It’s been a pretty decent week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. Nothing too objectionable. But hey, there are always ways to fix that! Let’s end the week on two weird episodes revolving around old people!
The episode actually started off in a pretty great place with some sort of Olympic committee deciding where the next Olympic Games will be held. They argue for a while, making passionate if not a little odd speeches in favor of their own countries. But eventually the guy in charge decides to read a letter to committee received from Lisa where she asks them to at least include Springfield in the path of the torch, so the city can feel the power of the Games. And this letter moves the head of the committee so much that he decides to hold the entire Games in Springfield, despite the fact that no one else is really interested in that suggestion.
So yeah, Springfield gets to have their economy and infrastructure destroyed by the Olympic Games! And Channel 6 is getting in the mood by starting a contest for people in the town to design a new mascot for the Games. And obviously Homer is going to be all over this contest. So he gets to work and ends up covering Snowball II in paper mache. This does not go over well, but his back-up idea, a little spring with googley-eyes called Springy is a huge hit from the family, so that’s what he submits.
Which turns out to have been a great idea, because after a couple weeks of everyone in Springfield busting their asses to clean up the town, they hold a big ceremony for the Olympic Committee, where they formally announce Homer’s Springy as the winner of the contest. Celebration time! And the celebration continues as the kids of the Elementary School sing a little song for the Committee about children being the future. And the Committee is thoroughly charmed. That is until Bart gets up and does a little bit of insult comedy stand-up. Which does not go well. So, long story short, Bart single-handedly loses Springfield the Olympic Games after the Committee leave in disgust.
And as punishment for this, even though Skinner apparently knew what Bart was planning to do the whole time, all the kids are going to have to participate in community service. Which seems weird. Why does everyone else have to be involved? Whatever. We get to see Milhouse collect medical waste on the beach while Martin runs an inner-city basketball league, before seeing what Bart gets stuck with. And after a fake-out involving the neighborhood Fireworks, Candy, and Puppy Dog store, it turns out he’s stuck at the Retirement Castle taking care of the old folks.
So Bart heads into the Retirement Castle, and is immediately creeped out by all the lurching old people who want to fuss over his youth. And things just get worse when he finds out that he’s going to be teamed up with Lisa, who already volunteers for the kids, and he finally realizes that the Retirement Castle isn’t the most dignified place in the world. He starts to feel bad about the way they’re treated, like condescending to them, only giving them bananas as bingo prizes, and vacuuming them when they sleep. They also are only allowed to watch a weird edited version of Gone With the Wind where they get together pretty much immediately and skip all the conflict. Although it does lead to the amazing Hans Moleman line “didn’t that movie used to have a war in it?”
Meanwhile, Homer has received a huge shipment of springs which he ordered to capitalize on Springy’s inevitable success. So, left alone with no alternatives, Homer starts trying to find ways to sell these springs. And he doesn’t do a great job. First he tries to sell them as toys, door to door, but that ends when he gets to Skinner’s house and just starts getting beaten up for fathering the boy who cost the town the Olympics. Then he tries selling them as a party favor at Moe’s, but that ends with Lenny and Moe getting springs in their eyes. So, with no other choices left, Homer just starts flushing them all down the toilet.
And while all of the spring business is going on, Bart is getting increasingly irritated by the way the old folks are treated. And it reaches its fever pitch during “imagination time,” where they stick all the old folks in a room and make them shut their eyes and pretend they’re on a boat. Bart thinks that this is really stupid, and when Lisa has to head out to finish some task, he convinces all the old people to mutiny and run rampant out in the world with him.
So Bart and the old folks leave the Retirement Castle, and run around having Beatle’s style shenanigans. And when they’re done frolicking in a meadow, Bart decides to step things up and take them on a real boat trip. So they go find Captain McCallister, and board his boat for a little day-cruise. Which gives us this amazing scene:
Bart: “Full speed ahead! Damn the torpedoes!”
Grandpa: “What’d he say? Put on our tuxedos?”
Crazy Old Jewish Man: “I want some Taquitos.”
Love it. But disaster strike’s Bart and the old folk’s wild day out when Lisa finally finds them, and boards the ship to gripe at him.
Lisa is all ready to yell at Bart, and explain how he’s endangering the old people, but is shocked when she realizes that they’re actually having a lot of fun. But then it’s Bart’s turn to be shocked when he finds that left to their own devices, the old folks still like doing all the lame things that they’re forced to do in the Retirement Castle. But that realization is cut short when Mr. Burns’ boat, which is not being steered by anyone, crashes into their ship, causing it to start sinking. The day is briefly saved by Jack LaLanne, who tries to tow the ship with his teeth (which is such a weird and nonsensical reference) but that doesn’t work and the ship sinks. However the day is saved by Homer! Because the ship hits the sea-floor, and bounces off all the springs that he’s been flushing. So everyone is okay, and the episode ends on the sweet note that Bart is going to keep volunteering and spending time with Grandpa.
I don’t know, this episode is alright I guess, it just didn’t do a whole lot for me. I really like the Olympics plot in the beginning, and a lot of that was really funny. But man is the whole idea of Skinner and the other kids being aware of what Bart was planning to do odd. One of them really should have had a red flag get raised over his set, which he apparently rehearsed? Whatever, that’s a stupid complaint. My big issue with the episode is honestly that ending. Bart and Grandpa have this sweet moment, and agree to spend more time together, but unlike the Hellfish episode, this ending came completely out of left field. It was nice to see Bart feel bad about how the old folks are treated, but he seemed to be more irritated by how the old folks in general were treated, not really Grandpa. He and Grandpa barely talked in the rest of the episode, at least no more than he talked to Jasper and Crazy Old Jewish Man. This could have been a really good episode about Bart getting to know Grandpa more, and learning to spend time with him before he’s gone or something, but instead they just kind of crammed that moral into the ending, despite not earning it. Who knows, maybe no one else would agree with that critique, but it felt super weird to me on this go-around.
Take Away: Treat senior citizens like normal people.
“The Old Man and the C Student” was written by Julie Thacker and directed by Mark Kirkland, 1999.