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All right, here comes my first more in-depth review of the Weekly Episode Club v.3 (maybe it's a bit too much unnecessary ramling so if it is, I'll try to keep things shorter and simpler the next time) :
Lisa The Simpson, written by Ned Goldreyer and directed by Susie Dietter, first aired on March 8, 1998 as the seventeenth episode of the ninth season and it is the last produced episode from Bill Oakley & Josh Weinstein's tenure as showrunners (it aired in late season 9 as a holdover). The main story deals with Lisa, whom after having trouble solving a brain teaser on a food package believes she is losing her 'smarts' and the next day she can't even remember the code combination to her school locket while even Ralph remember his (it's simple but still effective and shows how grave the situation is). This all starts to make her worried for her future and after she has spoken out about it at home, none other than Grandpa Simpson introduces her to the concept of the so-called 'Simpson Gene' which he says make a Simpson lose his or her smarts, starting at a young age, and Lisa fears that it is the truth an struggles with trying to cope with this. In an unrelated subplot, the old man Jasper freezes himself inside a Kwik-E-Mart freezer, leaving a note which says he wants to be thawed out in the future, and Apu quickly realizes he can make money out of this and turns the Kwik-E-Mart into the Freak-E-Mart, a sideshow-styled conveniece store. The episode definitely has the Oakley & Weinstein wibe to it (which includes an really well-put together story with some really funny moments to go along with it) and is really good and entertaining with an interesting concept with the Simpson Gene and some really funny moments as well; definitely a high-point from the colorful ninth season.
The animation is solid and gets the job done in a great manner. It's expressive and there's also quite a bit of nice and pretty cool bits of animation and belonging effects; the use of lighting and shadows is great throughout (for example, it does much for the living room scene where Lisa joins Homer and Bart to watch TV; iy´t sets the mood perfectly), solid angles and at least one effectful camera shot (rotation around Lisa as she sits infront of her desk and writes in her diary; the mirror effect is really nice) and there's also the bit of the D.N.A. informational film where Troy McClure and Billy walks behind a vial display and has their face's shown warped on the other side of the vials and bottles as they pass by, which is pretty realistic and definitely a fun effects moment. The characterizations are good; Homer and Bart are both displayed here as simple-minded buffoons to show just how simplistic and dumb they can be, Marge shows her positivity and ultimately ends up being the one who gets Lisa into a better mood and Lisa herself probably gets the best characterization; she is very worried about herself and her future, she goes to Dr. Hibbert who shows her the informational film with Troy McClure and it doesn't answer any of her questions, and as she later on stands at the top of the stairs at the middled of the plot, hearing Bart and Homer watching TV, she decides to try and embrace her apparently dipping intelligence and join them infront of the TV and tries her best to be enthusiastic about the simple programming they watch (I love how the shadowing and the lighting make them look more empty and brainless when inviting her to sit down). You really get the feeling Lisa goes through an interesting psychological struggle here and that is only positive.
The real turning point for her happens when after the TV watching, Homer and Bart empties their stash of hidden and melted chocolate bars on to the floor and starts to gouge like pigs and tells Lisa to join them. She kneels down and picks up one of the chocolate bars and sees herself in the future as an massively obese woman who’s practically unable to move, several kids and Ralph as her husband. This makes her realize she can't go on trying to lean back and accept becoming dim and runs away after stating she doesn't want to become like her dad. She visits the art gallery and the Jazz Hole to hear an electric violinist to give herself a last meal; the violinist tells her that if she's got anything important to say, she should share it with the world. Then Lisa decides to go on air on Smartline and there she tells everyone who watches to treasure their brains and don't take them for granted. At home, the rest of the Simpson family sees this and after Grandpa walks by and says that he told Lisa that her brain will turn into mush because of the Simpson Gene, Homer calls Simpson relatives from the Tri-city area to show Lisa that there's nothing wrong with the Simpson family (his conversation hat is a funny touch). The next morning, Marge wakes the depressed Lisa up and reveals Homer on the front lawn together with a group of various Simpsons (one of the best scenes in my opinion). He goes around and asks several of the men and none of them shows any sign of successfulness or average intelligence. Lisa is still disappointed and when Homer sends the large group of Simpsons home, Marge interrupts and tells him to ask any of the women, whereupon he reluctantly stops one, Dr. Simpson, who is a successful doctor and the rest of the women also stops and these are an architect, a lawyer, and a sales coordinator respectively. Lisa then shines up and is relieved as she realizes the Simpson women are all successful and Dr. Simpson reveals that the Simpson Gene only affects the Y-chromosome, which makes only the men simple, dull and unsuccessful, which means that Lisa will be successful eventually and will not lose her intelligence. Then she hugs her father and proclaims that she’s never been happier to be his daughter and Bart is briefly upset, knowing that he will be unintelligent and unsuccessful, before shrugging it off (showing that he doesn't mind too much). The story wraps up with Lisa finally being able to solve the brain teaser she had problem with at the start of the episode. Overall, I really like how everything unfolds here and it’s done really well in my opinion.
As for the subplot, it is definitely a fun story and I like how it is completely unrelated to the main plot dealing with Lisa and also how it deals with secondary characters; I'd probably say it is one of the best post-classic subplots (if you now count the ninth season as post-classic). The build-up of the story is done well with Jasper continually carries ice-cream buckets to the checkout desk and how Homer shows up and asks for an after-dinner burrito and ends up staying for some time while being occupied by some novelty pens. Then Apu goes to check what happened to Jasper and as he find him in the freezer as a 'freezer geezer', it all starts with Apu first not wanting the frozen Jasper to have any attention and then changing his mind after being offered money by Jimbo who wants to look at the frozen man, turning the store to a freakshow. Towards the end, the freezer somehow gets unplugged and Jasper steps out of the freezer, believing he's in the future and walks off, leaving Apu (and Sanjay) without their attraction and turns the store to the Nude-E-Mart instead. One can maybe complain that this subplot takes time from the main story but I don't think it is intrusive; it's a solid subplot and it still leaves room for Lisa's story to develop without making it rushed; it seems like Oakley & Weinstein really knew how to balance two plots going on in one episode.
There are some good to great jokes and gags scattered throughout: Milhouse's "It's called lice and it's nothing to be ashamed of (scratches hair)" (I like how he scratches his hair in the next scene he appears in), "I don't need a hint!""But you're suffering!", "Don't open it, Ralph; I'll just give you a C-minus" and "This is terrible at best", Homer being fascinated by the pin-up novelty pens, Jasper's note ("PS. - please alter my pants as fashion dictates"), "No apology! Not until he admits he's a jerk!", Grampa saying that Homer used to be smart as a monkey and then turned dumb as a chimp (and the opposite about Bart), the smiley face on Bart's homework bundle turning more and more angry until reaching a skull and crossbones as Grandpa flips it through, the DNA information video starring Troy McClure and Billy ("You may remember me from such medical films as "Alice Doesn't Live Anymore" and "Mommy, What's Wrong With That Man's Face?"), "Well, we better leave him in there, moving him out could kill him, and tire us out", Ralph playing with the mailbox and laughing about it, 'When Buildings Collapse' (the perfect program to have Homer and Bart watch to show off how simple their minds are), Lisa's future vision ("Wesley, get mamas prying board"), "I'll dance on her grave""Bart!""What?; Oh, napkin, right", "Thanks, Lisa! I painted that one (whispers) The real one's in my garage", "By gum, it worked! I've awakened in the future... Moon Pie?, what a time to be alive-"Hey, who unplugged my freezer?!; return to your state of living death at once, sir!"-"Is that you, Apu?; whoa, time has ravaged your once useful looks", Apu turning the Freak-E-Mart to the Nude-E-Mart (and Jasper showing up and asking for a time-traveler discount), "If I were her I'd be buying me a great big chocolate apology cake!" (this feels a bit like a jerkass moment but I find it funny how it’s said), Kent Brockman reporting that "Authorities believe the wave of towel snappings will get worse before it gets better" and saying "Little girl likes her brain; what is your opinion?", the station manager allowing Lisa to continue talking as he wants to get fired, Homer's conversation hat, the Simpson relatives meet-up scene (definitely one of my favorite scenes; I like how Castellaneta gave each of the men a variation of Homer’s voice, all of them pretty funny, and they have nice designs) and Homer telling Bart he'll become a 'spectacular failure'.
All in all, it is definitely a solid episode which has really good animation, an interesting main plot with a good psychological conflict for Lisa and a fun subplot starring Apu, many good jokes and gags and a nice and fun feeling throughout the 22-minute runtime. I can understand if not everyone likes the concept of the Simpson Gene but I like it as I think it adds a bit more depth to the show (at least it's better than Homer having a crayon shoved up his brain). For the last episode from Oakley & Weinstein's batch, it is a successful one and is quite a fitting 'farewell letter' from them and it has some really good examples of why they did so well with the show.
Last edited by CousinMerl; 06-10-2012 at 12:38 AM.
Lisa the Simpson is a pretty deep character-based episode, and one of the highlights from the mostly inconsistent 9th season of the show. The plot is pretty strong, Lisa's intellect has never really been brought into question before in the shows history, apart from maybe "Lisa's Rival" this is the closest thing to her feeling insecure about herself. I enjoyed the opening scene, although I have trouble believing Milhouse and Ralph managed to work out that brain teaser but .
I think one of the best Milhouse lines was in this episode "You look tired, are you tired Lisa"? The delivery is very good, and it's fair to say theres a lot of good jokes in this episode to strengthen the episode's emotional core. I will add that the "Simpson Gene" is a lame excuse and it's evident of Mike Scully's sense of humour. But before I go on about that for too long I have to bring up some things, maybe other people noticed but I will mention anyway. When Granpa is getting his haircut, he puts back the cloth around his neck which is catching all the hair back onto the table, which I thought was quite amausing. This is also one of the first appearances of the "Rich Texan", which to me is one of the most iconic figures of the crappy "scully era". I also recognised Billy from the Troy McLure scene (which was great btw) from Lisa the Vegetarian. Looks like he only stars in the Troy McLure informercials that Lisa watches, lol. Also, when Apu re-opens the kwik-e-mart as the nude-e-mart, "Just Stamp the ticket guy" is one of the people coming in, which I thought was quite amusing too.
(Can you see him on the left?)
And while we're onto the subject of the sub-lot, it's a fairly enjoyable segment of the show which balances out the heavier main storyline, we also get to see a rare appearance from Apu's (brother?) Sanjay. But anyway, the main plot. I also have to draw attention to Kent Brockman's suspeciously dark hair after Lisa's been on tv, I think he was using hair dye around the season 9 era of the show
One thing other than the silly "simpson gene" bothered me, how slow and dumb witted Bart and Homer appeared to be when they were watching tv waiting for dinner, but I did enjoy the lighting effect from this scene too This does add to the atmopshere from the scene and add's to Lisa's impending feeling of doom , this scene reminds me too of the similar hell scene from "Lisa v the eighth commandment". The last scene of the episode leaves a bit to be desired for, it's a neat way of tying things up but thats about it, however the line "I shoot birds at the airport" is great.
Overall this was a solid, well balanced and pretty humorous episode with some good moments. There are pretty lame moments but overall this is a standout from the season.
Last edited by Mr Black; 06-09-2012 at 03:01 AM.
Originally Posted by Company Picnic
Just a heads up Señor Black, this isn't a Scully episode (it's O&W), and I don't think this is the Rich Texan's first appearance (I think he first appeared in $pringfield). (I know, I'm being pedantic)
you have a point , btw great username.
Yeah, it's in fact their last episode and for those who haven't done it yet, I recommend listening to the hidden second audiocommentary track for this episode on which O&W look back at their run as showrunners for The Simpsons, reminiscing about their intentions and goals and even subtly commenting on the state of the show in later years.
I see that almost everyone is praising the episode, although I can't support it. I find the idea of a "simpsons gene" so stupid and ridiculous that it completely ruins the episode for me. The writer responsible for this was not a regular writer; the only other thing he wrote for the show was the third THOH VIII segment, the weakest one of three. Apparently he was oblivious of, say, Herbert Powell, and that is one of the reasons that make this concept look so stupid and contradictory to previously seen plots. In comparison to this, the idea of Homer having a crayon in his brain isn't half bad.
1/5 - good potential spoiled by a stupid concept
[SIZE=1] Check out my South Park episode ideas in my user notes (Note: It's the fifth and last note): http://www.nohomers.net/usernote.php...ewuser&u=41294
"I got blisters on me fingers!" ~ Ringo Starr (Helter Skelter)
Led Zeppelin IV > Houses of the Holy > Physical Graffiti > Led Zeppelin II > Led Zeppelin I > Led Zeppelin III > Presence > In Through the Out Door > Coda
in New Zealand, they had to wait until the nineties to get working electricity and gas!
As for it contradicting Herb, does it really matter? No. No Siree Bob.