Lifetime of Simpsons

S06 E10 – Grampa Vs. Sexual Inadequacy

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Oh man. A super fun Homer and Grandpa story? Count me in! This episode is so fun, and shockingly emotional by the end.

The episodes starts off by showing Homer and Marge’s lackluster sex-life, as they both have various reasons why they’ve can’t have sex. The best is definitely Homer wanting to watch some horrible movie called Goodtime Slim, Uncle Doobie, and the Great Frisco Freak-Out starring Troy McClure. Or the time Homer simply falls onto the bed, all swollen and fat and just says “oh, enchiladas.” So after several unsuccessful attempts at sex they decide to go get a tasteful book to help them. The next day the family heads off to a bookstore which is kind of an antiquated notion. So Homer and Marge buy a book about being an “Erotic American,” narrated by Paul Harvey, while Lisa buys a book by Al Gore, and Bart gets one about UFO’s and conspiracies, because Bart is obsessed with aliens in this episode. And I really love the gag that Al Gore has some weird alert set to inform him any time someone buys one of his books, and that Lisa is the first to do so.

And now that Marge and Homer have their sex audiobook, they start to try it’s tips, to disasterous results. They try to have a sexy bath together, but end up getting stuck in the tub in the dark, and have to call the kids to come help them, which must be the most scaring thing in the world. Then they head off for a little vacation at some sort of sex hotel with themed rooms, but didn’t think ahead to reserve a room, so they get stuck sleeping in the utility closet. And at that point they give up and just destroy the tape by running it over repeatedly with their car, and just head home. And when they get to the house Grandpa starts to talk to Homer, and guesses that Marge is unhappy because of their unfulfilled sex life. Homer is obviously grossed out by his elderly father talking about sex, but when he brings Grandpa back to the Retirement Castle, Grandpa gives him a weird little home remedy that’s supposed to be a powerful aphrodisiac that he made out of crap in his medicine cabinet. Homer’s pretty skeptical, but when he drinks the stuff he ends up racing home, kicking the kids out to go to a movie, and has crazy sex with Marge, while the kids end up watching a series of sexual suggestive stock footage, like the end of a movie from the 50’s.

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After a night of crazy aphrodisiac-sex, Marge talks to Homer about Grandpa’s sex-soda, and tells Homer that he and Grandpa should sell the drug to the other sexless people of Springfield. So Homer and Grandpa begin bottling the sex-potion like crazy, marketing it as Simpson and Son Revitalizing Tonic and trying to sell it at a kiosk in the mall. Homer quickly proves to be a terrible salesman, so Grandpa takes over while dressing like Colonel Sanders and talking like an old carnival barker. And Grandpa is a huge success, selling the tonic like crazy, even to Professor Frink who turns super suave when he takes a sip of it. The tonic quickly takes over the town, as pretty much every adult couple we know starts taking the tonic and having crazy sex. All thanks to Grandpa! Unfortunately that means all of the adults are spending their time having sex, leaving the kids in charge of the town.

Now that Springfield has been conquered by Simpson and Son, they decide to head off to the small towns around Springfield to sell their sex-potion to them too. Unfortunately Homer is still a terrible shill, and they end up getting chased out of some hillbilly town by an angry mob. Meanwhile, all the kids in Springfield are getting increasingly confused about their parents odd behavior, and Bart starts to explain it as being an evil plot by aliens. The kids come to Bart’s treehouse and argue about the nefarious alien plot, while Milhouse argues that it could be a government conspiracy, and Lisa sarcastically implies that they’re all reverse-vampires who need to get home before dark, which really makes sense to the kids. So while the kids try to figure out what’s going on, Grandpa and Homer continue to roam the countryside, and Grandpa ends up taking Homer to the old farmhouse that they lived in when Homer was a boy. They walk around the dilapidated house, getting hit by garbage and bathtubs that fall from the roof, and Homer even finds their old TV, the Radiation King, which has burnt his shadow into the wall.

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But things start to get bad as Homer gets all mad at Grandpa for not treating him right as a kid, leading them to have a crazy argument in the car. They start yelling at each other, even having the hilarious joke of Grandpa choking Homer and saying “why you little!” But it gets awkward when Grandpa says that the only reason Homer exists is the sex-potion, telling Homer that he was a mistake. This infuriates Homer, who ends up kicking Grandpa out of the car, leaving him there. Grandpa immediately realizes that this was a terrible idea, and starts to try and make it up to Homer, to little success. Homer doesn’t want to forgive Grandpa, and decides instead to over-parent Bart, Lisa, and Maggie, and be a better father than Grandpa was. And this goes terribly.

Homer tries to teach Bart how to ride a bike, to which Bart explains all the reasons that idea is stupid, such as the bike being a girl’s bike, and Bart already knowing how to ride a bike. Homer also has Lisa stuck in some greasy tire swing he made by himself, that’s incredibly unsafe. The kids then explain to Homer that it’s not fun when he tries to parent them so hard, telling him that his half-assed under-parenting is a lot more fun that his whole-assed over-parenting. So Homer gets depressed and heads off after making this hilarious interaction with the kids:

Homer: Some day you’ll thank me for all this scary love. But now I’ve gotta go somewhere and do some serious thinking.

[Homer gets in the car and drives off.]

Bart: I’m sure he meant to say “serious drinking.”

Lisa: That’s what I assumed.

So hilarious. But while Homer is driving off to think, we see that Grandpa has been attempting to keep selling the sex-potion, with Barney as his “son,” which works even worse than having Homer be involved. So Grandpa wanders off to think too and they both end up at the old family farm. Homer rumages through some old stuff at the farmhouse, and ends up finding an old picture of Grandpa being Santa at a Christmas, and Homer realizes that Abe wasn’t a terrible father, and he should really cut him some slack. At that point the two Simpsons men accidentally light the house on fire, and end up running into each other. They make up, and the episode ends as they bond trying to smother the flames on their back.

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This is such a fun episode. Homer and Grandpa are great characters, and it’s always fun to see their relationship explored. We spend a lot of time talking about how episodes that explore Lisa and Homer’s relationship are great, but I think Grandpa and Homer is equally interesting. Abe really did seem to be a kind of bad dad, but at the same time, we get the feeling that he may have been trying his best, since Mona wasn’t around (not that we know that yet). Grandpa had to raise Homer by himself, and they both have some resentment toward each other. It’s so funny, and tackles some serious topic. Troubled sex-lives of married couples, father-son issues, and saucer people are all serious things people need to deal with, and it was really fun to see it tackled like this.

Take Away: Maintaining a sex-life can be hard, and cut your parents some slack, they’re doing their best.

 

“Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy,” was written by Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein and directed by Was Archer, 1994.

 

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S06 E09 – Homer Badman

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Oh look, another episode about sexual harassment, but this time it’s one of the Simpsons whose the perv! Or at least, that’s what people think. This episode is so much fun, let’s dive on in!

Things start right off the bat in a way that really doesn’t happen much from this era, by having Bart and Lisa arguing with each other about picking the non-marshmallow pieces of Lucky Charms out of their cereal bowls, and how they should be put in the trash. Which is wonderful. But Homer notices their love of marshmallows, and starts to tell them about an upcoming candy industry trade show. Apparently random people who aren’t involved in the industry can go, and Homer was able to “win” tickets to it by sitting in the Kwik-E-Mart and just ripping up all of Apu’s candy bars until he found tickets, like Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Unfortunately Homer’s just being a jerk by telling the kids, because he has no intentions of bringing either of them with him, instead he wants to bring Marge so that she can be a candy mule and carry as much stolen merchandise as she can. So Homer and Marge head out to the convention, and get the kids a new babysitter, Ashley Grant, whose a grad student studying woman’s issues. Bart’s intimidated by her, because apparently he’s kind of sexist, but she teaches Lisa that men are dumb and like video games, so I guess things go well.

Homer and Marge head to the candy convention, and it’s pretty great. It’s essentially a Comic-Con, with all sorts of booths and presentations with people showing off the new technologies in candy. And Homer loves it. He wanders around, stealing everything he can get his hands on, and checking out all the advancements. He steals Professor Frink’s insane sour-ball, he talks to the sad man who sells wax lips, and finally makes his way to the Gummy part of the conference. There’s some weird gummy artisan who shows Homer all the fancy gummy bears, and ends it by showing him some super rare gummy Venus de Milo. Homer instantly wants that candy, and tells Marge to create a distraction. She refuses, but then the crazy coat Homer made her wear that’s filled with candy explodes, and people start helping her pick it up, giving Homer the chance to smash the glass case that protects Venus de Milo, and he takes it. This immediately pisses off the candy people, and they start chasing Homer and Marge through the convention. They get to the entrance, and Homer creates a bomb using a Buzz Cola and Pop Rocks, which explodes the convention, letting him and Marge get away.

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They head home and the kids immediately start rummaging through her candy filled coat while she’s still wearing it like rats. Homer starts to freak out though while the kids begin gorging themselves on candy when he thinks he lost the Venus de Milo, but Marge tells him not to worry about it, and lets him know he still needs to take Ashley Grant back home. So he driver her home while making all sorts of insane comments and just generally creeping her out, until she finally can’t take it any more, and asks him to just pull over and let her out. But when she gets out of the car Homer realizes that she had been sitting on the Venus de Milo, and it’s stuck to her butt. He reaches up for it, and pulls it off while making a gross face. This freaks her out, and she runs off, assuming Homer’s a pervert, while he just eat the candy that someone had been sitting on. Like a gentleman. And the real plot kicks in the next morning when Homer and Marge find that an angry mob has gathered around their house, led by Ashley Grant, who claims that Homer sexually assaulted her.

Homer is horrified at this accusation, and doesn’t even understand what she’s talking about, so he heads out to ask the crowd what’s going on, and after he gets informed about the butt grab. He tries to explain himself, but an unfortunate gust of wind blows his robe up and he ends up flashing the crowd, which doesn’t help him. Homer then has the uncomfortable task of teaching the kids what sexual harassment is by comparing it with a postcard Grandpa once sent them with an alligator biting a woman’s “bottom.” And the protestors quickly start to ruin Homer’s life, by following him around everywhere, even to the Power Plant where they can continue to publicly shame him. And to make matters worse, for the first time in their relationship Marge doesn’t know what they should do, and Homer’s on his own. So Homer goes to his last resort by begging God for help, and gets a call from God…frey Jones, the host of a show called Rock Bottom that wants to tell his story. And since Homer liked their report on Sasquatch, he agrees.

So Homer heads to Rock Bottom, and has a pretty plain interview with Godfrey Jones, which he thinks will finally exonerate him. Unfortunately when the episode starts up he sees that they’ve edited his interview to make him look like a terrible pervert, which doesn’t help him any, and if anything makes it worse, because now his story has gotten national attention, even though the interview ends with the warning “Dramatization: May not have happened.” And now that the whole country has heard this story, the news begins to stalk the house. They even have a helicopter watching him in the shower, which leads to a wonderful gag when Homer slips and falls and covers himself in the shower curtain, leading to:

News Anchor: “Homer sleeps nude in oxygen tent, which he believes gives him sexual powers.”

Homer: “Hey that’s a half-truth!”

Fantastic. Homer then starts flipping channels, trying to get away from the news and ends up finding a slew of terrible talk shows that are all about him, including the wonderfully baffling joke of having a talk show called Ben, that’s just a bear with a microphone attached to his head walking around, letting people speak into it. That is until he starts attacking the catering table and has to get tranquilized.

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And things just keep getting worse. There’s a made for TV movie starring Dennis Franz as Homer called “Homer Simpson: Portrait of an Ass-Grabber,” and Homer’s friends end up coming to the house to sell even more incriminating secrets to the press. And all of this ends up piling up to make Homer a crazy shut-in, who won’t leave the house or watch TV since everyone is against him. But someone finally gets an idea, and Lisa suggests that Homer go on public access and plead his case by telling the truth. So they go do that, and it doesn’t really amount to much, since no one watches public access. The only time I ever did was once on Halloween and I found that some people paid to just film their weird drunken Halloween party, while dancing around and yelling at the camera, which was admittedly entertaining. The only thing Homer’s little broadcast accomplished was him insulting people who ride old-timey bikes, adding to his woes. But something finally good happens when Groundskeepr Willie shows up at the Simpsons house to tell Homer that he has exonerating evidence. Apparently Willie films people in cars, and happened to get a shot of Homer grabbing the candy off Ashley’s butt, not grabbing her. So Homer is cleared of his horrible deed, and he’s a normal man again. Everyone forgets his deeds, and Rock Bottom even publishes a massive list of things that they’ve lied about. And the episode ends with Homer enjoying Rock Bottom’s new story about how creepy Groundskeeper Willie is, since he didn’t learn anything.

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This episode is a lot of fun, mainly because despite all of his other character faults, Homer legitimately isn’t a creep. Homer has a whole mess of flaws, but being a perv isn’t one of them, so seeing him being accused of something he legitimately didn’t do, and like doesn’t even understand, is pretty funny. This episode wasn’t specifically emotional, like Homer having a serious crisis or anything, it’s a serious topic but it’s still made hilariously. It’s full of amazing jokes, and is just a serious home run.

Take Away: Sexual harrassment isn’t good, but you should also not believe everything you hear without doing a little research. Don’t jump to conclusions.

And now, a list of ridiculous things Rock Bottom lied about:

“Peoples’ Choice Awards” is America’s greatest honor.

Styrofoam is not made from kittens.

The UFO was a paper plate.

The nerds on the Internet are not geeks.

The word “cheese” is not funny in and of itself.

The older Flanders boy is Todd, not Rod.

Lyndon Johnson did not provide the voice of Yosemite Sam.

If you are reading this, you have no life.

Roy Rogers was not buried in his horse.

The other UFO was an upside down salad spinner.

Our universities are not “hotbeds” of anything.

Mr. Dershowitz did not literally have four eyes.

Our viewers are not pathetic sexless food tubes.

Audrey Hepburn never weighed 400 pounds.

The “Cheers” gang is not a real gang.

Salt water does not chase the thirsties away.

Licking an electrical outlet will not turn you into a Mighty Morphin Power Ranger.

Cats do not eventually turn into dogs.

Bullets do not bounce off of fat guys.

Recycling does not deplete the ozone.

Everything is 10% fruit juice.

The flesh eating virus does not hide in ice cream.

Janet Reno is evil.

V8 juice is not 1/8 gasoline.

Ted Koppel is a robot.

Women aren’t from Venus and men aren’t from Mars.

Fleiss does floss.

Quayle is familiar with common bathroom procedures.

Bart is bad to the bone.

Godfry Jones’ wife is cheating on him.

The Beatles haven’t reunited to enter kick boxing competitions.

The “Bug” on your TV screen can see into your home.

Everyone on TV is better than you.

The people who are writing this have no life.

 

“Homer Badman” was written by Greg Daniels and directed by Jeffrey Lynch, 1994.

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S06 E08 – Lisa on Ice

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This episode is amazing. It’s definitely one of my top favorites, and one I could watch over and over. It’s a wonderful episode full of sibling rivalry, which this show always portray perfectly, plus it’s about hockey, which is something I actually really love. Pee Wee hockey seems like something that isn’t used that often, and I feel like a normal show would have made it baseball or something more people are familiar with, and the fact that it’s hockey makes it so much better.

The episode starts off with a really great scene of the family watching Channel 6 Action News, which is just Kent Brockman reading normal news stories as if they were exciting. He talks about the impending apocalyptic blizzard that will assault Springfield. This is proof enough to Bart that they’re going to get a snow day the next morning, so he falls asleep waiting for snow. And he wakes up with Lisa smashing a snowball in his face and running off. So Bart chases after her, anticipating a snow war only to find the outside completely devoid of snow because Lisa made the snowball out of freezer ice, and various classmates there to mock him:

Jimbo: “Nice Pjs Simpson! Did your mommy buy them for you?”

Bart: “Of course she did, who else would?”

Jimbo: “Alright, Simpson, you win this round.”

So the kids head to school, while Bart realizes that he’ll have to present a book report he didn’t do because of the snow. Luckily for him though, as soon as he’s supposed to present his report, Principal Skinner makes an announcement for everyone to come to the Butthead Memorial Auditorium for an assembly. Turns out Skinner has these new academic alerts that will tell parents any time the kids are messing up in school. He then proceeds to call up each kid in school and give them their alert, which seems super shitty. Although it does lead to the wonderful response from Ralph when he finds out he’s flunking English class: “Me fail English? That’s unpossible.” But the episode really gets going when Lisa shockingly gets one of these, because she’s failing gym.

Lisa obviously freaks out about this alert, so she goes and talks with the gym teacher to see what she can do to help her grade. The gym teacher tells her that she’ll give her a passing grade if Lisa joins an extracurricular team sport. So she heads out and finds that she can’t play basketball because she can’t dribble and she can’t play volleyball because she popped the ball with her hair. And around this point we learn that Bart is super good at hockey, and has earned a lot of praise from Homer, who is proud that his son is good at something. So Lisa joins the family to go see Bart’s game, where we see the two coaches in town are Chief Wiggum and Apu. Bart is the star of the Pigs team and we see him deliver a powerful slapshot to Milhouse’s face, which ends up having Apu tie Milhouse to the goalposts since he can’t stand up on his own. Bart ends up winning the game, which leads to Homer’s wonderful line “here’s your turtle, alive and well,” which makes me laugh a lot. But as Homer and Marge wander off, Bart starts taunting Lisa and hitting trash at her with his stick, which she deflects wonderfully. Apu notices this, and decides she would make a good goalie, and starts whacking pucks at her to test this theory. And Apu ends up offering her a part on the team.

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Marge is a little against this decision, because she’s too worried that the game is too violent. But Lisa wants to join the team, more to get the credit than anything else. She has a wonderful fantasy where she’s being elected President in the future, until it’s revealed that she failed gym in the second grade, which leads to her being sent to Monster Island, which is actually a peninsula. She she heads off to join the team, while Homer follows her to intimidate the boys on the team to ensure they don’t pick on her for being different. But that backfires when he ends up picking on Uter for having “bosoms.” So Lisa plays her first game, and it’s not going well. Bart and Homer are sitting in the crowd, mocking Lisa for screaming at the assault of pucks. But she ends up being a big part of winning the game, causing Homer to reward her competitive violence with getting the front seat of the car.

Time starts to pass, and it turns out Lisa is actually great at hockey, and she really gets into it. She becomes the saving grace of the team, and man do I love the quick little joke where Milhouse suggests Bart will be good at school now that Lisa is good at hockey, which leads to a montage of Bart raising his hand in class and getting all the questions wrong. But it does lead to the bullies beating up Bart, before getting stopped by Lisa, who is a badass now. And her being a badass really appeals to Homer, who starts hanging out with her. And man is it funny watching super intense Lisa run the rink. “Ralph Wiggum lost a shin guard. Hack the bone! Hack the BONE!!”

And it’s around this point that the episode becomes even crazier and more fun, because Bart starts to get really jealous of Lisa. There’s a great scene when Lisa comes into her room and finds Bart there, sitting in the dark, getting ready to intimidate her with the wonderful interaction:

Bart: Lisa, certain difference, rivalries if you will, have come up between us. At first I thought we could talk it over like civilized people, but instead…I just ripped the head off Mr. Honeybunny!

Lisa: Bart that was your cherished childhood toy.

Bart: Aaah! Mr. Honeybunny!

That’s seriously one of my favorite Simpsons gags of all time. But it gets even better, because they begin fighting in the most sibling way ever. The start swinging their arms around, saying that if the other gets in the way of their flying fists, it’s their fault. And the gag gets even better when Marge runs up to break up the kids fight, and Homer does the exact same thing with a pie, which causes him to bash his head into the stove as hard as he could. Marge gets up to tell the kids that there’s no reason to fight, because they aren’t in competition, and Homer marches in and informs them that their teams will be playing each other in some championship, and they’ll be in direct competition!

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So the big game approaches, and we get the wonderful joke of Chief Wiggum letting all the convicts out of the jail on the condition that they go to the game. And the kids really start to give each other shit as the game gets closer, and I really love the scene when Moe shows up while they’re eating dinner to determine if the kids have any handicaps he can exploit when gambling, and it’s great to hear Marge’s line “I’m too tense to pretend I like you.” Yikes. The story then skips ahead to the game, where we see Bart and Lisa skate up to each other to trash talk before it starts, and we see Lisa wearing Mr. Honeybunny’s head on a string around her neck. The game then starts, and we see that it’s incredibly close, which causes Homer to keep changing his mind on which kid he likes better. And things become even more tense when Jimbo gets caught tripping Bart, and Bart gets to have a penalty shot. The game is about to end, and it’s tied, so if Bart is able to score on Lisa, his team will win. So Bart starts barreling down on Lisa, and the two begin to have flashbacks to previous times together. We see Bart helping Lisa get cookies, Bart making shadow puppets to entertain Lisa, Lisa helping Bart’s scraped knee, and Bart giving Lisa his ice cream when she drops hers. This causes the two to stop playing the game, and they end up just hugging each other while time runs out on the game, and it ends up being a tie. Which pisses the crowd off like crazy. They start rioting, and we get one of my favorite Hans Moleman lines, “We paid for blood!” which is something that my buddies and I will stay say to each other when we watch hockey games. The crowd then begins tearing up the stadium while Lisa and Bart skate off, being happy siblings.

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This episode is amazing. The hockey stuff is just the icing on the cake, because the best part of it is the sibling stuff. The Simpsons really gets how siblings interact, and it rocks. Seeing them squabble and fight over this weird competition they get stuck in is just perfect. The way they fight with the spinning arms and kicks is just perfect, and one of the most siblingy things I’ve ever seen. My brother and I were never really in competition like this, because we haven’t really ever played a sport or anything, but I can still recognize so many aspects of this episode. Plus that ending is so sweet. Seeing Bart and Lisa be sweet to each other and remember that they love each other is always so great, and it really hits me in the feelings every time they do it. Plus, this episode is hilarious to boot. It’s not an overly sappy episode that just hammers their love in, it’s silly and full of squabbling, just like real childhood.

Take Away: Don’t get caught up with competition.

 

“Lisa on Ice” was written by Mike Sculley and directed by Bob Anderson, 1994.

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Reel Talk

The Hateful Eight: The Tarantino Bottle Episode

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I’ve mentioned before on this site that I really love Quentin Tarantino. I adore all of his movies, even Death Proof, and he’s just one of the most consistently enjoyable directors out there for me. I find him and his movies endlessly fascinating, and  they are all building to create a wonderfully eccentric and odd filmography. So of course I’ve been psyched for the Hateful Eight. I would be excited for any Tarantino movie, but this whole thing sounded so intriguing to me. Tarantino has found himself creating an era of his work that’s based on historical events. We had a WWII action movie with Inglorious Basterds, a bonkers Western set in the South with Django Unchained, and now another Western, but one that also breaks the mold with the Hateful Eight. There was a lot about this movie that I didn’t know going in, mainly because I’ve avoided most everything about it that I could. I remember a couple years ago there was all that drama about Tarantino releasing the script to some potential actors, and one of them leaking it online, which pissed Tarantino off like crazy. He started to say that he wouldn’t make the movie, and would maybe adapt it to be a novel, but I was always pretty sure that he wasn’t gong to stick to this, and end up releasing it as a movie anyway, so I stayed the hell away from that leaked script, not wanting to hear anything about it. And lo and behold, here we are in 2015, and he’s released his movie. And not only do we get a Tarantino movie, but I went to that crazy Roadshow thing he put on, which is where you actually get to see it in 70mm, projected in a theater, along with an overture, an intermission, and a fancy program. Of course I was going to do my best to make it to one of these screenings, even though we were getting a lot of reports that the Roadshow was becoming a bit of a shit-show, and full of issues around the country. So I made my way to a Regal theater that’s just down the street from me that was showing it, and I got to check out what this movie really was.

And in a word? Great. It was great. Not at all what I was expecting, but super great. I went into the movie thinking that it was essentially going to be a Western version of And Then There Were None. The trailer established that it was going to be about a series of crazy Western characters being stuck in the same building together while a blizzard traps them inside, and I kind of inferred that they would slowly start to be picked off, by some murderer. And, I suppose that’s kind of what the story was, but not really. I was actually unlike anything I’ve ever really seen before, besides what get called “Bottle Episodes,” of TV shows. That term has gotten more traction in popular culture, but just in case, it’s basically an episode of a show where they characters stay in one location and yell at each other. Like when Community stayed in the study room to find a pen, or when Seinfeld got stuck in a parking garage. It’s a story where people are crammed together, and get all of their aggression out at each other in a big burst of cabin fever anger. It usually is only used for TV shows, because it’s usually an excuse to air some dirty laundry that the characters have been ignoring, or just call out some frustrations that the previous episodes have been building to. And, at least as I’m typing this, I can’t think of a movie that took this structure and made it work. I suppose the movie from 2013 called Locke that was just Tom Hardy driving in a car, calling people on his cell phone and talking about dramatic things kind of counts, but that’s a little odd. This was a movie that was literally nine people, (yeah, it’s weird, they just totally don’t count one integral character in the 8) and one secret one under the floorboards, stuck in a cabin for a while together as we realize that they’re all terrible people with some personal issues with each other.

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The movie is set in Wyoming during the winter of some year after the Civil War. If they gave a specific year, I don’t remember it and I couldn’t find it, but I feel like it has to be several years after the War, just due to the ages  of the characters, and it starts off by introducing us to the first three characters, and the poor Stagecoach driver O.B. that doesn’t get to count as one of the Eight. We have Major Marquis Warren (Samuel L Jackson) a former Union cavalry major who is now a famous bounty hunter, John “the Hangman” Ruth (Kurt Russell, who is the man) who is also a bounty hunter, but one that’s well-known for taking people in alive so that he can see them hang, and Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh) a wanted criminal and gang-member who is handcuffed to Ruth and being taken to the nearby town of Red Rock to hang. Ruth has hired O.B. to take him on a private ride to Red Rock, and while travelling through the snowy mountain, they come across Major Warren whose horse died in the blizzard, stranding him on the mountain. After some harsh words because Ruth assumes Warren is trying to steal his bounty, the two decide to travel together, and they head off to a place called Minnie’s Haberdashery, a general store that’s half-way to Red Rock. Warren and Ruth bond over their profession and mutual respect for each other while Domergue cements herself as a dumb, racist hillbilly who Ruth keeps punching. We’re also introduced to the idea that Warren has a letter from Abraham Lincoln that’s his prized possession. And before the coach gets to Minnie’s, they run into another person stuck out in the snow, Chris Mannix (Walton Goggins) an abrasive racist who fought for the Confederacy during the War, and is now apparently the new sheriff of Red Rock. They’re suspicious of Mannix too, but Ruth ends up letting him share the coach as well as they continue on to Minnie’s. The remainder of the coach-ride is basically just Mannix being atrociously racist, and making comments that are incredibly prescient and pointed to modern law enforcement (“when niggers are scared, white folks feel safe.”). And after that tense coach-ride, they finally get to Minnie’s, and things get crazy.

When they pull up they’re met by Bob (Demian Bichir), a Mexican man who says that he works for Minnie, who left with her husband to visit her mother on the other side of the mountain. Bob takes care of the coach and lets the gang get into the Haberdashery, whose door is broken and required people to nail the door shut. The characters come in, while Major Warren is incredibly suspicious of everything around him, and we’re introduced to the rest of the characters. There’s Oswaldo Mobray (Tim Roth) an eccentric British man who claims to be the hangman of Red Rock, Joe Gage (Michael Madson) a quiet cowboy who is coming to visit his mother on Christmas, and General Smithers (Bruce Dern) a Confederate General who is here to hold a symbolic funeral ceremony for his missing son. The characters all realize that they’re going to be stuck in his Haberdashery for a couple days, and everyone is instantly irritated with each other. The thing that really surprised me about this movie is that, really, there’s no real protagonist. Everyone is horrible. They’re all objectionable human beings, and even when one of them does something good or redeeming, you remember that they’re also racist, misogynistic monsters. And then the rest of the movie is basically eight “hateful” people, and the poor stagecoach driver, trapped in a single room building together as they slowly go crazy. Everyone is incredibly suspicious of each other, and they all clearly have ulterior motives that we aren’t sure of. Pretty much no one gets along, and basically none of them trust each other.

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The plot at this point is actually surprisingly simple. The characters sit around, getting to know each other, as they try to feel each other out and see if they can trust one another. And the answer to that question quickly becomes “no.” Ruth even realizes he can’t trust Major Warren when it turns out that his Abraham Lincoln letter, which Ruth thinks is the coolest thing in the world, is fake and just used to make white people happy. So everyone sits around, getting mad at each other and eating stew until we get to our first murder. Major Warren finds out that General Smithers was involved in some terrible war-crimes against black Union soldiers, and he decides to torture the man by telling him that he killed his son. Apparently there was a huge bounty out on Major Warren’s head, put there by the Confederacy, and Smithers’ son went to try and kill Warren, which didn’t work. Warren the tells a ridiculous story, which may or may not be true, of him making Smithers’ son wander in the snow, naked, before making him perform oral sex. This pisses Smithers off enough to grab his gun and point it at Warren, who quickly kills the old man.

And now that the first murder is out of the way, things start escalating quickly. We learn that while the crazy story was being told, someone slipped some poison into the coffee that everyone was sharing, and once they get rid of General Smithers’ body, we see O.B. the driver and John Ruth drink the coffee. Now, I kind of assumed that John Ruth was our protagonist at this point, and was incredibly surprised to see him start vomiting blood along with O.B. before finally dying. This freaks everyone out, and Major Warren basically becomes Sherlock Holmes for a while, piecing everything together. He decides that Mannix is on the level, because he too almost drank the coffee, and figures that either Joe Gage, Bob, or Oswaldo is a killer in league with Domergue. He starts to do some deduction that ends with the fact that Minnie hated Mexicans, and would never have left one in charge, claiming that Bob is a liar and killed Minnie. Warren then kills Bob, and before dealing with Gage and Oswaldo, Warren is shot through the floorboards by a secret person that we didn’t know was down there. We’re then treated to a flashback that explains what happened before the coach we saw arrived. Turns out Joe Gage, Bob, and Oswaldo are actually members of the same gang as Domergue, and they’re at Minnie’s to jump Ruth and free her, along with her brother Jody (a surprisingly enjoyable Channing Tatum). The four show up at Minnie’s, kill everyone inside except General Smithers, who actually wasn’t involved with any of this, and get ready to ambush Ruth. Unfortunately they didn’t count on the blizzard, or Warren and Mannix being there, and it just completely screwed up their plan. So the movie is ready to end, and pretty much everyone is mortally wounded. Warren has been shot in the crotch, Mannix got a bullet in the leg, Bob is dead, and Oswaldo got a gut shot (Reservoir Dogs reference?) while Domergue is still chained to the dead body of John Ruth, and Jody is trapped in the basement. Mannix and Warren team up, and make Jody come out of the basement, before shooting him in the head. The characters then start talking, while Joe and Daisy try to convince Mannix to kill Warren and they’ll all just get out of the Haberdashery and pretend nothing happened. But Mannix surprisingly shows some honor, and ends up killing Gage and helping Warren honor John Ruth by hanging Daisy Domergue. The two then lay among the corpse-strewn room while laughing about Warren’s fake Abraham Lincoln letter, and the movie ends with them surely bleeding or freezing to death as well.

Hateful Yelling

This movie was so interesting. I went in assuming I was going to get a crazy Western murder/mystery, and instead got this character study featuring representatives of the worst types of people in America. None of these characters, besides maybe poor O.B., are good people. John Ruth is a terrible misogynist who keeps punching Daisy and wrathfully calling her a bitch, Daisy is some murdering racist lunatic, Mannix is a power-hungry racist, Bob, Joe, and Oswaldo are all lying murderers, General Smithers was a horrible racist who committed war crimes, and even Major Warren baits an old man into a duel he can’t possibly win. Major Warren was maybe the closest thing to a good guy, but like I said, he still basically killed an unarmed old man for no real reason other than spite. It’s a fascinating movie, with a lot on it’s mind, and was actually much more subtle than most Tarantino movies. Yeah, it had a lot of his typical over-the-top violence and amped up performances, but it was also much more subdued than any other Tarantino movie I can think of, besides maybe Jackie Brown. There was a lot of mood in the movie, and in the end, I feel like the theme of the movie was the idea that America never really got over the Civil War. We’re still incredibly divided, and there’s still deeply ingrained racial issues that are plaguing our culture, and it was interesting to see these terrible people dealing with it’s foundation. I wouldn’t be surprised if there are parts of the country that people would see these characters are heroes, and that’s maybe the most horrifying part of the movie. It’s the darkest corners of American culture, brought out into the light and forced to spend time together in some sort of wretched-human cock-fight.

The last thing I want to talk about is just how “in-jokey” this movie got in places. I really love the fact that Tarantino has kind of created his own universe, where all his movies take place in the same off-kilter world, and this movie was no exception. Yeah, there was some obvious stuff, like Red Apple cigarettes apparently being a couple hundred year old company, but there was some other, more subtle things. I already mentioned Tim Roth getting shot in the gut again, but there was another place where a character said that “a bastard’s work is never done,” which is from Inglorious Basterds, and there were a couple other things that I sadly should have written down. I feel like this movie is probably littered with references, and will probably have a truly wonderful director’s commentary. It kind of is similar to Star Wars: the Force Awakens in the way that it shows little references and rhymes between the films. Although I really wish that Joe Gage turned out to be some horrible ancestor of the Vega brothers. It’s ridiculous how much work Tarantino puts into his movies, the meticulous detail and little references, but hey, “No one said this job’s supposed to be easy.”

The Hateful Eight was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino and released by The Weinstein Company, 2015.

Hateful Jackson

Lifetime of Simpsons

S06 E07 – Bart’s Girlfriend

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Ah, the stupidity of men. This is a really fun episode, that hopefully isn’t too relatable to people, but unfortunately may be. Poor Bart.

The episode starts off with some of the kids playing a game that I assume kids today don’t play anymore for fear of being un-PC, Cowboys and Indians. Bart and Lisa are both Indians, with the names “Dances in Underwear” and “Thinks Too Much,” which are great. They’re sneaking over to attack Milhouse and Ralph, who are Cowboys, and handily beat them, until they get attacked by futuristic warlord Nelson. But as the kids are about to mock Milhouse for wanting to play jacks, they hear churchbells, and their parents calling their names to go to church, and for someone named Shlomo to go to his violin lesson. The kids then run off in terror, and the parents show up to catch them like animals in a parody of that scene from Planet of the Apes when the Apes abduct the humans. So the kids are forced to go to church against their will, and Bart is not in the mood. He tries playing with a Troll doll to entertain himself, but Marge doesn’t let him, since it has awful, awful hair. But Bart does start to get interested when he sees Reverend Lovejoy’s daughter Jessica, who is back from boarding school, and he instantly falls in love, especially because she gets a blast of light from a lighthouse Captain McCallister is controlling. “I hate the sea and everything in it.”

Once the service is over, Bart heads over to introduce himself to Jessica and try to flirt. Unfortunately it becomes quickly apparent that she has no interest in him, so he has to leave shot down. He goes to Lisa for girl-advice, which is always adorable, and she tells him that they’re just too different. So Bart takes that to mean he should pretend to be a better Christian. So the next Sunday Bart shows up to Sunday School, which he’s apparently been banned from, and he asks to rejoin the class. By the way, “Ralph, Jesus did not have wheels,” is one of the best Simpsons lines of all time. Anyway, Bart sits through Sunday School, trying his best to be good, even passing up a chance to shoot the teacher with a sling shot. But Jessica still doesn’t seem to think much about Bart, so he heads out after church, anxious and all pent up. Luckily, he sees Willie explaining Scottish military strategy while wearing a kilt, so Bart sneaks over and attaches a bunch of balloons to his kilt, causing Willie to flash the crowd. Bart, happy with the results of his prank, goes to relax in a park, and it turns out that this was all an elaborate sting from Principal Skinner, and Bart gets a bunch of detention, which seems weird since this wasn’t in school, but whatever. Luckily for Bart though, Jessica was watching, and comes to tell Bart that what Skinner did was unfair, and invites him over to dinner. Score!

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So Bart heads over to his first “date” which is dinner with the Lovejoy family, and he quickly sees that it’s pretty hard to try to date the reverend’s daughter. Lovejoy clearly doesn’t like Bart, and keeps quizzing him to try and see if he’s worthy of his daughter. And the whole night quickly falls apart, and ends with Bart getting kicked out of the house for repeated uses of the word “butt.” Bart starts to trudge home, depressed that he ruined his chance with Jessica, and is shocked when she shows up, and informs him that she loves badboys. The two then hit the town, doing all sorts of bad things. They loiter, they taunt fat people at a gym with ice cream, and the TP Jebediah Springfield. So Bart had a great time, and assumes that this little evening of chaos means that they’re dating now, but Jessica pretends she doesn’t even know who he is at school, and she ends up telling him in private that she wants to keep their relationship a secret, which is always a terrible sign. And he really starts to get worried about the relationship when Jessica convinces him to skip school and go skateboard down a massive hill. Bart ends up rocketing down the hill, while hitting patches of oil and ball bearing, trying to maintain integrity, and wishing that a crashed glue truck didn’t start leaking to slow him down. Unfortunately he ends up hitting an ant with a pebble, and crashes down the rest of the hill, collapsing into a heap, and then getting covered with all that damned glue.

By the time he gets home, Bart is pretty depressed and has started to realize that maybe Jessica isn’t the right girl for him. And man do I love the interaction between Homer and Marge when they notice Bart seems sad:

Marge: Have you noticed any change in Bart?

Homer: New glasses?

Marge: No…he looks like something might be disturbing him.

Homer: Probably misses his old glasses.

Marge: I guess we could get more involved in Bart’s activities, but then I’d be afraid of smothering him.

Homer: Yeah, and then we’d get the chair.

Marge: That’s not what I meant.

Homer: It was, Marge, admit it.

Man that’s great. But anyway, Bart ends up talking with Lisa again, trying to get more relationship advice, and he ends up deciding that he should go cold turkey on her. But this ends up not being feasible, since he has to go to church and see her. The family heads to church, and Bart starts to get attracted to her beautiful singing, while Lisa tries to convince him to stay strong. But he rushes into the church, and finds that it wasn’t Jessica singing, it was Flanders, which is incredible and disturbing. Jessica is there though, and makes him sit with her, while he tries to explain that she should stop being terrible. She claims she will try to be good, but ends up stealing all the money from the collection plate, and blaming it on Bart. The congregation completely believes her, and they all quickly turn on Bart.

So Bart becomes a pariah in the town, with everybody but Marge believing the idea that he stole all the money. And because Bart is crazy, he won’t tell anyone that it was actually Jessica. He tries to talk with Jessica and get her to come forward, but she won’t and he finally realizes that she’s basically evil. Bart ends up hiding in his treehouse to hide from the town, even though Jasper shows up to call him a thief, and plans on just staying there. But Lisa comes to the rescue, and tells Bart that she’ll help him take her down. It ends up happening the next Sunday, when Bart is all restrained like Hannibal Lector, and Lisa gets up to speak in front of the congregation, talking about admitting secrets. This ends up backfiring when other people end up telling their secrets, like Grandpa canceling Star Trek and Dr. Hibbert admitting he left his car keys inside Mrs. Glick. But Jessica stays quiet, so Lisa just straight up outs her, and tells the whole group that it was Jessica. And in true Springfield fashion, an angry mob forms and they march off to the Lovejoy’s house, where they find the money under Jessica’s mattress. And almost immediately Reverend Lovejoy gets all delusional as Jessica explains that this was a cry for attention. The episode then ends by showing Jessica getting punished by cleaning the sidewalk of the church, as she exploits Bart’s stupidity by tricking him into cleaning them for him, while he thinks he’s pulling one over on her with the great line “wait til she sees the second rate job I do on these stairs!”

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This episode was a lot of fun. Bart is such a typical male in this episode, barely capable of though when he’s presented with a pretty face. Jessica Lovejoy is a really funny character, and just totally exploits Bart and his adolescent stupidity. Crushes make people dumb, and if you’re unlucky enough to fall for someone shitty like Jessica Lovejoy, things can be pretty rough. And it was really great, as always, to see Bart and Lisa talk to each other and get advice.

Take Away: Don’t let yourself fall for a manipulative person.

 

“Bart’s Girlfriend,” was written by Jonathan Collier and directed by Susie Dietter, 1994.

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Marvel Madness

That Time the Fantastic Four Went to Heaven

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A while back I talked about the Fantastic Four storyline called “Unthinkable,” and how awesome it was. When I wrote about that story I had been going through the Mark Waid run of the title, enjoying the goofy fun mixed with the crazy drama that was it’s hallmarks. But after writing about “Unthinkable,” I took a little break with the series, and really dove into the wacky 70’s of Marvel, trolling around for some fun stories to write about on the site. I’ve found some stuff in Spider-Man, Iron Man, X-Men, and Luke Cage that I’ll get to on the site, but I took a little break from crazy Bronze Age books to pick up on that Fantastic Four run. And the story that came after “Unthinkable” was…okay. It didn’t really do much for me. Basically, after they sent Dr. Doom to Hell, the Fantastic Four decide to run Latveria, while Reed gets increasingly insane. He starts ignoring the wishes of the UN, and basically creates an international incident, while accidentally releasing Dr. Doom’s soul from Hell. As Nick Fury and some SHIELD soldiers storm Latveria, the ghost of Doom starts zipping between the Fantastic Four, until he possesses the Thing, which ends with Reed having to kill his best friend. It was a decent story, told a little bloatedly and with art that didn’t knock my socks off. But then I started the next story, and realized that I was beginning a truly insane story that I had only ever heard about. The time the Fantastic Four went to Heaven to steal Ben Grimm’s soul, and meet God. Holy crap. I didn’t even think this story was real for the longest time, and I certainly didn’t realize it was going to fall so close after “Unthinkable.” I kind of assumed it was some weird 90’s book. But nope, here it is, written by Mark Waid and drawn by Mike Wieringo, in all it’s bonkers glory. And the weird thing…it’s actually really good! But let’s get into it.

The story starts off with the family in shambles. Reed is a mess, dealing with his crazy melted face and the fact that he was more or less responsible for killing his best friend, causing an international incident that has gotten his family labelled as terrorists, and losing Sue and Johnny’s faith in him. Yikes. Meanwhile Johnny is losing his grasp on reality, carrying on conversations with an imaginary Ben while working as a mechanic in the city. And Sue is taking care of Alicia Masters, who is a total mess after the loss of Ben. And then they all get a call from Reed, informing them that he has a crazy idea to save Ben. They rush to the Baxter Building, more pissed at Reed than curious, and end up hearing him out. Turns out he stole Ben’s body from the Army (a plan that starts with stealing a corpse is always solid) and he has it hooked up in some crazy tank. Reed claims that there’s a flicker of Ben’s consciousness, because he refuses to use the word soul, still in the body, and he’s created a device to track the remainder of his “soul.” And the results of that experiment lead him to discover a new dimension, that they also dance around calling Heaven. So Reed’s plan is basically to take the machine that exploded in college and made Victor Von Doom into Dr. Doom, and use it to get to Heaven, because even though back then it sent Dr. Doom to Hell, Reed points out that that wasn’t it’s original purpose.

Hereafter - Hell
Fantastic Four #509

I’m not sure if anyone else has every pointed this out, because I’m not exactly an expert on Fantastic Four, but that kind of blew my mind. I’ve kind of always assumed that Doom built a machine to travel to Hell, since he knew that’s where his mom’s soul would be, but it does make sense that his machine was only supposed to find his mother’s soul, wherever it may be. The family debate the ethics of travelling to Heaven for a while, and decide to go for it. So they pile onto Dr. Doom’s Heaven Transporter, and blast themselves into the afterlife. Unfortunately they weren’t exactly sure what to expect, and end up landing in some crazy empty field, getting attacked by angels, which isn’t really what you want to happen when breaking into Heaven. It’s even more alarming that the angels are super aggressive and start warning the Terrific Three that they should get out of this dimension as fast as they can.

Hereafter - Angel
Fantastic Four #510

But, Reed Richards is kind of dumb, and doesn’t follow the suggestion of the flaming face he encountered, and the family press on. They start wandering through Heaven, encountering obstacles that should convince them to leave. We also learn at that point that Ben and his brother (who died when Ben was a kid) are hanging outside the gates of Heaven, chatting and watching the Three try to find Ben. And they watch as they have to build a bridge over a cloudy chasm with giant rocks that resemble the Thing, all while yelling at each other. They get a lot off their chests about Reed’s little unsuccessful coup, and the family gets increasingly aggressive to each other, even having Reed scream at Johnny that it was his fault Ben had to be killed. And things are even more complicated when they start getting hit with visions. They walk into a room filled with versions of Franklin and Valeria, which tempts Reed and Sue to just stay there, but that’s fixed when Sue starts chewing out Reed for being a weird obsessive lunatic, which is pretty earned at this point. But they break out of that vision by entering another, where Sue and Johnny’s parents are still alive. However, they aren’t there to temp the family, and are instead there to warn them to leave Heaven, telling them that things will get worse unless they leave. And of course they don’t, so they get hit with a tidal wave of blood like they’re in the Shining, and end up getting attacked by more angels. the angels are bearing down on the family, ready to kill them, when they’re saved at the last second by the human Ben. The family is reunited and they hug for a while, before Ben explains that he didn’t want to be saved, which Reed hadn’t even though as a possibility. Ben tells them that he’s ready to be over, that he gets to be with his brother as a human, and the only thing keeping him from getting to heaven is Reed. Turns out that flicker of Ben’s soul Reed found on Earth wasn’t really there, and the machine he has Ben hooked up to is just keeping Ben in Purgatory.

This is of course not what the family wants to hear, and almost immediately they begin squabbling. Johnny yells about how this isn’t the Ben he knew and tells Reed to bring Ben back, kicking and screaming if need be. They all start yelling at each other again, but this time we find out that Heaven doesn’t really like emotions, and this flagrant display of them is wrecking things. The area outside the gate starts to crumble, and Reed almost falls down a pit, but is saved by Ben. And once he saves them, Ben decides to come back to life, because the family is a fury-filled, dysfunctional mess without him, and he misses that. But as they decide to all head back to Earth together, Ben’s brother lets them know that God is wiling to let them stay in Heaven together. Reed, speaking for the team, declines that offer, which was apparently a test, and they’re granted an audience with the Creator. So they go through some crazy wormhole, and find themselves in front of a small wooden door. They open it and…well, just look.

Hereafter - Kirbygod
Fantastic Four #511

Yep. That’s Jack Kirby, co-creator of the Fantastic Four and pretty much every other book at Marvel. He’s God! Which is just perfect. Of course Jack Kirby is the Creator of the Marvel universe. Although I do kind of wish they had made Stan Lee the Devil, instead of his “Collaborator” as they say in the ensuing pages. The Fantastic Four pick their jaws up off the floor, and walk in God’s Office, having a lovely chat with Jack Kirby, that really should have been filled with more profanity and cigar smoke if my knowledge of Kirby is accurate. He talks about what good characters they are before taking a phone call from Stan Lee, because he’s apparently making Black Panther comics in Heaven. He tells them about the mysteries of the Universe, and shows off the abilities of his magical pencil, before using it’s eraser to fix Mr. Fantastic’s face, which seems like kind of a cop-out, and then put’s the rocks back on Ben, because apparently he’s a more interesting character as miserable monster than a boring human, and God doesn’t want to be bored by the Fantastic Four’s antics.

Hereafter - Nertz
Fantastic Four #511

So with their appearances fixed from the last two stories, God send them back to Earth with the knowledge that their lives are all the whims of a small man from New York, and a picture of them in the future, which should make them a lot of money, being an original drawing by the Creator of the Universe!

This was such a silly story. It’s basically a reboot, which happens all the time in comics. But handled much better than a weird reboot usually is. Hell, when the writers got bored of having Peter Parker be married, they made him sell his soul the Devil to fix it, at least the Fantastic Four just had to go to Heaven to fix Reed’s face and bring the Thing back to life. This story really just hammered in my love for Ben Grimm, by showing that he’s just a true hero, willing to sacrifice an eternity in Paradise for the people he loves, even if that means becoming a weird rock monster again. My only complaint about this story is that it seems a little weird to have happened directly after the story that killed Ben. I feel like it would have worked a little better like a year or two after that, have the character be dead for a while, and explain that Reed has just been getting crazier and crazier, which would make his decision to travel to Heaven that much more believable, as if he had tried every other alternative. But that’s just a minor quibble, and doesn’t really detract from the fact that this story is just as bonkers as it’s reputation implied, while still remaining a pretty fun story.

“Hereafter” was written by Mark Waid and drawn by Mike Wieringo, 2004.

Hereafter - Confusion
Fantastic Four #511
Lifetime of Simpsons

S06 E06 – Treehouse of Horror V

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What a perfect episode to post on Christmas. The best Treehouse of Horror of all time! At least from what I remember of them, and of the ones I’ve seen, but I’ll stand by that statement until proven wrong. Every Treehouse of Horror episode that they’ve had so far have been amazing, but this one truly stands out to me. I don’t know what it is about this one, but it just hits me on every level. And like I said in the very first post of this project way back in July, this was the first episode of the Simpsons I ever saw. Yeah, there’s a whole lot of nostalgia mixed in with this episode, but I think even without that, this episode is just about as perfect as a Halloween episode could be, even though it unfortunately doesn’t have a frame story, one of my favorite aspects of Treehouse of Horrors. Although it does start with Marge coming out on the stage to inform us that this year’s so scary that they aren’t even allowed to show it, instead they’re going to have to show a John Ford movie called “Two Hundred Miles to Oregon.” But as that movie starts playing we get taken over by Homer and Bart, who are pulling an Outer Limits thing to let us know that we’re still getting out Simpsons Halloween Special. We then don’t get any tombstone gags, besides a meta-one that decries the death of “Amusing Tombstones,” before seeing several townspeople getting gruesomely killed, and we’re straight into the stories!

The Shinning

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Oh man. The Shinning. Such a wonderfully hilarious and spot-on parody of a truly wonderful story. It opens up with the family driving up to their version of the Overlook Hotel, and right as they’re about to get there Marge remembers that they forgot to lock the door, causing them to go all the way back, and after two other false starts, they get to the hotel, after forgetting Grandpa and just pushing on. So they get there, and talk with Mr. Burns, who obviously own the haunted hotel. He shows them around the place, and we’re given a wonderful gag with the blood pouring out of the elevator, which causes Burns to comment “That’s odd, the blood usually gets off at the second floor.” They continue wandering the grounds, and Bart finds out that Willie is the groundskeeper for the Hotel, and that he also has a psychic power that he calls the Shinning, which is legally distinct from the Shining, and tells Bart that if he ever needs help, give him a telepathic shout-out.

At that point Burns and Smither leave, after cutting the cable and taking all the beer, to insure that Homer goes mad, which happens immediately. Homer wanders off and meets a ghost Moe in the bar, who tells Homer that he needs to kill his family, so Homer gets on the job. Marge comes across a typewriter in an empty room, with just the phrase “Feelin’ fine,” written on it, which calms her nerves. That is until a lightning crash reveals that Homer has written “No Beer, No TV Make Homer Go Crazy,” scrawled all over the walls. Homer leaps out of the shadows and attacks Marge, who fends him off with the Spousal Insanity bat, until he’s knocked out and she drags him into a pantry. Homer is then content to just eat all the food until Moe and some other ghouls drag him out, and goes on his ax spree. He tries the “Here’s Johnny!” line to little success, and finally finds the family after smashing in and announcing himself as the 60 Minutes opening. Bart decides to call Willie for help, and I love so much that Willie refers to Bart as “the little fat boy,” because I’ve never thought of Bart as fat, but he totally is, and it’s funny that Willie didn’t even learn the kids’ name. So Willie runs to their rescue, and gets axed in the back right away. So Homer chases the family out into the snow, and right as he’s about to kill them they find Willie’s portable TV, and Homer’s urge to kill fades as the family sits down in the snow to enjoy TV together. They then freeze together overnight, until the Tony’s come on and Homer’s urge to kill begins to rise again…

Time and Punishment

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So “the Shinning” is great, but this segment is probably my favorite Treehouse of Horror segment of them all. This may be the real reason that this episode is my favorite Treehouse, because it’s so spectacular. Things start off with Homer and the family sitting around the kitchen while Homer tells the family just how lucky he feels in life, and how happy he is, before Bart points out that his hand is stuck in a toaster, which causes him to freak out and flail around in pain. And just as he gets them off, Bart yells that his hand is stuck in there again, and he has another freak out. But once he’s free he finds that the toaster is destroyed, and he heads down to the basement to being trying to fix it. He then…somehow…creates a time machine from the toaster, and gets transported back through time, even getting to meet Mr. Peabody and Sherman.

He then shows up at the time when dinosaurs weren’t just confined to zoos, and freaks the hell out. But he remembers some words of wisdom that Abe gave him on his wedding day, “If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything, because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can’t imagine.” And with that knowledge, Homer smashes a bug, and gets brought to the future to see what he’s caused. And the world he’s created is pretty terrible, because Ned Flanders has become the unquestioned Lord and Master of the whole world. Homer and the family is then dragged to the Re-Neducation center, where they’re brainwashed into loving Flanders, and told they need to get lobotomies. So Homer flees and makes it back to the house just in time to grab his toaster and go back in time to escape Flander’s dystopia. He then goes back to Dinosaur Time, and ends up squishing a fish, which brings him to a world where Bart and Lisa are murderous giants. This begins a wonderful montage of Homer going back, messing things up, and seeing the horrible ramifications of his deeds. He sneezes on a T-Rex which causes an extinction level plague, which in turn gives him a perfect future where the family is rich and Patty and Selma are dead, but he flees when he learns they don’t have donuts, just a moment too late to see that donuts rain from this worlds sky, which is the saddest thing in the world. There’s then a hilarious moment when Willie shows up out of nowhere to tell Homer that he still isn’t in his right world, and offers to help him before getting an ax in the back from an evil Maggie, who informs Homer that “This is indeed a disturbing universe,” in the voice of James Earl Jones. So Homer just goes back and starts killing everything in sight, which starts causing a series of terrible futures, even giving Kang and Kodos the heads of Mr. Peabody and Sherman in their contractual cameo. But finally Homer reaches a world that seems exactly the same as his old one, except for the fact that the family have lizard tongues, which Homer can live with.

Nightmare Cafeteria

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And now the episode ends with probably the weakest of the three stories. It’s still a lot of fun, but it’s got a hard act to follow, and is just okay. It starts off with Bart being sent to detention, only to find that apparently everyone in school is being sent to detention, and it’s overflowing to the point that the kids have to stay in the cafeteria too. And while Principal Skinner is complaining about the overcrowding of kids in detention Lunchlady Doris is also complaining about the fact that due to budget cuts she has to use Grade F meat for the kids. But after an accident with some soup, Principal Skinner decides to kill two birds with one stone and start making the detention kids into food. He gets Jimbo turned into Sloppy Jimbo’s, and after he explains what he did to the rest of the teachers, they’re fully on board, and the cannibalism starts up. But it’s not until they serve some Uterbrauten made out of Uter that Bart and Lisa start to get suspicious, mainly from when Principal Skinner accidentally admits to having killed and processed Uter. The kids run to Marge to ask for help, but she doesn’t seem to really care about their problem and tells them to fight their own battle, so they head back to school to deal with the killer teachers. At this point we see the teachers have all become super fat, and have reduced the amount of students to Bart, Lisa, Milhouse, Wendell, and Ralph. Bart, Lisa, and Milhouse sneak off, trying to escape, and end up getting attacked by crazed teachers. Willie ends up running to the rescue, but gets an ax in the back from Principal Skinner and gives the wonderful line of “Ach, I’m bad at this.” Theguts teachers then corner the kids in a room with a giant food processor, and after Milhouse gets ground up to paste, Bart and Lisa fall in too, but right as Bart’s about to die, he wakes up and finds it’s all a dream. The whole family is in his room, telling him that everything is okay, except for the fog that turns people inside out. And speak of the devil the fog rolls in and the whole family get ripped open and turn into bloody bags of guts. They then begin singing a parody of “One” from a Chorus Line as Willie joins them to dance about.

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This episode is tremendous. Yeah, “Nightmare Cafeteria,” is the weakest of the three, but it’s still a great segment, and all three prop each other up to create one of the best Treehouse of Horror’s of all time. I would have preferred if this one had a wrap-around plot, but as it stands it’s still wonderful. And man is the Willie gag incredibly hilarious. It’s such a weird idea to have Willie show up in every story, and just to get an ax in his back. It’s just the perfect Halloween episode, and I find it especially funny that it happened to fall on Christmas. Happy Halloween everybody!

Take Away: Don’t agree to watch hotels over the winter, “If you ever travel back in time, don’t step on anything, because even the tiniest change can alter the future in ways you can’t imagine,” and don’t eat kids?

“Treehouse of Horror V” was written by  Greg Daniels, Dan McGrath, David Cohen and Bob Kushell and was directed by Jim Reardon, 1994.