The Simpsons: 24 Minutes
(S18E21) I suppose that in many respects this episode should have been the 400th one. It was fast-paced, exciting and hysterical. However, it will go down in history as merely episode 399. I'll talk more about that in my review of episode 400.
Seriously, though, how cool was this episode? I knew it was going to be a parody of 24, but I assumed the episode would contain a few clever references, a cameo by Kiefer Sutherland and Mary Lynn Rajkskub, and that's it. But no, the whole damn episode, from the opening title sequence to the end credits was inspired by the look and feel of 24. I don't want to see the Simpsons do this sort of thing all the time, but an occasional drift into parody such as this or the "Behind the Laughter" episode can be quite entertaining.
Also, it's been a long time since the Simpsons has had me on the edge of my seat, but the pacing of this episode was so perfect I found myself really getting into it. If they can create that kind of energy in one episode, I have high hopes for the feature film.
I also loved Kiefer Sutherland's voiceover in this episode, especially in the opening when he almost calls the show "24" and then corrects himself and says "the Simpsons." It's no surprise they got Sutherland to do this episode, since he's been on the show before, but without his distinct voice, this parody would have been sorely lacking.
I must also say I was happy they didn't involve Jack Bauer and Chloe too much in this episode. The main focus was on the bake sale and the stink bomb, but the occasional allusion to the actual 24 universe was a nice touch, specially in the end when Bauer actual puts all of his effort toward finding Bart for making a prank phone call to him. This, of course, results in Shelbyville being destroyed by a nuclear blast, but it's just Shelbyville, so nobody cares.
The scene where Bart beats the crap out of Nelson was also really funny, not to mention completely out of character, but for the purposes of this episode it fit perfectly. Not unlike the Halloween episodes, this one took the Simpsons out of the "real" world and into a kind of alternate reality. Like I said, an occasional detour like this can work once in awhile, and with 400 episodes in the can, you can't blame the people behind this series for wanting to stretch their legs and have now and again.
Here are a few moments that stuck out for me:
Skinner: I'll teach you to make a Poupon me!
Using Jimbo's 2nd grade drawings as a schematic for his house
Homer and Milhouse traveling by dumpster throughout the episode
Willy mentioning that he sharpened the blades on the ventilation fan (!)
No question, this one gets 7 out of 7.