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Thread: R&R: Stark Raving Dad



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  1. #91
    Pin Pal Szyslak100's Avatar
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    The third season began with Mr. Lisa Goes to Washingt... Oh, wait. I found a crazy rumor in the deepest pages of the navigator that affirms that season three actually started with an episode called "Stark Raving Dad". The episode was pulled from circulation so the show could get ephemeral good PR. What a polemic.

    The only thing they got with this polemic was that the episode became more popular and more watched. Great marketing strategy, I must recognize.

    When I write these reviews, I try to situate myself at the moment that an episode is launched, ignoring or, at least, belittling everything that could have happened after the first emission. Stark Raving Dad is going to be the exception. Unfortunately, I must dedicate the first paragraph to the absurd, ridiculous situation that involved this episode almost thirty years later. I assume that you know what was the polemic with the episode, and what was the decision of the producers. Im against book burning of any kind, but this is our book, and were allowed to take out a chapter. was the contradictory sentence utilized by James L. Brooks. I've always tried to be impartial and try to find out a plausible reason for which the show would censure itself. The only motive I can actually identify is from free publicity, demagogy, and a desperate attempt to figure on pages like Entertainment Weekly, Hollywood Reporter. The participation of Michael Jackson in the episode was minimal. He didn't appear as himself, he didn't provide the singing voice, his name didn't even come out in the credits (he used the pseudonym of John Jay Smith). If they canceled it because it has the manpower of Jackson (which I would not understand because they were not separating the artist from the person) then they should have followed the same way with Do the Bartman, but this is available in Spotify. If they canceled it because of the comments about the former singer, what happens, for example, with Drederic Tatum's character based on Mike Tyson? How are they proceeding with Bill Cosby's cameos? Why did they never censored the other physical appearances of Jackson? It doesn't add up. I sustain it was unjustified enrage with an inoffensive episode. It was false sensibility with the affair and I think it is another case of "let's make happy sensible people perjuring the show". Just as they did with The Problem with Apu.

    Apu Nahaspeemapetilon talking about Michael Jackson? Censure it! I feel so offended and disrespected!

    Beyond the controversy, Stark Raving Dad is an iconic episode of the third season. I used to love this one when I was a kid. The writers evidently had hard work in this one because, conversely of the common rule in those years, they first get the guest star, and then they write up the story. So, building the script from nothing, taking into account the request of including Michael Jackson with all the specifications and contractual obligations that limited their creativity, they achieved a result that was actually fantastic. Leon Kompowsky was the salvation of each and every one of the problems. He was such an unforgettable one-time character. He is the opposite of what you may expect to find inside a mental institution. Leon is a humble, straightforward, and talented man. He is an enormous fan of Michael Jackson, he is capable of imitating his idol and conserve the talent of writing a song and performing them, with the plus of being a friendly person. He is a guy who transmits good vibes and serenity. I like that the first time we saw him he gives the impression of being rough and formidable but then when he presented himself we discover he is really agreeable. Michael Jackson and Kipp Lennon did an awesome job. I loved it when he performed Billie Jean with that hypnotizing dance included. I actually enjoyed learning random things about Michael Jackson through Leon Kompowsky. The sudden changes in our perspective of the character were effective if a bit strange. We thought he was crazy but he was actually voluntarily in the mental institution, and the changing of voice at the end was truly nice. It was an interesting concept that immortalized the character beyond the guest star, which I sincerely appreciated.

    The inclusion of Bubbles was really inventive.

    The main plot explores a catching situation where Homer is declared insane because he used a pink shirt. It's a brusque concept but I found funny how Mr. Burns maintains a retrograde posture and gets mad at Homer for using a different color in his shirt. Homer let out a great moral from this: "I am not popular enough to be different". What a deep, true, and intelligent reflection. The tour through the mental institution delivered the obligatory gags about differents craziness suffered by the patient, allowing some of the funniest moments of the episode, but I can not decide who was the funniest one. If the one who is an eminence in arithmetic (Floyd), if The Chief, who moved a muscle after thirty-three years for the first time thanks to Homer, or if the man who suffered agoraphobia (Dave). That kind of joke could not miss, and they executed three of them excellently. Homer surpassed he stay in that intimidating place thanks to the company of Leon. Their dynamic was really reliable and their moments together brought out certain sympathy that it's complicated to explain. I loved it when Leon consoled his new friend singing a sweet song about themselves. I chuckled when Homer insinuated that Leon was insane because he is vegetarian and doesn't drink. That was a subtle joke. Bart was the vital importance to take Homer into the mental hospital. He was responsible for the change of colors in the shirts, he was the one who filled the questionnaire, he was the one who generated anger on Homer in front of the doctors. By the way, it's curious how overlooked is the main plot in terms of details: Was that an actual motive to consider someone insane? Can a test affirm if someone is insane and could it be completed at home? Would the doctors deem him sane because of a conversation with Marge? And the most important: Neither Homer nor Marge knew who Michael Jackson was?

    They were solid all the way up with the detail of Homer wearing a pink shirt, even in Barr's fantasy.

    The subplot was a series of uninteresting events whose main function was to lead the story to the culminating input from Michael Jackson, who imbued one of the most memorable songs of the entire show. Lisa discharging his frustrations to Bart because he never gave her a present feels a bit materialistic and unfocused for Lisa. It would be better if she asks him to remember it or don't ruin it, but the insistence in imploring for a gift felt a tad bit exasperating. While he was sleeping, while they were watching Itchy & Scratchy, after he disappointed the entire city with an unintentional false promise. I don't know, this just feels like Lisa's attitude with Bart is someway invasive, especially when she knows that Bart is not mean intentionally. The scene when she sings the Happy Birthday to herself, alone in the room, and she starts to weep disconsolately is just tough and heartbreaking. Bart was screwed up the birthday of her sister someway and cheated on the entire townspeople with the false upcoming of the king of the pop into the city (that ingeniously believed that Michael Jackson would visit Springfield). There was not a solution for the second situation, which get inconclusive, but he was able to solve the other problem giving a beautiful surprise to Lisa with help from Leon Kompowsky, along with he composes such a nice track, with a catchy melody, elegant lyrics, and even some rehearsed movements. It was a terrific ending for the episode, allowed a hug of reconciliation between Bart and Lisa, and, honestly, it was one of the greatest songs of the entire series, even if it is simple.

    What a duo!

    What a shame. I really appreciated this one but it was unnecessarily damaged by their own creators (Brooks and Jean, principally). When I rewatched the episode to write it, I simply could not forget the polemic, and now it is in my very brief list of episodes I don't want to rewatch anymore. I rather keep my good memories. No ratings here from me.

  2. #92
    blocks your path CousinMerl's Avatar
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    Wait, so you mean that the controversy ruined it for you to the point of being unable to give it a rating? That sounds too bad. I remember the episode fondly and I don't really find that the controversy or Jean & Brooks disowning it have made me look at it that differently. I will eventually get to it in my rate & review project and it will be interesting to look back on it (maybe with a rewatch as well).
    Last edited by CousinMerl; 05-30-2020 at 11:57 PM.

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  4. #93
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    I had a really nice half-hour watching this but, on the other side, when it came to mind a thought related to the controversy (which happened often while watching it) I just limited myself to control the impulse of bumping it down to a 1/5. I don't want to praise an episode that the own creators sacrificed for a bit of popularity and I don't want to give a low rating either because I enjoy it. I am not sure what was the correct thing so I didn't give a rating.

    And yeah, the entire polemic (and how the writers and producers of the episode handled the situation) ruined this one for me. And, as I wrote there, I am not going to watch this one nevermore, so I will be able to keep an innocent remind of this innocent episode and I am considering this as a myth, as a tiny gem.
    Last retrospective: Homer Defined (S03E05)

    My project of rating and reviewing every episode of Rick and Morty (completed!)

    My project of rating and reviewing every episode of BoJack Horseman (last episode: Later)

  5. #94
    My brain... OldSchoolerSimpsons's Avatar
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    While I do understand getting too distracted by the controversy, you shouldn't feel guilty whatsoever for enjoying it. I really hate how Al Jean and James Brooks have treated as if this episode was an enabler for Michael Jackson's alleged illegal activities (which they probably know isn't actually true, but anything for a bit of publicity) when it's no less sweet than other season 3 episodes. Michael Jackson being in it is the only reason they're making up that claim, none of the material with him is questionable at all.

    I think if anything, it's even more important to give this episode appreciation, to show that no, you can't bury this one and pretend it doesn't exist. To agree to do so would be succumbing to censorship and the producers' pointless thirst for extra attention.
    Quote Originally Posted by scully apologist;bt39949
    "KONY 2012"

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  7. #95
    blocks your path CousinMerl's Avatar
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    So here we are at the season three premiere and it is a really good and fun opener to the new season, hitting it right off the bat in a good way. There's a nice plot centered around Homer. whom ends up at a mental hospital just for wearing a pink shirt at work (as Bart's lucky red cap colored all his white shirts pink) and is believed to be an insane "free-thinking anarchist" by Mr. Burns and he meets a big white guy named Leon Kompowsky who believes he's pop star Michael Jackson (the latter himself providing the voice), and the story is well paced and loaded with a lot of good-to-great jokes and gags throughout. It is maybe not a perfect episode and not as strong of a premiere as 'Bart Gets An F' but humor-wise it is strong and still entertains & is one I enjoy a lot, even on this rewatch I did just now to refresh my memory. Solid one, through and through.

    It starts off with some good family moments, such as the subplot introduced with Lisa reminding Bart about her upcoming birthday, Bart failing to watch Maggie and only caring about calling the Krusty hotline (which is pretty much just the clown laughing) & Homer's reaction to Bart's hat having miscolored all his shirts pink (also now Homer sounds much more like he'll do for the rest of the show, another sign that the show it coming into its own for real). The stuff with Homer sticking out like a sore thumb at work with his pink shirt in a sea of white shirts, Burns picking it up on his color security monitors and has him pulled aside and questioning his sanityn was ridiculous yet funny (the conformism at the plant is exaggerated here, with Lenny wearing a white sweater instead of green and Carl wearing a blue sweater instead of his normal pink, but it does work as it sorta becomes a satire on conformism and very dystopia-like where one cannot stand out, which works well in that case).

    There was some fun stuff with Homer having to do an psych evaluation test at home (him moaning about having to write his name was hilarious) and skipping on having Lisa do it for him (due to her neverending poem) and Bart quickly does it for him as Homer watches TV has irritated reactions (of which Bart translates to answers on the test, also writing that Homer pees his pants). So this causes Burns to send him to the mental hospital and he is tested with the ink-blot tests (angrily reacting to one that looks like "the boy", very funny) and is deemed insane, locked up with "the big white guy who thinks he is the little black guy", Leon Kompowsky, and they share a nice friendship (with Leon supporting Homer the best he can with his friendly demeanor and great singing) and there's some funny bits that comes from that; all the scenes iwth Homer at the mental hospital were great, with all the colorful characters he meets (with some good parodies of 'One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest'). Solid stuff.

    Homer has Leon call home for him, Bart really believes its Michael Jackson calling (setting up the third act well) & a furious Marge gets Homer out of the institution since she knows he's not insane (I love the bit with the doctor's reaction that there really is a Bart). So Homer goes home and Leon accompanies him (since he is at the insitution by his own free will, something Homer questions since the man is a vegetarian and non-drinker) and lives with them. Thanks to Bart, the word that Michael Jackson is coming to town spreads and the whole town goes crazy in anticipation (which even Bart is shocked by) is one scene that mires the episode in the very early 90's where Jackson was one of the biggest "it" things (not unlike a lot of modern episodes heavily featuring big-name guest stars) but there is still good humor here and the deflating and disappoiting reveal of Leon as a big white guy (and it putting Bart in trouble as he appear as a liar, as he was too quick to judge) was a nice one.

    The subplot with Lisa and her birthday being forgotten was just alright (much as it wasn't very substantial and very minor) but I like the bond it showed between her and Bart, who forgot about it despite her reminding him several times, and her having to make it up for her (it was a little weird with her apparent materialism of wanting him to get her a present, though) & it led up to a great climax, with Leon helping Bart to write and perform a song for her called "Happy Birthday Lisa". A classic scene and a great little song (that even made it onto one of Jackson's albums, I believe) and I cannot add more that hasn't been said already. Good, fun twist with Leon afterwards reverting back to his own voice and reveal that he is a bricklayer who was angry all his life and found peace when he started talking like Jackson and caused people to smile so he kept it up, ending with him walking away down the street while singing Lisa's song with his regular voice (which was a fun way to end it).

    This is a strong 4/5 in my opinion. Still a very good and funny episode (as well as a nice early 90's timecapsule when Michael Jackson was at his most popular, even though his album that year, 'Dangerous', was maybe not as popular as his 80's albums) and holds up pretty nicely (even with the controversy of last year, which doesn't hinder my enjoyment of this one).

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