn’t supposed to be having new wacky adventures two decades later.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s