The Simpsons: You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee, review

If I die, I’ll be doing the thing I love the most, trying not to get killed.

In “You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee” The Simpsons take on the great American past-time: Football. Well, no not football exactly, world football. To the rest of the world, football means soccer and to Springfield, soccer is boring. The Simpsons are, after all, on Fox, and the only reason Fox is even a network is because they run football. Usually by pre-empting The Simpsons, but still, football is their master.

Why are you concussing yourself? Soccer isn’t a contact sport in Springfield. The Simpsons have always had a ball kicking around soccer. I mean the game has fast kicking. Low scoring. Holding. More Holding. And ties. You bet the Simpsons can see that as something America can get behind. Way behind. But never more than three points behind. The best you can hope for, excitementwise, is a traditional soccer riot, because at least then Mayor Quimby can declare Mob Rule. The rest is a round robin.

Homer is chosen to referee the upcoming World Cup because Lisa, Homer’s only talking daughter, extolls her father’s virtue of incorruptibility in a win-by-emotional-cheat-shot in a rigged “Who’s my hero?” competition. Lisa proves Homer is incorruptible by pointing out that he gave her a red card at a soccer march for diving. In a world of soccer moms ripping each other’s tits off for bad calls, Homer is an honorable soccer dad. This means the Simpsons get to go to Brazil again. Woohoo, recycled jokes. Yes, soccer is corrupt and Brazil is the heart and soul of soccer. They have their own Bribe-Cam. Yes Brazilian edumacational shows have sexy hosts with bigger breasts than Krusty’s superfluous nipple. Yes nuns are sexier in Brazil. Almost worth going to Sunday school for. The only thing that stops the Simpsons from living there is the fish that swims up your pee stream. That’s a dealbreaker.

The last time the Simpsons went to Brazil, Homer got kidnapped and the family got involved in an international incident. That seems to happen a lot, but, as Simpsons abroad, they must play up the ugly American for all of us. The Simpsons are America’s truest export, the only thing universally beloved about America by the rest of the world and if they can’t offend Brazil, it’s not even worth going. This time it’s Marge, who’s attempt to learn Brazilian on the plane trip over, who rears her blue-haired approved electronic device ways over the natives. She deserves all the turbulence she receives. Snake, of course, can get away with that. When Snake goes native, natives go pro. Sadly, the Simpsons don’t fully skewer Brazil with anything new, they just take the meat and leave the succulent vegetables on the stick.

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Nelson’s speech about how “Rob”was his hero showed yet another deep view into the heart of the damaged bully. For a damaged bully, Nelson really does spill his inner turmoil a lot. Maybe he should have been kept in a crawlspace instead of watching the movie Crawlspace. It worked for Bart’s evil twin, didn’t it? Don’t get me wrong, Nelson moved me. Not quite to tears, but grins because Nelson is always entertaining. Much more so than Martin Prince, who probably deserved being pelted with soda cans and Millhouses (Millhice?) more than Abe Lincoln. I could hear wedgie plans being plotted as he properly pronounced all of Madame Curie’s names. 

Bart goes back and forth between good brother and bad brother to Lisa, but usually has her back. By suggesting Homer, and he calls him dad in this episode and it doesn’t seem ironically, he really is setting Lisa up for the win. You can tell because David Bowie’s “Heroes” is playing and that just screams victory. If just for one day. Half a victory, anyway. The montage of reasons Homer should be Lisa’s hero was worth it for the payoff of Homer falling asleep in Maggie’s crib, getting his leg caught and whining “Marge, it happened again.” Bart’s self-examination into the kind of person he is was spot-on. Decisive, yet vaguely disappointing. Exactly what we want from Bart Simpson. Glad to see he worked out the right velocity variables on the fire extinguisher.

This was not a classic, it wasn’t exactly a retread, but it is showing signs of a mid-season slowdown. The episode wasn’t packed with jokes. Like last week, The Simpsons pared down the laugh-per-minute average for what should have been a higher quality show overall, but it didn’t quite miss it’s mark, still I’m glad I was forced to watch.

“You Don’t Have to Live Like a Referee” was written by Michael Price. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson and Principal Skinner, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Selma and Patty Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson, Pamela Hayden as Millhouse, who although he doesn’t talk this episode, does get thrown during the Great Debate. Hank Azaria as the guy behind Marge at the ATM machine. Andres Cantos, the famed FIFA announcer, played himself. Out of controooooooooolllllll.

But It All Went By So Fast:  The sign outside Springfield Elementary in the opening shot reads: Assembly Today: The Meaning of Freedom, Attendance Mandatory. Headlines on school paper: Abe-Omination, Lincoln Assaulted in Bored Theater; Lunchlady Doris Calls for Calm; Deposit Forfeited on Top Hat and Superintendent on Way to Yell at Skinner. Springfield Elementary sign 2: Speech Contest Tonight, Tomorrow: Funny Banner Contest. Tell us your hero, No anti-heroes please. The plane’s premium HBO is showing Hung, Bored to Death and Enlightened. Sign in Soccer Stadium: A Copa do mundo. Welcoma a series do Mundo, mas com o mundo. Bienvenidos Aficionados Americanos. Dejen de llamarlo “soccer”. Han sido advertidos suficiamente.

More later, there’s sausage being made.

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Den of Geek Rating: 3 Out of 5 Stars


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3 out of 5