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Monday, August 1, 2011

Retro Review: Bart's Friend Falls in Love

Or the One Where
Milhouse, um, falls in love...

The Setup
After stealing Homer's change jar in dramatic fashion, a Magic 8 ball foretells that Bart and Milhouse's friendship will soon come to an end, bewildering them until Milhouse becomes smitten with new girl Samantha Stankey.

Notable Notes
The opening sequence of this episode obviously parodies the opening of Raiders of the Lost Ark (with Bart as Indy). The producers contacted Steven Spielberg to clear usage of John Williams' "Raiders March" for the sequence.

This episode is technically the end of The Simpsons third season, though the episode "Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?", which aired in late August, is considered part of the third season as it was produced as part of the third season after Fox decided to add an additional episode to air over the summer.

Favorite Quotes
Bart: How would I go about creating a half-man, half-monkey-type creature
Ms. Krabappel: I'm sorry, that would be playing God.
Bart: God schmod! I want my monkey-man!

Marge: Homer, has the weight loss tape reduced your appetite?
Homer: Ah, lamentably no. My gastronomic rapacity knows no satieties

Milhouse: How could this happen? We started out like Romeo and Juliet, but it ended up in tragedy.

Homer: Marge, where's that...metal dealie...you use to...dig...food?
Marge: A spoon?
Homer: Yeah yeah!


Teebore's Take
An episode that illustrates the groove Simpsons is settling into at this point. There's nothing terribly remarkable about this episode; no significant new characters are introduced, and both plots feature fairly routine sitcom material. But the episode makes the most of its two plots with some great gags (including one of the show's best film references) and strong character work. Though there's plenty to like in the A plot (such as Bart's decidedly juvenile approach to the opposite sex: "we're living in the age of cooties"), the subplot, in which Homer attempts to lose weight via subliminal message tapes only to be unknowingly sent vocabulary builder tapes, elicits some of the biggest laughs as Homer's vocabulary spins out of control. However, a clear highlight of the episode is the sex ed film (Fuzzy Bunny's Guide to You Know What) Ms. Krabappel shows the class (narrated by Troy McClure, of course), which manages to lampoon the same frank-yet-still-euphemistic tone of the sex ed films we all had to sit through at one time or another, to hilarious results.

Classic

While not a noteworthy episode in and of itself, a strong outing nonetheless that shows how The Simpsons at this point can elevate even relatively straightforward material to new heights.

4 comments:

Dr. Bitz said...

The B-Plot always bothered me because, obviously, the subliminal tapes work. So if Homer got the right one he would have lost weight.

I guess I feel that happens in sitcoms a lot. Where a plan goes awry but the problem is easily fixable except no one ever tries the plan again with the problem corrected. Super villains have the same issue.

(In fairness, the Simpsons never KNEW the tape was wrong...but it still bugged me.)

Also, my favorite line from that episode is "I bet the eight ball didn't see THAT coming." Or something close to that.

Teebore said...

@Dr. Bitz: The B-Plot always bothered me because, obviously, the subliminal tapes work. So if Homer got the right one he would have lost weight.

I see your point, but I don't think it's ever bothered me because, as you point out, the Simpsons never find out the tape was wrong. And probably because I find Homer's vocab so funny.

Now, of course, I probably can't NOT be bothered by it, since you pointed it out...

lso, my favorite line from that episode is "I bet the eight ball didn't see THAT coming."

Right after Bart breaks it over Milhouse's head. Or vice versa. Either way, it is indeed a great line.

Anonymous said...

In regards to sitcoms never trying plans again, I believe there was an episode of the simpsons that addresses this. The setup was Maggie was locked in the bathroom, and the first thing they try to do to free her is to pick the lock with a wire hanger. After this fails, they try a number of other things until Lisa tries the hanger again and gets the door open, making some tongue-in-cheek comment about how noone ever tries things twice in those situations.

Teebore said...

@anonymous: Lisa tries the hanger again and gets the door open, making some tongue-in-cheek comment about how noone ever tries things twice in those situations.

Ha! I do remember that, now that you mention it.