Bless the Harts S2E10: “Crappy Death Day”

All images used in this review are from FOXFLASH, Fox’s press release site. Bless the Harts ©2021 by Twentieth Television and Fox Media LLC. They are used with their permission, as they are publicity images.

Episode summary (spoilers): When Betty announces she’s going to die on January 17, she acts all melodramatic towards her family. To stop this, Jenny, Betty, and Violet go down to the “psychic” she got the reading from to request for a refund, but the psychic puts a “curse” on Jenny. For the whole weekend, bad luck comes her way. First, a bird poops on her hair. Then, she steps in gum and dog turd. Her bed even catches fire. After realizing Betty’s statue placement created a death ray with the bedroom window, Jenny decides that Betty is the reason why she has all the bad luck, and she kicks her out of the house. Violet decides to solve their problem, they must perform a ritual together. The ritual brings the Hart ladies together, as Violet decrees that family is inseparable and her “curse” is more a blessing in disguise.

Meanwhile, Wayne takes Doug and Peter on a fishing trip together for the weekend in an attempt to calm them down from their rowdy behavior at work. But when the trio encounters a snakehead, an invasive type of fish, their fishing trip turns into how long they can survive. But the snakehead proves that it can pull a fight, so this fishing trip turns into a new kind of “trip”.

My thoughts: I was not very happy when Fox decided to show recaps of previous NASCAR games instead of Animation Domination while the 2021 Daytona 500 was delayed due to heavy rain, but I did see the episode on CityTV’s website on February 14. And by the time you’re reading this review, you would have already seen the episode for yourself, and it’s a pretty, damn good one.

And this episode has been delayed three times now. The original airdate was November 29, but it was switched with a rerun of the garbage Ice Age: A Mammoth Christmas. Then it was scheduled for January 3, but it was switched with the series premiere of The Great North. And now it was finally scheduled for February 14, but the heavy rain delayed the NASCAR Daytona 500, and preempted the episode back a week, as well as the rest of Fox’s other animated fare, and even that new reality show which was scheduled to debut Cherries Wild.

But now that the episode has been pushed back almost three months, the question now is? Was it worth the wait?

Absolutely!

THIS IS NOT YOUR NORMAL BLESS THE HARTS EPISODE! For fans or new viewers who may be a little bored of the typical sitcom-stock plots, you’ll certainly dig this one. While normally, the series is about tackling money problems, this one tackles more different types of the unknown and phenomena like witchcraft and LSD, something the show has not done before. Like the recent episode, it’s an example of the show trying to innovate and differentiate itself from its sister shows. Let’s be real, as much as I am a fan of them, The Simpsons and Family Guy are totally past their prime, to the point where I can’t even fully enjoy episodes like I used to. Their new episodes aren’t going to be anything special like the older days.

But with the other newcomer, The Great North, plus the consistent Bob’s Burgers, there’s a chance to impress me by focusing on what makes those shows, those shows, and those shows only. Sure the premises of sitcoms are all generic nowadays, I’m looking at you Chuck Lorre; but sitcoms and comedies are never going to end and we, as television viewers, have to accept that. We can demand for more non-comedy style shows like The Midnight Gospel, Blood of Zeus, or Invincible; but when we need a laugh, where else are we gonna turn to? And I’ve come to accept that with comedy shows. The writing needs of each comedy or sitcom needs to shine and make things different than other sitcoms, otherwise it will not be memorable. That’s one of the main problems I have with Duncanville. It doesn’t really do anything to make itself stand out against its competition, although I’m sure season 2 will do that.

And the three Hart ladies are no strangers to clashing with each other. In “Pumped”, Betty threatens to disown Jenny and call Violet’s friend her new son all because of a high heel shoe chair. In “Violet’s Secret”, Violet stops talking to her parents when she finds out they were stalking her. And that’s the main focal point of this story. The Hart ladies’ relationship is being put to the test. We know that animated sitcoms tend to have weird and quirky families, but the Harts, like the Belchers, the Tillermans, the Simpsons, and the Tobins, have always loved each other, despite their differences. I can’t say the same for the Smiths or the Griffins or even some of the South Park families. And their plot is fine the way it is. I like the exploration of witchcraft and other crazy phenomena in this plot. And it offers some laughs, like the bed catching on fire and the sculpture creating a death ray, which really got me laughing; but none of the main plot is even close to the REAL highlight of the episode. The only minor gripe I have with the main is that the emotional moment they were trying to go for at the end felt a little rushed. But that’s totally minor in the scale of things.

The main highlight of “Crappy Death Day” is its subplot. Wayne needs that fishing trip to help his co-workers calm down, but it turns into a survival of the fittest competition. And the invasive fish species, known as the snakehead, even causes the trio to have hallucinations. So instead of the trip they needed during the weekend, they get a whole, new kind of “trip”, if you know what I mean. And the hallucinations are freaking hilarious!

First off, props to Jeremy Rowley for his weird, yet silly and funny snakehead voice. It’s just so weird, but absolutely funny at the same time. The voice is also very silly and if you don’t even chuckle, I’m not sure how we can vibe. The animation of these hallucination scenes reminds me a lot of The Midnight Gospel, the new animated Netflix show based on Duncan Trussel’s podcasts. Then again, both shows’ animation are done by Titmouse, who are pretty innovative with their animation styles and designs. The entire episode alone is worth watching just for these few minutes of Wayne and his friends’ experiences. There’s so much going on that’s also interesting and innovative for an animated sitcom plot. Some of the hallucinations include getting invaded by aliens on another planet, a performance from the snakeheads dressed up as Victorian men, Wayne about to be a “winner, winner, human dinner”, and even interdimensional travel. It’s really funny and innovative for a Fox animated series.

And it is really nice to see that season 2 of Bless the Harts is leaning more on the innovative side. And that’s a good thing considering that the entire lineup consists of family comedies, although the upcoming Housebroken is about a talking therapy dog. It’s continuing to find its identity and explore itself. Sometimes it’s on the safe side, but this is the show testing its limits. With the recent episode, it was about personal growth and character development for its main Jenny Hart, while also tackling social commentary on feminism and female behaviors. With the Halloween episode “Dead Mall”, it was about exploring the more darker side of real life. With the Thanksgiving special this year, they were tackling the male social status. On the other hand, this episode leans into how crazy, and surreal the show can really be, without resorting to cheap, over the top, shock humor like its current competition, such as Paradise PD, Crossing Swords, or modern Family Guy. And it also does this while continuing to stay as grounded as possible. All of these are examples of the show’s second season trying to innovate and distinguish itself from its sister shows on the lineup.

“Crappy Death Day” is a great episode of Bless the Harts that differs itself from the rest of the show by making use of the phenomena and the unknown in a hilarious way. I still don’t think it’s the best episode of the show. That would still go to the two Black Friday episodes, but if they keep trying to innovate and make themselves stand out against their sister shows, I could see the show being able to survive longer on the block. Being able to show and execute these kinds of more bold and different style episodes will only help the Harts be able to distinguish itself from not only its sister shows, but also its competition in a tough, growing adult animated landscape.

Overall rating: 8.5/10