SSR #13: “Some Enchanted Evening”

Intro

Introduction:
I sense a great disturbance in the force. That’s right, we are finally going to take a look at “Some Enchanted Evening,” an episode I’ve been rather vocal about in terms of my lack of enjoyment of. There are great number of reasons for why this episode in particular gets such low marks from me, but I’m obviously not going to talk about those reasons right now. Heck, if anything, my opinion could change after this most recent watch…we’ll just have to wait and see! “Some Enchanted Evening” first aired on on May 13th, 1990 and has the ‘honor’ of being the first episode written for the show’s first season, but the last one of the season to actually air. The reason for such the huge delay in airing was due to the fact that, as we will see in our viewing of this episode, the animation looked absolutely atrocious, and many of the show’s producers were not happy with the final product. They basically held it back from airing first for that sole reason and decided to spend a little more time polishing up the animation for other episodes that would end up debuting before this one, a decision that was definitely a good call on their parts. I find it weird that this episode still managed to make it on TV though because of that presentation, but I guess the writers and producers were still confident in the episode’s plot at least, and figured that the presentation would only be a small hurdle to jump over. The chalkboard gag of the episode is “I Will Not Yell ‘Fire’ in a Crowded Classroom,” and the couch gag…there is no couch gag! The Simpsons come inside and sit on the couch and nothing happens. I guess this is further proof that this was supposed to be the first episode, because we saw actual gags before we even saw the original “no gag” animation.

Marge PhoneDr. Monroe (phone): “If he doesn’t start loving, you will be leaving!”
Marge: “Leave Homer?”
Dr. Monroe: “Don’t use his real name!”
Marge: “Leave Pedro?”

Plot:
The story starts with breakfast on another morning in the Simpson household. In perhaps one of the crudest animations in the entire series, we see the entire family, sans Marge, shoveling food into their mouths while Marge is standing around witnessing the act and looking rather troubled about something. From this we can gather that Marge isn’t incredibly happy at home. Her kids don’t seem incredibly appreciative and her husband is, quite frankly, a pig who doesn’t show her the love she should be receiving. After the kids ignore the lunches she made for them, Homer doesn’t give her a kiss good-bye, and Maggie falls asleep on her, we start to get the feeling that Marge is quite depressed at the moment.

After hearing about a radio talk show with Dr. Marvin Monroe, Marge calls in and starts talking about the problems she is having at home. This same radio show just so happens to be playing at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where Homer works, and he manages to hear everything. During the call, Dr. Monroe tells Marge that she needs to tell Homer off and that she is not going to be treated this way anymore. Marge responds enthusiastically (with anger) and Homer is now incredibly worried about coming home that night. He decides to stop in at Moe’s Tavern on his way home, and while talking to Moe about his problem, he decides to give Homer some advice. He tells Homer to go home with flowers and then show Marge an evening she will never forget that’s all about her and how much he really loves her. Homer accepts the advice and finally decides to go home. Although Homer isn’t able to get many flowers with his budget, and even though Marge has been at home stewing in anger the entire day, Marge immediately is touched by Homer’s gesture and forgives him.

Homer makes plans for the two to go out to dinner and dancing for the night. However, this creates a problem with the children who will now be left at home unsupervised unless they get a babysitter. Although they have some trouble at first (since they have been blacklisted from the babysitting service, and need to call under a different alias), they eventually get a babysitter under the name Ms. Botz. Marge and Homer then proceed to go out for an amazing night of fun and romance.
Back at home, Bart turns on “America’s Most Armed and Dangerous,” and while watching, Bart and Lisa start hearing about a criminal known as “The Babysitter Bandit.” They proceed to get scared, thinking that their own babysitter might be the criminal, and right when they show a picture of the lady, known as Ms. Lucille Botzcowski, Ms. Botz comes out of the other room with ropes and restraints, ready to tie-up the children. Their babysitter is in fact, the Babysitter Bandit. Both kids are captured, even Lisa, who almost manages to call the hotline about the criminal, but is cut-off at the worst possible time. The only child who isn’t captured is Maggie, who is still in her room, but manages to sneak out and look for her brother and sister.

Maggie finds the two tied-up on the couch and helps them get free. From here, the children decide to set a trap for the bandit, where Maggie crawls into the other room to get her attention, and has her follow the child into a closet where Bart proceeds to knock her out with a baseball bat. They tie up the lady and leave her hog-tied on the middle of the living room floor, forcing her to watch “The Happy Little Elves,” while they leave the house to call at a pay phone down the street because the bandit disconnected the telephone lines. During this time, after their romantic evening has ended, Marge decides to call home to check on the children, but gets no answer. Fearing that something bad has happened, they drive home.

When they arrive home, they find the babysitter tied up and they freak out not knowing the reason for it. They send the lady home with an increased payment and her bags, which they are unaware has all of the stuff she stole from them, and right as the babysitter bandit leaves, the children return home with the police and “America’s Most Armed and Dangerous.” Homer gets angry at Bart for what he has done, but while he is disciplining the boy, the police reveal that Homer had just paid off and set free a criminal. In a moment of awkwardness, Homer tries to spin the story that she had escaped and that he had struggled with keeping her captive, but the damage is already done and Homer looks like the biggest fool in town. However, during the last moments of the episode, Marge comforts him and lets him know that if he was capable of raising children that could capture a criminal, he must be doing something right, and reminding him that the entire night wasn’t a total waste.

LobsterWaiter: “Why don’t you pick one that’s a little more frisky, sir?
Homer: “Why?”
Waiter: “Well, when you choose one that’s floating upside-down, that kind of defeats the purpose of selecting a live lobster.”
Homer: “Oh, okay. Then I’ll take that one there with the beady eyes.”

My Personal History:
Of all the episodes in Season 1, this is probably the episode I’ve seen the least amount of times. Not because it’s the last episode or anything (usually, when I watch a DVD, I watch the entire disc before putting it down), but because in the Season 1 DVD boxset, this was the only episode on Disc 3, so it never really that important to put an entire disc in to just watch one episode, especially if it was an episode I was never really that crazy about. But yeah, as you probably expected, I didn’t get to see this one until I got Season 1 on DVD, so I don’t have much to say here beyond that. I can’t wait until we get to Season 2 so I actually have a little more to say in these sections.

BartSmartBart: “We know who you are, Ms. Botz, or should I say, Ms. Botzcowski! You’re the babysitter bandit!”
Ms. Botz: “You’re a smart, young man Bart. I hope you’re smart enough to keep your mouth shut.”
Lisa: “He isn’t!”

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
Despite this episode being a little hard to watch at times, I will say that there are actually quite a few nice moments in this episode. For one, I like the dynamic of the Simpson children just being a whole lot smarter and better at everything than their parents (especially Homer) are capable of being. The way they captured the Babysitter Bandit was absolutely incredible and the fact that they could improvise in such a quick manner just makes me wish we could have seen more of that in this episode. Home Alone is probably one of my all-time favorite movies, and I think it would have been fun to see an entire section of that in this episode; just watching the three kids completely outsmart and outmaneuver the criminal. And then, just having your entire plan get ruined by Homer’s actions…it makes for a very disappointed ending, but also a very funny ending as well. This is how the Simpson family is supposed to work; they have moments of brilliance and excellence, but then something comes along and screws everything up, resetting the status quo, and in some cases like this, giving the family less of what they started with.

I think Marge and Homer have some nice moments as well, but definitely not along the same lines as the Simpson children. I like how Homer can be romantic and thoughtful when he really puts his heart into it, and it’s just nice seeing the husband and wife going out and having a good and fun time together. This is the 3rd episode in the last five episodes where Marge and Homer have some kind of spat or marital problem, and even though they managed to pull themselves out of the mud in every instance, it’s not really a thing I want to see too many times in the series. They’ve already been through some pretty rough situations and tough times in just the first season, and if they overdo it, it will probably make viewers wonder why they are even together if they keep having these problems. So it’s nice to see them in a more relaxed and fun environment where they can be themselves and just have a good time together, which in terms shows how compatible they actually are.

As far as best individual moment, the one moment I always remember from this episode is when Bart and Lisa are calling the hotline to inform the police that they captured the Babysitter Bandit. Bart asks Lisa to ask them what their reward will be for catching her, and after she asks, she responds with, “If she’s convicted, we’ll get t-shirts!” and Bart exclaims, in a very positive manner “All right!” I love it just because they are kids who are getting excited over t-shirts of all things, which I think is pefect. It’s perfect because it makes a good joke, and it really just shows the simple-minded nature of children. They don’t need a huge cash reward; sometimes just the experience and a reminder of that experience is all they will ever need.

Also, this is going to be a very short paragraph, but there is one more thing I want to point out before we move on. Isn’t this the THIRD episode in a row where Bart has outsmarted a criminal? Unfortunately the one in this episode escaped, but he captured the French winemakers in Episode #11, Sideshow Bob in Episode #12, and now the Babysitter Bandit in Episode #13. Seriously, at this rate, maybe Bart Simpson should be a police officer, because he is on a roll at the moment.

TV“Have you ever seen a kung-fu movie? It was just like that! But now I know her moves. So, if you are listening to me, lady, you’d better think long and hard about trying this on Homer Simpson again!”
– Homer Simpson

My Review:
This is an episode I haven’t really been looking forward to for a while now. Going into this project, I was confident that this was going to be my first “negative” review. Even though I have been negative on some aspects of different episodes from the first season, most of my reviews have been relatively positive. However, I knew this episode in particular would be the hardest shell to crack in terms of changing my opinion around, just because it’s always been a chore for me to go back and watch this one, for a multitude of reasons. However, on this particular re-watch, there was really only one thing that bothered me.

As I’ve said before, the visual presentation for this episode is just not very good. I think the first scene in the episode pretty much speaks volumes for the entire presentation as a whole. You get an extremely awkward animatic for the Simpson family eating breakfast with Homer eating with his mouth open and the entire family just eating like pigs in general. Then you just start feeling incredibly bad for Marge because of what her family is doing to her. Then you get the extremely cliché wife calling to complain about her husband routine, with the husband finding out and then figuring out a way to win her back…the entire first act in general is just really, really hard to get through and is probably the weakest part of the episode, in my opinion. It definitely improves from that point forward, but I still think you should have a good story throughout the entire twenty-one minutes, and not just fourteen of them.

From the second act, onward (pretty much when the babysitter comes into the picture), the episode is actually pretty strong. You really start to see the Simpson children in their element when it comes to dealing with a bad guy (or bad girl, in this case) and the entire game of cat-and-mouse between the children and the Babysitter Bandit is just exciting and entertaining to watch. It’s like I said earlier in the review, this really should have been the basis for the entire episode, and not just the second-half. They could have started from Marge and Homer getting ready to go out for the night and skipped all the awkward “Marge not happy at home” business, and then we could have gotten another act of the kids and the bandit at war, which is what I wanted to see more of. The Homer and Marge stuff was nice and sweet when we got to the second and third acts, but it just wasn’t as strong as the other storyline going on, and as I said, I just really didn’t like the first seven minutes of this episode.

I think it’s actually kind of interesting when you consider the fact that this was initially planned as the first episode of the series. And you know, honestly, I kind of wish it would have been. “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” was a nice premiere, don’t get me wrong, but I feel like first episodes in general always kind of have that “first episode” stigma attached to them. It’s the stigma where, while you are watching, you know and feel like it’s a first episode. Whether it has to do with, in this case, the art direction and presentation, or how a character portrays their lines and attitudes. It’s stuff where you can watch the episode and think “Wow, that character has changed a lot since then,” but not be turned off or lose interest completely. That’s the vibe I get from this episode, but it’s funny considering the season already has a couple of episodes where the characters and art direction has improved beyond this point, yet this episode still falls at the end of the season anyway. It was just a very, very odd choice to keep it in as the episode finale, at least in my opinion. It makes me wonder why they didn’t just scrap it entirely or at the very least, try to remake it with better animation later when they had access to it, instead of just releasing it as it already was. I imagine it had to do with financial reasons, in the sense of, if they just threw away what they had already gotten animated, it could have been a huge loss of money, so it made sense to work with what they already I had, I guess.

So yeah, after re-watching this episode again, I have to say that I wasn’t as disappointed as I thought I would be. I still think this is far from the best episode of the season, but I came out of the watch feeling more positive about this one than I have ever been before, which I think is quite the accomplishment. It’s an awkward episode, sure, but once you get to main course, it offers plenty of thrills for everyone to enjoy. And hey, I’m not going to lie, it’s a good feeling to finally have Season 1 wrapped up with this amount of positivity.

———————————————-

Guys…we’ve made it! Season 1 has officially been finished, and we can start looking forward to the future of this series. I have to say, this was a lot of fun to do and it was great to re-watch the first season and look at the episodes in a way I’ve never done before. It really opened my eyes to things I liked from episodes I was never really crazy about, and further confirmed why I love some episodes better than others. With that being said though, this is still only the first season and there are many, many seasons to go. Heck, even if I only focus on the golden age of The Simpsons, that’s still only one year of episodes versus at least 9 or 10 others, so I’m not going to be so quick to congratulate myself on a job well done. Although, I will say it feels good to finish 13 episodes in half of a year with really only 3 delays in between (where two of which I had no control over).

So how about the future of this series? Well, I will say for certain that I am looking forward to Season 2, but before I start, I’m going to take a bit of a break from this. Right now, I’m working on a bunch of different projects as it is on my Youtube channel and there are a lot of others things I need to figure out as well before I get myself too deep into something I may or may not be able to handle. Because once I start Season 2, I want to hit it hard and strong with no delays whatsoever, so the least I could do is wait until I know I can make that happen. If I had to give a date, it would probably be near the end of July or start of August, so stay tuned until then. For now though, this has been SlimKirby, and I’ll talk you guys later!

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2 Responses to SSR #13: “Some Enchanted Evening”

  1. Christian says:

    Do you plan on continuing this at all? 🙂

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