Episode 1 - Kamp Krusty
27 March 2012
Synopsis: With the end of the school year approaching Bart needs a C average or Homer won't let him go to Kamp Krusty. He fails but Homer lets him and Lisa go anyway. Once there they discover that the Camp is a fraud. Krusty is off spending his Summer at Wimbledon while Mr Black exploits the children for cheap labour and feeds them gruel. Bart's faith in Krusty keeps him quiet until he snaps and leads a rebellion. Meanwhile back in Springfield Marge and Homer are having a much happier time without the kids around.
The Good: This was a (by now) standard satirical look at summer camp life and celebrity endorsed products. Every angle of life at the camp was covered with forced labour, malnutrition and spirit breaking which all simulated the worst aspects of concentration camps and sweat shops. I particularly like that Lisa writes home to beg Marge and Homer to come rescue them. In typically clever fashion Marge reacts as a parent would in the real world and assumes "She complains now, but when we go to pick her up, she won't want to leave."
Bart then leads the rebellion and again the writers aren't afraid to add nuance. He lists off the times that Krusty has let him down before but his faith in his hero is so strong that it takes a lot to finally make him snap. This self awareness makes the story much more enjoyable and so when Krusty comes to save the day he has to properly grovel to win the kids affection back. He then takes them to Tijuana, a suitably inappropriate choice, to make it up to them and return to being a beloved figure next week.
Adding to this story is that back home Homer and Marge are much happier without the children. I suppose Marge might not be entirely but certainly their marriage is strengthened and Homer's stress levels decrease. With only Marge and Maggie to deal with it seems he retreats less from family life. The montage of school ending was effective and the other parents all celebrating wildly when their children left for camp was amusing and believable.
The Bad: In a way we didn't need the first part of the story where Bart faced the problem of getting a C average. Terrible parent that he can be, Homer just let him go anyway. I suppose in general this episode relied too heavily on little montages to tell its story and there were less standalone jokes.
Best Joke: Homer and Marge's tranquillity is interrupted by a news report from Kent Brockman on the "Krisis at Kamp Krusty." In the background are scenes of destruction and rebellion. Kent announces "Ladies and Gentlemen, I have been to Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan, and I can say without hyperbole that this is a million times worse than all of them put together."
The Bottom Line: A solid if unspectacular start to season four.
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