Lifetime of Simpsons

S28 E19 – Looking for Mr. Goodbart

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We’ve had an…interesting week her on Lifetime of Simpsons. The Project is winding down, and things are kind of falling apart. So, what better way to finish things off than by talking about pimping yourself out to old ladies?! Oh, and it’s also the 30th anniversary from the very first Tracy Ullman short. That’s pretty cool!

The episode starts off in media res with Bart getting dressed up in a nice little suit and strutting around a fancy-looking restaurant full of old ladies. We get some narration from Bart, telling us that this is real, and that he’s changed and become a good kid. Which, you know, is kind of a weird place to start. So, obviously, it’s time to jump backwards in time a bit to explain how in the world we have gotten to such a strange place.

The episode hops back a couple days when Bart’s class was hosting some sort of special event where all the kids’ grandparents come to school. Which has worked out so well in the past. But, the old folks don’t really matter all that much. What does matter is that Bart acts like a shit during the class, and is told to go to Principal Skinner’s office to be punished. And, as you could guess, Skinner is kind of out of ideas on how to punish Bart.

And, right on time, he gets some inspiration. Because as Skinner is pondering a punishment Agnes shows up to start harping on Skinner. So, he decides to kill two birds with one stone, and makes Bart’s punishment to start hanging out with Agnes and taking care of her, figuring that Bart will hate having to spend time with Agnes, and he won’t have to do it as much. And his first task is to take her out of the school and bring her to a bus stop.

Bart and Agnes then start walking through the school, heading for the front door, when they run into Martin’s grandmother, who seems to know Agnes. The two begin tossing out thinly veiled insults, but Agnes seems to be really embarrassed by the fact that she doesn’t have a grandson of her own. And, sensing that discomfort, Bart decides to throw her a bone, and pretends to be a grandson. A great grandson in fact, rubbing it in Martin’s grandma’s face. And Agnes loves it. In fact, she even invites him to come with her and stop by a candy shop to get a reward for helping her smite an enemy.

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Meanwhile, it’s time to start setting up the incredibly trivial B-Plot! And, jumping on that bandwagon of “Complaining about things the kids today do,” it’s a parody of the Pokemon Go fad. It all begins with Homer laughing at Lenny, who is playing the game all day at work, only to become fascinated with it himself. He starts wandering all around Springfield, catching rare Peekimon, along with a vast majority of Springfield citizens.

Homer and the other Peekimon Go players wander the town, waltzing through church and straight into traffic. He’s going all sorts of places that he never has before, but it does have its downside. Namely when he encounters a real skunk and gets sprayed. Homer races home for Marge to take care of him, and she begins complaining about the stupid fad. Until Lisa shows up and tells her that Homer’s getting a lot of exercise, he just needs a partner to make sure he stays safe. And, she volunteers. So, after he’s done stinking, Homer and Lisa head out to bond and catch some Peekimon.

The Bart plot has now caught up to the beginning of the episode, and we see him waltz into that fancy restaurant, talking to old ladies and goes to visit Agnes. All the old women are blown away charming he is, and he loves the gifts that Agnes showers him with. So, sensing a good con, Bart starts himself a new little business. He rents himself out as a surrogate grandson for older ladies who don’t have any of their own.

Things seem to really be going well with Bart’s scam, raking in a whole litany of presents while accruing huge client base. But, things hit a rough patch when he’s dropping off one fake grandmother and encounters a rather stern older woman named Phoebe. She realizes what Bart’s doing, and clearly disproves of it. But, she also sees a way that Bart can help her out with something, and hires his services.

A few days later Bart goes to pick up Phoebe from her retirement center, and he quickly realizes that she has no interest in spending time with him. She just needed a “family member” to check her out of her secure facility, and now that Bart has accomplished that she’s going to ditch him and go take photos in the woods. But, Bart feels weird about this, and decides to follow Phoebe into the forest, figuring that she shouldn’t be there by herself.

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Bart follows Phoebe into the woods, and they actually have a pretty nice time together. Phoebe is patient with Bart’s brattiness, and she tries to impart some wisdom on him. They end up having a splendid time, and actually make this a fairly regular occurrence. And, after a couple sojourns into the forest Phoebe makes some cryptic statements, and gives Bart her fancy camera. However, she uses the word bequeath to him, which he isn’t familiar with.

Bart heads to the library to look up the word ‘bequeath’ and realizes that it implies that Phoebe is going to die. So, he returns to her retirement home, and finds out something horrible. That morning Phoebe had told them that she was going out with Bart, and they let her leave unsupervised, figuring that he was outside like he’d been for the last few days. It was all a con! And now Bart’s worried that Phoebe is out in the woods, dead.

But, Bart doesn’t know how to find Phoebe out in the forest. So, he returns home and seeks the help of Homer and Lisa, who have still been playing Peekimon Go. They’ve run into a bit of an issue when they learned they could spend human dollars for Peekimon, and became corrupt for a while, but when Bart comes and asks them to use their new skill for a pure and good reason, they jump on it and follow him to the forest, along with a whole crew of other Peekimon Go players.

They all start combing the forest, all while singing a parody of the old Pokemon theme song, and eventually come across Phoebe. But she’s not dead! She’s just resting. Bart talks with her, and she confirms that she did consider committing suicide to die on her own terms, but she was so blown away by the beauty of nature that she couldn’t give up on it. So, with her new lease on life, she asks for her camera back, and promises to keep spending time with Bart. Which we’ll surely never see.

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As far as episodes from Season 28 go, this one wasn’t that bad. I think the Simpsons taking some blows at Pokemon Go, a fad which was surely long-dead by the time that this episode aired, was a little strange, and reeked a bit of the weird new status quo of hating the youths that the show has taken on. But, besides that, I think it’s a pretty decent Bart episode. I like that idea of him scamming on old ladies, exploiting their loneliness for his own gain. It’s a shitty thing to do, but it seems like very vintage Bart. But, where the episode does pick up for me is when Phoebe is introduced, giving Bart and actual grandmotherly figure to teach him and bond with him. It is a little weird that she straight up tells a ten-year old that she was thinking about killer herself in the woods, but the majority of this story worked pretty well with me. Like I said, not exactly one of my favorite episodes, but for a later episode it was surprisingly solid.

Take Away: I guess that old people are easy to trick? I mean, look at our current presidential administration.

 

“Looking for Mr. Goodbart” was written by Carolyn Omine and directed by Michael Polcino, 2017.

 

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