In the lifespan of a show it may become desirable or even preferable to have some aspect of it retconned (the word itself is a combination of two words: retroactive continuity). This means to revise retrospectively, typically by introducing a piece of new information that imposes a different interpretation on previously described events. Usually this is done to correct something or make it better.
However, there are certain things that should never be touched; the birth of Bart and the events leading up to it is one of those things.
In 3 Scenes, Homer recounts the time just before Bart and his eventual birth to show how their lives were great or ‘dink’ (dual income child free). In this version the couple are both working (not at the mini golf or gulp n blow) and living in the up and coming beef grinding part of Springfield. They both go on various nights out, host parties and are genuinely having a good time.
However, that’s not what actually happened.
In season three we have the episode I Married Marge, where Homer is sharing an apartment with Barney and Marge is still living at home. The two are barely out of high school when Marge accidentally gets pregnant. This fact is so central to the characters and their emotional core that to set it aside for a few laughs is almost a slap in the face to those die hard’s that still watch the show and keep track of it.
In 3 Scenes, Marge goes so far as to say in one of the flashbacks: “Oh Homey, this is the happiest I have ever been in my life.” This goes against everything we know of their history. In many ways they were actually trapped and very stressed. Homer proposed to Marge after he found out of the pregnancy, they sleep in the living room of Jacqueline Bouvier’s (Marge’s mother) house, they can’t pay their expenses and Homer leaves Marge to ‘become a better man’ for her. One major part of their pathos was this real sense that their marriage, or relationship for that matter, might not have actually happened. In making the best of a bad situation they turned into an imperfect but deeply human couple.
To make matters worse, in 3 Scenes the reason for this retcon was to show a couple (that they’ve only just met) how having kids changes everything. It’s really only a plot device to rewrite the show’s history which in this writer’s opinion was a mistake.
Now, leaving aside the retcon, there were some funny bits. The intro where the family are watching the latest superhero film was classic Simpsons. First, we get the reveal that Ben Parker is actually the bad guy: “with great power comes NO responsibility.” Then we get the reveal that Nick Fury is being recruited (by a guy with two eye patches) for an all-recruiters super-team called The Assemblers, and that their movie is called ‘Assemblers Assemble.’
Then when the family are driving through Marge and Homer’s old neighbourhood we get some classic sight gags. Some of the best were: Pressed Pants and Juice, House of Kale, Olive Oil and Bowties, and my favourite: Just This Bicycle (with yes, a single bicycle in the window).
Also, the couch gag was replaced by an interesting bit of animation where its just Homer singing a nice song while his face stretches, moves, and turns inside out. Its a Simpsons version of Bill Plympton’s Oscar nominated short: Your Face. The scene ends with an image of the family together on the sofa (a more accurate depiction of the heart of the show than the episode that would follow).
All in all, this episode missed the mark, which is a shame because last week’s return was the kind of inspired risk taking that this show needs more of. The one thing they cannot do however is mess around with the timeline. It might have been different if say they changed something small but the Homer-Marge origin is sacrosanct and under no circumstances should it be changed.
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