- Pretty cute detail of Maggie giving the thumbs down to Ned and Smithers’ knight battle.
- My wife has gotten into looming over the past year; I’m hoping at some point I walk in on her and she’s made a tapestry reading, “Hi Mike, I am weaving a loom.”
- Last time I watched this episode, we were a year removed from the fantastic far off future of 2010, and now we’re almost a decade beyond that point. Regardless, this is still easily the best depiction of the future this series has ever done, seamlessly combining plausible predictions (video phones, overcrowded schools with corporate sponsors, the death of the environment) and purposefully silly gags like the old-new planes and exploding robots.
- It’s funny hearing that Lisa has taken up vegetarianism in the future, seemingly predicting “Lisa the Vegetarian” one season later.
- The digital Big Ben flashing “12:00” is my favorite future joke in the entire show, it’s the perfect representation of a technologically advanced future that is still plagued by human error. It reminds me of the pilot of Futurama where we first see the futuristic splendor of New New York, featuring a floating billboard where the ads rotate, but one of the sections is broken and doesn’t rotate when the ads switch. Such a great touch to signify that the future ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.
- Hilarious performance by Yeardley Smith giving her awkward, unsure laugh at Hugh’s father’s pithy remark (“Should I laugh? Was that dry British wit, or subtle self-pity?”) Mr. Parkfield is pleased, delighted to hear such a “boisterous” American laugh.
- Every other future show past this point depicts an older Bart who is just an absolute man child screw-up, which always feels very sad and uncreative to me. For me, I think the most plausible fates for Bart is either he eventually straightens up and flies right, as we see him in “Itchy & Scratchy: The Movie” as a Supreme Court Justice, or in this episode, where he’s a normal blue collar guy working construction and going to strip clubs. He’s still immature, but it feels more believable than him just never maturing past the age of 10 like later episodes.
- Nice touch as we pan by executives Lenny and Carl who appear to be taking a meeting at the plant with the Germans from “Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk.”
- Poor Milhouse, bald like his father at the age of 25. I also love seeing him as a teenager, getting easily shot down by Lisa. Future future shows would depict the two of them as married, which always felt wrong to me, but I can easily see Lisa go on a pity date with Milhouse, play nice, but turning him down before he gets his hopes up.
- The gag with Maggie always getting cut off before speaking is pretty funny in this episode, which they would of course repeat every single other future show. But what is Maggie’s personality? That would actually be interesting to see. How does she get along with the rest of the family as a kid? Or a teenager? The show has done two episodes featuring Bart and Lisa’s adolescence, why not go three for three and characterize Maggie? I’m sure it’ll be terrible, but why not give it a shot?
- Kent Brockman reporting for CNNBCBS (a division of ABC) is definitely the most eerily predictive joke in this episode.
- Gotta love Marge and Lisa laughing about how Milhouse “doesn’t count” in regards to Lisa still wearing white. Poor, poor Milhouse.
- I absolutely love Homer in the third act. He feebly tries to relate to Hugh’s parents (“You know what’s great about you English? Octopussy. Man, I must have seen that movie… twice!”) It’s silly, but he’s really trying. Later, he timidly explains to Lisa why he still has the cufflink (“I found them on the nightstand this morning and… well, I guess they weren’t his cup of tea. Don’t worry about it.”) Like, you can see that he was actually hurt that Hugh left them, but didn’t want to cause a fuss because of Lisa. It’s kind of a sad moment, and perfectly tees up Lisa’s ultimate defense of her family to Hugh.
- “You know, I’ve attempted to enjoy your family on a personal level, on an ironic level, as a novelty, as camp, as kitsch, as a cautionary example… nothing works.”
- Another sweet detail that when Lisa returns to the faire tent at the end, we see Wiggum taking a nap leaning against it. Awww.
- Simpsons Archive retro review: “Last night’s episode was among the most disappointing displays I’ve ever witnessed. Everyone’s already seen Back to the Future, guys. We don’t want the Simpsons version.”
20. Two Dozen and One Greyhounds
- Santa’s Little Helper chasing Snowball II with a knife in his jaws is a pretty insane gag
- Wonderful animation of SLH pulling the “precious cable TV cable” all through the neighborhood. Great touch as the mailboxes get knocked over as the cable hits into them.
- I don’t know if I ever really put it together, but I love the touch that She’s the Fastest is the new #8 at the dog track, seemingly having filled Santa’s Little Helper’s old number.
- The staging of SLH humping She’s the Fastest on the track is just so damn funny. It’s completely unnatural, just him rising up in frame while still running and mounting at the same time, but who cares, it’s great.
- The newborn puppies are so fucking adorable, with their half opened eyes and the little puppy whimpering sound effects.
- Hilarious read by Dan Castellaneta’s “GET THAT CAT OUT OF THE WAY,” followed by the entire family staring daggers at the damn cat.
- The sitcom scene is just fantastic, just a perfect display of on-the-nose hacky writing of the very important dinner where nothing can go wrong, and everything goes wrong. And “See you in hell! …from Heaven” is a hall of fame line for Lovejoy.
- “See My Vest” has got to be in the top 5 songs of the series, a peppy, upbeat, Disney-inspired showstopper that’s all about murdering two dozen puppies for their pelts. What’s not to love? Plus a cameo by human Mrs. Potts, informing Burns he should save two to kill to make matching clogs. Once again, this dog-killing episode is available to stream now on Disney+.
- The door knob jostling and eventually turning all the way around is another of those ridiculous gags that I love just because of how ridiculous they are.
- Bart’s plan of pulling the clothesline to get all of the dogs to stand on their hind legs prompts Burns to spout some purposefully on-the-nose dialogue (“This can’t be happening! They’re all standing. I can’t tell them apart!”) Normally I’d admonish the show for something like this, but the third act paints Mr. Burns as basically a cartoon villain, about to murder a bunch of puppies point blank with a gun, so I feel like dialogue like that almost plays into that angle. He then proceeds to try to murder all the puppies, then Bart and Lisa, but in the end, doesn’t have the heart for it.
- The fake-out of Homer “hanging himself” at the end is absolutely my favorite bait-and-switch of the whole series. It’s just so stupid, but that just makes it all the better. Homer bats the basement light bulb to make him feel better. Sure, why not?
- Simpsons Archive retro review: “This episode had the potential to turn into something absolutely awful, and it did. Puppies? I’m supposed to laugh about puppies? I haven’t seen so much commercialized cuteness since the Care Bears. I think we were all rooting for Burns.”
21. The PTA Disbands
- The gag with the cannon at Fort Springfield is so great. I love any joke where the thing you expect to happen doesn’t actually happen, which this show does a lot of. Pamela Hayden’s matter-of-fact read of the tour guide just totally sells it.
- The Diz-nee takeover of the historical park is such a scathing gag (Sorry, But There’s Profit to be Had), making it all the more inappropriate given the show’s new owners.
- It’s pretty wild seeing Uter get left behind and the camera cuts away just before he’s beaten mercilessly by a bunch of adults with the butts of their fake guns. Not only that, but Krabappel and Skinner don’t really seem to be that bothered by it (“Because of your penny-pinching, we’re coming back from a field trip with the fewest children yet.” “God bless the man who invented permission slips.”)
- I like that in her butting heads with Skinner, Mrs. Krabappel does seem to actually give somewhat a shit about her responsibility as a teacher (“Our demands are very reasonable. By ignoring them, you’re selling out these children’s future!”) Unlike someone like Miss Hoover, it seems like there is a genuine core to Krabappel that wants to be an inspiring educator, but years at a hellhole like Springfield Elementary have worn her down to a nub, and Skinner repeatedly failing to meet her and her fellow co-workers halfway have finally gotten her to the breaking point.
- The band playing “the forbidden music” might be the lamest syndication cut joke. It feels like such a long scene devoted to a joke that’s not even funny. The little girl stuck hanging from the gymnasium rings, a casualty of the teacher’s striking, the dramatic event ending our first act, really feels much more appropriate as an act break scene.
- I like how Bart’s weekday shenanigans feel a bit more wild and reckless than his normal fare, fucking with people at a construction site and causing a pandemonium at the bank. It all signals how without any boundaries, he ends up pushing things a bit too far, like flying a kite at night (“Hello, mother dear…”)
- Meanwhile, conversely, I love how Lisa falls apart because of her desperate need to be validated. It’s not so much the learning as the reinforcement that she’s doing a good job, which feels very believable for a young child to feel. Her desperate pleas to Marge to give her any sort of grade, prompting her to scribble an “A” on a piece of paper and hand it to her, is a great scene.
- Dan Castellaneta’s ADR in the crowd during the PTA scene when Skinner and Krabappel shoot back and forth at each other is really funny. (“Taxes are bad!” “Children are important!” “The taxes! The finger thing means the taxes!”)
- Bart’s “prank” of an enormous log embedding itself into the chalkboard, and presumably the new substitute’s head, is so wild, it’s one of the few times I actually created a shitpost of my own.
- In another instance of the show mocking TV convention, we have Skinner and Krabappel trapped in a small space to figure out their problems (“Me? Go to my office? Well, it’s highly irregular, but alright!”) They then proceed to bang on the door to be let out for hours and hours on end, and eventually when they do get to talking, we get our grand solution: occupied jail cells in the classroom (“It’s all right, children, just ignore the murderer.”)
- Simpsons Archive retro review: “Improbable, poorly scripted, and lacking in all respects. Lisa was completely out of character throughout — proof positive that Jennifer Crittenden must go. An utter disaster and total failure from start to finish. 5/10.”
22. ‘Round Springfield
- I love how awkward the big TV set looks wedged between the counter and the cupboards as the family apparently hauled it into the kitchen to watch during breakfast.
- “Who was George Washington Carver?” “Umm… the guy who chopped up George Washington?”
- What the hell kind of prize is a jagged metal Krusty-O? It’s not a toy of any kind, and the fact that it’s literally a dangerous lookalike of the actual food product literally hidden in the bag of cereal makes it even more on-the-nose stupid… but in a good way.
- Great performance by Marcia Wallace humming “Stars and Stripes Forever,” really milking it before she finally lets a clearly pained Bart go see the nurse. I also never noticed how this “foreshadows” the band concert later where they play the same song; I imagine this wasn’t intentional, but it’s kind of neat.
- “Cheese-eating surrender monkeys” has its own goddamn Wikipedia phrase, as the joke was co-opted by overpaid columnists and blowhard reactionaries to admonish the French for being cowardly or some shit. I remember it came into resurgence leading up to the Iraq War when France decided to opt out of helping us. What a blunder, huh? Almost twenty years later and that occupation’s going just great!
- I really wish we’d gotten at least one other major reappearance of Bleeding Gums Murphy. He was such a fascinating and engaging character out of the box, representing both a dour and optimistic future for Lisa the jazz musician. At least in this show, we give him a decent amount of background, which is interesting to learn, while also feeling like a nice little send-off.
- Great animation on Krusty’s pained overreaction to the (regular) Krusty-O. It feels a little reminiscent of his on-air heart attack from “Krusty Gets Busted.”
- I guess there’s not really much point in knowing exactly why Bleeding Gums is in the hospital and what killed him, it doesn’t really matter. I love how him giving Lisa his sax basically seems like him knowing he’s on his way out, and he might as well give his prized possession to someone who will use it and appreciate it.
- I love the irrationally angry crowd at the school recital, they give the band not even five seconds before they start vehemently booing these eight-year-olds, including Abe (“This sucks!”)
- Alf Clausen’s jazz motif after Bleeding Gums dies that plays throughout the rest of the episode is a really beautiful piece of music, it really just emphasizes and enhances Lisa’s emotional state.
- I’ve always appreciated how the two plots come together at the end so effortlessly, where Bart uses his settlement money to buy Lisa Bleeding Gums’ record, with the very reasonable and believable explanation that she was the only one who believed him when he said he was hurt. Plus, of course, he has his back-up plan with the newly issued Krusty-O’s, featuring flesh-eating bacteria in every box. What could go wrong!
- And of course, obligatory shout-out to Yeardley Smith’s wonderful rendition of “Jazz Man.” Just great.
- Simpsons Archive retro review: “I thought this episode was just plain awful, the only really funny part being the end cloud scene with James Earl Jones voiceovers. I was offended by the sappiness; I like cutting satirical humor. That’s why I watch The Simpsons and why I don’t watch dumb sappy sitcoms.”
23. The Springfield Connection
- The Springfield Pops is a great opening set piece, with Homer’s bizarre indignation toward butchering the Star Wars score (“They’re butchering the classics! Could that bassoon have come in any more late?”)
- Marge’s passion for law and order being sparked by Snake’s crooked card game definitely feels appropriate: she’s speaking as a moralistic housewife wanting clean streets for herself and her children, in a perfect motherly scolding tone (“How dare you prey on the greedy and stupid like this!”)
- Lisa getting Bart in an arm-lock in the kitchen is pretty adorable, both seeing her easily manhandling an emasculated Bart, and her enthusiasm over her mother’s exciting apprehension.
- The sound effect of the shopping cart disappearing in the gigantic wheel of cheese is just… [chef’s kiss]
- Each magazine cover in the “Death Sports” section is better than the last. I really want to read that glass eating article.
- Wiggum’s “What-what-what-what, this better be about pizza!” makes me laugh every damn time.
- Marge really is a badass during her training, especially on the shooting range. Her whole build-up through the first act is great, she’s a character with a lot of pent up frustration and energy, finally getting an outlet.
- I love the Hill Street Blues motif played throughout the episode, and the end credits version where it’s blended with the usual Simpsons theme. I love that version, it’s probably in my top 3 favorites.
- Trigger happy Marge pulling out her gun at the hair salon isn’t quite as “funny” watching it nowadays… Also, the joke where Lisa rightfully questions the police’s focus on mass incarceration to maintain the status quo of the privileged rather than systemic or societal changes to benefit all rings truer than it ever has. And McGruff, the Crime Dog! Did I mention he had a music album?
- The interplay between Homer and Marge at the end is great, as Marge tries harder and harder to give Homer a way out, which then turns into embarrassment and an attempt to save face after Homer takes her hat. The emotions are played so well, thanks to a great performance by Julie Kavner.
- Hans Moleman’s execution is definitely one of the show’s grimmer jokes; Lovejoy’s “From this point on, no talking” is hilarious, but even darker is the following scene with Homer and Marge in the bedroom, the lights flicker off for a second. RIP Hans.
- Herman’s only had a handful of appearances over the years, which is why it’s always interesting whenever he comes back into view. Here, he’s perfect as the understated culprit, as liaison to a smuggling ring under everybody’s nose. If they wanted to write Herman now, he’d basically have to be an insane online Quanon supporter, which would either be hilarious, incredibly depressing, or both.
- There’s a great piece of ADR toward the end that I don’t know if I ever noticed, where everyone’s out on the front lawn with the police, and in the background, Abe complains, “That’s my ambulance! I called for it four hours ago!”
- Simpsons Archive retro review: “Tonight I did something I haven’t done in a long, long time. I actually turned off an episode of The Simpsons before it was over. It seems like the good episodes only come every other week these days. The portion that I saw: D-.”
24. Lemon of Troy
- I love Bart’s fantasy of the future, a technological wonderland that can bring him back to life out of thin air, while concurrently being absolutely fascinated by writing in cement and his simple yo-yo tricks (“What’s normal to him amazes us!”)
- I feel I’ve given Tress MacNeille a bit of a hard time on this blog, as she would be somewhat overused in later seasons, but she is an incredibly gift voice actress, appearing in this episode as Bart’s county line doppelganger Shelby. Tress is just excellent at voicing kid characters, and Shelby is just such a gutsy little shit, the perfect annoying foil for Bart.
- “Hey, everybody! An old man’s talking!” is another line that makes me laugh every single time I hear it.
- Shelbyville Manhattan… what a name.
- I love Milhouse’s slowly building rage at Shelbyville through the first two acts, threatening to kick their butts… at Nintendo, getting more and more incensed at their “thievery” of wearing your backpack with one strap or his famous catchphrase of “radical.” But of course, upon meeting another Milhouse, he melts like a pat of butter in the sun.
- Marge’s phrasing of “a violence gang” is just wonderful.
- Luann Van Houten reveals she was born in Shelbyville (a point that enrages Kirk), but it certainly seems like quite the coincidence given how Kirk and Luann most definitely look like they’re related…
- The Nelson/Martin team-up (Team Discovery Channel) is so fun to watch. I love that Martin takes it upon himself to rough up the poor little kid peddling lemonade (“Okay, piglet, start squealing!” “This is Country Time lemonade mix! There’s never been anything close to a lemon in it, I swear!”) Then only when the kid’s bigger brother emerges does Martin unleash Nelson, who awkwardly knocks the kid out, but not before attempting to justify this bizarre pairing (“Aww jeez, I never hang out with him, normally.”) Episodes in later seasons would depict Nelson and Martin as equal chums to Bart, which always felt incredibly bizarre, making me always think back to this episode.
- This episode perfectly displays Springfield and Shelbyville as two towns filled with the same ignorant loudmouths engaging in a pointless rivalry (“Sounds like Springfield’s got a discipline problem.” “Maybe that’s why we beat them at football nearly half the time, huh?”) This becomes even more absurdist during the skateboard chase when we see all the bizarro mirror-image establishments like the Speed-E-Mart, Joe’s and femme Groundskeeper Willie. I think more than one later season episodes would depict Shelbyville as a more highbrow, enlightened town that looks down at the dirt urchins of Springfield, an extremely strange re-characterization.
- It’s funny that Bart’s eureka moment of knowing Roman numerals is from Rocky movies, when my base knowledge of Roman numerals comes from Treehouse of Horror episodes.
- It’s great that Homer’s Shelbyville double is basically Dan Castellaneta doing a slightly Southern version of his original Walter Matthau-inspired Homer voice. I also figure I say or think ”There’s a doin’s a-transpirin’!” at least once a month. Also, fantastic animation of him attempting a smug face after taking a huge bite out of a lemon.
- Simpsons Archive retro review: “Well, it was an okay episode. A little on the stupid side (at points, so stupid, it was funny). I better see some improvement to the show, or it will be history soon.”
25. Who Shot Mr. Burns? (Part One)
- I’m not quite sure why Willie is digging Superdude a grave in the basement. Wouldn’t it be easier to just do it in the yard? He needs to strike oil in the school itself, that’s why.
- The bit where Homer ignorantly returns Burns his own important envelope is fantastic, I love that he actually was trying to do a good job, which makes the scorn from Burns sting even more. The chip on Homer’s shoulder just gets more and more unbearable as the episode goes on; he’s just a poor miserable schmoe working a job he hates for a relentless rich old codger, and all he wants is to just be recognized by name, and he can’t even get that.
- Great sign gag at the Executive Spa: Physical Fitness for Better Tyranny.
- Some of Skinner and Chalmers’ back-and-forths in the first act definitely feel like forebears to “Steamed Hams,” in particular the Awful School is Awful Rich headline, which I always laugh at (“An unrelated article? Within the banner headline?”)
- Tito Puente’s impromptu appearance is almost like how celebs would randomly show up in future seasons, but it still works because his arrival in Springfield is immediately (and humorously) explained, as Tito has been fooled by Lisa into coming to be her new teacher (“Lisa has told me all your students are as bright and dedicated to jazz as she is!”)
- Skinner confronting a poorly disguised Burns is such a great scene. It’s so much fun seeing him actually with balls; his flat “Please don’t waste those” at Smithers shooting staples at him is so funny.
- What the hell is a sour quince log? A quince is apparently some kind of fruit, but the idea of a sour fruit chocolate doesn’t sound very appealing to me. Burns was right to dispose of it. Poor Homer.
- Burns’ master plan to block out the sun couldn’t be more perfect. A scheme that would be absolutely devastating for the town, representing Burns’ absolute dominance over them all. In addition, it’s the perfect move for an ultra-capitalist to concoct a way to charge people for what nature provides them for free. You think if big business could figure out a way to monetize sunlight, they wouldn’t be all over that shit?
- This might be the greatest script ever written for the show in terms of its story. The potential suspect list just grows and grows as Burns’ oil drilling has more and more natural repercussions to the town. Smithers is shown as getting more and more worn down by Burns’ over-the-top villainy, until even he can’t take it anymore. By act three, literally everyone in town is out for Burns’ blood, but he just revels in their hatred. He’s won, at least for now. It’s just an absolutely compelling ramp up for the entire episode.
- God, what a beautiful camera move when Homer finally snaps and runs across Burns’ office.
- Quimby’s plan to confront Burns is right out of the establishment Democrat’s playbook (“I have here a polite but firm letter to Mr. Burns’ underlings, who with some cajoling, will pass it along to him or at least give him the gist of it.”) His follow-up line is also fantastic (“Also it has been brought to my attention that a number of you are stroking guns. Therefore I will step aside and open up the floor.”)
- Smithers shamefully admitting he spends his days drinking and watching Comedy Central is a joke that didn’t quite age well. I have no real remembrance of a Comedy Central pre-South Park and Daily Show when it was apparently a pretty crap channel.
- The only real clue as to Burns’ true assailant is really brilliant; after Burns confidently asks, “You all talk big, but who here has the guts to stop me?,” we get a pan across all our characters, all of whom lose their nerve and look away. The only one who doesn’t? Maggie, who stares straight ahead.
- I actually watched something I’d never seen before for this rewatch, the “Springfield’s Most Wanted” special that aired before Part Two in the fall of 1995. An obvious parody of America’s Most Wanted hosted by John Walsh, it goes over the case details of Mr. Burns’ shooting, identifying the most likely suspects, and getting thoughts and predictions from guests such as Dennis Franz and Chris Elliott. It’s kind of a cute piece, definitely a product of its time, but feels basically like pointless fluff, considering it aired right before the season premiere. I was originally going to ponder why the special never got released on the season 6 DVD, but looking back, it actually was included as an extra. I poured over those DVD sets so many times, how in the hell did I skip over that feature for so many years?
- Simpsons Archive retro review: “I really liked this episode. The sense of drama was skillfully created, and the jokes largely character-driven instead of merely surreal. A promise of improvement for the next season?”
And that does it for me for 2020! The Revisited series will return in 2021 with season 7, as well as the triumphant return of season 32! Oh boy! Although keep your eyes peeled, there might be a special Christmas surprise coming just in time for the holidays…