This week, we open with a truncated credits sequence so there’s more time to devote to the highly anticipated Robot Chicken couch gag. Was it worth the excitement? Kinda sorta. I’m no fan of Robot Chicken, but it was pretty cool to see the Simpsons characters done in Claymation/action figure style. As with many of this season’s couch gags, it was just too damn long. It’s pretty amusing at first, but it just goes…and goes…………..and goes, throwing car chases and explosions and all sorts of other juvenile ideas of what “awesome” is before you finally get into the actual fucking episode. Good lord.
Armin Tamzarian Principal Skinner calls Marge into his office to discuss Bart’s behavior. He hasn’t done anything yet, but Skinner has no doubt that he will. He suggests that Marge get Bart involved in some kind of extra-curricular activity, such as music lessons. Lisa proves to be too boring a teacher for Bart to engage with, so he and Marge hunt around town for a suitable teacher, running through all sorts of hi-larious recurring characters and the instruments they play before winding up at some Russian guy’s crappy rowhouse.
Russian Guy has an attractive, piano-teachin’ daughter that makes Bart’s prepubescent dingle-dangle go all a-quiver, so he agrees to learn to tickle the ivories in the hopes of tickling the buxom lass’……tummy. Right? Yes. As payment, Marge agrees to teach Russian Guy how to drive.
What follows is a series of pretty ho-hum Eastern European jokes even Russian Guy himself acknowledges are kind of lame, making references to life under Putin, bribing cops, and, well, not much else.
Bart doesn’t pay much attention to the actual piano lessons, instead he fantasizes about Buxom Lass serenading him in various imaginary nighclubs and cabarets. Unfortunately for him, the day of The Big Recital these kinds of stories inevitably feature has drawn near, and not wanting to disappoint his mother, he fakes his way through the performance by miming along to a CD, which is of course met with uproarious applause.
Bart thanks Buxom Girl, but not Marge, who begins to get suspicious. This scene has the best exchange of the whole episode:
MARGE: Something here smells fishy.
SEA CAPTAIN: Arr, that be I. But seriously, something does seem funny.
KRUSTY: Is it me?
SEA CAPTAIN: No.
Bart’s success makes Buxom Lass an extremely popular piano teacher and soon a whole slew of kids are dropping by the rowhouse every afternoon to learn from her, meaning there’s no time for Bart. Which sucks monkey nuts for him, because Marge has entered him in another talent show, and it won’t be so easy to fake it this time.
This is it, folks. The much-dreaded Justin Bieber guest appearance. And it’s……….relatively painless. I’d go so far as to say utterly pointless. Justin is in line trying to get into the same 10 and under talent show Bart’s competing in and he’s turned away. Yep. That’s it. Justin gets all of one line and he’s gone. Not that I would have wanted him to stay the whole episode, like he did on CSI, but what was the point of including him in the first place, then? At least on CSI he had the good graces to blow himself up at the end and die in a fiery explosion. It’s the worst kind of Simpsons celebrity guest: The kind that’s not there for any good reason at all; a disposable cameo for the sole purpose of name-dropping.
Seriously, the best thing to come of this was the humorous subtitles in the previous scene warning viewers of impending Justin.
Bart can’t bring himself to lie and admits that he’s a no good dirty faker. Marge is understandably pissed and refuses to so much as talk to him. Russian Guy convinces her to ease up on him a little, since he did the wrong thing for the right reason – he wanted his mother to be proud.
Since I haven’t covered it yet, the B-plot for this episode is Homer’s last two head-hairs finally falling out. He gets very worried that Marge won’t love a bald man. After some reasonably funny antics, a power plant worker voiced by Patrick Stewart gives him some confidence to be proud of his baldness. Homer shows Marge, she loves him anyway, and they kiss, and since the status quo must be maintained, his two hairs pop back into existence.
I had a lot of fun with this one, mostly because of the successful mix of the mundane and the absurd. Plenty of men fret over going bald, but in Homer’s case the difference is pretty much academic.
While the main story wasn’t exactly a laugh riot either, they did a good job making Bart’s predicament sympathetic. He’s not out to cause trouble, he just wants everyone to be pleased with him for once. Who hasn’t fabricated some fake successes to impress their parents as a child? I know I sure as hell did. Course, I got found out, and then came the hitting, but we’re going down too dark a road for a Simpsons review.
“The Fabulous Faker Boy” is a pretty average Simpsons episode with some clever dialog and sight gags, none of which knock it out of the park. It certainly helps that both the A and B plots be relatively grounded, real life dilemmas with the Simpson family behaving like real people, which is more of a rarity than I’d like.