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Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Retro Review: War of the Simpsons

Or the One Where: Homer and Marge go to a marriage retreat.

The Setup: After Homer gets drunk and makes an ass of himself at the Simpsons' cocktail party, Marge signs them up for Reverend Lovejoy's marriage retreat.

Firsts and Other Notables: Though not named until next season, Springfield's resident criminal Snake makes his first appearance (attending the wild party Bart and Lisa throw while their parents are away).

Gloria, the woman who attends the marriage retreat along with the Simpsons and the Flanders, is voiced by Julie Kavner. It's one of the few characters aside from Marge and her family that she's voiced.

Favorite Lines:

Homer: Never thrown a party? What about that big bash we had with all the champagne and musicians and holy men and everything?
Marge: That was our wedding!
Homer: Oh.

Marge: Grampa, could you do something?
Grampa: I can dress myself.

Rev. Lovejoy: A marriage can't be reconciled in a few hours, Homer. It takes a whole weekend to do that!

Ned: Sometimes Maude (God bless her), she underlines passages in my Bible because she can't find hers.  
Homer: Lucky they don't keep guns in the house...


Teebore's Take: This is an episode which, unlike many recent episodes, manages to follow through on a strong first act (featuring Homer's drunken cocktail party antics) with a hilarious third act (featuring Bart and Lisa's wild, unsupervised party and Homer's struggle with the mythic catfish, General Sherman). In between the two parties is another "Homer and Marge's marriage is in trouble" story, though at this point that particular well hadn't been gone to as often as it has these days (if memory serves, this is the first such use of the plot in season two, unless you count the final third of "Bart Gets Hit By a Car"). Plus, this particular iteration of the plot is much more down to earth and character-driven than later installments, making it more enjoyable and less ridiculous (compare "Homer drinks too much and embarrasses Marge so they go on a marriage retreat" to "Marge gets mad when Homer lets the mob film a porno in their living room so she runs off and falls in love with a marine biologist specializing in the study of manatees*").

*Eerily enough, I wrote this post yesterday, and then "Bonfire of the Manatees" was on TV last night...

Classic:

Two great party scenes highlight a Homer/Marge episode that doesn't feel contrived or played out. Grampa also gets a great moment at the end when he reveals how thoroughly he manipulated the kids.

8 comments:

Your Friendly Neighborhood Palindrome said...

You know, the more I read your retro reviews on the Simpsons, the more I see the similar storylines in Family Guy. Someone told me that once before but I just never really thought about it, I guess. Quit throwing it in my face!!

Teebore said...

Ha! I love Family Guy too. To be fair, a lot of the stories shared by the two aren't exactly groundbreaking.

This one, for example: "husband embarrasses wife, causing marital problems". It isn't like dozens of sitcoms haven't used that particular setup a million times. The differences come from the characters, tone and execution. Hell, "The Simpsons" alone will spin that particular plot dozens of times in the years to come.

Although, after watching the most recent episode of "The Simpsons" this last Sunday, in which Lisa discovered they are descended from a runaway slave, and I have to say, I thought to myself "'Family Guy' did it." ;)

Falen said...

i love animals that have names like "general sherman"
We have a snail named Citizen Slugs and we'd like to get another one and name it Seargent Major Escargot

Teebore said...

We have a snail named Citizen Slugs and we'd like to get another one and name it Seargent Major Escargot

That, my friend, is awesome.

Joan Crawford said...

Rev. Lovejoy: A marriage can't be reconciled in a few hours, Homer. It takes a whole weekend to do that!

Hah! I really like this episode. I was really annoyed at the Simpson's this week though. When they do all the cutey-pootey crap with Lisa, I tend to react with anger. When she was in the library and gets shushed and then whispers. Groan. I find any sweetie-pie Maggie crap makes me mad too. Hah!

Teebore said...

It is a good episode, especially the more I think about it. There were actually two or three more lines I had in there at one point before cutting them out (I try to keep the "favorite lines" from turning into a transcript of the episode, but that's going to get harder and harder as we go on...).

This one isn't considered as "classic" as some of the other episodes from the "golden years", but it's definitely just as funny and well constructed as some of those classics.

Anne said...

Don't forget my hermit crab, Citizen Snips (named after the henchmen of the zookeeper from Futurama). Also, it's pretty apt since he's the only one that's pinched me.

I like these- it reminds me of all the old Simpsons episodes i had forgotten about

Teebore said...

Thanks Anne!

Citizen Snips, awesome!

I love that episode of Futurama, just for the Zookeeper and his animal henchmen.

"An elephant who never forgets...to kill!"