The Simpsons: Married to the Blob, Review

Judas Priest is not death metal.

High above Zenith City, Radioactive Man keeps a lonely vigil, but one Springfieldian is no longer alone. Swallow your gum now because “Married to the Blob” mainly takes place in the Mylar of The Android’s Dungeon and Baseball Card Shop and  it hasn’t been vacuum-sealed.

“American nerd snark is the finest in the world” and Comic Book Guy has been at the forefront of nerd snarkery since he uttered his first “worst episode ever” in The Simpsons’ seventh season episode “Radioactive Man.” Comic Book Guy is the template of the geek. He should be on the masthead of every geek zine, but he would probably find that too mainstream. The Simpsons is subversive mainstream so Comic Book Guy getting married isn’t really creepy.

You know from the title that Comic Book Guy gets married in the episode, so it shouldn’t come as a shock like it did when Radioactive Man died in the issue “The Death of Radioactive Man.” And if you didn’t see the episode and are just figuring this out now, I have no sympathy for you. Comic Book Guy is the blob who gets married in “Married to the Blob.” (If you think nerds don’t get girls, remember: This year’s Comic-Con was almost 8 percent girls.) It is a marriage made in obsessive compulsive heaven and the wedding itself is officiated by perennial cameo actor, part-time comic book legend, and full-time nonagenarian, Stan Lee.

Stan Lee is Comic Book Guy’s guardian angel, mentor and hero. Also appearing in the episode is the original icon of paranoid snark, Harlan Ellison. Among Ellison’s massive output of over 1,700 pieces is the original teleplay for “City on the Edge of Forever,” widely considered the best episode of the original series, Star Trek. Ellison, of course, thinks that the episode that aired is unwatchable. Ellison didn’t invent nerd-snark, he helped sculpt it from a lump of clay that Oscar Levant coughed up. He is the spiritual father of Comic Book Guy. I mean, imagine, not only did he write a Star Trek that was too cool to get on 60s TV, what with the Enterprise Crew getting high and all, but he also was too cool to praise Star Trek.

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It’s hard, in a review about the guy we all met on the newsgroup alt.nerd.obsessive, to resist the usual compulsive obtusery The Simpsons arouses in me. So I will say upfront, if you want to know if this is a good episode, I’d answer with an emphatic: kinda. A lot of Simpsons episodes that focus on secondary characters aren’t as crisp as the one focusing on the family, but “Married to the Blob” only suffers because it is in the middle of a particularly good season.

The casual viewer might not know what Kumiko sees in Comic Book Guy. The only thing that stops him from being a shut-in is that he owns a shop and is forced to deal, disdainfully, with the public. Comic Book Guy would give his own life a bad review. The episode opens with his arch nemesis from Ep. JAB17 “Husbands and Knives,” Milo. Milo’s found a comic-tolerating woman and no longer sleeps alone. He probably still doesn’t get laid, but it doesn’t look so weird now when he talks to himself. Comic Book Guy goes to the only fat man in real life who’s landed a hot wife, Homer Simpson. It is Marge who makes Comic Book Guy presentable by dressing him the same way she dresses Homer. Marge also imparts the most reasonably sage advice: “Don’t be the way you normally are and sustain that for the rest of your life.”

It is almost sad that Comic Book Guy will give up his life of perpetual bachelorhood, he did seem like an unstackable Pringle, but this episode does introduce what should be a new ongoing character, Kumiko, Comic Book Guy’s new wife. She is from  Osaka, Japan, writes autobiographical manga and can tolerate Comic Book Guy. She’d better be a recurring character, if Apu’s wedding is any precedent.

“Married to the Blob” was written by Tim Long. Tonight’s Simpsons starred Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson, Harry Shearer as Skinner, Pamela Hayden as Milhouse and Jimbo, Tress MacNeille as Dolph, and Hank Azaria as Comic Book Guy. Harlan Ellison and Stan Lee play either themselves or each other. Who can tell?

But It All Went By So Fast:  The hallucination sequence after Homer and Kumiko’s dad drink snake rice wine is an homage to Hayao Miyazaki. The characters and creatures reference My Neighbor Totoro, Howl’s Moving Castle, Kiki’s Delivery Service, Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.

In Comic Book Guy’s comic, the Just Us League, there is a piece on a visit from Joss Wheedon. Kumiko’s manga is called Coming-Of-Age Sad Happy Book. The first date is at Chuck Dukewagon’s All American Chow Lounge. In Kumiko’s and C.B.G.’s Happy Love Montage, they are listening to the audio book Cosmic Wars, The Crucifixion of Jim Jam Bonks.

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Den of Geek Rating: 3.5 Out of 5 Stars

 

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Rating:

3.5 out of 5