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October 13, 2015

The Simpsons: E. Pluribus Wiggum

by Richard Keller, posted Jan 6th 2008 10:31PM

(Jon Stewart appears on The SimpsonsS19E10) "To Springfield!"

"Which one?"

"The one where The Simpsons live."

My oh my, was this a jam-packed episode of The Simpsons or what? I haven't seen this many sight gags in one installment of the show for the longest time. Not only that, but this was probably the first episode of the season where Homer and the rest of the family took a back seat to the rest of Springfield's citizens.

Gallery: The Simpsons

The cast of 'The Simpsons'Lionel Richie, Homer, Marge and Stephen ColbertSideshow BobTreehouse of Horror XVIIIJack BlackPlacido DomingoHomer Simpson

That's not to say that the Simpsons were entirely missing from this episode. It was Homer's accidental destruction of Fast-Food Boulevard (1972-2008) that actually helped move the presidential primaries up to a time before the New Hampshire primaries (which would be about now, actually). If you think about it, Homer has probably done more damage to Springfield in the time he has lived there than any alien invader or army could do. If Springfield existed in the real world the place would be utterly and totally broke, or bonded up for so many generations that the ape people who conquered Earth in the 27th century would be left with the burden of paying that bond off.

Besides Homer, every other member of the Simpsons crew had something to do this week. Lisa was at the forefront since her former "boyfriend" Ralph Wiggum was the person picked to run for president. Lisa hasn't had a good episode all season -- she usually gets at least one a round -- so it was nice to see her defending Ralph from the Democratic and Republican representatives who wanted him to run for their party.

While there were a few good laughs in this episode, and I found the show as a whole pretty entertaining, there were some disappointing points. One was the amount of time it took to bring Ralph in as the presidential candidate. In the press release we received on the episode it seemed like Ralph was going to be the focus of the show. But, it took nearly two whole segments before the young Wiggum's name was even mentioned. Then, he only got one segment, at the end, to do what he needed to do.

Hey, I understand that this episode was a take on the hype that surrounds the presidential primaries (even more so this time around than last), and they did a good job at showing all of the absurdities. I just wish that FOX had not promoted the episode the way they did. I really wanted to see Ralph on the campaign trail and at his home waiting for the election results to come in.

Another disappointing...well, more weird than disappointing...matter was the way the episode ended. After Ralph became a bit more coherent and devious (to the point where Lisa actually exclaimed 'Whhaaaaaattttt?') all we saw was a joint campaign ad from the Democratic and Republican parties --- the donkey and elephant kissing was a bit disturbing for some reason --- featuring Ralph. Once his campaign slogan appeared the show ended and the credits rolled.

Perhaps I've gotten used to an episode of The Simpsons being tied up in a nice bow after 22 minutes. That's probably why I found the ending so abrupt and, to be honest, unsatisfying. Like I said in the paragraph above, I really wanted to see more of Ralph's campaign and how it was going to all work out. Now, this could be something where the campaign runs as a on-going secondary story throughout the remaining episodes of season 19, which would make my complaint moot. But, since The Simpsons has never really done anything like that in the past I think this will be the last time we see Candidate Wiggum.

Moving on, Dan Rather and Jon Stewart were the guest voices on this week's episode. I didn't expect too much from Dan, so I thought he was used pretty well, especially where his voice just drips of elitism when he introduces a member of his panel from print media. I thought Jon Stewart was used pretty well, even though he only had one scene. What really got me were the first few lines where he asks himself if he should tell people he's Jon Stewart since they already know who he is. I also thought his interactions with Krusty were fairly amusing.

There was so much that went on this week that I'll leave it up to you folks out there to fill in some of the blanks. But, here's just a sampling of what I found good:

  • The appearance of Cheesy McMayor seen on the Town Hall Stage. Gee, he looks and sounds an awful lot like Mayor McCheese from McDonalds past.
  • Bill Clinton asking the air 'When is she going stop holding that over my head' when he asks Hillary what he did so wrong for him to be putting up campaign signs on people's lawns.
  • A return of the Republican Party headquarters for Springfield as well as those who are part of the committee.
  • The Democratic Party headquarters is in a Trader Earth's, which is making fun of the Trader Joe's organic supermarket chain. By the way, if any representatives from Trader Joe's read TV Squad, we could sure use a store in lower New Castle County, Delaware.
  • Homer's phone call to the mailroom guy to get him out of the way so Burns could go home. His use of 'Happier...Happier' is something that is utilized all of the time on the show.

Next time, which would be January 27th -- Marge and Homer tell the story of how the Simpsons' patriarch invented "grunge" music.

What were your feelings on the ending of this week's Simpsons?
I felt that it was a bit abrupt. I wanted to see more of Ralph's campaign.262 (64.7%)
I thought that it was a good ending that left it all up to our imaginations.98 (24.2%)
I didn't really care one way or another about the ending.45 (11.1%)

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A pleasantly unexpected episode execution. I'm a Daily Show fan, but I found Jon Stewart's cameo to be pretty boring and perhaps the low point of the episode. When a man concedes that he can't act, it's generally a good idea not to have him do so.

Haven't you learned by now not to bother with all the network hype?

The ending caught me by surprise too, but in retrospect works perfectly. We're left at that open-ended point to parallel where the country's political process now stands. It was a blatantly contrived scenario that had already gone to great lengths to highlight the absurdity of the primary system. Following Ralph's campaign would be totally unnecessary. The point is not about whether he wins or he loses. Instead it is about how and why he got swept up in it in the first place.

January 08 2008 at 12:27 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

i loved this episode, then again i just haven't seen a new one in so long. my favourite part had to be when homer told everyone to get out of the house, and then fred thompson appeared in the plant, and he tells him to get out too, and fred's like "but i was in die hard!" and homer replies with "pft! die hard TWO!" haha

January 07 2008 at 5:18 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Happy Steve

I dunno what it is, but the scene where Homer imagines what a "think tank" is and getting it exactly right had me laughing hard, especially the look on the rest of the family's faces.

January 07 2008 at 5:10 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Yes, I wanted more of Ralph's campaign and I also wanted more of Jon Stewart. We finally get him on the Simpsons and he only interacts with Krusty? Lame.

January 07 2008 at 1:08 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

My has Wilmington changed since I lived there a number of years ago...First Best Buy now Trader Joe's!

I enjoyed the episode as it really showed what this whole political pandering actually comes down to: a bunch of 8 year-old idiot savants trying to run things. And sorry Joe Biden dropped out...

January 07 2008 at 11:08 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I'm sure the abrupt ending was intentional. Expect "Ralph for President" merchandise to start showing up soon, and possibly some other promotional stuff. I'm sure at least a handful of idiots will write him in.

January 07 2008 at 10:59 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Richard Keller

Actually, our closest Trader Joe's is in North Wilmington, right near the border of Pennsylvania at Route 202. I'm just used to having one down the road from me, like I used to when I lived in Maryland.

Now, what we REALLY need is a Whole Foods market.

January 07 2008 at 10:54 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I liked the ambiguous ending, and think of the comic possibilities of a Wiggum White House. And since Constitutional requirements don't seem to apply, the doors now open for Rainer Wolfcastle.

And new Castle? Pfft. You've got one relatively close in Media. And a decent farmers market. Some of us in the PA hinterlands have to drive the Blue Route for chocolate covered frozen bananas.

January 07 2008 at 10:46 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rick cokely

I didn't care for this episode that much. The Simpsons is always a lot funnier when it's more subtle. Last night was not subtle... or maybe its because I know a lot about politics and these "jokes" already occurred to me. Springfield going first and the "Other 49 states next Tuesday" was probably the funniest for me, cos that will never happen sadly....

January 07 2008 at 10:09 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Definitely a stand-out episode... one of the best in a looooong time. They actually managed to be timely! :)

January 07 2008 at 9:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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