The Nidotamer reviewatorium of rambling!
Maybe it'll help me understand writing more or characters, maybe generate some interest in some people? Stuff like that. Or I'll just have something to prattle on about, it's all good... unless nobody replies in which case wow that'll be embarrassing.
Since I'm just starting the thread, I picked this one myself:
"Bart gets an F"
Like quite a few of the older episodes, this is one of those that are a little funny pacing wise. Funny in a good way but not “ha-ha” funny... what I mean is they feel like they have an awful lot going on in the episode but it doesn't feel rushed still. Maybe since the plot is more basic they could afford to cram more meat into it compared to the newer seasons.
It's not a particularly jokey episode but I don't really think it needed to be especially when a lot of the interactions were allowed to feel more genuine and even heart-warming in return. I'm fine with sacrificing some jokes for storytelling, it builds a bit more character and makes them easier to empathise with as a result since they seem more human than comedy devices and therefore when they do get into certain situations in other episodes, it just makes it better.
+ My goodness, Martin. My god I miss his theatrics. Also it's always nice when Krabappel actually had nice things to say about the better students.
+ Bart's book report is as wonderfully awkward as expected from someone who never even bothered to read the book and something I'll get to later because it's a nice point on Bart's character.
+ Another nice Mrs K touch, she doesn't like Bart but is still quite concerned about his performance in school.
+ “I just want to have a beer while I'm caring!” and Bart's “paper”
+ Big gorilla night! It's not exactly something Bart's into but it's still a lovely moment of Homer trying to be a good dad. Honestly I forgot he used to be quite lovable.
+ More on this later but Sherri & Terri turning Bart's attempted trick around on him. Find a few fans' reactions to be a BIT strong, seeing as Bart was, again, trying to trick and cheat off them. And Martin being a condescending douche bag.
+ The TV and Homer's grumbling, one of the few funny moments in the episode.
() So did Milhouse lie about the test too? Or was Bart just not listening.
+ Another nice genuine bit of interaction between Bart and Otto.
+More Martin! Honestly this guy just steals the show.
+ Martin's bus equation. Again another funny moment. The following montage between him and Bart counts too! Even as a “cool” kid he's still very Martin, still using words like “fellows”
() Not sure how to feel about the snow-day scene. It goes on for a while but it is brilliantly exaggerated and didn't go on for so long that it became grating. Hi Bob!
+ Bart's little daydream, his studying attempts being completely derailed by his poor attention span.
+ Damnit Martin, like I said he kinda steals the show.
+ Another thing to get back to in a bit, Bart's little break down.
- Well I guess it couldn't be helped with so much going on in the episode but the end did feel a bit of an asspull, Bart somehow knowing an apparently difficult and obscure bit of history yet not enough to actually pass the test otherwise? Still, is kinda saved by a rather heart-warming conclusion and again, one of Mrs Krabappel's nicer moments.
Okay I'll admit the minuses were nitpicking. I didn't really have a whole lot NOT to like about this one.
Other talking points
Didn't really find anything wrong with this. Yeah maybe it's a bit odd to see him so concerned over studying but I could buy it, his motivation was clear enough: being afraid of the crippling humiliation of being held back a grade. It also plays into something I prefer to think about Bart: He's not DUMB so much as academically lazy. He's shown a fair bit of creativity and craftiness in the series but sitting still going through textbooks? Not his style. Maybe the crying at the end might have been overdone otherwise but honestly, I think it works since we at least saw his struggles starting from trying to get an easy answer out of the smart kids and then a desperate, sincere attempt to actually study against his own nature.
Like I said, it's a lot of little things like in this episode that make characters more believable as people and coupled with his efforts, it is actually really upsetting when he still fails. I like this angle far better than how “The kids are all fight” tried to frame it in that he's just “Evil and dumb” that scene still bugs the hell outta me. Trying to measure Bart's intellect in school should probably be more comparable to trying to assess how smart an elephant is by its ability to climb a tree.
Again, don't like the “bad for the sake of it/for the evulz” thing they like pushing either, Bart was a troublemaker before because it wasn't only a good way to cure school boredom but also cause it let him show off to the other kids for some easy attention and admiration. Yet when it comes to a lot of stuff in the modern episodes, he causes that much harm to the kids who oughta be his “audience” that there's no logical reason why everybody shouldn't completely hate his guts.
Sherri & Terri:
Yeah it's only a little scene but like in Homer's Odyssey, it's also a rather odd example of the problems that persisted in the classic era... but not for the scenes themselves. Rather an example showing that with a few characters, “Flanderisation” as tvtropes calls it, set in early. Since season 5 they'd been typecast as “those people that show up and make fun of other people” and since Sleeping With the Enemy they've more gone into just being plain mean and nasty which... you COULD say might've been their humiliation at the end of that episode just making them more outright hateful of others but since Nelson's dad is still missing in later episodes... negative continuity. But I digress (what a shock!)
It's odd since their first two or three appearances set them up as something more interesting: two girls who seem to work hard, are smart, sit all neatly with their hands on their laps and behave perfectly... except they're actually a pair of tricky troublemaking little shits whose favourite brand of mischief is tricking people into doing really dumb things or otherwise getting them into trouble while coming off smelling like roses, if anything it’s the characterisation I like to follow. Like Nelson, they could have been potentially interesting rivals for Bart in a wildly different way but also like Nelson that angle just kinda fell apart early on (though at least Nelson had one or two rival moments like “Saturdays of thunder”). Rivals with actual differing skills and specialities are much better than the edgy clone types and it's a shame neither Nelson nor the twins got all that much to work with from there. Hell, with the exception of “The Daughter Also Rises” they don't even try pulling any tricks on anyone anymore.
Not a funny episode... and I think it didn't need to be. It had plenty of charm, a lot of genuine-feeling interactions and well... Martin was just perfect. It's got a good sense of character building for a lot of them... even if as mentioned above, they didn't actually do all that much with a few bits. Really I can't think of anything that could feasibly be improved all that much either, usually I'd have a section for that but I got nothing this time. Can still see how people might not be entertained by it but I feel going heavy on jokes would have just killed the storytelling.
So yeah, first go. Hopefully didn't do too terrible but I'd like to see some requests since that's the rule I'm imposing on myself here. So fire away! :3 Also feel free to discuss points or your own thoughts, I wanna hear them! If anything discussion is always the best anything so yeah, do that!