“Give attention to Lisa, give attention to Bart. What am I, made of attention?”
The episode starts with a food-themed 2nd grade play at Springfield Elementary. Ralph is playing as broccoli, and fails to remember his colour (green) and says purple. Llewellyn Sinclair passes up to Nelson‘s origin of veal scene, consisting of him shooting a “cow” in the head with a captive-bolt gun, which Lisa (dressed as pork chop) protests about, claiming it should have been cut. Sinclair says the scene they were cutting was actually Lisa’s scene. Chalmers then proclaims show is over. Outside, Lisa is stuck in her pork-chop suit, something she hates. Marge nudges Homer to make her feel better. The next day, Marge asks Homer to make something with Lisa, so he takes her to the Springfield Mall, where he protects her dignity in a clothing store, and she sees him as Atticus Finch, the main character of the novel she’s reading, To Kill a Mockingbird.
At home, father and daughter watch the movie (the actual black-and-white real movie) based on the novel. Bart then arrives and changes the channel to The Itchy & Scratchy Show. Lisa says to Homer he’s her hero. Bart asks Maggie if he’s her hero, but it turns out she prefers Santa’s Little Helper and Grampa instead. Homer and Lisa’s relationship is better than ever: Homer takes her to the Springfield Science Museum and Lisa talks greatly about him as her hero at school. Bart starts feeling more jealous about their new relationship, and seeks help from Dr. Jessup, the school therapist, who tells him to act out until someone pays attention to him.
At Shauna‘s Bat mitzvah, he changes all cars’ keys, creating chaos once people get out of the event, and makes Milhouse accuse him, which makes the people chase Bart as an angry mob. Bart gets home and asks for help. Homer, acting as Atticus does, defuses the mob. Lisa and Bart fight over Homer, so Marge goes to Dr. Jessup to seek help too, because Lisa is idolizing Homer too much and creating uneaseness in the family. As a result, Homer talks with Lisa to make her move on that phase. She finishes reading the book and moves on at the same time. Homer then feels a bit sad but Maggie comforts him. The episode closes with Marge saying to Bart that, since they treasure him too, she’ll let him do one thing just for himself. Bart initially wants to kick Homer in the butt, but Marge tells him to give it some thought. Bart takes lots of years to decide what does he want to do, only to finally decide, now as an old man, that he wants to kick Homer in the butt, which he does to a R2-D2-looking robot version of Homer.
The episode, written by showrunner Al Jean and directed by Steven Dean Moore, tries to tell yet another Homer-Lisa relationship plot. The emotional part of the episode is undeniably well delivered. The pace of the episode overall feels somehow too fast, specifically the plot resolution feels too rushed up. Credited to a vet writer who is also the showrunner of the show, the episode certainly doesn’t lack some cleverly comical freeze-frame jokes (jokes that you may need to pause the episode to see; store names, newspaper headlines, stuff written in blackboards, …) listed in the section below.
The episode has a great voice acting, with a mention to Yeardley Smith‘s performance of Lisa talking with southern accent. The episode also has the always laugh-provoking J. K. Simmons guest starring as Dr. Jessup, the school therapist who can only spend 45 seconds per patient due to budget cutbacks. Jon Lovitz also guest stars as the always hilarious Llewellyn Sinclair. The episode is good. But the way is dealt with the resolution of the plot is just too rushed. Apart from that, the re-using of the now classic Homer-Lisa plot is actually well-handled.
Re-using a type of plot is always fine as far as it ends up being a different story after all, and proofs that a story can be told within different points of view, circumstances or settings. One can say “It’s yet another Homer-Lisa plot. They’ve run out of ideas” or can say “It’s yet another Homer-Lisa plot. They must have thought of a new story related to that kind of plot”. I choose the latter. It is not a bad episode after all. It’s an episode not to be missed. Season 30 has had an overall high quality that makes it feel like it’s Season 4 again, and this episode would feel more like Season 12. Has this last sentence any sense at all? Probably not. All the seasons are great. Anyway, we want The Simpsons for more years and if they keep the quality level of this season (or increase it even more), we’ll be even happier.
Stay tuned for more reviews!!
Notes and Observations:
- The title of the episode is a reference to the fictional character “Atticus Finch” from the 1960 novel To Kill a Mockingbird.
- It was about time to have a chalkboard gag in Season 30. The gag: “My pre-Christmas behavior really helps the coal industry”.
- Freeze-frame gags spotted:
- Springfield Elementary has this banners at the start of the episode: “Tonight Second Grade Play” and “2 hours shorter than last year’s”.
- Springfield Mall has a banner that says “Rats control 3rd floor”.
- The stores at the Mall:
- Clothing lines in Wee Madame:
- Twerking Girl is a reference to Working Girl and twerking.
- Ho Sweet Ho is a reference to the saying “home sweet home”.
- Call of Booty is a reference to Call of Duty.
- Raggedy Anorexic is a reference to Raggedy Ann.
- The Edge of Thirteen is a reference to The Edge of Seventeen.
- Jack the Stripper is a reference to Jack the Ripper.
- The blackboard of Lisa’s class has “Surprise Quiz Tomorrow” written on it.
- Lisa reads To Kill a Mockingbird throughout the episode. In one scene, Bart is seen reading a parody called To Mock a Killing Bird.
- In the museum, Professor Farnsworth appears with an exhibit of “The Science of Futurama“.
- Miss Hoover mentions Wikipedia.
- Heisenberger and Fries is a reference to physicist Werner Heisenberg.
- In the school play, Nelson plays a parody of Anton Chigurh from the film No Country for Old Men.
- Duffman mentions Netflix.
- Grampa mentions Agatha Christie‘s books.
- At the end, Homer’s head is mounted on a R2-D2-looking robot.
- The episode was dedicated to Ricky Jay who passed away on November 24th, eight days before this episode aired.