Lifetime of Simpsons

S20 E03 – Double, Double, Boy in Trouble

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Well, we’ve made it through another week. We’ve begun the Twentieth Season, we’ve seen what may be the episode I’ve disliked the most of all time, and some generally fine episodes. So there’s no reason to not end the week with another episode that’s just largely okay. Thrilling!

The episode begins with Homer taking Bart and Lisa shopping with him at the Kwik-E-Mart, and hating it. The kids are acting like shits, and Homer is getting incredibly irritated. Apu notices this and tries to calm Homer down with the last lotto scratchy ticket on the roll, and Homer is intrigued. He comes over to grab the ticket, but has to stop when he sees Bart climbing up onto the aisles and preparing to jump off, and he has to race off to stop that.

Homer catches Bart, and in the meantime Lenny has arrived and bought that lotto scratcher. And to make matters worse, he wins $50,000 from it. And, needless to say, Homer is not pleased about this. So Homer storms home with the kids and complains to Marge. Marge tries to talk Homer down at first, saying that Bart’s behavior isn’t too bad, until she learns about the $50,000 and suddenly she’s on Homer’s side.

But that wasn’t enough for Homer, so he heads over to Moe’s to start complaining there too. This was a bad call though, because Lenny is in there, being treated like a hero for winning all that money. But they do have good reason for treating him so well, because Lenny announces that he’s going to blow basically all of his winnings on a huge party for all of his friends, and that they’re all invited. So that’s pretty rad.

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We then cut to the night of the big party, and Homer, Marge, and the kids are getting dressed up for it. But we have to be reminded that this is an episode about Bart being an asshole, so he’s got to do something extra horrible, like spraying cat pee on Marge’s dress so she has to wear an alternate. But once that’s taken care of we see that family head to the prestigious Woosterfield Hotel while Homer and Marge complain about how Bart’s behavior might not just be a phase, and something serious they have to confront.

But not yet, because now it’s time for Lenny’s super weird party! He’s apparently rented out a huge ballroom in the Woosterfield and invited basically everyone in town to sit around and watch Lenny sing and talk about how he likes everyone. It’s kind of alarming behavior, maybe something that you would expect to be followed by Lenny announcing he has a terminal disease or something, but whatever, he’s paying for the party.

However, Bart is super bored by Lenny’s weird party, and starts wandering around, stumbling upon a room full of gift-bags that Lenny has bought for everyone. He opens one and finds that they’re full of robotic vacuums, and he gets an idea. Bart opens every single box, turns all of the Roomba’s on, and lets them loose from the room to wreck havoc on the party. The Roomba’s begin swarming the party, attacking everyone and ruining the night.

The police are inevitably called in to deal with the Roomba attacks, and after some minor investigation Chief Wiggum finds Bart in the gift bag room operating the Roomba’s. Everyone is obviously pissed at Bart, and Marge tries to punish him. But Bart just ignores the punishment and continues to be an ass, before walking off to go to the bathroom. And while he’s in the bathroom he finds something completely insane. There’s a boy inside who looks exactly like him.
Bart starts speaking to the boy, and learns that he’s Simon Woosterfield, heir to the Woosterfield fortune. Simon is sick of life as a rich boy, and says that he’s jealous of Bart’s life with loving parents. So Bart decides to screw Simon over, and offers to pull a Prince and the Pauper. Simon surprisingly agrees, and the two boys switch clothes while filling each other in on who their new family members are before separating.

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Simon heads outside and gets picked up by the Simpsons, only to find them furious at him, and Bart gets picked up by Simon’s butler and taken to his new home. And Bart certainly gets the best outcome, because Simon lives in a massive mansion in Springfield Heights, the nice part of town. He gets lead to his bedroom, which is full of all kinds of ridiculous things, like a racecar bed that is functional and a “poster” that’s actually just Joe Montana standing still for hours on end.

Meanwhile, Simon is less than thrilled. The Simpsons are obviously not what he was expecting, and he finds their lack of manners and violent outbursts to be disgusting. He even has an outburst during dinner, yelling at Homer for his gross behavior, which starts to raise some red flags for Lisa. And bad things are happening for everyone, because back at Woosterfield Mansion Bart learns that Simon has two half-siblings, and they’re both horrible and hate him.

That night Bart and Simon call each other, tying to fill each other in on what’s going on. They both talk about how hard their new lives are, and agree that this experiment may have been a failure. However, when they hang up Marge shows up to tuck Simon in, and shower him with love, and he realizes that this may be worthwhile after all. Bart meanwhile gets tricked into going into the Woosterfield family mausoleum by his half-siblings, and is locked inside. Whoops.

Bart is saved though by a pretty unlikely person. Mr. Burns. There’s some sort of rich-people party going on at the Woosterfield Mansion, and Burns and Smithers let Bart out of the mausoleum and chat with him. Turns out the Woosterfield’s are worth more than Burns, so he treats Bart well and talks to him about how horrible siblings in rich families can be. He basically admits to Bart that he murdered all of his own siblings to become sole heir, and that that’s probably what these half-siblings are going to do.

Bart starts to panic, realizing that Simon knew his half-siblings were out to kill him and wanted to trick Bart into getting killed instead, so he gets ready to flee. This is ruined though when the half-siblings show up and announce that the family are going to Aspen for a “ski trip” which was one of the suggestions Mr. Burns made about ways they could kill him. So that’s a red flag, but Bart won’t admit who he really is, and has to go to Aspen.

Meanwhile, Simon is getting used to life as Bart, and is spending a lovely evening listing to all of Grandpa’s ramblings. And this is the final straw for Lisa, who confronts Simon and demands to know who he actually is. Simon tells Lisa the truth, including the fact that the siblings are probably trying to kill him, and Lisa forces him to admit the truth. So Simon tells Homer and Marge, and the family race off to Aspen to save Bart.

Simon and the Simpsons arrive in Aspen just in time to witness Bart almost die. The siblings push Bart down a black diamond ski trail, hoping that he’ll crash and die. Homer springs into action though and grabs Bart, causing the two to roll down the mountain and become a giant snowball. There’s some slapstick goofiness with the snowball, but they eventually get down to the bottom, mostly fine, and Simon is returned to the Woosterfields and Bart comes home with the family.

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I’m kind of shocked that it took this long for them to try and do a Prince and the Pauper episode of the Simpsons, and I guess that this is a serviceable story. My main complaint about the episode is the same one that I have with most episodes that revolve around Bart being an asshole, and that’s the fact that they make Bart so goddamn horrible. Bart is a monster in this episode, until he starts almost getting killed by his fake half-siblings, and that plot is so overdone. We’ve seen way too many episodes about Bart being too bad, and Homer and Marge debating whether or not this is just a phase. We’ve seen it all before, dozens of times, and it’s wearing thin. The episode is bolstered by the insane plot twist that Simon was the one conning Bart, and that he was fully aware that Bart may have been assassinated, but it wasn’t really enough to make an episode that worked.

Take Away: Don’t make weird agreements to switch places with your doppelganger. You’re always getting screwed over.

 

“Double, Double, Boy in Trouble” was written by Bill Odenkirk and directed by Michael Polcino, 2008.

 

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S20 E02 – Lost Verizon

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One of the biggest sins that a Simpsons episode can commit is being boring. I’ve seen episodes that are pretty crappy, but that have a bizarre undercurrent to them that help make them enjoyable. And I’ve been seeing a lot of boring episodes lately. But not today. Today we have Mayans, Dennis Leary, a live action Everybody Poops movie, and the Shellbyville bird sanctuary. Things get nutty today folks, so let’s dive in.

The episode starts off with Principal Skinner and Agnes having a lovely drive together while Agnes berates and belittles Seymour. However, things are brought to a stop when they run out of gas on the highway. This leaves Skinner with no choice but to grab a gas can from the trunk and start running across the highway, carefully and barely dodging the speeding cars. It’s a pretty embarrassing sight for poor Seymour.

And lucky for him, Milhouse happens to be standing on an overpass, witnessing the whole thing. So, doing his solemn duty, he whips out his cell phone and starts calling all the kids in class to come watch. And, slowly but surely, the rest of the kids arrive on the overpass to mock Skinner as he tries not to die. Well, not all the kids. There’s one notable exception. Bart. He isn’t there because he’s too busy having a tea party with Lisa, and since he doesn’t have a cell phone he isn’t able to get the news.

After Skinner presumably accomplishes his task some of the kids head over to Bart’s house to make fun of the fact that he missed out. They show him some pictures of Skinner, and he gets pissed. So Bart storms into the house and demands that Homer and Marge get him a cell phone. And they refuse. They try to explain to Bart that they can’t afford to get him a cell phone, and Bart calmly accepts this. Nah, just kidding, he storms off and starts wandering around the town brooding.

But while Bart is storming around he happens to walk by the Springfield Country Club and gets hit in the head with a golf ball. This is a bridge too far for Bart, so he storms onto the golf course to complain. He comes across Dr. Hibbert and gives him the ball, ready to start complaining, when Hibbert gives him some money. Turns out golf balls are expensive, and the golfers are willing to pay Bart for finding them their balls so that they don’t have to buy more.

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So Bart has a job! He begins wandering around the golf course, stealing golf balls from people and fighting off crocodiles to get as many as possible. And he starts making some decent money. Almost enough to afford his own cell phone. But it all comes crashing down when Willie shows up and steals all of the balls, since this is apparently his scam and he doesn’t want anyone cutting in on his turf. So that sucks.

However, while Bart is lamenting the loss of his job, something ridiculous happens. There’s a celebrity golf tournament going on, and we see that Dennis Leary is competing. Krusty starts heckling him, getting him to furious that he starts throwing things, including his cell phone. And that phone happens to land right next to Bart. So, obviously, Bart decides to steal this phone and make it his own, hoping that they don’t cancel the service.

Bart then heads out into the city, and goes to Milhouse’s house to show off. And Milhouse is pretty impressed that Bart finally has a cell phone, and the two can begin texting each other. But things hit a snag when Bart gets a call from Brian Grazer and decides to answer it. Bart catches on pretty quickly, and pretends to be Dennis Leary, agreeing to star as a constipated gorilla in a live-action adaptation of Everybody Poops. And when this goes off without a hitch, Bart realizes he has a new prank to pull.

A week later we cut to the deserts of Tunisia where a confused and angry Dennis Leary is having to dress like a gorilla and talk about poop, not quite sure why this is happening. And Bart isn’t done, because he also starts using Leary’s phone to prank call bars from all around the world. And while this is going on Leary finally figures out what’s going on, and he calls his phone to threaten Bart and Milhouse.

Bart and Milhouse find these threats hilarious, and keep egging Leary on, which earns them the attention of Marge. She hears them goofing off, and comes in to investigate, and finds the phone. She snatches it from the boys, and ends up talking to Dennis Leary, who fills her in on the situation. But, shockingly, he doesn’t want the phone given back. He’s apparently fine with Bart having it, but he tells Marge that she should turn on the GPS locater so she can keep tabs on him all the time, since it seems like he doesn’t have enough supervision in his life.

Marge is down with this plan, and gives Bart back the cell phone the next day. Bart is flabbergasted by this, and heads off to live his life, oblivious to Marge’s ulterior motives. She and Homer turn on the GPS program, and start tracing Bart around town, following his every move. And thus begins the end of Bart’s shenanigans. Marge shows up everywhere Bart is, ruining his bad behavior. And it’s starting to drive Bart absolutely crazy.

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But Marge and Homer love it. And they start to get sloppy with their stalking, letting Lisa stumble upon what they’re doing. And she’s disgusted. She can’t believe the invasion of Bart’s privacy, and goes to tell him what’s going on that night. Bart is horrified, but comes up with a great bit of revenge. He takes the GPS chip out of his phone, ties it to the leg of a bird, and lets it fly off, confusing Homer and Marge.

And it works. Back at the house Homer and Marge see Bart suddenly speed away from the school, faster than they would think possible, until he gets to the Shelbyville Bird Sanctuary. So Homer and Marge grab Lisa and Maggie, and drive off to Shelbyville to catch Bart. And Bart is thrilled. He heads home and finds the family gone, and gets ready to have some time to himself, figuring that it’ll take the family a while to figure out what’s going on.

And he was right, because three days later the family are still chasing the damn bird as it travels south, not figuring out what’s going on. Which means Bart has some time to himself. He invites Milhouse and Nelson over to brag about how great the situation is. They agree, but then head home when it gets dark. Which is when we learn that things aren’t going as great for Bart as he’s letting on. Because he’s terrified to be home alone at night. Like a sane person.

Meanwhile, the family is still heading south, unwittingly following the bird. Well, that is until the bird happens to land on the hood of the car, and Lisa figures out what’s going on. She decides to Google the bird, and finds that it’s heading to Machu Pichu for the winter, a place that she’s always wanted to go to. So Lisa decides to keep the bird secret, and continues to let the family drive to Peru so that she can go on a fun vacation.

The family finally arrive at Machu Pichu, baffled at how Bart has accomplished this. Everyone starts to feel terrible, and Marge is horrified that her son is still missing. She decides to sit down on a stone chair, and instantly passes out and has a vision. She meets a mystical Peruvian who teaches her that while kids need some supervision, they also have to be allowed to be on their own sometimes. So, with this lesson imparted the family head home, after figuring out the bird trick, and find Bart waiting for them. He tries to play it off like he was fine, but admits that he was terrified being alone, and is happy to see them.

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This episode is so incredibly strange, but I kind of find myself enjoying it. The idea of Marge becoming a helicopter parent and watching Bart’s every move and invading all of his privacy is a topic that has the potential to be great, or terrible done. And I think this one handled it pretty well. Especially with that last little lesson she learns in Machu Pichu, because otherwise the episode off as a little sketchy. Dennis Leary’s advice that you should be stalking your child at all times is super weird to me, and one that I don’t like at all. But luckily they saved themselves thanks to a magical Peruvian. And, to make things better, this episode is insane. There are so many bizarre choices to this episode that probably shouldn’t have worked, but did for me. It’s wacky and weird, and has a semi-decent message, and that’s something I appreciate in my later-day Simpsons episodes.

Take Away: Don’t take parenting advice from Dennis Leary.

 

“Lost Verizon” was written by John Frink and directed by Raymond S Persi, 2008.

 

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S20 E01 – Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes

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Well everyone, here we are. The beginning of Season Twenty. We’re now in the twentieth year of this show, and there’s still quite a bit to go. But there’s no sense in getting ahead of ourselves, let’s just focus on the beginning of Season Twenty, this truly ridiculous episode about bounty hunters and sex cakes.

The episode begins with the family traveling downtown for a St. Patrick’s Day parade. They’re just strolling along, noticing that the Nuclear Plant made the river a festive green, when they learn some bad news. Mayor Quimby is announcing that this will be the first alcohol-free St. Patrick’s Day celebration in Springfield, since the city is sick of repairing itself every year after the drunken debauchery. And people aren’t pleased.

But maybe things will be smoothed over by some floats! Well, maybe not, since the floats have subject matters like “small” Irish families just overflowing with children, a mostly empty float of straight priests, and a boy who most looks like a potato. And things are made even worse when a Northern Irish parade arrives, all decked out in orange, and the two parades obviously begin beating the hell out of each other. Lisa tries to soothe the crowds by getting them to sing a lullaby together, but the leprechauns in charge of the two parades incite them to further rioting.

The police then show up and begin arresting all of the rioters, Homer included, and Marge is left on her own. And while she’s walking through downtown she’s attacked by a group of street urchins who steal the box of cupcakes she’s carrying. The urchins are stopped by a man named Patrick Farrely, who gives Marge back the cupcakes. She gives him one as a reward, and he’s really impressed. He also runs a local bakery, and offers Marge a job baking cakes for him. She of course accepts.

But maybe we shouldn’t be glazing over the fact that Homer just got arrested. We then follow up on that plot by showing him being brought before the court, along with all of the other idiots. Judge Snyder gives Homer a pretty massive bail though, so Homer’s going to need to go talk to a bail bondsman. He then makes his way to a man named Lucky Jim, who is voiced by Robert Forester and is obviously just Max Cherry from Jackie Brown.

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Lucky Jim gives Homer the bail, but also introduces him to the idea of bounty hunters who would track him down if he faults on the bail. This doesn’t really scare Homer however, and instead inspires him to become a bounty hunter. And since there’s no formal training or licensure involved, he immediately starts his own business and gets to work. And his idea is to market a fake condo that caters to bail-jumpers.

This actually works, and Snake comes strolling into get himself an apartment. Homer then chases him through the streets, trying to capture him, when they make it into a dead-end alley. Snake then pulls a gun and is shoots at Homer. The bullet is deflected at the last second though, and flies back and incapacitates Snake. But how did the bullet get deflected? Why Ned Flanders is just walking by with a pane of bullet-proof glass for the Leftorium and sprung into action. He then heads off on his day while Homer deals with Snake.

So that’s crazy. And you know what’s also crazy? The things going on in the Marge plot. Because she came to Patrick’s bakery and began working, getting rave reviews on her cakes. But that’s ruined when Marge accidentally learns that Patrick actually runs an erotic bakery, and she’s been secretly making sex-themed cakes. Marge is pretty pissed about his, and ends up yelling at Patrick for a while, but he explains that these cakes aren’t hurting anyone and that it’s not a big deal. Marge then realizes that that’s true, and this is a ridiculous thing to be upset about, and keeps making erotic cakes.

Meanwhile Homer is strolling into the Springfield Mall to meet up with Ned. He thanks him at first for helping him not get killed, but then gives him a stack of money. Homer explains that this is Ned’s cut of the bounty, and then suggests that the two work together as bounty hunters. And, surprisingly, Ned’s down with this idea. So the two set up an office and get to work chasing down the criminal scum of Springfield, treating us to a hilarious montage of them catching bail-jumpers in ridiculous ways, including by using a magic show.

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And the two love it. Homer and Ned seem to be naturals at bounty hunting, and really have a great time with it. Homer’s even able to bring home presents for the kids, giving Bart some bullets and Lisa a meth lab. And this all leads to the two getting ready for a stake-out to catch Fat Tony. They sit in Homer’s car for hours, bonding and having fun, when they see the gangster leave Luigi’s and give chase.

But Fat Tony doesn’t feel like getting in a car-chase, and instead boards some sort of El Train that Springfield now has. That’s right, it’s time for a French Connection parody. Homer races after the train, trying to keep track of Fat Tony, and eventually is able to launch the car into the train, crashing into it. Homer then captures Fat Tony and begins choking him with a plastic bag. And all of this nonsense has finally worn too much on Ned, who gets in a huge argument with Homer about his violent methods. But Homer sticks to his guns, and the two decide to end their partnership.

Ned then heads back to Lucky Jim’s to tell him that he’s out of the game, and not to contact him anymore. But Lucky Jim offers him one last bounty before he retires. Homer’s. Turns out Homer never came to his trial for the St. Patrick’s Day riot, and now it’s time for someone to track him down. And because Ned doesn’t want any of the other shady hunters to do it, he decides to do it himself. Bringing down his best friend.

So that night Homer comes home, and finds that the family is missing, and Ned is sitting in the family room. Ned explains what’s going on, and Homer obviously starts to flee. This leads to a ridiculous sequence where the two run all through the streets of Springfield, doing all kinds of parkour stunts. But it all comes to a head when the two get atop some construction girders like they’re in Casino Royale, and they begin talking through it.

Ned talks about how he only did the bounty hunting because he liked being with Homer, but that Ned won’t let Homer escape justice. However, Ned then slips off the girder, and Homer springs into action, grabbing his friend. Unfortunately Homer also falls from the girder, and they land in some wet cement like they’re the Juggernaut. The two get trapped in the cement over-night, but Homer is finally caught by Chief Wiggum, who sends him to jail for a day. But it’s not too bad, since Homer gets to eat a non-erotic cake while in his cell.

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This episode is really goofy, but I had a pretty good time with it. It’s actually a pretty solid season opener, because it didn’t rely on anything too big and extreme, other than the idea of Homer and Ned being bounty hunters, and just provided a solid episode. The whole erotic cake plot was a little underdone and maybe could have been stretched to be an A-Plot in a different story, but that’s okay because the main plot with Homer and Ned is great. Obviously that Dog the Bounty Hunter dude was popular at the time, so of course Homer had to be a bounty hunter. They were running out of professions that he hadn’t dipped his toes into at this point. And being a bounty hunter is just kind a of an inherently ridiculous idea. I once worked with a guy who did some bounty hunting on the side, and I found that to be the funniest thing in the world. Lots of bean-bags. But the thing that really takes this episode from being okay to pretty good is the addition of Ned into the proceedings. The idea of Ned Flanders becoming a bounty hunter with Homer is great, and honestly the only thing that I think would be more fun for the two to do is if they became private detectives. There’s really not a lot to the episode, it’s just a lot of fun, and compared to the other episodes we’ve had this week, that’s all I need.

Take Away: It’s apparently really easy to become a bounty hunter, just as long as you make sure there isn’t a bounty out for you.

 

“Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scrapes,” was written by Kevin Curran and directed by Lance Kramer, 2008.

 

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S19 E20 – All About Lisa

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Well, after yesterday’s unpleasantness I feel like just about anything would seem like an improvement. I can’t quite tell if this is a good episode, of if I just enjoyed it more because it wasn’t “Mona Leavesa.” Either way, it’s better than yesterday, and also gives us the end of Season 19. That’s right folks, tomorrow we’re entering into the TWENTIETH year of this show. Ay Carumba.

Things start off at some sort of ritzy show business awards show that’s being held in Springfield. We see all sorts of stars walking the red carpet, like Ranier Wolfcaste, Gabbo, and Boobarella. Surely the skies were dark because all of the stars were in this building. And once we get into the building we see that they’re about to give their biggest award, when things start to get odd. Time freezes and we begin hearing some narration from Sideshow Mel.

Mel is telling us about how tense things are in the room, mainly because of who the winner of the award is. Lisa Simpson. This certainly seems strange, so Mel fills us in on the story, and we flash back to a couple of weeks ago, on the eve of Krusty’s 4,000th episode. It’s a huge deal, and people are packed into his studio to see the retrospective that’s being hosted by Drew Carey. It doesn’t seem like Krusty is actually doing any performances, and instead is just showing clips from his illustrious career.
And among the clips is some footage of the Kruskateers, some Mouskateer rip-offs who sit around with Krusty and sing. We’re then treated to see the surviving and non-famous members of the Kruskateers show up in their sad, middle-aged forms. They’re all very sad and pathetic, and to save the special from becoming too depressing Krusty announces that they’re going to have new Kruskateers, and they’re going to start auditioning local kids to join the cast.

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So obviously Bart is super down for this. We then cut to several kids trying to audition for Krusty, and it’s pretty sad. No one is particularly great, except Bart I guess who does some standup that the people in the audience seem to like. But Krusty isn’t really impressed by anyone, and yet he has to pick someone, so he decides to go with Nelson, primarily because Mrs. Muntz seems to have slept with him. So yay for Nelson, but Bart is pretty crushed.

However, the person who is most irritated about Krusty’s decision is Lisa, who really thinks that Bart got screwed over. So to appease her brother’s crushed ego Lisa decides to approach Krusty and tries to convince him to hire Bart too. She tries to explain to Krusty that if Bart was his intern Krusty wouldn’t even have to pay him. And this really inspires Krusty! To hire Lisa as his unpaid intern, and to continue not employing Bart.

So Lisa has a job now, and we begin seeing her struggle to understand the complicated world of show business while we get more narration from Sideshow Mel. Most of Lisa’s job is getting barked at by Krusty, and she starts to get worried when Krusty randomly fires Nelson for new reason. But she gets some career advice from Sideshow Mel, who teaches Lisa how to handle Krusty, which mainly involves agreeing to everything he says, always carrying spare cigars, and being quick on her feet for his absurd demands.

Meanwhile, Bart is pretty crushed about Lisa getting a job with Krusty, which is something he desperately wants. Homer notices that Bart is so depressed, and offers to help him. And Homer’s first bit of advice is to get rid of all of the Krusty memorabilia in Bart’s room. So they pack up all of the Krusty garbage and head over to the Android’s Dungeon to try and sell it. Comic Book Guy is obviously being a dick, and doesn’t give them any money. But he does give them a coin collecting book, giving the two a new hobby.

However, Bart really doesn’t find coin-collecting that interesting, and quickly grows bored with it. Homer doesn’t want Bart to fall back into depression though, so he convinces Bart to head out into Springfield with him to fill up the book. The two then scour the town, finding all of the coins that the book requires. It seems pretty easy, and they manage to fill the book rather fast. Well, except for the rarest coin of them all, a misprinted penny with two Abraham Lincoln’s that appear to be kissing. The quest is on.

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Things are going well for Lisa too, because she’s really getting a hang of the job as Krusty’s assistant. She keeps his dressing room spotless, helps him with his jokes, and just generally becomes a necessary part of his life. She’s even able to save one of Krusty’s failing bits when Mr. Teeny isn’t around to play a part. Lisa puts on Teeny’s costume and is able to jump onto the stage, finishing the bit. And people love her. And, she in turn, loves the adulation from the crowd.

But Krusty’s a little worried about Lisa’s sudden success, especially when his agent warns him that Lisa could be angling to replace him. And it turns out that this was a good call, because while Homer is talking to his agent Lisa is meeting with the network, trying to convince them that she’s a great clown and deserves her own show. When Krusty learns about this he races to the studio, just in time to see the network executives offer Lisa the show, firing him.

Oh hey, Bart and Homer are still hunting down that penny. Their first idea is to just horde pennies in the hope that they come across the rarest coin in the world, before realizing that the only way to find it is to go to an auction. So they head to a coin auction that’s selling the penny, and offer a paltry sum. Their bid is rejected though when Mr. Burns buys it for an exorbitant amount of money. Homer and Bart get the last laugh though, when Homer cons Burns into giving him the rare penny while asking for change for a nickel. And thus with their quest complete Homer and Bart finish the coin book and put it on a shelf to forget about it forever.

Meanwhile, Lisa’s show has become a big deal, with everyone in town being obsessed with it. Sideshow Mel continues to work with Lisa, and give us narration, and we see Krusty having to host some terrible talk show at 3 am. And it all leads to Lisa getting nominated for a performer of the year award, bringing us up to the beginning of the episode. Lisa graciously accepts the award, and is quickly brought aside by Sideshow Mel, who has a tale to tell her.

He brings Lisa to a room with portraits of previous winners of this award, and shows her that they all failed to accomplish anything else in their life. Including himself, since he won the award back when he was a serious actor. Lisa realizes that there’s more to life that seeking applause, and that this career won’t be fulfilling to her, so she decides to give Krusty back his show, and even convinces the local press that he’s still funny.

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Yeah, I don’t know, I guess this episode is alright. I think the All About Eve is an interesting movie for the Simpsons to do a vague parody of, and I suppose the idea of Lisa becoming addicted to applause, only to screw over Krusty is a good idea. It’s a little similar to “Bart Gets Famous,” but things get a lot darker in this one. Instead of just learning that show business is fickle, Lisa learns that it’s soulless and gets you addicted to adulation instead of creativity. That’s a pretty solid lesson for her to learn, but there’s just something about this episode that just comes off as kind of bland to me. That coin-collection side-plot sure wasn’t helping things. I’m really at a loss to explain what exactly it is about this episode that makes no impression about me. I love Lisa and I love Krusty stories, so I should be really into this episode, but I just am kind of left cold on it. It’s fine I guess, there’s just nothing to it. But after yesterday’s episode I guess “Okay” is a serious improvement. And thus Season 19 ends, with a weird whimper. Fingers crossed that Season 20 will be fun!

Take Away: Don’t base your self-worth on the praise of others, because that’s not a fulfilling model of life.

 

“All About Lisa” John Frink and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2008.

 

 

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Reel Talk

Power Rangers and the “Mature” Reboot

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As someone who’s obsessed with movies, and who tries to see a movie every weekend in the theater, it’s pretty clear that they’re not all going to be winners. Going to the theater to watch movies is basically the closest thing I have to going to church every Sunday, and sometimes the sermon is going to be better than others. When I saw that they were making a film reboot of the Power Rangers in the hopes of starting a big franchise and leech off the money from the superhero craze, I was worried. Because whatever’s wrong with my brain was going to ensure I was going to see it. And as the movie continued to be developed, and information came out about the movie, I got more and more concerned. But then when it actually was released I started seeing some surprising responses. There was some praise that the film features the first lesbian “superhero,” and also the first “superhero” on the spectrum. I also kept hearing that people’s general reaction was that it was incredibly stupid, but surprisingly fun. And “incredibly stupid but surprisingly fun” is kind of my wheelhouse. I have a certain amount of nostalgia for the Power Rangers, so that combined with some slightly better than tepid responses made me assume that I was maybe not in for a rough time this week. I was wrong.

The movie attempts to retell the background of the Power Rangers, and show their first adventure together. Which obviously means that we start in the Cenozoic Era as a group of aliens do battle on the Earth, ending when the leader of the aliens, Zordon, causes a meteor to crash into the planet, killing the enemies and the dinosaurs. We then cut to present day and meet our rag-tag team off teenagers with attitude. The movie basically starts like the Breakfast Club, with a bunch of kids going into detention on a weekend and meeting each other. We have Jason the jock who ruined his knee and his future, Kimberly the popular girl who has lost her status, Billy a nerd on the autism spectrum, Trini a loner “new girl” to the school, and Zach the goofy idiot. Their lives are all brought together one night when they all happen to be at the gold mine outside their town when Billy blows up some of the cliff-side. They all run over to see what happened, and find that Billy has uncovered a strange wall of glass with five glowing coins held within. Zach breaks through the glass and gets the coins, one for each of them. All of the coins glow different colors, and the five kids think it’s pretty neat. Then the mine security shows up, and they have to have a high-speed chase with Billy’s mom’s van, which ends with them getting hit by a train. However, they all then wake up in their homes a few hours later, fine, and now possessing superpowers. They all have heightened strength, agility, and reflexes, and decide that they need to go back to that gold mine to figure out what happened to them. So they meet up at the mine and find a hidden chasm with a lake at the bottom. They swim around in the lake, and eventually find an alien spaceship that’s been hidden under their city since the Cenozoic Era. The ship opens up for them, seemingly because of their glowing coins, and things get nuts. They meet an annoying robot caretaker of the ship named Alpha 5, who tells them that the fact they found the coins means they’re meant for something grand. He then introduces them to Zordon, that alien from the beginning, whose soul is not trapped in the ship’s computer. Zordon explains that because they have the coins they’re going to be Power Rangers, a group of superpowered peace keepers who are tasked with protecting something called the Zeo Crystal. Apparently every planet where there’s intelligent life has a Zeo Crystal, and an evil ex-Ranger named Rita Repulsa is trying to steal Earth’s destroying the planet. And these five teenagers are the only hope to stop them.

The team is a little surprising and unwilling to accept the fact that they’re now defenders of the Earth, but they pretty quickly decide to give Zordon a shot and become Power Rangers. But that’s going to require them to hang out in the spaceship’s basement with Alpha 5 and learn how to fight, because something seems wrong with the system and they aren’t able to access their special suits of armor. And while the Rangers are hanging out and bonding/training we see that Rita has arrived in town, looking for that crystal, and is killing people and stealing their gold so she can bring a giant golden monster to life to help her. So hopefully the Rangers get their shit together! But that doesn’t seem likely. They hang out for a bit, trying to see if the reason their armor isn’t working is because they don’t know each other, and we then get treated to their depressing back stories. Zach’s mom is dying and he doesn’t know what to do, Billy’s dad died and he’s lonely, Trini I suppose is questioning her sexuality, Kimberly lost all of her friends for sharing a nude photo of one of them, and Jason misses playing football. One of these things is not like the others. But this little team-building exercise, along with Jason giving them an impassioned speech about how they’re all screw-ups, gives them the confidence to go beat up Rita! And they promptly get their asses kicked, she learns the location of the crystal, and she drowns Billy. Whoops. Anyway, they carry Billy’s body back to the spaceship, Zordon brings him back to life, and they’re able to finally access their suits. Which is right when Rita goes to the gold mine and gets enough gold to create her giant monster and head to the location of the crystal, a Krispy Kreme is town. So the Power Rangers get in their giant mechs, here called Zords, and head into town to fight Rita and her giant Goldar monster, helping them destroy their town. Rita’s able to find the crystal and beat up the Rangers, causing them to hook all of their Zords together to form the Megazord. They then kill Goldar and smack Rita into orbit, saving the day. They then go hang out with Zordon and promise to be back in a sequel which almost certainly won’t happen.

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Folks, this movie is real bad. Like, worse than I was anticipating, and I was going in expecting that it was going to be garbage. I mean, a big-budget remake of the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was never going to be be quality cinema, but I didn’t think it was going to be this rough of a movie. Honestly the only thing that I think I can praise is how little of a shit Elizabeth Banks is giving as Rita, putting in a completely unhinged performance. It looks like she was having a blast being as campy and arch as possible. Otherwise? Yikes. None of the kids had any chemistry, it dragged on to more than two hours, they didn’t even have action set pieces until the last twenty minutes, and it was ugly as hell. I don’t know why people think costume design has to be so complicated now, but those were some ugly costumes. And the original designs are even that great, but at least they’re simple and fairly pleasant to look at. These costumes are so busy and poorly rendered that the final fight scenes are just bad to look at. But beyond visual problems, this movie’s story is just kind of a mess. The show had a fairly easy to follow formula, and instead this movie decided to devote two thirds of it’s run-time to having these unpleasant character talk to each other, bare their souls, and somehow not develop themselves. The characters just blatantly explain their character traits throughout the movie, even going to far as to have Zach multiple times say “I’m the crazy one!” We’re definitely supposed to relate to them once they sit around a fire and say everything wrong with them, but that scene just felt so weird. Zach, Billy, and Trini actually have issues, but then we find out that Kimberly ruined a girl’s life for fun and Jason just is sad he can’t be a jock. And then Jason says that they’re all “screw-ups!” Yeah, I guess your mom dying really makes you a screw-up. I know the movie was getting some praise for featuring a superhero character on the spectrum, and I do think that that’s applaudable, even though Billy’s performance is just kind a caricature. What I’m kind of struggling to get is how much praise the movie was getting for featuring a LGBTQ superhero. The closest this movie comes is having Zach ask Trini if she’s having girlfriend problems, and she doesn’t answer. That’s the bar Hollywood has to jump to get praise? If Trini was actually questioning her sexuality they should have gone for it and actually looked at what that could mean, instead of kind of mentioning it and then accepting accolades. It’s just kind of weird. But I guess they knew they had to cross off some diversity to make this movie even remotely interesting.

The thing about this movie is that it’s so emblematic of the trend where studios make big-budget remakes of things people liked as kids. There’s nothing wrong with the old Power Rangers show. It’s dumb, but it’s for kids and it has fun action and usually snuck in some sub-after school special level morals. But whatever, it was fine for what it was. But now it’s 2017, and the people who grew up watching Power Rangers have the clout to make a remake, and they obviously can’t make it for the same demographic they were when they watched it. No, instead you have to make it gritty. Take a show that was bright, colorful, and kid-friendly and put on the Zack Snyder grim color-correction and have the characters have “real world problems.” I’m kind of surprised they didn’t decide to have Kimberly be a rape survivor, since that’s usually what shitty Hollywood dudes come up to make female characters interesting since they can’t write a decent female character. I’m sure people will like this movie, and more power to them, but there’s just something about this movie, and movies like it, that don’t make sense to me. When I was a kid Power Rangers was something I really loved, and then I grew up. I don’t need to have Power Rangers try a relate to me anymore, let a younger generation enjoy them. But this movie doesn’t agree with that. Power Rangers used to be a property for children, but I can’t imagine anyone thinking they should bring their kids to this, unless they’re up for explaining bull hand-jobs and revenge porn to their kids. And that’s just a bummer. In my mind a person would want to make a Power Rangers movie that feels similar to the show, so that the people who grew up with it could take their kids to it and show them something from their childhood. Instead you create a movie that should be for kids, and make it for adults who probably have no interest in it anymore. But I guess these sorts of movies are financially successful, because we keep getting them. Now we just have to wait for an R-rated Darkwing Duck movie or something.

Power Rangers was written by John Gatnis, directed by Dean Isrealite, and released by Lionsgate, 2017.

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Lifetime of Simpsons

S19 E19 – Mona Leaves-a

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Oh boy. Oh you guys. You know what’s not a great way to start off a week? Bumming me out by giving me the knowledge that there was a third episode with Mona Simpson. I had no idea this episode existed, and folks, I was not happy. Every time they’ve brought Mona back it’s been diminishing returns after the perfect “Mother Simpson” episode. So seeing her yet again was not great. And they somehow found a way to make it worse. Buckle up.

The episode starts off by establishing that the Simpsons are going to the mall by having a quick gag where Moe just stands around next to his car, purposefully disappointing people who think they can take his spot. After that we see the family head into the mall, but only to do boring things like shop for sweaters. But Marge allows them to do one thing that they’ll actually enjoy, and for some reason Maggie gets to pick where they go.

So they obviously head to the Stuff-N-Hug, some Build a Bear place, and head inside to buy extremely over-priced stuffed animals. Which means we’re going to get a lot of gags. We see Ralph fill his bear up with so much fluff that it explodes, Lisa deals with a sexist employee who won’t let her dolphin be a doctor until she lies and says it’s a boy, and Bart finds a hippo where you can record you voice. Bart then makes all of the hippos start insulting Homer, until he freaks out and starts attacking and destroying the hippos, causing them to flee the store.

The family head home, and find that things are about to get bad, because their door is ajar. The family becomes convinced that there’s a criminal in the house, so Homer grabs a cinder-block attacked to a chain, and begins swinging it around in preparation. He slips into the house, ready to smash a prowler’s head to dust, and finds someone inside the kitchen. But it’s isn’t a burglar, it’s his mother Mona, who as far as Homer knew, died in a bus crash a couple seasons back.

Homer is obviously shocked by this revelation, so he and Mona get some apple pie and sit on the couch letting her fill us in on her newest series of improbably events. She just blows over the fact that she survived the bus crash, since we knew how but Homer didn’t, and just tells him that after he last death she finally has the government off her back, and she’s finally free to be his mother. But, in a shocking change from Homer’s usual behavior, he doesn’t get excited. In fact, he gets irritated, because so far his experience with Mona is that she gets his hopes up and then leaves again.

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Mona is pretty surprised that Homer is taking this stance, but does admit that it’s not unjustified. But she’s not going to stop trying to get Homer to forgive her. She keeps trying, while bonding with the rest of the family some more, mainly just telling them how Homer has always dealt with emotional pain by eating. But Homer keeps refusing to forgive her, and keeps hiding in his bedroom to avoid her. No matter what she does, he just won’t forgive her, and he says that to her face.

However, that night Homer finds he can’t fall asleep. He’s racked with guilt and has stressful dreams all night. And after a while he gives up and realizes that the only way to get through this is to forgive Mona and try to move on. So he heads down to the living room and finds Mona resting in a chair. Well, by resting I mean she’s dead. Yep! They brought Mona back for a third time and then killed her without having any closure with Homer. Happy Monday!

We then cut immediately to some sort of funeral service for Mona, which mainly just consists of Homer, Grandpa, Seth, and Munchie sitting around being sad and holding her urn. So Homer heads home and becomes incredibly despondent, just laying around and staring at his mother’s urn. The rest of the family try to cheer Homer up, but it’s no use. He’s too depressed, and fixated on death, and just seems unable to get over this hit.

Homer then begins wandering around town asking people their opinions about death and the afterlife. None of the barfies are particularly helpful, Apu teaches him about reincarnation, and Ned just rants about heaven and punishment. However, when Homer gets home he finds something shocking. Marge has been going through Mona’s stuff, and found a DVD that Mona left behind, which turns out to be a video will.

So the family sit around and they put on the will, looking to see what’s being left to them. Bart gets a Swiss army knife, Lisa gets her rebellious spirit, Marge gets a hemp purse, and Homer gets the burden of releasing her ashes at the top of Springfield Monument at a specific day and time. Homer decides that accomplishing this final goal for his mother will help him move on, and the family head out to Springfield Monument Park to accomplish her wishes.

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The family begin hiking up the butte to release the ashes. Bart bails first, then Lisa, and after she’s forced to carry Homer up most of the butte with no thanks Marge finally bails too. So it’s just Homer, and he reaches the summit of the butte, just in time to release the ashes as the specified time that Mona gave him. But when he lets the ashes go, something odd happens. The winds blow the ashes, and they go down inside the butte, which has been hollowed out and contains some sort of missile launch site.

The ashes fly down into the silo, and end up getting sucked into some important equipment, shutting down the silo. Yeah, Mona’s final wish and message to her son was to help her do some posthumous hippie sabotage. And Homer is pissed. Justifiably. And to make matters worse the guards in the silo are able to track down the source of the ashes, and find Homer. They shoot at him, and he falls down into the silo, where he’s promptly taken captive.

And things are about to get really crazy. Because it turns out that this missile silo is ran by Mr. Burns, who is planning on firing that rocket full of nuclear waste into the rainforest, seemingly just to be evil. And they’ve managed to fix the machine the ashes broke, so they’re still going to fire the missile, making Homer fail his mother’s last crazy wish. But the episode hasn’t gotten crazy enough yet, so things get wackier.

Bart somehow finds the cell that Homer is being held in, and tosses down the Swiss army knife that Mona gave him, letting Homer cut out of the ropes that bind him. Next, Marge decides to light her hemp purse on fire to get the guards high. Lisa also uses a pair of crystal earring she stole to light the bag. Homer is then able to find a cinder-block and a chain and uses it to beat up the guards and destroy the missile command controls. This also sets off the self-destruct feature of the base, and Homer barely escapes before the butte explodes. He also has Mona’s ashes, and releases them for real this time, and we get a montage of moments from previous Mona episodes.

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Holy shit. Who thought this episode was a good idea? Like, I don’t think I could come up with a less palatable episode of this show. “Mother Simpson” is an amazing episode, and its ending is one of the most poignant and beautiful moments the show ever accomplished. Then they brought her back for a lackluster and goofy episode a couple seasons back. That was a bad call, but whatever. This is different. Having Mona come back and die could technically be used to dramatic effect, but it wasn’t here. I feel like the idea of Homer not forgiving Mona, and being an ass is justifiable. I also think him then feeling guilt when she dies and trying to find some meaning to life afterward makes sense. But then there’s the ending. It becomes this weird James Bond pastiche, seemingly just to drag Mr. Burns back into the ongoing Mona narrative, and everything gets terrible. Mona seriously made her will some elaborate scheme to have her family screw over Mr. Burns? That’s so incredibly selfish, and not at all what I would expect from Mona Simpson. Mona loved her family. That’s why she left, so that they wouldn’t get dragged down by her mistakes. But this episode has Mona attempt to get her family caught committing crimes. This episode’s Mona loves her cause more than her family. And that really bugs me. It’s just such a bummer, and ruins any emotion that this episode should have. I’m staggered trying to comprehend the fact that an episode that had Homer’s mother die in the second act ended with Homer jumping out of an exploding missile silo while wearing a Union Jack parachute. The cognitive dissonance involved in those facts are ridiculous. And then the episode tries to milk some emotion by showing clips from better episodes. Screw this episode. We may have a new winner for worst episode of the show, because I’m seriously shaking I’m so mad at how misguided and horrible this episode is.

Take Away: Don’t watch this episode.

 

“Mona Leaves-a” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Mike B Anderson & Ralph Sosa, 2008.

 

 

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Marvel Madness

That Time the Avengers Were Beaten by Feminism

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It sure is a wonderful thing when I come across an old Marvel comic and know immediately in my heart that it’s going to work out wonderfully for Marvel Madness. Occasionally I have to kind of seek stories out, especially if I’m trying to find a story that fits some sort of theme, like when I do ones that relate to holidays. But it’s a hell of a joy when I’m just reading through one of the several runs that I’m simultaneously reading and I find a story that I just know will work on here. And today’s story is just such a case. A random issue of the Avengers that serves as the introduction as one of my favorite characters, features some weird creator cameos, has a Halloween parade and the Masters of Evil, and also is a reminder that the female Avengers are more than capable, and able to best their male counterparts. Parts of this issue can come off as a little dated, especially in regards to its opinions on the tenants of feminism, but I like to see it as more positive than that, actually becoming a pretty solid example to the power of women, despite what the creators may have personally thought. So let’s check out that time that the Lady Liberators bested the Avengers.

The issue begins with Janet Pym, the Wasp, flitting through the night on her way to Avenger’s Mansion. She just seems to be popping in, with no particular goal in mind, until she hears the sounds of people talking in the meeting room and decides to stop in and see what’s going on. And she’s shocked to find that the people sitting around the table are the Scarlet Witch, the Black Widow, Medusa of the Inhumans, and the mysterious Valkyrie. Janet is more than a little confused why Wanda and three non-Avengers are at the table, and things just get more confusing when Wanda announces that it’s no longer Avengers’s Mansion, it’s the headquarters of the Liberators. This is raising some red flags  for Janet, but Widow and Scarlet Witch convince her to give Valkyrie a shot. Janet submits and returns to normal size, and lets Valkyrie explain her origin. She’s apparently a brilliant chemist, but who gets no respect or attention from her male peers. One night she was staying up, working on a new formula when some sort of accident occurred, and she was doused in a weird mixture that gave her superhuman abilities. She then vowed to become the Valkyrie, a warrior hellbent on defeating the patriarchy and setting up a matriarchy. And her plan to do that involves getting these Liberators to help her defeat the Avengers. The women in the room are a little wary about this, until Valkyrie starts pointing out how all of them are constantly belittled by their male teammates. Janet is always overshadowed by Hank Pym, Scarlet Witch is treated like a child by her brother Quicksilver, Medusa has to follow every order of Black Bolt, and Black Widow has constantly been refused entry in the Avengers for no reason. And this sales pitch works beautifully. The women decide that they need to show the male Avengers whose boss, and agree to join Valkyrie’s Liberators.

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The Liberators then run off to the rooftop of Avenger’s Mansion to get onto Valkyrie’s mode of conveyance. She’s created a chariot dragged by flying horses, which she claims she’s bred. The other Liberators just kind of accept that, and they fly off to find the Avengers. And where are the Avengers? Why they’re in beautiful Rutland, Vermont to participate in an annual Halloween parade as the guests of honor! Vision, Black Panther, Quicksilver, and Clint Barton as Goliath arrive at the home of the mayor of Rutland, ready to stand on a float and entertain the people of Rutland. The Avengers mingle for a while at the party, getting to meet the author of this issue, Roy Thomas, and his wife Jeanie. Now, this is something that used to happen a lot in old Marvel comics, and I always find it hilarious. Sometime I’ll have to talk about the Fantastic Four story where Dr. Doom makes Stan Lee and Steve Ditko help him defeat the Four. Anyway, the party ends and the Avengers follow the rest of the costume-clad citizens of Rutland out to the Main Street where the parade is about to begin. Little do they know, things are about to pop off.

And not just from the Liberators, because there’s another faction visiting Rutland. The Masters of Evil. Well, that’s what they’re calling themselves at least, I usually need a Zemo in charge. But the folks we have today are Klaw, the Melter, Radioactive Man, and Whirlwind. They’re in Rutland because a local scientist has created a device that can enter parallel realities. And it just so happens that that scientist is also on a float, with the device that powers his machine. So the Masters of Evil lay in way, and once the Avenger’s float passes by they rush the scientist. This was a poor plan though, because as soon as the Master’s of Evil spring into action the Avengers notice, and get ready for a fight. Good luck Rutland, Virginia!

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The Avengers and the Masters of Evil begin fighting at this point, and shockingly the Masters start doing well. The Melter is able to use his blasts to harm Vision, keeping him entombed in some melted cement, Klaw causes a building to collapse onto Black Panther, Quicksilver isn’t able to keep up with Whirlwind’s rapid movements, and the Radioactive Man blasts Goliath with everything he had, knocking him out. So things aren’t looking good for the Avengers. And they’re about to get worse, because the Liberators have arrived, and everyone but Valkyrie are ready and raring to start attacking their male oppressors. But when they see the Masters of Evil about to defeat the Avengers, they get pissed, because a team that’s not them is about to defeat the Avengers and take their glory. Wasp volunteers to go do some recon and figure out what’s going on, and Valkyrie calls her a wench, demanding that she go as fast as she can. Hmm, that’s kind of an odd thing for their feminist team leader to say…

Anyway, Wasp sees what’s going on and sends out the call for the Liberators to come help her save the Avengers. Wasp is able to blast Melter in the eyes, making him stop blasting Vision long enough for the android to get a hold of himself and escape the cement. Next up Black Widow starts fighting with Klaw, defeating him and letting Black Panter escape the fallen building. Medusa is up next, using her prehensile hair to snatch Whirlwind from behind, holding him down so he can’t escape. And Scarlet Witch finishes things off, using her hex powers to cause a tree to drop down on Radioactive Man, knocking him out. So the Liberators have saved the Avengers, and the men start thanking them, not realizing that things have just begun. The Liberators start telling the Avengers what’s going on, telling them that they’re sick of being treated like second-class citizens and are going to defeat and usurp them. The men are a little confused, not believing that their female friends and teammates would behave like this, when Valkyrie comes out of the shadows, ready to get violent. And she does.

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Yeah, I’m not going to lie, I would wear a t-shirt with Valkyrie on it saying “Up against the wall male chauvinist pigs!” So, Valkyrie’s energy blast from her halberd was powerful enough, and shocking enough, to knock out the already weakened Avengers, scoring a win for the Liberators. But that doesn’t seem to be enough for Valkyrie, who then announces that the Liberators are going to head to the local university and get something that will help them. The Liberators are a little confused about this, but go along, heading to the university and meeting with that professor that the Masters of Evil wanted to attack. He shows them his device, which can open up portals to other realities, and something suddenly changes in Valkyrie. She admits that this was her ultimate goal, and she didn’t actually care about the Avengers. But why does she care so much about this device? Well, that’s because she’s not actually a new heroine named Valkyrie, she’s actually the Asgardian Enchantress, one of the Avenger’s oldest foes.

Yeah, Enchantress has pulled the wool over the Liberators eyes, and has manipulated them into helping her get rid of the Avengers and access this device. But why does she need it? Well, apparently after her and the Executioner’s latest shenanigans Odin banished the two of them from Asgard, and weakened her magic. The two wanders around magic realms for a while, until Executioner dumped her for Aphrodite when they found there way into Olympus. So now Enchantress hates men and wants this device to return to Asgard so she can strengthen her magic and use it to punish all men. And once she’s done monologuing she begins summoning up all of her remaining strength to destroy the Avengers and the Liberators with a powerful spell. However, Scarlet Witch saves the day by surrounding Valkyrie in a field of hex magic, causing Enchantress’ spell to ricochet back at her, and seemingly destroy her. Turns out Scarlet Witch realized there was something fishy about Valkyrie when she called Wasp a “wench” and had been waiting for a moment to reveal her true nature. so the Liberators have saved the day! And this of course leads Clint Barton to start being a total asshole, because up until ten years ago or so Clint Barton was the absolute worst.

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This story is a whole lot of fun. I love these weird little one-shot stories from the older days of the Avengers, back before they required long-lasting multiple-issue arcs. Back when they could just go have a silly little adventure in Rutland, Vermont beating up the Masters of Evil. Plus we get to see the delightful introduction of Valkyrie, a character who I’ve really come to love over the years. True, this isn’t really the Valkyrie that I know and love, but it’s a start. Things get complicated with Valkyrie, what with the reveal that Enchantress had based this disguise off a real person who ends up getting returned to life in the Defenders, but it’s really hard to get a hang on all of that nonsense. What does matter is that Valkyrie is a badass hero who’s primary goal is to show the patriarchy that she’s just as capable as men. And that’s more or less what this whole issue is about. There are times where I kind of feel like Roy Thomas didn’t actually believe any of the feminist beliefs that the Liberators were spouting, and that he was making fun of the feminism movement more than anything, but I don’t really care what he intended, because what actually happened was an issue where some of the most competent and capable heroes in Marvel Comics got together and saved the day. They may have been manipulated by the Enchantress for her own purposes, but Black Widow, Wasp, Scarlet Witch, and Medusa still were able to defeat the Masters of Evil on their own, saving the day. More often than not the female heroes in these older Avengers books were just side-characters, there to be kidnapped or be talked down to by the male heroes, and regardless of author intention, this issue showed them taking the reigns and proving that they’re just as good as their male counterparts, if not better. And that’s something that I love to see.

Avengers #83 was written by Roy Thomas, penciled by John Buscema, inked by Tom Palmer, and lettered by Herb Cooper, 1970.

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