Episode 7 - The Man in the Blue Flannel Pants
30 November 2011
Synopsis: Krusty needs a cool party to help launch his new vodka brand. Bart volunteers his house but Homer foolishly invites Mr Burns. This kills the atmosphere and Homer has to rescue the atmosphere. Burns is so impressed by this that he promotes Homer to the accounts department. Homer is mentored by Robert Marlowe who is a cynical alcoholic.
The Good: If you are a Mad Men fan you might be more amused by this than if you hadn't seen the show.
The Bad: But either way this made no sense at all. I struggle sometimes with whether or not to explain my entire philosophy on why The Simpsons needs to at least try to reflect reality. On this occasion I hope you can just appreciate why the details of this story might have annoyed me.
The first five minutes of the episode saw Homer dazzle Mr Burns with his ability to liven up a party. Burns decided on the basis of this to promote Homer to his accounts department and let him handle major clients. This is the kind of thin premise the show has been using for years so I can't complain too much about that sort of silliness.
What bothered me more was that Homer then stepped straight onto the set of Mad Men. It may only be a small point but I don't think a nuclear plant would have clients in the same way an ad agency would. More irritating was that Homer was suddenly allowed to drink all day at work. There was no attempt to provide an explanation for either how this world still existed or how Homer would be equipped to manage an account when most episodes present him as a moron.
I know that referencing films and television shows has always been a part of The Simpsons but the Robert Marlowe felt like a particularly slavish reproduction of Roger Sterling with little discernable benefit. The writers look like fan-boys when they just replicate a scene from Mad Men (as they did here with the lawnmower) without it serving a purpose.
The jokes throughout the episode were beyond exaggeration. Homer playing golf with live fish or Quimby being able to change the score at a ball game. The worst offender was Robert somehow transporting Marge between rooms with no plausible explanation.
The episode ended with Homer swimming between two rafts trying to keep both his family and clients happy. Again there was no way to imagine that any of that was remotely possible and it set up this entirely false dilemma for Homer. The writers laziest crutch is to have Homer 'choose' his family over his latest fad. We really need more effort than this to see any sentiment in that predictable development.
Best Joke: Mr Burns commenting that he had escaped the Titanic by making a raft out of steerage passengers was a clever line.
The Bottom Line: If the writers try to tell an actual story I go easy on them for the lame attempts at humour. But if there is no plot and they are just aping their favourite shows to amuse themselves then I will call them out for wasting our time.
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