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September 3, 2015

Review: The Simpsons - Thursdays with Abie

by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 4th 2010 12:30PM
Abe (S21E09) You can always count on The Simpsons for a timely reference. Why it was only back in 1997 that Mitch Albom's Tuesdays with Morrie book came out, so it's high time we riff on it. Wait, that TV movie with Hank Azaria they referenced? That's more recent. 1999 recent!

449 episodes later, The Simpsons may no longer be the source for the most cutting edge humor, but at least they've reclaimed a lot of the heart this season that was missing early on. Next week is the big 450th episode celebration, which not-so-coincidentally is the week FOX has opted to celebrate officially the 20th anniversary of the stalwart comedy.

For those tired of Seth MacFarlane dominating the Sunday lineup, next week, it's a reversal of fortunes, as The Simpsons is joined by an hour-long special and the only MacFarlane show to make the grade is his own version of a "traditional" family sitcom: The Cleveland Show.

But before we could get there, Homer had to learn to appreciate his father's rambling and nonsensical stories. Do you think Mitch Albom tried to kill Morrie the way this newspaper reporter intended to kill Abe? They did throw in a nice nod to Albom, who played himself in the episode, by having the old people slowly throw him out of the nursing home when he tried to horn in on the new guy's territory.

I didn't find the episode particularly funny, but I appreciated that The Simpsons did bring a bit of that emotion back to the character's relations. Leave the endless sight-gags and nonsense to Family Guy and its ilk. The Simpsons are a family of genuine love and the show works best when we see that.

Bart learned the importance of love when he discovered that Nelson truly loved the Larry the Lamb doll he was supposed to have taken care of and watched over the weekend. His adventures in the sewer were a little anticlimactic, and we never got any real resolution on that storyline. In fact, I've noticed The Simpsons seems to be biting off more than they can chew more and more these days.

It seems, for example, the episode opens with scenes that could pull you in a few different directions for the episode story, before finally settling in. This week's was the whole bit about how sad the octopus looked at the water park. That could have easily led into a Lisa-centric episode, but instead took potential time away from the Bart story.

Or better yet, we could have gotten a little more time with Mr. Burns telling his life stories to Homer Simpsons. Now those would be some tales I'd pay to read in a book. Burns isn't getting nearly enough screen-time this season. Don't they realize he's one of their best characters. Instead we got Agnes Skinner wandering by when the kids talked about Larry. How random is that?

[For clips and free episodes, including this one, check out The Simpsons at SlashControl.]

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Honestly I've never understood criticism of The Simpsons.

It may seem like a crazy concept to some but if you don't like a show maybe, just maybe you shouldn't watch it rather than sit through it just so you can complain about how much it sucks.

A lot of people get sucked into the "new and cool" but in reality that is a mentality that only mental midgets have. The Simpsons has been around for a while but it is still of significantly better quality than the crap McFarlane puts out with his shows(Watch Cartoon Wars aka the South Park episodes about Family Guy, they really do hit the nail absolutely perfectly on the head).

January 04 2010 at 5:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Simpsons had 10 years of awesome, 5 years of meh, and 5 years of "What the hell happened to this show?" It's really time for Matt Groening et al to exit gracefully (and quickly -- this should be the last season, IMHO). It's just not funny anymore, guys!

January 04 2010 at 2:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to R-Bro's comment

... yet somehow "The Simpsons" is still far funnier than most of any MacFarlane's lazy "remember THIS" humor.

January 04 2010 at 2:38 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The first plot going nowhere is classic Simspons, almost every eposide works this way. The octopus is the "badger" of this episode.

(Badger refers to the episode which starts with a badger causing problems at the house. Homer goes to call someone about it and sets the real Area Code plot in motion. Homer actually tells the badger later in the ep "We don't need you any more"

January 04 2010 at 1:35 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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