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'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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What's that ending song??

April 19 2014 at 1:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

the episode was the BEST one in like 4 or 5 years. it totally reminded people why we love the simpsons. from its really clever opening (even though i can't stand kesha) to that ending, the episode completely rocked!

May 05 2010 at 10:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Patrick C

What about Barney smooching a penguin while Lenny and Karl were printing money (in the blindspot)?

May 04 2010 at 12:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

C'mon you guys ....

the episode was really awesome. one of the best episodes in maybe five years....i mean totally hilarious.

don't let kesha ruin your ability to critizice and enjoy a good show ;)

May 03 2010 at 10:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

As I don't listen to what passes for pop music these days (basically nursery rhymes with booty), I liked the opening bit as I thought it was specifically made up to parody the contemporary pop music scene.

But that was just a minor thing as the rest of the ep was, as the reviewer points out, jam-packed with good stuff that has often been missing from the show in its latter years. So a big thumbs up from me.

May 03 2010 at 7:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Sir Yuck-Yuck

with that episode title they should have gotten Lulu

May 03 2010 at 7:14 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

TERRIBLE TERRIBLE TERRIBLE.... what is this shallow play at relevancy, Simpsons?

Your real fans don't listen to Ke$ha-variety garbage... they also don't watch The Hills and tend to skew more intelligently read than the level of lyrics to Tik Tok - I am ready to give up on you Simpsons.

So help me, if Futurama comes back tripe-laden with commercial hooks, I'm going to freak out.

May 03 2010 at 7:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

There's no way i can sum up my feelings about this better then Matt Ufford from Warming Glow, so i'll just c/p his piece:

Add me to the long list of hacks who have declared the Simpsons "dead." We have declared it dead upwards of a dozen times since the September 28, 1997 Seymour Skinner episode, but until the show finally dies, this descriptor has not and will not be any more appropriate than it is in the wake of last night's opening credits.

The most important point to take away here is that the writers of this show believe that you a) enjoy or can at least tolerate the musical stylings of Kesha [sic], b) appreciate it when characters who have been developed over the course of twenty-plus years are used as puppets, and c) don't need jokes, only familiar faces. Otto is being shown on my television. Whoa, now Comic Book Guy is being shown on my television! I am familiar with both of those characters! And they are singing a song (I like songs)!

In some unknown number of years, we'll all have to drag our asses to the Simpsons' series finale out of some measure of obligation and read/watch dozens of retrospectives and tributes - as well we should, because there's no white-washing the truth that the first seven seasons of this show were more groundbreaking than anything else on television. Until then, know that your decision to ignore this show in recent years has been completely validated.

May 03 2010 at 4:06 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to BartmanDK's comment



May 20 2010 at 1:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

why pick that song? cuz it was funny, fast paced, it's 2010 and they used a recent song which was a big hit and the lyrics make sense in relation to the opening. that's why.

May 03 2010 at 1:56 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I have no problem with the Kesha opening, except, WHY PICK THAT SONG FOR YOUR FIRST EVER NON_STANDARD MUSICAL OPENING EVER??????

May 03 2010 at 12:00 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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