The Simpsons: Moe 'N' a Lisa
You'll never take me alive, Grim Reaper! --Grandpa Simpson
Damn, this episode had a lot of guest stars: Tom Wolfe, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Franzen and Gore Vidal*. Oh yeah, and John Updike and Thomas Pynchon both make cameos on a writer's panel, sans dialogue. Pynchon, whose book Gravity's Rainbow I actually heaved to the ground and did victory laps around because I finally made it through the damn thing, was decked out in his usual paper bag mask. The best guest appearance of all goes to J.K. Simmons, who reprised his role as the fast-talking editor from the Spider-Man movies, this time as the editor of a poetry publication. The man should do more voiceover work. Hell, bring him back for more episodes of The Simpsons, give him a reoccurring character like Fat Tony or Sideshow Bob.
This episode reminded me a lot of "Lisa's Date with Density" from season eight, in which Lisa falls in love with Nelson because she believes that he's really a good person. This time around she recognizes something worthwhile in Moe when she discovers his random scribblings on Post-It notes can be arranged into real poems. Lisa is the show's resident skeptic, but she's not cynical, and despite the fact it always blows up in her face, I like that she never loses her faith in other people.
I enjoy watching these episodes and pounding out my observations, but I have to go with whatever thoughts I have after one viewing, and I think to provide any real criticism, whether it be for a TV show, movie or a book, requires more than just one viewing. I often find myself enjoying Simpsons episodes from the last several years much more when I catch them a second time in reruns. That being said, I felt the emotional story around Lisa and Moe felt a little forced. Will I feel that way when I catch it in a few months in syndication? I don't know, but that was my initial reaction.
Moments I enjoyed:
Homer's Memento style of trying to remember something: writing a note on his torso, writing on the cat and dog, etc.
The old man high diving and then flying around on his loose skin while the theme to Rocky and Bullwinkle played.
Moe being tricked by Homer and the family ducking down in the car: "oh, it's just his car."
Moe still acting like a bartender in the Simpson's car, sliding a mug of beer to Homer and wiping the dashboard with a rag.
The tension between Michael Chabon and Jonathan Franzen, and their final battle.
*I was reminded of this exchange from "The Summer of 4 Ft. 2:"
Marge: So, did you call any of your friends?
Lisa: Friend? These are my only friends. [Shows book] Grownup nerds like Gore Vidal, and even he's kissed more boys than I ever will.
Marge: Girls, Lisa. Boys kiss girls.