I'm Always Right: The Definitive Guide to The Simpsons, Part 2
Last week, we took a look at the first seven seasons of The Simpsons. Or, should I say, I took a look and allowed you to come along for the ride. To recap, I am the ultimate source of knowledge in regards to The Simpsons. Everything that I say or do on the subject is one hundred percent correct simply by merit of my being me. Some of you seemed to have a problem grasping that concept last week. Let me spell it out for you. If you find yourself questioning the information presented in this article, just stop right there. No matter what conclusions you come to on your own, unless it is in complete accordance with what I say, it is inherently wrong. Now, don't go blowing this all out of proportion. I'm not saying anything negative about you as a person, I'm not insulting your masculinity/femininity (well, let's be realistic, just masculinity), I'm not passing any sort of judgment about your life or personal occupation. No, I'm doing this for your benefit. I'm doing this for the benefit of us all. It is my dream that once this guide is completed, never more will people lose teeth, eyes, and most of all dignity over petty arguments about when the show really started going downhill, if it can regain its former glory, what the best episode is, et cetera, et cetera. You see, I know the answers to those difficult questions. What's more, I can substantiate those answers with evidence from the episodes. I know the little details, too. I know what generation Springfieldian Belle is (sixth). I know if Moe says "car hole" or "car hold" (hole). I know the names of all three incarnations of Little Timmy and the Shebangs. Most of you don't even know who Little Timmy and the Shebangs are. I could spend days proving why my Simpsons knowledge is far greater than yours, but we're trying to help humanity, here, not test my formidable mettle. It would be best if you'd just lay back and accept everything that I say as fact. Once you've leapt that hurdle, the road to your Simpsons salvation is smooth and obstacle-free. And what a road it is! Today, I'm going to cover seasons eighth through thirteen, then take a special look at how season fourteen is progressing so far. We've got a long way to go, and there's no turning back now! Well, I guess you could close the window. Or scroll down a little. Or click something on the sidebars. But beyond that, there's virtually no turning back now! Sort of.
Season Eight: Dear God, this season is beautiful. This was the king of seasons, and I'll take no guff about it. Do you hear me? Zero guff. After a high quality "Treehouse of Horror," the regular season kicked off with "You Only Move Twice," A.K.A. the Hank Scorpio episode. There are many good episodes in Simpsons history. There are many great episodes. This one is best. It has no shortcomings. "I moved here from Canada and they think I'm slow, eh?" is one of the most frequently quoted lines on the Something Awful forums, an impressive feat. The season also contains what may well be the greatest insult The Simpsons has yet contributed to the English language, "assbutt." The weak link in the season is "My Sister, My Sitter," when Lisa babysits Bart and Maggie. If nothing else, the episode serves as a testament to Homer. He didn't have much to do in the episode, and Bart and Lisa couldn't carry it on their own. Other than that, though, the season is rock solid. "Homer vs. the Eighteenth Amendment" taught us that alcohol is "the cause of - and solution to - all of life's problems. "Mountain of Madness" taught us that pharaohs do, indeed, enjoy a good sit. "Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious taught us the astounding benefits of doing a half-assed job. We met Poochie, Cecil Terwilliger, and Lucius Sweet. We saw Milhouse's parents get divorced, Mr. Burns be mistaken for an alien, and Homer go an a mystical spirit quest. There's too much good stuff in this season to go into any great detail. I say goddamn, son.
Treehouse of Horror VII: Bart discovers he has an evil twin, Lisa creates a tiny civilization, and Kodos and Kang replace Bill Clinton and Bob Dole. There are better "Treehouse of Horror" episodes, but not by much. The second story revives the time-honored tradition of blatantly stealing from The Twilight Zone. Muy quality, as they say in Spain. At least, as they will say in Spain once I complete my doomsday device. But I've said too much already.
Season Nine: A step down in quality from season eight, but still a strong season. Except for the first appearance of Duffman, I shrugged when the Simpsons went to New York, and I only gave four-fifths of a damn when the real Principal Skinner showed up. "All Singing, All Dancing" proved that the show has had some memorable musical moments, but that the writing just isn't as sharp when it's put to music. Lisa stole her share of the spotlight, and the result was not great. The only good thing that came out of "Lost Our Lisa" was the classic line, "I'm not normally a praying man, but if you're up there, please save me, Superman!" The only good thing that came out of "Lisa the Simpson" was that my uncle then challenged my father to a round of pot-helmet headbutting. On the other hand, "Lisa the Skeptic," also known as the angel episode, was not only one of the best of the season, but one of the best to date. "Realty Bites" gave ol' Gil a chance to shine. I laughed my ass off when Homer became sanitation commissioner."Girly Edition" had plenty of laughs, and more importantly, Mojo the helper monkey. No one can resist the awesome power of "Pray for Mojo." Not even Jesus.
Treehouse of Horror VIII: A French Neutron bomb leaves Homer as the last man alive, Bart swaps DNA with a fly, and Marge, Patty, and Selma are three witches on a kid-eating rampage. Frankly, that's my favorite kind of rampage, but I can never find anyone to go with. The episode is good, but it's not that good. A lot of the jokes are forced or rushed, especially in the last two segments. The highlight of the episode is in the first segment, as the neutron bomb bears down on Comic Book Guy: "But Aquaman, you cannot marry a woman without gills! You're from two different worlds! Oh, I've wasted my life." Ha ha ha... you sure have, Comic Book Guy. You sure have.
Season Ten: Now we're really starting to see some deterioration. The best episodes in the season are still golden, but the low points are almost devoid of good laughs. When I say "low points," I'm referring to "Sunday Cruddy Sunday" (the self-admittedly lame Super Bowl episode), "Marge Simpson in: 'Screaming Yellow Honkers'" (the uber-weak road rage episode), and "Make Room for Lisa" (the annoying Lisa's-mad-at-Homer-so-he-takes-her-places episode). Other episodes were saved by a single subplot, such as "Lisa Gets an 'A,'" which squeaked by on the tasty red shoulders of Mr. Pinchy the lobster. or "The Old Man and the 'C' Student," where Bart's escapades with the elderly thankfully overshadowed Homer's flimsy spring salesman subplot. The season flexed it muscle for "Mom and Pop Art," where Homer becomes an outsider artist, "Maximum Homerdrive," which had Homer and Bart trucking to Atlanta, and "Mayored to the Mob," when Louie's dance solo in Guys and Dolls saved the production that even Mark Hamill's jedi powers couldn't keep afloat. The season's peak was unquestionably "Homer to the Max," better known as the Max Power episode. This episode is the reason I call many of my female and fat male friends "Hootie McBoob." Therefore, it is also the reason that I've been sprayed with Mace on seventy-four nonconsecutive occasions.
Treehouse of Horror IX: Homer's new hairpiece makes him a murderer, Bart and Lisa battle Itchy and Scratchy inside their television, and Maggie turns out to be the product of Kang's artificial insemination beam. This was a high-quality special overall, but not among the very best. Like a liposuction patient who got too much sucked out, this episode is weakest in the middle. That segment was heavy on visual humor and slapstick, but the dialogue didn't offer much. The final piece was the best of the three, highlighted by the hilarious insemination scene between Marge and Kang. That segment ended poorly, with Marge daring the aliens to kill all of the politicians in Washington. Yeah, har har, nobody likes politicians, that's terrific. They tried too hard to go out on a joke, a problem that pops up more and more in later seasons.
Season Eleven: This is it. If you've read this far, you're in it to see what I have to say about season eleven. Either that, or you have way too much time to kill. This is the season of controversy, the season of dispute, the season of painful indigestion. And this, ladies and gentlemen - not season ten, not season twelve, certainly not season nine - this is when The Simpsons started to suck, and suck hard. Most people, I find, forget to draw a crucial distinction. The show may not have been as stellar in season ten as it was in the few years before that, but it was still one of the best shows on television. In season eleven, the show lost even that element. The lowest point was "Bart to the Future," when an Indian showed Bart his remarkably unfunny future as an unsuccessful musician. I came away from that episode with a bad taste in my mouth. That'll teach me to gargle cod liver oil, let me tell you. Things didn't get all that much better the next week, when Barney quit drinking. Barney may have been a one joke character, but dammit, we liked him that way! Toward the end of the season, the writers seemed to develop a new goal - end the episode as far as possible from the beginning of the episode. Take "Kill the Alligator and Run" - when you strip it down to cause and effect, Homer got a quiz magazine, so the family ended up being banned from the state of Florida. I'll give the writers points for ingenuity. They certainly managed to come up with one freakishly twisted plot for a show that only lasts twenty-two minutes. I'd much rather give them points for good jokes, though, but I can't. I want to, but I just can't. The high point of the regular season was "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner," when Homer became a food critic for the Springfield Shopper. That's sad for so very many reasons. As if they knew it was collapsing on itself, the Simpsons staff ended the season with a Behind the Music-style retrospective. In a format that is so ripe for parody, it was almost unbelievable how poor the episode turned out to be. Season eleven, what happened to you?
Treehouse of Horror X: Flanders becomes a werewolf and stalks the family in a parody of "I Know What You Did Last Summer," Bart and Lisa gain superpowers and save Lucy Lawless from the Collector, and Homer's Y2K blunder dooms humanity. There is an exception to every rule, and my "the 'Treehouse of Horror' episode is indicative of the season" rule has its exception right here. This was the strongest episode of the season. The final segment was the best, with the sort of casual attitude toward massive amounts of death and dismemberment that I crave from my TV. Oh, sweet TV. You never let me down.
Season Twelve: Season twelve picks up where season eleven left off, and that place is nowhere. This is another season filled with celebrity cameos and creative plot twists, but the memorable jokes are few and far between. Lisa's nature-loving side is overly indulged in "Lisa the Treehugger." Bart and Homer go from bad con artists to badly conned in "The Great Money Caper." I'm too depressed by this season to even ridicule it properly. I suppose it's had enough criticism from the Goons and the millions of other disgruntled fans. Well, a little more wouldn't hurt. This season blows goats. The best episode is "Trilogy of Error," the three-part episode following Homer, Lisa, and Bart throughout the same day. With a classy nod to "Run Lola Run," an appearance by Fat Tony, and the line "They's throwin' robots," this is the season's dubious peak. M-E-H. Meh. This season's greatest contributions were actually to the internet. Bart picked up some useful tidbits from WhatBadgersEat.com and Homer got a taste of the unrivaled glory that is internet celebrity when he stormed the web as Mr. X. I can't say much for the season, but WhatBadgersEat.com.... that's comedy.
Treehouse of Horror XI: Homer has twenty-four hours to do a good deed in order to get through the pearly gates, the family enacts the story of Hansel and Gretel, and dolphin king Snorky leads his blowhole-bearing brethren against humanity. Heh heh... "blowhole-bearing brethren." I am the alliteration god. You know, a lot of people like this episode. A lot of people are wrong. This episode is not good. Say it with me: this episode is not good. The first segment is crap upon crap. Homer's stupidity is only funny when he has other people to interact with. When he becomes invisible and intangible, he's just stupid with himself. The second part is better, but it only has a couple chuckles. The third usually takes the credit for saving the episode. Personally, the shock value of dolphins walking on land wore off on me very quickly. When a dolphin surfaces with the late Captain McAllister's hat and pipe and squeaks, "Arr! I'm the Sea Captain! Arr!" I'll admit that I laughed loud and hard. Sadly, the episode couldn't build from that momentum. Much like the season itself, a few good lines just couldn't propel this one to greatness.
Season Thirteen: A bad season? Yes, but it was better than season twelve. Those of you who instinctively clicked on my name at the top of this page to email me angry letters, stop it right now. You've already forgotten - I'm right, you're wrong. That's all there is to it. Good episodes were scarce, it's true, but good moments were not. "The Blunder Years," featured a great scene of a young Homer, Lenny, Carl, and Moe squaring off against a young Fat Tony, Louie, and Legs. "Brawl in the Family" turned into a lame episode once it brought the floozies from "Viva Ned Flanders" into the picture, but it did feature the greatest Milhouse line ever: "How come you have your own social worker when I'm the one with stigmata?" Bea-friggin'-utiful. "Papa's Got a Brand New Badge" included a list of every job Homer has ever held that had me rolling on the floor. The show took a bold step in "Weekend at Burnsies," the marijuana episode. The episode had a number of genuine laughs ("They call 'em fingers, but I never see 'em fing. Oh, there they go."), but more impressively, it showed that The Simpsons could dedicate an entire episode to a real issue with candor. They handled Homer's potheadedness realistically and intelligently. And it had Hans Moleman in a tiedye shirt! Hell. Yeah. Now that I've covered what was right with the season, let's talk about what's wrong. Specifically, the sixteen episodes of the regular season that I haven't mentioned yet. I mean, Judge Constance Harm? God, that sucked. The cowboy episode? I'm a worse person for having seen that one. That's not bad Simpsons, that's bad TV.
Treehouse of Horror XII: A gypsy woman curses the family, the Simpsons move into the Ultrahouse 3000 in a "2001" parody, and Bart and Lisa attend a Harry Potter-esque wizard academy. The season actually started on a pretty good note with this episode -- hey, shut the hell up, it did. Most of the first segment wasn't great, but the exchange at the end saves it:
Homer: "Saying I'm sorry won't bring Bart back."
Marge: "The gypsy woman said it would."
Homer: "She's not the boss of me."
Lowtax's archnemesis Pierce Brosnan does a fine job providing the voice for a computerized, homicidal version of himself in the second segment. He was clearly doing what he does best - charming women with his sly British wiles. Finally, the third segment was a quality spoof. Besides, the creature that Bart conjures wants to die so badly. Hilarity.
Season Fourteen: Ah, now we're getting current. Obviously, this season is still proving itself, so I can't make any sweeping generalizations. The best I can give you is an episode-by-episode analysis. Since I'm a big geek with nothing better to do with my time, that's exactly what you're going to get.
Treehouse of Horror XIII: Homer clones himself with a magic hammock, gun-toting zombies conquer Springfield, and the family takes a trip to an island under the control of a Dr. Moreau-like Hibbert. This is not an auspicious start. This is the worst "Treehouse of Horror" to date. The clone segment goes nowhere, the zombie episode resolves itself horribly, and the Dr. Moreau segment provides a couple laughs at best. The guest appearances of king-sized Homer, Tracy Ullman years Homer, and Peter Griffin of Family Guy fame, as well as the line "She's become some sort of monster! Which I have to admit, I sort of suspected during the sex," are the only saving graces of the episode. And by "saving graces," I mean, "parts that don't blow as much."
How I Spent My Strummer Vacation: Homer goes to a star-studded rock & roll fantasy camp. I'm not easily impressed by big name celebrity appearances, but all of the musicians got in a good bit apiece. This isn't a wonderful episode, but it's better than the last one.
Bart vs. Lisa vs. Third Grade: Lisa gets moved up to the third grade at the same time as Bart gets moved back. Another step up. This season is starting to show signs of life, now. The bulk of the episode wasn't anything too special, but the last third was pretty damn funny. I immediately adopted "Rar, rar. No one understands you, she-bear" into my normal vocabulary. A glimmer of hope is still hope.
Large Marge: Marge gets gigantic breast implants. Webmasters of cartoon porn sites collectively splooge in their sweatpants. This is another small step in the right direction. It's not hilarious, but it stays at a fairly constant level of funny throughout its entirety. The musical number is somewhat suspect, but then, they usually are.
Helter Shelter: It took a hell of a lot of twists to get the Simpsons onto a nineteenth century-styled reality show, but they do get there. This one was a step backwards, I'm afraid. It was nice to see The Simpsons take a good, clean stab at the black heart of the demonically evil reality show craze, but they didn't do it all that well. Let's face it, when Squiggy can't save an episode, it wasn't meant to be saved.
The Great Louse Detective: In an homage to "Silence of the Lambs," the Simpsons enlist Sideshow Bob to stop a killer from murdering Homer. This episode aired only last week, and the responses were mixed. What, you must be wondering, is the correct response, yea or nay? I say.... yea. The Sideshow Bob episode is an art form. The previous Sideshow Bob episode, where Bob hypnotized Bart to kill Krusty, was a dud. That's right, I said "dud." I went there. This one was a vast improvement. Some say that it mars the legacy of Frank Grimes. My ass it does. Frank Grimes doesn't have a legacy, and if he did, it wouldn't be all that amazing to begin with. He died in his first and only episode. The admission of Frank Grimes, Jr. that his old man "had a thing for hookers" added a new element to a practically forgotten character. The weak point of the episode was Sideshow Bob's adapted version of "I've Grown Accustomed to Her Face." Stewie did it on Family Guy and he did it better. Although, Bob did get his comeuppance for the song by having the bejeezus shocked out of him by a pair of birds.
Tonight's episode will be crucial for season fourteen. The season has shown promise. It is already better than season twelve or thirteen. If nothing else, we've seen signs of effort from the Simpsons staff. We'll have to wait to see where it leads.
There you have it. Two weeks, fourteen seasons, the only opinions on the subject that you will ever need. Now, whenever you find yourself standing at knifepoint in a barroom over an argument about the quality of season ten, you can simply direct your attentions to Something Awful, where we live to make your life better. And to score with the ladies. Coming Up Next Week: a real article, in the desperate hopes that you'll all forget about this lame two-week premise. Stay tuned!
I'm Not Laughing
Greasnin here with the second part of today's Greasy triad. Once again, I've watched a movie so horrible that it would be a criminal act to allow other people to see it. This time, the hateful bastard-film is "Evil Laugh," a laughably bad slasher written by, produced by, and starring Scott Baio's lumpy brother.
Kids never learn. No matter how many times I tell them not to throw wild orgies in houses where children were brutally murdered, they do anyway. Then they all get killed and I have to watch a movie about it twice. It's a vicious cycle. It's also the best that Steven Baio could come up with in his desperate bid to impress his brother's girlfriends. Steven, who looks like like the lovechild of Scott Baio and Bronson Pinchot, stars in this sensible, grounded film of teen angst and thinly veiled homoeroticism, which he co-wrote with director Dominick Brascia. Brascia's father was one of the executive producers who gave this crap distribution facility the greenlight. And so, with a hearty dose of nepotism in their veins, the creative minds behind "Evil Laugh" embarked on a successful endeavor to make one of the most hilariously bad movies in history. How nice for them.
With an opening paragraph like that, the review has to be solid gold. Or, at least semisolid, goopy gold. Go read it, lest I have suffered in vain.