Lifetime of Simpsons

S23 E08 – The Ten-Per-Cent Solution

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Hey there folks, and welcome back to another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. We have a mostly pretty fun week ahead of us, but we’re going to have a slight stumbling right off the bat. Because today’s episode is very weird. I guess it’s been a while since we’ve seen Krusty’s career be on the rocks, so it’s time to check that off the list again.

The episode begins with Bart and Lisa sitting around, watching an Itchy and Scratchy parody of the King’s Speech. Which isn’t exactly topical, but that’s actually the joke this time. Because once it’s done we cut out to Krusty, who is complaining that it takes so long for the animation for Itchy and Scratchy to be completed that the jokes are never topical anymore. He’s also irritated by how many cartoon are on his show now.

Which isn’t helped by the show immediately doing a terrible Social Network gag which is mainly rowing and tedious text-on-screen epilogues. Which just irritates Krusty even more. We aren’t focusing on Krusty right now though, because as Bart and Lisa are delighting over Krusty’s minor mental breakdown Marge suddenly walks in and turns the TV off, saying that they’re spending too much time watching it.

Instead she wants Bart and Lisa to join the rest of the family to head to Springfield’s Museum of Television, which is about the close forever. So the family pile into the car and head out to the closing museum, which is rapidly being packed up. They’re still let in though, so they get to wander around and look at TV relics before they’re boxed up. Most of it is pretty forgettable, but Homer finds something that really catches his interest.

There’s a whole display about a show called Fatso Flannigan, which is just a ripoff of the Honeymooners. Although, as they point out, everything is a ripoff of the Honeymooners. Anyway, Homer gawks over the massive pants the actor wore when they’re approached by a woman named Annie Dubinsky who used to be Fatty’s agent back the in the day. She gives Homer her card, implying that this is going to be an episode about Homer becoming a semi-Vaudeville actor.

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But that’s not the case, because at this point we cut back to Krusty, who is still irritated that his show is progressively becoming more and more cartoon-focused. Krusty is so mad in fact that he gets a meeting with some network suits to complain. Which was a bad call, because they tell Krusty the truth. People don’t find him funny or relevant anymore, and they’ve been phasing him out. And now that he’s noticed they’re going to fire him. Krusty then storms off to talk to his agent, hoping to get a new job. Unfortunately the hits just keep coming from Krusty, and because he doesn’t have a show any more his agent ends their partnership.

So what’s Krusty going to do? Head to a random Krusty Burger and sadly wallow around in the ball-pit. Solid choice. And it just so happens that after the Museum of Television the Simpsons decided to go to the very same Krusty Burger. They spot Krusty, and they go try to cheer him up. Which doesn’t really go that great. Until they hear that he’s lost his agent, because it just so happens that they just met an agent, and they convince Krusty to go meet Annie.

The Simpsons and Krusty then head over to Annie’s terrible office, a tad wary but hopeful that she can help Krusty. Unfortunately, it turns out that Krusty and Annie have a history. A bad one. Back when Krusty was first starting out as some sort of Beat comedian in the 50’s he and Annie met, and she convinced him to broaden his work, and become more traditionally funny. This works for Krusty, and he becomes a famous clown, at the same time that he and Annie begin a relationship. However, when Krusty got famous he decided to dump Annie as both a partner and an agent, and left her in the dust, which she’s never forgiven him for.

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So that makes things problematic. But Krusty really needs work, so he gets down on his knees and begs Annie for her forgiveness. And, against her better judgment, Annie agrees, and takes Krusty on as a client. She starts getting Krusty gigs, and realizes that if the problem with his career is that kids don’t understand his references, then he should adapt his show for older audiences, who have a better chance at understanding him.

Which actually works really well. Krusty launches some new show directly aimed at nostalgic adults, getting them to come and relive their childhood while he does old gags in his old set. And people love it. Everyone adores reliving some of their childhood. And, because Krusty is an idiot and apparently is no long in a relationship with Princess Penelope, he starts to conflate his business success with affection towards Annie, and the two begin sleeping together.

And things aren’t done changing for Krusty yet, because his nostalgia show was apparently successful enough that he’s approached by a premium cable channel that wants to give Krusty his own freeform late-night talk show. Which seems like a weird idea, but whatever. Krusty accepts, and they get to work building the sets and getting Krusty’s new show up and running.

Which immediately starts to have problems. Because Annie is a very vocal person with a lot of opinions, and when she starts losing some control to the network people she starts freaking out, yelling at them and abusing them. It even gets so bad that the suits tell Krusty he has to fire Annie, or else the deal won’t work. But Krusty doesn’t want to do that, and just kind of ignores the issue, getting ready for the pilot of the show to tape.

And boy does this show seem weird. It’s some hodgepodge of clown shtick and traditional talk-show format, which seems like an odd combination. But that’s not even the part that ruins everything. It’s Annie. She comes storming out, yelling about how they brought in a funnier guest than Krusty, and causing a huge scene. So huge that the suits have to arrive, and remind Krusty that they want Annie fired. Annie is horrified by this, and gives Krusty an ultimatum, that they stay together and leave the show, or break up and keep the show. But Krusty finds a weird middle-ground, and stays with Annie while getting a new show about over-sixty people having sex. Yep.

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This episode really fell flat for me. I think it may be because I’ve seen the whole “Krusty isn’t popular anymore and needs a comeback” story way too many times. It ‘s a good story idea, which has been done to death by this time, and really loses any impact. Krusty never changes, his show always sucks, and I’m sure next time we see him we’ll see the regular show is back. I do enjoy Joan Rivers as Annie, even though she’s just crazy and meddling, and doesn’t really have much of a character. She just kind of ruins Krusty’s gig because she’s nuts which only popped up in the climax. Maybe if they’d threaded that throughout the episode, and shown that Annie was clingy and controlling back when they first met this would have made more sense. But as it stands it comes out of left field, and just made Annie the bad guy in order to return things to the status quo, which was a bummer. It’s not a bad episode, it’s just kind of a forgettable and bland one.

Take Away: Always keep your references fresh.

“The Ten-Per-Cent Solution” was written by Deb Lacusta & Dan Castellaneta, 2011.

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