Rate & Review: "The Star of the Backstage" (QABF17)

How would you rate this episode?


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    40

BloodySlasherChibi

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Not too bad for a season premiere. Not really into musicals (unless they're about homicidal barbers or man-eating plants) but this was still pretty enjoyable. Only thing I didn't really care for was now Marge was regaled as someone who needed to learn a lesson when she was in the right. I mean if you're irresponsible enough to have a party at someone else's house without their consent and then have the audacity to fight a deserved lawsuit and leave them unable to go to collage, being exposed as a fraud is the least you deserve.

Anyway, I give this a 4/5. Looking forward to a new season.
 

Brad Lascelle

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The Star of the Backstage is presently the 4th lowest rated episode of all-time on IMDB...

Screen_Shot_2021-09-27_at_7.10.45_PM.png


I could see it falling below All Singing, All Dancing at the rate it's dropping.

Delivered great ratings for FOX last night with a 1.1 in the demo thanks to the strong NFL lead-in besting all non-NFL programming on television.
 

B-Boy

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Oof, tough crowd. Fourth lowest of-all-time on IMDB? Give me a break...

Simpson premieres have been consistently mediocre for over two decades. I’d say My Mother, the Carjacker, All’s Fair in Oven War and Clown in the Dumps are the only ones that qualify as genuinely decent. The latter is actually a bit better than people give it credit for. Anyway, I’m inclined to think The Star of the Backstage is about on par. I’m not sure it’s the best of the bunch so I’m hesitant to call it the best premiere since season 9, but I found it very pleasant and quite engaging.

A lot of effort went into this particularly with the animation and choreography. The songs were nice, but I admit I didn’t walk away with any of them sticking firmly in my mind. The humour was light, but I laughed out loud a couple of times. Marge had a great arc – her best in years, I dare say - and I was actually a tad moved at the end. I wish there had been more mockery of Broadway musicals. As it stands, this is more a straight up tribute and plays things very straight so it lacks bite.

Future re-watches will undoubtedly yield more thoughts and observations. For now, I score it a solid 4.
 
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That Don Guy

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Oof, tough crowd. Fourth lowest of-all-time on IMDB? Give me a break...

Simpson premieres have been consistently mediocre for over two decades. I’d say My Mother, the Carjacker, All’s Fair in Oven War and Clown in the Dumps are the only ones that qualify as genuinely decent. The latter is actually a bit better than people give it credit for. Anyway, I’m inclined to think The Star of the Backstage is about on par. I’m not sure it’s the best of the bunch so I’m hesitant to call it the best premiere since season 9, but I found it very pleasant and quite engaging.

A lot of effort went into this particularly with the animation and choreography. The songs were nice, but I admit I didn’t walk away with any of them sticking firmly in my mind. The humour was light, but I laughed out loud a couple of times. Marge had a great arc – her best in years, I dare say - and I was actually a tad moved at the end. I wish there had been more mockery of Broadway musicals. As it stands, this is more a straight up tribute and plays things very straight so it lacks bite.

Future re-watches will undoubtedly yield more thoughts and observations. For now, I score it a solid 4.

I'm surprised "Another Simpsons Clip Show" isn't near the top of the list.

As for choreography, Kat Burns is the credited choreographer; she has two Emmys for her work on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, although scripted program choreography is another of those Emmy categories (like guest actress in a comedy series) that is not open to animation.
 

CousinMerl

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Finished with my (long) review which is coming up soon.

Anyhow, in regards to the IMDB rating for this episode, what the heck is going on? Nothing in it makes it third or four worst of the entire series yet there it is near the top of the bottom list. My first guess is the musical haters are coming out of the woodwork and are voting it down (and that kind of haters often seem to be more extreme and irrational than those of most other genres).
 

Wile E. the Brain

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I don't get it. I mean, I do get that one can dislike this episode, and why. But being considered one of the worst, just... c'mon. It bothers me that episodes with real effort put into it like this one are considered worse than childish, ridiculous and debilitating episodes like, I don't know, Burger Kings. If it's just because it's a musical, give me a break.

I personally enjoyed this one quite a lot. I do like me some musical episodes and it was a nice little Broadway-style one with clear substance, a good structure (if a little rushed and surface-level at some places), and believable characters. It's nice to see them acting as... well, characters, and not just as walking (unfunny) punchlines. Even small moments like Bart and Lisa tricking Homer to get him in the play bring a smile to my face. And I always enjoyed episodes centered around Marge's struggles when well-done, and this one is no exception. The theme about the pursuit of the glory days kept my attention all along.

And I swear to God, it's so refreshing to see a musical episode from the HD era that lets the viewer enjoy the songs themselves, instead of bombarding him with visual jokes on the background and slapstick as a diversion. I don't know if it's because this one has some choregraphy in it or simply because Matt Selman has a brain, but thank you from the bottom of my heart, Selman. (In fact I feel like there are less and less distracting, and unfunny, background jokes in his episodes, and I truly appreciate that.) I don't care if someone is gonna tell me that I'm indulgent because I've been used to see mediocre (and I'm polite) episodes in the HD era and it made me less exigent or whatever. It's certainly no high peak of the show, faaaar from it, but it's a good episode on its own merits.

And I did like the songs themselves. Especially the one where Marge reveals that Sasha is a liar. Or maybe I'm just biased because we get to hear Kristen Bell singing and I love Kristen Bell and I love hearing her sing, I don't know. However, as much as I enjoyed this episode, I think it lacks bite too. I can understand people not getting into this episode because it does lack that touch that would make it an episode that belongs to The Simpsons and not to any other show a little. And Rob Oliver's work is still very good but I feel like it's kinda lacking a clear sense of space at some places, but all around it's another solid job from him.

So yeah, I ended this season premiere with a smile on my face and that happened like twice in the past decade. 4/5 rounded up from a 3.5.
 
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John95

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Finished with my (long) review which is coming up soon.

Anyhow, in regards to the IMDB rating for this episode, what the heck is going on? Nothing in it makes it third or four worst of the entire series yet there it is near the top of the bottom list. My first guess is the musical haters are coming out of the woodwork and are voting it down (and that kind of haters often seem to be more extreme and irrational than those of most other genres).
It's very possible that some of those people are in the same boat that a few on here are where they can't get into the episode because it suffers from a very noticable lack of jokes and bite and a bad plot that's full of unlikable characters and very confused in terms of who we're supposed to view as being in the right and vice-versa.

As for me, while I ended up not liking it and can't speak for every episode in that screencap, I would take this over Lisa Goes Gaga, Moe Goes from Rags to Riches and Every Man's Dream as unlike those episodes actual effort was put into this one even if only from a production standpoint.
 

CousinMerl

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Another season, another premiere. Gonna write down a lot of things as go through the episode (Not gonna mention all of the songs, though might do a more complete rundown of the "playlist" later, by the way)

I ended up finding it pretty entertaining overall. The plot was a pretty good one overall and got my interest (Marge, while visiting the funeral of a theater manager, getting her hands on her old high school musical prompt book and is inspired to gather back the cast of the old Y2K stage musical in which she was the stage manager for a modern re-do (again as manager), but ending up feeling left out and overshadowed when the big star of the show, Sasha, shows up) and it very felt like an inspired idea with the musical approach, also having a grounded conflict, being very focused and surprisingly well paced. It started well and improved as it went on and ended up being a pretty good musical story with nice humor & solid animation. An interesting start to the new season.

Good start with Simpsons at the funeral and it set up the story nicely, with Marge telling the rest of the family about the Y2K ("millennium bug") musical play she was a part of back in the late 1990's (nice gag of her pointing out where she was standing & the retcon of her (and the other adults) having been high schoolers in the 1990s I didn't mind) and decides to reunite the gang (Smithers, Helen, Hibbert, Kirk, Lenny & Barney) for a new version, I liked the fantasy aspect of Marge having this fantasy singing voice performed by Kristen Bell (of 'Frozen' fame) as she fantasized about having the voice of a Disney princess. It continued nicely with the first musical number, which was nice, had some nicely animated choreogeaphy and singing by Bell (and great that it furthered the story like many of the following songs).

It was followed by a nice scene with the family (a couple of good jokes with Lenny having injured himself while singing about his youth & Homer naming Bart and Lisa his enemies after they manipulate and laugh at himt). Then Sasha (voiced by Sara Chase) makes her entrance & her musical number tells us of whom she is (I found her an pretty obnoxious showoff; she got the looks and voice, but a bad personality). It also introduced the strong conflict between her and Marge (whom is left on the sidelines, as Sasha only cares about her fellow castmembers and treat Marge like nothing as she is "only" the manager who's not really on the team in her mind. It wasn't difficult to feel bad for Marge once Sasha "steals" the cast away (sad to see Marge being doormat & not trying).

I liked the moment of Marge trying to show that she matters too by presenting her brownies & old items from their days as a "tight knit group". The following bit of the cast reminiscing of the "good old times"was a fun and vibrant song with lot of personality (nice visuals of them appearing as their young selves and fun storytelling, such as about the party they held at Marge's house while she was away, Lenny had an incident, the Bouvier family got sued and bankrupted so they couldn't send Marge to college & the gang still hasn't any sympathy for Marge, plus a friend died and they made it all about themselves. Nice dark jokes, but the lack of empathy; wow). Very nice following moment with Marge getting support by her mother Jaqueline (who's a good mom for once).

So it is agreed that Sasha is rotten and Marge decides to take revenge (which wasn't wrong after how she was trated) and uses her mom's old computer (funny gag with the loud dial-up noises) to dig up the secret on Sasha and then revealing them to the cast (in a new playbill). The song that this reveal is told through was a good one, but oddly it was framed as a villain song when Marge felt justified) and Sasha is revealed as a liar (actually being a mere saleswoman, not a big-name musical celebrity). Then Sasha runs off sobbing and the cast are angry at Marge (this was a little interesting as a subversion, but the cast not caring about Sasha being a big phony liar and only being upset at Marge felt really dumb. Felt like the message was "it is okay to lie to your friends" or something).

So Marge is angered over this (she acted like a petty teenager so in that sense she should have known better, I guess) and Homer helps her come to her senses to patch things up and help herself feel better through an amusing song (nice idea of how Homer was the one who talked sense into her) and Marge goes find Sasha to make amends (I sort of got shades of the abused now forced to crawl back to her bully to apologize for the sake of the friends, but I'm overthinking it). Sasha had a nice scene at Moe's (her lament of never having been mean to Marge & saying "I never even talked to her" was really telling of how blind she is, but I liked her reminiscing with Barney whom she had a brief fling back then & Moe's silent reactions to it were quite amusing, I felt).

Marge confronts Sasha and we get the expected with the latter admitting that she's a floor manager who only wanted to recapture her former glory and reconnect (good with a bit of humility and earnestness from her), though the whole cast gang showing up and end up hearing Marge's apology was kinda forced, but it was handled better here than in many other instances in more modern episodes (looking at you, 'Manger Things'!). Barney has a funny little half-song (about his lost potential) and the show is on and is a success (nce gag with Homer distracted by his smartphone and Marge cuing him via texting, but the highlight was Bart & Lisa's criticism of how it "just ended" and call it lazy, which was hilarous. Felt like a comment on how the Y2K musical play was so marginalized in the episode).

I wasn't a fan of Sasha still being the same to Marge (relatively thoughtless and self-important & even laughs off Marge reminding her of the lawsuit and ingnores her again; I almost felt as if Marge should have struck her at this point, but it probably wouldn't be worth it to make a scene again). Still, Marge gets a good and nicely suitable ending with couple of theater kids some and want Marge's signature on their prompt book and ends up on a diner date with them (which she deserved after all the things that happened to her in the episode, not just regarding the relatively thankless and still ignorant Sasha), but it still ended well for both parties and I think that was a good thing for the story as a whole (despite there being room for some improvement in here).

So yeah, I liked this one fine. The musical plot was simple and straightforward, with a good story for Marge, a solid musical approach (with actual effort put into the songs), good jokes and gags & all good animation directing. It had some problems, such as sketchy sound mixing at times (the singing parts felt a little loud when compared to the dialogue), KMR sounded off as Hibbert, the songs varied a bit in quality (but none was bad) & the way Sasha never learnt anything in the end felt lazy (she should have learned a lesson & changed a little or gotten some sort of comeuppance, but the writing felt indifferent regarding her somehow). Also, the way Marge was sorta framed as the big bad when Sasha was worse probably wasn't a great of ideas (#margedidnothingwrong).

I'll give this a 4/5 (rounded up from a 3.5/5). A verygood, well produced and written story (including songs that did further the plot), nice jokes here and there and a good plot & conflict (and a nice spoof on a high school stage cast reunion tale). Most of the issues were relatively minor (though I can see how they turn some viewers away), but the Marge-Sasha conflict had some questionable aspects as said (Sasha was excused a little too much), the cast gang appeared as blind idiot followers wasn't flattering & the episode felt a little too short (would have been good with a double-length episode, to the chagrin of those of you who cannot stand musicals), but yet again, I enjoyed it for what it was (and it did have a lot of energy).
 
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Szyslak100

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But if musicals aren't your thing - and once again, I have to question why you'd even bother watching if they're not - not every episode of the show is going to be for everyone -

As someone who has openly admitted not being at all a fan of musicals, I can easily answer it by saying that I watched this episode for the same reason you have watched episodes like Singin' in the Lane or I Want You (She's So Heavy) even if you surely knew beforehand they were going to suck: because I love the show and I will watch, and probably rewatch, every episode they make, no matter how insufferable they can be...

Although in my personal case there is another reason because I am fairly more open-minded with musical shows since I've improved my English. Watching musicals in a non-English version of the show means that you don't understand what is going on if the dubbing decides to keep the song with their original audio, or being punished with songs that don't have metrics or rhymes in the case they decide to translate them. The enjoyment is way higher if you can understand the lyrics and follow the track to the story, while listening to appealing songs interpreted by competent singers. My opinions on A Streetcar Named Marge, SimpsoncalifragilisticexpialaD'ohcious, or The President Wore Pearls have grown considerably after I watched them in their original language for the first time... Even though still, musicals are not my kind of episode.

I will try to write a full review of this episode, if possible before Sunday when a new one airs.
 

Arctan

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Oof...
I actually enjoyed Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy. I don't know why though.
 

Evil Homer

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Even Mike Amato of Me Blog Write Good liked Bart vs. Itchy & Scratchy, and he almost never likes Zombie Simpsons episodes. So I don't really take the IMDB ratings seriously.
 

CousinMerl

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It's very possible that some of those people are in the same boat that a few on here are where they can't get into the episode because it suffers from a very noticable lack of jokes and bite and a bad plot that's full of unlikable characters and very confused in terms of who we're supposed to view as being in the right and vice-versa.

The thing is that the critics over here doesn't seem of the opinion that its is one of the worst of all time, but more in the "Didn't work for me so 2/5" camp, which means weak (and, I definitely understand why some have problems with it) but not in any sense nottom 5 awful. It is one thing to not getting into the episode and finding it tthat despicably horrid to close in on the top of a worst list so it is insanely overhated when looking at that IMDB listing which led me to think some musical haters might be one reason.

I'd too say that from a production standpoint this was a good episode, to me as it had much effort put into it along with a lot of energy, enthusiasm, vibrancy and color to go around & the story was (to me) fairly strong despite not fully agreeing with how they handled the conflict (like I said in my review) so even though not all of us think it is good at all, I think most of us here on the NHC can agree it is not so bad it really deserves to be ranked among the worst of the entire series (as per IMDB, again).

And as for 'Bart Vs. Itchy & Scratchy', much like this episode (Backstage) I like that one fine and it shouldn't be doing anywhere near the bottom of any worst lists, but to my knowledge it remains one of the most hated of the HD era. Must be due to how allergic audiences seem to be regarding gender-related topics like feminism, SJWs, etc.).
 
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I hate that episode too, actually. After around the 5 minute mark I knew it was gonna be heaps of garbage from there onwards... and boy was I right.
 
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I kinda think the thing about the cast not caring about Sasha's lies was a little interesting. Like, maybe the idea was they were just glad to have *her* back, but then I don't remember it being worded like that. That and the angle works better when the others involved aren't unrepentantly horrible. Like I get what they were going for but it would've worked better if, say, Sasha was just an obnoxious blowhard and attention-hog that Marge avoided since high school but turned out she actually was a sweet person if Marge had gotten to know her.
Or if Marge had tried to get that main part before but lost to Sasha and had a understandable but not entirely justified grudge for all the things she missed out on. Lisa's Rival had a really well-balanced conflict like that, it was easy enough to understand why Lisa had a problem with Allison but then from a moral perspective Allison did nothing wrong.
These kinds of conflicts rely on neither side necessarily coming off as too bad. Otherwise it feels unfair to the protagonist (like in this ep).
 

Alura

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IMDB users are stupid, but i dont really disagree with them that much here. yeah it isnt the WORST episode ever like they seem to think, but this ep is dog shite. i cannot think of any redeeming factors to it. it was completely unfunny all the way through; there were only a few moments that even felt like jokes, and those all fell completely flat.
i couldnt stand the songs in this ep, the girl they hired to sing for marge just was so jarring and annoying to listen to, it just doesnt work at all with this show. i couldnt even understand what the point was. the songs didnt SOUND good, they barely advanced the plot, and they werent funny. so... they just sucked.
the plot was so generic, you could see every beat coming before it came. as a subject it really just isnt interesting at all. i was more than anything painfully bored by this. sasha was also a really lame character and i kinda hated the way it was resolved, it felt unsastisfying and it was already a plot i could barely even care about - a bad sign to still be annoyed by the execution.
i really have nothing at all good to say about this one. 1/5.
 

Hilda Fanboy

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At least they lampshaded Marge's singing voice, because otherwise there would be no excuse for this. Though I'd take Twilight Sparkle over a dying goose any day of the week. I guess the crew learned their lesson after "The 7-Beer Itch".

Also, gotta love how the high school musical that Marge and the other adults starred in is a Y2K musical, when, y'know, this show was in its eleventh season?

And of course, as "The Blunder Years" demonstrated, the adults all have to be the same age in flashbacks. These characters are clearly as many as 10 years apart.

Okay, I did laugh at two things: the house party that apparently got Marge's parents sued and thus unable to send her off to college, and everyone walking away covering their ears when Marge yells "PLACES, EVERYBODY!" in Julie Kavner's dying voice. At least the crew is self-aware.
 

CousinMerl

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Like I get what they were going for but it would've worked better if, say, Sasha was just an obnoxious blowhard and attention-hog that Marge avoided since high school but turned out she actually was a sweet person if Marge had gotten to know her.

I sort of thought (or at least wished) they would go in that direction as it would've made both of them have a point in a sense (like you are saying) and it would have made me look at the conflict more favorably, but instead they had Marge painted out as the only one in the wrong and made it seem like Sasha didn't deserve being outed and didn't have to change ever so slightly (I mean, couldn't they at least have had her apologize for getting the Bouviers' bankrupted instead of just laugh it off as a "oh the good times" joke?).

I definitely think there could have been more of a balance in their conflict (and I wished the cast gang weren't so starstruck for Sasha. They weren't as bad as her, though their song where their past doings came to light wasn't really flattering in regards to the party which cost Marge college & the last section about hogging the spotlight when their friend died. I know teens can be horrible, but that last one was pretty bad) but it still didn't ruin the episode for me, it just left room for improvement.
 

Nitsy

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And of course, as "The Blunder Years" demonstrated, the adults all have to be the same age in flashbacks. These characters are clearly as many as 10 years apart.

I know I'm not supposed to care about "continuity" issues, but it seems like they're really shoving it our faces now. They could just have the flashbacks obviously look like they take place in a time a little later than flashbacks in the classic era, but no, they have to make the musical about Y2K to hammer in "THIS IS 1999. REMEMBER THOSE TIMES?" I won't be surprised if they do an episode where the flashback is about the Bush v. Gore election or something.

Overall, I thought this episode was fine. Don't really care about IMDB ratings or pay any attention to them, so that doesn't factor at all into my opinion of the episode. It wasn't great, but it's not complete crap. Yes, I do like musicals and I know who Sutton Foster is and I got the Wicked reference, so I recognize that that means I'm going to like this episode more than someone who can't stand musicals (as they tend to be quite polarizing). Nonetheless, while the songs themselves weren't anything special, it was fun to see the characters singing (the "timey times" song was probably the best, as well as Marge's calling out Sasha). The plot was a little odd; it seems that Marge really enjoyed her time working on the musical in high school, so what does it matter that she wasn't part of the cast? That seems to be the lesson in the resolution, as Marge gets more out of talking to two people who are genuinely interested in her work than in participating in some crazy cast party. Sasha was not a very interesting character, and it was a little annoying how the fact that she lied about who she was didn't matter to the cast and it was all about how awful Marge was in "outing" her (though at least she acknowledged her lies and that her motives were similar to Marge's motives for re-staging the play).

I wasn't bothered by Marge's singing voice, though as others have pointed out, if they hadn't lampshaded it, I might've been bothered by it.

I think my favorite line in the episode was Homer saying, "You don't know the people you said you knew and who are they?"

So, a decent beginning to the season. Looking forward to what comes next. 3/5

(And Bart vs. Itchy and Scratchy was pandering trash.)
 

man99

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One of the worst episodes of all time. Boring, uninteresting and full of cliche plot, plus horrible songs (maybe except the one when Marge sings about Sasha being a liar.) It really desevers low rating on IMDb. The only thing I liked about this one is short moment with Barney as Freddie Mercury, and joke with Lenny's broke leg.
I wish they stop making episodes about making theater plays, the show really makes them too often in recent years.
 

CousinMerl

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Now it sits at 4.6 and third worst place on the IMDB listing.

One of the most overhated episodes of all time (and extremely divisive when looking at the user reviews, either being very good or pretty bad with rarely anything inbetween). Interestingly, the industry reviews are on the positive side with no one really saying it is awful nor bad.
 
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