Review: The Simpsons - Once Upon a Time in Springfield
by Jason Hughes, posted Jan 10th 2010 11:44PM
(S21E10) Touted as the 450th episode of the series, this episode was a Krusty-centric episode. Billed as part of The Simpsons 20th anniversary celebration, "Once Upon a Time in Springfield" was followed by Morgan Spurlock's hour-long Simpsons special, meaning that 75% of FOX's prime-time Sunday night lineup this week Matt Groening, instead of Seth MacFarlane; only The Cleveland Show made the cut.
This week also featured the return of Anne Hathaway, playing the character of Princess Penelope, a sudden co-host to Krusty's television show in an attempt to appeal to a wider demographic. As you can imagine, a character inspired by the Disney Princesses line can't sit well with Krusty's core (Bart and Milhouse) type of audience.
I was impressed with Hathaway in this, as both her New York accent and her Princess voice were so affected that I could hardly tell it was her. If I hadn't known beforehand, I'm not sure I would have recognized her. Other notable guest appearances included Gary Larson as himself, and Eartha Kitt, in a bit recorded before her death.
Gary Larson came in as part of the B-story, which was so obscure and random, it reminded me a bit of Family Guy, but it was integrated into the plot. After Burns takes away the morning donuts, Homer and the boys consider taking work at another nuclear power plant where all their needs will be met, including massages and custom cartoons by Gary Larson. It's certainly a testament to the power of The Far Side that it's still culturally relevant 15 years after its newspaper run ended. Calendars and posters, and an appearance on The Simpsons; though I did just blast The Simpsons for having dated references.
Oh well, I love Gary Larson, and his calendars still sell, so he's more culturally relevant than many of their references.
I do think they nailed it completely with how quickly young girls in Springfield became enraptured by Princess Penelope. Suddenly the audience was filled with girls and the boys were sickened by it. What an awkward combination, a clown and a princess. I don't think they could have found something more opposite what Krusty does on his show than Penelope.
I was a little disappointed that we didn't get an episode more focused on the Simpson family themselves for this installment. As part of the big "20th Anniversary" night on FOX for The Simpsons, wouldn't it have been more appropriate to spotlight Homer, Marge, Lisa, Maggie and Bart? Homer was in the B-story, but Bart and Lisa were relegated to supporting characters to Krusty and Penelope, while Marge and Maggie could have been absent altogether.
I love that the creators have developed this entire community that we can explore, with all of these wonderful characters, but it's the Simpsons that are at the heart of it all. It would have made a sweeter companion to The Simpsons 20th Anniversary Special: In 3-D! On Ice! which I'll be back to talk more about later.
[Celebrate the anniversary with clips and full episodes of The Simpsons at SlashControl.]