“Blame It On Lisa” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Homer the Heretic3

I had completely forgotten that this was the fake “controversy”/Brazil episode. “Blame It on Lisa” isn’t the world’s most descriptive title, and this is an awful episode to boot, so my forgetting may have been an involuntary defense mechanism. The huffy feelings of the Brazilians are about the only thing that makes this one notable, or separates it and the unwatchably bad “Simpsons Safari” from Season 12. Brazil and Rio de Janeiro are defined entities that can get mad, whereas “Africa” is a general place and nobody can speak for it authoritatively. Other than that, it’s basically the same: a convoluted idea to get the family to a foreign land, followed by pointless, unconnected scene after pointless, unconnected scene that shows them at various landmarks or other stereotypical locations. In this case it means they go from the beach, to the Amazon, to that hill with the gondolas.

Of course, the commentary is all about Brazil, Hurt Feelings Of. They oscillate between seriously defending the episode and jokingly defending the episode. After a while it gets very repetitive. Seems to me that the chalkboard gag above was a much more succinct way to respond, but that’s from when the show still had brains, so something similarly effective and restrained is clearly too much to ask this time around.

Ten guys on this one.

0:35 – Tiger Woods had the good sense to turn them down for a voiceover.

1:00 – Jean’s on a long monologue here about how the network was worried about the medical marijuana episode (which he says aired right before this one, but which actually aired right after it). They thought it would be controversial, etcetera, but that one went off without a hitch and this one became one of the biggest controversies in the history of the show. (Hello Morgan Spurlock!)

2:00 – Interesting legal note, according to the FOX lawyers, a city cannot sue for defamation. Hey Irvine, California, you smell like manure!

2:30 – Still talking about the Rio controversy.

3:30 – See above.

3:40 – “This, by the way, is one of my favorite scenes of Homer being electrocuted.” Ugh. When was the first time that happened? It can’t be before Season 10, right?

3:55 – They’re still chuckling about Homer getting electrocuted. Of course, it’s also still going on.

4:20 – Mildly interesting trivia note, this episode was written by Bob Bendetson, who isn’t commenting, and who was also Jean’s boss at Alf.

5:30 – Still discussing Bob Bendetson’s old work, this time about Alice.

5:45 – Jean and company are going on like Grampa about the olden days when monkeys suddenly show up to chase off that little boy in Lisa’s video. This prompts someone to yell “Here are the monkeys! Here are the monkeys! Here are the monkeys!” as the only way to get things back on track.

5:55 – Jean ignores the monkeys and goes on about his Alice stories.

6:30 – Holy crap! In the episode the family is now on its way to Brazil, on the commentary someone’s making a bad joke about Martin Scorsese. I’m not sure they remember anything about this episode other than that Brazil got mad at them.

6:55 – Jean mentions that this episode was nominated for some writing award in a new animation category, and then boasts that they’ve done well in that over the years. Is there an emoticon for “sarcastic golf clap”?

7:20 – Complete silence follows Jean’s awards comment until Jean says, “Since there’s a lull, I’ll tell a joke.” This prompts everyone to laugh nervously, followed by what must be one of the animators chiming in to complement some of the other animators who aren’t here.

8:10 – Someone (can’t tell who) had taken a trip to Brazil and gave his family photos to the art guys for this episode.

8:45 – Semi-jokingly defending the show’s take on Rio by pointing out that Brazilians do love soccer and Americans are bad at it.

9:20 – Talking about how Xuxu is a real person. Someone remembers that they already did a joke about her in “Marge Be Not Proud”.

10:00 – As the family walks through a slum: “Alright, maybe this is a little negative.”

11:00 – Long discussion about the color coded running rats and how they’d do it on computers now is interrupted once again so Jean can point out that they do eat shish kabob in Brazil.

11:20 – There’s Frank Nelson again.

11:30 – Someone besides Jean jumps on the “we didn’t make fun of Brazil that bad” bandwagon by saying “there aren’t that many monkeys”.

11:40 – I think I’ve flashed back to “The Old Man and the Key” commentary, Jean is now explaining who Frank Nelson was, again. He’s using almost the exact same words as on the other commentary.

12:15 – Still talking about Frank Nelson and how they have to explain it to younger staffers.

12:45 – Complimenting Azaria on his voice work for the dance instructor and how similar it was to Agador from The Birdcage (which is hilarious, by the way).

13:05 – The scene with Homer in the speedo was a minute ago, but for the record they’d like to point out that they wouldn’t be allowed to do that any more.

13:25 – Tongue in check blaming those restrictions on the infamous “wardrobe malfunction” from Super Bowl whichever.

13:45 – Jean’s exact words after a snake tries to bite Marge in the market: “I’m sorry. I’d apologize but I don’t speak Portuguese.”

13:55 – And now Homer’s being kidnapped by the cabbie.

14:20 – More general banter along the theme of them defending the show against the outrage of Brazil, comparing it to all the other things they’ve done to other countries.

14:35 – Some shame at the crappiness of the animated background in the shot of the river from behind Homer (while he’s in the kidnappers boat). “Yeah, I probably shouldn’t have done that. But it’s too late now.”

15:10 – The buxom child show host comes back on and swings her nipple-tassels around, apparently they were worried about copying this for the boob lady from the movie. “It’s been like, what, six years? You know, statue of limitations has run out.” They go on to talk about how it’s better to copy something and have it be funny than come up with something original that sucks. Translation: being original and funny is too damn hard sometimes, so we phone it in.

16:00 – More derisive laughing at all the faux-dastardly ways they’re portraying Brazil. To my mind the real problem here is that this episode, like its ignoble predecessor the Africa episode, is just randomly moving from one dull set piece to another instead of telling anything that could be called a story. Also, for some reason, many of these scenes are played for tension. It’s lame.

16:35 – Discussing Homer’s bathing suit again as Homer starts calling random people for ransom money. Best not to talk about any of what’s going on in the episode.

17:20 – Hey Brazil, did you know we also make fun of America! I’m so glad this is almost over, I can’t take much more phony wounded pride.

18:00 – One of the animators, not sure who, actually has an interesting (and rather long) bit here about the difficulty of animating the parade scene and how you’ve got to coordinate backgrounds, characters, and everything else that’s going on.

19:10 – Still talking about the animation, now we’re on to the colors. This is by far the most interesting thing that has been said on this commentary.

19:50 – Someone points out that there’s a lot of stuff happening in this episode, and that it’s “exciting”. That is not the word I would choose.

19:55 – Homer’s reminiscing with his kidnappers and once again the commentary feels the need to explain the joke, that it’s Stockholm Syndrome. Then one of the kidnappers actually calls it “Stockholm Syndrome” in the episode. It’s so lame it had to be explained twice.

20:45 – As the gondola car plummets to earth for no reason whatsoever, it’s time to compliment the “staging”, but they don’t even get that far as everyone sort of laughs at how bad the ending is.

21:50 – Matt Groening walked in right at the end. Wish I’d thought of that.

11 Responses to ““Blame It On Lisa” Makes Baby Jesus Cry”

  1. 1 Cassidy
    1 September 2010 at 9:30 pm

    “3:40 – “This, by the way, is one of my favorite scenes of Homer being electrocuted.” Ugh. When was the first time that happened? It can’t be before Season 10, right?”


    Well, that depends on whether or not you count the electroshock therapy scene in “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”. Of course that scene was actually – y’know – funny. And I can’t recall another even remotely close instance of Homer being electrocuted in any of the seasons I watch.

    Ooops…maybe in “Homer the Simthers” when he’s attempting to prepare Mr. Burns’ breakfast. But, again – funny!

    Yes, I’ll go away now.


    • 1 September 2010 at 11:21 pm

      That’s also the time-travelling-toaster from Treehouse of Horror V. Does that count as an electrocution?

    • 3 Charlie Sweatpants
      2 September 2010 at 10:01 am

      I’m embarrassed I forgot “No Disgrace Like Home”; I was thinking of the game show at the end of the Japan episode. “Homer the Smithers” is debatable, I think, since it’s more along the lines of “Homer is dumb” (a la his habit of plugging eighteen things into one outlet) than “Homer in pain!”, but it’s a good example nevertheless.

  2. 2 September 2010 at 3:41 am

    My God I loathe this episode (and most of the travel ones for that matter). Not surprised Brazilians were offended; as a Brit, I was offended by the London one two seasons down the line. Seriously, they take the time to make an episode where the Simpsons visit your country, and it’s nothing but tired stereotypes and random humourless references to famous residents, landmarks and customs. I’d be really pissed too.

    • 2 September 2010 at 5:41 am

      The reason these travel episodes (and the Simpsons Movie) offend Simpsons fans is these episodes aren’t made to appeal to just Simpsons fans, they’re made to appeal to the brain-dead idiots of society who are too stupid and too impatient for true illustrations and satire of the places they’re visiting.

  3. 6 Shane
    2 September 2010 at 5:49 am

    I think you can borrow from Seinfeld to explain why the later travelogue episodes are so ‘offensive’:
    “And this offends you as a Jew?”
    “No, it offends me as a comedian.”

  4. 8 P. Piggly Hogswine
    2 September 2010 at 6:04 am

    I’m glad they got the Australia episode out of the way early (even though I didn’t rate that episode terribly highly), when the show was still good. The other ones I recall since (Japan, Africa, this one and England) are all woeful, to say the least.

    • 9 Charlie Sweatpants
      2 September 2010 at 10:16 am

      I love “Bart vs. Australia” but, of course, I’m not from Australia. You’re right though, if they went to Australia today Homer would slide down the outside of the Sydney Opera House before riding a kangaroo (“It’s not like in cartoons.”) to Uluru.

      In the convoluted analogy department, I think of the Australia episode as kind of like the “Wayne’s World” movie. “Wayne’s World” was great (I’m not sure how well it’s aged, I haven’t seen it in years), but because of its success we had to endure an entire decade of crappy SNL movies. (Every time one comes out the people involved will say “We’ve learned our lessons, this time it’s different”, and it never is.) The travel episodes work the same way, they’ve got a template (family goes there, see some sights, Homer gets in trouble, see more sights, the end) and they use it as a once a year “free episode” card. Just throw a dart at a map, do a quick Google search for “Country X”, and you’re home free.

      • 2 September 2010 at 4:50 pm

        “Season 23’s next vacation episode: The Simpsons visit Google!”

        Wait, that’s not even a real place!

        “It doesn’t matter.”

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