(S19E17) "Sorry, Lise. I can't be a vegetarian. I love the taste of death." -- Bart Simpson
Another Bart-centric episode, which means another decent installment of The Simpsons. It's unfortunate that these types of episodes couldn't have been dispersed more evenly throughout the season. This would have made for a less Homer-centric run of shows during the first half of the year -- something that many fans (or maybe just me) were expressing concern about.
As mentioned in previous reviews, shows that feature Lisa and/or Bart tend to be more interesting in nature because there are more dimensions to these characters than Homer or Marge. Because of their diverse personalities and passions there is more to explore with the younger Simpsons; more unique situations where they can be placed. Sometimes, they are right in their element. Other times they are put in a scenario that they are initially uncomfortable in but eventually adapt. Such is the case of this week's episode.
One would think that placing Bart in a nature-related environment would be like putting Dustin Diamond into an Academy Award nominated movie: it just seems un-natural. Yet, Bart adapted quite well as a member of the 4-H. Perhaps it was the chance to drive a large piece of farm machinery that drew him to the club. Eventually, driving the harvester across clotheslines and piles of manure (which turned into DVD copies of Pirates of the Caribbean 3) wasn't the only thing Bart expressed interest in. As the Simpson-universe summer began the young Simpson boy took interest in animal husbandry in order to win a contest.
If you think about it Bart has always been a defender of the weak. Yes, he's always on the case of people like Lisa, Martin and Rod and Todd, but he is more than willing to come to their aide when it is needed. That's why he was a good fit for his little runt of a cow named Lou. Through determination and a little help from another 4-H member named Mary (voiced by Zooey Deschanel), Bart was able to pull Lou through his paces and make him a winner. This really made him a loser since Lou was headed to the feed yard and imminent slaughter.
Of course, Bart wasn't going to let Lou get turned into Sloppy Joe without a fight. This is Bart's M.O.: not very nice to humans, but very kind to animals. In the many episodes where Bart has had to make a decision about the fate of one animal or another he has usually gone the side of good. We can go as far back "Bart Gets an Elephant" to see how kind he is to his four-legged friends. Replace Stampy with Lou and you have the same premise.
But, it was easier to save Stampy as Bart normally wouldn't eat any of the elephant's relatives on a bun with ketchup and mustard. Still, he made the right decision to save Lou and get him to a better place. Since Bart is a man of action instead of ideas he needed to incorporate Lisa into his plans. With the help of her radical environmentalist friends (who said a prayer to the spirit of the chain link fence before cutting it open) they were able to take Lou to Mary's house. Little did Bart know that Mary was one of Cletus' children ("It was a regular city birth, in a gas station".)
After being a one-joke character for many seasons, Cletus has been promoted to supporting character status as of late. Cletus is a good character to have because it allows the producers of The Simpsons to show the other side of the city that isn't revealed as much. We got to see that side in this week's installment as, under the rules of the hill people, Bart and Mary needed to get married. Blame it on his request to have her take Lou to keep him safe.
The wedding scene was pretty amusing, but it went so fast that it was hard to catch all of the jokes. Most amusing was the contradiction of the caterer who was trying to properly position the spittoon. Also funny was what Brandine gave Mary as something old (a rebel flag), something new (one her baby brothers?), something burrowed (a possum?) and Something Stew. Then there was the ceremony itself, where the preacher assumed that Mary was going to say 'I Do' since the hill people didn't really care what the women-folk had to say.
After Lou was rescued by Apu (hey, that rhymes) Marge and the family needed to rescue a cow-costumed Homer (who didn't have much to do this episode) from being made into some very fatty ground chuck at the Laughter House. Sure, it was jokey and you knew that Homer was going to be saved, but it was an amusing moment. The best line of the night came from Bart at the very end of the episode when he said that he was proud to say that he had a cow, man.
Some other observations about this week's episode:
No sub-plot at all this episode, unless you consider Marge and Homer trying to get Maggie to eat greens as a sub-plot. That's okay, because there was enough story that a secondary storyline wasn't needed.
This week's Blackboard joke: A person's a person no matter how Ralph. Meh.
Six hours of Saturday morning cartoons? The Simpsons really do live in another universe! There hasn't been a broadcast network that has shown six hours of cartoons since the late 90's. Then again, there hasn't been a host like Krusty introducing the cartoons in several decades.
The Trans-Clown-O-Morphs harken back to the days when kids were asked to enter the secret code into the decoder rings they found in their cereal boxes to find out the name of the next adventure. Oh, plus The Transformers. By the way, would you ever tune into a episode of the Trans-Clow-O-Morphs?
Homer was very family-oriented this episode as well as fairly low-key. It was surprising to see him pass on having Lou stay with them when Bart suggested it. Usually Homer is all gung-ho for those types of things.
Next week -- Lisa goes to Sundance.