Lifetime of Simpsons

S26 E19 – The Kids Are All Fight

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Hi there everyone, and welcome back to another week of Lifetime of Simpsons. And we have a more or less fine week to discuss. We do finish season 26 and begin 27, which is a pretty big deal, but today specifically we’re talking about something rather interesting. Long ago when I first started this project, I loved flashback episodes. They were typically a really fun type of episode, usually guaranteed for one episode a season, and they were some of my favorite episode. Then something changed. Flashback episodes started to happen less frequently, and they started to be of declining quality. They also had to start dealing with the sliding timeline, often to pretty awkward results. Which brings us to today’s episode. It’s a flashback, and it’s obsessed with referencing previous flashback episodes, and it’s very weird. Let’s do this thing!

The episode begins with Homer sitting around in Moe’s, wearing a suit jacket for some reason, when he says something that absolutely blows Moe’s mind. He’s going to pay his tab. Moe starts tabulating the bill, and while he does that Homer starts going through his jacket, finding all sorts of weird things in the pockets. He finds a bunch of garbage, including programs from Slema’s various weddings and playbills from musical theater he’s been to.

But there’s also a roll of undeveloped film. Which kind of blows Homer’s mind, since he has no idea where he can possibly go to develop film anymore. Which was kind of a depressing idea. My job in high school was operating a photo-counter at a grocery store, and it’s shocking what an antiquated job that sounds like now, as if I was a chimney sweep or something. However, Homer is in luck, because it turns out that there is someone who can develop the film.

Moe! Apparently, Moe has a passion for analog photography, and the bar is so dingy and dark that it’s legally classified as a dark room. Oh, and Duff is evidently indistinguishable from development chemicals. So, Moe takes the roll of film, and says that Homer and the family can come back to the bar in a day to pick up their pictures.

We then skip straight to the next day where Marge and the kids meet up with Homer, eager to see what these mysterious photos contain. And they’re a little disappointed. Because they turn out to be a collage of pictures showing Lisa when she’s two and Bart when he’s four, just beating the hell out of each other. Marge does wonder why Homer took these pictures instead of just stopping them, but that quickly gets side-tracked for a more important conversation.

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Why did Bart and Lisa apparently hate each other so much, and how did they reach their feeble armistice that they have today? Which means it’s time for a flashback! Marge and Homer begin telling the kids their story, and jump back eight years to when all of this violence was going on. And it was rough. Bart and Lisa were perpetually at war with each other, and they never stopped beating each other up, no matter what Homer and Marge said to them.

Homer and Marge are clearly trying to do anything they can think of to stop the kids constant fighting, but nothing is working. Homer tries talking to Bart, but Bart is too busy being afraid of his creepy clown bed to care about what Homer thinks. Yeah, that clown bed is back. Get ready for plenty of other references. Oh, we also get to see the momentous occasion where Homer first strangled Bart out of frustration. That’s a cherished memory of child abuse.

All of this fighting really starts to wear down on Marge, who can barely get a night’s sleep, so she decides they need to do something major to fix things. So, she and Homer take the kids to a child psychologist, who pretty easily sums up their issues. She says that Lisa is bright and nice and Bart is dim and mean, so they’ll always fight each other, and there’s apparently nothing they can do about it. Which isn’t exactly helpful.

Homer and Marge do manage to get some potential respite though when Ned comes over and says that he and Maude want to take Homer and Marge out for a fancy brunch, without kids. And, to babysit, he’s brought over Grandpa Flanders. You know, that lady who can only say “Hello, Joe!” Yeah, she’s back. Homer and Marge immediately jump on this opportunity, and cart Bart and Lisa over to the Flanders’ house so they can have an adult day out.

Unfortunately, things fall apart almost immediately. Because Grandma Flanders’ version of babysitting is having the kids just sit around and pray, and when Bart and Lisa say that they don’t know how to pray, she instantly has a heart-attack and dies. Rod and Todd are obviously terrified, but Bart and Lisa just kind of leave the house, and go home. And, while they’re trying to figure out how to get inside, they hear an ice-cream truck, and decide to chase after it, hopping on their Big Wheel’s and zipping away.

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Homer and Marge seem to have a pretty decent brunch with Ned and Maude, but when they come home they’re pretty terrified. Rod and Todd are right where we left them, but when Homer and Marge realize that Bart and Lisa are missing, they begin panicking and start racing around the city, trying to figure out where their kids could possibly be.

Meanwhile, Bart and Lisa are having a nice little adventure. They quickly loose the ice cream truck, and instead spend the day just wandering around the town, trying to find their way home. And, along the way, they start to bond. They end up being jumped by the little bullies, and Lisa is able to save them by pretending to cry to make them so awkward they leave. They ride down a big hill because Bart believes in Lisa. They even go visit Grandpa at the Retirement Castle.

And, while all of this is going on, Homer and Marge have been running around the city. They try calling a psychic, and end up talking to Selma who is filling in, and they stop by Moe’s just in case they somehow ended up there. But, after a lot of searching, they finally find the kids, somehow atop the Tire Fire. So, thinking fast, Homer pulls a tree over to that Bart and Lisa can climb onto it. However, he lets go and it ends up slingshotting them across town, until they end up landing in their own house, and in the evil Clown Bed. Which is the whole story! Apparently, this little adventure caused Bart and Lisa to fight less? Sure.

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I’m struggling to decide how I feel about this episode. One the one hand, it’s kind of a shoddy flashback episode that put forward a weird idea, that Bart and Lisa used to fight but now they fight somewhat less and they want to know why that is. It doesn’t really add that much to the backstory, and kind of coasts on nostalgia and doesn’t really do anything to show their relationship growing. But on the other hand, I’m a huge sucker for seeing Bart and Lisa being cute little siblings, and while I thought the constant references to better flashback episodes was a little manipulative, but I’ll be honest, it kind of worked on me. Seeing the clown bed and Grandma Flanders was needless, but it did make me chuckle, even if it was just because I was thinking about better episode. But, in the end, it was a flashback episode that didn’t make me aggressively roll my eyes in irritation, which is kind of a step-up form what we’ve been getting lately. So, I’ll take that win.

Take Away: Sometimes what you need to fix your children’s problems is for them to get lost for a day.

 

“The Kids Are All Fight” was written by Rob LaZebnik and directed by Bob Anderson, 2015.

 

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