Lifetime of Simpsons

S18 E08 – The Haw-Hawed Couple

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Hey, you know how there’s been an episode where Lisa starts dating Nelson and we get to learn about his character better? And then there’s an episode about Marge getting to know Nelson and teach us more about his character? Well, guess what? It’s Bart’s turn.

Things start off with Bart and Lisa standing outside of Homer and Marge’s room, being awkward that they’re having a really loud and angry fight. Which turns out to be a scam, because they’ve just recorded themselves having a fight, and are pumping it out the door while they have sex. Unfortunately, something goes wrong with the tape, and it ends up playing “Horse With No Name,” causing Lisa and Bart to get curious and open the door. Which was a terrible plan.

We then see Bart hanging out with Milhouse, having some PTSD after seeing his parents having sex. However, this little therapy session is cut short when Nelson comes trotting up to pick on them and take their lunch money. Oh, and he also gives them both an invitation to his birthday party. Which really pisses of Bart. He’s sick of Nelson always picking on them and making their lives miserable, and he manages to convince all the other boys to not go to Nelson’s birthday party, hopefully crushing him.

However, Bart’s master plan hits a snag when he heads home and is loudly talking to Lisa all about how great his plan to screw over Nelson is, and Marge overhears. Marge is horrified that Bart is going to do this to Nelson, and demands that he goes to the party, despite the fact that he’ll be the only other person there. But Marge doesn’t care, and has Homer drive Bart out to the party and leave him there, forcing him to hang out with Nelson.

And, shockingly, the party seems okay. There’s bounce-house, cake, and pizza. Everything a kid’s party should have. Nelson comes strolling out, thrilled that someone is finally at his party, and he starts hanging out with Bart, trying to play cool about the lack of other attendants. Which is helped when some dudes in a Spider-Man and Doctor Octopus costumes show up and Bart and Nelson have a great time beating them up. Which shocks Bart, because he had a really great time.

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However, the next morning Bart learns that Nelson now thinks that they’re best friends, and wants to continue hanging out. He forces Bart to sit with him on the bus, and just generally starts acting obsessed and creepy. Which causes Bart to start quickly coming up with ways to ditch Nelson. That comes to a close though when Bart finds himself being picked on by Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney, when he’s suddenly saved by Nelson, who fights for Bart’s honor. And just like that, Bart has found a reason to be friends with Nelson.

Meanwhile, we get to see the pretty great B-Plot, which revolves around Homer and Lisa. It starts off with Homer tucking Lisa in for bedtime, and trying to speed the whole process up so he can go have sex with Marge. However, Lisa insists that Homer read a book to her before bed. And she’s chosen some sort of Harry Potter parody called “Angelica Button and the Dragon King’s Trundle Bed.” So Homer accepts and starts reading to Lisa. And, shockingly, he ends up loving it. To the point that he tries to spend the whole night reading and gets shot down by Lisa who finally has to go to sleep.

But enough about that, let’s check back in on Bart and Nelson’s burgeoning friendship. Because things are going great. Nelson has given Bart a vest of his own, and the two are now running the school. We even get a great Goodfellas scene where Bart and Nelson walk through the school, being treated like kings. But all things must come to an end, and that end is brought on by Milhouse, who is getting jealous of Bart spending all of his time with Nelson. Milhouse mocks Bart by calling him Nelson’s side-kick, and Bart decides to prove him wrong by flying kites with Milhouse. Which Nelson sees.

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Before we see the ramifications of that though, there’s more going on in the Homer B-Plot. Because Homer is now obsessed with this book, and can’t stand the idea of not finishing it. And he gets bad news when he comes home and finds that Lisa is spending the night at Janey’s house, meaning he can’t read the book that night. So Homer decides to go into Lisa’s room and read ahead, learning that the book ends with the headmaster, who he’s been picturing as himself, dying gruesomely. And Homer is crushed.

Back to Nelson! He’s pissed. He spotted Bart and Milhouse flying kites together, and is then waiting for Bart at his house to yell at him. Bart shows up, trying to lie, when Nelson starts confronting him about the cheating. At which point Nelson becomes an abusive spouse, threatening Bart and then trying to win him over while making it clear that Bart can never spend time with anyone else. So, things aren’t going well for Bart.

Now that the full force of Nelson’s insane obsession has come out, Bart is starting to actively fear for his safety, worried that he’ll do something to set Nelson off. Which isn’t helped by the fact that Nelson is hiding in Bart’s locker, waiting to apologize for being crazy. But, despite how horrifying this scenario would be, Bart holds steady and tells Nelson that he doesn’t want to be friends with him anymore, because he’s insane. Surprisingly, Nelson accepts this, but does give him some veiled threats about the future.

But before we finish off that plot, let’s wrap up the Homer/Lisa subplot. Because Homer is really worried about finishing this book with Lisa now, knowing how depressing it is. He’s concerned that it’s too dark for Lisa, and decides to just make up his own ending to the book, where everything ends up great and everyone is happy. Homer then leaves to go to bed, while Lisa actually reads the end, and decides that Homer’s ending was better anyway.

And now that that’s taken care of, let’s see how Nelson plans to kill Bart. Because he sure has a good opportunity when the fourth graders go on a field trip to check out little ecosystems on the beach, and Nelson volunteers to be Bart’s “buddy.” At which point they promptly leave the group and end up in some secluded cave, where Bart assumes he’s about to be gruesomely murdered. This however, is not what happens.

Instead Nelson decides to bare his soul a bit, and tell Bar that he was a bad friend. Nelson explains that Bart only ever liked him because he protected him from other bullies, and never actually liked the real Nelson. Bart accepts that, but also fights back by saying that Nelson was crazy and obsessive. So they’re both at faults. However, this arguments is brushed aside when the tide suddenly rises, and the two boys are swept out in to the ocean. Nelson then heroically saves Bart, but lets him know that this changes nothing, and they are still not friends. The episode then ends with a really weird Brokeback Mountain reference, with Bart remembering the good times he had with Nelson.

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I’m not really sure why “Simpson family member gets close to Nelson Muntz” has become a type of episode, but I think this one is better than the Marge one. It’s not as good as the one when he and Lisa start to date, but there’s still a lot of like about this episode. I really like Bart and Nelson being friends, even though it gets really weird when it starts to become a metaphor for an abusive relationship. Although I really think that the ending where they both realize that they were bad friends was pretty great, and something that seems fairly novel to me for a Simpson’s episode. I can’t readily think of an example of this sort of plot happening before. Plus, that B-Plot is really solid. I’m not a Harry Potter guy, but I love the idea of Homer and Lisa bonding while becoming obsessed with the same book, and Homer becoming worried about Lisa learning a harsh truth about reality too early. I also adore the fact that Lisa didn’t care about the actual ending of the book, and was more loving the time she was spending with Homer. That’s great. All together this was a pretty decent episode, especially for the eighteenth season, and I think I’ll remember it fondly.

Take Away: Don’t be an obsessive creep, in any type of relationship.

“The Haw-Hawed Couple” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Chris Clements, 2006.

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S18 E07 – Ice Cream of Margie (with the Light Blue Hair)

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Howdy everyone and welcome back to yet another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. And we have a doozy of a week for you this time. We’re in the weeds folks, and while last Season 18 has been off to a really weird start where it seemed to be alternating between interesting episodes and garbage, we’re a little closer to all garbage this week. Sounds fun!

The episode starts off with Bart and Lisa sitting around the breakfast table, while Bart is wasting food and just picking out all of the marshmallow’s from his cereal and throwing away the cereal part. Marge gives him a little lecture about how he shouldn’t waste food, because it’s disrespecting Homer who works hard to provide them with food. Which is when we cut straight to the Nuclear Plant where Homer and the guys are playing some sort of insane chair hockey game.

Homer’s having a hell of a time, winning the game for his team, when Mr. Burns comes in. And he is not pleased. He starts yelling at Homer, telling him that he’s on thin ice. Unfortunately, as Burns is lecturing Homer an ice cream truck shows up, and Homer decides to stop caring about Burns and chase after the truck. So Burns fires Homer, and starts coaching the chair hockey team, trying to get them to be a better team.

Homer runs out of the Plant, not caring that he no longer has a job, and chases down the ice cream truck. The guy who runs the truck is thrilled to see Homer, and the two chat for a bit before Homer pays in a hundred dollar bill, and asks for change. So the little old man spends the rest of the day counting out quarters, until he has a heart attack and dies. Which obviously leads to a ridiculous funeral full of ice cream workers and Homer.

Homer talks with the truck driver’s widow, and he learns that she’s going to have to get rid of the truck and lose the business. So Homer decides to spend his severance pay on buying the truck from the lady, and becoming an ice cream salesman. Homer then hires Otto to completely pimp out his ice cream truck, so that it looks like the coolest ice cream truck ever, and he has a crazy scene where he gets dressed like he’s Ali G.

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Meanwhile, Marge is doing laundry and watching some daytime talkshow called Opal, that’s all about how stay-at-home moms are losers and are wasting their lives. Marge takes this very personally, and decides that she needs some new passion to make her life worthwhile. And that isn’t helped by the fact that Homer is so psyched about his job, and seems to genuinely love it. However, it’s Homer’s job that helps her find her passion, because one day he comes in with a whole bag of used popsicle sticks, and Marge has a flash of inspiration.

Marge takes the pile of sticky wood and ends up making a pretty impressive statue of Maggie out of the sticks, using her latent artistic abilities. And, shockingly, Homer loves the little statue, and fully encourages Marge to keep up with this new passion, and continue creating popsicle stick statues. So Marge just start cranking out statues, starting off with Bart and Lisa and eventually expanding until their backyard is basically full of statues of various townspeople.

Which is when providence shines on Marge, because right at that moment Kent Brockman is flying overhead in a helicopter while covering a high-speed car chase, when he spots Marge and smells a human interest story. So Kent lands in the backyard and gives Marge a chance to talk to Springfield about her passion, and get the word out about her abilities. And that broadcast ends up convincing the Rich Texan to show up at their house and offer to bankroll a weird gallery exhibit for Marge’s sculptures.

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Oddly enough though the gallery show is just going to be in her front yard, which seems weird but whatever. Although Marge still thinks that this is a huge deal, and asks Homer to be there for her as emotional support. He still has to go drive around and sell ice cream though, and promises that he’ll be back in time for her exhibit. However, the gods of fate are not on Homer’s side, because he almost immediately finds some sort of jamboree for divorced dads, and makes a jackpot selling ice cream to the dads so they can buy their kids love.

Unfortunately this exchange takes a whole lot of time, and Homer realizes that he’s going to be late to Marge’s exhibit. So Homer puts the pedal to the metal, and starts driving home as fast as he can, quickly running into traffic. Left with no alternative, Homer decides to do something crazy and starts off-roading in his pimped out ice cream truck, trying to get home on time. Which he does. But he also careens into the exhibit, destroying them all. Whoops.

Marge is obviously pissed about this whole thing, and she starts yelling at Homer, telling him that he only cares about his own happiness and not hers. She ends up getting so pissed off that she barricades herself in the bedroom, not letting Homer come in and not talking to him. Which causes Homer to just stand outside the bedroom, whining and crying, trying to make her forgive him and go back to normal. Which doesn’t really work that well.

Until one day when Homer wakes up from sleeping outside the door, and finds it open, but Marge not inside. He runs downstairs to find her, and the kids explain that she left the house, and have no further information. Homer then heads out in to the town, trying to find Marge, and ends up coming across her standing atop City Hall while a crowd gathers. Homer assumes that Mage is getting ready to commit suicide, but it turns out that she’s actually just created her masterpiece, a gigantic statue of Homer. She explains that she still loves Homer, and that her greatest creation is the life that they’ve sculpted together, which is a pretty sweet sentiment.

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I’m really mixed on this episode. There are some great aspects to this episode, but also a lot of stuff that I’m just getting sick of. Listen, I’ve talked about this a whole lot lately, but I just can’t handle episode about Homer and Marge’s marriage being suddenly put on the rocks anymore. Which honestly isn’t being helped by the stupid way I’m watching these episodes, putting them all together like this. But whatever, it’s still something I don’t like. Just like the fact that I’m getting really tired to Homer constantly getting fired from the Plant and getting some new random job. I know that that’s a trope of Simpson’s episodes, but it’s getting really tiresome at this point. But despite all of that, there’s still some interesting things about this episode. I’m always a fan of Marge expressing herself creatively, even though this popsicle stick sculpture thing is a little weird. And despite my feelings about Homer and Marge’s marriage always getting magically fixed at the end, that last little note was pretty decent. I don’t know, just kind of an odd episode that I’m still not sure how I feel about. Which is going to be a theme this week.

Take Away: Don’t let people tell you that the way you’re living your life is something you should be ashamed of. Do what makes you happy.

 

“Ice Cream of Margie (with the Light Blue Hair)” was written by Carolyn Omine and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2006.

 

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Marvel Madness

That Time the Green Goblin Ruined A Spider-Man Movie

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I recently came across an issue of Detective Comics in my Bat Signal series that features Batman participating in a movie based on himself. And that issue got me thinking about the fact that there are a surprising amount of comic books about superheroes being involved in movies about themselves. Spider-Man has two that I can think of off the top of my head. And that inspired me to check out my favorite of those two Spider-Man stories, which also happens to be the first encounter between our Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man and one of his arch enemies, the Green Goblin. And no, this article isn’t about the Amazing Spider-Man 2, the Green Goblin has ruined multiple Spider-Man movies, both in our reality and that of the House of Ideas. So sit back and relax for an absolutely insane early Spider-Man comic that features movies, the Green Goblin, the Enforcers, and the Incredible Hulk! How did they manage to cram all of that nonsense into one issue? Let’s find out!

The issue begins with Stan Lee speaking directly to the reader, and explaining that he knows no one cares about context, and they just want to get straight to the villain of the month. In this case we get to see the mysterious Green Goblin working in his laboratory, already in his mask, getting his bag of tricks prepared. This is the Green Goblin’s first appearance in the comics, so we don’t know his identity, and we also see that he wasn’t really created fully formed. This is primarily demonstrated by the fact that he doesn’t have his glider yet, and instead is riding around on a rocket-powered broomstick, which is kind of better than the glider if I have to be honest. Anyway, the issue continues it’s promise of focusing on the villain by having the Goblin blast out of his lab and reach the secret hideout of the Enforcers to have a meeting with them. And, in case you don’t know who the Enforcers are, they’re great. It’s a group of normal human thugs who exist to be beaten by Spider-Man, and that’s comprised of Ox, a big, strong, dumb guy, Montana, a cowboy who is good at lassos, and Fancy Dan, a little man who is skilled at knives and judo. Goblin explains that he has a plan to defeat Spider-Man once and for all, and that he needs the Enforcer’s help. And what is that plan? Well…

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Yeah, so the Green Goblin has just flown himself to a movie studio called Cosmos Productions and hopped right into the window of the owner, B.J. Cosmos. Turns out that Cosmos is in desperate need for a new hit movie, and the Green Goblin arrives to tell him that he has a plan to get Spider-Man himself into a film. Goblin lays out the idea of a movie with himself and the real Spider-Man as actors, providing actual superhuman stunts for the masses. Cosmos loves this idea and says that he’ll produce the movie if Goblin can convince Spider-Man to play himself in the movie. So, with the first stage of the complete, the Green Goblin moves on to the next stage. Namely, flying around New York aimlessly until he gets the attention of Spider-Man. Which happens pretty quickly, because Peter Parker is hanging around his school, dealing with teenage relationship drama, when someone holding a giant transistor radio overhears the appearance of a weird green guy on a rocket broom, and Peter decides he should maybe check in on that.

So Peter suits up and swings into Manhattan to find the Green Goblin. Which doesn’t take much time, because it’s kind of hard to miss a crazy dude on a flying broomstick. Spider-Man then just tackles the Green Goblin, assuming he’s up to no good, when Goblin explains what’s up. He tells Spider-Man about the movie idea, and promises him a lot of money. Spider-Man is a little wary about this deal, but he’s always in need of money, so he swings over to the hotel that Cosmos is staying in. Spider-Man then pops into the hotel room, and the two come up with a deal to make “The Spider-Man Story” with the Green Goblin for $50,000. And Peter is down with that. So after ensuring that he’ll never have to reveal his identity and won’t have to do any press junkets, Spider-Man signs the contract and heads home to get ready for a little vacation.

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Peter next heads over to the Daily Bugle, desperate to find a way to get to Los Angeles so they can film the movie. And luckily for him the news of the movie has broken, and J Jonah Jameson is willing to send Peter to the filming in the hopes of getting some nice behind the scenes pictures of Spider-Man. So that’s taken care of. We also have to have Peter deal with Betty Brant being jealous of him being near other women, but we can just glide right past that and into the next challenge. Aunt May. She’s not keen on Peter travelling across the country by himself, but he manages to talk her into it and heads straight to Los Angeles where they’re getting ready to start filming the movie. Spider-Man is a little curious about the fact that they seemed to find perfect actors to play the Enforcers, but he just breezes past that and gets ready to start filming. Which means that they promptly pack up and drive to New Mexico. Sounds about right.

So Spider-Man and the other “actors” are hanging around set while things are being set up, when the Green Goblin approaches him and offers to go practice the scene. Spider-Man agrees to this proposition, and the group head off into the desert. This proves to be a bad plan when Ox just punches Spider-Man right in the head, almost knocking him out. This is when Spider-Man realizes that these are the real Enforcers, and that things aren’t exactly on the level. So Spider-Man begins fighting the Enforcers, dodging Ox’s punches, Montana’s lassos, and Fancy Dan’s powerful little body, all while Green Goblin just flies around above them, mocking Spider-Man. The Enforcers continue to whale on Spider-Man, eventually tying him up with Montana’s lasso so that they can pull his mask off. Spider-Man isn’t down with this plan though, and he summons all of his strength to knock the Enforcers off him, and begins swinging around some webs to summon up a dust storm to disappear in. At which point Spider-Man tries to escape, and runs into a random cave in the desert. Which is where things really start to get weird.

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Yep, the Goblin and the Enforcers have come into the cave as well, and have rolled a giant boulder over the opening, trapping everyone inside. Spider-Man then realizes that things are about to get wild, and decides to just say ‘screw it’ and goes full Arkham Asylum. Spider-Man begins creeping around in the shadowy cave, getting the drop on the Enforcers and taking them out, one by one, as he webs them to the ceiling. Spider-Man is able to take Montana and Fancy Dan out of the equation, until Goblin and Ox realize what’s going on and fight back. Spider-Man is able get Goblin to fly into a small little pocket of the cave, and webs it completely up, leaving him with just Ox while the Goblin tries to burn his way through the webbing. And, left on his own, Ox isn’t that competent of a foe, so Spider-Man is quickly able to knock him out. Which is right when Goblin frees himself, and makes things get even more insane. Because he just starts lobbing around concussion grenades, causing a whole new cavern of the cave to open up, and reveal out guest star. The Incredible Hulk.

Turns out that the Hulk has been hiding from humanity in these caves, and he’s just been dragged into a fight with Spider-Man and the Green Goblin. The Hulk just comes lumbering into the cave, ready to start smashing Spider-Man, which is when Goblin decides to hang back for a bit and just watch the show. Which isn’t going great for Spider-Man. He’s just kind of leaping around, trying to stay one step ahead of the Hulk, who is just pulverizing everything in sight. Hulk smashes through the entire cave, ripping through webbing and just getting closer and closer to Spider-Man. All until Spider-Man decides to give violence a shot, and throws everything he has into one gigantic punch to Hulk’s head.

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Which does precisely nothing. Well, except for practically breaking Peter’s hand. He did accomplish that. Oh, and pissing the Hulk off even more, if that’s possible. So Hulk is furious, and just starts swinging at Spider-Man again, trying to smush him like a bug. Which is when Spider-Man decides he needs a change of strategy, and figures out a way to escape the cave. Namely, lure the Hulk closer to that giant boulder that’s trapping them all in the cave, and get him to break it. Which he accomplishes by standing in front of the rock and waiting for Hulk to swing a massive punch, ducking out of the way at the last second. The Hulk’s mighty blow shatters the boulder like it’s made of glass, and there’s suddenly a way out of the cave.

Which the Green Goblin promptly uses. He realizes that things have gone competently pear-shaped, and decides to cut his loses by booking it out of the cave to freedom. Spider-Man sees the Goblin trying to flee, and chases after him, trying to hold him accountable for his crimes. Goblin and Spider-Man grapple a little bit, but the fight with the Hulk has really taken it out of Spider-Man, and he ends up letting Goblin get away, while he falls into some stagnant water. The Hulk then stomps over, still trying to kill Spider-Man, but apparently super-powerful lungs are one of the proportional powers of a spider, so Peter’s able to stay submerged until the Hulk wanders off to find the Enforcers and kill them. Peter momentarily considers just leaving at that point, but he’s a goddamn hero, so he doubles back and saves the Enforcers from the Hulk’s wrath, bringing the three unconscious thugs out of the cave and into the waiting arms of the military. He then heads back to Los Angeles where he learns that B.J. Cosmos has reneged on their deal, and is scrapping “the Spider-Man Story” in favor of what sounds like a Busby Berkely musical about the Hulk, which sounds delightful. So the whole trip was a waste, Peter isn’t getting any money from it, and he gets to ride a Greyhound bus back to New York, because Peter Parker’s life is terrible.

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I’m going to be honest with you folks, I’ve been rereading the original run of the Amazing Spider-Man, and basically every issue could be written up on the site. They’re all just so delightfully insane. Peter Parker is basically Charlie Brown, if something bad could happen to him, it will. Which feels like it should get demoralizing, like Peanuts, but there’s something inspiring about seeing Peter Parker rise above all of the horrible things that happen to him, and continue to strive to be a hero. And this issue is actually a good example of that. He gets stranded in Los Angeles because he god scammed into participating in a fake movie, and he just takes it in stride, finding ways to spin it into a good thing for Aunt May. He even goes out of his way to help save the Enforcers, who have continually tried to kill him. That’s pretty great. Plus, this issue is insanely fun. I mean, who would have guessed that the introduction of the Green Goblin, the character that will probably most influence Peter Parker’s life, was such a goofy little story? I’m not even sure why he needed to do the fake movie thing. Because really it seemed like he put together a big budget movie just to get Spider-Man away from the city? All that happens is the Goblin and the Enforcers jump him, they couldn’t have just done that in New York? Oh well, I guess we don’t have to understand why supervillains do the the things they do. That Norman Osborn, always up to something.

The Amazing Spider-Man #14 was written by Stan Lee (the poor man’s Shakespere), pencilled by Steve Ditko (the poor man’s Da Vinci), and lettered by Art Simek (the poor man’s rich man), 1964.

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Bat Signal

Issue 232 – “The Outlaw Who Played Batman”

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Hello everyone and welcome back to another installment of Bat Signal, my ongoing project to read random issues of Detective Comics with little to no context of what’s going on. We’re heading back into the Silver Age today for some wonderfully goofy Batman action. And we’re getting a fun story that’s oddly a pretty common one in the world of superheroes. Said superhero being involved in the production of a movie based on themselves. I don’t know why this is a trope of superheroes, but it’s one I absolutely adore. Who doesn’t want to see Batman sullenly watching an actor try to be as awesome as him? Plus, as the cover spoils, the man that they chose is flat out planning on being a criminal, while dressed as Batman. How can you say no that that premise? You can’t. Let’s do this thing.

The issue starts off exactly as you would expect it to. With Batman and Robin fighting a Tyrannosaurus Rex on a “remote, long-lost volcanic island.” This is quickly explained to be footage from a previously made movie about Batman and Robin, and we’re actually treated to something more insane than the dinosaur opening. Apparently a movie studio called Excelsior Studios creates an annual film about the adventures of Batman, and they get the full cooperation of the real Batman. And to make things better, this year Batman has offered to help pick which actor can most accurately portray him in the film. And this obviously takes the form of Batman showing up to the studio to help train the army of mostly nude actors in the art of Batmaning.

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So after an afternoon of rigorous training and auditioning Batman picks the lucky winner, a man named Bart Davis, who gets the honor of playing Batman in this year’s movie. And the dude is stoked. And not just because this is his big break, but because he has some ulterior motives. We learn that Bart Davis is actually a criminal, and has a pretty great idea on how to commit some crimes in Gotham City with minimal work on his part. And this is made even easier when the next day arrives and Batman and Robin drop off a genuine Batman costume for Bart to wear, complete with a utility belt and models of the Batmobile.  Seems awfully generous of the Dark Knight, wouldn’t you say?

But before we see what Bart Davis’ plan is, we have some more stuff to establish in the story. Such as the fact that people in Gotham, including Commissioner Gordon, are a little peeved at how much time Batman is spending working on this stupid movie when there are actual crimes being committed. Even though we also just saw Batman singlehandedly stop a fur smuggling operation by bunching the truck stealing the fur’s gas tank so hard it ruptured. We also have to check in on the screenwriters of the movie, who are wandering around the back-lot of the studio, looking for sets to use for the movie, when they learn that they have to somehow work a gorilla into the script because the producer’s brother-in-law has a nice gorilla costume that they want to use. Oh, and the screenwriters also bandy about the idea that they should make Batman a millionaire playboy like Bruce Wayne, which they find hilarious.

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While all of this is going on though we cut over to Bart Davis to check out his plan. Which is actually pretty solid. He’s basically going to go around, dressed as Batman and using the Batmobile, and finding other criminals doing their thing. The criminals will then see Davis dressed as Batman, freak out, and run away, leaving their loot behind for Davis and his goons to steal. Pretty solid. That is until the producer of the Batman movie gets a call from the head of studio security with some dire news. Turns out that this security chief was been diving into Bart Davis’ life, and has found that he’s actually a wanted criminal who has a history of impersonating Batman. Something you think you may have checked for, but what do I know? Anyway, Robin happened to be on the lot that day, so he runs home to tell Batman that Bart Davis is actually a criminal and impersonating him. Which doesn’t shock Batman at all. Turns out he somehow knew about this, and put a tracking device and mic in Bart Davis’ fake utility belt, which he and Robin are now going to use to defeat Davis.

So Batman and Robin head out into the night and find Davis and his gang at the location of their latest crime, Gotham’s Old Whaling Museum. Sure, like all cities have. Anyway, Batman and Robin run into the museum and begin tussling with Davis’ men when they have to make a choice between catching Davis and keeping them from taking the loot. They decide to focus on the loot, and Davis manages to escape into the night. Luckily though Batman has apparently been listening in on Davis for quite some time, and has realized that Davis is using one of the sets on the lot as a hideout. So Batman runs to the lot, and ends up storming right into the lot where Davis is hiding, just in time for Davis and his goons to jump him. They hold Batman down, and get ready to pull off his mask just as the lights turn off. Batman manages to sneak away from the men, who turn the lights back on and try to find Batman’s identity. But that plan falls apart when Batman jumps them, now wearing that weird gorilla costume from earlier, and handily beats them. And with Davis conquered the police arrive to cart him off, and Batman smooths things over with the film studio by promising to play himself in the movie.

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This issue is pretty damn fun. There’s not a whole lot of detection involved in this story, and basically just has Batman fumbling around like a fool for most of the story before he randomly explains that he’s actually been secretly competent the whole time, which isn’t really that great, but everything else makes up for that. I just can’t get over how great the idea of Gotham City producing an annual movie about Batman is, and the fact that they get Batman to pick which actor plays him is fantastic. Plus, Davis’ plan in this issue is pretty solid. Pretending to be Batman to stop crime, and then continue the crime once the criminals have left is so weird, and seems to work exceedingly well. Batman’s got a lot on his plate, it should be easy to pretend to be him and pick up the slack. I’m a huge sucker for comic books stories that involve superheroes being involved in movie productions of themselves, and this was a pretty great addition to that weird little subgenre. Plus, it’s inspired me to put up a fun new Marvel Madness post. So check back tomorrow to see more superhero movie shenanigans!

“The Outlaw Who Played Batman” was written by someone mysterious. Bill Finger maybe? It was penciled by Dick Sprang and inked by Charles Paris in 1956 though.

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S18 E06 – Moe’N’a Lisa

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We’ve had a very uneven week here on Lifetime of Simpsons. It’s basically alternated between pretty solid episodes and more or less garbage episodes. But yesterday we had some garbage, so that means we get to end the week on a high note. Relatively speaking, at least.

The episode starts off with Homer waking up and noticing a string around his finger, trying to remind him that he needs to remember something. But he has no idea what he’s supposed to remember. Although that seems to be solves when Marge marches in and tells him that he needs to get ready for some sort of senior citizen Olympics that Grandpa is participating in. Homer seems aghast that this is something he has to do, but he goes along with it. And just as he leaves he misses a phone-call from Moe, trying to remind him that it’s his birthday and they’re supposed to go fishing. Whoops.

So the family head down to the Senior Olympics and hang out with Grandpa before the events begin, where Grandpa reveals that he participated in the 1936 Olympics where he tried, and failed, to assassinate Hitler. We also learn that Lisa is trying, and failing, to write some sort of school report on an interesting citizen in Springfield, and she’s hoping that she’ll find one here. But she doesn’t, because we mainly just get a bunch of goofy sight-gags from old people.

We get to see weird things like the Crazy Old Jewish Man jumping off the high-dive and gliding down to the water like a flying squirrel. We also get to see Moleman absolutely dominating every event because he’s gotten some sort of robotic prosthetic legs. But the really important event is a race, which Grandpa ends up winning because Willie tries to return Grandpa’s dentures to him, and ends up resembling the Grim Reaper, giving Grandpa more initiative to run faster. Huzzah!

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Once the Olympics are over the family head back home, proud of Grandpa’s accomplishments, when they realize what Homer forgot. Because Moe is sitting in front of their house, depressed. So they sneak into the house, and spend the rest of the day trying to avoid Moe, until Moe just gives up and throws a brick through their window with a note. The note is super depressing, but when Lisa reads it she decides that it’s really poetic and beautiful.

So Lisa runs out of the house to catch Moe before he leaves, and tells him that he has a deep soul, and that she wants to make him the subject of her “interesting person” paper. Moe is pretty shocked about that, but he’s down for it, and invites Homer and Lisa over to his depressing apartment in a disgusting hotel. They head into Moe’s apartment, and find that he’s littered the walls with random sticky notes of angry and depressing thoughts. Lisa decides that this is poetry, and helps Moe arrange all of the notes to make a powerful poem that she titles “Howling at a Concrete Moon.”

Lisa assumes that this will make the perfect cap to her essay, and she even asks Moe to come into class with her when she turns in the paper. Moe reads the poem to the kids, and they are completely baffled. Lisa even gets a bad grade for her paper, which seems harsh. But Lisa doesn’t care, she’s convinced that she’s found a talented new poet, and she convinces Moe to submit his poem to some sort of quarterly poetry magazine.

We then get to see the editor of the poetry magazine, who is just J Jonah Jameson, and who decides to put Moe’s poem on the cover. So Moe’s a published poet now, and instantly becomes a huge deal. So much so in fact that Moe gets a call from Tom Wolfe, inviting him to some prestigious literary festival in Vermont called WordLoaf. Lisa is shocked that Moe got invited to the conference, and Moe decides to go, as long as she accompanies him.

So Moe and the Simpsons drive up to Vermont just in time for the swanky literary festival to begin. And they’re instant hits. Moe gets to meet Tom Wolfe, and ends up getting a lot of people to listen to him during a cocktail party. They even find him witty and charming, when he’s not trying to be. However, he runs into a speed bump when he intimates that he got help creating his title. And the authors are horrified. Even though Gore Vidal explained that he stole all of his titles. So Moe decides to lie and say that he completely created his poem, cutting the credit from Lisa.

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We then cut to some sort of panel discussion moderated by Tom Wolfe, which is comprised of Jonathan Franzen, Michael Chabon, and Moe. We get to see Chabon and Franzen have a squabble that devolves into a fistfight, when Lisa decides to take down Moe. She asks a question to him about any help he received from other people. But Moe just doubles down, and insists that he’s a genius who did everything himself, further twisting the knife in her back.

So Lisa’s pissed and she heads back to the cabin that the family is staying in to mope. But while she’s being depressed Moe shows up, and asks her to help him write a new poem for the keynote lecture he’s giving. But Lisa remains steadfast and refuses to help him. Moe storms off to try and write his own poem, which is eaten by geese, and Lisa continues to be in a funk. Which is when Homer and Bart show up, and decide that they need to get revenge on Moe for treating Lisa poorly.

The final night of the conference then appears, and Moe gets up to give the closing speech, where he recites his poem. Which turns out to just be random things he read in his hotel room. And people are not pleased. So Moe decides to do the right thing, and quickly comes up with a little poem about how much he appreciates Lisa. She’s deeply moved, and forgives Moe, just in time for Homer and Bart to spring their revenge. Fortunately it’s dumping a bunch of maple syrup on Moe, and it moves so slowly that they just get out of the way. So Moe and the Simpsons leave the festival, never to discuss poetry again as Chabon and Franzen continue to beat the hell out of each other.

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There’s something about this episode that I like quite a bit. I’m typically a fan of Moe, and while I wasn’t really on board with that episode that was about Moe bonding with Maggie, I really liked Moe bonding with Lisa. I was a fan of Moe becoming a poet, because that dude has a pretty rough life, and I truly believe that art helps suffering, so I think it stands to reason that Moe has some art in his soul. And I think it’s a fantastic idea that Moe needed Lisa’s help to discover his abilities. They make a hell of a team. And another thing that I really like about the episode is that it’s basically one of those episodes full of cameos, but they decided to do literary icons that most people probably wouldn’t know the voices of. Hearing Tom Wolfe, Jonathan Franzen, and Michael Chabon on the Simpsons was actually a lot of fun. Too bad they didn’t get the possibly real voice of Thomas Pynchon to pop in.

Take Away: Expressing yourself artistically is a good way to help the pain in your soul, but if you get help from someone, you should credit them.

 

“Moe’N’a Lisa” was written by Matt Warburton and directed by Matt Kirkland, 2006.

 

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S18 E05 – G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)

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Things are weird here on Lifetime of Simpsons. We’ve surprisingly found this little oasis of quality episode tucked into some real garbage, but it’s not really consistent. We’re basically alternating each day with a bad one and a decent one. And since yesterday was a Treehouse of Horror episode that was a lot of fun, and tomorrow is an interesting episode about writers, guess how today’s episode turns out!

The episode starts off with Bart and Milhouse wandering through a mall, not the dystopian one from a couple days ago, apparently specifically so they can find a mannequin that Milhouse has a crush on. But this isn’t a remake of the 80’s classic Mannequin, so that plot is quickly swept away to show that Bart and Milhouse have spotted Jimbo, Kearney, and Dolph working at some sort of shoe store. And they instantly know what they have to do.

Harass their classmates with the knowledge that because they’re working they can’t fight back. So Bart and Milhouse head on in, and start acting like assholes, because the bullies can’t do anything about it. That is until the Squeaky Voiced Teen, their manager, announces that he’s quitting, and thus the store is apparently closing. And since they no longer have a manager, they decide the beat the hell out of Bart and Milhouse.

And once the bullies are done with some cathartic abuse, they leave the store and are quickly harassed by someone more insidious. Some Army recruiters. They try really hard to get the bullies to sign up for the Army, but even they aren’t willing to do it. So, with no alternatives to meet their quotas, the recruiters decide they have to target an even younger audience. So they head to Springfield Elementary, hold a ridiculous assembly where they play a hilarious recruitment video that featured robot knights, blowing up terrorists and hurricanes, and having a rock show with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.

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So obviously the kids are all going to pre-enlist, and fill out the forms, enthusiastic to join the Army when they get older. However, when Bart comes home and proudly announces that he’s somehow joined the Army, Marge and Homer are pretty horrified. They’re rightly pissed that the Army tried to sign up a child, and Marge sends Homer down to the recruitment office to get it annulled. Which is a bad plan.

Homer gets to the recruitment center, and because he’s an idiot, they manage to have him sign up instead. That’s right, Homer’s joining the Army! So Homer gets home and announces that now he’s signed up for the Army, which pisses off Marge just as much. Especially when she points out that Homer has already joined the Navy in the past. But Homer just ignores all of that and gets ready to join the Army and go to basic training.

A couple days later a bus shows up and Homer heads out to basic training. And as soon as he gets there he’s informed by the angry Army Colonel who doesn’t get a name that the military really needs soldiers, so they’re going to accelerate things massively. So Homer and the other recruits speed through basic training, and quickly get their assignments, which is basically frontline infantry for everyone. Everyone but Homer and some idiots.

They are apparently too dumb to be soldiers, and are told that they’re going to be the enemy in some sort of war games that will happen soon, so that it makes the real soldiers look better. Homer’s offended by this assignment, but decides to try and be a good leader for his troop of idiots, and decides to try and let them win. Which he actually starts to do. Because that night when the war games begin Homer decides to fire his flare at random, blinding the real soldiers. And when Homer and the idiots see the blinded soldiers they panic and run off into the streets of Springfield.

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And, because the Army doesn’t want to look stupid, they decide to invade Springfield and find the idiots. Homer and the idiots decide to go into Springfield and hide in Moe’s basement, hoping that they can hole up until the Army gives up. Unfortunately Moe sells them out immediately, and they have to flee into the sewers. And once they’re in the sewers they decide to split up and go their separate ways, going back to their lives in Springfield and I guess hoping that the Army doesn’t find them.

So Homer heads back to his house, and spends the night with Marge, ignoring the fact that the Army is after him. This is spoiled though when a predator drone comes flying into his room, since of course he’d go hide in his own house. And this leads to maybe the best segment of the episode, when Homer and the drone get into a silly Tex Avery-style cartoon chase around the house, complete with sneaking around and a closet full of TNT.

The Army is continuing to hold Springfield hostage though, so Homer has to flee his house and hide out in the Retirement Castle. But it isn’t just Homer who hates the military, everyone is pissed that the Army is occupying Springfield, so Marge decides to get a phone tree going where the entire town bands together to form a resistance. And once that’s accomplished they head to the Springfield reservoir, and pour all of their booze into it, thus getting the Army drunk on water. So the Army gets sloppy drunk all night, and the next morning when they’re hung over Springfield attacks, kicking them out of their town. However, Homer still has to finish his commitment, but they let him bully people into enlisting.

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Yeah, I’m not a fan of this one. There are a couple good gags, primarily from that goofy little drone chase scene, but overall this one is just a complete dud for me. And I think a big part of it comes from the fact that, as Marge pointed out, Homer has already accidently joined a branch of the Armed Forces. And this episode sure doesn’t have as much going for it as “Simpsons Tide.” Because as it stands the episode was just kind of boring. There were plenty of goofy slams at the military, due to the invasion of Iraq, but I feel like you should be mocking the government, not the military for all of that. The Army didn’t want to invade a country for no reason, the government did. It’s just kind of a lazy episode, full of military jokes that felt recycled from movies like Stripes, and frankly other episodes of the Simpsons that involve the military. But hey, tomorrow is fun.

Take Away: The military does not look like something I want to be part of.

 

“G.I. (Annoyed Grunt)” was written by Daniel Chun and directed by Nancy Kruse, 2006.

 

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S18 E04 – Treehouse of Horror XVII

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Happy fake Halloween everyone, and welcome back to another Treehouse of Horror episode. It’s that time of the season where we get to see things get downright spooky. And you know that it’s going to be spooky because the opening of the episode recreates the opening to the HBO Tales from the Crypt show, with Mr. Burns as the Crypt Keeper. Which is fantastic. Although, the episode doesn’t take the perfect premise and run with it, because we just get three random vignettes with no connective tissue. Despite how perfect it would have been to have Mr. Burn intro the segments while pumping out as many puns as possible. Oh well, win some lose some.

Married to the Blob

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Our first segment starts off with Homer and Marge sitting on the hammock in the back yard, making out. But that’s spoiled when a goddamn meteor falls from the heavens and crash lands in the Simpson’s back yard. Bart and Lisa come rushing out to investigate with Marge and Homer, as they check out the steaming piece of rock. And, as luck would have it, the meteor falls apart and some seemingly intelligent life is inside. Unfortunately it’s some glowing green wad of goop, that Homer decides is a marshmallow. So he of course eats it. It struggles quite a bit, but Homer keeps fighting and ends up shoving this sentient being down his gullet. Surely that’s not going to cause any problems!

That night Homer wakes up in the middle of the night, starving. So he heads downstairs and just starts gorging, eating everything in the fridge. And later that night he’s still starving, to the point that he tries to eat Bart. Marge stops this though, so Homer heads off into the night, and ends up stumbling upon a group of teenagers who are frolicking on the beach. So, Homer eats them instead. And this proves to be a slippery slope, because Homer’s endless hunger is not sated, and now he’s gotten a taste for human flesh. He starts wandering Springfield, slowly eating every fat person he comes across, gradually becoming a gigantic blob of a man. He even gets so gigantic that he outshines the 50-Foot Lenny and Invisible Carl. But the day is saved when Dr. Phil himself shows up to try and help Homer with his eating problem. Which is solved by Homer eating Dr. Phil. But it’s okay, because the city decides to kill two birds with one stone and start a lovely scam where they sate Homer’s hunger by letting him eat all the homeless in town.

You Got To Know When to Golem

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The second, and weakest, segment of the episode starts off with Bart attending a live taping of Krusty’s show, where he announces that he’ll be moving to HD so the kids can see how horrifying his face is. But after the episode finishes taping Bart decides to go back stage and chat with Krusty, since that’s something he can do, and he ends up going to a prop room. And inside, Bart finds something fascinating. A golem. Bart gawks at the thing for a while until Krusty comes in and tells Bart the legend of the Golem of Prague, which was created by a Jewish artisan to fight off ignorant townspeople who wanted to kill him. And now Krusty owns it, using it to kill hecklers. Krusty also explains that the golem will do whatever you want, as long as you write down a request and put it in its mouth.

So before he leaves Bart tosses in a note telling the golem to come to his house that night. And as luck would have it, he does. The golem shows up, ready to carry out tasks, and Bart immediately takes advantage of his new friend, having the golem go around and do Bart’s bidding, like kicking Homer in the balls, beating up the bullies, and giving Bart a shave. However, Lisa starts to notice Bart’s weird new companion, and she has objections. She says that he’s not giving any thoughts to the golem’s feelings, and she writes a command for the golem to speak. And it turns out she was right, he’s miserable. He hates following all of these stupid tasks, always hurting people, and wants something more in life. He starts complaining nonstop, and it quickly drives Bart insane. So the family decide to help the golem by giving him a bride. The create a female golem out of play-doh, and bring it to life. And it’s love at first site. The two golems get married, and live happier ever after.

The Day the Earth Stood Stupid

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Our final and strongest entry takes place in Springfield in 1938. Everything is sepia toned and everyone is miserable, what with the Great Depression going on. People are just trying to live their lives, and we get to see Homer and Marge sweetly dancing together to the radio. But that’s spoiled when they get a sudden news alert telling them that mysterious cylinders from Mars have landed in a small town, and aliens have begun invading. And in case that sounds familiar to you, yes, this is the Orson Welles broadcast of War of the Worlds. We see Welles in studio, crafting his fun little story while we also see the people of Springfield immediately taking the radio report as gospel, and flipping the holy hell out.

And things quickly escalate. The town gather in the town square, horrified at what’s going on, and they’re desperate for answers. Which is when Marge suggests that they act like animals, since the aliens will only want to kill humans. So everyone strips down and starts wallowing in mud, pretending to be animals. And this makes everyone extremely embarrassed when Lisa shows up and tells them all that it’s a hoax. So Springfield is horrified, and becomes a national laughingstock. Oh, and they also become an interplanetary laughingstock, because Kang and Kodos are watching them, and decide that this is the perfect time to invade. So they attack Springfield, who just assumes that this is another hoax, and ignore it. Even when Orson Welles shows up to tell them to fight back, they just yell at him, and let the aliens take over. We’re then treated to a really weird metaphor where Kang and Kodos are irritated with the human insurgency, a la the invasion of Iraq, ending out episode on a bit of political commentary.

I had a whole lot of fun with this episode. The Treehouse of Horror episodes are always going to be fun, but they’ve been a little lax lately. This one was just a goddamn hoot. I’m still very irritated that they didn’t take advantage of the idea of Mr. Burns being the Crypt Keeper and spewing puns in between the segments, but oh well, they clearly don’t want to do that anymore. As it stands, this is just a fun little episode. The goofy 50s B-Movie plot of the blob segment was a whole lot of fun, especially by showing up things like the 50-Foot Lenny and Invisible Carl. The golem one is probably the weakest of the three, but it’s still pretty fun. It’s also neat to see the Simpsons talk about a golem. Not exactly a Halloween story, but still unique. But the best is definitely the War of the Worlds one. I love Springfield getting so terrified of aliens, I love Orson Welles showing up, and I love Kang and Kodos deciding to invade after Springfield already went through a fake alien invasion. That’s just kind of genius. All around this was a fun Treehouse of Horror, and I’m hoping that this streak will continue this season. Tomorrow does not make that seem likely.

Take Away: Don’t eat space goo, don’t torment golems, and don’t trust Orson Welles.

 

“Treehouse of Horror XVII” was written by Peter Gaffney and directed by David Silverman and Matthew Faughnan, 2006.

 

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