Hello hello friends!
Wookiee taking a break from schoolwork again to keep up with episode recaps. I know I haven’t been around a ton but at a minimum, my goal is to keep these current. One of the features we like to have on this site is recaps of new Simpsons episodes for all our friends who can’t watch them immediately or like our silly reviews of them. I love when there are new episodes of the Best. Show. Ever. on TV and it’s my privilege to not only watch new episodes, which I would do with or without this awesome site, but then break them down for all of you. It’s also nice to have a break from essays, reading, and brain-sucking tedium from time to time. I stuck to the stream of consciousness format for this. Basically I watch the episode once for my enjoyment and then a couple more times slowly to catch as much as I can while jotting down notes. Without further ado… here’s my thoughts on Season 28, Episode 2: “Friends and Family”.
To start this off for accidental clickers who just prefer the synopsis, here’s what my DVR had as an episode synopsis:
“Mr. Burns hires the Simpsons, except Homer, to be his virtual family; Homer becomes friends with the girl next door.”
Now on with the random recap observations of yours truly… fair warning, this is SPOILER heavy.
The intro gives us Witch Marge, Patty and Selma flying through the air to get us amped for Halloween, Dr. Nick’s billboard advertising “Tell me what, and I’ll cut,” Bart writing “I will stop losing 50% of my NFL lead-in,” and an emoji couch gag where Homer is too fat. Also a shortened intro which promises more jokes.
Burns is headed to the Complex Medical Care Medical Complex in his car (which is white this time) for his appointment. The Kaiser would be furious if he knew Burns wasn’t in perfect mental health. I almost missed this joke. What I didn’t miss was the gag of Burns being able to hide behind parking meters and being mistaken for one. Burns passes options of hip joints, eyeballs, and sweet sweet euthanasia (this one because it can’t be bought as a gift), and heads to his appointment with Dr. Nussbaum, a psychiatrist. Magazines in the waiting area include Men’s Health, Old Men’s Health (Outdoor Bathtubs New Leading Cause of Pneumonia), and Very Old Men’s Health (Medical Breakthroughs You’ll Just Miss). Burns is there to discuss his anger issues. Well, to repeat those last two words for almost the whole fifty minutes (thankfully sped up and shown by the passage of time on a clock). Dr. Nussbaum is ready to give up after seventy years of therapy with Burns, he’s never going to change. He’s never going to have “ a cheap piece of plastic with photos of ugly people,” errr, I mean a family who loves him. Burns considers encasing people in plastic to preserve the fear on their faces and Nussbaum ends the session. 5 dollars an hour is Burns going rate too. Nussbaum probably shouldn’t have locked in that rate. Burns leaves, shuts the door, hears a noise, and returns to find Nussbaum has kicked the bucket. “Hmmm… no pulse… oh wait… that’s me.” Alas, Nussbaum also has no pulse. Now Burns has completed his bucket list of outliving all friends, bench pressing three pounds, launching the Eiffel Tower, and wooing a Rockette.
Dr. Nussbaum’s funeral and in typical fashion, most of Springfield turns out. Lisa isn’t sure which of the many therapists the family has seen Dr. Nussbaum is. Marge replies Nussbaum finally got the family to communicate. Bring on the flashback where even Maggie talks, isn’t listened to, and resolves to never speak again. “The ugly people from the cube” are also there (Nussbaum’s family if you didn’t figure it out). Burns shocks the mourners by unveiling a headstone for Nussbaum with his image on it and the Jewish mourners take stones from off of Rabbi Krustofsky’s headstone and start pummeling Burns. Someone even throws Milhouse and another a scythe lol. Burns laments being “stoned at a funeral,” Otto drives by and attends the funeral to get what he wanted. This joke is my highlight of the episode and makes me laugh in every inch of my fuzzy being. Smart writing my friends. Smithers drives Burns home.
Flash to a first person point of view of Frink accepting the Nobel Prize for Physics from HBO, the Higgs Boson Onservatory. Problem is he’s wearing a virtual reality headset and Smithers hits him. Frink explains the device to Burns who climbs into Frink’s ambulance (courtesy of some cash from Smithers). Burns wonders why a man in his right mind would miss a car coming straight at him (as Smithers keeps the same from happening to Burns) and wonders if Frink was watching a milkmaid skipping rope. “The Oculus Frink or Froculus provides you with a complete virtual reality experience letting you live in a world of your dreams.” Oys and frink talks omitted for easier reading. Burns puts on the headset and must have one. I’m just still laughing at Frink’s Nobel Prize after party with an ice sculpture saying “Absolut Vodka + You = Excellent Chemistry.”
Burns first daydream is zapping the Earth with a moon laser. Smithers explains it’s a new technology with Burger King ads, a roller coaster, and lots of pornography including dragon porn. The visual of that last one is great and more PG than it sounds.
Smithers reminds Burns the last thing his therapist said was that he needed a family and suggests programming a virtual one using the new technology. Meanwhile he wants to virtually shoot the lion again which turns out was real life. “I’ve lived quite the life.” If the trophy heads of a gorilla, great white shark, rhino, zebra, elephant, bunny, lion, giraffe, bear, panda, ram, alien, mammoth, Big Bird, and two people are any indication… he’s not wrong.
Burns is holding auditions and turns down the Spucklers and Van Houtens. Now Milhouse can’t get his promised fat Barbie, errr, curvy Barbie. The Simpson family is at the Nuclear Plant for tryouts also and get selected sans Homer. Burns plans on being the rooster in the hen house. Poor Homer is disappointed. “I’ve always wanted to work for Mr. Burns.” Bring on the mocap suits for Marge, Lisa, Maggie and Bart.
They all look 1950s era in the VR and while Burns says something he doesn’t say lightly (“Excellent” lol) Smithers changes the kids to look like Burns (“too beautiful like a Supreme Court full of Scalias” ewww). After experimentation with different heads (Zoidberg, Abraham Lincoln, and Mr. Potato Head), he goes with their normal heads.
Meanwhile, Homer is bummed at his work console that the family was out late until 11 pm. They were taking off their coats still when he came home from Moe’s. Burns is just living in a fantasy world and fencing and goose stepping in the background of the scene with Lenny, Carl, and Homer. The Nazi-esque walking is while watching home movies…. Oh no.
Burns’ next vision is the Simpson family wishing him a happy birthday and maybe more. Marge goes virtually upstairs and reveals all except for three well placed black boxes. Shock of shocks, the bosom and bottom bars remain but Burns gets to see her ankles sans socks and then sans fishnets and then sans skin and musculature. Burns is one kinky geezer. He likes the experience with his new family so much he picks up their ten year option. He also calls Maggie a river otter and me and my oldest kiddo rewound this part several times to laugh at the joke. Marge, Lisa, Maggie, and Bart now have to stay in the Guest House next to a much small Smithers house, and slightly bigger house for The Hounds. Marge informs Homer they won’t be coming home. Homer is bummed and not even sure he wants to go to Moe’s without her. Nothing a suggestion to clean out the attic won’t fix though.
At Moe’s, the grizzled bartender who proves he’s mean by pulling a shotgun on Homer, tries to comfort his favorite rummy only to convince Homer how much freedom he’d have at home and the cheaper cost of drinking there. Bring on the hilarious montage of Homer alone at home. I don’t want to ruin this goodness truly. Microwave food, an indoor hammock, misuse of a lawnmower, Police Academy movies, and more.
Flash to Burns suspiciously moving his hands to make something in VR hot (hint… it rhymes with flower and is only dirty if you step into it that way).
Homer is naked and laying on the roof like Snoopy (“he knew what he was doing alright”) and meets his neighbor who lives behind his house. She’s drinking brewskies on her own roof. Homer is worried that he’s naked but she’s seen him that way many times and also says “Stupid Flanders.” Homer decides he can just be friends with a woman after she tosses him a beer AND some pretzels. Marge may not like him conversing nakedly with an unmarried woman (even if she does have a boyfriend and claims Homer’s not her type) but Marge isn’t there.
Bring on a blossoming friendship between Julia and Homer. She’s celebrating being proposed to by her airplane pilot boyfriend. Homer is happy she’ll get to “enjoy the most magical part of married life… the beginning.” Homer explains Marge is off working as a virtual reality actress and sets off Marge’s wife senses. Burns steps in after Marge ruins the take but even his direction can’t get a convincing “I love you” from Lisa. Homer and Julia go to Luigi’s where he explains to Lenny and Carl that the relationship is “purely catatonic.” They share the antipasta as they joke around snootily. She’s “just like a guy. You’re funny, you like to eat crap” and has a 212 bowling average. Basically Homer’s new best friend. Luigi tries to prove it’s love with a test a la Lady and the Tramp but Homer just slurps the whole noodle. So it’s not love, truly just friendship. Let’s all toast to no one getting hurt.
Back to Burns’ VR fun with the family. Lisa is the president and addressing the House and Chinese Overlords. Lisa goes off script much to the chagrine of Burns. “Bunch of land apes who aren’t worth the ping-pong balls stuck to their untalented asses! Idiots! Mountebanks! Featherwits! Poltroons! Saint Francis himself would vomit with rage!” I don’t know about you but I dig it when Burns gets all old-timey angry in episodes. Smithers tries to ease Burns frustration with some future scenarios. Lisa is going to build homes for homeless with her Irish boyfriend Sean before going to Vasser in the fall (“every family has one black sheep”), Maggie is pregnant, and Bart is a Harvard man. Burns was “warned there’d be nausea.” It’s enough to cause Burns to cast off his VR and accept his perfect life.
Homer is bowling with Julia, Ned is still having issues counting pennies (this time blame Rod and Canada), and Burns is firing his virtual family. Bart takes a robe even after Burn explodes the dye pack. I like it better that way too Bart. The Simpsons will never work in “single-viewer virtual realtiy family melodrama ever again. Marge comes home to Homer on the phone with his new bestie. Marge is none too thrilled to learn Homer has been spending time with another woman three years younger than her and that Homer has been sharing his deepest thoughts and feelings with her. Marge sends away the kids (Geronimo!) and actually is groaning angrily and hitting stuff. I like seeing Marge angry and standing up for herself. The way it’s shot is great too. Homer tries to defend himself but like a lot of men through the ages, just digs himself a deeper hole. No wife wants to hear she’s not their hubby’s best friend and that they talk to other women when their mad with their spouse. I’m sure there might be exceptions but this is not one of them. Homer resolves to just drink at Moe’s and that Marge will never hear the name Julia again.
Enter Julia lol. Marge is none too thrilled. Julia is just there to let Marge know she has a great husband. Marge points out she has a nice bicycle too that she keeps locked up. Julia doesn’t want to ride the bike. She just wants Marge to know that “your bike loves you as truly as a bike can.” Homer loves her as much as that bike and is shocked to discover he is the bike. Funny. Homer and Marge settle the argument when Homer relates all the stuff he learned about women from hanging out with Julia. It’s a sweet moment. Julia confesses to her boyfriend outside that she saw Homer naked. It’s okay though since he did too… at ten thousand feet.
Burns sets off for one “final fantasy” involving his virtual family crying over his deathbed (Marge still wants jokes, Lisa can’t emote for Burns but Bart is killing it) and then hanging with the devil (the one from old school episodes… yippee) in hell taking selfies. Clasic Burns and strange since the VR device isn’t plugged in.
The last little bit is Springfield a few years later where Frink’s VR invention has led the town into hilarious oblivious accidents and fantasy. I love that Marge and Homer choose to fantasize about smooching each other. It was the right kind of heart in an otherwise silly close to the episode. Also Skinner dreaming of drinking picnic wine with Chalmers while Supernintendo does the same with Seymour’s headstone was great. No surprise that Dr. Nick (hi Dr. Nick!) dreams of legitimate medical degrees.
And that’s the episode friends. I really dug this one. In fairness, I didn’t laugh as much the second time so it might have been watching the episode with my kiddo that made it so great on first view. I still think it had a cohesive plot. I actually would have liked to see more time with Homer and Julia. I think this is a fun episode and on my blah/meh/oooh/aaaah/ wowza/woo hoo scale is somewhere between aaaah and wowza. I guess as a college student I can just be a fan of rounding up and go with wowza. So far so good for this season.
What did you think of the episode? How would you rate it? Surprised I’m still on schedule writing these? Sound off in the comments and happy tapping friend. Thanks for stopping by and much love.
TTFN… Wookiee Out!