Posts Tagged ‘The Man Who Grew Too Much


Compare & Contrast: Sideshow Bob On Top of a Dam

Brother From Another Series9

“This looks like the work of crazy old Sideshow Bob.” – Chief Wiggum
“No, chief, Bob’s innocent!  It’s the truth.” – Lisa Simpson
“The truth, huh?  That sounds like the testimony of crazy old Lisa Simpson.” – Chief Wiggum

Sometimes Zombie Simpsons makes it hard to tell the difference between fan service and one of its regularly craptacular plot zigzags.  Was the fact that Sideshow Bob chased Bart and Lisa to the top of a dam at the end of “The Man Who Grew Too Much” supposed to be a shout out to “Brother From the Same Planet”?  Or was it just the only thing that came to mind when they decided that it had to end with him plummeting to his apparent death and having gills?

Whatever the motivation, they chose an ending with a perfectly superficial resemblance to its predecessor.  To get the basics out of the way quickly, “Brother From Another Series” patiently and steadily built up to that climax.  The dam’s construction is the center of the plot, and it is only at the end that we find out that Cecil is the one behind its imminent collapse.  So when Bob and the children are confronted with their own deaths in and above the dam, we know how they got there and what’s going on.  Zombie Simpsons literally just hopped up there:

Grasshopperus Bob

Here we see Sideshow Bob demonstrating his “grasshopper thighs” on a public street in downtown Springfield.

The very next shot:

Grasshopperus Bob Lands

Grasshopperus Bob lands squarely in front of Bart and Lisa on top of a dam very far from downtown Springfield.

And just in case there was any doubt about where they were supposed to be, here’s the zoomed out view from right after he lands:

Downtown Dam

I coulda swore there was a city around here somewhere.  Huh.  Guess not.

Zombie Simpsons has a lot of long running problems with setting and object permanence, but this is pretty impressive even by their standards.  A genetically engineered supervillain leapt from downtown straight to the top of the dam while Bart and Lisa teleported to the same location.  It’s like listening to a four-year-old tell a story:

Adorable Child: And then Sideshow Bob jumped from the street and landed on the dam!
Patient Parent/Guardian: And were Bart and Lisa on top of the dam too, sweetie?
Adorable Child: Yes!

Beyond the basics of how each episode got to the top of the dam, however, are what Sideshow Bob says and does once he’s up there.  Here is the entirety of Bob’s spoken dialogue at the end of “The Man Who Grew Too Much”:

“Python jaw: unhinge!”

“Who am I kidding?  My only exit is a final one.”

“Farewell, Simpsons, and, Lisa, when you’re older, write an autobiographical novel trashing the rest of them.”

“Oh, right, I gave myself gills.”

By any measure that’s very weak, especially when you remember that part of this is him trying to kill himself because of the horrible genetic freak he’s become.  But it gets worse when you realize that the whole thing, basically the entire ending, contains but a single, solitary stab at humor, having Bob tell Lisa to write a novel that trashes her family.  By contrast, here is just some of Bob’s dialogue from the end of “Brother From Another Series”:

“Lisa, you don’t spend ten years as a homicidal maniac without learning a few things about dynamite.”

“You’ve brought shame to this family, Cecil.  Oh, I don’t relish having to write the Christmas letter this year.”

“You’ll live to regret this!  Oh, thanks a lot, now I look crazy.”

“I’m older, I get the top bunk!”

That’s the Sideshow Bob we know and love.  He’s sarcastic, petty and crazy, but still refined and snooty.  And, look, there’s actual jokes, punchlines and witty asides!  Nary a bizarre plot twist or superpower activation to be seen, and I left out plenty of lines that were interactions with other characters (“Bart, how would you like to do something incredibly noble?”, “Do we have to?”, “Yes.”).

Just as importantly, look at what he does in each episode.  At the end of “Brother From Another Series”, he and Lisa start disarming Cecil’s bomb, then he has to save Bart, then he and Bart try to sacrifice themselves to save the town, then he gets thrown back in prison because Chief Wiggum is a dolt, and then he and Cecil get into a brotherly slap fight over the top bunk.  He has all that stuff to do because there was an actual episode prior to his getting up on the dam.  Cecil needs to be thwarted, Bart needed to be saved, and, because this is television and everything has to go back to the way it was, Bob had to go back to prison.

By contrast, “The Man Who Grew Too Much” didn’t really have Bob do anything.  Once he got done bouncing around on his grasshopper thighs and he’s at the top of the dam, what’s left?  He sort of has a confrontation with the teens, but not really.  Lisa quotes Walt Whitman, which makes him want to kill himself all of a sudden.  He jumps.  The end.  The dam itself has nothing to do with anything.  Bob hadn’t previously been thinking about killing himself, so that one came right the fuck out of left field.  The teens are with Homer and Marge for unknown reasons and have no prior reason to want to fight Bob.  The only part of the end that has anything to do with the rest of the episode is Lisa quoting Whitman, but that has nothing to do with the dam, the teens, or Bob’s superpowers.  It’s maniacal and empty because it’s hollower than the shoddy, embezzlement crippled dam Cecil built.


Behind Us Forever: Diggs & The Man Who Grew Too Much

Diggs and Man Who Grew Too Much Chalkboard

“Grasping the child firmly in his talons, Socrates here will fly him to safety.  Just watch . . . I don’t think he’s coming back.” – Falconry Guy 

First we got a nice long break from Zombie Simpsons, and then they made their triumphant return by dropping two great big steaming piles back-to-back.  The first one, “Diggs”, is among the more tone deaf episodes I can recall in a while.  It’s about a mentally ill kid who likes falcons and then gets hauled off to a loony bin for the rest of his life.  They play it for sad, but it’s so stupid and nonsensical that I couldn’t register anything more than bemusement.

The second was a Sideshow Bob episode where he’s a scientist.  In a turn that nobody could or should have seen coming, he’s also a genetically enhanced superman who throws himself off a dam for some reason.  Plus there were a bunch of teenagers in a church abstinence program that made no sense for them to be in.  They also briefly fought Sideshow Bob for some other reason.

– The couch gag, by Sylvain Chomet (a/k/a the Triplets of Belleville guy), was kinda interesting and managed to eat 60 seconds.  It’s all gonna be downhill from here.

– They should’ve made the couch gag longer.  The first two scenes, one in church the other a montage of Homer asking Bart to repay his $20, were pure filler.

– And now Bart is eating things for money, including a dead frog that Jimbo just happened to have on the playground.  Does any of this make sense?  Of course not!  It doesn’t even make sense within this scene, as Jimbo comes along offering Bart the full $20 he needs, making the rest of it pointless.

– Okay, having the Potter boy says “Habemus Papam” after the falcon craps was kinda funny.

– But is immediately followed by a Quahog style quick cut to Homer yelling at the dog to sit.

– “I wasn’t drinking, I was learning that nature isn’t a complete waste of space”, “That doesn’t sound like you”, “But it does sound like the kind of lie you’d make up after the first time you got blitzed”.  Telling us what we just saw, then telling us what we already know, and then returning to a joke that had already gone on way too long.  It’s hard to imagine how the writing on this should could get any worse.

– And how about some falconry montage?  Hey, at least there’s no dialogue!

– That’s right, Krusty’s just standing out in a field without his nose.  Carry on.

– Nice of the kid to just leap off the tree and get the plot moving.

– Why is Homer caring for the bird?  Better question: why am I asking?

– “I never heard of this new hospital, so I looked it up and printed it out” – Ah, there’s the pointless exposition that had been absent for almost twenty seconds.

– They’re really being weird about the fact that the kid is going to a mental hospital.  Like, that’s where their story is sending them, but they won’t even mention what it is at this dinner table scene.  It’s idiocy through a weird combination of sensitivity and insensitivity.

– “I obtained the pass to enter the Springfield falconry contest, which is what Freedom and I were training for when we first met you.” – This one sentence neatly encapsulates the entire mess that is this episode.  This comes with less than three minutes to go, but is the first mention of the “falconry contest” that makes up the ending.  It requires a nonsensical “one day pass” from the mental institute to which they haphazardly committed this (apparently parent-less) kid.  And it negates pretty much everything we’ve seen with this kid up to this point since none of it had any bearing on what he wanted to do.

–  The falcons are free.  And now he’s going back to the mental institute . . . on his bike which he has for some reason.

– And then Milhouse appears from nowhere to try and salvage the uber-downer of an ending.

What a complete and utter mess of an episode, and even they knew it.  (Why else would they dump it at 7:30?)  They got themselves in way over their heads with the lonesome schizophrenic kid, sent him to a nut house, then had to walk back their own story to wrap things up.  Meanwhile, Bart went through a wide range of short term emotions that also made no sense.  Then it ends with the family at dinner eating duck as the big pre-credits joke . . . which leads back to the sad piano music they played over the doomed and now incarcerated kid.  I don’t know what that was supposed to be, and I’m not sure they did either.  Whatever, it’s time for round two:

– A short couch gag, haven’t seen that in a while.

– So Taco Tuesday comes every week but kills Willie?  Remember when the stampede was just for PE signup day?

– This is the last episode with Marcia Wallace’s voice.  They give her a nice send off at the end, showing her happy with Ned.  I can’t be the only one who finds that completely spoiled by having Lunchlady Doris voice some utterly unnecessary lines at the beginning.

– “Helen Lovejoy is posting the spring volunteer sign up sheet, in five minutes every good task will be taken.” – Maybe they did remember PE signup day.  They certainly remembered “tell the audience what’s happening” day.

– Thrill to the crossing the street scene!

– There is no plausible reason for these kids to be in a church abstinence program.  But these are the teenagers they have in the cast, so in the abstinence program they shall be.

– Since we’re apparently feeling the loss of dead cast members in this one, this fake YouTube video really could’ve used Phil Hartman.  It’d still probably be bad, but it wouldn’t be this bad.

– It really is too much to ask for a single scene to make sense.  After the video, Lisa wants to run off to do research on a topic that she knew enough to call a PTA meeting about?  The mind reels.

– That GMO buffet went nice and quick.

– I don’t remember which episode it was that had people’s faces falling off, but it sure deserved a callback.

– Why would Marge think finger puppets(!) would help explain things to teenagers?

– Now Homer’s at the abstinence meeting for some reason.

– Hey, a plot point just literally fell on Lisa only to have Sideshow Bob demonstrate his superhuman strength by saving her.

– Bob tossed off his concrete block now instead of earlier because . . .?

– “And we’re scared of that because . . . “, then Bob explains.  Whew.

– They’re on top of a dam now.  No idea why, but they are.

– “We’re here to stop you” is Marge’s line right as she and the teens pull up from nowhere to confront Bob.  (Well, Marge pulls up in the car, the teens just appear.)  It’s expository and nonsensical, so at least that fits with the rest of the episode.  Everything else about the ending?  Not so much.

– Bob just jumped off the dam, remembered he had gills, and stepped on a rake underwater.  I’ve said this before and I’ll probably say it again, but this is fan service at the lowest common denominator.

In that interview with Jean I linked on Friday, he mentioned why they don’t do more Sideshow Bob episodes:

“I’m really, really careful about approving new Sideshow Bob episodes, because I think every one of them is so special, and I never want to feel like we’re burning the character out,”

You made him a genetic superman with fucking gills!  Could some reporter on his next conference call ask him what “burning the character out” would look like?  Would he have to become a cyborg?  Travel to another dimension?  What’s left?

Anyway, the ratings are in and they are the worst ever, both of them.  The awkward and unwatchable mental kid episode at 7:30 had just 2.65 million viewers wonder why he didn’t have any parents.  The Sideshow-Bob-Has-Superpowers-Now episode made just 3.73 million viewers wonder what they hell they just watched.  That’s good for places #1 and #2 on the all time least watched list.


Sunday Preview: The Man Who Grew Too Much



On a research trip, Lisa is shocked to discover that Sideshow Bob is now the chief scientist at a massive chemical engineering company, but they bond over their appreciation for high-culture. Marge attempts to preach healthy sexual practices to a teen church group, which goes awry.

Now for part two of our special double episode extravaganza. Not only will Sideshow Bob grace us with an appearance, but apparently him and Lisa will buddy up tonight. I would say here’s hoping, but we all know what’s going to happen here.


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