The Simpsons, Seasons 21-31. Season 21, Episode 6: “Pranks and Greens”

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New episode recap Monday! If you missed last week’s you can read it here.

“Pranks and Greens” (first aired November 22, 2009)

This week’s couch gag is the 12 Days of Christmas. It’s fine. Five golden Frinks, indeed.

This week’s chalkboard message is “Halloween does not kick Thanksgiving’s Ass.” Gotta side with Bart here. Thanksgiving is one of my least favorite holidays. Get a better bird! Turkey blows.

The episode opens with Bart and Milhouse planning pranks. This is one of those rare instances where the writers are drawing upon the Simpsons of old but it serves to remind the viewers of what was once a defining character trait for Bart, rather than just an early plot line rehash. Given what they end up doing with it maybe a rehash would have been preferable, but we’ll get to that.

Bart performs a series of pranks at school:

  • Alternating between filling the teachers’ lounge with carbon monoxide and nitrous oxide
  • Setting up a fake bathroom so Skinner takes a dump in the middle of the gym during a school pep rally
  • Sports balls unleashed down the stairs at teachers, who run away and get crushed against the chained front door
  • Skinner’s car engine is attached to balloons, which makes it float away. Bart then shoots it down with a BB gun and the engine lands on Skinner’s car.

Bart ends up in Skinner’s office facing his punishment. While Skinner is pissed off, obviously (he was renting that car from Mother!) he gets some measure of satisfaction in informing Bart that he isn’t the worst prankster in the history of Springfield Elementary.

This episode’s B plot it the tropiest of modern sitcom tropes: People sure do nutty things in service of eating healthy these days! (but not nutty as in nuts, because allergies). There’s a baby play date. They sing Poop in the Tub, then everybody freaks out at Marge because she serves unhealthy snacks.

Bart does some digging in the school newspaper and discovers that ten years ago Skinner was cool, but over the course of two weeks changed from Cool to Tool, and figures it must have been related to the ultimate prank. Groundskeeper Willie was in the after newspaper photo, so Bart goes to him to get the story. Groundskeeper Willie reveals that he used to be swim teacher Willie, until “The Night of the Wigglers.” Somebody filled the school swimming pool with worms and Skinner dove in backwards (so he didn’t notice). The prankster then closed the pool cover, and Skinner was trapped with the worms all weekend (plus Monday due to Teacher Development Day).

Skinner emerged his current humorless self, shut down the pool forever, and demoted Willie to groundskeeper.

Bart finds out that the name of the greatest prankster in school history is Andy Hamilton, and he sets out to find him.

Meanwhile, in service to the B plot Marge gets rid of all of the junk food in the house, which also contained hardcore porn because good joke.

Bart finds Andy, who is 19, lives at home with his mom, has male pattern baldness, and is voiced by Jonah Hill. Andy reminisces about all of his greatest pranks: bear traps in gym class, fire in the drinking fountain, and a fake heart attack on an international flight. Bart is suitably impressed, until he gets home and tells Lisa all about it. Lisa points out that Andy is a 19 year old loser who lives at home and talks about his elementary school glory days all the time.

Homer, Lisa, and Marge go to a Whole Foods stand in, where all of the food is weird and healthy. It’s also expensive and goes bad because it doesn’t have preservatives. Good job, Simpsons. Checked all the boxes on this trope.

Bart is depressed about Andy being a loser and cashes in a “lying in a deposition” chit with Krusty to get Andy a job as Krusty’s 2nd Assistant. Andy quits immediately when Krusty tells him to do stuff.

Back to baby play time, where today’s song is “doggies and kitties don’t last forever, but they do a lot better than fish.” Marge proudly serves healthy food that she spent all night baking, but it turns out she used non-stick cookware, and the drinking glasses have BPAs, so all the moms leave and hijack an ambulance to get their babies checked out at the hospital. Sorry Moleman.

Bart gets Andy his job back, telling Andy not to blow this opportunity that he’s gone out of his way to get for him.

Homer comes home and Marge is gorging on Homer’s snack stash. They have a junk food orgy, and then a conventional one. B plot resolved.

Andy’s been working for Krusty for a week when Bart goes to check in on him on set and sees a truck with “prank grade worms.” He rushed to the studio believing that Andy is going to sabotage his shot. He sees Krusty about to dive into a kiddie pool, which Andy has filled with worms. Bart tries to stop it from happening, but Krusty falls in anyway, and then it’s revealed that Andy wrote this bit for Krusty and is now the head writer. He also has a blond girlfriend and they’re headed to the make out room.

Lisa watching on television: “So Andy’s a TV writer. Loser.”

This episode was an episode.

Best joke: Probably the playtime songs.

Worst joke: Haha Whole Foods, more like Whole Paycheck, amirite?!

Rating (our of 5 D’ohs): 2 D’ohs. There’s nothing wrong with this episode, but there’s nothing especially notable about it either. It provided its contractually obligated 24 minutes. Bart learns a lesson about having to grow up eventually, and that you can put your prank experience to good use. Marge and Homer learn that health food is weird.

Stray Bits:

  • Lisa goofing on TV writers as losers is a fun bit of self-effacing humor until you remember that all of the Simpsons TV writers make a buttload of money for writing this show.
  • When Bart tells Milhouse about the ultimate prankster Milhouse daydreams about his sidekick, who he imagines as a Godzilla sized nerd laying waste to the city before pausing to take a hit from his asthma inhaler.

That’s it for this week. Next week I’ll be back covering “Rednecks and Broomsticks.”

I don’t have a lot to promote but last week I put out another short retro nostalgia horror story for Kindle, called My Big, Scary Friend. You can pick is up here for only $2.99.


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