Monthly Archives: February 2017

SSR #4: “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”

Title Card

Introduction:
When it comes to the Simpsons, they are not a very high-end family. They aren’t very wealthy, they don’t share the same values or manners as other families, and as an outsider looking into their family dynamic, I’m sure a lot of questions and concerns would arise from that observation. In this episode, Homer takes a look at his own family and compares it to the other families in town, wondering if maybe somewhere down the road something went wrong, and puts his family on a quest for improvement, with “shocking” results. This episode debuted on January 28th, 1990 and was the fourth episode to air and the fourth episode written for the show. The chalkboard gag for this episode is “I will not burp in class,” while the couch gag features the entire family trying to sit on the couch at once, which results Homer (of all people) getting squished out and landing on the floor.

BurnsMr. Burns: “And make yourselves at home”
Bart: “Hear that Dad? You can lie around in your underwear and scratch yourself.”

Plot:
Homer’s boss, Mr. Burns, is having his annual employee picnic at his mansion, and the morning of the big event, Homer is in an absolute frenzy of getting his kids to not act up during the outing and making sure everything is absolutely perfect. Apparently Mr. Burns is a stickler for families that are well-behaved and harmonious with each other, and tends to fire employees whose families misbehave or make a scene. In fact, all of the families are so scared of Mr. Burns that they even let him win the annual sack race every year, for fear of what would happen if he didn’t win. During the picnic, the kids run amok, disturbing the local wildlife, and climbing on all the different fixtures, causing Homer to be on constant watch-duty. Even Marge, the most cool and collected member of the family, gets incredibly tipsy after drinking several cups of “punch,” causing her to dance around and sing; creating her own scene that Homer also watches disappointedly. As the family is leaving, Homer notices another family that is very well-behaved and good-mannered and he starts to compare the family to his own. The other family’s kids open the car doors for each other while Bart and Lisa fight over who gets in first, and the wife of the husband offers to drive back while Marge is still very much drunk and feeling sick. Homer is ashamed and disappointed by this observation as the show closes on the first act.

Homer confronts the rest of the family about their actions at the picnic and tries to make changes. He starts by making the entire family eat in the dining room and say grace before eating their meal, but the rest of the family continues to exhibit poor table manners. He decides to show them all how other families and households act by spying into their homes from the windows outside; which comically leads them to running away from gunfire after a family notices their presence and forces them off of their property. Homer goes to Moe’s Tavern where he sees a commercial for Dr. Marvin Monroe’s family-based therapy center and becomes inspired when he thinks this may be the only shot for things to get better for the Simpsons. He talks it over with the rest of the family, who are all very much against the idea, but Homer insists, knowing that this is the answer he was looking for. The only problem; the therapy is very expensive and they need to make some monetary sacrifices. They start by dipping into the kids’ college fund and Homer makes the boldest decision of them all by pawning the family television. Marge even offers up her own engagement ring, but is countered by Homer who says, “I appreciate that honey, but we need $150 dollars here!”

The Simpsons go to therapy and meet Dr. Marvin Monroe, but at first, his tactics seem to be falling on deaf ears and closed minds. Homer doesn’t listen during one of the exercises and Bart takes the padding off of the foam rubber aggression mallets, swinging the metal rod at the doctor’s shin. He decides that the only way the family is going to get cured is if he uses extreme measures, so he hooks the family up to the electric generator. In an all-time classic Simpsons moment, the family misses the point of the exercise and starts shocking each other continuously (even baby Maggie joins in on the fun), causing the lights to flicker and scare off all of the other patients. Dr. Monroe stops the exercise and claims that the family cannot be cured and that they need to leave. Homer, remembering an important part of the commercial he saw, states that the ad promised family bliss, otherwise they would get double their money back. The doctor reluctantly pays the family double their entry fee and sends them on their way. In a last minute realization of togetherness and happiness, the Simpsons go to purchase a brand new television to replace the one they pawned off; ending the episode on a very tender moment.

Evil Simpsons“Homie, get in the car. This is where you belong. Yeah, Homer, room for one more. One of us! One of us! One of us! One of us!”
~Homer’s freaky daydream of his family’s image

Personal History:
Although I don’t not remember seeing the episode in full until the Season 1 DVD released, I definitely remembered the classic electric generator scene. It was definitely used in a future clip show, for sure, but even then, that’s just a scene that has always stuck with me, regardless of how or when I saw it. It’s just one of those moments that you can never forget.

Good FamilyHomer: “Look at that, kids. No fighting, no yelling.”
Bart: “No belching!”
Lisa: “The dad has his shirt on.”
Marge: “Look, napkins!”
Bart: “These people are obviously freaks.”

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I think it’s safe to say that this episode is an absolute benchmark for the series. If not for the final, big scene I’ve been putting a lot of my focus into, but also just because this episode plot confirms the type of family the Simpsons are and what they will continue to be for the rest of the series. They don’t have a high standard of living, they’re not the brightest crayons in the box (with exception to Lisa, but this is before the “brainiac” image really starts to get pushed, plus Lisa does have a very “Simpson-esque” side to her; all things considering), the kids are pretty unfiltered for their age and don’t give a lot of respect to their father, and they just don’t give off that typical American family vibe that you hear about on television and other forms of media. And personally, I think it’s great that they break that image, because every family in the world, real or fiction, has their own unique dynamic, and honestly, that’s the way it should be. A good family will always find a way to work things out, no matter the circumstances, and the Simpsons did just that at the end of this episode. Homer was disappointed at his family, the kids and Marge resented Homer for making them do the therapy, but they all came together, ripped off a therapy clinic, and left the place richer, happier, and most important, left the building together, united as a family unit. I’m not advising any family in real time to try conning a clinic out of 500 dollars, but for the purpose of this episode, it works, and was truly my favorite moment and best moment of the entire episode. Maybe of the entire season too, but we still have nine episodes left before we make that judgment.

As far as jokes are concerned, I think one joke that really caught me off guard in this re-watch was the fact that the family Homer was envious of at the end of Mr. Burn’s picnic was actually in the family therapy center waiting room before the Simpsons went in for their session. This was clearly a visual gag set up by the Simpsons writers, one that could very easily be overlooked if you don’t focus on specific details (like what those characters looked like), but I also think it’s a very nice message about how some families put up a mask or a façade when in public to hide their happiness. Believe it or not, not all families are necessarily happy all the time, and every family, even the closest ones, can have their issues and dirty laundry. Some just prefer not to air it in public and work on those issues in private where, arguably, that should be the case in most instances. I just thought it was funny to see that they were there at that point in time, and it was almost kind of cosmic in the sense that the Simpsons got to leave the building in harmony while the other family may have been unable to do so; essentially switching around the terrible feeling Homer had at the end of the first act. I also really enjoyed Homer’s comment on Marge’s engagement ring, implying that the engagement ring was worth less than a $150 dollar television.

This episode also features the first instance of the Homer Simpson “Mmm…” joke, where he makes that noise followed by some kind of food item or an item that sounds like it could be digested (in the mind of Homer Simpson anyway), and he does it while admiring the lovely gelatin desserts that Marge has made for the picnic. He makes his pleasure known by saying “Mmm…marshmellow.” And even though I am 3 episodes late on this, Homer does have another vocal joke in the series in the form of “D’oh,” a sound made by Homer’s voice actor, Dan Castellaneta when he read “annoyed grunt” in an episode screwed. Homer first did this in the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” the first episode of the season, but since I’m just so used to Homer doing that in the first place, it didn’t cross my mind to mention it. I will not be calling attention to any of these gags throughout the series though (unless an extremely humorous one emerges), just because of how numerous and common they are, but I did figure this would be a good time to mention them now, at least while we are still this early in the series.

As far as other mentionable oddities, Waylon Smithers is back in this episode, but the “tan” that he had in episode 3 is now gone for good. However, on the topic of incorrect skin colors, this was also the first appearance of police officers Eddie and Lou from the Springfield Police Department, and I think at this point in the series, they hadn’t decided (or once again, the animators missed the notes) that Lou was going to be an African-American cop, because in this episode, he is definitely white. It’s quite amazing to look at all these episodes again and notice all of the little oddities here and there. In the same image linked above, you also can take a look at Moe with his black hair that he had back during this season as well. Those Season 1 memories…

pawn the TVLisa: “No, Dad! Please don’t pawn the TV.”
Bart: Oh, come on, Dad, anything but that.”
Marge: “Homer, couldn’t we pawn my engagement ring instead?”
Homer: “Now I appreciate that, honey, but we need $150 dollars here!”

My Review:
So after my incredibly positive analysis earlier on the ending of the episode, you probably think I’m going to be pretty generous and enthusiastic about this one. Honestly…with exception to the family therapy segment (which is basically the entirety of Act 3)… I’m not really a big fan of this story. I just don’t like the way Homer thinks in this episode. He spends too much time focusing on how he wants his family to be, whether it’s to score some brownie points with his boss, or just to appease his own wants and needs at home. Given, his kids can be a little too much to take sometimes, but they are kids! By pushing and forcing them into some kind of façade to make him look great, naturally the kids are going to want to rebel as much as possible; so if anything, Homer had been literally asking them for that kind of behavior all along. Even during the therapy session, when Dr. Monroe asked the family to illustrate the roots of their unhappiness, Marge, Lisa and Bart all drew Homer, while Homer ignored the question and drew a plane crash. This goes to show you that Homer wasn’t doing much better as the head of the household as the rest of the family was doing with giving him respect. The entire family was at fault, but I think the episode focuses a little too much on the Homer side of the story, when he was probably the biggest instigator of the family’s problems. I guess you could say that I just couldn’t really sympathize with him, and that’s probably why I have a hard time with this episode.

With that being said though, once the family gets to the therapy center, I think it picks up phenomenally well. It has a lot of funny moments and gags, it’s interesting to see where Dr. Monroe goes next with his treatments (and how the family continues to mess them up), and the ending was the most perfect way to end the episode. It ends with them taking all of that pent-up aggression and releasing it at each other in a creative way, and then they celebrate their “victory” by going to purchase a new television afterwards; the very same object that got them to that lowest point once Homer sold it to begin with. It’s a good finale that saves this episode for me, quite honestly. I just wish I could have been more invested in the story…you know, before the final act of the episode.

So overall, that is going to be my analysis for this one. I was honestly looking forward to see what this post would end up like, and I’m very pleased by the results. I think it’s good when you can praise a particular part of one episode, even if it’s one you don’t particularly like. And on the flip side, it’s always good to point out the negatives when going through an episode you enjoy as well. This is why I’m really curious to see how these will end up the further we get into the series. For now though, I’m putting “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” back on the shelf and I’m going to let the Simpson family watch their new $500 dollar television, because as Lisa said, “It’s not so much the money as much as the feeling that we earned it.”

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So yeah, I was a little late with this one, but honestly, this was probably the episode that took the least amount of time to make, so I am definitely starting to get this down to a science now. I just had a lot of stuff to get done last weekend, as I did get back into streaming again and I’m still trying to make some major headway with all of my videos as well (since I do have a vacation coming up). I’m not going to promise an issue this weekend, but if I get some time after all the craziness subsides, I will start working on the next episode, which was probably my favorite episode the first time I watched through Season 1, so it should be a good time!

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Mega Man 8

Mega Man 8

Game: Mega Man 8
Start Date: February 21st, 2017
End Date: March 15th, 2017
Videos: 7

Strange things are going on once again and Dr. Wily is yet again at the helm of the chaos. A mysterious robot has been found, a weird energy has been discovered, and eight more robot masters have been unleashed. This is Mega Man’s most colorful adventure yet, but can he outlast the evil doctor’s assault and get through extremely cheesy cutscenes with bad voice acting all in the name of everlasting peace?

It’s no secret that I was going to do this game eventually, and it did take me a while to sit down and finally play through it all, but I knew that I had to do it at some point, and before I started on any other big projects, I figured it was time to get it out of the way. This is probably my least favorite Mega Man game, at the time of uploading this project, but it’s still worth a gander at for sure. Just hope you have good luck finding it or the Anniversary Collection.

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Question Corner #13 – 2/21/17

Question Corner #13 - 2/21/17

Ok guys, it’s time for another Question Corner. I don’t really have much to say here, so let’s just get this show on the road!

As usual, if you would like to submit a question of your own, you can do so here; at the contact page. Just make sure the question is appropriate, has some substance to it, and is nothing too personal (don’t ask where I live or what my family’s last name is, basically).

Q: Which Sonic game was worse, the Game Boy Advance version of Sonic the Hedgehog or Sonic the Hedgehog 2006?
A: I have not played either, but I’d probably say the GBA port of Sonic 1, just because of how bad it looks, how slow it is, and how crunched in the screen was. Sonic 2006 was definitely an unfinished bad dream, but at least there was “something” there, despite how broken it was. There was really no excuse to make a classic game like Sonic 1 look and play so badly.

Q: Would you ask your future father-in-law permission to marry his daughter?
A: I consider myself an old-fashioned guy, but not that old-fashioned. At the end of the day, I think the daughter’s opinion holds more value than the father, since she is the one making the decision. I do think it is important though to have a good relationship with the father, if you are going to marry into the family, but at the same time, he shouldn’t be the one making the decision either; if that makes sense.

Q: Do your parents enjoy playing video games?
A: My dad enjoys playing games every now and then, but he only sticks to Civilization and basic computer games (like Hearts and Spider Solitaire). My mom is even less of a gamer than my dad, but she did get into a tablet game once that involved killing zombies with bombs and other projectiles.

Q: Will you do Top 10s and lists for the handheld Mario Party games, and will you do skits for them as well?
A: At some point, yes, but not for awhile. As far as skits are concerned; I’ll consider it, but to be honest, I thought a lot of my skits were pretty dumb honestly, so I don’t see them returning. We’ll see though…

Q: Where would you like to go on vacation?
A: It’s a typical, unsurprising answer, but to my usual vacation spot in Orlando, Florida at my mom’s timeshare. I just love going there every year and it’s just very nice to go to our home away from home and relax for a week! Really don’t need to go anywhere fancy…just to a place where we can relax.

Q: What do you make of the Donkey Konga games?
A: I’ve never personally played them, but they were made at a time when rhythm gaming was picking up steam, so it’s not really surprising that they were made. They seemed pretty interesting though and games I wouldn’t mind trying someday in the future.

Q: Are you a fan of heavy metal?
A: I don’t know…it’s a little too heavy. It hurts my back whenever I try to lift it. In all seriousness, no, I’m not much of a metal guy. I can tolerate it sometimes when it comes to bands like Metallica, Black Sabbath and Iron Maiden, but I wouldn’t say I’m a fan of it.

Q: What is your opinion on GiivaSunner and his high quality video game rips?
A: Click Here

Q: What is your ACTUAL opinion on GiivaSunner and his high quality rips?
A: Real talk, I love his high quality rips. Listening to them last year and checking his channel every single day for new videos was always a good time I had with my friends. My favorite ones were ones that involved the DK Rap, Snow Halation and of course, good old FLEENSTONES!

Q: Do you think HAL should make a Kirby game like the 3D Mario platformers, or keep his games in a 2D format?
A: It’s a tricky thing with Kirby, because his gameplay style just seems to work very well in 2D and I don’t really see how it could in 3D. Not saying it’s impossible…I just can’t see it. I imagine it could be done though, but all of the newest Kirby games have been great in my eyes and I would like to see them create more of them.

Q: Who are your favorite video game composers?
A: David Wise, Grant Kirkhope, and Koji Kondo are my favorites for sure. I even had the pleasure of meeting and getting autographs of the former two.

Q: Do you find it sexist that Ocarina of Time has more female sages than male sages?
A: No.

Q: Did someone seriously ask you that last question?
A: Yes…

Q: Do you think Mario Party is the best party series that exists right now?
A: Yes, definitely. Say what you want about Mario Party 10 and Island Tour, but even those games can lead to enjoyment and I just haven’t been able to have the same joy with any other party game.

Q: Would you want to see more Sonic characters in Smash Bros., like Tails and Knuckles?
A: Yes I would, and those two are probably the only two characters I would like to see. They are pretty unique with their own abilities, I can see them controlling in unique ways, and they are good characters.

Q: Do you have any favorite cartoon shows aside from the Simpsons?
A: I am a very big Futurama fan as well. I’ve also watched a lot of South Park as well. In recent years, I’ve also started watching MLP: Friendship is Magic and Steven Universe, so those shows are the ones I feel most strongly about, in a good way.

Q: What do you make of leaplings?
A: I feel no different about people born on February 29th than I feel about any other person that is born on any other day of the calendar year, whether it’s Leap Year or not.

Q: What new games are you looking forward to playing in 2017?
A: The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, Super Mario Odyssey and Fire Emblem Warriors are already very strong front runners.

Q: Now that Mario Party DS and Wario Land 3 have been done, what is the most requested game for you to Let’s Play on your channel?
A: Pikmin 3 is easily the biggest request I have right now and it will probably remain that way until I do the game. The only thing is….not really sure when I want to do it. I did a stream playthrough last year, but I want to play it again before I feel comfortable playing it in an LP format, since I did have some issues getting through the game.

Q: What’s your favorite Michael Jackson song?
A: My favorite MJ song is either Smooth Criminal or Billie Jean.

Ok, I think that’s it for another Question Corner! Thanks for reading guys and remember, if you want to ask a question, go to the intro of this episode where I have a link to the Contact page!

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Donkey Kong Land

Donkey Kong Land

Game: Donkey Kong Land
Start Date: February 8th, 2017
End Date: February 13th, 2017
Videos: 6

Donkey Kong Country was a huge success on the Super Nintendo. However, Cranky Kong was a bit unconvinced on how well it did, saying that the only reason it sold well was due to the high quality graphics at the time. To counter this, DK and Diddy once again go on another quest, this time on the Game Boy, to show that graphics aren’t everything and that Donkey Kong is just a fun series in general.

Here’s the thing about computer repairs; sometimes it takes more than just one Game Boy project to last the entirety of the repair duration. So after Metroid II was completed, I went to another Game Boy game that I had yet to cover and this time it was Donkey Kong Land. Although not as amazing as the Country games, it was still very interesting to check these games out.

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SSR #3: “Homer’s Odyssey”

Intro

Introduction:
So far in this series, we’ve spent some time with the Simpson family for the holiday season, and we took a look at what Bart’s life is like inside the schoolhouse. This episode, “Homer’s Odyssey,” will be examining Homer at the workplace, or to be more specific; how Homer deals when that world is turned upside-down on his very head. I’m sure this episode will shock you with what we will discover; especially if you’ve seen episodes that come after this plot. This episode aired on January 21st, 1990 and was the third episode written and aired on television.

The chalkboard gag for this episode is, “I will not skateboard in the halls,” a very basic and not-at-all surprising action to get in trouble for, but it is the first piece of evidence that we have in regards to Bart being a big skateboarder. The couch gag features the entire family sitting down on the couch with the couch falling apart at the very seams. These gags are still very basic in nature, but give it a bit as we are still in the first season. It won’t be until future seasons when they get more creative, whacky and start adapting references to other media. With that out of the way, let’s start talking about this episode.

Dip Sign

Marge: “Oh, Homer, I’m so proud of you!”
Homer: “Proud? Proud of what?”
Marge: Well, everything! Your dip sign for instance. Now people won’t be caught off-guard by that little ‘mmm-mmmm’ in the road!”

Plot:
Even though this is a Homer storyline, the first act of the show focuses entirely on Bart. His class is going on a field trip to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, which just so happens to be the place where Homer works. We get some more insight to how much of a troublemaker Bart is at school, learning that he may have been the cause of letting some prisoners out during another field trip to the Springfield prison. His teacher, Mrs. Krabappel, is also very tired of his antics as well; not showing any sort of pity for Bart after he is forced to sit next to the kid that pukes on every bus ride, nor doubt when twins Sherri & Terri continue to play tricks on Bart throughout the trip. When they arrive at the plant and start taking the tour, Bart notices his father and calls out to him, causing Homer to look away from what he is doing and crash into a nearby piece of equipment. This accident angers his supervisor and Homer is fired from his job as result; turning this mini-Bart storyline into the main plot of the episode.

After being fired, Homer looks for a new job but is constantly and consistently rejected at every interview. The rejection starts to affect Homer in a very negative way, turning him into an “unemployed whale” who does nothing but lay on the couch all day and not respond to anyone. After seeing a beer commercial, Homer is intrigued by the prospect of drinking his sorrows away, but when he checks the fridge, there is no beer in the house, forcing him into more extreme measures. He steals Bart’s piggy-bank and tries to take money from his own son, but when he realizes what he is doing AND finds out that not even his son has enough money, Homer feels like he is out of options and the next logical step is for him to commit suicide.

Now, for those of you reading this and who have not seen this episode before…yes, that is a very dark decision to make, especially to such a sudden degree, but I kind of understand what the writers were going for and I’ll talk about this more in the review portion of this entry. Anyway, Homer grabs a boulder, ties a rope around it and carries it to the bridge above Springfield River. Thankfully, before too much time passes, the rest of the Simpson family find Homer’s suicide note and rush to the bridge to stop Homer from going through with his plan. Before he can do anything, Homer sees the rest of the family coming towards him while a giant vehicle is about to crash into his family, forcing Homer into action as he runs to his family (while the boulder is still attached to him by the way), and pushes them out of the way before it’s too late. This act of bravery inspires Homer to not kill himself and take action to make the town safer.

Homer becomes a crusader of public safety; petitioning the town to construct more road signs and warn people of the problems and dangers that exist around town. While the thrill of making the town safer gives his life new meaning, Homer realizes there is a bigger threat to the town and that threat is his old workplace, the nuclear power plant. Homer sets up a protest outside the building, forcing the owner of the plant, Mr. Burns, to take notice. After being impressed of the way Homer speaks to the crowd, Mr. Burns calls Homer up to his office to speak with him privately.

Mr. Burns offers to give Homer a job at the plant again, this time being in charge of plant safety, on the one condition that he stops his crusade and tells all of the people outside that the power plant is safe and there is no more need to worry. Homer accepts the proposal at first, but when he tries to tell everyone that the plant is safe, he can’t do it because it would abandon his newfound principles. Mr. Burns is further impressed and gives Homer the job anyway, allowing Homer to take charge and make the plant safe himself instead of just sweeping the concern under the rug. Homer tells all of his supporters outside the good news, and the crowd cheers him on as he dances over his new promotion; leading him to falling off the balcony and being caught by everyone below him.

Protest

Bart: “Gee, Dad’s a hero.”
Homer: “What’d you say son?”
Bart: “Nothing.”
Homer: “That’s okay. I’ll just assume you said what I thought I heard you say.”

Personal History:
Like most of Season 1, I first saw this episode when it released on the Season 1 DVD. Back then I thought the episode was fine and was a basic introduction to the power plant, but in recent watches, there were definitely some things that surprised me. For one, it surprised me how stretched out the story is and how it feels like three separate mini-episodes that are combined into one storyline. I also took notice that the episode introduced a lot of side characters and continuous gags and jokes that would be used in later episodes. And to top it all off, just the idea of the main character (or one of them) considering and nearly attempted suicide just really took me off guard, especially after watching future episodes and seeing how Homer would react to similar situations in a much different way. So in a lot of respects, this episode just seemed like a very interesting outlier to me; being iconic for some reasons and incredibly different and out of place for other reasons. I still have a few other things I want to talk about first, but I’m really anxious to start breaking this episode down in the review.

BoulderWalk

Mrs. Winfield: “Oh, looks like young Simpson is going to kill himself.”
Mr. Winfield: “Well Maybe not. Maybe he’s just taking his boulder for a walk.

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
This particular episode brought a few, notable, first-time jokes. For one, this was the first episode that featured the classic Bart Simpson “prank call” joke that would go down as being one of the most famous jokes of the series. Basically, Bart would call Moe’s Tavern under a fake name, and get Moe to say the name out loud, which usually would be some kind of crude remark or dirty saying. In this episode, Bart’s identity is known as “I. P. Freely.” This was also the first episode that mentioned the graffiti vandal known as “El Barto,” a mysterious figure that would go around town and spray paint “El Barto” on various walls and landmarks. There’s a lot of speculation on this particular joke, particularly the identity of El Barto, and because of the sketch artist’s interpretation, it’s very heavily assumed and implied that the identity is none other than Bart Simpson himself. There is a future episode that confirms this, but it isn’t until much later in the series, and with how many times the writers have backpedaled on revelations like this, it’s hard for me to be entirely convinced. However, the writers did state in numerous audio commentaries that this was always the intention and that they intended to include “El Barto” tags in every episode (or most episodes). In fact, the Kwik-E-Mart usually has an “El Barto” tag in most episodes the store appears in.

This episode is also one of the episodes I think of when it comes to “freeze frame” jokes, especially with newspaper headlines. During the episode, when Homer is going around town and making the town safer, you see a variety of newspapers with funny pictures and captions of all of Homer’s deeds, and while they aren’t split-second like future instances of this, it’s definitely a big example of die-hard, classic Simpson fans going through these episodes and looking for all the little jokes sprinkled in during the story. It can be as simple as a newspaper headline or a bunch of humorous movie titles at the theater whenever the family goes to the movies, but one thing for sure, the Simpsons writers know how to make a good freeze-frame joke.

This episode also continues the trend of Homer getting a new job after quitting or being fired from his position at the nuclear power plant, or him just taking an odd job in his spare time. This will happen numerous times over the series, and although his duty as a safety crusader didn’t pay anything, it was something he took seriously and seemed to be more proficient at than his actual job. In fact, I find this to be rather humorous that Homer seems to be happier and work better at every job he has, with exception to his actual job, which is the job he keeps for pretty much the entire series.

I don’t have a lot to say about this episode when it comes to my favorite moments, but there are a few things that stand out to me. For one, I think it’s great that Homer is so passionate about his new calling of being a safety crusader for the town of Springfield. He may go a little overboard at times, but some of his suggestions were really good and he may have saved a few lives with some of the signs he got constructed. And then, when he realizes that the power plant is a big threat (because it logically is), he manages to fight the system with ease without any fear whatsoever. In fact, it’s his wife that actually has concern with him going against his old bosses while Homer is ready to fight tooth and nail to make the town safe. I think it truly shows, in a positive way, how much Homer can do if he just puts his mind to it.

And for being a very dark part of the story, the one joke I always remember from this episode, which might be my favorite joke as a result, is the snarky remarks from the Winfields when Homer is carrying the boulder to the bridge to commit suicide. Mrs. Winfield remarks that “Simpson is going to kill himself,” while the husband remarks that Homer may not be attempting suicide, but rather “taking his boulder for a walk,” instead. Suicide jokes themselves are not funny and they never will be in any case whatsoever, but just the fact that Mr. Winfield was not quick to assume that, because of the type of person Homer Simpson is, just seems very funny to me; like in the sense that, “he really COULD be taking a boulder for a walk, you never know; he’s crazy Homer Simpson!” So that joke will always be a highlight for me, despite the dark tone of that particular moment. Aside from that, all of the other gags I mentioned and brought up earlier, from the prank phone call and the newspaper headlines, they’re also funny as well, but are more footstools for a series-wide joke than just a single, episode gag. I will also say that I do enjoy the montage of Homer having doors slam in his face when looking for a job, with the final door being at his home with Bart saying, “don’t give up dad!” before slamming the door shut.

The last thing I want to call attention to, and this is probably the most shocking thing if you have watched episodes beyond this one, but in this episode, Waylon Smithers does not have the same skin color as he does in future episodes. This is the only episode where he is colored like this and the reason for it is because the animators were not sure what color he was supposed to be so they made his skin more brown/tan-colored. The writers of the show often joke that the reason Smithers was colored this way was because he had a very dark tan from an island get-away or something, so it’s good to know that they had their fun with this particular mistake. Other characters also have slight differences in the first season, namely Chief Wiggum and Moe have black hair instead of their trademark black and gray hair.

SimpsonInAllOfUs

“Friends, you have come to depend on me as your safety watchdog, so you won’t scrape yourself or stub your toes or blow yourselves up. But you can’t depend on me all your life. You have to learn that there’s a little Homer Simpson in all of us…”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
Homer’s Odyssey is a very iconic episode, and I didn’t realize how iconic it was until I watched it back for this analysis. It introduces a lot of things we know about The Simpsons moving forward and it writes a lot of characters and jokes that we’ll see throughout the entire series. For that, this episode holds my respect for those particular introductions. However, as far as the story itself and the overall plot of the episode is concerned, I will say that this episode did fall short in a couple of areas, and is not one of my favorites as a result. As I mentioned above in the personal history section, this particular story is segmented. Act 1 focuses on Bart’s field trip, Act 2 focuses on Homer’s lay-off and depression, and Act 3 focuses on Homer’s safety crusade. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with jumping around to that degree, as I’m sure other episodes may do that format with success, but with this particular episode, it just kind of bothered me a little. I think it’s because there just aren’t a lot of jokes in this one because there is so much plot that needs to be set-up beforehand that the writers were trying to fill-in how to get Homer from point A to point B than writing joke after joke after joke. Whenever there were jokes, as good as they were, the jokes themselves seemed more like filler to compensate for a shorter run time than jokes that flowed nicely with the story. And sure, you probably don’t want to have too many jokes in your episode, but for this one, I feel like it could have used a bit more, at least in my opinion.

There’s also quite a bit of confusion I have with the ending of this episode. During the ending, Homer is offered another job at the power plant under the condition that he tells his supporters that the plant is safe. Homer tries to, but is unable to go along with it because of his principles. As a result, Mr. Burns compliments him and gives him the job anyway, which prompts Homer to go outside and tell everybody that he is going to be the safety inspector. This confuses me, because what exactly changed between the two times Homer went out to the balcony? Nothing really. So why couldn’t Homer just say his speech the first time he went out there? I feel like for this moment, you really have to examine the syntax of what the two were talking about. And as far as my interpretation goes; the first time Homer went out, he was just supposed to say the plant was safe with no context, in Mr. Burn’s interest of sending everyone away and stopping the protest. However, the second time he goes out, he says that he will taking the job and trying to make the plant safe on the inside, which is much different than the original intent of sweeping the problem under the rug. However, if Homer said that speech the first time, would Mr. Burns not give him the job? I mean, either way, it was a win-win. I think it makes sense from looking at it from the perspective I mentioned, but truth be told, that did have me confused for the longest time and I think it could have been written a little better.

And surely I can’t overlook the giant boulder in the room when it comes to the “attempted suicide” scene. I’m not going to speak ill of this moment, because again, I get what the writers were going for, and truth be told, I think they handled it very well. Homer was depressed, he couldn’t provide for his family, he had no skills to work with or any alcohol to help him cope with the pain; so he felt like he was only getting in the way of his family, and therefore felt useless and not important at all, which is why he made that decision. I can’t imagine how that must feel for someone or anyone going through those types of thoughts, which is why it was refreshing to see Homer discover his life’s purpose at the end of that scene, but I think it was good for the writers to spread that kind of awareness and the message that suicide is not the answer. And considering the extreme nature of this topic, it’s just really interesting to see them deliver that message so early in the series and they did it with only a two minute scene, as opposed to an entire episode. It’s also interesting, especially when looking at how Homer would cope with a problem like this in future episodes, just seeing how sudden and how out of left field this scene came from. These days, Homer would come up with a kooky scheme or crazy project to get his mind off and away from the power plant, but this time, it really hit him hard and in a way that most people probably wouldn’t see coming from him. I guess that goes to show you how much this show has changed over the years, and on a more serious note, how serious and scary depression can be in general, and how it should never be overlooked or ignored.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this is a bad episode by any means. It has its nice and funny moments and it has some good messages throughout the plot as well. I feel like it could have been a much stronger episode if they spent a little less time on story-telling and a little more time on the jokes and humor. Again, not saying the show needs to be a joke-fest or anything, but a nice balance of story-telling and jokes is a good way to keep your viewers interested and invested. I think that’s all I have to say about this episode, so as I’m closing this out, just try to remember what Homer Simpson taught us about being safe. He may no longer be our safety watchdog, but we have to remember that even though he is gone, “there is always a little Homer Simpson in all of us.”

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This episode took me a bit longer to make because I was trying a slightly new format with these posts, but at the end of me finishing my rough draft, I realized there was way more information and writing than I really even wanted, so I spent an entire day re-editing and modifying this document to get it in the format I wanted before I realized that I was more happy with the usual format I’ve been doing for these posts. I guess it’s just a case of, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But seriously, as usual, any insight or advice is helpful, so don’t be afraid to tweet at me or send me a message if you have some thoughts. Thanks everybody! See you next week for the next episode!

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Metroid II: Return of Samus

Metroid II: Return of Samus

Game: Metroid II: Return of Samus
Start Date: February 2nd, 2017
End Date: February 7th, 2017
Videos: 6

Samus Aran is back in action and this time, she’s armed to take down some Metroids. SR388 is the Metroid homeworld and Samus has strict orders to take down every Metroid for fear they will once again be used for malicious intentions in the galaxy. She’ll need to brave the deepest and darkest caverns to accomplish this task and may come face to face with Metroid royalty.

This project pretty much came out of nowhere due to some computer issues I was having and needing some smaller projects to do in the meantime while I was getting the computer fixed up. Metroid II was a game I finished for the first time not long before this happened, so I decided to give this project a shot. It was on my list to do this year anyway, but it was nice to move it up for this occasion as I had fun doing this game for you guys.

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SSR #2: “Bart the Genius”

BartTheGenius
Introduction:
Now that The Simpsons has done its first episode and Christmas special in just one airing, it’s time for us to move on to the next episode and see what the Simpson family looks like without the holiday season. “Bart the Genius” aired on January 14th, 1990, being the second episode written for the series and the second to air on television. As I mentioned in the last episode, the episode titled “Some Enchanted Evening,” was written before this episode, but due to the crude nature of the animation, it was pushed to the end of the season instead (with not much improvement in between). The Christmas special was written later and pushed up in the airing order to release it during the holiday season. This was also the first episode of the show to air in the 1990s, bringing the start to what will be known as the golden decade of The Simpsons. Will this episode be a benchmark of greatness with more greatness to come? Or did it come up short? We’ll find out very soon.

But first, It’s also worth mentioning that this the first episode to feature the classic opening sequence that the show is known for, also being the debut for the famous “chalkboard gag” and “couch gag.” The chalkboard gag is shown at the very beginning of the sequence and features Bart writing a phrase on the chalkboard numerous times as a punishment. These phrases are usually comical in nature and some are downright silly in the sense that Bart actually got in trouble for doing something incredibly outrageous and outlandish. The phrases change from episode to episode and from my knowledge, a chalkboard gag has never been done twice (I could be wrong though). The couch gag is generally a little more interesting, being shown at the end of the sequence. They usually show the entire Simpson family coming in the house to sit down on the couch (or try to) with something unique happening during the process; usually to a comical degree. It’s not uncommon to see a certain couch gag used in multiple episodes. In fact, certain couch gags are reused and brought back due to their length because if an episode runs shorter than the episode run time, they may use a certain couch gag to make the episode air time a little bit longer to compensate for the shorter run time.

It’s also worth pointng out that the first season had a unique opening compared to the one used for Season 2 through Season 20. While the premise is pretty much the same and has a similar flow, there were a few scenes in the first season intro that were cut shorter and the animation was in general improved for future iterations. The “highlights” of this first season intro is a section where we see a bunch of unnamed adult characters running to chase a bus (caused by Bart stealing the “Bus Stop” sign), and a slightly extended scene of Lisa biking home to the Simpson house. Aside from those features, the animation improving, and the inclusion of more permanent Simpson characters, there really isn’t too much different. I do like the improved intro more, but it is always fun to go back and take a look at what the intro used to be.

Anyway, I know I’m talking a lot about the intro and not really about the second episode yet, but I think it is important to take a look at this now while it’s relevant because the opening sequence of the Simpsons is pretty iconic. It’ll be around for the long haul and it introduces (almost) every single episode of the show. And a show with over 600 episodes; I think that’s very important. So for every episode, I’ll try to mention and highlight the chalkboard gag and couch gag in the Introduction before I get to the actual episode. For this episode, the chalkboard gag is “I will not waste chalk,” which is pretty funny considering the circumstances of Bart’s punishment. The couch gag shows the entire family trying to crowd onto the couch with Bart getting launched to the ceiling when the combined forces of the entire family cannot fit them all on one piece of furniture. And as an added bonus for the continuation of this couch gag, when the camera focuses on the TV and the writing credits for the show, Bart can be seen falling to the ground in front of the TV with a loud thud.

kwyjibosimpsons
Homer: “Wait a minute, you little cheater. You’re not going anywhere until you tell me what a ‘kwyjibo’ is.”
Bart: “Kwyjibo; uh..a big, dumb, balding, North American ape, with no chin.”
Marge: “And a short temper…”
Homer: “I’ll show you a big, dumb, balding ape!”
Bart: “Uh-oh! Kwyjibo on the loose!”

Plot:
In the first episode, we got a few glimpses of the kind of child that Bart Simpson is. Unlike his sister Lisa, Bart is a bit more outspoken and is more prone to getting into mischief, disobeying his parents wishes, and is not the sharpest tool in the shed when it comes to his schoolwork. This episode really hits that point hard when one of Bart’s stunts miraculously puts him on the other side of that coin; in an environment that he’s not used to, and in a place where he probably doesn’t belong. How long can Bart keep the charade up, and how far is he willing to go before he gets caught or before the guilt catches up with him?

The episode starts with the Simpson family playing a nice game of Scrabble. We find out that the reason for this family game night is because Bart is scheduled to have a big intelligence test the following day and the game was a way to get Bart’s brain working before the big exam. Instead of taking the exercise to heart, Bart spends the game mouthing off and making up words, leading to Homer chasing him through the house when trying to pass off “kwyjibo” as a serious word. Bart continues his escapades into the next morning when he gets caught defacing school property with spray paint and gets into verbal scuffles with fellow honor student and teacher’s pet Martin Prince. After a few choice words and tongue-faces from his rival, Bart decides to get his revenge on the boy by taking Martin’s finished exam and swapping the names on the two exams when nobody was looking.

Later that day, Homer and Marge come in for Bart’s punishment for defacing school property,and while Principal Skinner is lecturing the two parents on Bart’s behavior, the school’s psychologist, Dr. Pryor, comes in to reveal that Bart has a 216 IQ and is classified as a genius. This comes as a shock for the entire room, but Dr. Pryor suggests that Bart’s behavior may be the result of him feeling suffocated in the public school environment and suggests they move him to a private school where Bart can learn at his own pace and set his own boundaries and assignments. The thought of no boundaries and no homework assignments pleases Bart and he accepts the offer without question.

During his first few days of private school, Bart starts to feel incredibly out of place. The lessons are extremely advanced and the other kids are very aware that Bart is not as smart as they are; teasing him and taking advantage of Bart’s actual intelligence. To make things worse, Bart’s friends at his old school will no longer talk to him anymore because he is now a brainiac himself, making Bart feel even more like an outsider. Even Marge tries to nurture her son’s newfound intelligence by taking the family to the opera and experimenting with different forms of culture, but as we discover, these are things completely out of the Simpson family’s element. The one thing that does improve with his new life is the relationship Bart has with Homer, who tries to encourage and positively reinforce his son, without being the loud and obnoxious authority figure he normally is. This new attitude of Homer’s convinces Bart to stick with the act for a bit longer, even though it is painfully eating at him.

On the next day of school, Bart has an accident in chemistry class which causes the entire room to explode in a giant mess of green goo. Bart is sent to talk to Dr. Pryor about the incident, where he reveals that he wants to go back to his old school and classroom as the new set-up is not working for him. He disguises his intentions to move back to the old class by claiming he wants to investigate the behavioral patterns of kids at public schools, but when writing his proposal, Bart decides that keeping up the act will no longer work because he is not smart enough for this kind of study and decides to write a confession letter instead, explaining how he cheated on the intelligence test.

When Bart returns home, Homer decides to give his son a bath after the chemistry accident. During the bath, Bart comes clean with his father, telling him that he is not a genius, but that he really appreciated and loved how much closer they got during the last few days. In classic Homer fashion, Homer gets angry and chases Bart through the house for lying to him. After Marge asks what’s going on, Lisa responds, “I think Bart’s stupid again, Mom.”

class
Now go on, boy, and pay attention. Because if you do, one day you may achieve something that we Simpsons have dreamed about for generations. You may outsmart someone.”
~Homer Simpson

Personal History:
This will more than likely be the case for the rest of the Season 1 episodes, but for this episode, I had not seen it until it came out on DVD much later on in the early 2000s. Although I was alive when this episode and Season 1 was on the air, I did not have much of a memory of the show until it got to Season 2. After all, when Season 2 came around, I was at least 3 years old by that point. However, like most of Season 1, it was definitely an interesting experience going back to this first season and seeing how the show used to be. Even though the animation was weirder and characters seemed to act or look different than what they were supposed to be, as a Simpsons scholar, it was good to get that much needed history lesson.

Bath
“Don’t be discouraged, son. I bet Einstein turned himself all sorts of colors before he invented the lightbulb.”
~Homer Simpson

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I have to say, Bart has quite the audacity for looking his father straight in the eye, and calling him a big, dumb, balding ape, and that’s pretty much what he does in the first few moments of the episode when giving his official definition for what a “Kwyjibo” is. I think it’s a a pretty iconic moment of not only this episode, but also for the season and series as a whole. It shows the kind of relationship that Bart and Homer have for not only the early parts of this episode, but also for the entire series moving forward, and it also makes their bonding in this episode even more special.

I also really like Lisa’s line at the very end of the episode as well, the one about Bart being stupid again. I think it works very well because throughout the entire episode, Lisa was skeptical and doubtful of Bart’s intelligence results and she made that doubt incredibly clear. So at the end of the episode, when things return to normal, Lisa isn’t at all surprised by the newest development of Bart not being a genius. She let the big change run its course and is ready for the next adventure to unfold at the end of the day/episode. I think this is why I like Lisa so much as a character, just because she isn’t just the voice of reason, but she’s also very aware of what’s going on around her and she often makes it a point to have a little fun and still be a child at the end of the day.

Another line I really enjoy from this episode is when Homer tells Bart, “Don’t worry son, I bet Einstein turned himself all sorts of colors before he invented the light bulb.” I like this saying because it’s a funny line and it’s also incredibly true and very wise words coming from Homer. Sure, Bart was faking his intelligence the entire time and Einstein was an incredibly smart man, but isn’t the best form of intelligence, “learning from your mistakes?” We get wiser and smarter the more mistakes we make because we know how to not make them again, and with all things considered, that was just a really good and inspiring thing to tell his son and I really appreciated that when watching this episode back.

Although not really a funny or favorite moment of mine, I also think the opera scene of this episode is very important. This scene shows the Simpson family at the opera with Homer and Bart making wise cracks and inappropriate noises during the entirety of the performance. While embarrassing to Marge, I think this is a golden moment for the family because it really shows the type of family they are. They aren’t used to high-class entertainment or being quiet during a show or sitting still. They’d rather be going out for burgers or frosty chocolate milkshakes and sitting around the family room watching television. Even Lisa, who is very much into the performing arts can laugh and snicker at Homer and Bart’s antics. I think it’s good that they show this family dynamic early because it perfectly personifies what I think is the prime example of the typical American family. For years we have been taught how to act or how we display good manners, or what is acceptable forms of entertainment, but at the core of it all, families (and people in general) have their ways and have their unique identities, and those lessons are just going to go to waste or fall on deaf ears. So when the Simpson family goes to the opera, they aren’t going to think, “wow, the vocal range on this group of performers is impressive,” they’re going to think, “how much longer is this going to be?” Every family is different, and you can’t expect them to act in a certain way or enjoy the same things as other families. They are going to do their thing and act in their own way, and rightfully they should. This is something that will be further looked at and developed in the episode “There’s No Disgrace Like Home,” so I’ll definitely come back to this topic later in the season, but for now, it was nice to see the family out of their element to get a further understanding of who they are (especially this early in the series).

StupidAgainMom
Marge: “What’s going on out there?”
Lisa: “I think Bart’s stupid again, Mom”
Marge: “Oh, well…”

My Review:
I have to admit, I actually kind of enjoyed rewatching this episode and taking notes from it. It’s interesting how when looking at something you love from an analytical side of things, your perspective kind of changes a bit and start looking at things in different ways. Truth be told, before doing this analysis, I wasn’t really a big fan of this episode. I don’t think it’s bad or unwatchable or anything like that, it just lacks a lot of substance because it does fall in the show’s first season when things aren’t as established and the writers are focused on setting up characters and plot lines for the show’s future as well as the present. It’s a pretty typical storyline though; bad kid gets away with something, he starts to bask in his success, but then he feels guilt, and in the last moments is either caught or does the right thing and comes clean. Many shows, both animated and non-animated, have done this story before and for what it’s worth, the Simpsons do a pretty decent job with it. I particularly enjoyed the growing relationship between Bart and Homer and how the only good thing to come out of Bart’s actions was them growing closer. It definitely hit a spot that I had overlooked for many, many years.

On the opposite side of the coin, I also found the episode to be a little unfinished in a few respects. One thing that kind of bothered me on this rewatch was how easy Bart was able to get out of the situation without any sort of punishment (that we know of). Yeah, Homer angrily chased him around the house, and in theory, the schools may have given him punishment later on, but as far as we know, Bart pretty much got off scot-free here. It’s one of those things that’s not really a negative, but it’s something I would have liked to have seen if the episode time went on longer, or if they cut out some of the other parts of the episode that could be seen as padding. Speaking of which…what even happened to Martin Prince after the exam? Wouldn’t the psychologist notice that an honor student got a really low and uncharacteristic score? Wouldn’t that raise some questions? And aside from the random shot of him and his family at the opera, he’s not even in the episode anymore after the test scene. And for being the person who got swapped with Bart, wouldn’t he be the one with the most to lose from this escapade? And finally, it always struck me as odd that Bart’s old friends treated him badly when he visited his old school. I always thought it should have been a case where maybe his friends were off doing something and Bart couldn’t come because he had a conflict with his new life and that would make him depressed as opposed to his friends just being mean. It just seemed like an odd choice.

But yeah, I can’t really classify those things as negatives, they’re just things I thought about on my most recent watch. At the end of the day, I was honestly surprised by how much fun it was to watch this episode again. I wouldn’t say it’s top tier or high quality Simpsons viewing, but for a first season episode, I think it accomplishes what it set out to accomplish, which is all that needs to be said really. The’re still plenty of Season 1 episodes left; some I’m looking forward to and others not so much. But until then, remember folks; cheating on intelligence tests will only take you so far, so don’t do it!

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Hey guys! You have just read my second episode retrospective. I do apologize for the extreme lateness of this entry, but I’ve been dealing with a lot of things going on in my personal life as you may have read about on my Twitter account or heard on my Youtube channel. Long story short, I went on vacation, got sick when I returned, and had my computer break down when I recovered. Because of this, it took me awhile before I could continue on with this series and for that, I apologize. I’m hoping I can get the next episode ready by the end of next week. Like I said in this entry, I had a lot of fun working on this second episode, so maybe that will give me some more motivation moving forward. I’m still trying to get used to this and am still playing with the format, so there may be some changes in future episodes, but for now, I think I’m going to leave this one at a close.

If you have any feedback or suggestions, feel free to go to Contact page and submit some fanmail with your remarks. You can also tweet at my SlimKirby Twitter account as well, but since this is a website project, let’s try to keep messages at the former, if at all possible. Thank you everyone and have a good day!

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