So yesterday wasn’t a great opening for a season. We don’t usually start things off with weird episodes about marital strife and manatees. But today we kind of get things off to a better start by giving us a pretty sweet but incredibly forgettable episode about overcoming your childhood fears.
Things begin with Marge waking up to the sound of construction that is basically rattling the entire house. It ends up waking up everyone, and they head outside to see what’s going on. And it’s construction. Surprise! The weird part is that it’s happening directly behind the Simpson’s house, and they’re for some reason building a museum for stamps right in the middle of this residential neighborhood, which seems unlikely.
The Simpsons are pissed about this construction, and they decide that they should organize the community to try and push out Big Stamp, letting them have some silence. And things actually go pretty well. The Simpsons themselves wage war against the construction, basically committing some residential terrorism and sabotage. But for some reason this works, and the stamp museum declares that they’re no longer going to build behind the Simpson’s house.
Instead they’re going to take the real estate that the Springfield Cemetery was, and now the cemetery will be behind the Simpson’s house. You win some, you lose some. So the cemetery is brought over to its new home, coffin by coffin, and the Simpsons aren’t pleased. Everyone is rather creeped out by their new neighbors, but it’s Lisa who gets the brunt of the fear. Her room points directly at the cemetery, and it just casts incredibly frightening shadows into her room.
This results in Lisa freaking the hell out, and going into Homer and Marge’s bedroom to sleep with them. Marge lets it happen for one night, and after a restless night together they get up and Marge tries to make it clear that this was a one-time thing, and that Lisa is going to have to be brave and sleep in her room from now on. They even bribe Lisa by telling her that they’ll do something special for her if she promises to sleep in her room that night.
So of course Lisa wants to go check out the Stamp Museum from earlier! So they go to the new museum, find that Lenny is making a killing charging people to park on his land, and they head on in. And the place is shockingly high-tech. Still seems pointless, but whatever. And while they’re walking around they wander into a presentation by an author whose characters are being turned into stamps. It’s basically a parody of Where the Wild Things Are, called Land of the Wild Beasts, and Lisa gets a flash to her past, since that book was the first one she read by herself.
Lisa decides that this safe and familiar book may help her sleep, so that night she gets into her room and starts to read the book. Unfortunately it doesn’t work, and she goes to hide in Homer and Marge’s bed. She stays there all night, until they come back from some dinner-party, badmouthing their friends, and they’re disappointed to find Lisa in their bed again. So, they decide to show Lisa that her room isn’t frightening, and agree to spend a night in her room.
Which was a bad call, because Lisa’s room is legit terrifying, and it ends up scaring Homer and Marge so much that they come back to their bedroom to sleep with Lisa again. But this obviously isn’t a long-term solution, so Marge decides they need to get professional help for Lisa’s fear. The next day Homer and Marge head out to Springfield’s psychiatric district, and find a childhood psychiatrist that they think will help Lisa.
Homer and Marge chat with the psychiatrist, because for some baffling reason they don’t bring Lisa. Although they do bring a video of her, which showed Homer strangling little Bart while Marge is trying to stop them, causing Lisa to change her own diaper. This makes the psychiatrist decide that Lisa’s problem is that she’s too used to taking care of herself, and never learned to be a child and deal with those fears, jumping right ahead to being an adult. This seems like an insane thing for a psychiatrist to decide without even speaking to the child, but whatever.
Meanwhile, Lisa has decided that she’s going to take her fear into her own hand, and try a little immersion therapy. She decides that the best way to overcome her fears is to spend a night alone in the cemetery, which should obviously cure her fears. So Lisa gets Santa’s Little Helper and locks herself in the cemetery that night. Santa’s Little Helper peaces the hell out immediately, so she’s left on her own to explore the cemetery at night.
And it’s weird. She sees Dr. Nick robbing graves and the police getting ready for a stakeout. And while she’s wandering around she gets spooked, and starts to run through the cemetery until she trips and smashes her head on a tombstone. The resulting concussion makes her have a vivid hallucination where she meets the Beasts from the Land of the Wild Beast. They talk with her basically just explain that she’s eight-years old, and is allowed to be scared of things sometimes. Lisa had apparently not thought of this before, and when she wakes up to Homer and Marge finding her in the cemetery she decides that she’s completely cured now.
Yeah, this episode is fine. But I’ll tell you, I desperately needed my notes on this one, because this episode is miraculously forgettable. It’s just kind of a nothing episode. The idea of a cemetery being built behind the Simpsons house (which just a few episodes ago was a sprawling forest) is completely ridiculous, but it led to some interesting stuff. I like the idea of Lisa having to deal with a phobia, especially by giving herself immersion therapy. And the ending actually makes a lot of sense. Lisa has become a bit of a mini-adult, trying to pretend that she’s more mature and adult than she really is, so I like to see her come to terms with the fact that she’s eight-years old and still needs to grow up at the right rate. It’s the rare Lisa episode that isn’t about her being against someone else’s ideology, and it’s pretty sweet for what it is.
Take Away: Sometimes fears have to be confronted to be defeated.
“The Girl Who Slept Too Little” was written by John Frink and directed by Raymond S Persi, 2005.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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