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Friday, March 6, 2009

Retro Review: Saddlesore Galactica

AKA: the one with the murderous Jockey-elves

The Setup: At the County Fair, Bart saves a diving horse named Duncan from the dog food factory while Lisa is outraged that another school's band wins the Battle of the Bands contest despite using expressly-forbidden visual aids.

Favorite Lines:

Lisa: I hate to be a killjoy, but do you really think we can win playing "Stars and Stripes Forever?" It's so beginner band, and we're advanced beginner band.
Largo: Very well, Lisa, what rousing Sousa march would you have us play?
Lisa: Well, I thought for once we could play a song that wasn't written by Sousa.
Largo: You mean something ... just arranged by Sousa?

Bart: Who are those pleasant old men?
Homer: It's BTO -- they're Canada's answer to ELP. Their big hit was TCB. That's how we talked in the 70's. We didn't have a moment to spare.

Homer: That horse better win, or we're taking a trip to the glue factory -- and he won't get to come.
Lenny: Yeah, that's a great tour. But you can't see it all in one day.

Marge: President Clinton?
Clinton: Yeah, hi. I'm here to see Lisa Simpson.
Lisa: You read my letter?
Clinton: Much of it, yeah. And those glow sticks were wrong, very wrong, so I personally overturned the results of that band contest. Congratulations.
Lisa: Thank you, Mr. President.
Clinton: No, thank you, Lisa, for teaching kids everywhere a valuable lesson: If things don't go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true.
Marge: That's a pretty lousy lesson.
Clinton: Hey, I'm a pretty lousy president.


Teebore's Take: Let's just get this out of the way up front: I know I have no business liking this episode. Its patently ridiculous, and a fair example of everything people don't like about "The Simpsons" in their post-Golden Age years. But damn if I don't still like it. I mean, come on, Bart and Homer run afoul of murderous Jockeys who are really elves because Bart and Homer have given a horse they acquired at the County Fair a bad attitude that makes him an unbeatable racer? And the elves are defeated when Marge and Lisa hose them down and tie them into a garbage bag? Zany? Yes. Ridiculous? Yes. But also hilarious, in a DC Comics-in-the-Silver Age kind of way. In fact, I'm pretty Jimmy Olsen had the same problem once.

There's also a humorous, if slight, B-plot involving Lisa's outrage at the results of the Country Fair's Battle of the Bands which rounds out the episode nicely. And the episode is, as I recall, one of the first to be self-referential by acknowledging the show's history within the episode: Comic Book Guy references Marge's existing gambling problem (from the episode "$ringfield") when she discovers the thrill of horse racing, as well as the last time the Simpsons owned (and couldn't afford) a horse in the episode "Lisa's Pony."

Of course, the realism on display in that episode, with Homer working overnights at the Kwik-E-Mart to make ends meet, has no room in this episode amongst the Jockey-elves. Generally speaking, putting aside humor drawn more from reality in favor of something completely over-the-top doesn't usually benefit "The Simpsons," but damned if I don't enjoy this episode regardless.

Zaniness:

What with the Jockey-elves and whatnot, this one pushes the zany to the limit.

Jerk-ass Homer:

Homer is pretty much a jerk in his approach to horse racing and in his dealings with the Jockey-elves, but then again, can you blame him?

4 comments:

  1. Sorry Teebore, but this episode wasn't really all that funny. I remember just being confused through most of it.

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  2. I dunno, as long as you don't ask:

    A. Why the Jockeys are elves
    B. Why they are willing to kill Homer
    C. Anything else about them at all

    then it's fairly straightforward. The Simpsons rescue a horse and decide to race him in order for him to earn his keep. He's too scared to race, so Homer and Bart make him over with a new bad boy attitude, at which point he becomes unbeatable, drawing the ire of the aforementioned elves.

    Seems simple enough, with very little in the way of loose ends, right? Right? ...

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  3. Do you find it ironic that shortly after you post this Family Guy has a horse episode? I guess creativity is dead.

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  4. Yeah, I did chuckle Sunday night when Peter brought home a horse and decided to race it, having just watched this episode.

    Though I don't know that I'd go so far as to say that creativity is dead: sure, on the surface, "The Griffins get a horse" and "The Simpsons get a horse" seem the same, but the two episodes were pretty different in execution.

    The FG episode used the horse as a means to get to the main story (Peter needs money so he volunteers for a medical experiment that turns him gay) while the Simpsons having and racing the horse was the main plot of their episode.

    Basically, I think of this episode as "the one where they get a racehorse" whereas I'm pretty sure the Family Guy ep will forever be known as "the one where Peter was gay."

    Also, Family Guy didn't have murderous Jockey-elves. Which is ironic, since they'd seem far less out of place in a Family Guy episode than a Simpsons one...

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