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July 31, 2014

The Simpsons: Homer Simpson, This is Your Wife

by Adam Finley, posted Mar 27th 2006 8:29AM

marge simpsonSo, I have this thing I do whenever someone tells me a "knock knock" joke. Instead of saying "who's there?" I'll say something like "come in" or "hang on, I'll get it." It's worth it just to see the look of confusion on the person's face. Then last night I see this exchange between Marge and Charles, a character played by the episode's guest writer, Ricky Gervais:

Charles: Would you like to hear a joke?

Marge: As long as it's not a "knock knock" joke. I always ruin them by saying, "Come in!"

I mean seriously, why should Ricky Gervais get paid to write jokes I've been saying free for years? Just because he's hysterical and far more talented than I? That's the dumbest reason I've ever hea-- well, actually, that's a really good reason, so nevermind. Besides, we don't know if that particular exchange was written by Gervais or not, as scripts go through several rewrites with many writers tossing in gags. This became a kind of game for me as I watched the episode, trying to figure out which lines were Gervais' and which ones were not. Oh yeah, and as someone who has not seen a single episode of The Office, if there were any sly references to it, they went over my head.

Last night's episode centered around a wife swapping show called Mother Flippers which partners Marge with Gervais' Charles Heathbar, a sad, broken down cuckold who immediately falls for Marge when she shows him even a small amount of compassion. In the show's funniest moment, Charles serenades her with a song using the words "Di" (as in "Lady Di") and "die" as in "please don't die, Marge." The song turns out to be more of an explanation of the song itself. Despite the fact Marge has no romantic interest, the characters share a knack of belaboring the point and taking forever to say what they're trying to say. The aforementioned joke Charles tells Marge, which should take a few seconds to tell, is mined for every possible comic possibility, resulting in a hilarious exchange between the two over which jokes are good and bad, and the appropriateness of this particular joke. If Gervais and the show's writers have anything in common, it's that they know how to dig past a simple gag and uproot something bigger and funnier. I'm not saying they should hire Ricky Gervais, but I wouldn't be disappointed to see him take a crack at another episode, as he definitely seems in tune with The Simpsons aesthetic.

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Jeff Albertson

While I love the American version, the BBC Office didn't make me laugh once. Same with this episode of the Simpsons. I really think it was one of the worst ever.

March 29 2006 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
CGB

Not terribly funny. Worth watching, but for the second week ina row no real laugh-out-loud moments. And it seemed that the writing was uneven, like the Gervais parts were written by him but the rest was done by a committee somewhere. Just different levels of humor.

And it took about 4/5ths of the show to get to the love interest. Just weirdly paced and not the best it could be.

March 28 2006 at 8:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Elliott

When Lenny said he had found a new religion where technology would lead him to be truly happy I really felt there was going to be a Tom Cruise/South Park/Scientology reference. I thought it was a very clever way of setting up the episode with the whole plasma tv thing.

March 27 2006 at 3:21 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Annie W.

I was so terribly disappointed. I mean, I loved all the Brent-esque things that Charles did (playing with his tie, random need for a guitar, lip-biting, etc.) but I thought Gervais would use more awkward moments. I guess everything's a bit of a disappointment when you compare it to 'The Office'.

I still love Gervais though.

March 27 2006 at 3:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tim Goral

I've seen the Sky One opening before on the web, but it wasn't until I was able to watch it large screen and in slo-mo on my DVR that I noticed how carefully and cleverly it was done. Not only can you spot Milhouse, Sherry and Terry in the music room at the school, but also Mr. Burns and Smithers (in the power plant), Moe, Barney, Bleeding Gums Murphy, Chief Wiggum and even Krusty (on the television sets in the shop window).

March 27 2006 at 1:42 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Ali Baba Ghanoush

I, too, was hoping for more, but it did make me laugh. I think my favorite bit was with Lisa and the Fox exec and when he gave her the ABC hoody that zipped all the way up. The opening credits were interesting, but couldn't they have at least made "Marge" have a beehive?

March 27 2006 at 12:54 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Gene

Please, no more famous guest writers. That episode was a complete let down, unfunny, and a chore to watch.
If it was an experiment to freshen up the writing, it failed miserably. The only bright parts of this episode were the Sky One opening titles and the concept of poking fun at the cliche that Fox has become. But the execution was crude and uninspired.
I'm amazed that people find Ricky Gervais funny -- what little humor there was in this episode was puerile and half-hearted at best. And this can't simply be an example of culture clash, because I've seen television from the UK that could make you fall down on your ass laughing.

March 27 2006 at 11:35 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Stephen Giles

The opening credits is actually for Sky One, a channel in the UK who airs The Simpsons. It was made by an advertisement company in the UK and it plays on Sky One all the time to warn us that they still air the show (like we'd forget?)...

March 27 2006 at 11:03 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Karen

I assumed Charles Heathbar's admission that he was an "office manager" was the slyest reference to "The Office" that snuck in.

That said, I didn't think the episode was nearly as funny as I'd expected it to be. The opening and closing credits, and Heathbar's song for Marge, were definitely the highlights.

March 27 2006 at 10:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Tucker

Eh, I was a little disappointed.. I was expecting a LOT more from Gervais.

"Oh yeah, and as someone who has not seen a single episode of The Office, if there were any sly references to it, they went over my head."

I don't really know about "sly references" per se, as the entire Charles character was essentially a lift of UK The Office's David Brent... Right down to the playing to the camera, facial and body expressions, turns-of-phrase and just general demeanor (not to mention that he's an office manager).

Like I said, it was decent, but I was expecting... I dunno.. just more. The "just riffin' over the closing credits" and "oh, there's the last credit. ...." was about as good as the rest of the episode put together, so that was a definite plus.

March 27 2006 at 9:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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