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April 24, 2014

The Simpsons: Dial 'N' for Nerder - VIDEO

by Richard Keller, posted Mar 9th 2008 11:29PM

The Family Simpson(S19E14) "Oh boy, dinnertime! The perfect break between work and drunk." -- Homer J. Simpson

Before I get to the review as a whole for this week's installment of The Simpsons I want to talk about one of the most disturbing scenes that has ever graced this program. It involves Homer, who is breaking his one millionth diet or something. In one scene he's shown entering a room of a sleazy motel with what looks like another woman. Turns out it's just a rack of meat (I think it was lamb, I couldn't hear Homer) dripping in its own juices. He then goes about treating the meat like a lover, sucking on the juices, caressing it, and even bringing it to the shower with him. I was in total agreement with the host of Sneakers -- the fictitious television show that was a parody of the real-life show Cheaters -- when he asked the guys in the control truck to turn the hidden cameras off. Brrr!

Other than that, this was a pretty good episode.

By my count that makes it two weeks in a row that we have had good episodes. That scares me a bit, because I may expect this kind of treatment by this long-running, animated series on a regular basis. And, I know that's not going to happen! Then again, maybe it was just exhaustion by the production staff of The Simpsons that gave us such a mediocre first half of the season. Perhaps they were able to rest up enough to put together some tighter, funnier episodes for us to enjoy. Or, maybe they just need more Bart-and-or-Lisa-or-both shows to keep us going.

Think about it. After a string of Homer-centric episodes and two pretty mediocre anthology compilations (including the very lame Treehouse of Horror XVIII), the best two episodes of the season have been kid oriented. Last week we had Bart in the spotlight, and this week it was Bart and Lisa -- a pair that we haven't seen together in a show for quite some time. Maybe these type of shows come off so well because the writing needs to be different for them. When it's a Homer-based show the writing is practically dumbed down to fit his ways. But, when Lisa or Bart are front and center the humor and the lines are smarter. Most likely because, besides the resourceful Maggie, Bart and Lisa are probably the smartest people in the family.

There's also a bit more meat when it comes to a Bart/Lisa episode. Last week's installment dealt with loyalty and what's to be done if it is broken. This week's show dealt with secrets and the pressure of knowing something no one else does. Actually, it wasn't a theme that Bart and Lisa owned -- it was something that surrounded the whole episode, which surprised me a bit. I'm really not used to an on-going underlying theme in The Simpsons: that's usually relegated to show's like 7th Heaven.

Having accidentally "killed" Martin Prince was eating up both Lisa and Bart from the inside and they both found ways to cope with it. For Bart, it was coming to terms with Nelson and his nerdy traits -- even going so far as to complete some of his tasks. For Lisa, it was finding the "Bart" inside her to find the most elusive ways to avoid letting people know she and Bart ended Martin's life. We've actually seen Lisa go this route a few times during the series run, so that wasn't much of a reveal. Bart's willingness to complete Martin's butterfly project was quite a bit interesting. Then again, we saw the lengths of his loyalty in last week's episode.

The addition of Nelson as an investigator to the conspiracy was an interesting move on the producers part. It makes sense, as Mr. Muntz has been a huge pimple on Nelson's backside for years now. Despite his seeming dislike for the nerdburger, there was also respect for the dweebus as well. It was fun to see Nelson turning into a little Columbo and uttering the phrase "Just one more thing..." to Bart and Lisa.

Now, to the second story of Homer's diet, which really wasn't a sub-plot but more of a parallel storyline running during this episode. Other than that disturbing scene with the rack of meat, I found this storyline entertaining and better than the rental car plot he had last week. It was probably the many ways that he tried to hide the diet cheating from Marge, which included heating down a pile of buffet food to a fine liquid, and carrying a briefcase around filled with chips and salsa. Homer is always good for these types of stories and they can be very funny when it doesn't extend the whole run of the installment. That's why the whole bell pepper diet plot worked so well this week. By the way, where can I get one of those bell pepper vending machines?

There were some really good lines and images this week...so many that I can't remember them all. Those I can are:

  • Moe preparing a peppertini for Homer that he mixed in a bell pepper shell and served with a slice of bell pepper. After all of that work Homer says "Not quite."
  • Homer walking away from the fat clamps after he's found out cheating on his diet. We see him walking past the bay window as his fat continues to be stretched.
  • Bart trying to convince Martin to admit he's the best blower and homo, and then having Lisa just telling him to forget it.
  • The cameraman from Sneakers complaining that he used to film documentaries about coal miners with the response from the show's host responding that they are all whores.
  • The ending of the episode that was reminiscent of the old NBC Sunday Mystery Movie introduction, with Nelson as Columbo, Dr. Hibbert as Quincy, and Burns and Smithers as McMillan & Wife.

Next week -- Nothing until the end of the month. See you then.

Are Bart/Lisa episodes stronger than Homer or regular episodes
Yes they are.216 (57.4%)
No. Homer-centric or regular episodes are much stronger.51 (13.6%)
It's really the same either way.109 (29.0%)

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yci

Oh BTW the Song thats played by the Orchestra is the Theme from Rocky 1 - Gonna Fly Now

March 13 2008 at 4:40 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Rayvyn

I believe you replaced Martin's name with Nelson's accidentally.

"For Bart, it was coming to terms with Nelson and his nerdy traits"
"It makes sense, as Mr. Muntz has been a huge pimple on Nelson's backside for years now."

In the first line, it should be Martin's name. In the second, Muntz is Nelson's surname. Martin's last name is Prince.

Anyway, I enjoyed this episode quite a bit. I agree that the Bart/Lisa dynamic is always fun to explore. The fat calipers and the bell peppers got me as well.

March 12 2008 at 2:38 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sara Wright

Stop whinging, if you are going to sook about story lines dont watch it. I love Simpsons, thats why I watch it.

March 11 2008 at 7:32 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
yci

Whats the song called that the School-Orchestra is playing at the Memorial?
Anyone knows that?

PS: Good review ;D

March 11 2008 at 12:51 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Mack Swift

Yeah, the part with the gyro rack was quite disturbing. Hilarious though, but disturbing.

I loved the giant bowl of butterscotch pudding.

March 10 2008 at 3:20 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
heinlein

In my opinion almost all of the best stories are Bart or Lisa-centric, because they can be more original and emotional, and they seem so much more like real children, so it's easier to relate to them.

The meat looked like a kebab split (look up döner kebab, that's the normal meaning of just kebab here in Europe) to me, can be any kind of meat, but lamb and beef are pobably most common.

March 10 2008 at 10:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
gooze930

best line marge " i didn't mind when homer would sneak into the bathrooom and snackoff"

March 10 2008 at 9:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sarah

lately, it seems that we can't get a good plot out of The Simpsons unless its a parody of something else. last week, The Departed; this week, Cheaters...

March 10 2008 at 9:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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