Season Nine Revisited (Part Three)

14. Das Bus

  • Homer cheering for a 5pm bedtime definitely hits harder watching in my 30s than last time in my 20s.
  • “You’ve seen the movie, now meet a real-life Noah! Only this Noah has been accused of killing two of every animal! Coming up next on ‘AM Springfield!’”
  • I don’t know if I ever really processed the joke of Milhouse reading out old polish jokes as “facts,” like their submarine with the screen door. It’s certainly something I never understood as a kid watching this, I thought he was just saying a bunch of weird stuff.
  • The Model U.N. banner is pretty excellent.
  • Homer’s B-plot isn’t terrible, only because it barely feels like a story and more of just some stupid thing we keep cutting back to, helped by some pretty excellent quotes (“I think I’ll make myself… vice president. No, wait! Junior vice president!” “Oooh, they have the Internet on computers now!”)– It’s unclear where the bus crashed off the bridge, but how far away is this island from land? The bus gets caught up by a small tidal wave, sinks, then we see the kids crawling onto the island. A cutaway back to Homer and Marge talking about the kids would have at least implied somewhat of a passage of time.
    – Nelson gets two solid lines in response to Bart’s grandiose plans for island living: him asking how many monkey butlers there will be, and his excitement at Bart saying they’ll find some wine for the older kids (“Delicious wine?”)– I know I talked about it last time, but I still hear Sherri (or Terri’s) line, “I’m so hungry, I could eat at Arby’s” as “I could eat an army.” It’s probably because that’s what I heard it as for so many viewings, but the “bys” section sounds so soft and muted. It feels like if they bumped up the level of the final syllable a bit higher, it would be so much clearer.
  • Bart’s underwater adventure to get the sunken cooler feels like a big time killer. Very nice music, very nice animation, but this is a show that used to cram as many gags into twenty-two minutes as possible, and here we have a thirty-second sequence that all culminates in a blowfish biting Bart in the butt. Feels like a waste of good real estate.
  • Exactly how did Homer get an online banner ad without even having a computer? Oh, who cares. The Comic Book Guy scene is maybe one of his best, impatiently waiting for his Star Trek pornography to load, complaining “Oh, hurry up, I am a busy man!” before taking a healthy gulp of his jumbo soda.
  • It’s interesting watching Bill Gates’ appearance having just seen the new episode with J.J. Abrams, it’s a very stark compare and contrast. Gates (not voicing himself) shows up at Homer’s house, not knowing a damn thing about his business, or even caring that it’s not even a business at all, figuring the easier thing for him is to “buy them out,” meaning have his nerd goons smash the joint up (“Oh, I didn’t get rich by writing a lot of checks!”) Scathing, satirical, a truly excellent Simpsons moment attacking the rich and powerful. Compare this to J.J. Abrams (voicing himself), who is depicted as a visionary filmmaking genius who wins over everybody in the end, subject only to the lightest of ribbings about him specializing in reboots and found footage movies. Dramatically different approaches.
  • I feel like I’ve seen this episode so many times in syndication, I have some degree of nostalgia for it. But there’s an awful lot of dead space in the island story where it’s just mostly plot with some jokes peppered in. I think they were so devoted to following the Lord of the Flies template that they forgot to subvert it in any meaningful way. Bits like Nelson pummeling Milhouse in the cage and Milhouse being deadweight to Bart and Lisa in the chase are good, but the back half of the episode with the mystery of “the monster” is pretty boring, bordering on feeling like a kid’s cartoon.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “’Das Bus’ shows that you can have surreal setups, yet still maintain the characterization and ‘human-ness’ that makes ‘The Simpsons’ special. The civilized children’s slide into primitive behavior was generally funny, and didn’t violate anything we knew about their characters. A subplot detailing Homer’s attempts to enter the Internet business provides some good contrast and a few laughs. This show aired on creator Matt Groening’s birthday. It would make a pretty good present, indeed.”

15. The Last Temptation of Krust

  • “What do we need church shoes for? Jesus wore sandals.” “Well, maybe if he had better arch support they wouldn’t have caught him.”
  • Gil working at the shoe store is less “desperate older employee holding on by a thread” like he was in “Realty Bites,” and more just a sad old man with a bad back. Not his best appearance. 
  • The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was making Jay Leno appear likeable in this episode, though he still does brag about his “acres of cars” that he loves so much. The other guest comedians are harmless set dressing who don’t really add or take away anything specifically. On that note comes a major problem with this episode, and with all movies/TV shows about stand-up comedy. The performed jokes are never funny, so you just sit there as you’re watching an audience applaud looking as dumb as Homer (“I get jokes!” is a very quotable line.) In terms of depicting comedy, bad jokes are easy, because it’s all about the audience’s reaction and the behavior of the performer (see: Krusty’s flapping dickey, and the amazing pan of the stunned audience.) But when it’s “good” comedy like the opening comedians, as well as Krusty’s reimagining of himself as a George Carlin-type comic, the jokes never hit right. The third act felt like the writers were coming up with routines inspired by Carlin, but not really satirizing his type of humor.
  • Dog Kills Cat, Self is a wonderfully dark newspaper headline.
  • The scene of Lisa translating each line of the Spanish movie for Marge is kind of weird. It feels like someone came up with the joke concept of an annoyed movie translator, and they decided to just slap it onto Lisa because she’s smart, but I don’t expect an eight-year-old, not even Lisa, to be able to understand full dialogue in a foreign language, especially words like “disco ball.”
  • Bart finding Krusty on the Flanders’ lawn after his bender feels like a believable way to get a Simpson back into the story, unlike future Krusty episodes where Bart and Lisa will just show up at Krustylu Studios for little to no reason at all. My favorite scene is Krusty coming face to face with all the garbage licensed products in Bart’s room, where it finally dawns on him how he’s sold himself out in exchange for his dignity and relevance as a performer. It’s really well done and funny, I almost wish it was put into a stronger episode.
  • I feel like the classic line that’s run through my head the most times watching decades of new episodes has been Krusty’s attempt at relatable comedy (“You mean like when your lazy butler washes your sock garters and they’re still covered with shmutz?”) As Springfield slowly morphed into Los Angeles, Jr. and the Simpsons found themselves recurring instant successes in lavish scenarios, that quote would instantly come to mind.
  • “Bart’s Comedy Jam” is an excellent scene, starting with Bart’s impression of his mother (Nancy Cartwright having fun mimicking Julie Kavner), much to the adorable enjoyment of Homer and Lisa. Krusty feebly tries his hand at observational humor, but falls flat (“Two cent stamps… pizza pie’s very hot these days… can’t open pickle jars… no mail on Sundays…”) I also love Bart repeating his excuse about the acoustics being bad, only to be rudely cut off by Krusty. A consistent in this episode is the classic relationship of Bart’s undying allegiance to his childhood hero, and Krusty barely giving a shit about his young fan.
  • When (or if) the show actually announces it’s ending, I will be incredibly disappointed if a reporter doesn’t ask, “Why now? Why not twenty years ago?”
  • A nice detail I don’t think I’ve noticed before, Bart’s voice has a little bit of echo on it while sitting in the incredibly spacious Canyonero.
  • There’s a bunch of good, even great, moments in this episode, but it could have been a complete dud and still been mostly saved by the Canyonero ending. Just the perfect fake ad for the obnoxiously large and questionably safe SUV (“Top of the line in utility sports! Unexplained fires are a matter for the courts!”)
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “A dismal effort. Joke after joke failed to make me laugh, with all those comedians up there you’d think something would. Celebrity cameos do nothing for me, and neither does stand-up type of humor. A very weak outing in a very weak season… something has to change.”

16. Dumbbell Indemnity

  • Homer just completely destroying the water heater will trying to “fix” it is not a great moment. There are plenty of past moments of Homer being as stupid if not more so, but this is Scully-era Homer stupidity where it’s more aggressive and destructive, in this case, flooding the entire house as he scurries off to Moe’s to let Marge deal with it (what a guy!) To be fair, the animation of the flooding water cascading over the house looks very nice.
  • Rene appears to be the first in an incredibly long line of guest girlfriend/boyfriend characters on the show to have absolutely no personality. She’s a nice girl who likes Moe… because that’s what the plot is. No quirks, no backstory, no specific wants or desires, she’s just a plot device for the Homer/Moe story. It’s made all the more eyebrow-raising as she’s voiced by Helen Hunt, Hank Azaria’s then-girlfriend, so maybe the writers were hesitant to make her anything but the sweetest, blandest woman ever? She also gets introduced running a flower cart at night, which is never referred to again and makes no sense. It reminded me of one of the last episodes of Futurama where Zoidberg started dating a woman who ran a flower cart, but that actually played into the episode; she had no sense of smell, so Zoidberg’s horrific odor doesn’t turn her off.
  • “Bring us the finest food you’ve got, stuffed with the second finest.” “Excellent, sir. Lobster stuffed with tacos.”
  • This episode also brings us our first glimpse at softened Moe, which has been a favorite with writers over the past twenty years, and it just doesn’t work. I remember liking “Moe Baby Blues” okay, but I feel like if I rewatched it, I’d be less charitable. I’m fine with depicting Moe as more sympathetic and less of a psychopath, but he still needs to be funny or interesting, and most of the time, he’s not, he’s just sad and pathetic. 
  • I like that Lou is already noticeably buzzed before the cruise even starts.
  • Moe’s car flies off the cliff, then it sinks, then it falls down an underwater cliff, falling, falling… man, is it boring.
  • I winced when Homer tearfully said that he and Moe were best friends. His best friend originally was Barney, but that relationship has more or less faded at this point. He hangs out with Lenny and Carl all day at work and at the bar. I’ve repeated over and over why Moe and Marge should never, ever be on good terms with each other, but I also don’t like how close Homer and Moe end up becoming either. Homer can be deluded enough into thinking Moe’s a good friend of his, but I enjoy Moe the best when he’s a crass, manipulative reprobate, not the surly jerk with a heart of gold they would eventually turn him into. I guess it’s personal preference, but I just find Moe funnier and more interesting in the former characterization than the latter. As for this new Homer-Moe relationship, it’s like “The Homer They Fall” creaked the door open, and “Dumbbell Indemnity” bum-rushed its way in.
  • Moe goes to talk to Homer in the alleyway of the jail, which just happens to have a window there, but I can excuse that. Meanwhile, Rene is just standing there on the sidewalk waiting for Moe to come back, I guess not particularly caring what he was doing in the alley or who he was talking to. Homer’s jail window also becomes a huge cheat because for the rest of the scene, the window is now right up against the corner of the jail so Moe can see him from across the street.
  • Rene is such a non-character, she doesn’t even create the conflict of the episode. Moe inexplicably feels the need to spend as much money as possible on this woman, but she doesn’t seem to be a woman who enjoys the fancy things at all, evidenced by her initially turning down Moe’s suggested trip to Hawaii (“Let’s just get a can of poi and eat it in the tub.”) That’s all fine, as the episode could be about Moe’s incredible insecurities making him think he needs to spend, spend, spend to hold onto this woman, but that idea isn’t evident or fleshed out in the episode at all.
  • The ending kind of sucks, Moe and Homer fighting in the burning bar. Then Barney comes out of the bathroom, I guess being oblivious to everything, carries Moe and Homer’s bodies out, then passes out from smoke inhalation just so he doesn’t have to be in the scene anymore. Meh.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review:This was the episode I KNEW the current staff could do! Instead of the forced references and vain attempts at Simpsonesqueness other episodes this season had fallen back on, this had what the show should always be: A funny, fast-paced, decent plot with tons of originality and classic Homer. For the first time since ‘The Cartridge Family,’ I don’t need to give an episode the benefit of the doubt!”

17. Lisa the Simpson

  • Great snappy piece of animation of the vacuum sealed lunch. The squash and stretch of Milhouse’s face and Lisa’s hair points is just lovely.
  • I like that the Picto-Puzzle is on screen enough times that you might be able to solve it yourself. It’s also the perfect catalyst to throw Lisa off her game, a deceptively easy brain teaser, one of those things that would finally click with you after spending hours on it and kicking yourself for not thinking of the simple answer sooner. Ralph figuring it out before her just pours salt into the wound (“I don’t need a hint, Ralph!” ”But you’re suffering!”)
  • The exterior shot of the school as both the kids and teachers run out overjoyed at the final bell is so great, and made even better when you see the next day, the kids and teachers walking back in together, depressed about another school day.
  • Homer’s innocent giddiness at the nudie pens is a nice little scene, and an effective joke to carry over the time lapse before he and Apu discover Jasper in the freezer.
  • Marge cutting Abe’s hair is such a great scene. This show used to thrive on showing believable moments of a normal family, and Marge cutting her ornery father-in-law’s hair (using the kitchen tablecloth as a bib, a wonderful little touch) is a great example, even better with two characters who don’t directly interact that much. The ending of Marge “accidentally” nipping the back of Abe’s head after he insults her cooking is a great passive aggressive moment.
  • Although not his final appearance, “Someone’s in the Kitchen with DNA” feels like Troy McClure’s swan song. Each joke is a slam dunk: Troy taking off his hazmat suit, causing the other scientists to flee, two of the greatest “you may remember me” film titles ever (“Alice Doesn’t Live Anymore” and “Mommy, What’s Wrong With That Man’s Face?”) and of course, his dumbstruck look when little Billy asks him a simple question, hard-cutting to the end card.
  • The Freak-E-Mart is the perfect B-plot for this episode, a breezy, dumb-but-not-too-dumb story to offset Lisa’s tale of introspective woe. Jasper freezing himself is kind of outlandish, but nothing too crazy that I can’t go along with it. The different cheap exhibits Apu puts up are great (Haunted Cash Machine: Dispenses Images of Dead Presidents) and the conclusion of Jasper awakening in the “future” is so good (“Moon Pie? What a time to be alive.”)
  • The dramatic lighting and staging of Lisa joining Bart and Homer in front of the TV is beautiful, it really drives home the weight of Lisa’s resignation.
  • “When Buildings Collapse” and “When Surgery Goes Wrong” almost sound too much like actual programs that FOX would air in the late 90s.
  • The montage of Lisa indulging in enlightened pleasures before her “dumbening” is perfectly emblematic of the world of the show. Each one of her interactions is coated with cynicism: the art gallery guard who admits to forging the painting, the petulant music critic (“You have to listen to the notes she’s not playing.” “Pfft. I can do that at home,”) and finally the violinist who serves Lisa a cliche line about sharing your specialness with the world, but only to get her to actually buy one of her tapes. If this scene were done in a season 32 episode, it would most definitely have been played straight, this fellow musician dispensing heartfelt advice at the emotional climax of the story.
  • Jeez. Either Sanjay’s tucking himself, or he ain’t packing much.
  • This has got to be like the twentieth or so time I’ve seen this, and I just realized that Lisa getting on TV via an editorial reply was set up earlier with an editorial reply interrupting “When Buildings Collapse.” They didn’t need to connect those two dots, but they did anyway.
  • The station director letting Lisa go off script (“Let her speak. I’m trying to get fired”) is another joke that I love that would never have happened in a season 32 equivalent scene.
  • I love all the vocal variants Dan Castellaneta does for all the Simpson men. The “Simpson gene is true” ending is a bit silly, but it feels like a suitable backhanded payoff, where Lisa’s future is cleared but Bart is doomed to failure (“a spectacular failure!”) I think this is my favorite episode of season 9, with “City of New York” a close second. I do not consider it a coincidence these are both Oakley/Weinstein shows.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “An interesting expansion on the theory that failure is familial for Simpsons, but too general and simplistically off-the-mark in the ending. The subplot was a major drag, having no relation at all to the main plot, and being incredibly stupid, mediocre and far-fetched. Another minus is Bart’s ‘dance on her grave’ line, indicating that Ned Goldreyer could use work (namely pre-fifth season work), but is on the right track somewhat more than other writers have been. I appreciate his goal to tell a story rather than to clutter a story with inappropriate or idiotic gags that try too hard.”

18. This Little Wiggy

  • Milhouse and Nelson’s fantasies off of Robbie the Automaton’s in-class commercial feel like lesser versions of these kinds of childish dreams we’ve seen before. Milhouse touches a star and it disintegrates his arm, which feels more like a Bart fantasy, and Nelson’s really interested in the Three Stooges? This feels around the point where older references were starting to grow a little stale. Did kids in the late 90s even know who the Three Stooges were? Were they still being rerun on stations kids watched back then?
  • The Knowledgeum is a fun set piece, definitely the strongest stuff in the whole episode. Troy McClure gives a great intro on the moving walkway; I like his casual mentioning of your car may be subject to repeated break-ins much to Homer’s panic, but it’s kind of a slightly lesser version of the similar joke in “Lisa the Vegetarian,” without the expert pay-off of the Simpson car pulling up the driveway with a busted back window with no further mention.
  • Bart runs off to “toss the virtual salad,” which feels like a pretty raw entendre for him to make. It’s one thing if they had him do a general sex joke or a boner joke, but this is a ten-year-old talking about eating ass. Is there any other slang definition for “tossing salad” that I don’t know about?
  • There’s a sweet little moment when Martin takes a picture of Frink’s visible computer demonstration, and Frink gets visibly embarrassed and proud about it.
  • In this episode all about Ralph, he basically has no real agency in the story and just wanders about until he accidentally moves the plot forward. We’re a long ways from “I Love Lisa” where he was just this dim, oblivious kid still capable of actual emotions. This episode kind of firmly establishes this “new” Ralph, a literal mentally challenged child whose dialogue is 80% desperate one-liner attempts at making the next “I bent my Wookie” or “Me fail English?” There have been a few later attempts to try and give Ralph a bit more to do (he had actual sentences of dialogue recently in “Wad Goals,”) but they come off really bizarre given how he’s basically been reduced to a prop character over a decade. You can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube, fellas, you’re stuck with what you made.
  • I really like the kernel of an idea of this episode about being stuck with an undesirable or embarrassingly playmate as a kid, where Bart butts heads with Marge about being forced to hang out with Ralph. The episode doesn’t go anywhere particularly interesting with that idea, but it is there!
  • “Videotaping this crime spree is the best idea we ever had!” For all the stupid “Simpsons predicted it!” “theories” that went viral over the past year, this Jimbo line feels like an appropriate analogue for the January Capitol riots. A joke about short-sided and dumb teenage shenanigans translates perfectly to short-side, alt-right, fame-hungry dullards.
  • There’s some subtle depth to Chief Wiggum in this episode and his feelings toward Ralph, like when Marge almost sarcastically tells her, yeah, it would be nice if Ralph had some friends. He fully cops to his son having special needs and no one really wanting to be around him, and he feels bad about it, but has kind of run out of ideas of what to do. Later, when he sees Ralph and Bart playing together, his excitement over Ralph’s first friend is really endearing.
  • When Bart and Ralph run into the bullies at night, the average episode takes a big nosedive. Bart giving into peer pressure with the bullies and turning away a crying Ralph feels like cliche after school special material played completely straight. I can buy Bart standing up to Ralph getting mercilessly bullied, but when it gets to the point that he actually considers Ralph a friend, it’s just too much. Them exploring the penitentiary is boring and overly drawn out, and the grand finale of saving Quimby from the active electric chair is equally as dull, especially since they have not one but two scenes of Quimby explaining how dumb the ending is, telling his staff to not help him despite how “realistic” his convulsions are. Lisa fires a rocket with a note at the penitentiary… like, even if it did actually work, not only is the plan to fire at this building way in the distance, but were they banking on it going through the exact window where the execution room was? Is there even a window in that room? Oh, who cares.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review:Can somebody please remind me why I’ve ever been  disappointed with this season? This was amazing. Nothing OOC, plenty of original, inspired gags and every member of OFF had a respectable amount of time. The plot seemed to change dramatically in the last few seconds of the first act, but it took me until second viewing to even notice. Looking back at my past few reviews, I’ve begun to realize I love this season! As of this episode, I’m raising my standards for an A.

19. Simpson Tide

  • The Planet of the Donuts is a pretty good opening dream. Maybe not as memorable as “Birth of Man” in “Lisa’s Pony” or the donut fashion show at the start of “Treehouse of Horror IV,” but pretty good. I also appreciate it ending right when Homer gets eaten by the enormous donut; I feel like a modern episode would include some unfunny button on that scene, but instead, it got out when the going was good.
  • Homer dropping a donut into the reactor (via a post office mail slot, no less) is just stupid enough that I can go along with it. I also like what we see of the aftermath that the cooling towers are on fire; I doubt that that’s very realistic, but it seemed like a believable consequence that would be worth Homer getting fired over.
  • The Navy commercial is fantastic, just the sales pitch that would appeal to Homer: getting drunk and doing fuck all for your country.
  • The man at the recruitment office is a familiar extra, it’s the “Just Stamp the Ticket” man from “When Flanders Failed”! I don’t know if I ever noticed that. He gets a one-scene wonder as Homer attempts to answer the one crossed off application question, much to his horror. Hey, have I brought up Dankmus recently?
  • I like that during basic training, Homer is more lovable buffoon than aggravating maniac (“You like me, but I don’t like you!” “Well, maybe you’d like me if you got to know me!”) Endearing touches like that stand out in a silly premise like this. Similarly, a ridiculous gag like a gigantic untethered ship going over a waterfall is balanced by Homer actually making a competent knot but forgetting to tie it to the ship, not him completely forgetting, or worse, having a blind active hand in the accident.
  • It really feels like this episode has one of the earliest “there’s-a-Starbucks-everywhere” jokes. When did those explode in popularity? My only frame of reference is a Lewis Black routine about “the end of the universe” being somewhere in Texas, where he saw a Starbucks across from another Starbucks, from a performance performed in 2001, while this episode aired in 1998.
  • The earring subplot is fine as is. It’s not really much of a “plot,” really, but I like that Homer’s annoyance at Bart’s earring runs throughout the show, and pretty effortlessly comes back by the end to be the lynchpin to save the day.
  • It’s so dumb, but I still like the “In the Navy” scene (although throwing Smithers in felt pushing it too far), if only because they just up and drown the Village People. They weren’t actually guest stars, but it’s nice to see one of the last big celebrity fuck-yous before we get deeper into the Mike Scully era and we get NSYNC magically arriving on their speedboat to heroically save the day.
  • I like that they clearly establish that Captain Tenille is not only a partially oblivious old man who projects onto people, but he actually might be physically ill on top of it (“Maybe it’s the saltwater in my veins, or the nitrogen bubbles in my brain…”) as an explanation as to why the fuck he would leave Homer in charge of the sub.
  • “I told him that photo would come back to haunt him.”
  • I absolutely love that Skinner brought Terri up with her sister on stage only to tell her to fuck off, we’re only saving one of you. That’s some good school administrator cruelty.
  • This episode is undeniably ridiculous, and Homer the naval captain is no less crazy and ridiculous as any of his future professions, but this episode feels like it strikes the right loose tone that it doesn’t feel out-of-reach outlandish, considering the climax is Homer plugging a pin-sized hole on the ship. Him magically knowing how to say “It’s my first day” in penguin is acceptable since I like the scene as a callback to the opening. We also get a joke explanation as to why the hell Homer wasn’t arrested, as all of the commanding officers in charge of indicting her are actually in the middle of their own indictments, getting him off the hook (“You can’t spell ‘dishonorable’ without ‘honorable.’’)
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “I just want to say that I think ‘Simpson Tide’ was great… for an episode of ‘The Critic.’ It epitomizes the worst episodes of ‘The Simpsons:’ fast-paced gags, sophomoric humor, discontinuity, little or no ironic commentary, and a tacked-on plot which just serves as a set-up for quickie sight jokes. But the worst sin of all is the fact that the gags in this show were unfunny! All-in-all a very dissatisfying episode with a couple of genuinely funny bits. And to think I missed last week’s Ralph Wiggum episode only to see this clunker!”

20 thoughts on “Season Nine Revisited (Part Three)

  1. Didn’t realize it until I read this post, but funilly enough Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure had a character also named Captain Tenille…. 11 years earlier. Then again anime wasn’t as big in the States as it is now and Jojo was nowhere as popular as it is now, but just a funny coincidence.

    -Disappointed you didn’t mention the immortal “Moon Pies… what a time to be alive.” I really like the Freak-E-Mart subplot, it’s dumb as hell but in the best way possible in that near every joke hits it’s mark. Lisa the Simpson is honestly a great episode in general, surprised they didn’t do the A-plot earlier, it always felt like kind of an obvious premise to me.

    -Few episodes have as much squandered potential as This Little Wiggy IMO. The Knowledgeum is a near perfect riff of those interactive children’s science museums, and I really love the conceit of Bart being forced to play with Bart. That alone and not making Ralph like literally special needs would’ve made it a great episode, but no, it just veers hard into stupid territory.

    -Honestly, I prefer the B-plot to the A-plot in Das Bus any day. The A-plot always felt pretty weak to me besides a few classic lines (“They taste like burning!” is one of the last few immortal Ralph lines), but the B-plot works in the exact same way the Freak-E-Mart does, they’re just goddamn funny.

    -Dumbell Indemnity is pretty forgettable, but I do love “Why all the black?” “Why all the pearls? Why all the hair? Why anything?”

    -God I love the Canyonero segment. I was born 3 years after that episode aired and I can still 100% get what it’s a shot at, dumb, over the top, ultra-American car commercials. But then again, idk if I should applaud the show for those commercials still being around. Regardless though, it’s a fantastic segment that gives it a solid spot in the list of classic Simpsons musical numbers.

    1. “Disappointed you didn’t mention the immortal “Moon Pies… what a time to be alive.””

      He did.

      1. Yeah I know who Captain & Tennille, just a funny coincidence both did the same jab/reference. And my bad for missing the Moon pies bit- I posted this during a Zoom call so my attention was kinda half reading/typing that half paying attention lol

  2. Re: When Starbucks exploded in popularity.

    I would say probably around the early to mid ’90s. That’s when they started opening up shops outside of Seattle, and then suddenly every market had one. I think it was around the 2000s when even small towns started having multiple ones. I remember it being a big deal when the town of 28,000 I grew up in opened its FIFTH Starbucks (including one inside a grocery store in the middle of a shopping center that also had a Starbucks).

    Also, “Canyonero” is the best thing Hank Williams Jr. has ever performed. (Yes, even better than that stupid Monday Night Football theme.)

  3. The ending of “Das Bus” has to be one of the biggest cop outs I’ve ever seen.

    It rivals “Children of a Lesser Clod” (three mistrials later) and “Homer the Moe”.

  4. “Another minus is Bart’s ‘dance on her grave’ line, indicating that Ned Goldreyer could use work (namely pre-fifth season work).”

    Proof if proof were needed that in 1997/8 the Simpsons Archive reviewers were still more accustomed to seasons 1-4 than they were to the Mirkin and Oakley/Weinstein eras.

  5. “Tossing the salad” is slang for masturbation. I don’t know how you got “eating ass” from that.

      1. Huh, there it is. Maybe it’s something lost in translation. Here in England, I’ve only ever heard it used as a substitute for masturbation. We call people “tossers” a lot, that or “wankers”. So if you ever hear that, just know you’re being abused. We’re quite an abrasive nation sometimes.

      2. I’ve heard “tossers,” but didn’t realize it was synonymous with “wankers,” but I see the connection now. I’ve never heard “tossing” used by itself though. Boy, language sure is fun, huh?

    1. I learned about “tossed salad” from that famous Chris Rock stand up routine, where it definitely meant eating butt. Rock was also referencing a prison reality show in that bit, so yeah lol.

  6. “Das Bus” isn’t a bad episode, but man, is it a let-down, mainly because the start of this episode is so damn good featuring great classic scenes like the Model U.N. meeting, (Why an elementary school would have that I had no idea other than that’s the joke) the “Songs to Enrage Bus Drivers!” cassette, and I love Otto’s “Zeppelin rules!” as he gets carried away by the tide. But then it just feels like a Simpsonized version of Lord of the Flies, which I like as a concept but I feel they played a bit too straight to the point where it wouldn’t be place in one of those generic trilogy episodes from the double-digit seasons (I wouldn’t be surprised if your “Bible Stories” re-review next season had only like four bullet points) Sure, there are some great jokes in the island (Always love “Coconut Nintendo system”) but compared to the beginning, there a lot more scarce and spread out. At least the B-plot is pretty great and nice comparison to “Do Pizzabots Dream of Electric Guitars?” (Man, I’ll never get tired of that title)

    “The Last Temptation of Krust” however, is an episode that I can definitely say it’s good. Yeah, it’s not perfect, and I agree with you that the “intentionally funny” stand-up is the episode’s biggest problem, but it’s still an interesting character study for Krusty and there’s still a lot of great laughs, such as the stand up that’s not supposed to be funny. I love the flapping dickey scene but Krusty’s terrible stand-up about herpes from “$pringfield” was better. But hey, who doesn’t love the Canyonero song? It’s a song that makes me forget I’m watching Season 9 and not Season 4. Later this season we’ll get the Garbageman song which is also awesome.

    Once again, your revisit of “Dumbell Indemnity” is much less positive and upbeat than your younger innocent self from 2012. Yeah, there’s some funny moments (I love “Hail to the Chimp”) but overall, this episode… yeah, it sucks. I don’t hate it like “Miracle on Evergreen Terrace” though. There are two season 9 episodes I genuinely hate and the second one, will be in Part 4.

    “I winced when Homer tearfully said that he and Moe were best friends. His best friend originally was Barney, but that relationship has more or less faded at this point.”

    It’s interesting you bring that up considering that Barney being Homer’s best friend seems to be a concept that was dropped around Season 6 or so. I could be wrong, but the last time the show referenced Homer and Barney’s friendship was when they tried out for the Gong Show in 1977. (“We got more gongs than the break-dancing robot that caught on fire”) I think the reason why they made Moe, Lenny and Carl the new best friends for Homer is because they ended up being characters Homer interacts with more. And then Zombie Simpsons took it two far and made the three Homer’s childhood friends for some stupid fucking reason. I don’t mind Lenny going to high school with Homer, but at least “Bart Star” knew not to have him know who Homer was in school.

    “Lisa the Simpson” is definitely a solid episode. I don’t think I’d consider it to be one of the best Season 9s, but it’s still head and shoulders above most of season and would have a lot more competition were it rightfully a Season 8 episode. About time we have a grounded Lisa story with Homer not stealing the show. I love the Freak-E-Mart B plot, and seeing the Simpson relatives was a lot of fun. I also love Lisa’s “Woo-hoo!” after she finally solves the brain-teaser. WHY DOES MR. ENTER HATE THIS EPISODE

    Man, I’m noticing a pattern here; A not so good episode, followed by a good episode. And now after the good episode, we get the not so good episode. Yeah, I’m not a big fan of “This Little Wiggy.” It can join the club with “Bart Carny” and “Dumbbell Indemnity” for episodes that are bad, but not awful. Like you said, the Knowledgeum is is easily the best part of the episode but things go south so quickly when Ralph arrives. I know in your original review you said this was the episode that killed Ralph. I understand your reasoning considering it’s the show where they realized having Ralph say stupid random shit could give them easy laughs, but I don’t think Ralph’s dead yet, because we have yet to hear him say the classic “Super Nintendo Chalmers” line next season, in one of the few actually good Season 10 episodes. And I do love leprechaun that tells Ralph to burn things.

    Continuing the pattern, we have “Simpson Tide,” easily the weakest of the four 3G episodes by Jean & Reiss, with a wacky plot that wouldn’t feel out of place in the double digit seasons but the Season 4 quality humor throughout is what keeps this episode in my good graces. There’s just so many hilarious lines, so even if the plot is admittedly shitty, it doesn’t bother be as much if, as you’ve always said, “Humor can absolve anything.” I’m sorry Dead Homer Society; I love your “Crazy Noises” series, but you were way too harsh on this episode. My favorite scene is at the U.N. building where Russia becomes the Soviet Union again and Lenin’s corpse gets reanimated and chants “Must crush capitalism!” That’s basically my response to Zombie Simpsons being renewed for Seasons 33 & 34 and must… contain… blinding… rage…

    So far, in terms of Season 9, the episodes that are worth watching would be “The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson,” “Lisa’s Sax,” “Treehouse of Horror VIII,” “The Cartridge Family,” “Bart Star,” “The Joy of Sect,” “The Last Temptation of Krust,” “Lisa the Simpson,” and “Simpson Tide.” After you’re done revisiting Season 9, I plan to rank all 24 episodes by tiers, ’cause why not?

    1. The model UN scene is just filled with great jokes, from “In conclusion, Libya is a land of contrasts” to “Do you want to be like the real UN or do you just want to squabble and waste time” to Ralph singing “O Canada.” (That’s a characterization of Ralph that I miss: that he was this dumb kid but also had some unexpected talents such as being able to act or sing. The “I think Homer gets stupider every season” observation can also easily be applied to Ralph.)

    2. It seems to me that by Season 7 the series was making a purposeful effort to move away from Barney, which makes sense if you’re aware just how contentious a character he was behind the scenes. He wasn’t outright retired (as some of the writers wanted) but it’s around this point that he started to be low-key relieved of his duties as Homer’s best friend, and you can see how Moe was being primed to fill the niche from as far back as Team Homer – I’m not certain, but I think that may have been the first time Homer and Moe had any kind of social one-on-one time outside of the bar, a sign of the shifting dynamics.

      In the show’s initial years, Moe was only really the focus of one episode, Flaming Moe, but across seasons 7, 8 & 9 you can see how he underwent a big upgrade in terms of centrality – in addition to his supporting role in Team Homer, he got his own subplot in Bart Sells His Soul, followed by central roles in Homer They Fall, Spin-off Showcase and Dumbbell Indemnity.

  7. “The Last Temptation of Krust” and “Simpson Tide” are the only ones here I never cared for. All the others were pretty good/solid.

    It’s amazing how steadily the show is declining at this stage. Most of these season 9 episodes are still good/great but there are a handful that I either don’t care for or hardly ever watch. That already is a big decline from seasons 8 where nearly every episode never gets old.

    Season 10 should be quite a treat lol.

  8. I grew up in the 90’s and The Three Stooges were still being shown on Saturday mornings, Leslie Nielsen was the host. I also used to watch The Little Rascals and Laurel and Hardy on TCM. I’m not sure if I was a typical kid but I grew up loving all of that stuff.

  9. I was born in 1986 and I’ve always known who “The Three Stooges” were. I don’t know about today, but their films were still playing on TV when I was a kid and it wasn’t all that hard to find them either.

    1. As a 80s/90s child, I first learn of the Stooges through their appearence on a repeat of the 1970s’ The New Scooby Doo Movies.

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