Simpsons Did It!: “Penny-Wiseguys”

This was, like, a really weird episode, with a fairly pointless Alex Trebek cameo where he’s hosting Jeopardy on a character’s TV in the background.

The episode starts off normally enough.  Homer and his bowling team are having a rematch with the Holy Rollers, which has a slightly new line-up of dropping the women and adding Reverend Lovejoy’s superior the Parson and Rabbi Krustofski.  Homer’s team, the Pin Pals, have the same line-up but Otto is off his rocker so he was replaced with a new guy named Dan Gillick (guest star Steve Carell).  Just as Dan is about to throw the last ball for the night, he gets called to work and has to leave, costing the Pin Pals the game.  What does Dan do?  He’s the accountant for the Springfield Mafia, and as Fat Tony (returning guest star Joe Mantegna) has to report for jury duty, he selects Dan to be the acting Don to lower overhead since the only stuff they’ve been bleeding lately is red ink.

Now, why is this episode weird?  Because it’s mostly about Dan in the Mafia.  That’s fine, I suppose, to showcase a good guest star, and Dan does seem like a prototypical Steve Carell sort of character.  But, he’s not exactly a Simpsons regular, not even in the way Mantegna’s Fat Tony is.  We’re not going to see him again.  Why follow him around?  Especially since it does so while limiting the screen time for the Simpsons themselves?

Well, not quite.  Lisa has a subplot about needing to take more iron and breaking her vegetarianism to eat bugs and then later deciding not to since it was becoming a gateway to eating meat again.

And then Homer returns at the end of the episode to make sure Dan doesn’t kill anybody as Fat Tony told him to.

Like I said, it’s a weird episode, and not a particularly funny one to boot.


Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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