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The Simpsons

The Simpsons is an animated comedy about a family in the fictional town of Springfield. The family is made up of selfish father Homer, fretting mother Marge, precocious daughter Lisa, rebellious son Bart and silent daughter Maggie. FOX 1989-???

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Episode 13 - The Daughter Also Rises

6 March 2012

Credit FOX

Synopsis: Bart and Milhouse are inspired to disprove myths after watching "Mythcrackers" on TV. They begin taking on all the superstitions at school. Lisa meets a new boy called Nick who she describes as Hemmingway-esque. Marge becomes uncomfortable with the amount of time Lisa is spending with him.

The Good: The Mythbusters inspired story had real potential. I liked the idea of Bart and Milhouse taking on the crazy superstitions that elementary school kids pass around. An empty slot in a vending machine leads to the idea that if you press E8 you will be instantly killed. Bart and Milhouse disprove this nonsense and then begin to take on other myths from the swings to the girls' bathroom.

The Bad: The story never quite took off the way it might. The examples the boys chose were ok (saying a dead girls' name into a mirror is a classic horror idea) but they never quite captured anything universal. They didn't mention any childhood myths that really resonated with the viewer's experience. In a way this plot would have worked much better back in the early 90s before the internet made it so easy to discover the origin and truth about certain urban legends.

The conclusion of the story was also just ok. Bart is disheartened when he sees that his classmates actually took pleasure from thinking there was a little bit of magic at school. Instead now they are left with the depressing truth that it is merely a place of education. Again this idea wasn't made to hit home with any emotion but it was at least a conclusion (as Bart co-opts Groundskeeper Willie to create a new myth).

The Lisa-Marge story conclusion had almost nothing to do with the preceding twenty minutes of story. Lisa meets yet another educated boy to fall for (Nick) and by spending time with him she spends less with Marge. The one part of this I enjoyed was the montage of Lisa and Nick finding ways to make Springfield seem like a more exotic place (e.g. visiting the Eiffel Tower replica at the local mini-golf course).  

Then when Nick comes round to dinner Marge blurts out (in front of him) that she doesn't want Lisa spending more time with him because "it will mean you are a separate person from me." That line is about as awful as sit com writing can get. It doesn't sound like Marge at all, especially because poor Nick is in the room and has done nothing wrong. It also cuts straight to what Marge is thinking with no subtlety or sense of reality.

Lisa decides to vent her anger at Grandpa who randomly equates Lisa's relationship with Nick to the Roman myth of Pyramus and Thisbe. Even more randomly Lisa listens to him and drags Nick off to a local mulberry tree so that they can seal their forbidden love for eternity. If this weren't all contrived enough Nick suddenly starts to act like a wuss so that we will be sure not to miss him when things don't work out. The final nail comes when Ernest Hemmingway's ex-wives speak to Lisa from beyond (I'm not making this up) and warn her what a terrible partner tortured writers can be. It was all so bizarre and pointless and ended on the flattest of flat notes with Homer doing a pratfall to cover for the lack of comedy.  

Best Joke: One of the myths Bart is keen to crack is the idea that if a child goes all the way round the swing set his body will turn inside out. Naturally he plans to use Milhouse as the test dummy but Milhouse is not scared. He seems excited at the prospect and declares "Now my beauty will be on the outside!"

The Bottom Line: The A plot was lazy and terrible. The B plot had promise but not the delivery.

('DiggThis)

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