Lifetime of Simpsons

S30 E21 – D’oh Canada

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Season 30 is winding down, and that’s kind of a good thing. This season hasn’t been one of the stronger of the show, and I was kind of hoping that it would end up being the last season of the show. Unfortunately, they’re just going to ride this thing til the wheels fall off. So, why not begin this season’s graceful landing with an incredibly forgettable vacation episode. Fun!

The episode begins with the family hanging out at Mt. Splashmore, while Bart and Lisa reenact their “we wanna go to Mt. Splashmore,” joke. Even though, they’re already there. However, immediately Homer gets a notification on his phone about “points” that causes him to be flung into a panic, quickly rounding up his entire family and forcing them out of the park and into the car.

And, the reason for this is apparently that Homer has finally gotten enough points from his credit card debt to get him a free hotel stay. So, they have to go stay in a hotel immediately, because said points expire in 24 hours. And, for some reason the only hotel they could go to is in Niagara Falls. That make sense? Sure, why not. The episode has no time for any sort of proper set up, we need to get these people to Upstate New York.

The Simpsons begin rapidly road-tripping to New York, playing a fun little game where they spot various closed businesses, like Circuit City, in order to score points. Which, is kind of funny. But, you know what’s not funny? In insanely long musical parody of the famous song ‘New York, New York’ where Homer sings about Upstate New York, and how terrible it is. And it last approximately twenty minutes.

But, eventually they get to Niagara Falls, and just head over to look at the Falls, forgetting the entire hotel thing. And, after looking at the Falls for a minute the kids get incredibly bored, and decide to find something to do. Luckily, there’s some little game nearby where kids can put themselves in giant rubber balls representing Canada and America, and run into each other to establish supremacy. And, while the kids start bouncing into each other, Homer and Marge sneak off to have sex.

Which is a fatal mistake, because without adult supervision Bart and Lisa start bouncing off each other too hard, and Lisa ends up getting launched into the Falls. Luckily, the little rubber ball keeps her alive, and she is eventually washed up on a shore. However, it’s the Canadian shore. So, after a Mountie comes to save her, she’s brought to a hospital to ensure that she’s fine.

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The rest of the family eventually arrive at the hospital to see Lisa, and hear from the doctor that she’s going to stay there for a few days, just for observation. Which, terrifies Homer and Marge, until they remember that they’re in Canada, and the healthcare system isn’t a nightmare. And, this realization sparks some fury in Lisa, causing her to go on a rant about how terrible America currently is, and how she generally feels unsafe at all times in her own country.

Which is when this episode really goes off the rails. And, it wasn’t really on the rails to begin with. Because the Mountie, who is still there, hears this information and decides that it means Lisa is requesting political asylum. Which, isn’t Lisa’s choice. And, what’s more, the rest of the family don’t get a say, and they are swiftly deported back to America, so Lisa can be put into Canadian foster care.

…what?

I have no idea what’s with this episode. But, everyone just rolls with it. Because the Simpsons go back to Springfield, and just have to occasionally Skype with Lisa and her Canadian foster family, who she seems to adore. Lisa legitimately seems to be fine with just moving on with her life, and leaving America and her family behind. She loves Canada, getting to have healthcare, playing the lead role in her new school’s adaptation of the Handmaid’s Tale, and even getting to personally Skype with Justin Trudeau, who is quite personable until she brings up his ongoing obstruction of justice scandal, upon which he flees from the episode.

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And, while all of this is going on Marge has been doing everything she can to convince Lisa to come back. And, since nothing is working, Marge has decided to sneak into Canada and steal her back. I’m not sure why she couldn’t go to Canada legally, but she ends up hiding in some drunken teenager’s trunk to cross the border and head straight to Lisa’s foster home. But, Lisa still doesn’t want to return to America.

Until, she randomly does. There’s a bit where some kids are mean to a boy from Newfoundland, and she decides that Canada is just as hateful as America, and they agree to return to America. But, when they go talk to an American consulate they find that new immigration laws make it impossible for them to return. So, Marge and Lisa just have to accept their new life in Canada, and Lisa is stoked.

Well, until Marge asks Lisa to go think about all the things she loves about America, hoping that this will finally convince her to be of use in their scheming to reenter America. And, this does work. She starts thinking about things she actually likes, like Abraham Lincoln and Judy Bloom, and eventually agrees that they should return to America. And, the only way to accomplish that is by hiring some coyotes from Quebec to snowmobile them across a frozen river and sneak into America.

But, they are abandoned almost immediately by the coyotes when the river starts to break under them, leaving Marge and Lisa stranded. Luckily though, Bart and Homer arrive immediately in a giant truck to save them. But, that car sinks into the river, further causing an ice issue for them. But, they’re just able to quickly run away from the ice, and make it right back into America, returning to Springfield with no problem. And, that’s it!

 

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This episode is a straight up mess. I have been on the record as not being a huge fan of Simpsons vacation episodes, even in the best case scenario. And, late season 30 is certainly not the best of cases. Which is exacerbated because this episode is a perfect example of a subgenre within the vacation episodes. Stories where Lisa is introduced to a new city or culture, immediately falls in love with it, forsakes Springfield, and is forced to leave the city. And, those episodes are without fail, huge bummers. And yet, this episode goes even beyond just being a bummer. It just feels incredibly slapdash. And in a way that I genuinely am baffled by. The beginning of the episode uses a long couch gag, the full opening, and a chalkboard gag, all harbingers of this being an episode that is running short and that they’re padding for time. Which, also could explain why there was an interminable musical number in it. And yet, it also feels completely rushed. They fly through any semblance of a set up, basically just hand-waving and telling us “the Simpsons are going to Niagara Falls this week,” without any pretending of their being a narrative reason for this. Which, feels completely at odds with itself. But, I guess they needed time to work in three separate references to Skype, as if they were specifically being sponsored by them this week. And, it’s not just structural issues. The whole episode falls into the normal pitfalls of a vacation episode, just a lot of wandering around and knocking off highlights, which perhaps culminate in the absolutely insane Justin Trudeau cameo. They have him on, with his real voice, and make him look like a superhero, until mentioning a real life scandal that is perhaps going to be the defining mark of his reign as Canada’s Prime Minister, and it’s all just a goofy joke. Why would he have agreed to do this?! But, the real thing that rubs me the wrong way about this episode, and the thing that the show has been doing lately that most makes me mad, is that it just makes me dislike Lisa. She’s a complete shit in this episode, just gladly giving up on her family and happily fighting any sort of plot resolution, thinking of no one but herself. And it just sucks! I’m just sick of dreading watching these episodes, and I really hope they can at least somewhat turn things around.

 

“D’oh Canada” was written by Tim Long and Miranda Thompson and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2019.

 

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