Lifetime of Simpsons

S21 E06 – Pranks and Greens

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Howdy everyone, and welcome back to Lifetime of Simpsons. And you know what? I think we may be out of the weird trend of episodes that feel like knock-offs of better episodes. Because no matter what else I think about today’s episode it’s certainly not like anything I’ve seen from the show before.

The episode begins with Bart and Milhouse having a brainstorming session, coming up with various pranks to pull off. We then get a montage of them pulling off their series of goofs, such as Bart pumping laughing gas into the teacher’s lounge, tricking Skinner into sitting on a toilet in front of a pep rally, covering several teachers in sports balls, and hooking Skinner’s car’s engine up to balloons so it’ll fly away. All in all, a good set of pranks.

However, when that last one goes sideways and Skinner’s engine falls and crushes his car, Bart is in serious trouble. He’s brought to Skinner’s office to get yelled at, and is given a whole bunch of detention. But Bart doesn’t really care about that, and instead starts to gloat that he’s the greatest prankster that Springfield Elementary has ever known. However, Skinner doesn’t agree, and tells Bart that there was a kid a long time ago who put Bart to shame.

Bart obviously becomes fascinated by this idea, at first just assuming that Skinner is screwing with him, believing that there’s no way that someone could be a bigger prankster than himself. But Skinner insists that there was a kid who was much worse than Bart, and he refuses to even tell Bart the kid’s name. So, not surprisingly, this becomes a bit of an obsession for Bart, and he starts doing everything he can to figure out this person’s identity.

Meanwhile, Marge is having a group of mothers and babies over to her house for a massive play date. Everything seems to be going great, until Marge brings out the snacks. And then all hell breaks loose. Because it turns out Marge has the gall to serve snacks with high-fructose corn syrup and other horrible additives. They even go so far as to tell Marge that they won’t include her in future play dates or let their children be around Maggie until she fixes her food.

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But that’s just the B-Plot, so that story’s going to come and go. Back in the main plot, Bart is continuing to try and track down this mysterious prankster. And this eventually leads him to sitting in the library, checking old microfiche of school newspapers. He ends up finding two missing weeks of the paper that seem to have been expunged, which show Principal Skinner go from the brand new principal that everyone loves to the Skinner Bart loves to hate. So clearly something happened in those two weeks.

And while scouring these mysterious papers Bart comes across a lead. Because in the happy Skinner picture he can see both a pool and Willie. So Bart goes to talk to Willie and tries to get the truth out of him. Willie kind of tries to play coy at first, but ends up just spilling all of the beans. Turns out that back in the day Skinner was a great guy who all the kids loved. And Willie was the loveable swim coach who taught in the school’s new pool.

However, one Friday evening Skinner went for a relaxing swim in the pool, jumping off the high-dive. And as he started to plummet down into the pool he finds something horrifying. The pool has been absolutely filled with worms. Skinner falls into the worm pool, and as he’s freaking out the mysterious child who did this prank shows up, and closes the cover of the pool, trapping Skinner in the worm pool over the weekend. And when Skinner emerged from the pool he became a different person, closed the pool, and made Willie the Groundskeeper.

Bart finds this story fascinating, and then demands that Willie tells him the name of the kid. Willie acts coy again, but ends up admitting that the kid’s name was Andy Hamilton. So Bart has a name now, and decides to go out and find this kid. And he pretty quickly finds where Andy is living, and heads over with Milhouse. The two find that Andy is now in his twenties, and still living with his parents. But Bart and Milhouse think he’s cool, and end up coming in to talk with him.

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And it’s pretty clear that Andy is a super sad guy. He clearly only cares about the pranks he did when he was a child, and has no goals in life. He just sits around, reminiscing about his past. But Bart and Milhouse think that’s awesome. Andy shows them some of his old pranks, and Bart is utterly smitten. And, just like that, Bart becomes absolutely obsessed with Andy, talking about him all of the time. Well, that is until Lisa points out that he’s a total and complete loser. Bart fights against this assertion, but it becomes painfully clear that Andy is a total loser. So, Bart decides to help him get his life on track.

Meanwhile, Marge has decided to get rid of all of the unhealthy food in their house, and makes the family go organic. Which means that they’re going to have to travel to an organic grocery store. So get ready for gags! They’re mainly just that organic food sure is expensive. You know, real cutting satire. Eh, whatever, the family by a bunch of terrible food, which costs them a fortune and immediately goes bad. But it’s healthy!

Back in the main story, Bart has decides to wander around with Andy, just getting a real good feel of how depressing Andy’s life is. And, while looking at Andy through this lens, Bart can’t deny that he’s pretty pathetic. So Bart just flat out tells Andy that he needs to get his shit together and get a job. And it just so happens that Bart may have an in for him. Because it turns out that Bart lied for Krusty during a deposition, so Krusty owes him a favor.

So Bart and Andy head down to Krusty’s studio, and Bart succeeds in getting Andy a job as Krusty’s assistant. Andy obviously has some resistance to this, preferring to be a lazy bum, but Bart convinces him to give it a shot. Plus, working for Krusty seems like a terrible job. It’s mainly just driving him around and avoiding people he hates. So, of course, Andy decides to quit after one day. But Bart won’t give up, and makes him go back to give it another shot.

But hey, let’s finish that Marge plot. Marge has fully jumped on the healthy food bandwagon, and decides to have all of the mothers back over. She’s even cooked some truly terrible looking food for them! However, the mothers still find ridiculous things to shame Marge about, and still end up storming out of the house. So Marge just decides to give up, gets rid of all of the healthy food and has a good time with Homer pigging out on garbage.

And while all of this is going on, Bart decides to go visit Andy at the Krusty Studios, hoping to see him doing well. However, on his way over there he notices something ominous. A truck of worms heading into the Studio. Bart rushes in, terrified that Andy is back to his old bullshit, and finds Krusty about to jump right into a pool full of worms. However, it turns out that this is not a prank, it was an idea for a gag on the show courtesy of Krusty’s new head-writer, Andy Hamilton. Yup, Andy has finally found his calling in life. So Bart did something good! The end!

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This is a pretty okay episode, just a tad forgettable. I like the idea that Bart finds someone to emulate, but then realizes that he’s kind of the worst. At first Bart thinks that Andy is everything he wants to be when he’s older, but then he starts to realize that maybe that’s a bad call. So, to prove to himself that his life won’t be a failure like Andy, he decides to make something of Andy. And, to his credit, it works. Bart succeeds in proving that Andy can make something of himself, and thus, so can Bart. Which is a very interesting idea. We’ve kind of seen similar ideas like this before, often with Otto as the adult Bart’s trying to help, but it’s still an interesting premise that worked well in this episode. The Marge stuff is a little forgettable, especially thanks to the somewhat hackneyed jokes about healthy food being expensive, but it’s fine for a B-Plot. All in all it’s not an episode that I think will stick with me, but it was still an enjoyable little experience.

Take Away: You need to find some passion in your life.

 

“Pranks and Greens” was written by Jeff Westrbrook and directed by Chuck Sheetz, 2009.

 

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