It’s been a pretty great week here on Lifetime of Simpsons, and we end with another episode that I forget about a lot, but one that worked great for me on this go-around, unlike “Simpson Tide.” So let’s see how Bart and Lisa work as news anchors!
The episode starts off with Krusty watching an episode of Itchy and Scratchy where Itchy is a glass-blower, while he’s being told that the cartoon isn’t educational enough for his show. Lindsey Naegle tells him that the FCC needs him to make educational programming, and they compromise on a news show for kids, by kids. So of course those kids are going to be the ones going to Springfield Elementary, so we cut over there to see Bart accomplishing a ridiculous skate-board trick that sends him careening around the playground, before destroying a massive pile of leaves that Groundskeeper Willie has made. Willie freaks out about all of his hard work being destroyed, so he grabs Bart’s skateboard and confiscates it, heading into his sad little shack to listen to bagpipe music.
Bart isn’t happy about getting his board stolen, so he does the only logical thing he can, and destroys Willie’s home. And he does that by hooking up some sort of creamed corn tanker that was meant for the kitchen into the tiny chimney in Willie’s shack, filling it was the corn. Which then explodes, sending Bart’s board rolling right up to him. So Willie is homeless now, and swears vengeance on Bart. And while all of that’s going on, Principal Skinner has been having a meeting with Lisa to tell her that he’s making her the lead anchor on the news show, and also the producer I guess.
So Lisa goes home to brag to Marge about getting to run her own news-show. But her happiness is promptly squashed when Marge says that she needs to include Bart, and let him join the show, which isn’t exactly what she had in mind. But before we learn about how that goes, we’re treated to the beginning of the truly insane B-plot, which I remember far better than the rest of the story. It starts with Homer going to the Kwik-E-Mart where he’s stunned to find Apu has a little monkey working the cash register while he heals from a near fatal shooting. Which mean Homer needs a monkey. Immediately. So he goes to a center for helper animals and does his best to get a helper monkey, only to find that they’re only for people with disabilities. But that’s no problem, because he just races over to the Retirement Castle, grabs Grandpa, uses him to get a monkey, and then ditches poor Grandpa now that he has a monkey pal. But I guess its okay, because Grandpa only wanted the monkey to eat him.
But enough about monkeys, because it’s time for the kids first broadcast. And it’s going well. Lisa’s doing a good job accurately reporting the news, but she’s a little worried about Bart’s overly energetic sports segment, since it’s not real journalism. But she’s given a harsh lesson in what the public wants when Lindsey Neagle shows up to tell her that her segment isn’t testing well, but Bart’s is, so they’ve decided to make him co-anchor. Since no one really cares about real journalism. Especially on television. And things are made even worse when Bart overhears Lisa talking to Lindsey, and calling him dumb.
So the kids aren’t doing well. And they aren’t going to find any support at home, since Homer’s busy hanging out with his new monkey Mojo, and Marge is busy freaking out because Homer didn’t tell her about Mojo. Bart’s pretty upset about Lisa calling him dumb, so he does his best to read a newspaper and actually learn about news, and quickly gives up since it’s too boring. So he decides to hit the town and get advice from a real newsman. Unfortunately he chooses Kent Brockman. Brockman is shockingly up for teaching Bart the power of manipulation. Turns out Kent has a sibling whose a big correspondent at CNN, so he’s bitter too, and shows Bart that the secret to local news is insipid public interest stories.
Bart then takes that knowledge and creates a vapid new segment called Bart’s People that profiles random people in the neighborhood. Which leads to a sappy story about a sad old man and his love of feeding ducks in the park. Which does the job, because it chokes everyone up, and continues getting Bart good feedback. It also leads to this hilarious interaction:
Homer: [sad about the broadcast] “ Marge, can I get a duck?”
Marge: “You already have a monkey!”
Homer: “Can he get one?”
Unfortunately not everyone is stoked about this new direction of the show. Lisa is super pissed, and talk with Bart about it, hoping to get him to realize that this isn’t real journalism. But Bart doesn’t really care, and Lisa is left with no alternative but to try her own sappy story. Which doesn’t end well, since she just keeps getting attacked by the Crazy Cat Lady.
But it’s still working wonders for Bart. His segments just keep rolling out, and people just keep responding to it. He’s even started to get fan-mail and letters from people asking to be one of Bart’s People. Which gives Lisa an idea for revenge. She creates a fake letter about a sad immigrant who has lost his home and faith in America, which is too sweet for Bart to pass up. But before we get to that revelation, we see that things have gone south with Mojo. Homer’s basically just turned him into a little bum while they just sit around in a pile of their own filth, eating food, watching tv, and using diapers. Marge is pretty disgusted about this, but Homer promises that he’s okay. That is until he makes Mojo do his “happy dance,” which ends with Mojo having a heart attack. So Homer races over to the helper animal center, and ditches him on the doorstep where Mojo begs us to “pray for Mojo.”
So Mojo’s gone. But back to the newscast! We cut over to the broadcast and see Milhouse finish up a report on hiding the evidence of your bedwetting, just in time for Lisa to throw over to Bart’s segment. He’s doing a live Bart’s People with that immigrant. Unfortunately it turns out to be Groundskeeper Willie, who is living in a dump and is furious with Bart. He starts attacking Bart, and Lisa realizes she’s gone too far, and runs off to save her brother. She ends up saving the day by bullshitting Willie with the power of schmaltzy news-anchor speak, which confuses him enough to leave Bart. The two siblings then decide to put their differences aside, and make the best damn show they can! That is until they’re promptly cancelled and replaced with the Mattel and Mars Bar Quick-Energy Choc-O-Bot Hour!
This is a really solid episode. I’m always for episodes that feature Bart and Lisa’s sibling relationship, especially ones where they are at odds with each other before realizing that they love each other. It definitely isn’t as emotionally satisfying as “Lisa on Ice,” but it’s pretty damn good. We also get another great staple of the Simpsons, seeing Lisa’s view on the world get crushed by reality. Of course Lisa has journalistic integrity, and doesn’t understand that the average person prefers emotional manipulating drek to real journalism. And of course she’s going to get that opinion destroyed by Bart, who understands what people want, and gives it to them in spades. Their feud is great and super believable as how two siblings would actually act in this situation, and their reconciliation is great. I also love that ending with them deciding to use both of their talents, only to be crushed by something even stupider than Bart’s segment. It’s just great television guy. Plus we get a side-plot with Homer having a helper monkey and ruining its life. Something for everybody!
See you guys next week, we start off with a pretty huge episode!
Take Away: People don’t want real journalism, tabloids and schmaltz will always win out.
“Girly Edition” was written by Larry Doyle and directed by Mark Kirkland, 1998.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons