Buckle up folks; we’ve got a real weird week of Lifetime of Simpsons ahead of us. We finish out Season Ten and start Eleven, which is one of the most common markers of where the show started to go bad that I see. And let me tell you…people may be right.
The episode starts off with the family sitting around watching some terrible sitcom called Ethnic Mismatch Comedy #644, which is basically just a show revolving around a loud Italian guy yelling at his English wife. But that show gets cancelling in the middle of the episode, and before playing an encore presentation of Princess Diana’s funeral the station plays a commercial that really gets the Simpsons intrigued. Apparently some low-fat pudding company called Grandpa Plopwell’s Pudding is holding some sort of contest to find the most disgusting people in Springfield, and will give the winner a trip to Hawaii. So obviously the whole damn town is going to turn out for this.
So we cut over to the KBBL radio station, whose hosting the event, and we get on with the freaks. The contest is being judged by Krusty, Madeline Albright, and Ranier Wolfcastle, and after establishing that the trip has been changed from Hawaii to Hartford, Connecticut, the contest begins. We see a couple acts, like Bart being a human garbage disposal that people can throw stuff at him to eat, Barney drinks a whole six-pack at once before juggling chickens, Moe wears a creepy sailor costume, and Homer dresses in some sort of popcorn outfit that he uses hair-dryers to pop. So…nothing too disgusting here. Way to go folks.
And it turns out that the judges agree with me, because instead of picking any of the terrible entries, they decide to give the prize to themselves for being seen with all these weirdoes. Which does not go over well. And in true Springfield fashion, a riot starts out with everyone just attacking each other in a sea of pudding. Lisa does her best to be the sole voice of reason during the melee, but she’s easily tuned out.
And while no one else seems that bothered by the horrible riot that just happened, Lisa is disgusted. So when she gets home she gets to work writing an op-ed piece for the newspaper all about how dumb Springfield is, and how it doesn’t even try for intellectual betterment. Meanwhile, the B-Plot is starting up when Homer announces that in the confusion he stole the second-prize from the contest, which turns out to be a coupon for a free boudoir photography session. And after a hilarious joke where he has to use a dictionary to look up both of those words, he gets ready to make some pornography.
The next day though Lisa’s anger at the town just gets worse, because even though the newspaper printer her scathing article, no one seems remotely interested in reading it. So, giving up on her town, Lisa goes up to her room to be secluded from the stupidity, and ends up getting a mysterious paper-airplane sent into her room with a message saying to go to some address. So, despite this sounding like a terrible set-up, Lisa goes to the address and finds that it’s the meeting place of Springfield’s local Mensa chapter, which is made up of Principal Skinner, Dr. Hibbert, Professor Frink, Lindsey Naegle, and Comic Book Guy. And since Skinner showed them all her test scores, she’s in!
So Lisa starts hanging out with the Mensa folks, and it’s basically what you would expect. Pretentious discussions about word-games and trying to prove which ones is the smartest. I know Mensa is largely a scam, but man does it seem like the people who join are probably the most insufferable people in the world. But whatever, Lisa’s happy since she finally has found people who she feels comfortable with. That’s good. But hey, who else is going to talk about the state of the Springfield library?
Anyway, while that’s going on, Homer’s boudoir photography session plot is progressing. He calls the photographer, scared at first that this is something he should be ashamed of, and schedules the appointment. So the photographer shows up at the house, and coaxes Homer into feeling comfortable walking around his bedroom in his underwear, while she deals with that horrifying image. However it does lead to the hilarious joke when Bart tries to walk in and get suspicious of Homer not letting him know what’s going on, so he and Milhouse end up clinging to the window to stare at them. Which causes Homer to reschedule the session.
But conflict reaches the Lisa plot when she and the other Mensa dork get all dressed up for their own Renaissance Fair, which sounds like the saddest thing in the world, and are planning on hanging out in a gazebo in the park. However, when they get there they find that Homer’s pals are using the gazebo that they rented. And since they’re all against conflict they just awkwardly stand there until Chief Wiggum happens to walk by. And after a particularly dated set of jokes where the word shemale is thrown around a lot, Wiggum ignores their pleas, and goes to hang out with the guys.
And this gazebo incident is a bridge too far, so the Mensa crew head down to City Hall to talk with Mayor Quimby about gazebo regulation, because obviously the mayor is the first person you should talk to in this situation. However Quimby assumes something more serious is happening, and he panics and flees the city, thinking that the jig is up. And with no mayor left, they read the town charter and see that a “council of learned citizens” are supposed to rule in his stead. Which obviously means them.
So the Mensa gang take the town over, and start reorganizing things to fit a more logical system. You know, like only making the lights in Springfield yellow, since that that color people drive fastest through. Which does lead to the hilariously sad Lenny line “wow, I’m making record time. If only I had someplace to be.” Oh, and we also see the end of the Homer plot where he and the photographer finish the pictures, and he gives them to Marge, only for her to care more about the decorations than Homer. Oh well.
We then pick up a couple of days later, when the Council of Geniuses or whatever they’re calling themselves hold a little State of the City address in that stupid gazebo that started everything off. And it doesn’t go that well. All of the member have their own weird desires, like banning sports and breeding, and decide to make that law. Which obviously leads to them arguing and fighting over whose IQ is better. But the argument is shut down when Stephen Hawking shows up, there to see this intellectual utopia, and disappointed at the results. And Hawking’s judgment is enough to push the ignorant townspeople over the edge, who rebel and dethrone the Mensa people, returning everything to normal while Hawking has a beer with Homer.
I don’t know, this episode is alright I guess. It’s one of those Lisa episodes that revolve around Lisa being mad at how dumb everyone else, and where sometimes that works, this one doesn’t. Lisa just comes off as mean and petty. She’s just so dismissive of everyone who isn’t as smart as her, and doesn’t think that they have the right to be that way. Yeah, it would be great if the average intelligence in America was higher, but not if that leads to being like the people from Mensa. Because boy was that an obnoxious crew. They just sit around trying to one-up each other, which is usually what you see from people who proudly say they’re smart. No one cares if you say you’re smart, it’s what you do with that intelligence that matters, and sitting around judging everyone else and playing word-games is not a very worthwhile way to spend your time. Whatever. There’s some funny jokes in the episode, and I love that they actually get Stephen Hawking to voice himself instead of just replicating the machine that speaks for him, but the episode just doesn’t really do that much for me. And the less said about the Homer sub-plot, except for the window gag, the better.
Take Away: If you’re smart, just try to help society, don’t just crap on people dumber than you. Use your intelligence and don’t let your ego get in the way.
“They Saved Lisa’s Brain” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Pete Michels, 1999.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons