Posts Tagged ‘Four Regrettings and a funeral


Compare & Contrast: Burns’ Old Romances

Burns, Baby Burns4

“Aw, Pop, don’t get me wrong, it’s great to be here.  But how’s a guy like you wind up with a son like me?” – Larry

[Programming Note: Sorry for the late posting on this.  Reading Digest should be along at roughly the usual time later today.]

The most obvious repeat in “Four Regrettings and a Funeral” was the use of “Memories” for Homer’s flashback.  Par for the course for Zombie Simpsons, it was a very weak imitation.  In “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love”, we see Homer reminiscing about all the things he did with his stomach over the years, from march in a parade with it as the face, eat French fries off of it, and bounce his baby daughter on it.  It’s something we already knew about Homer (indeed, his fatness is one of his defining characteristics), and everything’s plausible while still being silly, funny and just a little bit bittersweet.  In this one, it’s a bowling ball we’ve never seen him use before (and isn’t even the Stealth Bowler), and he does things like give it mouth-to-mouth after getting pulled out of a pool with it.  The idiocy has been turned up, the sentiment turned down, and none of the things we see make any sense.  And that’s before you get to the fact that they had already used the exact same song for the exact same reason back in Season 3.

But as transparently hacktacular as that was, it doesn’t hold a candle to one of the worst tics of Zombie Simpsons: making Burns – the epitome of unlimited evil and callous greed – both sweet and sentimental.  It’s a total hollowing out of his character (one they’ve done before, of course), and what makes it especially neutering is that we’ve already seen how the real Burns acted in an identical situation back in Season 8.

Instead of using repetitive flashbacks to fill in and support an already threadbare story, “Burns, Baby Burns” uses a single one to quickly give us the very Burns-esque background to Rodney Dangerfield’s conception and birth.  It can’t be described any better than Burns does it, so I’ll just quote him:

Who should appear, but the unrequited love of my college years, Mimsy Bancroft.  Of course, by then Mimsy had her share of wrinkles and a gray hair or two.  But my adoring eye saw past those minor imperfections to her twenty-one year old daughter Lilly.

From there, Burns knocks up a woman young enough to be his daughter and then lets her family bundle her off to a “convent in the South Seas”.  After all, what else is a tyrannical, middle age plutocrat to do with an illegitimate son he doesn’t want?  By contrast, in “Four Regrettings and a Funeral”, Burns pines endlessly, his wistful music barely stops, and, just in case the title was too subtle, he repeatedly regrets letting his old flame go out loud:

She broke my first heart.


I will find Lila and win her back!

To be fair, the lost love is a much bigger part of the new episode than it was of the good one.  But the discrepancy in screentime has nothing to do with the differing characterizations of Burns.  In Season 8 he instantly blew past his heartsick regret for the younger and prettier version, insulting the mother and scandalizing the entire family in the process.  Without ever making it explicit, they show us a Burns who is callous, self centered and basically incapable of love.

In Season 25, Burns mopes and moans and is struck so lovesick by the passing of his geriatric girlfriend that he not only cares about people, he does so longer than even she asked him to.  This is a Burns of deep and abiding empathy, the polar opposite of a man who impregnated and abandoned the daughter of a woman he claimed to love.  It certainly makes him a more likable network sitcom character, but that kind of cheap teevee redemption was always beneath The Simpsons.  Zombie Simpsons, on the other hand, thinks it clever and original.


Behind Us Forever: Four Regrettings And A Funeral

Itchy and Scratchy - The Movie5

“I regret nothing!” – Doomed Guy in Movie Ticket Line

If any of us had been wondering what it would be like if Zombie Simpsons took the unrelated tales from one of their four-part storytelling episodes, jammed them together with a bunch of expository and often unrelated flashbacks, and dropped in a self voiced celebrity, we need wonder no more.  Proving that Season 25 can employ all the same flat out lazy shortcuts as Seasons 24, 23 and so on, we had characters telling us exactly how they feel, people wandering in and out of scenes seemingly at random, and a self voiced celebrity introduced by name so we know just who they are.  This show has a lot of chronic problems, and this episode featured most of them.  Here we go:

– The chalkboard and the sad look on Bart’s face is a nice gesture.

– The Hobbit opening is kinda fun and all (Irish not welcome at the elf inn), but it doesn’t speak well of the status of the show or the quality of the writing when silent, minute long shorts that retell other people’s stories are the most talked about aspect of the program.

– To the surprise of no one, the “major character” to die was a red herring.

– And the funeral scene is off to a typically slow start whereby Selma and Marge get into an out loud argument in church that’s mostly exposition and some Family Guy flashbacks, complete with giant Gene Simmons tongue.

– This is Homer’s mental dialogue: “I made the worst financial decision of all time.  I can’t think about it.  I won’t think about it.  I don’t want to think about it.  Oh, I’m thinking about it.”  Castellaneta is a very funny man, but saving that is impossible.

– Here’s how you can tell even they know that “Mapple” is weak sauce: they don’t want to use it.

– Okay, using Milhouse’s nose as a dick was at least clever.

– But now Flanders is trying to put money into tithe baskets that the boys are using as sticks because . . . nevermind.

– Burns being nice and incompetent?  Never seen that before.

– Lazy celebrity introduction alert: “Well, well, well, Rachel Maddow”.

– And now, Krusty’s in the woods.

– Ralph is there too, of course.

– Even the FOX News parodies are basically expository, and they’re mega easy to make fun of.

– As if to prove that they can no longer help but repeat themselves, they’re doing a montage of Homer set to “Memories“.  The first time they did this it was for Homer’s stomach before he started subliminal weight loss tapes.  Now it’s for a bowling ball we’ve never seen before.

– Bart, previously way away from Evergreen Terrace, is now floating over the Flanders house.

– If Burns’ sweetheart going to die without getting to do much of anything, why did they bother to make her a Buddhist monk?

– At least Jean can still make fun of himself with that Brockman “no regrets” line right before his name comes up.

Anyway, the numbers are in and they are just as atrocious as we’ve come to expect.  Sunday’s exercise in poor plotting and worse “regretting” was regretted by a mere 5.46 million people.  That’s actually one point below the record low average for all of Season 24, and we’re just three episodes into the season.  CBS has the late national NFL game again next week, so don’t expect much of an improvement.


Sunday Preview: Four Regrettings and a Funeral


When a beloved Springfielder dies, four residents recall life events that they would like to do over. Among them: Homer bemoans selling a tech stock to purchase a bowling ball, and Marge fears that she’s the reason Bart is such a rebellious child. Others wishing for a do-over are Mr. Burns, who recalls a long-ago romance with a lovely Parisienne, and newsman Kent Brockman who regrets not leaving the local station to take a job with cable news.

After the replay of Bart the Lover, this fresh zombie simpsons will hit the air.  Not sure who is going to die, but it is apparently a minor character and the major death that has been in the news will happen in the season 26 premier.


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