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October 8, 2015

The Simpsons: I Don't Wanna Know Why The Caged Bird Sings

by Richard Keller, posted Oct 14th 2007 11:41PM

The Simpson Family(S19E04) If I don't make it, feel free to re-marry from anyone on the list on the bulletin board in the closet. -- Marge, during her hostage scare

We had two good things happen this week on The Simpsons. First, we finally had an episode that didn't focus on Homer. Second, we had a guest voice that was actually utilized. Actually, there were two guest voices used well; I just didn't know about one of them until the credits were rolling. More as we progress.

This was another episode that could be filed under 'Marge's Heart is too Big to Keep Her Promises' with a sub-heading of 'Marge Gets Involved With a Convict. Again.' We all know that Marge is one of the nicest people to live within the confines of Springfield. Sometimes, her achievements in niceness backfire on her, as they did this week.

All Marge was trying to do was to get Dwight David Diddlehopper, voiced by Steve Buscemi, to give himself up after a botched bank robbery. But, because she promised to visit this bug-eyed criminal in prison she gave herself more trouble. This is fairly typical Marge when it comes to the criminally insane. When she tried to help Jack Crowley get back to society in the episode 'Pokey Mom' all she got was trouble.

I think that this is Marge's bane of existence. When Homer gets into trouble he can, for some reason, get out of it without too many repercussions. For Marge, though, there's always some type of effect from the promises she makes. Take a look at what happened here. If Marge had visited Dwight he would have served his sentence. Because she avoided it he escaped and stalked her throughout the town. Of course, this is all animated, so none of my ravings mean anything at all.

Now, for a few weeks I've ranted how the guest voices were not being used to their maximum ability. This week that argument can stand down as Steve Buscemi had a fairly meaty role as Dwight. Maybe this was to make up for the small cameo he had as himself in the episode 'Brake My Wife, Please'. Whatever the reason, Steve did a good job in the role. He even had a catchy phrase -- a loudly snarled 'Dammit!'. The funniest time that this was used was when he escaped the penitentiary through the prison waste pipe, only to realize that the Clean Spring Water pipe was just a few feet away.

Another guest voice on this week's show that took me by surprise was Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Since she wasn't credited in the promos for the show I didn't realize that she was Snake's (Three D's?) girlfriend until I saw her name in the credits. I wondered why Snake's scene, where he complained about his biography being edited in Wikipedia, was included. It was a small moment in the episode but it was used well.

While I thought the episode was funny and focused well on Marge, I do have one small complaint. When are we going to see some Bart/Lisa episodes? These two have have had very little screen time over the last month ... I don't think Bart said more than one or two words this entire episode. You know, someone last week noted that Bart's voice had changed this season. I wonder if Nancy Cartwright is having voice issues. That, or they've finally run out of stories for Bart. Either way, hope we get to see that young scallywag do some destruction fairly soon.

Over to the highlights:

  • Blackboard gag: I am not a FDIC-Insured Bank
  • Firsts of the season: Homer having a conversation with his brain, and an appearance from Gil. Poor Gil, the man has worse luck than Britney Spears.
  • Homer working on his Superman novel after arriving early for Lisa's award ceremony.
  • 'Oh great! We're being robbed by Johnny and Clyde.'
  • Chief Wiggum not understanding that a robbery was in progress. Finally, with stick figures he realizes that it's a 'shootie-stealy'.
  • Marge's re-marry list: Lindsay Naegle, Booberella, Bly the Dancer, Also: Feed Cat
  • Krusty is named worst clown of 2007 by Laffways magazine, beating out even Carlos Mencia.
  • Dwight being hit by countless blue-dye packs, including one shaped like a bank employee.
  • Chief Wiggum learns hostage negotiation tactics from a DVD of, what else, The Negotiator.
  • Ted Nugent wants you to say 'No' to a proposition banning crossbows from schools. Damn! And I was going to buy one for my daughter.
  • Johnny Stabbo's many references to the electric chair.
  • While scanning the skies of Springfield to land at the penitentiary we see Ralph Wiggum flying away while holding a number of balloons.
  • In the Itchy & Scratchy episode -- is it me or were the jet pilots wearing X-Wing fighter helmets?
  • Names of various rides at Plaster Mountain Theme Park: Dilbert's Flying Cubicle, Tilt N' Spew, Mr. Frogs Mild Ride, FedEx Presents: The Bathroom, It's a Long Line
  • Krusty and Dr. Hibbert meeting up at the amusement park and talking about their harrowing hostage experience. Seems to me they were referencing The Nine in that scene. Anyone else think that?

Next week, nada. In fact, nothing until Treehouse of Horror XVIII on November 4th. That's due to the broadcast of the World Series that will feature some team playing another team. Hey, both the Phillies and Yankees lost, so I've no interest at all. So, see you in three weeks.

What did you think of this episode?
Good to see a week where Homer wasn't the main focus76 (34.2%)
Good, but I'd like to see more Bart and Lisa83 (37.4%)
No Homer make me sad.35 (15.8%)
-delete-28 (12.6%)

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"the Itchy & Scratchy episode -- is it me or were the jet pilots wearing X-Wing fighter helmets?"

Yes, yes they were, it wasn't just you.

October 15 2007 at 10:40 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I caught the reference to The Nine, but I thought they could have carried that out to a more funny punchline.

This isnt the last we have seen of Gil, despite the fact he was shot like 20 times.

October 15 2007 at 10:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I would politely disagree. This wasn't a particularly inspired episode -- you yourself wrote that the Marge/Convict trope is now being trotted out for the third time, and wasn't that funny either of the two times before.

More than likely, the only thing most obsessive viewers will take from this episode is Marge's list of who Homer is allowed to remarry. It's almost expected that there will be one such obscuria-devoted tidbit per episode, as sort of a fanservice to the people who have hung in there nineteen years -- as Professor Frink would say, "nine of them *good*!"

However, Ted Nugent should have been given another chance, as there was no character connected to his voiceover. It would be an inspired pairing, as Nugent is a cartoon character in real life.


October 15 2007 at 9:58 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bob Mueller

so, um, is Gil dead?

October 15 2007 at 2:29 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The irritating thing for me was the buggy eyes thing. Yes, Steve has buggy eyes. It has been commented on in many many movies. Must you mention it, like, twenty times in one episode?

October 15 2007 at 1:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Sorry but I have to point out that Julia Louis-Dreyfus was on The Simpsons before. She played the same character in the episode "A Hunka Hunka Burns in Love" in which the character dated Mr. Burns. Towards the end Snake robs the bowling alley where Mr. Burns is about to propose and he kidnaps Homer and Gloria and then we find that she had dated him before. Gloria (Louis-Dreyfus' character) leaves Mr. Burns for Snake again even though Snake is being taken back to jail.

October 15 2007 at 12:48 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Being one of the few people who watched the Dilbert Cartoon show when it aired, I noticed that the music playing when Marge and Dwight were walking past the Dilbert ride, was the Dilbert theme song (by Danny Elfman, the composer of the Simpson's theme).

October 15 2007 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

"First, we finally had an episode that didn't focus on Homer. Second, we had a guest voice that was actually utilized."

I was thinking the same thing! It was a good episode and showed the show can do without Homer being dumb all the time.

October 15 2007 at 12:24 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What about the extended bank robbery scene, which had obvious references to the 1975 movie Dog Day Afternoon? The main robber (Buscemi) wasn't particularly Pacino-like, but his accomplice clearly looked like John Cazale in his role as Sal, and the bank exterior and some of the shots of it (like the one from overhead at an angle) clearly were meant to emulate the First Brooklyn Savings Bank.

October 15 2007 at 12:07 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Not 'Bly the Dancer', it's Blythe Danner....actress and Gwyneth Paltrow's Mom.

October 14 2007 at 11:59 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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