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October 23, 2014

'The Simpsons' - 'To Surveil With Love' Recap

by Sharon Knolle, posted May 3rd 2010 8:29AM
The Simpsons - To Surveil With Love(S21E20) From the inspired 'Tik Tok' musical opening sequence to the last gag, 'To Surveil With Love' ranks as one of the best 'Simpsons' episodes in years.

I never expected the rest of the episode to live up to that killer opening, but, unbelievably, it just got better as it went along.

The bit that had me laughing the hardest: After surveillance cameras are installed in every inch of Springfield, Bart marking the town's one blind spot by dropping his pants and drawing a line every time he doesn't hear Ned gasping, "Buttocks!" "Tushie! or "Boy cheeks!" A perfectly funny bit that got even funnier when Homer asks Bart, whose pants are still down around his ankles, what he's doing. "Experimenting with my butt," says Bart. "My little Einstein," Homer says proudly as he pats Bart's head.

The blessed blind spot lets Springfield residents indulge en masse in taboo behavior in Homer's backyard, unseen by Nosy Ned Flanders. I was already laughing at Homer's strategic use of a clown mask (the only thing he's wearing), until I saw Superintendent Chalmers' merrily twirling his nun-chuks while clad in a corset and combat boots.

Just about every joke had an extra payoff, like news anchor Kent Brockman announcing that a nuclear explosion (the result of Homer's unattended bag of planted plutonium) "released enough radioactivity to create 17 Hulks and a Spider-Man." Followed by a cut to an "artist's conception" of all 18 mutant super-heroes playing baseball. "Quite disturbing," says Brockman.

Other jokes that kept on giving: Mayor Quimby, trying to get the surveillance system approved at a town meeting, instructs the crowd, "All those opposed, say, 'I hate America.' On the next similarly phrased vote, yokel Cletus stands up to say, "I do have sex with animals. But I am not in favor of term limits." And Clancy Wiggum, telling the citizen surveillance team they've been chosen because "you are are that rare combination: prying but not pervy." Under a "Welcome Buttinskis" banner, no less.

Eddie Izzard was smoothly sinister as Brit security expert Nigel Bakerbutcher. For my money, his series of instructions on installing cameras -- "Hidden. Hidden. Open. Cluster." -- was funnier than Albert Brooks' "tough, soft, soft, tough," in 'The Simpsons Movie.' (But then again, Izzard could probably read the phone book and have me in stitches.)

The one less-than-funny storyline: Lisa's becoming the butt of blond discrimination and dyeing her hair brown. But, honestly, even the B story had a few laughs, like Bart's declaration: "Blond guys aren't dumb. They're evil. Like in 'The Karate Kid.' And World War II."

Did I forget to mention Maggie delighted by what she thinks is 'Sesame Street,' but is really the closed-circuit camera in a gay bar, with patrons who look remarkably like Ernie and Bert, a boa-wearing "Big Bird" and a grumpy Oscar-esque grouch in a garbage can? "At least she'll learn caring and sharing," sighs Marge.

The sabotage-heavy montage of Homer and Ned taking out the cameras would have been a classy enough ending, but then Nigel Bakerbutcher announces, "Sadly, the most popular reality show in England is no more." (Oh, 'Lost,' please don't end this way.)

The last laugh: Queen Elizabeth laments, "I'll miss that Ralph Wiggum. Reminds me of my boy." Right on cue, Prince Charles enters with a Persian kitty on a pillow: "Oh, mummy, my cat's breath smells like cat food." Meow!

Maybe this should have been their season finale. Really, can they possibly top this one?

[Watch clips and episodes of 'The Simpsons' at SlashControl.]

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