Well, we’ve made it through another week of Lifetime of Simpsons, and it looks like we get to end on a real weird note. Looks like 24 was super popular at the time of this episode, so we get this little oddball piece of corporate synergy. That’s right, a whole episode-long parody of 24. This is a complicated one, so let’s get to it.
We start off with a “Previously on the Simpsons” gag that established Principal Skinner setting up a high-tech branch of the hall monitors called the CTU, or Counter Truancy Unit. It’s all the lame kids in school working with Skinner to rat on their classmates, and we has Lisa running the agents in the field, Skinner being in charge, Milhouse being a field operative, and Martin, Database, and a few other geeks being miscellaneous techs.
And while all of this is being established we learn that Homer is at the Nuclear Plant, and is being tasked with removing a tub of yoghurt that’s been in the fridge for years, and has become a biological weapon. We also see that Bart has been arrested by the CTU, and Skinner is trying to break him down. Oh, and Marge has realized that there’s a school bake sale that afternoon, and has to quickly cook up a raisin bunt cake and deliver it.
So now that we have all of the plates spinning, let’s actually see how it’s all going to shake out. And it all starts with Homer trying to return the yoghurt to the Kwik-E-Mart. And Apu wants no part of it. But while Homer and Apu are squabbling over the horrible smell we see Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney wander into the Kwik-E-Mart and find the yoghurt. Apparently Milhouse has been stalking the bullies, and is able to spy on them stealing the yoghurt, which is obviously more than a little suspicious.
Milhouse is then ordered to follow the bullies, and figure out what they’re doing with the yoghurt. Unfortunately he’s found out almost immediately when Homer makes a big deal about seeing Milhouse, drawing the bullies ire. So they beat up Homer and Milhouse, and toss them in a Dumpster, which they then push down a hill, taking the two on a mystical voyage. Oh, and Marge is baking a cake, but ran out of raisins.
However, this does leave the CTU without an agent to follow the bullies. Which leads Lisa to realize that they only have one hope left. Bart. So they pull Bart out of detention, and start trying to convince him to help them. But he has some demands, namely that he gets immunity for all previous infractions and Principal Skinner has to teach him a new swear word. And after some consternation Skinner decides to go with it, and puts Bart into the field.
Which is a good call, because Bart quickly realizes with the available information that the bullies are clearly going to attack the bake sale, probably with a stink bomb. So Bart heads off to find the stink bomb while we start popping into other stories quickly. We see that Marge had to hospitalize Helen Lovejoy from a fight over raisins, that Homer and Milhouse are still carting around in the Dumpster, and that the bullies have weaponized the yogurt, and are testing it on Ralph.
But when they were testing on Ralph it turned out that Bart was watching from a cellar window. He now knows what’s going on, and calls Lisa to fill her in. But this is when we learn that Jimbo and the bullies have a mole on the inside. Martin. He’s apparently working for the bullies, and he tells them that the CTU are on his trail. So they flee from Jimbo’s basement, right as Bart is breaking in. He narrowly misses them, but was able to free Ralph. So Bart calls in his lack of progress, and his call ends up getting scrambled with Jack Bauer’s, and obviously has to prank call him for a bit.
Hey, how’s everyone else doing? Well, Marge realizes that she’s in a rush, so she cranks the oven up way too high, and ends up ruining the cake, turning it into a charred husk that she just slathers with pink frosting. Homer and Milhouse are still stuck in their Dumpster, until they reach Moe’s. Unfortunately Moe is busy performing dentistry on himself, so Homer and Milhouse decide to go to the bake sale.
Meanwhile, the bake sale is getting ready to begin, and they have no idea what to do about it. Turns out Martin has found the stink bomb, which is in some sort of ventilation room, but since he’s the mole he just ignores it and throws everyone off the trail. So, everyone’s at the bake sale now, and it’s getting ready to begin. Homer and Milhouse come strolling in, the bullies have dropped off the bomb, Marge has her horrible cake, and Bart has returned to stop the bullies.
However, when the bullies are installing the bomb in the ventilation room they get an unexpected visitor. Willie comes strolling in, and ends up getting in a fight with the bullies, setting off a fire alarm in the process. This gets sent to CTU, and Martin awkwardly volunteers to go check it out. Which gets Lisa pretty suspicious. Bart also gets suspicious when he starts following Martin and notice Nelson just let him pass without harassing him.
This leads Bart to start torturing information from Nelson by putting a trash can on his head and banging it around. Nelson spills that Martin is working for the bullies, but before he learns where the bomb is Bart gets knocked out by Martin. He’s then dragged to the ventilation room where he’s tied up with Willie, waiting for the bomb to go off. So things aren’t looking good, until Bart’s able to use his phone to take a picture of the bomb and send it to Lisa.
Lisa then realizes that there’s only one way to stop the bomb, which is to destroy it with water. And it just so happens that there’s some sort of hot dog water valve in this room, which they trigger, despite the fact that that will probably drown Bart and Willie. Oh, and Martin is guilty about betraying the CTU, and gives himself a wedgie, which is shot like he hung himself. Neat.
Anyway, Bart and Willie are starting to drown in the ventilation room, when Bart realizes that there’s a window in the room that leads into the gymnasium where the bake sale is going on. So Bart floats to the window and gets Sideshow Mel’s attention. Everyone then freaks out, and Marge uses her horrible cake to break the glass, saving Willie and Bart. Lisa is then able to disarm the bomb, and the day is saved. Until Jack Bauer and the actual CTU show up to arrest Bart for prank calling him.
Okay, so this episode is gimmicky as hell, but it’s a whole lot of fun. I used to really enjoy 24 back in the day, and this is a pretty spot-on parody of that show. The ridiculously over the top drama, the multiple storylines switching back and forth seemingly at random, the stylized cinematography, the pro-torture stance, the mole, just about everything is completely spot on. This was obviously a very timely and topical episode, that maybe doesn’t hold up as well as other more classic episodes that have a timeless quality about them, but this is a pretty fun episode on the whole. I don’t even really have anything else to say about it, there’s not a lot of depth to it, it’s just a silly little parody that works well.
Take Away: Don’t prank call pseudo-fascist government agencies.
“24 Minutes” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and Billy Kimball and directed by Raymond S Persi, 2007.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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