Tonight’s episode of The Simpsons was one of their strongest outings of this 26th year, primarily because it focused on the tenuous, but always loving, relationship between Marge and Bart. Also, there was an adorable puppy. And that, my friends, never hurts.
The major plot of the episode involved Marge’s sneaking suspicion that Bart was somehow involved (primarily responsible?) for a massive accident involving a bulldozer. Bart claims innocence, and the two achieve a familial stalemate – a situation that I personally have never been in because my son fails the guilt test every time (“Look me in the eye and tell me you didn’t <insert egregious event>”). Certain of his guilt, Marge swears to follow Bart through his day until he either confesses or she catches him in the act. And follows him she does. She even dons a ninja outfit, calling herself “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Mom.” The joke works better as a visual gag when her apron falls out of her sweatshirt. The pun is otherwise slightly moldy.
I’ll leave you to the ultimate reveal (Bart did it), but it oddly shifted from a single incident of vandalism to a massive conspiracy to ruin the Springfield sign during a 50th anniversary celebration of the sign. I may have been talking to my son during the show, but the jump to the big reveal felt rushed and rather left fieldish. I did admire the ingenuity Bart took in planning his prank – even going so far as to create a diorama to illustrate the event.
The secondary story was more fun and brought better gags. I am truly a sucker for the animal-themed Simpsons episodes, and this one – thanks to an adorably animated puppy – ranks with the best. Ned Flanders adopted the puppy (Maher-shalal-hash-baz – Baz for short), but the puppy takes a shine to Homer instead of Ned. Homer and Baz bond, much to the chagrin of Santa’s Little Helper, and Ned eventually decides to give the puppy to Homer to make Baz happier. Homer’s conscience kicks in (as Bart’s does earlier), and he politely refuses the puppy. It’s a sweet, swift storyline – one full of amusing site gags and other puns (see below).
And who can resist an adorable puppy? I mean, come on…
Here are some of my favorite jokes from the episode:
- The path of destruction caused by the bulldozer incident includes the demolition of the Bulldozer Store (complete with one of those waving balloon people that Chief Wiggum shoots because “he can’t stand to see anything suffer”), Gil Gunderson Realty which was in escrow, and the Aquarium & Fish Supplies store. A homeless man is seen roasting sea horses over a spit with a drooling pack of cats watching eagerly.
- Nelson texts his trademark “Haw-Haw!” to Marge after Bart is suspected for the bulldozer event. The iPhone autocorrects “Haw-Haw!” to “Have-Have!”
- Flanders has the puppy attend a Christian dog school. The dog sits, kneels, prays, plays dead, resurrects, and sits in glory at the right hand of Todd. Barney, having just awakened from a drunken binge in the Simpson’s yard, accepts this as a religion that makes sense.
- When Marge accuses someone at the dinner table of not telling the truth, Homer quickly hides his copy of the Koran.
- Bart says he can’t explain something he knows nothing about. “I’m not cable news,” he exclaims.
- Willie proudly proclaims that, in 1,200 years of Scottish bagpipe history, they’ve only written one song.
- In order to follow Marge undetected, Maggie applies a pacifier silencer.
- The Simpson family wagon won’t start. Homer has taped a note to the dashboard: “Threw carburetor at skunk. – H.”
- Rod reprimands Ned’s Homer-specific insult by saying “Mild insults are like mild salsa – they still burn!”