This week’s episode seemed a little labored. The jokes were stale and the plot was bland. Simply put, the episode didn’t capture my attention.
The episode focuses on Homer’s and Bart’s relationship. Bart wants a mini-bike, but Homer doesn’t give in, as he is trying a new parenting style he learned from the fictitious 80s sitcom, “Thicker Than Waters.” In that sitcom, the TV dad practices a brand of parenting based on letting the kids earn rewards instead of giving them things for free. Homer even dresses in the same ugly sweaters as his new idol. Bart eventually resorts to selling nuclear secrets stolen from the power plant to the Chinese in order to get his bike, spending time with Homer in order to get his hands on the information. Bart drops off a USB drive with the secrets at the drop off point and picks up his mini-bike. When Homer rewards Bart for being a good son with another mini-bike, Bart races to get back his secrets from the Chinese. He removes the USB from the drop off point, but gets caught by the Chinese. In order to save Bart, Homer offers to go to China and help them built a power plant (Is that any better?). The Chinese power plant explodes, Homer returns home, and everything seems to go back to normal, perhaps with Homer and Bart knowing a little more about fatherhood and being a son respectively.
It seemed like they tried to stretch this episode to make the twenty or so minutes. There were extended segments of “Thicker Than Waters” that didn’t really need to be there. There were also segments of other TV shows, such as “Upscalien in the House” which sound funny, and would have been if they were seen for ten seconds or so, instead of the seemingly minutes that were devoted to them. Near the end of the episode, an Itchy & Scratchy episode also was seen, which was also ultimately unnecessary. At the episode’s final minutes, there was a spoof on “Inside the Actors Studio,” guess staring James Lipton, who interviewed the cast of “Thicker Than Waters.” This was not funny, and was purely filler.
The time that was devoted to the plot of the episode was not that much better. There were a couple of memorable jokes, such as Willie seeing the school yard ghost (a kid that Willie himself accidently killed). Another funny moment was when several mysterious vans were chasing Bart, including one with CIA marked on it, which turned out to be Chinese Intelligence in America, and ATF, which was the A Team of Finland. One more good one was Bart mentioning that he pledged alliegence to the flag, and the Chinese agents remarking that the flag was made in China.
Overall, I’m disapointed with this episode, which didn’t come close to last week’s. Once again the show doesn’t know how to use a guest star, and a lack of a B plot made the writers stretch out the simple plot as long as possible. It doesn’t seem to be a new episode next week, so hopefully The Simpsons are cooking up something good.
To watch clips of this episode and others, or to learn about upcoming episodes, go to thesimpsons.com.