Welcome to Welcome to Springfield, a OneOfUs column that re-examines The Simpsons series episode by episode to establish what made it a cultural icon, and to determine what went wrong. It’s a lofty goal, but Andrew is just the man to do it.
Bart’s done it this time. After setting off a cherry bomb in the washroom while Principal Skinner’s mother was using it, his parents send him to France as part of a foreign exchange program. When he arrives, he’s greeted by two winemakers who force him into hard labor, sleeping on the floor, and drinking wine with anti-freeze in it.
Back in Springfield, the Simpsons get an Albanian exchange student named Adil, who is actually a secret agent sent to steal secrets about nuclear power. Eventually, the jig is up for both Bart’s wicked caretakers and Adil. Bart finds a policeman who gives him a
plot device piece of candy that somehow grants him the ability to speak French. He then informs the authorities of his caretakers’ misdeeds, for which they are arrested. While Bart is being hailed as a national hero in France, Adil is taken down by the FBI. Bart returns home and the Simpsons have a happy reunion.
This episode starts like any other, but quickly goes over the top in its plot. Bart being thrown into a foreign exchange student program is possible, but a plot involving child spies and criminal winemakers? That’s a little too much for me. Bart getting in trouble is something we’ve come to expect, but sending him across the Atlantic Ocean to live with two people who have not had their credentials checked? Give me a break.
I also take issue with how Bart’s story was resolved. Would it have been so hard to write into the script that the cop to spoke a little English? Or perhaps a passerby could translate for the two of them? English is a major language so I think that at least one person in France would speak it and notice the raggedy kid speaking English walking down the street. In any event, it would have made a hell of a lot more sense than magical linguistical candy.
Adil’s story isn’t that great either, he just came off as boring with a little bit of espionage peppered in there in the hopes of making him interesting. Even when he’s arrested, I don’t feel anything towards him, but I am bothered by the fact the Simpson family was sad about it. Sure Bart blew up a toilet, but he didn’t break the law to the magnitude that Adil did.
To its credit, the episode does have a lot of nice camera work. I really enjoy the shot of Principal Skinner through the peephole. Also, the recreation of Luncheon on the Grass is a nice homage for art fans. That’s the only nice thing I’ve been able to say about the episode.
After two serious episodes, we’re gonna get a dud at some point, and this would be that episode. If you’re really bored or just looking for a way to kill 22 minutes, this is it.
Final Score: 2.5/5.0
We’re getting closer. Five hundred and forty-one episodes to go and hey, season one is almost done. That means we’re getting to season 2 soon and guess what? I’ll be doing the first Treehouse of Horror near Halloween. HOORAY!!! I’m Andrew Semkow and Welcome to Springfield.