The Husband:

It’s time for Animation Domination!

The Simpsons 20.11 “How The Test Was Won”

It’s time for Springfield Elementary to take a country-wide aptitude test, but Skinner and Chalmer (sp?) are worried that their school will score so low that they will lose much of their budget.  Lisa, however, is ecstatic.

“Now I can show off on a federal level!” — Lisa

Bart, on the other hand, is not taking it seriously, so on a practice test he fills out his answer key to spell out “SLURP MY SNOT.” Expecting trouble, he is surprised to find that he scored a 100% (over Lisa’s 96%) and is put on a helicopter with the other geniuses of the school, being told that since he scored so high he didn’t even have to take the real test. But the copter turns out to be a bus full of Springfield Elementary’s dumbasses/troublemakers (including the bullies and Ralph), and they, along with driver Otto and a reluctant Skinner, head to Capital City to stay as far from the aptitude test as humanly possible.

Next time I take a standardized test, Im using Barts strategy.

Next time I take a standardized test, I'm using Bart's strategy.

Unfortunately, once entering Capital City, they end up in the wrong part of town and their bus is taken apart for scrap metal when they aren’t looking.

“My god! We’re at the corner of Cesar Chavez Way and Martin Luther King Boulevard!” — Skinner

In a mad dash to get all the children back to Springfield safe and sound, Skinner begins to bond with the rejects and learns, via his own unique way of teaching in order to save Ralph from a trash barge, that the aptitude test is absolute bullshit.

Back at school, Lisa is oddly worrying about the test and can barely get past the first answer, while Milhouse seems to be blasting through, until he notices he’s been doing this slightly wrong.

“Awww…I’m writing on my shirt.” — Milhouse

Just as the test is about to end, Skinner and the rejects get back to the school and inform everybody that the test is meaningless, thus ending the testing and releasing Lisa from her nerves.

In the B/C-story, Homer realized that he hadn’t mailed in his insurance, and that it won’t be processed by 3 p.m., so he has to avoid all hazards until then. This proves difficult when, as usual, the world is against Homer Simpson, a man who has been injured by just about everything. (In case we forgot, we are provided with a delightful minute-long montage of injuries from past episodes.)

The A-story itself has some important things to say, and I always believe that more Ralph in any episode is a good thing, but each story could have gone further in its absurdity. The Capital City story especially doesn’t go as far as it can, making the A-story feel oddly like an afterthought. The story with the most potential humor, Homer’s, does not get enough time to stick.

But, as usual, I appreciate an effort to strive for more stories, even if it ultimately doesn’t work out. At least they tried.

My favorite part, of course, was the couch gag, where the Simpsons Being-John-Malkoviched it through the sets of The Honeymooners, The Dick Van Dyke Show, The Brady Bunch and Cheers before settling on their good ol’ 20-year-running show.

King Of The Hill 13.9 “Master Of Puppets”

When Hank is baffled to realize that he can’t remember the last time he took Peggy out on an actual date, he cancels his regular Friday night family game night to provide Peggy with a great, extended date at a fancy restaurant (where the bread is complimentary!) and let Bobby hang out with his friends at the mall.

“I am approaching you with romantic intent.” – Hank

But Bobby just isn’t feeling the new setup, so he goes outside to wait to be picked up. But as Hank and Peggy’s date gets later and later (thanks especially to a desert that takes 20 minutes to prepare), he is left out, alone, until way past his bedtime. Upon returning home, Bobby, ever the mama’s boy and reliant upon their attention, guilt-trips his parents into making up for their major error that left him sitting in a parking lot known late at night for its infestation of prostitutes and drug dealers. Soon, he realizes he can play his parents’ affections for him off of each other and get great presents as a result — many of the items he would have never received had he not suffered for a mere couple hours.

Hank and Peggy, however, get wise to his scheme when they run into each other at a toy store, and decide instead to provide Bobby with the best gift of all — a parent’s love and attention. Bobby is saddened he can no longer be pampered at home, but he understands the lesson quite easily, something I think another and more complicated sitcom son may have missed entirely.

Kind of a middling episode, but I learned a long time ago that this show is willing to sacrifice laughs for theme and sweetness, and that’s a-okay by me.

American Dad 4.11 “Live And Let Fry”

Langley Falls, Virginia catches up with the Bay Area (and other places, too, I just happen to live in the Bay) in this episode and bans the sale and use of all trans fats in order to create a healthier America. Unfortunately, Francine isn’t much good at anything, let alone cooking something that doesn’t involve massive amounts of oil and her device that can fry anything, so the family’s regular food become nearly inedible to them.

Stan, especially, feels cheated, and as a last resort begins going over to the next county to buy mass amounts of trans fat to smuggle into Langley Falls, only to have the ubiquitous cop character played by Forest Whitaker, now a border patrol detective set on stopping any trans fats from getting into his county, become suspicious of his activities. So Stan decides to rope Steve, now suddenly obsessed with being a Boy Scout as following the law to its full and complete extent, into his scheme. But when Steve is stopped by Forest Whitaker at the border, he distracts him (a rather unfunny bit about looking for loose change in and around his patrol vehicle) and proceeds to eat a dozen cans of trans fat to hide the evidence, only to return home and proceed to have a heart attack.

Luckily, it’s not a heart attack at all but angina, but Stan has learned his lesson in his subjectivity to certain laws and the effect it has on his family, and vows to be a better citizen.

Over the last few episodes, I can’t help but wonder what’s happening to American Dad. The stories are getting sillier and less relatable, and the satire of the series is slowly dwindling away just to make room for shenanigans. I always like the biting edge of this show, so I hope that Seth MacFarlane, now making three shows if you include the upcoming Cleveland spin-off, isn’t spreading himself too thin. Because when American Dad started, you felt Family Guy suffer, and I don’t want that to happen to this oft-misunderstood show.

Oh, I still got some laughs out of this one here, though, especially Roger’s amusing but altogether too short story of impersonating Klaus to attain some money coming his way.

Some good lines:

  • “Damn you, Heavy D!” — Stan
  • “Well, I think your face is a stupid law!” — Stan
  • “I bedazzled my genitalia.” — Klaus