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September 1, 2014

'The Simpsons' Season 22, Episode 1 (Season Premiere) Recap

by Brad Trechak, posted Sep 27th 2010 6:50AM


The Simpsons['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.

Episode Highlights:

-- 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.

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steve

This episode was an absolute joy. I've been disappointed with how the show has lost its way in recent years, but this restored my faith somewhat.

The countless Conchords references were brilliant, and I loved how much Bret, Jemaine and their own show actually featured in the story. When I saw they were "2nd billing" to the Glee cast I thought it'd be a major missed opportunity, but it was anything but.

I agree with beanspants in that the Glee lot were completely overshadowed by the Conchords... fantastic.

Personal highlights;

"The city's pretty gritty for an itty bitty pretty girl"

"Your dog's dead!"

October 08 2010 at 10:18 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
SU182

I disagree Brad, personally I was disappointed by this episode. The jokes lacked effort, and it seems like Lisa's life was made harder despite the fact that she's been to places where her intelligence is appreciated and managed to live in suburban mediocrity for years. (her character must suck on purpose.).

Also, most of your review seemed to border on the fact that you were trying to find smartness in an episode that didn't have any to begin with. I found no deeper meaning and no philosophical understand within the episode at all. Also I do sorta agree with the B-Plot criticism but come on, most of the jokes here were effortless, especially the Electric Company gag, that was so random I swear Family Guy could of aired that and no one would of told the difference.

Anyways, In short, I disagree.

September 30 2010 at 8:39 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
beanspants1

This episode was mostly excellent. "But they can't bottle your genius" from the cow was perhaps the best. But Lisa's channeling of Mike Love in the Good Vibrations bit was awful singing-wise. They should have given her a higher part.

Also the Flight of the Concords songs so overshadowed The Glee songs in quality and cleverness and singing that that wasn't a very nice thing to do to Glee.

September 28 2010 at 12:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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