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The Simpsons

The Simpsons is an animated comedy about a family in the fictional town of Springfield. The family is made up of selfish father Homer, fretting mother Marge, precocious daughter Lisa, rebellious son Bart and silent daughter Maggie. FOX 1989-???

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Episode 3 - MoneyBART

23 February 2012

Credit FOX

Synopsis: Lisa worries that she doesn't have enough extra-curricular activities to one day attend an Ivy League College. So she becomes the coach of Bart's little league baseball team. She uses sabermetrics to determine how everyone should play and they promptly start to win all their games. Bart resents the absence of fun in their play anymore and disobeys her. She kicks him off the team but eventually has to call him back.

The Good: There was a really good story in here that didn't get told adequately. The conflict between the statistical and the daring approach to any sport is something most sports fans enjoy and the use of sabermetrics make this a more plausible tale in theory as it's taking advantage of a real set of baseball tactics. In the end Lisa finally sees the appeal of baseball because of Bart's maverick behaviour. It felt like a strong and appropriate conclusion but sadly not to this plot.

One of the Simpsons greatest episodes was "Homer at Bat" (317) a baseball themed story which mixed silliness with celebrity and featured MLB's Mike Scioscia (who suffered radiation poisoning from working in the nuclear plant) amongst many other players. Mike returns here for a far less amusing cameo but it was nice that the continuity was acknowledged.

The Banksy directed opening credit sequence was particularly dark and aggressively aimed at FOX which was interesting. I won't pretend to know how seriously or otherwise it was meant to be.

The Bad: The problem with this story is the same as all modern Simpsons plots, it was rushed, it gave no attention to the details of everyday life and it had no genuine emotions attached to it.

So much of that story was skipped over. Lisa didn't take much time to turn the team's fortunes around. Surely a couple of scenes could have been devoted to her learning how the game worked, a few jokes and slowly she wins over the other boys. Then we needed some time to see the team winning and being happy about it. Then Bart's doubts could have crept in.

Instead Lisa instantly made the team into winners and Bart announced out of nowhere that he resented her. Then in ridiculous fashion Marge and Homer get dragged into the feud despite that adding nothing to the plot. By the time Bart made his big comeback it was clear that the plot had no substance. Once more the writers failed to provide the basic structure which leads to enjoyable plotting and humour.

Best Joke: The show has a history of sports commentary jokes going back a long way. So here we get a stereotypical baseball announcer calling the action in excited monotone and occasionally describing things with a linguistic flourish. So as Bart comes out to bat he comments "Bart Simpson on deck, his bats just hungering for a homer like Kronos for his children. Speaking of homer, Bart's father's name is, you guessed it, not on my fact sheet."

The Bottom Line: A good story ruined by poor writing.

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