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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Retro Reviews: Brush With Greatness

Or the One Where: Marge paints Mr. Burns in the nude.

The Setup: After getting stuck in a water slide, Homer resolves to lose weight. His discovery of some of Marge's old paintings in the attic while looking for exercise equipment leads to Marge rekindling her talents.

A Work in Progress: Ringo Starr guests stars as himself, the first of the surviving Beatles to lend his voice to the show (George Harrison will show up in season five, and Paul McCartney in season seven).

Jon Lovitz returns, voicing Mr. Lombardo, Marge's art teacher, and the doughnut delivery man.

Marge's interest in and talent for art is established for the first time.

The kids pull the classic "repeat something they want over and over until Homer agrees" routine for the first time, in order to go to Mt. Splashmore.

Favorite Lines:

Homer: All right, family. I want the truth. Don't pull any punches. Am I just a little bit overweight? [silence] Well, am I?
Lisa: Forgive us, Dad, but it takes time to properly sugar-coat a response.

Burns: Somebody up there likes me, Smithers.
Smithers: Somebody down here likes you, too, sir.
Burns: Shut up.

Donut man: Hey, what gives? These donuts are piling up.
Worker: Heh. Yeah, Homer Simpson went on a diet.
Donut man: Oh my God. And I just bought a boat!

Smithers: Have you ever painted the rich and powerful?
Marge: Well, no. Just Ringo Starr.
Burns: Ring..Go?
Smithers: He was the drummer for a rock-and-roll combo called the Beatles, sir.
Burns: Beatles, eh? Oh, yes. I seem to remember their off-key caterwauling on the old Sullivan show. What was Ed thinking? 

Teebore's Take: Another episode I've never particularly enjoyed. Despite the subplot involving Homer losing weight, it's a essentially a Marge episode, which are usually pretty meh, so maybe that's why. But it's not a bad episode, either; just not one I've ever considered a favorite or been excited to re-watch. Like a lot of the more recent episodes, the first act, featuring the family's shenangians at the Mt. Splashmore waterpark culimnating in Homer getting stuck in one of the slides, is the funniest part, and the part of the episode I enjoy the most. (It also contains one of those gags that's entered my own personal lexicon: when Bart and Lisa are standing in line, Bart tells Lisa to start crying, pretending she lost her mom so they can get to the head of the line. To this day, when I find myself standing in a long line, I often think "time to turn on the waterworks".)

Two other thoughts: As we near the end of season two it's already clear that Mr. Burns is one of the writers' favorite supporting characters, as this is the third episode (out of eventually four) to feature him this season. This is also a unique episode for "The Simpsons" in that it utilizes a more standard A plot/B plot structure, a story structure most sitcoms of the time followed religiously but that "The Simpsons" used infrequently enough that it stands out when they do.


Sure, it's the first appearance of a Beatle on "The Simspsons", and Marge's artistic leanings become a lasting (if relatively insignifcant) part of her character, and this is, perhaps, the last time Homer's weight is handled realistically at all, but I just can't get excited about this one.

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