Episode 21 - Black Widower
29 January 2011
Synopsis: Selma introduces her new boyfriend who she met through a prison pen pal programme and its Sideshow Bob. He proposes to Selma to everyone's delight. Everyone except Bart who refuses to believe that Bob has changed. Marriage plans seem to hit a stumbling block when Bob mocks "MacGyver" but they soon marry anyway and go on honeymoon.
The Good: This is a fun mystery story. From early on the writers make it clear that Bob is up to no good and the game is to work out how Bart will foil his plans again. The script was solid with Bob managing to be plausibly enamoured with Selma while clearly plotting her downfall.
Kelsey Grammar's rich voice and Bob's academic vocabulary make him a distinctive and entertaining character. I smiled at him describing a kiss with Selma as being like kissing "Some divine ashtray." Or later struggling to think of something to pretend to find attractive in her besides her money and referring to her "less tangible qualities!" Though the writing didn't dwell on it we also got a glimpse at the obvious changes the marriage would make to Patty and Selma's lives. As they prepare to leave for the honeymoon Patty admits that she is "dying of jealousy" which is just what Selma wanted to hear.
Bart plays cynical detective just fine, his suspicions growing from mere fear to genuine belief. Then he plays the detective revealing how he solved the crime with predictable flourish.
The Bad: I suppose no one thought to just call the hotel rather than drive over there.
The writers slowly escalated the idea that Bob didn't have any affection for Selma and eventually revealed that he found her abhorrent. They went so far to show him washing himself and shuddering after sex. That was a fairly graphic concept (for a cartoon which children watch) and crossed a line for what was needed to make the point about his true feelings.
This was an entertaining episode but it wasn't particularly funny. Not that it needed to be but Bob's persona led to smiles rather than laughs.
Best Joke: I liked the idea of Krusty's "Telethon for Motion Sickness" which was amusingly spurious. Krusty gets emotional about the poor kids who suffer from this terrible affliction. "You should see the bus they came to the studio in!" he sobs.
The Bottom Line: An entertaining mystery story and the beginning of Bob's annual attempts to exact revenge on Bart for sending him to prison.
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