May 19, 2008 - While watching Sunday night's season finale of The Simpsons, I was reminded of a quote I'd once read from Meg White, the drummer from The White Stripes. In an interview discussing the band's meteoric rise to fame, the idea of making an appearance on the series came up. Meg said, "A guest appearance would be amazing. I wouldn't want to be in a Lisa episode. They're kind of boring." Though I disagree that all Lisa episodes are boring, "All About Lisa" certainly was. Instead of smart send up of the classic All About Eve, we were served an episode that used the film's narrative only loosely. And instead of a memorable, funny season-ender, we got a half-hour of unsurprising bits and half-hearted jokes.
The episode began like the movie, at an extravagant awards gala: the 38th Annual Springfield Showbiz Awards. And like the movie, the rest of the episode is told in flashback, narrated by the incomparable Sideshow Mel. So far, so good. The Simpsons have a great history with parodying a film or genre. Even this season, we saw a terrific reworking of The Departed in the form of "The Debarted." But All About Lisa will not be remembered as one of the better examples. To start with, Lisa never wanted to be a part of Krusty's show. The way she found herself to be an intern for the clown was forced and unfunny. Worse yet, was that once the plot was set in motion, you couldn't help but be reminded of the time Bart worked for "The Krusty the Clown Show."
In that episode, entitled "Bart Gets Famous," the elder Simpson child suddenly found himself working as Krusty's assistant. Then, after an unexpected turn in a sketch, Bart became popular and a big star, only to realize that fame does not last. In this episode, the middle Simpson child suddenly found herself working as Krusty's assistant. Then, after an unexpected turn in a sketch, Lisa connived her way into becoming a big star. (That "conniving" part, that's from the movie.) Later, with the help of Sideshow Mel, Lisa realized that fame does not last. So to say we've seen this before might be an understatement. The only differences came from the few references to the movie and the fact that "Bart Gets Famous" was far, far funnier.
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