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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-???


Episode 20 - The Spy Who Learned Me

11 June 2012

Credit FOX

Synopsis: Homer makes so many comments during a Stradivarius Cain movie that Marge can’t enjoy it. She is so annoyed with him that when he is signed off work (for a concussion) he doesn’t tell her. Instead he heads to Moe’s where a hallucination of Cain tries to teach him how to be a better husband. Bart watches a documentary about how unhealthy Krusty Burger food is. He decides to over-feed Nelson to avoid getting bullied. 

The Good: Both plots were quite unusual and for a few minutes I thought we might be about to see something interesting. Homer being tutored by James Bond about how to treat women is certainly an intriguing idea and the fact that it was concussion induced added an unpredictable element. Similarly I was amused at Bart learning all the wrong lessons from a documentary which borrowed heavily from Morgan Spurlock’s “Super Size Me.”

The Bad: Sadly neither story worked or for that matter were fully formed stories. Bart and Nelson were the B plot and were given such short shrift that they might as well have been a C plot. Bart gets bullied, feeds Nelson burgers, Lisa helps him get fit again. That’s it. There was no attempt to get to the emotional core of the victim, perpetrator or explore the fast food industry or obesity at all. The jokes were poor too with logic trampled over several times. Not only does Nelson bully both Milhouse’s mother and Principal Skinner (neither of which should be possible) but Krusty is featured several times within the documentary basically incriminating himself in ways which would have already shut his franchise down.

The Homer-Bond story was more confusing. In the end it turned out to be one of a thousand lame Homer-Marge stories with no purpose or consequence. However during the bulk of the episode I wasn’t sure what angle we were supposed to be seeing the story from. Homer initially decided not to tell Marge about his enforced vacation, a selfish move. However his concussed brain then apparently conjures Cain forward to repair his marriage. If it was his brain though why did Cain act like, well, James Bond?

Was Homer imagining how a smooth spy would behave in order to treat Marge better? I suppose so. It was a curious choice given that their own parody acknowledged Bond’s dismissive attitude to his conquests. We also got jokes and teaching sessions based around being a spy which really had little to do with being a better husband. Cain as an American spy was an odd choice too (as he was so directly based on Bond) and of all people the producers chose Bryan Cranston to voice him. I don’t often comment on the guest stars The Simpsons use because their cameos have been so forgettable in the last twenty years. But in this case Cranston is so identified with two specific characters (Hal and Walter White) that he was a baffling choice to be cast as Bond.

The jokes were poor or silly including Homer being able to seduce a woman with one line. I also found it inappropriate, given the advances in our understanding of concussions, to see Homer bashing himself over the head to try and get the ‘right’ hallucination.

Best Joke: The Bond parody was a familiar one for the show (it reminded me strongly of the old McBain movie clips). However the one gag in the episode which landed was the evil boss asking his beautiful mistress if she had killed Cain. “Yes! He was the perfect lover...been killed!” The boss responds blankly “It’s a weird sentence but let’s move on.”

The Bottom Line: The two stories had more intrigue than usual but the execution was bog standard.



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