(S19E19)"Mom, I can't believe you're here! You keep disappearing and reappearing and it's not funny! You're just like that show Scrubs" -- Homer to his mother after her unexpected return.
Over the past few Sundays this space has been reserved for deeper looks into The Simpsons. Despite the fact that it is an animated series there is usually an underlying base of themes, emotions, and psychoanalytical analysis that takes place amongst the Simpson family and those around them. In fact, one 22-minute episode can contain many layers of subtext that define each character further.
This week, though, not so much of that. What we may have thought to be a sweet story about the return of Homer's mother turned out to be a huge joke fest. Well, actually more a joke fest during the second half of the show than the first half. The first half was actually kind of sad as Homer couldn't take one more of Mona Simpson's promises that she had stopped running from the government and was now ready to devote her time to Homer and his family. The second half was a totally different Simpsons episode.
(S19E09) The capital of Montana is not "Hannah" -- Bart's Blackboard Gag
Since they have plenty of time on their hands now, I'd like to take a moment and speak to the scheduling executives over at FOX.
What the hell are you doing? You don't have a new episode of The Simpsons for three weeks and then, out of the blue, you pop a new one into the schedule just for poops and giggles. Yes, you'll grab the people who have this programmed into their DVRs, but what about those few remaining lost souls who still use paper, pencil and their memory to remind them that this week's episode of The Simpsons is brand new. Those are the viewers you are going to miss. So, perhaps in the future you should just stop programming new episodes into the December schedule and just start again in January, or whenever American Idol frees up a spot for you.
Thank you. Now, to your requests and dedications.
Marge: Revenge never solves anything!
Homer: Then what's America doing in Iraq?
I'm always somewhat underwhelmed by these "vignette" episodes, and I think I've figured out why: a full episode allows more room for the comedy to breathe and stretch out. There's more time to let gags simmer, to have better set-ups and thus bigger payoffs. Cramming three mini-episodes into a half-hour doesn't afford this luxury, and I think the episode suffers for it.
You'll never take me alive, Grim Reaper! --Grandpa Simpson
Damn, this episode had a lot of guest stars: Tom Wolfe, Michael Chabon, Jonathan Franzen and Gore Vidal*. Oh yeah, and John Updike and Thomas Pynchon both make cameos on a writer's panel, sans dialogue. Pynchon, whose book Gravity's Rainbow I actually heaved to the ground and did victory laps around because I finally made it through the damn thing, was decked out in his usual paper bag mask. The best guest appearance of all goes to J.K. Simmons, who reprised his role as the fast-talking editor from the Spider-Man movies, this time as the editor of a poetry publication. The man should do more voiceover work. Hell, bring him back for more episodes of The Simpsons, give him a reoccurring character like Fat Tony or Sideshow Bob.
(S06E11) This episode has a great opening scene at Moe's. The gang decides to play a few pranks on Moe, so Lenny puts a cobra in the cash register that bites Moe several times and Barney hits Moe with a flame that shoots from a flower on his lapel. Moe actually laughs these pranks off, but when Homer unscrews the lid to the sugar and it gets on the bar, Moe gets so angry he bans Homer from the bar. As a final insult, he even takes Homer's favorite record out of the jukebox ("It's Rainin' Men").
Homer tries some other bars, and finally ends up at an all-female bar that doesn't seem quite right to him. Finally, he figures it out: "This lesbian bar doesn't have a fire exit!"'
Well, I'm just shocked! I can't believe that we, the fine writers at TV Squad, did not catch this momentous season premiere. We were really sleeping at the switch. I'm surprised that you, the honorable TV Squad public, did not rise in outrage at this blatant misstep. So, as the new man on the totem pole, I am here to make the announcement and take the brunt of your anger.
The 2nd season of The Doodlebops has premiered on The Disney Channel.
See? I can't believe that this was missed!
I sacrificed my gorgeous body for nothing. This must be what it's like to have a baby. -Mr. Burns
After the first few years of The Simpsons, when it became clear that the show wasn't going to be going anywhere for awhile, it became necessary to focus on side characters for certain episodes. The family itself could carry most episodes, but for a show that's been on this long it makes sense to delve into the lives of the other characters once and a while and expand the Simpson's universe a little more, further stretching the "elastic reality" (to paraphrase Matt Groening) of the series.
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