Hey, what’s the best way to end Lackluster Week? Glad you asked. The answer is apparently to do something that seems to be impossible. Namely, make a dull and uninteresting Sideshow Bob episode. I mean, how do you even do that?! Well, I guess like this.
The episode starts off with Homer going to an electronics store to buy some batteries for his TV remote. He opts to buy the cheapest and shittiest batteries possible, but then gets suckered by a “deal” where he has to sign up for a TiVo subscription. And Homer goes for it; bringing home the little box and having Lisa hook it up to the TV. The family then gather around the TV and get to experience television the way it was intended, without commercials.
They get to watch Itchy and Scratchy and avoid any interjections from Krusty, and it changes their lives. The family instantly becomes addicted to TiVo and the ability to just watch television without being interrupted by garbage. However there’s one member of the family who gets more addicted that the others, and it’s kind of a dark horse candidate. Marge begins watching TV nonstop, until she has a dream where Keith Olberman yells at her and tells her that she’s basically stealing her entertainment by not watching stupid commercials.
And this dream has a huge effect on Marge, who then begins just sitting there doing nothing but watching commercials, to make up for everything she “stole.” She gets to see a bunch of stupid ads, but there’s one that catches the family’s attention. It’s for a restaurant called Wes Doobner’s World Famous Family Rib Hut. And it looks amazing. It basically has something for ever member of the family, as if it was specifically designed to appeal to them. And just like that they decide to go to Wes Doobner’s for dinner.
So the family pile into the car and drive out to Wes Doobner’s hoping to get a seat for the grand opening. Which doesn’t turn out to be a problem, because there’s no one else there. It’s a little suspicious, but they still go into the restaurant, and find it completely empty, without even tables or chairs. This is raising some red flags, but the Simpsons still stand in there until Wes Doobner himself comes out to meet them.
And he immediately reveals himself as Sideshow Bob. The family kind of freak out, but have to stand there while Bob ties them up and starts monologuing. He explains that after we last saw him, he and his Italian family fled Italy, lived in England for a bit, and then Bob immigrated to Canada as a comedy writer, before getting to Springfield undetected. And it’s all for his master plan. Tying the Simpsons up, sticking them next to a bunch of TNT, and having a faulty laptop battery ignite the TNT. Sure.
However, as Bob is getting ready to leave them to his death, he tosses out a Shakespeare quote, which Lisa insists is wrong. The two get into an argument, and Bob finally decides to use the laptop to Google it, causing the battery to explode and incapacitate himself. So Bob is unconscious, foiled by his own hubris, and the police arrive to arrest him. Bob is then brought before the court, and the Simpsons come to watch.
Bob makes the terrible call of representing himself in court, and things don’t look very promising. Until he decides to plead insanity, and calls his father, Dr. Robert Terwilliger, Sr, who is a respected psychiatrist, to validate that. We also meet Bob’s mother, Dame Judith Underdunk, a respected Shakespearean actor. But Dr. Robert is the main draw, since he argues that Bart is a monster who drove his son insane, and that’s why all of his crimes are fine.
And it actually starts to work. The court starts to believe that Bart is a monster, and Bart starts to panic. Which isn’t helped when Sideshow Bob pulls a vial of nitroglycerin out of his pocket, and Bart decides he needs to be a hero. Bart grabs the vial and throws it out of the window, assuming that it’s a bomb. But it was actually for a heart condition Bob apparently has, and he ends up having a heart attack. Dr. Robert tries to come to his aid, but they’re too late. Sideshow Bob is dead.
So Bob has a funeral, attended by all of his crazy Frasier family, and basically the whole damn town. Everyone is sad that Bob died apparently, and the Simpsons awkwardly attend the funeral. Bart really wants to make a scene, and tell everyone what a monster Bob was, but the family convince him to keep his cool, even though the whole town stats to blame Bart for this beloved entertainer’s death. But it eventually becomes too much for Bart, who storms out of the funeral.
And while Bart is sitting on the curb, dealing with his conflicting emotions, he gets a surprising visitor. Bob’s brother Cecil, who is temporarily free from prison to attend the funeral. Cecil chats with Bob and tells him that the only way to make peace with Bob’s death is to see the body. Bob will be cremated that night, and Cecil recommends that Bart go before the process, and pay his respects to Bart in private. Which really should raise some red flags, but whatever.
Anyway, Bart goes to the crematorium that night, and along the way he runs into Milhouse, and tells him where he’s going. Milhouse then goes to the Simpson’s house, and tells them what Bart is doing, which gets Lisa pondering about how sketchy it is. She then convinces the family they have to run to the crematorium and stop Bart. Which is too late, because Bart has gotten there already, and finds it completely empty other than Bob’s casket, which is all set up to be cremated.
And right as Bart comes in the casket opens, and Sideshow Bob hops out. Yep, he’s not dead, and he planned this whole thing. He then sticks Bart in the casket, deciding to just kill Bart without explaining anything. But it’s too late, because Lisa has figured it all out. Bob intended to fail at Wes Doobner’s so that he could be caught, so that he could go to court, so he could fake his death, so he could kill Bart. The Simpsons then burst in, ready to stop the Terwilliger’s, who were all in on it. But before we had some sort of family brawl the police arrive and arrest the whole Terwilliger family, sending them to prison where they’re all in one giant cell, reenacting Frasier.
I typically really love Sideshow Bob episode, but this one is just so weird. I’m actually really stunned that this episode came out before Dark Knight, because it seems to be part of that ridiculous trend that happened in stories where villains came up with incredibly convoluted plans that involved them being caught. Usually Sideshow Bob episodes are great because they’re fun mysteries that make sense. But this one didn’t have enough mystery, instead deciding to focus on an obsession with making fun of Frasier, which was maybe the wrong decision. You shouldn’t be able to mess up a Sideshow Bob episode, but they did. It’s just so dull, and just kind of limps along, tossing out as much exposition as possible. Just not my cup of tea, and I really hope that Lackluster Week ends today, and doesn’t venture off into the rest of the season.
Take Away: It’s really easy to fake your death.
“Funeral for a Fiend” was written by Michael Price and directed by Rob Oliver, 2007.