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October 26, 2014

'The Simpsons' - 'American History X-cellent' Recap

by Jason Hughes, posted Apr 12th 2010 3:16AM
C. Montgomery Burns, 'The Simpsons'(S21E17) A pleasant enough episode of 'The Simpsons' made better by the presence of C. Montgomery Burns. Even Smithers upped his game, bringing the funny this week. The usual set-up of nonsense events leading to the real point of the episode involved the factory workers putting on a stage production for Mr. Burns' amusement at his mansion, followed by the boys getting drunk in his wine cellar and wrecking his art gallery.

What followed was an unexpected trip to jail, and a completely random side story involving Lisa, Bart and an ant farm. Oh, and lest we forget, Santa's Little Helper had a huge role to play in this particular bonding experience.

With another reminder of how hip and current 'The Simspons' is, they gave a shout-out to the Stephen King serialized novel (1996), and subsequent film 'The Green Mile' (1999). At first I thought maybe they even got Michael Clark Duncan to portray the role of Mr. Burns' spiritual roommate, but it was Kevin Michael Richardson.

I would have rather seen Mr. Burns bring some of his non-evil ways outside of the prison and to the plant before reverting back to evil. The quick turnaround rendered that bizarre visual sequence where Richardson sucked out all of his evil (after two tries) rather impotent. Unfortunately, it felt like one of those aborted storylines, where they just kind of hit a generic reset button and let things get back to normal too quickly.

Sometimes it seems the writers aren't sure where to let the story and the comedy breathe, and when to condense things and move on. That can lead to situations like this week where all that potential with Mr. Burns being good and Smithers becoming evil was completely squandered. Burns reverted back to evil, and the moment Smithers saw him, he was back to his old self, despite having become "worse" than Burns, according to Homer and the gang.

The Bart and Lisa side plot reminded me a lot of earlier 'Simpsons' installments. The siblings found a reason to bond, coming together over the last surviving ant in Lisa's destroyed ant farm. Never mind that the whole set-up leading up to the inevitable breaking of the ant farm has been seen in countless comedy series over the years. It's not about treading new comedic ground with 'The Simpsons.' It's about sweet comfort.

It would have been perhaps a bit sweeter had Annie, that little orphan ant, managed to survive in the wild. I would have even taken her dying on the anthill of natural causes over Santa's Little Helper eating her up, but the fact that I felt this way only proves that the writers did an effective job of pouring some heart into this particular sequence.

The two stories shared so very little in common, at least that I could perceive, and the whole thing came together like a patchwork episode. There were moments of true humor throughout the episode, including the classical paintings version of Twister Homer and the boys were playing in Burns' mansion, and small things like the guy trying to dress Burns' dogs for the holiday, and the entire sequence in Moe's where Homer, Carl and Lenny concocted their plan to break burns out, solidified by their huddling and whispering about it.

It's good to see the series bounce back after last week's misstep. It's not always easy to hit the mark after more than 20 years and 450 episodes, but 'The Simpsons' is hitting with an above .500 average in their 21st season, and that's certainly something to be proud of.

[You can always find clips and full episodes of 'The Simpsons' over at SlashControl.]

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Osko

Best line: If wishes were horses I'd be eating wish meat every night.

April 22 2010 at 2:14 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
alk02g

What was with the burning blanket in the jail cell?
Why have a party just for Burns? I mean, I know that's his thing, but he didn't really seem to enjoy the elaborate party, so what's the point?
And should I really believe that in that dumb job he has, Homer makes $60k a year? In this economy? With no college degree? But he was funny when he poured out some of the expensive wine on the floor for taxes, haha.
I liked the guys playing Twister with artwork.
hahahahahahaha jail fraternities AND University of Virginia being a public Ivy League.
Bart and Lisa holding hands was weird, and Santa's Little Helper eating the last ant was horrible.

April 12 2010 at 11:01 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to alk02g's comment
Greg

Every year or so, some publication (possibly online) has their fictional character's salaries list and Homer, as a nuclear technician-- and a safety inspector at that-- is frequently included at around $60,000.

April 12 2010 at 11:47 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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