Fox Animation Week 23 Reviews (The Simpsons, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers, Bless the Harts, The Great North)

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The Simpsons – “Mother and Child Reunion” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): A fortune teller tells the Simpson family that one day, in the future, Lisa has a fulfilling live as an adult. However, she decides to do one thing against her mom’s will, to not go to college. This makes them distant and they stop speaking to each other.

My thoughts: Future episodes for The Simpsons are nothing new. The show has tackled them before, and it’s always a nice thing to take them with a grain of salt because they are in alternative timelines that are not attracted to the main one. Besides, continuity is very limited in The Simpsons anyways.

I thought it was an interesting path to have Lisa question her abilities despite being great academically. It was nice to see her choose a career that only she could do. It feels real because sometimes people may wonder why they are dedicating all their time and effort and not getting any results. Marge being upset at her choice was somewhat interesting too, mainly because she sees so much potential in her daughter, but unfortunately worries that all the learning that she went though would go to waste. It feels very real here because parents want their kids to succeed and do what they want, but sometimes they don’t realize that they’re not really in control of their kids’ futures.

I like how the writers characterized Bart here. He feels like younger Bart but also continues to reinforce the sibling bond that Bart and Lisa have together. Having him feel supportive of Lisa’s decisions, but also bringing in the fact that Marge was helping Lisa all along was a good delivery. And having him not be a screw up, like in “Barthood”, was a huge plus. I hate that people believe that all troubled kids end up screwed up. I’ve seen many of my peers change drastically from when they were kids. Now some are off to do big and great things, and others not so much. I’m glad Lisa and Marge made up in the end, even if I kind of knew what was going to happen.

The episode was also pretty funny too. Homer has some good lines, especially the part where he wants to play Blackjack with the fortune teller. Speaking of which, I didn’t like the fortune teller dragging on his comedy and stuff. I just felt like it took valuable time away from the episode. Besides, after Marge and Lisa hugged when she was president, then what happened? But nonetheless, Al Jean’s best effort is here this week, and hopefully there’s more to come. Sure, the final part is a little predictable due to being in a sitcom format, but it’s still well delivered.

Overall score: 7.5/10

Family Guy – “Family Cat” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): After creating an HGTV type show with his friends, Peter breaks a hole in his house. From there a cat lurks in and the Griffins decide to adopt it. But Brian detects something is up with the cat, perhaps ulterior motives.

My thoughts: To be honest, I was expecting this to be terrible but it wasn’t as bad as I thought. In fact, it’s probably one of the better episodes this season, though that’s not saying much. The beginning setup took a little too long, and it got a little repetitive; but it started off okay. It was sort of necessary to begin the episode, but I feel like it could have been done differently.

The good thing about this episode is once it gets to the main gist, there are almost no more cutaways. The cutaways take away too much time from the build up and sometimes, it annoys me when they use cutaways past the first act. Most of my favorite Family Guy episodes use the cutaways in the first act to get viewers to laugh, then dedicate the final two acts to focusing on the story, reinforcing my point that the show used to have a good balance of story and jokes.

I was quite surprised when the cat started talking and Brian was indeed right the whole time, which wasn’t really a surprise, but I kind of thought it could go either way with the cat not being evil, or the cat being evil. And it was the latter. The fight scene was great. I loved the action and Quagmire and Brian put their rivalry to the side again, which was nice! The Meg dance scene was a little creepy and Peter being a dick to Meg (putting dirt in her room to clean his shoes and saying “Who the hell is Neg”) was annoying as always. Little things like this can get in the way of making an episode shine, in my opinion.

Overall, this episode wasn’t as bad as I was expecting it to be. It has a decent storyline and some funny jokes. I just felt like the first few minutes didn’t need to be as long as it already was.

Overall score: 6/10

Bob’s Burgers – “Steal Magazine-olias” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): While Linda is at Dr. Yap’s office getting a cleaning, Louise, Gene, and Tina are looking at one of Dr. Yap’s magazines and they become obsessed with it. When they leave, turns out the magazine is gone too. Dr. Yap knows they stole it, so he goes to the Belcher restaurant and sits there until they give him back his magazine. The kids now must come up with a way to put Yap’s magazine back in his car without him finding out they stole it.

Meanwhile, Bob and Teddy discover there is bird poop on the restaurant window, so they try to clean it. It doesn’t go well for them.

My thoughts: This week’s episode of Bob’s Burgers feels standard for this show nowadays, and that’s okay. It brings back an old character, Dr. Yap, while also focusing on the family. Yap plays the antagonist this week as he goes to desperate lengths to get back his magazine, to the point where he even cleared out his whole schedule just to get it back! We haven’t gotten a great episode in quite some time. The past two episodes have been disappointing for the high standards this show sets up against the rest of the Animation Domination block. “Some Kind of Fender Benderful” was just boring and it felt a little like a preschool show, and “Bridge Over Troubled Rudy” was fine, but without that subplot, it would have been just boring as well.

I believe that the main problem with “Steal Magazine-olias” is that the writers didn’t take it anywhere that felt intriguing. This kind of reminds me of Family Guy‘s season 9 opener “And Then There Were Fewer”, when James Woods dies and everyone in the group has to find out who killed him. But instead this episode went in a direction where we immediately find out Gene stole the magazine and then it was really easy to get the magazine back into Dr. Yap’s car. Finally, let’s stop with Tina being obsessed with animals. It’s disgusting and has never been funny. Her obsessions with boys is fair, but once we get to non-humans, now it’s getting too far.

However, it does have its good moments. The entire subplot was pretty good! Teddy has been great this season with helping Bob on many occasions and Dr. Yap’s names for his cars got a good chuckle out of me too. I wouldn’t watch this episode again by choice, but I hope season 11 closes off really strong with its final two episodes.

Overall score: 6.5/10

Bless the Harts – “When You Lose, You Win” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): It’s a rainy day on Violet’s spring break and David is over at the Hart house. But he mentions the b-word, being “board games”. This triggers Jenny who gets insanely competitive and driven to win the board games, but there’s something to why she acts this way.

Meanwhile, Betty gets a ride in a cop car after requesting assistance off road. The officers are having trouble with some conflicts in Greenpoint, so Betty has some tricks up her sleeve.

My thoughts: We’re down to the final five episodes of the series. It’s sad, and while Bless the Harts may be ending soon, I thought this was one of their best episodes in a long time! The subplot was spot on. It’s not at the same levels as “Hot Tub-tation”‘s subplot with Betty and Julian, which was fantastic in every way; but it’s definitely not boring at all either. Betty has evolved into one of my favorite characters because it’s clear the writers know what she wanted to be. A good example of this is in “The Dogchurian Candidate”, which was probably the last episode that I really enjoyed. I’ve said the example in that episode before in another review that I did, so I don’t want to dive deeper into it. She can solve problems in her own unique way and it’s so fun to see.

It’s genuinely funny throughout from David losing his mind over Jenny’s habit of being a sore loser due to the way she was raised, to Betty trying to sleaze up to the cop. I could name a lot that I wouldn’t want to mention because then this dang review would take you 10 minutes to read. The crazy rules Violet and Wayne came up with to let Jenny win was also quite funny. And the unique animation style with them inside the board game was so, so good! The scenes were really cool.

As for Jenny being a sore-loser, sure you could argue she’s being an unlikeable prick, but I feel that it is justified by the way she was raised growing up. As shown in the flashback, Jenny loved to play board games with her dad growing up as a child. Unfortunately, her dad passed away for unknown reasons when she was just eight years old. Betty had thought she had lost too many things and let her win at every board game, hence how she turned out. She also got pregnant right out of high school, had to quit her cheerleading job, all the while she wasn’t very financially stable. As for Ed’s death, I think they kind of adjusted the timeline a bit, or they forgot that Ed died older from “Cremains of the Day”. Speaking of which, I loved how the two plots intertwined and it’s all wrapped up in a surprisingly sweet way. Kudos to the box at the end because I absolutely loved how her and her dad tied right before his death. Really sweet stuff.

Travis isn’t annoying in this episode either. I liked it when he was trying to give out food to the Harts but used the food as a distraction to prevent Jenny from going bonkers. He seems to be better as a supporting character, as last week, putting him in the spotlight didn’t do him any good.

“When You Lose, You Win” is one of my favorite episodes this season, not only because it’s surprisingly sweet, but it’s also damn funny throughout as well and I was never bored while watching. Everything about it shines through quite nicely and it’s a fresh take on board games. A lot better than I was expecting it to be! And those damn monopoly scenes. Just fantastic stuff. All in all, a great one for sure!

Before I close off this review, I’m hoping that the new Fox cartoon, Housebroken, is more than what’s being given in the trailers. So far it’s all fart and vomit jokes based on the few trailers that are publicly available. That won’t sit well with many of us who are looking for something funny that doesn’t use the same jokes over and over again. I’m rooting for it because the people behind it are really great! But if the show is just what I said above, I have a feeling that Bless the Harts would have been better to keep quality wise.

Overall score: 9/10

The Great North – “Game of Snownes Adventure” Review

Episode summary (spoilers): It’s board game night for the Tobin clan, but a blizzard stops that from happening. Jerry’s stuck at the mall so Alyson has him do a modeling shoot for her. Wolf and Honeybee get stuck in a blizzard while going over to the main house, and Beef hallucinates on cough syrup and gets lost in the blizzard! It’s up to Judy to find them all!

My thoughts: We’ve had two 3 week breaks for this show, thanks to airing the show early in January and not airing Bless the Harts for reasons that I will never know! But unlike the other shows on the Animation Domination block, The Great North continues its trend on delivering strong episodes in its debut season. A true adventure finally hits Lone Moose, Alaska as the entire family is at focus for this outing. And it’s fast paced and doesn’t feel like it’s all over the place too! It really feels like an intense adventure!

I really like how the family got lost in the blizzard because things only amped up from there. Having them all lost and seeing them react to it is funny and interesting. Beef’s hallucinations provide for some hilarious moments, especially when Beef asks why his snowflake friend has a wife and a son! Plus in blizzard conditions, it’s easy to get lost in a short span, because the buildings may be trapped under them. It’s nice to see the writers nail that part of living in Alaska.

My favorite running gag though was Moon cheating, but being really bad at hiding. He promises he won’t cheat this time, but we’ll never know if he actually goes through with his promise. Also, the subplot with Jerry and Alyson was surprisingly pretty fun too! I liked seeing the photos they took and how Alyson discovered that she misses her friend, and wasn’t concerned about her bangs by the end. It’s nice to see Jerry assimilate with the town of Lone Moose. And also the continuity of having him stay, although he didn’t appear last time, has been really cool. I hope they upgrade Ron Funches to a main cast member, because Alanis Morrissette has only appeared in half the episodes. She’s very much like Kumail Nanjiani as Jesus in Bless the Harts, as she doesn’t need to appear in every episode.

Wolf continues to grow on me. I didn’t care for him at first, but now he’s becoming more likeable and I’m starting to care about him more. He was funny this episode from not wanting to let go of Honeybee, but also needing to pee during the blizzard. There’s a lot of fun with getting caught in the blizzard, and the show’s characters make it even more enjoyable. Plus, it’s clean fun. You can watch this with the kids, don’t worry. I’m glad this show can be funny without being suggestive or vulgar.

Honeybee finding a shed and creating a shelter and a signal for the other family members to unite was also great! I really like how she’s coming into her own character and not just the “wife who exists”. But the best part of the episode, however, is the focus on how much Beef cares for his family. From the phone call in the beginning to reuniting with his family after the blizzard, it’s clear how much he cares. Beef knows that Wolf isn’t like him. Beef is manly, tough, and stern, while Wolf is rather silly and childish. But still, he loves him no matter what. Beef has proven weaknesses, especially since his wife left him for another man in the pilot, but the writers are allowing him to grow and learn that his family can go on their own paths. While he does share the masculine traits with Stan Smith from American Dad!, he’s also emotionally available for his children as well, and it’s nice to see a dad who subverts the typical trope that all fathers should be manly and show no weakness.

This was such a great episode for many reasons. It’s fast-paced and has adventure, but also not at a point where you think things are going nowhere, it’s funny, and it’s surprisingly sweet. There’s only one more episode in the first season of The Great North, and this is a show that is hitting right out of the gate. Next week’s episode focuses on the wedding of Wolf and Honeybee, but unlike Jenny and Wayne, they’re going to get married! But an unexpected guests RSVPs for their wedding. I think this upcoming episode will be the best one this season, and will be a sweet and fun way to close off a great first season! Bless the Harts came close this week, but I’m giving the edge to The Great North. This show’s been winning the night often and that’s a great sign for future episodes and seasons to come.

Overall score: 9/10

One last thing before I sign off for the week. I start my final exams on Tuesday and continue them into next week as well, so I may only make a video review for next week, like I did with the week with “Manger Things” in it. If so, I will link it so you can watch and as always, please feel free to share your kind comments. Your kind comments make me day and I’m happy to take time out of my day to read every single one. Don’t feel shy. And thank you!