The Husband:

King Of The Hill 13.15 “Serves Me Right For Giving General George S. Patton The Bathroom Key”

First, let us take a moment to recognize the best episode title of the month. See it glisten…and gleeeeeeeam…

It’s been a year since Hank’s father, Cotton, kicked the bucket, but despite Hank having pushed him out of his mind years ago, Cotton isn’t done with his disappointment of a son. While he waits for Cotton’s young wife come to Arlen in order to drop off a box of Cotton’s belongings, Hank realizes that he knows virtually nothing about his own damn father.

“He was a war hero, and he killed 50 men, and…” – Hank

As Bobby doesn’t want this to happen between he and Hank, he sets out a series of questions, but Hank is a bit too busy with Cotton’s box. Why? Because in it is a list of Cotton’s final wishes for Hank to perform, a list easily obtained from pausing Hulu’s feed:

  • Give the finger to the bouncer at Juggstore Cowboys
  • Spit on the steps of the Japanese Embassy
  • Give fork to Bill
  • Give perfume to Madame Francine
  • Slap the bottoms of the Cleery sisters [two VA nurses]
  • Give spat to fatty

When he achieves the final task, he and Peggy are given a key to a bus station locker that holds Cotton’s ashes with one final set of instructions – flush his ashes at a nearby saloon in the toilet that General Patton used right before shipping off. This is a common place to flush ashes, though, and Hank is not allowed to clog up the pipes just because he had a note from his father. Luckily, Bill is in tow, and as a veteran, he turns the saloon’s patrons against each other to declare which war they fought in was better than any other war, allowing Hank access to the toilet. As he looks around the restroom, Hank learns a few more pieces of info about Cotton scrawled on the stall wall, and he is happy to know that, while he may not know much about his father, he knows enough.

(Let’s just ignore the B-story, in which Dale and Bill fight over the concept of a littered aluminum can in relation to their lack of respect for each other, as the argument started with such silliness that I had zero sympathy for either of them as their friendship threatened to fall apart.)

It’s always understandable to want to know more about one’s parents. I personally don’t know nearly as much as I should about my father’s childhood, but it’s not because he’s a closed-off person like Cotton. He just doesn’t talk about it, and I am quite aware that the life he has had since moving to California is far more positive than much of what transpired during his early years on the east coast. But I do hope that, one day, we could have an information sit-down, just for my own sake.

In addition, I had hoped that Hulu would have posted the final fake PSA from the end of the episode on how to avoid clogging toilets, but alas, they weren’t clever enough to turn that into a stand-alone clip.

“Our best bet might be to take out the floorboards and turn this into a Flintstones car.” – Lucky

The Simpsons 20.18 “Father Knows Worst”

Now that Marge has found a sauna and has neither the time nor the energy to worry about anything, Homer steps up to the plate in taking care of the children. Unfortunately, he almost immediately discovers what we all already know — that Bart is a loser and has no future, and that Lisa is a loner and has no friends. And so, Monsieur Simpson does his best to help his two elder children advance in life.

First, he tries to help Bart get a good grade in class by taking on an assigned balsa wood project, but gets in over his head when he chooses to build the nigh impossible Westminster Abbey all by himself, and only learns his lesson after being visited by the ghosts of Geoffrey Chaucer and Oscar Wilde. (True, Simpsons writers, much of Wilde’s platitudes sound good and clever, but many of them don’t make a whole lot of sense sometimes.) And with Lisa, he attempts to get her new friends by updating her on all the cool trends, such as cell phone bedazzling parties on Facebook, but learns his lesson when he sees that his little girl is unhappy.

Of all the shows on Sunday’s Animation Domination, The Simpsons once again is the least funny, which is about halfway a sad commentary on this 20-year-old show and halfway a reminder that this Emmy winner is getting its ass handed to it every now and again. The sweetness that permeates much of this show didn’t seem to come through this week, and that’s a shame.

Good bits from the ep:

  • The Commie Swatter
  • “Ooooooh! Fire kebab!” — Homer
  • The image of Marge riding a stegosaurus on water-skis, and the fact that Homer’s mind would go there in the first place
  • “Awwww…that’s not Henry VII; that’s Henry VI.” — Homer

Sit Down, Shut Up 1.2 “Miracle’s Are Real”

Despite popular opinion, I didn’t find this ep as funny as the pilot, but goddamn did I still find myself laughing at the most bizarre instances. I don’t really understand why so many people don’t find this show funny. Are they afraid to laugh at some of the more bizarre bits of humor, like Miracle’s increasingly clothesless dancing and posing in the field while waiting for her birthstar and Pluto to align? Are people too PC to laugh at Happy’s intensely confusing mumbling? I don’t know, but it’s getting me, and it’s getting me goooooood.

When Miracle accidentally gives the entire teaching staff hemlock, the plans for the upcoming “Fair” Fair get thrown out of whack, but Acting Principal Sezno is damned if she can’t raise some money for the school in any way she can. And so the Fair Fair goes into effect only to have it all fall apart in various ways. This is made worse when Larry successfully convinces Miracle that her spirituality is no match for his science, which in turn only successfully turns Miracle into an emotional zombie, depressed and dejected. And so, of course, this has to turn into a parody of that creepy robot fortune teller in Big, a quest for Ennis to see Miracle’s breasts in any way he can, for Willard to find a home (one that’s not inside of an active church bell) and for Stuart to revert back to his former job as a prison clown (complete with song).

Disturbing on so many levels.

Disturbing on so many levels.

At this point, I don’t know if the show’s going to get any better for those who simply don’t get it, but I also don’t want to scare people off of checking out the rest of the short first season. Just open yourself up to the silliness and subversion, and understand that there are several layers of humor going on at one time instead of the assumed one level (you know, like Two and a Half Men, which is pretty much just bad sex puns). It’s true that it’s hard to relate to any character so far, but I like the general group overall. And isn’t that a good starting point?

Other stuff I laughed at:

  • The interestingly punctuated Teacher’s’ Lounge
  • “Boy, the man cannot hold his hemlock.” — Larry re: Ennis
  • “I only heard five bongs and a scream.” — Miracle
  • “Lift your head. I can’t see your chesticles!” — Ennis

Family Guy 7.13 “Stew-Roids”

Aside from the depressing fact that Joe’s son Kevin just happened to randomly die in Iraq while he was gone from the show over the last few seasons, and FG‘s continual insistence that killing pets is funny (IT’S NOT, YOU JACKASSES!), this was the second almost drop-down funny episode of Family Guy in a row. While Chris gets She’s All That-ed by the popular Connie, which in turn puts Meg into an even lower social standing at James Woods High School, Stewie decides to pump up his muscles when Joe’s infant daughter beats the crap out of him. Unfortunately, this leads almost immediately into steroids, which gives the show’s writers every opportunity they can to use every single musclehead cliché they could think of. I hate to say that most of it was funny simply because it was true, and that it was coming out of a baby’s mouth, but sometimes that’s all it needs to elicit a guffaw from yours truly.

Disturbing on so many levels.

Disturbing on so many levels.

True, it’s tough to get a laugh for doing a Buffalo-Bill-in-SilenceOfTheLambs bit with Chris when Kevin Smith beat you by three years, but you can always make up for that by having Stewie, huge muscles newly deflating, using his muscle flaps as wings to parody Rocky the Flying Squirrel. It’s the silly things in life, folks.

Other guffaw-eliciting yokes:

  • Meg’s bag lunch: bread crust, an orange peel and a picture of Lois eating a turkey leg
  • “You look like Lou Ferrigno’s poop.” — Brian
  • Paul Sorvino and Chazz Palminteri starring in the film Distracting Trumpet
  • “I like what you’re doing with your boobs.” — Peter

American Dad 4.17 “Every Which Way But Lose”

Another Steve-centric episode, another mild success. When Steve, as he often does, wants to spend more time with his dad, he joins the football team and have his dad coach, only to suck major hairy balls and get cut from the team. And so, with Roger’s help (and Roger’s disguise as Coach Buttermaker in The Bad News Bears), Steve and his ragtag group of misfits train in order to take on the undefeatable Wolverines and finally get Stan to cry. (Because how many times has Stan gotten Roger and Steve to cry? Too often.) They stink out loud as a team, though, and so Steve and Roger figure they can at least prove themselves by “spoiling” the game and winning on their own terms. Unfortunately, when Stan finally loses the match, he feels he has no other choice but to commit suicide. (As he is unable to cry, this is the only way he knows to deal with shame, or as called it, getting the emotions out through his throat.) But Steve is a perpetual loser, and so he is able to teach Stan to finally cry.

“That’s what life is — losing and crying.” — Steve

Meanwhile, Francine is hard at work baking pies for the upcoming fair, only to find that the mysterious woman she keeps losing to is actually Hayley in disguise, betraying her confused notions of feminism in the 21st century. (“Mom, it’s not what you think. I’m…cooking meth!”) This plot doesn’t really give too much other than having Roger describe how awful each pie is. (I believe I heard something about gerbil meat.) The storyline does, as it does on AD, end quite suddenly and with a one-word wrap-up, though, when Roger wins the competition and admits that he’s been competing against them secretly for years.

Not one of AD‘s best, but a solid effort.

Bits! Funny! Here!:

  • “Dad, you can’t really expect a non-Korean to place above ‘cobalt.'” — Steve on his platinum medal at a recent chemistry competition
  • “A sturdy groin is the lynchpin of victory.” — Stan
  • “Yes, I’m crying! He hit me with a chair!” — Roger
  • “Hey Steve, before the game, how many ears did you have?” — Roger

The Husband:

Moe episodes always walk a fine line between absurdity and outright cruelty, so I’m glad to say that this sweet, funny and stellar episode gave us plenty to enjoy while at the same time making us feel pity for Moe without going into the realm of over-the-top depression. One of the best episodes of the 20th season, this one worked.

Harumph!

Harumph!

When Moe begins using a dating service to solve the one biggest problem in his life, that he has no woman and no woman ever seems to want him for anything (not even Maggie), Moe joins an online dating service and, almost immediately, catches the eye of one Maya, who thinks he’s cute (and he even used his real, non-Photoshopped picture.)

“The gargoyle has landed!” — Moe

She, too, looks like a beautiful woman, but when they finally meet for a date, Moe is surprised to learn that she is a little person. A beautiful little person, but a little person nonetheless.

“It’s like my heart wants to do her.” — Moe

Despite his initial misgivings, the two hit it off in an incredible way and seem like the best couple ever. He’s learned to filter out most of the jokes he could make at her expense, he threw out his bar copy of Little Women, and he’s turned into a thoroughly datable guy. But there’s still one problem — he can’t muster up enough courage to have her meet any of his friends, lest they put her in the janitor’s bucket-on-wheels and play hockey with her as the puck (because that is, in fact, what they’d do.) Finally, he sets up a double date with Homer and Marge, who both love Maya unconditionally.

But when Moe and Maya take a serious step toward the rest of their future, she drops a couple brief, self-deprecating joke about her height (including pretending to be a doll), which sets Moe off on a torrent of distasteful little person humor which in turn breaks them up for good. Even when he tries to apologize, and even considers surgery to make himself shorter, she is saddened to learn that he will always look at her as a little person first and a beautiful person second. Downtrodden back at the bar, Moe still feels he is better for the experience, because, hey, at least he put himself out there honestly and fully.

In the B-story, Marge feels that Homer isn’t giving Maggie enough attention, so she sets Maggie up with a nanny cam to spy on Homer during the times he brings her to the day care right near Moe’s. But while Maggie suffers major taunts from all the other babies (including one who uses his baby bottles to taunt her Warrrrrioooooooors style, Homer comes to the rescue and even gets the shit kicked out of him by the other toddlers just to protect Maggie.

This feels more like the old Simpsons, if there is such a thing, an episode that worries about emotion and characters first and gags later. I still don’t call out this show for not being “what it once was,” but with this one I kind of understand what people mean.

Other funny bits:

  • Utica’s Kill-Quik Rat Poison Arena
  • “She’s-a beautiful, but she’s-a so far away!” — Italian chef re: Maya
  • “Ack! I look nothing like Julie Newmar!” — Lisa’s music teacher

The Husband:

The Simpsons 20.13 “Gone Maggie Gone”

The Simpsons decided to go into full-length-episode movie reference mode this week and ended up with a neatly plotted but somewhat empty episode. Combining the similar nuttiness one would find in movies such as National Treasure and The Da Vinci Code (and, of course, the book of the latter, which is pretty much just the movie but without Tom Hanks’ hairdo), it lead Lisa on a quest to find Maggie, who through a series of circumstances disappeared at a Catholic church. (Never mind the title being a reference to the Dennis Lehane novel and film Gone Baby Gone, which, aside from having a missing child, had nothing to do with the episode.

But how did Maggie get there? Well, Marge looked at an eclipse head-on instead of through a camera obscura and temporarily blinded herself, and so she has to be bandaged up for two weeks. The rest of the family have to do all her chores for her, but when the kitchen is overrun with rats (with a momentary Ratatouille cooking sequence), Homer goes to buy some poison, bringing Maggie and Santa’s Little Helper along with him. But driving back home, the dog and the baby begin fighting over a Life In Hell doll and some candy-colored poison (“What is it with kids and candy-colored poison?”) made Homer crash his car off of a bridge. As the car flies through the air into certain doom…

“Why did I bring a baby and a dog to the poison stooooooooooooooore?!” — Homer

Landing on solid ground, Homer tries to get himself, Maggie and the dog across a body of water, but there’s only enough room in an abandoned boat to bring two at a time, much like the common riddle with the fox, the hen and the chicken feed. In the distance, Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel is experiencing the same problem, until the fox eats the two other items.

“Well, the puzzle done puzzled itself out.” — Cletus The Slack-Jawed Yokel

When Maggie, during Homer’s solution of the riddle, ends up by herself in front of a church, she is picked up by a nun and brought inside.

Phew…so that’s why she’s there, and that was the funnier part of the episode.

Lisa, meanwhile, goes to find her, and discovers that she must go through a series of word problems and Rube Goldberg devices to find Maggie, all while unraveling the mystery of the “Gem,” an item that the nuns need to bring a new era of peace to the world. Lisa, through her own cunning as well as help from Skinner and Comic Book Guy, learns that she may, in fact, be the gem, and goes to the church to reveal herself. But she had misread a clue, an anagram that could have said either “Lisa” or “Maggie” depending on how you solved it, and finds that Maggie is the gem child. But as the sun hits Maggie and peace comes to Springfield, a blind Marge bursts into the church, having a mother’s instinct as to where her child is, and is unwilling to let her child be used as a spiritual conduit. She takes Maggie and the family home, leaving Bart there to be the gem child, but when the sun hits him, the walls begin melting and fire bursts from the walls.

I did not expect to write as much as I did on this episode, so I guess that’s a sign that I liked it more than originally reported. Yes, I liked the story just fine, but the humor, the actual laugh-out-loud humor, was all in the first act, and as I’m not the biggest fan of either National Treasure or The Da Vinci Code (I’m kind of morally opposed to non-children’s books that have five-page chapters), the rest of the episode was just one extended gag, clever but tedious.

Other funny bits from the episode:

  • The mocking of Ed Begley, Jr.’s environmentalism, despite the fact that I agree with everything he stands for
  • “Wolves are taking all our women!” — Homer’s reaction to a Tex Avery cartoon
  • “I’m not an albino. I just use a lot of sunblock.” — Smithers

King Of The Hill 13.12 “Uncool Customer”

Peggy, upon visiting a music store desiring a cassette of the new Michael Bublé album, discovers that she hasn’t kept up with the cool trends for about 20 years now, and sets out to find a place in the new millennium. And what better place than with the hip, trendy mothers of the cotillion class Bobby convinced his parents he’d like to attend. And oh, are they trendy. They have names like Kat Savage, give their daughters hip boy names like Michael and frequent hidden wine bars that needs passwords. Much to her delight, they take a liking to Peggy.

“You’re fun. You say what you think. Like you’re already drinking.” – Kat

Soon, she is struggling to keep up with all the “cool things,” from purses to vacuum cleaners, while Bobby follows her around also trying to find out how to be cool, as he has a major crush on Kat’s daughter Michael. Soon, Bobby is doing the best he can to keep up with fashion statements, even though his baggy, sagging jean-phase is about ten years too late.

“How about you wear pants and I think of them as pants!” – Hank

When Peggy and Bobby are deemed worthy enough to attend Michael’s party, they show up looking like Kid ‘n Play, thus ruining the party. But when they happen upon Kat’s room, it seems like that of a crazy person, as she maps out her struggle to stay trendy above all else. Kat comes in and proclaims how difficult it is to keep up with the times (e.g. she visits 142 blogs a day) and how it completely wears her down.

“I’ve even done some streetfighting.” – Kat

Finally, she admits that she loves Peggy because of how uncool she is, which has in turn allowed Kat the ability to let loose of all her “coolness” and just be herself, which concludes with her watching shitty sitcoms with Peggy at Chez Hill.

I think Peggy cribbed this outfit from Tyra Banks, actually.

I think Peggy cribbed this outfit from Tyra Banks, actually.

Meanwhile, Hank doesn’t want anything to do with the cotillion (no surprise there), so he goes to see what’s up at the old polygamist compound that has now been turned into a restaurant. Turns out that the sandwiches are delicious, but the seating is community-style along very long benches.

“This table smells like a diaper, and this is still the best meal I’ve had in years.” – Hank

Hank tries to get over the seating arrangements, but he soon begins overhearing conversations that are simply TMI and none of his business. (This episode’s main example? Women talking about birth control.) When he brings the gang to the restaurant to indulge in their meatloaf sandwiches, they stake out a private four-top and rush to it in its tiny turnaround time.

“That pregnant woman was fast, but we wanted it more!” – Dale

Still, Hank can’t take this untraditional restaurant, and so he accepts the fact that it is not for him. However, the sandwiches are so good that he’s willing to take a hit in the wallet and pay somebody to bring him his sandwich.

I’m starting to really gravitate toward Peggy’s stories, perhaps as I get older, as I can relate to them more than I could Bobby’s ten years ago. I’m nowhere near as culturally clueless as her, nor am I close to as old, but I appreciate her effort to be a better person, or at least a more outwardly cool person, which is pretty much a struggle for anybody. But as I am no longer of “party” age and I vastly prefer coming home after work and watch television to grabbing a beer at a noisy bar, I get it. Life gets in the way, and that may not be such a bad thing.

Family Guy 7.9 “The Juice Is Loose”

I can understand why the show decided to put a disclaimer at the beginning, claiming —true or false I am unsure — that this was a “lost episode” that took place in the fall of 2007, as the focus of the episode, O.J. Simpson, is now in jail for non-murder-related charges, but it really didn’t make this lame episode any funnier.

After Peter and his friends are left to look after the kids, they nearly destroy the house with a pillow fight-turned-fistfight while Stewie accidentally locks himself out on the roof. Peter distracts Lois and all of us with an extended rehash of the Conway Twitty joke from a few seasons ago (it was more strange than funny the first time ’round, so I felt pretty damn cheated by this 3-minute cutaway) to ease the tension on him. At the dinner table, he discovers an old winning sweepstakes ticket from decades earlier that entitles him to a round of golf with a celebrity, who just happens to be O.J. Simpson.

Despite protests from his family and friends, Peter decides to go through with the game of golf — it helps that he doesn’t even remember, you know, the Trial Of The 1990s — but soon becomes suspicious of O.J. and tries to get him to confess, going to the golf game wearing a wire. O.J. discovers the trick, though, but instead of killing Peter, he convinces him that he was innocent, and living the past 14 years of his life being thought a killer despite being acquitted has turned him into a lonely man.

Pete brings him back home to see his family and assures everybody that O.J. is a human being just like everybody else, but when the town of Quahog hears that an alleged murderer is in their midst, they form an angry mob and make way to Spooner Street. There, O.J. and Peter convince the mob that he is not a bad guy, and everybody apologizes and begins living in peace…

…Until O.J. stabs three townspeople and runs away.

So, an old joke that really doesn’t have any bite left and an unfunny three-minute cutaway? Not one of FG‘s brightest moments.

Some good bits, however:

  • The Robert Mitchum film Out-Of-Shape In-Shape Guy In The 50s
  • “We’ll stay in, pop some popcorn and watch Jimmy Kimmel try.” — Peter
  • “You know how much mustache cream costs?!”

American Dad 4.13 “Jack’s Back”

When Steve joyfully informs his father that he has signed them up for a father-son bike race, he learns Stan’s terrible secret — Stan doesn’t know how to ride a bike. (Stan has a lot of terrible secrets, doesn’t he?) As his criminal father was never around, he never learned any of the things a young son is to learn, including car mechanics.

“Now it’s making a black tinkle out of the hoozy-wuzza!” — Stan on an oil leak

This is okay, since Francine has her own things she simply cannot deal with (i.e. she doesn’t like spumoni, because while it’s ice cream, it sounds like pasta to her), but this doesn’t stop Steve from wanting to reunite his father with his own father. But after a bit of research, he finds out that Pappy Smith is in prison, trial is soon approaching, and he needs a good character witness. So Steve is allowed to bring Stan and the elder Smith camping, but Stan, never having been taught how to fish, begins shooting into the lake.

You're just mad because you can't ride a bike!

You're just mad because you can't ride a bike!

After a series of incidents, Steve discovers that Grandpa Smith really is a bad guy and not the misunderstood misanthrope Steve assumed he was, but he wants Steve to learn a good lesson and decides to turn himself into the court house and be slapped with a “guilty” verdict, all while Stan rethinks his own position on his father-son relationship and surprises himself by ferociously riding his bike across town to the tune of Queen’s “Bicycle.” (Any excuse to use this song is okay by me.) But Stan is too late, and his father goes off to jail once again.

In the extremely bizarre B-story, Roger lets Hayley intern at his bar in the attic, but the lazy Hayley doesn’t like doing any of the actual work. And so the two one-up each other with costumes and assumed personalities, being anyone from a labor board supervisor to members of the Armenian mob to a time-traveling half-cow-half-person from the future to finally each other, where Hayley finally “Duck Season/Wabbit Season” tricks Roger into signing her internship form. Hey, if Roger isn’t going to be in the A-story, I’m fine if all of his B-stories can be this strange and funny.

Funny stuff. A little lightweight. I’m still waiting for AD to get back its sharp satirical edge, but this was definitely an improvement over the last couple weeks.

Other funny!:

  • “I just Mr. Belvedered myself. Google it.” — Roger (To wit, Christopher Hewett, who played Mr. Belvedere on his eponymous show, had diabetes. Put two and two together.)
  • According to Steve, taking a #4 is two men taking a poop while holding hands
  • “I have to air it out at night or else I get eye mushrooms.” — Pappy Smith about his usually eyepatch-covered eye.

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

The Husband:

The Simpsons 20.10 “Take My Life, Please”

The Simpsons comes back with a bang with their sweet new HD intro, complete with good new material mixed in with the classic stuff we’ve known for 20 years. As far as the episode is concerned, though, it’s a little lacking. (Perhaps the thing that made me giggle the most was in the opening couch gag, simply by showing how a couch may look when it tries to sneak away from its family.)

Springfield is celebrating the newest addition to their central wall of fame, a man who Homer knew mostly as the man who defeated him as class president back in high school, leading to a very long life of success and happiness. Homer isn’t pleased, though, and tries to find any way he can of taking this man down a peg.

Homer: Tears of a clown.

Lisa: He’s not crying, and he’s not known for clowning.

Upset that he could have had this man’s life and not his own sad, poor existence, Homer mopes and mopes and mopes, but Lenny and Carl come to him with a secret they’ve been holding onto for decades, one Homer could probably use. It turns out that Homer may have technically won the high school election, but the principal had it out for him and asked Lenny and Carl to bury the box with the true results, promising that he will write a shitty letter of recommendation for the both of them so they don’t have to go to college and will do what they actually want, which is to stay in Springfield forever and have no ambition.

“Screw this up and it’s Carnegie Mellon for the both of you!” – Homer’s principal to Lenny and Carl

Lenny, Carl and Homer retrieve the box to see that Homer was, in fact, the winner, and so we start a way-too-late-in-the-episode story where the Simpsons go to a local Italian restaurant, where the cook has a special kind of sauce that acts as a view into alternate timelines, so they can see how Homer’s life could have gone differently. He still manages to work at the power plant as well as end up with Marge (although there is a side-track involving a cheerleader as well as a nice reference to Artie Ziff, the Jon Lovitz-voiced Marge-stalker), but ends up never having his children, which is enough to let him know that his life is okay the way it is.

Funny but poorly structured, this is an episode that the naysayers may point to as evidence of the show’s declining quality, but I just think it was a slight misstep that ended up having some good emotional impact at the end. Sometimes Homer just needs to cherish what he has and not always strive for the impossible, and as long as the show keeps us emotionally invested in the Simpsons themselves, I don’t see this show faltering too much.

Other bits from the ep that I liked:

  • The high school poster that said “Moe: Still Available For Prom”
  • “In this reality, I am not gay. Hubba hubba!” – Bizarro Patty
  • “Ohhhhh…look at who thinks he’s smarter than sauce.” – Homer to Bart

King Of The Hill 13.9 “What Happens At The National Propane Gas Convention In Memphis Stays At The National Propane Gas Convention In Memphis”

In an extremely funny episode that takes Hank down a few notches, Buck is made an honorary member of the National Propane Gas Convention’s “Hall of Flame,” asking Hank to come along and be his right-hand man…or a sherpa, which he has trouble describing:

“…one of those goat men who keep you from freezing to death.” – Buck

Hank is worried that Buck, as usual, will be his usual drunken self and dishonor their business by acting a fool, but with Peggy’s help – a self-described “expert fun-blocker” – everything seems to be going fine at the convention in Memphis. Buck is behaving himself just fine, until he discovers that he has a bastard son who is also in the propane and propane accessories game.

Instead of this turning into a bizarre plot-twisty episode – I was certain that the bastard son would have been a con man for some reason – he instead gets Buck to lower his guard so they can make up for all their lost time, which pretty much means boozing and whoring, so much so that Buck keeps missing all the meetings he is scheduled to attend.

After trying to get him to focus, Hank finally has enough, and with an emphatic cry…

“You have not honored propane!”

…Hank gets wasted and ruins his introduction to Buck’s induction into the “Hall of Flame,” screaming obscenities and vomiting on some high-level propane wives. This is not like Hank, and I was surprised to see him be the one to lose his shit so thoroughly, but there’s only so much he can do throughout the years to help Strickland Propane be the successful business that it is.

This website does not honor propane.

This website does not honor propane.

Peggy, worried for her humiliated husband, guilts Buck and his bastard son into going to the convention board, who are meeting to decide on Hank’s punishment, where they set up the board members with some nice booze and whores and then take some incriminating pictures. Thus, Hank is off the hook.

I’m never wild about the episodes that take viewers away from the inner sanctum of the Hill family, but I appreciate the glimpse into Buck Strickland’s life. (This is also the first time I actually noticed that Stephen Root did his voice, I’m that distant from his character.) But I especially like the amount of ridiculousness thrust upon his character this week, with great line after great line:

  • “Who wants breakfast whiskey?!”
  • Buck: “Son, what’s the bad part of Memphis called?”
    Bastard Son: “Memphis!”
  • “Damn! My breath stinks of blood and peppermint!”

Not much of a heartwarming episode to be sure, but holy hell was it funny.

Family Guy 7.7 “Ocean’s 3.5” (it seems I’ve been calling this season six all year, which apparently is wrong)

Family Guy returns not with a gigantic, hilarious bang, but still a nice re-entry into its irreverence, its far-too-long extended gags and its extreme silliness. I can’t ask for too much when it comes to this show (especially post-revival), but if it makes me laugh, I’m game. I lost emotional investment with this show long ago, so I’m pretty much just in it for the comedy. (This is not to say that I don’t enjoy the occasional dramatic episode, such as when Peter goes back in time and fucks up his relationship with Lois, but FG has nothing on King Of The Hill or The Simpsons in this particular department.)

I can't believe Bonnie has been pregnant for seven seasons, let alone six.

I can't believe Bonnie has been pregnant for seven seasons, let alone six.

When Joe and Bonnie finally have another baby, they find that their hospital bills are so high that Joe has to take another job, so Peter and the gang do their best to raise money for him. First, sell spiked lemonade to children (fail). Second, beg Pewterschmidt for money (fail). They finally band together, Ocean’s Eleven-style, to steal money from Pewterschmidt, but Peter finally has a change of heart at the end and decides not to steal the money. (This is, of course, having gone through many security doors, including one that involves Cleveland’s uncanny vocal impersonations, one with Quagmire’s penis, and one that asked what the most unattractive male name is, which is apparently “Keith”…huh?).

Stewie, meanwhile, gets a glimpse of the new Swanson baby and falls in love, going so far as to try to compose a song for the young female, leading to my favorite quote of the night, more out of delivery than anything else, from Brian to Stewie.

“You sound like an unbelievable douche.” –Brian to Stewie

Stewie finally creates a wildly bizarre music video set to him singing Bryan Adams’ “(Everything I Do) I Do It For You,” which while far too long to sustain any kind of credibility storywise, does manage to cram in references to at least 25 other music videos. Unfortunately, whenever FG goes into extended joke territory, I think of something I once read about The Simpsons:

A few years ago, The Simpsons decided to shorten their episodes by, I think, two minutes, and one of the producers proclaimed that this was a disappointment since with two minutes they technically lose one entire sub-plot. With FG’s crazy extended jokes (which are way longer than two minutes for the most part), I can’t help but wonder how much they could have done with the time they spent being ridiculous. I always try to say story over jokes, but with FG’s stories as of late, I’m not sure how good of a trade that would be.

As usual with FG, the best bits and lines come out of nowhere, so here’s some of the ones I wrote down:

  • “Babies come out of the butt, right?” – Peter
  • The fact that the lame-ass Two And A Half Men is filmed in front of a live ostrich. I don’t really know what that means, but it was funny
  • Yes, Alan Colmes is Droopy Dog
  • “Now we don’t have any money, and our feelings are hurt.” – Cleveland
  • While I didn’t think the quick-to-air Christian Bale meltdown extended joke was entirely necessary, Peter’s retorts were funny enough to get me by, especially “Jeez, you punch your mother with that mouth?”
  • Cynthia Watros did a voice? Libby lives?

American Dad 4.10 “Family Affair”

Well, Roger the emotional terrorist, has struck the Smith family again. While lying about his involvement with a local theatre company (which has been closed for years, despite having a guy who still sweeps up in front just cuz he feels like it), Roger has actually been seeing another on the side, in essence cheating on the Smiths. Everyone is viciously hurt by this revelation, including Steve (who Roger accidentally calls Scotty) who starts destroying whatever he can get his hands on, complete with the most pathetic scream I’ve heard in a long time.

“Go back to your whore family!” – Francine

They take Roger back, only to find that he has a slew of families to feed his addiction, and so they completely abandon him. But he finally comes back once again with the explanation that all this comes from his pre-Smith family, who abandoned him at a gas station so many years ago, thus emotionally scarring him forever.

When I write out the plot, as with many AD plots, they don’t sound altogether great, but like the wonderful King Of The Hill, it’s the energy this show puts into the stories and the characters that gets me coming back time-after-time. The AV Club made a good point that despite some of AD’s lows, it might be the most consistently funny show of Animation Domination, not only with its resistance of FG-like insanity but its insistence on staying true to the characters. Roger is a selfish prick, but he’s a lovable one, and the family accepts him for what he is.

But Klaus, oh Klaus, even when he gets his own story, it sputters and dies, and this week was no exception. Where the fuck was that plot supposed to go and why was I supposed to care?

Some good lines/noticeable awesomeness:

  • “You defiled my moment. Right in front of my wife.” – Stan
  • “Want me to tell you how a broom’s like a phallus?” – Janitor
  • The always-welcome presence of Will Forte
  • “You know, there was a time I was afraid of uncircumcised penises.” – Stan

Okay, the final bit about the CIA koala with the brain of a homeless man was, in fact, FG-like insanity, but goddamn was it funny. Maybe if I show that to all the Simpsons and FG fans out there, they may come back to this show after abandoning it after the first season. Truly inspired, much like the Gilbert Grape squirrels or the terrifyingly spot-on Francine-and-Roger Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? homage a few years back.

Animation Domination is finally back – well, sort of – and we have two new episodes to discuss. Were they good? Were the bad? Were they passable?

The Simpsons 20.9 “Lisa The Drama Queen”

Using Emily Blunt as a voice, but choosing instead to be a 30-minute homage not to the acclaimed actress’ film My Summer Of Love but the underseen (but Oscar-nominated) 1994 Peter Jackson film Heavenly Creatures (starring a very young Kate Winslet). Why they didn’t choose to go with the aforementioned Winslet or even Melanie Lynsky – who is plenty popular enough with her recurring role on Two And A Half Men to get a Simpsons spot – is beyond me, but Blunt lent the character a few good dimensions.

Stuck in community center art class so Homer and Marge can at least have just a few hours of personal time a week – Lisa becomes quick friends with Juliet, an imaginative but stubborn British girl during a shared art class. Realizing how much of themselves they see in each other, they begin to create and write a fantasy world in which they can be the royalty they always knew they were, but when the fantasy becomes too real for Juliet, things start to go a little haywire. But when they get caught in two lobster traps (don’t ask) by Springfield’s resident bullies, their stories come in hand as one of the bullies connects to their fantasy world, imagines himself and defends them.

Whether it was My Summer of Love or Heavenly Creatures, the Simpsons finally gave Lisa a suitably lesbian plot.

Whether it was My Summer of Love or Heavenly Creatures, the Simpsons finally gave Lisa a suitably lesbian plot.

I’m not entirely sure how funny this episode, as it elicited a few minor giggles as opposed to some remarkable belly laughs, but I did admire some of its cleverness, the best of which was that Juliet’s father was the foremost scholar on the work of John Grisham.

“Let’s just listen to James Horner’s score for The Pelican Brief.” – Juliet’s dad

I also appreciates the episode’s insistence (one in absolute truth) that smart females under a certain age all fall head-over-heels for the music of crooner Josh Groban. You are loved, Simpsons writers.

Other somewhat funny stuff from the episode:

  • “Oof! My Chi!” – Comic Book Guy
  • “Paint me 20 laps!” – Art Teacher
  • The Yo! Gurt store
  • “Use as many big words as you can. I call ‘computer.’” – Homer

(The Wife’s Note: Thoughout this episode, I just kept waiting for Lisa or Juliet to kill Juliet’s parents, then it would have been a really good Heavenly Creatures homage. I just kept thinking of Kate Winslet’s American Express ad, which begins with the line, “At sixteen, I killed both my parents.” )

American Dad 4.8 “Chimdale”

Despite one of this episode’s two plots going virtually nowhere – Roger trying to sneak Francine and Haley into Chimdale spa, despite him only winning passes for two guests from a radio station contest with his vast knowledge of Nickelback – I felt like this was a nice return for this underappreciated show. (How many times am I going to mention that the show is underseen and underrated? Until it starts getting more respect and better ratings.) Even when the show fails plotwise, it still garners more huge laughs than any of the rest of Fox’s Animation Domination, and that includes most post-revival episodes of Family Guy.

While Roger does his best to keep Haley and Francine from being seen by the spa’s resident security officer (Forest Whitaker, reprising a fairly thankless role from two years earlier in the episode where Stan had to become a Meter Maid), back at home Steve is taunted into realizing that he has scoliosis. How could these have happened? Presumably, Stan’s bizarre way of doing pretty much anything.

“Your father was the one who threw footballs at my stomach so you’d be good at sports.” – Francine

When Stan tells Steve that it’s not what’s on the outside that’s important but what’s on the inside, Steve accepts his six weeks of having to wear a very cumbersome backbrace, until he discovers a terrible secret – that Stan is actually bald and wears a wig. (It was a side effect of some anti-acne medication Stan tested when he was young.) Distraught by his father’s hypocrisy, he tries to blackmail Stan into coming clean with Francine about his baldness (although, as we find out at the end, everybody but Steve has known for years).

See? Not much in the way of plot, but I found myself laughing the hardest I’ve laughed all week other than 30 Rock (nothing for a while will be funnier than Jane Krakowski trying to eat a cat). And for a sitcom as silly as American Dad, I suppose that’s all I can ask for every once in a while. And hell, I like any show that focuses on a line that ends in the phrase “…blow out their rectum.”

Other funny stuff:

Haley: Are these balloons full of heroin?

[Roger kicks Haley]

Roger: Those are not for you!

  • “I will now attempt to poop out these blocks.” – Stan
  • “Smooth move, Bald-Lax!” – Steve

The Husband:

While taking a long vacation at a special billionaires retreat (shooting arrows into priceless works of art, playing Quidditch) with such people as Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Ted Turner…

“In your face, founder of Facebook!” – Mr. Burns

…Mr. Burns wins control of a basketball team, the Austin Celtics, in a high-stakes poker game. Relocating the team to Springfield, Burns runs into a kind of Semi-Pro problem of trying to make basketball exciting and lucrative for such a small town (in that film, the people of Flint, Michigan), despite trying to jazz up games by being as loony of a personality as Mavericks owner Mark Cuban. (Among these, Burns throws globs of fois gras on the crowd.) Finally, he decides to build a state-of-the-art stadium for Springfield.

Please, fellows, dont make me go hang out in Millionaires Camp . . .

Please, fellows, don't make me go hang out in Millionaire's Camp . . .

Meanwhile, Lisa has noticed that all the bees in Springfield are dying of measles (or as Frink would call them, “beasles”), so she decides to take them in. Problem is, the only place that seems safe in town is on and around her face (yeccch), so she must find a sanctuary for them. Homer knows of a greenhouse he used to work at (help me, readers. Which episode is this a reference to), so he brings Lisa to it and gives the bees a sanctuary.

“I’ve never seen you walk up an incline before!” – Lisa to Homer on the way to the greenhouse

Unfortunately, the greenhouse gets demolished to make room for Burns’ new stadium. Homer and Moe get the idea to breed the dying bees with a jar of Africanized bees Moe has (don’t ask), but the horrible result is a swarm of angry bees that find the nearest thing that looks like a hive (the stadium) and drive everybody out, making it their own sanctuary. Burns loses so much money on the failed stadium that he is now only a multi-millionaire and is thrown out of the billionaire’s retreat.

I know it’s not saying a lot, but I appreciated the interlocking stories in a way that is probably giving the show too much credit. I mean, it’s what The Simpsons used to do all the time, so why give it credit now? Well, because it worked, it was funny and it was pretty seamless. I’m more into the absurdist humor of the show than anything else, so I’m fine with seeing that, for instance, Groundskeeper Willie loves bees so much that he made a graveyard for the dead bees (including headstones for such bees as “Bee Bee King” and “Jerry Seinfeld”).

What else was funny about the episode?

  • Skinner goes up to the school’s men’s restroom: “Men: the room for me!”
  • Anything and everything Professor Frink mumbles.
  • Lisa is sure that Bart is going to grow up to live at home and work as a refrigerator repairman.
  • Evil Africanized bee [subtitled] to Bumblebee Man: “We hate you most of all, Uncle Tom!”