Review: The Simpsons - Million Dollar Maybe
by Jason Hughes, posted Feb 1st 2010 3:07AM
(S21E11) This episode featured two surprises, though both rather short-lived. The band Coldplay appeared as themselves, and the winning character from the "Best. Character. Ever" contest was revealed. It's so much excitement, even a million dollars couldn't top it!
The animation looked a little more awkward than in most weeks for some reason. It's as if the characters were drawn in a slightly more abstract way, similar to Groening's 'Life in Hell' comic strip. There was a bit more distortion in their features than we're used to seeing. 'The Simpsons' has become a very crisp production.
The main plot this week involved Homer ditching Marge at a wedding because a fortune cookie told him he would be lucky that day. From there, things went into the realm of the absurd at a breakneck pace.
Some of the jokes worked very well. I appreciated Homer's attempts to speed the line up by hemming and hawing about how long the lines are. That always seems to work, right? The lengths he went to in order to hide the fact that he'd just won a million dollar lottery seemed a bit crazy. And while I know it's a cartoon, there's no way he burned through however much money he did get -- after Uncle Sam got his check to start a committee to figure out what to do with the money -- in such a short span of time.
The Coldplay appearance was completely random, as was the contest winner. After Bart found out about the money, Homer spent a lot of it on bizarre things the two of them could do together, including a concert by Coldplay just for them. I'm sorry, but Coldplay?! That's the band they'd want to choose if they could get any band at all?
It was an even bigger slap in the face to the contest winner. Peggy Black created Ricardo Bomba as a new ladies man type of figure, so the writers had him drive into a cliff wall and subsequent fiery explosion right away upon his first appearance. He didn't even get to finish what was, I guess, going to be his catchprase.
So this contest, which was supposed to be in appreciation to the fans, wrapped up with the producers basically flipping the fans the bird and saying "YOU DON'T GET TO CREATE SIMPSONS CHARACTERS! SEE WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU DO!?" I'm probably reading too much into it, and it is still possible that Ricardo could return, but what was the point of the contest if that was all you were going to do? Unless that's the joke? If I were Peggy Black, I wouldn't think it was all that funny.
I guess I'm in a bad mood tonight or something, because a lot of things about this episode bothered me, and I think 'The Simpsons' has been having a pretty strong season for the most part. This one just didn't hold together as strongly as most of the prior ones.
It was appropriate that Marge didn't even care that Homer ditched her at their wedding speech when he was buying the lottery ticket. Of course it wouldn't matter if you won a million dollars in the lottery doing it. I was impressed that Homer seemed to have more advanced cognitive abilities, albeit misguided, in this episode than he generally does anymore.
And while I appreciated his attempts to hide his fortune by simply buying his family the things they want and need on an anonymous basis, even that was taken too far. Hell, it started with a random washing machine in the park, and Marge didn't even question it being there. Add to that the more surreal things like Lisa's planetarium light show coming up out of the floor in her room and you've got the dumbest family ever. Marge even believed a note from "the gummint."
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