'The Simpsons' Season 22, Episode 1 (Season Premiere) Recap
by Brad Trechak, posted Sep 27th 2010 6:50AM
['The Simpsons' - 'Elementary School Musical']
Just think, if 'The Simpsons' were a person, he or she would be of college graduation age right now in this miserable economy. Fortunately, the premiere episode of the 22nd season was much better than the economy.
Granted, 'The Simpsons' has been around so long that it feels like there isn't much else to say about the characters, but tonight's episode gave us something new about Lisa and how trapped she feels in suburban mediocrity. In doing so, the episode also parodies the genre of shows nowadays that break into musical numbers ('Glee,' 'High School Musical,' 'Camp Rock,' and ... yes ... 'Flight of the Conchords').
There were several references to various musical television shows throughout the episode. Did anybody notice Otto in 'The Partridge Family'-style bus in the beginning of the opening credits? That show could be called a progenitor to all the 'Glee,' 'HSM,' etc. shows on today. Sadly, so can 'Cop Rock.'
It's great how 'The Simpsons' is constantly biting the hand that feeds it without shame. The dig at Fox in the beginning with the network executive and the cupcake was hilarious.
The appearance of Bret McKenzie and Jemaine Clement from 'Flight of the Conchords' was the highlight of the episode. If only a bunch of people would change their minds and future 'Conchords' episodes would be made. ... It never occurred to me to interpret their show as an ironic, hipster version of shows like 'Glee,' but there you go.
Admittedly, the secondary plot involving Krusty winning the Nobel Prize then being put on trial by a European court didn't really strike a chord, but was by no means bad in concept or execution. It was simply outmatched by the 'A' plot. Any show's going to have sub-par episodes over a 22-year run (see 'Saturday Night Live,' for example). The concept had some humorous highlights like the Krusty Superbowl nip slip and his appearance on 'The Electric Company' (has Spider-Man ever actually danced like that?).
This episode introduced us to the Springfield boroughs including Sprooklyn (and maybe someday we'll see the less interesting Spaten Island).
There were several references to 'Flight of the Conchords' in the episode (and not just nods to the appearance of Bret and Jemaine). Their Sprooklyn brownstone looked like their home on their eponymous television show and the two flew at the end in a position reminiscent of the show's poster. They even managed to make fun of their accents (something the band has done itself on their show) with words like "hickler." Have we already mentioned how awesome 'Flight of the Conchords' was?
It must be very hard for Lisa. She has to deal with middle child syndrome and she's stuck in a town that can't appreciate her intelligence (except for maybe the school faculty who like having the higher scores for state tests). Even worse, she was given a chance to exist in a place that appreciated her and allowed her to grow intellectually and emotionally, and then she was torn away from it after a week.
Then the show gave us something else to think about with Grampa mentioning how his dream was to walk upstairs like an 8-year-old girl as well as showing us both sides of the artists' life. It is perspective and depth like that has greatly contributed to the longevity of this show.
There were too many intellectual art references in the show to list (only in an episode of 'Frasier' would both Elaine Stritch and Andrew Lloyd Webber otherwise get a mention). And let's not forget the clip from 'This American Life,' which actually featured the actual voice of Ira Glass.
-- Bart writing on the blackboard that sleeping in class does not help Leonardo DiCaprio (an 'Inception' reference).
-- Homer saying that he would kill for a Nobel Prize for Peace.
-- The Krusty Superbowl nip slip.
-- "Whoo-hoo! We're Region 1!"
-- "Maggie, don't ever turn two." Considering that she hasn't aged in 22 years, it's unlikely.
-- "Euroguards, take him away in Eurocuffs."
-- The Itchy and Scratchy theme sung by a military chorus.
Overall, it was an enjoyable start to Season 22. What did you think?
'The Simpsons' airs Sun., 8 PM ET on Fox.