Simpsons 11/29: "Rednecks and Broomsticks"

A lot of good gags, but the storyline itself was rather weak. The hillbilly storyline did nothing for me, although I did like the way it ended up explaining the supposed Wiccan spell. The best part for me was the bit with the family in the car and the Bonk-It game, since it was both comedic and showed the family acting like a realistic family (and Homer acting like a moron, something he seems to excel at- “Why do my actions have consequences?”). There were lots of amusing lines and situations (Flanders discovering Lisa is a Wiccan, some of the jokes in the court scene), but the story didn’t really captivate me. Funny, but not great.

I thought it was a slightly below-average episode. Neither the witchcraft plot nor the hillbilly subplot was particularly compelling.

Incidentally, has anybody noticed The Simpsons has been dropping in references to less-than familiar movies the last few seasons? Last year, there was an entire episode that was a homage to **Two for the Road **and in this episode they dropped in references to Sideways (the hooch-tasting montage) and the end credits scene from To Die For (Lisa ice skating to “Season of the Witch”). I wonder how many viewers got those?

I noticed that, but couldn’t figure out what it was supposed to mean in the context of the episode, since Lisa isn’t skating over a frozen dead body. Unless they just thought ice skating + witchy song was enough of a similarity…

Well, a submerged Homer did pop out of that hole Lisa’s skates made in the ice at the end. I guess that’s close enough.

I didn’t get the chalkboard gag at the beginning: Teacher unions aren’t ruining the country

Or something like that. Does it mean that Bart likes teachers unions because they make it easy on him? That’s all I could figure, unless it’s just a straight message of support for the unions by the show’s producers, which would seem odd.

I thought the gist of the chalkboard gag is “boy says something naughty in class, teacher makes him write the contrary statement on the board 100 times.”

So in this case, Bart would have said “Teacher unions are ruining the country!” and his teacher would have made him write “Teacher unions aren’t ruining the country!” on the blackboard 100 times.

The “gag” isn’t that Bart is having fun writing something over and over on the board. The gag part is the opposite of what he is writing is what he really said.

The episode was all over the place. It had some good jokes, but it felt like at least three writers wrote something and a fourth writer put in some weak storyline to join them together.

See, for example, last week’s:

Halloween does not kick Thanksgiving’s ass.
Halloween does not kick Thanksgiving’s ass.
Halloween does not kick Thanksgiving’s ass.

I got the Sideways reference. Just as I was thinking to myself “is this from Sideways?” Sandra Oh started beating Homer with a bowling ball and that cinched it for me.

It had some funny bits but it wasn’t hilarious. I think the only bit I laughed out loud for in all of the Animation Domination block was the American Dad bit where his boss imagined all his co-workers were cats and one of them pounced on the laser pointer during a meeting.

This is the second episode title that has parodied Disney’s Bedknobs and Broomsticks, which is two more times than I’ve ever seen that movie. At least the joke worked this time. Just a year ago, they did “Mypods and Boomsticks.”

I thought Homer and Cletus made a good pair and I got a laugh from some of Cletus’ pals, but to me, this episode didn’t really get going until the last segment. The last act, with the courtroom scene and everything else, was very funny. I laughed very hard at Bart’s line about the path Lisa should take to becoming a witch. Also liked the “let us depart in a manner befitting Wiccans- text your mom to pick us up” and “Wiccanpedia.” I wish they’d gotten there faster but I think it was worth it when they did. (Also this makes two weeks in a row where I called the ending. Oh well.)

That was a good slice of life.

Thanks for clearing that up. I get it now.

No mention of Bambi yet?

I thought that was the best part of the episode.

I thought it was a pretty good episode. I feel that I should have called the ending but I didn’t even think about it. I started laughing at the Bambi bit until the deer got launched. I hope my kids aren’t scarred for life from that.

Bah–they stole that from me!

“Don’t dip those wiccans!”

And that goat was totally guilty.

Selections on Wiccapedia:

Spells: seriously, these work, 30,000+ articles
Curses: foiled again, 24,000+ articles
Brooms: traditional wood vs. modern graphite, 1,200+ articles
Anti-Acne Spells: Sorry, these don’t work, 350+ articles
Potions: made-from-scratch or straight from the freezer, 15,000+ articles
Familiars: wolf, cat, ferret – will they eat you when you die?, 4,400+ articles
Dating: share your stories, 0 articles
Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The greatest show in history, 2,500,000,000+ articles

I loved the text on the screen of Wiccanpedia… various categories of things had 3 or 4 thousand articles, then there were 2 million for Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I blew the joke by calling it Wiccanpedia. Doesn’t work with the n in there. Anyway those are some great freeze frame jokes.

I was trying to figure out why the hell Neve Campbell guest starred, and then I just remembered she was in The Craft. That’s a pretty clever piece of casting.

Flanders’ son said Lisa was using a Dell computer, but Lisa clearly uses a Mac.

This one looks better on second viewing because there are some more good jokes in the beginning that didn’t hit home the first time through. There’s Bambi, Homer apparently telling the kids they are going to Hell, the faux pas pun, and the country bear jamboree, to name a couple. And I’m still inordinately amused by the bearded redneck who’s always wearing a flannel shirt and suspenders.

Cletus is still a yokel but he’s much less of a moron than usual in this episode, maybe because he spends most of it talking about something he knows. That worked for me. Where it does get a little slow is the exposition on Wicca. That seemed like stuff Lisa would already know, so I didn’t completely buy her attitude toward the girls.