Episode 8 - New Kid On The Block
20 June 2011
Synopsis: The Simpsons' get new neighbours in Ruth Powers and her daughter Laura. Bart develops a crush on Laura quickly and is dismayed when she starts going out with Jimbo. Homer takes Marge to a Sea-food restaurant offering an All-you-can-eat deal which he intends to take full advantage of.
The Good: Both plots were fine for what they were. Homer's battle with the Sea Captain ends amicably with only Marge left to feel bad (about Homer's gross appetite). Meanwhile Bart's love story was handled in believable and endearing fashion. Laura is so much older than Bart that the ending where she says "if you were older..." felt about right. In the meantime his affection for her was endearing and led to him taking baths and seeking advice from his relatives for a change. The writing was good when demonstrating a believable friendship between him and Laura and the scene where he imagined her ripping his heart out was effective. The use of the gag phone calls to Moe to humiliate Jimbo was a nice payoff to a long running joke.
The Bad: However this was a childish episode in many ways. I don't mean because of Bart's story, I mean because the jokes were almost all broad and silly.
The writers leaned very heavily on the grosser and sillier aspects of Homer. They had him both refusing to clear crap off his own lawn and hoarding the junk of others. They had him lying around on both a hammock and an inflatable pool. They had him getting so drunk he could no longer be a responsible parent and eating so much that it humiliated his family. They had him avoid talking to Bart about girls and missing the point of Ruth's request that he set her up with one of his friends. I think we all know how much fun Homer can be but when you just bang away on his foibles like this it can be a chore.
His frivolous lawsuit against the Sea Captain's restaurant was a particularly ridiculous plot. The scene in court had no ounce of reality and just paraded one silly line after another. This included the ludicrous idea that Marge had agreed to go fishing with Homer at 3am after the All-you-can-eat plate didn't satisfy his lust for sea food. Grandpa and Homer both give Bart inconsequential rambling advice about women which served no particular purpose.
Best Joke: I liked this line as it felt particularly in tune with the story being told. Bart is wounded to hear Laura refer to him as "just a kid." He determinedly says aloud "I'll show them who's just a kid!" Then Marge's voice yells "Bart! It's bed time. I've laid out your jammy-jams!"
The Bottom Line: After a blazing start season four has stumbled into more disappointing territory. I suppose that's a mark of the high standards the show had begun to set.
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