Lifetime of Simpsons

S21 E08 – O Brother, Where Bart Thou?

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Welcome back for another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. And folks, it’s actually a pretty good week. We have several very solid episodes to check out, possibly lulling us into a false sense of security, but maybe serving as a harbinger of good things to come. Only time will tell. But all of that will start tomorrow. Today? Not up my alley.

The episode starts off with Homer and the kids watching some sort of weird show about the making of candy while it’s beginning to blizzard outside. It seems to be going pretty well until they get talking about how gelatine is made, complete with graphic footage of sickly cows being liquified. But when they manage to change the channel it’s just the Technical Emmy’s, so they really don’t have a good option either way.

The next morning the family wakes up to find that they certainly got a whole lot of snow. Homer tries mocking Lisa and her beliefs in Global Warming, and Lisa calmly points out that he’s a moron. Meanwhile Bart is hanging around the radio, desperately hoping that Springfield Elementary will be closed for the day. Unfortunately Superintendent Chalmers and Principal Skinner are at the radio station giving these updates, and they purposefully mess with him by listing it last.

But who cares, because he’s still getting the day off! However, the day seems specifically destined to screw with Bart. The weather gets horrible at the house to the point that Bart can’t go outside to play. But that’s okay, because he still has violent video games! Well, until the snow knocks out the power to the house. Bart then has the horrible time to realizing that everything fun in his house runs on electricity, and slowly goes mad.

While Bart’s sitting in his room, being bored, he starts to hear laughter in the next room. He heads over and finds that Lisa and Maggie are having some sort of silly fashion show in Lisa’s room, and having a hell of a time. He kind of mocks them at first, but then realizes that he’s jealous of their fun, and asks to join. They let him hang out with them, and he starts prancing around with the girls. But after a while Bart notices that he’s feeling a little left-out, and Lisa explains that it’s because she and Maggie have a bond of sisterhood, and will always be close, whereas Bart has no brother.

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Bart kind of blows this idea off, but when he leaves the room it really starts to bug him. And that night that idea really festers in Bart’s mind, and he ends up having a very weird stress dream where he sees a whole slew of famous brothers, which leads to a whole bunch of cameos. He sees The Marx Brothers, the Blues Brothers, Sideshow Bob and Cecil, The Mario Brothers, the Wright Brothers, the football Manning brothers, and of course the Smothers Brothers.

So the next morning Bart wakes up with a new mission. He needs a baby brother. He obviously then just goes and tells Homer that he demands a baby brother, and Homer is horrified. He refuses, and Bart goes to complain to his buddies at the bus stop, which randomly and for no reason becomes a South Park parody, and asks for advice. And their only idea is to have Bart get Homer and Marge in the mood all the time. Which isn’t a horrifying idea at all.

Bart then decides that the perfect starting point for this new master plan will be to cook Homer and Marge a five course romantic dinner. They’re obviously down for this, and have a great time, eating and enjoying each other’s company. However, at the end of the meal they decide to chance it and have some fancy dessert that Bart made, which pushes them over the edge, making them too full to have sex. So that’s a failure.

Next up Bart gets a Kama Sutra DVD from Milhouse, and just slips it into Homer and Marge’s bedroom TV. They find it, and just decide to give it a shot, not questioning where it came from. However, the moves are too complicated for them, and they just end up hurting themselves. Another failure. Bart then decides to get some advice from the bullies, who tell him that focusing on getting Homer and Marge to have sex is foolish, instead he should just switch out Marge’s birth control with placebos.

Which of course leads Bart to sneaking into Homer and Marge’s bathroom and replacing all of her pills with Tic Tacs. However, Marge catches Bart in the act, and is pretty upset. Until Bart emotionally explains that he’s doing this all because he wants a baby brother. Marge then calmly explains to Bart that they don’t want another baby, and that even if they did there’s no guarantee that it won’t be another girl. Which was something that Bart never though about. So he accept that he won’t get a biological baby brother.

But that doesn’t rule out adoption! Bart then heads down to the local adoption agency, and attempts to adopt a brother. Obviously this does not work, but while he’s trying to extoll his many virtues to the adoption workers, one of the orphans does overhear him. So the kid, a boy named Charlie, escapes from the adoption agency and follows Bart home, figuring that he can convince Bart to become his new brother.

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And it works. Bart is instantly enamoured with little Charlie, and the two begin palling around. Bart introduces Charlie as a new friend to Homer, but everyone else gets let in on the secret that he’s Bart’s new brother. Bart and Charlie then begin going around the city while Bart imparts all of his brotherly wisdom. Such as how to poke at dead animals, how to prank people, and all of the other things that a boy needs to know.

However, when they go to the Kwik-E-Mart to teach Charlie about snacks, they get busted. Because Lisa finds them, and overhears Apu refer to the kid as Bart’s brother. She tries to get Bart to realize that this is an insane plan, but he refuses and runs off with the kid to their next stop. A movie theater playing a new horror movie. The two sneak on in, and Charlie is immediately terrified, forcing them to leave early.

After the movie Bart and Charlie begin heading home, while Charlie jumps at every little sound. Which is complicated when Chief Wiggum comes barreling out of the darkness, looking for them. Apparently someone noticed that one of the orphans was missing, and he’s been tasked to come find Charlie and bring him back. So, Charlie does the calm and rational thing, and grabs Wiggum’s pepper spray and maces the poor bastard, letting him and Bart escape.

They run through the night, and end up finding a large snowbank surrounding the Jebediah Springfield statue. So the two boys burrow into the snow, and make themselves a little igloo to hide out from the fuzz. However, as they’re hiding out they get a sudden visitor. Lisa. She’s there to tell them that this is madness, and that Charlie should just give up and return to the orphanage. Charlie tries to convince Bart to ignore Lisa, so they can stay together, and while Bart is taking too long to decide a snow plow end up trapping them inside their igloo. But never fear! Because Bart and Charlie are able to pee on the snow, creating a new exit. However, Bart does agree with Lisa, and Charlie is sent back to the orphanage. And a couple days later the whole family goes to the orphanage to visit Charlie, and finds that he’s been adopted by a family with six daughters to drive him insane. So…happy ending?

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This is a very odd episode. And I don’t think that I really liked it that much. I think the central premise, of Bart becoming jealous of Maggie and Lisa’s sisterly bond and deciding that he wants a baby brother is a good one. And I’m kind of surprised we haven’t seen such an idea tackled before. Little kids often have no understanding of how birth happens, and I know I personally had some very specific demands about future siblings when I was a child. All of that is fine. But then Charlie shows up, and the episode kind of loses me. Mainly because I just can’t figure out what Charlie’s deal is. The way he targets Bart, and then shows up at his house I kind of assumed that he was there for some sort of scam, and then the way he attacks Wiggum continued to make me think that. But I guess he was just really aggressive and wanted Bart to be his guardian? I don’t know, something about Charlie just rubbed me the wrong way, and really tanked an episode that had some potential to do something new and interesting.

Take Away: Children shouldn’t be able to adopt other children.

“Oh Brother, Where Bart Thou?” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2009.

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