Lifetime of Simpsons

S16 E12 – Goo Goo Gai Pan

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Well this is weird. We had an episode about Patty on Monday, and now a Selma episode on Wednesday. That doesn’t happen very often. Plus it’s a really lackluster vacation episode! Joy!

Our episode starts off with Mr. Burns heading into the DMV to renew his driver’s license. Which obviously means that we’re going to get some silly gags with Mr. Burns driving his antique car to prove that he’s able. Which he isn’t. But surprisingly it isn’t Burns that makes the drive awkward, it’s Selma. Because while she’s driving along with him grading his driving abilities she’s suddenly hit with a monster hot flash, and ends up causing the car to crash, flinging herself into some snow.

So Selma is brought to the hospital, I assume for the car crash and not the hot flash. And while they’re there Dr. Hibbert explains what menopause is, and since this is Springfield he does that by showing her a video starring Robert Wagner. There’s a lot of information thrown at Selma, but the most important is the fact that she’s quickly approaching the point that she’ll no longer be able to give birth to a baby. Which is a real bummer for her.

Selma is massively depressed over not being able to have a baby, and for some reason the rest of the family are shocked that this is something she wanted, despite the fact that she’s brought this up several times in previous episodes. Hell, it was a sticking point with her fake marriage to Troy McClure. Anyway, Selma heads home with Patty, and quickly falls into a depression, watching late night TV. Which is when Patty gives her some advice. Adopt a baby.

So Selma and the Simpsons head to the local orphanage to pick up a baby for her. Unfortunately after she picks one out it’s quickly taken away from her because Cleetus comes back to retrieve the baby, having put it up for adoption by accident. And since Selma isn’t interested in checking out Cleetus’ next liter, she loses faith again. That is until Lisa gives her another suggestion. That she adopts an unwanted baby girl from China.

Selma heads over to some sort of Chinese adoption agency in Springfield, and fills out all the paperwork. However, right at the end they inform her that they won’t give a baby to an unmarried woman for some reason, so against all of her better instincts, Selma tells them that she’s married to Homer. Plus, she’s going to have to go to China to pick the baby up with her willing husband. Which could be a problem.

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Except it’s not, because the Simpsons decide to go with Selma to visit China so she can get her baby, while they neglect to tell Homer the real reason he’s going until he’s already aboard the plane and drunk. And he’s not pleased. But Marge guilts him into agreeing to go along with it, and he decides to go through with the plan pretty easily. So the family land in Beijing, pass a bunch of silly sight gags like the General Tsao memorial and a factory that makes American goods.

But they aren’t here to sight-see, so as soon as they get off the plane they head to the orphanage to pick up Selma’s new baby. They also meet Madame Woo, the strict bureaucrat who is in charge of the adoption process. She accepts Selma’s money, but she doesn’t seem to believe that Selma is actually married to Homer, so she says that she’s going to follow them around for the next few days to fully asses if they’re a good family.

They quickly have to explain that Marge is their nanny and that Bart and Lisa are their natural-born children, and once that’s taken care of they just begin wandering around China. Madame Woo takes them to gawk at Shaolin Monks, who begin beating the hell out of Homer when he mistakes them for Buckingham Palace guards. They also go see Chairman Mao’s corpse and the Great Wall of China, which is still being attacked by Mongolians on pogo-sticks. They even see a weird adaptation of Death of a Salesman. Culture!

However things take a bad turn when Madame Woo is making idle conversation with Homer and he decides to lie and say that he’s a professional acrobat. Which immediately bites him in the ass when they go to an acrobatic show. Because the star acrobat has been assassinated by the government, and the lack of a grand finale is shaking everyone’s faith in the government. So Madame Woo tells Homer to participate in the final performance, which is basically being tossed onto a giant stack of chairs and just sitting in it.

And it doesn’t go well. Homer is launched up onto the stack of chairs, and quickly breaks them, falling down to the ground and hurting his back. Homer’s then brought to a hospital to recuperate, but I guess his lie wasn’t a big deal because as he’s laying there in pain he’s visited by Selma and her new baby Ling. Ling cuddles with Homer, grabbing his eyeballs, and everything seems to have ended nicely. Homer even gets some alone time with Marge in the hospital room.

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Unfortunately it wasn’t really alone time, because Madame Woo still believes something is fishy about this arrangement, and she peeps of Homer and Marge making out in the room. So Woo shows up and takes Ling away from Selma right as the family is about to leave, devastating poor Selma. But the family isn’t going to give up this easily, so they decide to put their heads together and find some way to steal a baby from China. And that come up with a really weird idea.

Step one is spray painting Homer gold, and making him pretend that he’s a statue of Buddha. Sure, let’s go with this. They stick Homer in front of the orphanage and wait for some guards to find him and drag him inside, assuming he’s some sort of offering. And once they drag Homer inside he sneaks off to look for the baby. He runs into a snag when he’s unable to recognize Ling, since I guess Chinese babies all look the same? But when she grabs his eyeball he knows he found the right one, and they escape the orphanage with Ling to get back to America. They run into a bit of a snag when Madame Woo tries to attack them in a tank, but she and Selma have a heart to heart as fellow bureaucrats, and Woo finally backs down and lets the family leave with their newest addition.

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I just found this episode to be fine. There’s nothing too objectionable about it, but there’s also nothing interesting about it either. I do like the idea of Selma finally getting into menopause and coming to grips with her fading ability to have a child, and I like the idea of her going to China to adopt a baby. What I don’t get is the weird plot element to make Homer pretend to be her husband. It’s such a weird idea, and just gets old quick. Mainly because Madame Woo is an insane character. She’s so horrible to them, and goes way beyond any reasonable degree, just to keep the plot going. The episode had a lot of the same weird problems I have with vacation episodes, but it’s the strangeness of Madame Woo’s character that really bugs me about this episode.

Take Away: Adopting kids is really hard.

 

“Goo Goo Gai Pan” was written by Dana Gould and directed by Lance Kramer, 2005.

 

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