One of the more memorable things The Simpsons television show did during its early years, was poke fun at the wonderful world of politics. From Springfield’s Diamond Joe Quimby who kept getting re-elected (despite obvious showings of incompetency), to Bart’s rise and fall to become 4th grade class president (solely on him acting standoffish and belligerent-hmm…why does that tactic sound familiar?), the show’s writing staff always found some way to turn political absurdity, into smart-comedy.
I recall for the show’s 100th episode, the Fox Network made a big deal out of Bart Simpson making something totally crazy happen. Well, for the 200th episode 4 seasons later, all eyes were on Homer Simpson, and one of the craziest things he ever did.
The episode starts off in a boardroom, for the department store chain known as Costington’s. While their analyst tells them that additional Holidays (like “Christmas 2”) have kept their bottom-line going, a profits slowdown in late Summer, gives their company head a moment to pause.
Shortly afterwards, a new Holiday is created to fill this profit hole, called Love Day. The Simpson family goes all-in, buying plenty of useless products (most of them just re-purposed from other store-created holidays) to celebrate it. However, the wrapping paper and product containers fill up the trash can, and noone wants to take it out.
Over the next few days, the trash keeps piling up in the can, until Homer accidentally knocks it over, making him the unwilling recipient to take it out to the curb.
Ticked off that he has to take out the overfilled garbage can (and never thinking that this could have been resolved days earlier), things get even more testy when the garbage truck drives by, and Homer attempts to chase after it, soon spilling the garbage all over the street.
Homer’s response is to name-call at the truck, but is surprised when it backs up, and the garbagemen confront him. This then leads to the Simpsons being ignored for future trash pick-up.
“Dad, is this another one of those situations that could be solved by a simple apology?” asks Lisa.
“I never apologize, Lisa,” claims Homer. “I’m sorry, but that’s just the way I am.”
With no trash pick-up, the family’s garbage piles up on their front lawn, becoming a smelly eyesore to the neighborhood, and a rat-infested hellhole.
Marge pleads with Homer to just apologize to the garbagemen, but he still refuses, claiming that he’s sure that his stand-off tactics against them are working.
Some time afterwards, Homer wakes up, and is surprised to find all the garbage on the front lawn has disappeared! He quickly brags to his family that he beat City Hall (“It’s just like David and Goliath! Only this time, David won!”), before Marge finally confesses that she sent a letter of apology to the sanitation commissioner, with Homer’s name on it.
Naturally, Homer is distraught about this, and goes down to the commissioner’s office to rescind the letter.
Though the sanitation commissioner Ray Patterson cheerfully greets him and returns the forged apology, Homer indignantly assumes that Patterson is mocking him, and claims that he intends to “fight City Hall,” and “rattle a few cages.”
When Patterson claims that “nobody wants to hear the nonsensical ravings of a loudmouthed malcontent,” Homer rushes off to be put on the ballot for sanitation commissioner.
Homer soon after starts up his campaign, though when questioned by his peers at the Nuclear Plant about what he’ll do different from Ray Patterson, he provides little information (“What am I, ‘the answer man?’ Just vote for me!” he tells his co-worker, Lenny).
Feeling that maybe he needs to reach the younger demographic, Homer sneaks into a U2 concert, and hijacks the show. However, his attempts to ‘rock the vote’ by spouting ‘hip lingo’ to the crowd, simply leads to him being escorted off-stage, and beaten.
Going to Moe’s, Homer wonders what he can do to get the people to listen to him.
Moe claims Homer just needs to come up with a campaign slogan that will appeal to “all the lazy slobs.” Even here, Homer laments doing work. “Can’t someone else do it?” he whines.
That line actually impresses Moe, and Homer quickly begins to use it as his campaign slogan! Going before the townspeople, he promises that his campaign will handle all the negative aspects of the garbage that the average person hates, and most of the townspeople quickly warm to his promises.
Soon, a debate is held between Ray Patterson, and Homer. Ray attempts to make the citizenry see reason (“This man has promised round-the-clock trash pickup. That’s impossible!”), but Homer takes every chance he can to mock the man’s logic. Naturally, the townspeople just eat up Homer’s grandstanding attitude, further exasperating the sanitation commissioner.
“All right, fine,” says Ray, eventually tiring of the game. “If you want an experienced public servant, vote for me. But if you want to believe a bunch of crazy promises about garbagemen cleaning your gutters and waxing your car, then by all means, vote for this sleazy lunatic.”
Of course, this is Springfield, so the ‘sleazy lunatic’ wins.
After the election, Homer goes to his new office, and finds Ray packing up his things. Homer acts totally oblivious to how he treated his opponent (“You told people I lured children into my gingerbread house,” growls Ray), and laughs off the slander, as if it was all a big joke.
As he leaves, Ray gives Homer one last speech.
“Simpson, the American people have never tolerated incompetence in their public officials. You are going to crash and burn, my fatheaded friend.”
Soon after, Homer takes charge of things, and starts paying off on his ‘crazy promises.’ Sparkling white uniforms for his garbagemen, brand-new trucks, and even a musical number!
Sung to the tune of “The Candy Man,” Homer’s song about how “The Garbage Man can,” shows its numerous workers disposing of questionable garbage materials, and taking care of the garbage issues that noone wants to do!
Things seem to be coming up roses for Homer…until Mayor Quimby angrily points out that the department’s yearly budget has been used up in one month!
Homer is beside himself on what to do, confessing to his family that Ray was right, and he’s “crashing and burning.”
“You know, Dad,” says Lisa. “There’s a lesson in all this. Many cities have problems with garbage disposal, and it’s time we realized you ca-“
“Wait, shut up!” interrupts Homer. “I just thought of something!”
He rushes out of the house, and a few days later, returns to his office with enough cash to keep the garbagemen happy, and his crazy promises going!
When the family asks to know what he did (they all assume it had something to do with drugs), Homer shows them.
Going to an abandoned mine on the outskirts of town, Homer explains that other cities are paying him to dump their garbage in Springfield, and bury it deep within the mine shafts under the town!
“But Dad, you can’t cram trash under Springfield forever,” cautions Lisa.
“Sure I can, honey-kitten,” replies Homer, confidently.
Some time later, Homer is on a golf course with Mayor Quimby, who is happy that Homer resolved the sanitation department’s budget woes (though never questioning Homer on how he did it). Suddenly, a lump forms on the course! Homer quickly tries to push it down, but another lump forms, before garbage suddenly spews up from the hole on the course!
Lisa’s warning appears to be coming true, and like a reverse sinkhole, the garbage buried beneath the city, begins popping up everywhere!
An emergency meeting is called, wherein the town votes to have Homer horsewhipped for causing the crisis, and Ray Patterson is reinstated as sanitation commissioner.
With a roar of approval from the townspeople, Ray takes to the stage, a big smile on his face.
Oh, gosh,” says Ray. “You know I’m not much on speeches, but it’s so gratifying to leave you wallowing in the mess you’ve made. You’re screwed.Thank you. Bye.”
And with those final words, Ray walks off the stage (and out of the show entirely).
Quimby attempts to keep order, but when a deluge of garbage suddenly spews up from his podium(?), he declares that the town must consider its contingency plan: Plan B.
The plan calls for the entire town to be moved five miles down the road, and soon, all of Springfield’s buildings are loaded onto flatbed trucks, and headed to their new home.
“So, we transplant the town,” says Lisa. “We’re just gonna trash the new Springfield too.”
“Yeah, but what are you gonna do?” says Homer, speaking as though he hasn’t learned a thing.
As he jump across to a flatbed with Moe’s on it, he tosses a potato chip bag, that lands at the feet of a Native American standing nearby. Saddened at the thoughtless littering, the man sheds a tear.
“Do yourself a favor,” says a friend of his, coming up behind him. “Don’t turn around.”
The camera then pans behind the two, and we see a vast wasteland of trash, with a “City of Springfield” billboard in the foreground. A scream follows shortly afterward.
“I told you not to turn around,” comes the voice of the second native.
And that was Trash of the Titans. Overall, not one of the strongest of the Simpsons episodes, but it plays quite well with Homer making a mountain out of a molehill, that could have been avoided had he just taken the trash out in the first place…instead of leading to the ciry-wide crisis that befell Springfield.
The episode was directed by Jim Reardon, who is responsible for directing a number of popular episodes on the series. He has also written for films like Wall-E and Zootopia, showing that he has a very famous pedigree in the world of animation.
The episode’s original concept, was to have Homer run for some form of public office. Writer Ian Maxtone-Graham recalled a friend from Chicago, who had made their way into the city’s sanitation commission, and decided that might be an interesting position for Homer to take on.
Guest star-wise, the episode contained vocal appearances by Steve Martin as Ray Patterson, and the group U2 as themselves.
Martin gives a fun turn as Ray, bringing forth that super-serious tone we know and love, while tweaking it in that way that just makes you laugh. His acceptance speech that turns into a refusal at the end, is definitely a highlight.
U2 seems to have a little fun with their roles, notable with some of the band members giving Bono guff for being overly-charitable. There’s even a small bit over the end credits, where one of the band members is seen to be collecting spoons from each location they visit.
With the episode’s ending with Springfield buried amid a mountain of trash, some thought that the episode was sending an environmental message, but interview and audio commentary from the show staff, later denied this.
Strangely enough, fiction almost became reality. In the early 2000’s, the city of Toronto’s city council proposed turning an abandoned mine into a dump site for the city’s trash! Two councillors who opposed this move, surprised their colleagues one day, and played the Trash of the Titans episode, and supposedly, the viewing helped cancel the proposed project.
Episode Review: Star vs the Forces of Evil (Season 2, Episode 11) – Hungry Larry / Spider with a Top Hat
Well, what can I say but…wow!
Over the last few weeks, Star vs the Forces of Evil has given us some great character development, underlying story progression, and the entertainment value has kept pretty consistent, making for some of the most entertaining segments so far this season!
So, what does episode 11 of season 2 have in store for us? Well, let’s dive in and find out!
The Diaz’s decide to turn their place into a haunted house for the neighborhood trick-or-treaters. However, Mr Diaz’s scare methods don’t even impress the local 8-year-olds.
Wanting to help, Star and Janna summon a spirit called “Hungry Larry,” in hopes that he can help make the place scarier…but maybe they should have listened to Marco, when he cautioned them not to.
Much like Team Spirit and Brittney’s Party, Hungry Larry is another one of those stories where Star wants to help make something better…but, ends up plunging everyone into a chaotic situation.
One of the highlights of the segment, is Hungry Larry himself. At first, he reminded me of the character Sam from Trick ‘r Treat. He may seem simple and docile at first…but after a few minutes…look out!
When it comes to his summoning, it’s easy to see that “Hungry Larry” is a takeoff on the urban legend of “Bloody Mary.” This is evident in the instructions Star and Janna follow. It is neat how the brief conjuring scene manages to be both funny, and eerie at the same time.
The segment also gets high marks from me, in regards to how it is put together. From the timing of the different scenes and scares, to Brian H Kim’s music, this is one of those stories that was fun on so many levels!
While Larry seems to encompass the ‘a-story’ of the piece, Mr Diaz’s ‘b-story’ about not being considered scary is decent, but may put some in mind of Stan Pines’ ‘b-story’ segment, from the Summerween episode of Gravity Falls. In fact, it feels like a bit of that show’s DNA is in this segment, but that could just be me looking for the closest comparison to what we experienced here.
Final Grade: B+
Deep within Star Butterfly’s wand, are living quarters where all of the magical creatures she conjures up, reside. The menagerie include warnicorns, narwhals, and several other non-fighting denizens.
Notable among the inhabitants, is the diminutive Spider with a Top Hat, who usually acts as a cheerleader for the more constant, battle-hardened creatures that come-and-go. However, deep down, Spider with a Top Hat longs to find a greater purpose to his life.
The idea of the creatures Star summons living within the wand, did make me wonder just “where” this living space is, given that we’ve seen the inner-portion of Star’s wand in the past, contains its main power source (a unicorn on a treadmill). Maybe what we witness in this segment, is a pocket dimension that the wand connects to (but that’s just a theory I have, until someone from the show can prove otherwise).
When I first heard what this story was about, I was definitely not expecting much from it. However, as it carried on, it seemed to carry a heft and weight, making it more dramatic than I could have originally imagined. The creatures within the wand, remind me a bit of Andy’s toys from Toy Story: they know they’re there to serve a specific purpose, and there’s a pretty decent camaraderie amongst them.
One would assume that maybe Spider would be looked down upon, but he’s well-liked and appreciated by his fellow magical creatures, who do show some concern when he seems to lose some of his positive attitude as the story goes along.
Brian H Kim’s music also helps the mood along greatly with this piece, including a very memorable 8-bit sounding ‘wake-up song’ that Spider uses to get the day started off for his friends.
The last few minutes of the segment are quite surprising. I liked how we become just as disoriented as Spider does for a few moments, and the effect helps elevate the emotional level so well, that I was actually surprised the segment ‘went’ where it did.
Final Grade: B
I was very surprised to find that this week, both of the episode’s segments blew me away with what they had to offer!
Hungry Larry has the kind of humorous-yet-dark tone that I loved so much in the segment, Monster Arm. The tone of the piece, coupled with the timing and music, makes it a really great watch, that I just can’t get enough of! It makes the most of its 10-minute running time, while also giving over some character development time to Mr Diaz.
Spider with a Top Hat sounded like a low-quality concept for a segment, but much like the little guy, looks can be deceiving. The segment delves into a more dramatic turn, regarding the magical creatures Star summons, and delves into the hopes and dreams of a few of them. Needless to say, you may look at Spider with a Top Hat’s appearance in the show’s closing credits, a little differently from now on.
(And with episode 11 in the can, we are now officially halfway through the second season of “Star vs the Forces of Evil!” In light of that news, word is that we’re about to enter another hiatus…a month-long hiatus!! Luckily, a wiki on the show has revealed some details about what to expect when we finally get around to episode 12. In the first segment, “Into the Wand,” Star has Glossaryck further investigate what has ‘broken’ inside her family’s wand, and see if it can be repaired. The second segment, “Pizza Thing,” involves Marco and Flying Princess Pony Head, attempting to pick up a pizza. One hopes maybe we can get a preview soon on what may happen, but until then, our reviews for the series will return in 4 weeks. However, I may use that time to do an analysis of the first half of this season, and compare it to last season’s 13-episode run. Bye for now!)
When it was first launched in 2013, the My Little Pony: Equestria Girls concept was quickly poo-poohed by fans of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, who saw this direct-to-video spinoff as little more than a vehicle for selling toys (why does that sound hypocritical?). Surprisingly, the first Equestria Girls film wasn’t as bad as some had imagined!
After its sequel Rainbow Rocks managed to improve some story areas (along with having a very catchy soundtrack album!), many were now aboard the train ride, but felt the tracks got bumpy in the last go-round, with the 2015 release of Friendship Games.
Though Hasbro is still making toys around the Equestria Girls series, they seem to have settled into a pattern of one movie a year for this property. This year, Netflix obtained the rights to stream the latest film, Legend of Everfree, a month in advance of its home video release. After its streaming release on October 1st, I decided to take a peek.
The students of Canterlot High find themselves at Camp Everfree for a week, under the supervision of Camp Director Gloriosa Daisy, and her brother, Timber Spruce.
Our ‘mane’ girls have plenty of activities they want to do, but Twilight Sparkle secretly fears that the demoness Midnight Sparkle, is lurking inside her, waiting to resurface.
As camp gets underway, strange things begin to occur, leading some to believe the happenings to be the work of Gaea Everfree, a forest spirit who is rumored to exist in the surrounding wilderness.
Unlike the previous Equestria Girls films, Legend brings in a new group of writers to the series. Johanna Lewis and Kristine Songco, who have co-written four episodes of the Friendship is Magic TV series together, take the reins from EqG veterans Meghan McCarthy, and Josh Haber.
The two actually have a semi-decent story at hand with Legend of Everfree, but it’s just a pity that it becomes overloaded with subplots. The writers even throw in a few too many camp cliches, with one that just feels totally unneeded to drive the overall story.
When it comes to music, Daniel Ingram returns to pen 6 new songs, but I found this to be the first Equestria Girls film where I couldn’t even think of one that I could easily put on repeat after the film was over.
Ingram’s music is often a treat to many fans, but sad to say, most of the songs sound like they don’t actually fit together properly. Some have lyrics that sound incomplete, and one song, sounds like it could be a major character lament…but it’s over before it feels like it even gets the chance to build into something memorable!
Much like the last few Equestria Girls films, Sunset Shimmer takes the spotlight, as one of the more interesting characters in the story. Most of the doubts she was working through seem to have gone away, and she ends up acting as a mentor figure to Twilight Sparkle, who is still uneasy after the events from the end of Friendship Games.
One issue I had with Friendship Games, was that most of the girls quickly became little more than stereotypes of their basic personalities, and that seems to almost carry over here. A prime example is Rarity, who just won’t shut up about wanting to put on a fashion show for the camp.
I’m also growing tired of every single film in the series, adding more and more ‘accessories’ to the girls’ ‘Pony-up’ powers (yes, I am aware that this film is meant to sell toys!). Some of the powers here make a little sense, but one wonders how they could affect the girls’ everyday lives outside of camp.
For example, Rainbow Dash gains super-speed, but couldn’t this very well lead to an end to her sports career, given she is now even more super-human, and some could see that as a form of cheating? Most disturbing to me, is Pinkie Pie’s ability to make anything she flings around (when she’s ‘magically-charged’), turn into an explosive…making her a walking Weapon of Mass-Destruction! I kid you not…one wrong move, and she could very well blow up Canterlot High!
When it comes to the addition of new characters for the series, Gloriosa Daisy and Timber Spruce are our main focus as supporting characters this time around.
Enid Raye-Adams voices Gloriosa with a perkiness that feels very similar to actress Edie McClurg, but overall, it never really feels like Gloriosa’s main role solidifies into a wholly memorable character. The writers even give Gloriosa her own catchphrase, and if you thought Principal Abacus Cinch got a bit carried away with the use of the word “reputation” in the last film, Gloriosa’s catchphrase quickly enters drinking game territory!
Gloriosa’s animation model also looks like she benefited from some advancements, as the DHX animation staff really seem to have fun with her numerous facial expressions.
Timber Spruce becomes our “nice guy” for the picture, who seems to quickly set his sights on Twilight. Though they try to give him a personality, most will probably think of him as little more than “Flash Sentry II.”
Looking back over the Equestria Girls film line-up, Rainbow Rocks still feels like the high-point in the series. Taking the kids out into the wilderness in this film, felt like it could have led to a new direction to take the series, but the overall structure felt like they had to stick within a rather rigid frame-work.
Fourth films in a series can often get ‘flimsy,’ and that’s what Legend of Everfree feels like. In the end, I think I could go back and watch Friendship Games a few more times, and still get something out of it. Sadly, there just doesn’t feel like there’s enough memorable stuff here, to make one consider repeat viewings.
Final Grade: C+ (Legend of Everfree moves our ‘mane’ cast of characters out into nature, but turns what should be an exciting adventure, into something that just seems to meander along, on its way to a ‘by the book’ ending. While the character interactions between Sunset Shimmer and Twilight Sparkle are entertaining, the shoehorning in of another encounter with “Equestrian Magic” and more powers for our girls, feels like a missed opportunity to try something new. )
Well, after last week’s wonderful one-two punch of entertaining and revelatory intrigue, I wondered if this week’s episode of Star vs the Forces of Evil could come close to what we experienced previously.
When it came to the preview images for this week’s episode, the first segment’s poster art both enraptured AND enraged a number of fans I saw online (but then, this is the internet, where people often can’t keep their emotions in check).
But, enough about the state of fandoms that spend more time speculating about fan-problems than open story threads…let’s get to the review!
While attempting to get tickets to a karate movie marathon, Marco is surprised when Star’s ex-boyfriend Tom stops over. Surprisingly, he just wants to hang out with Marco, AND go to the same movie marathon!
Reluctantly, Marco goes along with the demon, and pretty soon, finds himself in for a wild night on the town.
Ever since Mr Candle Cares, I and many had high hopes that we’d see Tom again, though maybe not so soon (I almost expected him to start showing up once a season for the show).
While many seemed to feel that a budding friendship would result from that one-sided ping-pong game we saw a little while ago (or “something more” from the looks of the promo image for this segment), it looks like Marco has a somewhat ‘abrasive’ view on his connections to Tom (similar to his feelings for Flying Princess Pony Head). Probably not what many expected, but let’s face it: Star seems to know a lot of characters that aren’t as ‘neutral’ as her, leading us to assume that maybe most of her associations were made during her more ‘rebellious’ phase in life?
The showrunners get some fun out of showing us more of Tom’s carriage, along with playing around with showing us both common, and uncommon ground that both of the boys have.
Composer Brian H Kim gets a chance to really shine here, with a few musical numbers from a fictional band called Love Sentence. The first song we hear is so catchy, that I want to hear all of it! The second one…well, let’s just say that voice actor Adam McArthur is probably going to be getting plenty of “requests” on social media, if you know what I mean.
Friend-enemies is a good segment, in that much like Sleepover, we get some more time with a supporting/side character. However, it feels like it struggles to be an overall enjoyable romp, as it seeks to reach its conclusion. It’s revelations and character development aren’t quite as smoothly flowing as Sleepover, but even with what seems a ‘weird-and-wild’ finale, it still ends up being one of the more entertaining segments of the season.
Final Grade: B
After finding a hole in the forcefield surrounding the Kingdom of Mewni’s corn supply, Buff Frog decides to investigate what is going on…and finds some shocking revelations!
Ever since the segment Ludo in the Wild earlier this season, the series has found itself giving over time to a sub-story involving Ludo, and the remnants of the other half of Star Butterfly’s family wand.
Like a few episodes earlier in Season 2, Star doesn’t figure at all into this one. Is Mystery largely belongs to Buff Frog, and continues to show us more about his life post-Ludo, beyond the rather trite On the Job segment.
This segment’s ability to give us more puzzle pieces to Ludo’s plan, is definitely commendable. Plus, a little more insight into that plan, has me now even more interested to see just what is going on (and wonder what may happen!). One has to wonder if this is going to lead to a revelation by the final episode, or something a little sooner.
Speaking of Ludo, I think this segment really makes him out to be a more serious threat than before. Most of what he does in this segment, makes me fairly certain that ‘something’ or ‘someone’ in the wand, has a very powerful grasp over what he is doing.
Ludo’s powerful control is shown in how he has also corralled monsters to toil away as part of his scheme, with many of them terrified of him! Plus, while Ludo had plans for domination over the Kingdom of Mewni in Season 1, the overall scheme he seems to be overseeing in this Season, feels a bit too large-scale for him to have concocted on his own!
The most shocking revelations for this segment, come in the last few minutes. Most notable is an emotional scene regarding Buff Frog, who makes a very daring decision, that feels like it could have some major effects on the future.
Final Grade: B
Though not quite as exciting as last week’s segments, the one-two punch of this week’s segments, made this a pretty enjoyable episode!
Friend-enemies gives us some more time with Marco Diaz and Tom, and manages to be entertaining and fun, though a bit uneven in trying to get to its conclusion. Even so, it ranks up there with Sleepover, in giving us more information on a supporting character.
Is Mystery continues the series’ sub-story involving Ludo and his wand, while bringing Buff Frog face-to-face with his former leader, and leads to him making a very serious decision, that may have repercussions on his (and his children’s) future.
(Next week’s segments, don’t look quite as dramatic as this week’s, but with this series, you never can tell what we might get. “Hungry Larry” looks to be a Halloween-themed episode, given the way Star, Marco, and Mr Diaz are dressed…though what that large shadow could be, is the big mystery! “Spider in a Top Hat,” looks almost like it is tying into the myriad creatures Star conjures with her wand. We saw a spider in a top hat being conjured in last season’s segment, “The Other Exchange Student,” though what could be the reason for his dour expression? Does he feel like one of Star Butterfly’s less-appreciated magical creations? See you guys back here in 7 days, when we dive in to see how it all went down!)