Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Not-So-Great Simpsina

I've been watching The Simpsons since it premiered which normally would be a pretty good feat because that shows dedication and an example of how good a show is and can remain to be. Unfortunately that's the case with The Simpsons anymore. Currently it's just a meandering shadow of what it used to be. Which is why people call it Zombie Simpsons.
Sadly, not good zombies but bad zombies.

A few weeks ago, the episode "Love Is a Many Strangled Thing" did something no other Simpson episode has done. It did not make me laugh. Anymore, Simpsons can make me chuckle but not laugh. "Love Is a Many Strangled Thing" did neither. I sat through the episode and just stared. It was a pretty much wasted 22 minutes. But I'm not here to discuss that episode. I'm here to bad mouth the following episode that aired this last Sunday. "The Great Simpsina".

The episode started out badly by being something that was whoring out the movie "Rio". There was no opening sequence so no couch gag, which is fine because it seems as if all couch gags have went on way too long. The episode starts with the Simpsons at a family-owned peach orchard. There is an establishing shot of the orchard with a few cars, the Simpsons' station wagon and an old truck but there is also a sign "Freestone Family Peach Orchard - Pick Your Own!" and I noticed something pretty glaring in the shot. There's no joke. The shot lingers a bit too long giving morons time to read the sign but what's the point? There's no humorous sign or comical object in the shot. Once we're inside the orchard, things don't go much better. Homer apparently picks 19 barrels of peaches all by himself and Bart and Lisa are harassed by Ewell Freestone (voiced by Jack McBrayer) who sings a song about all of the peaches. The song, like many jokes nowadays, go on too long and have no purpose.

The Simpsons bring home the 19 barrels of peaches and Marge quickly goes insane making all their meals out of the peaches. Homer then announces he's taking Marge for a massage and has Bart and Lisa work to get rid of the peaches. The storyline diverges here. After Bart and Lisa dispose of the peaches, Lisa notices a garbage can lid is moving and immediately goes to see if Oscar the Grouch is living in the garbage can.
Oscar the Grouch would be a bit more entertaining.

Why would Lisa think that Oscar the Grouch is living in that trashcan? In the classic episodes it was always refreshing to show Bart and Lisa actually acting like kids but now when it happens it doesn't work as good. Eight-year-olds know Oscar the Grouch is not real. What is in the trash can is a rabid raccoon who begins chasing after Lisa which ends up having her meet the Great Raymando (voiced by Martin Landau). Lisa then becomes his protege because Lisa has always shown an interest in magic and begins performing magic shows--and just a few weeks after Homer performed shows with Cheech Marin.

What's the reason Lisa is learning magic? She's not becoming more popular because of it and she immediately loses concentration when a cute boy cons her out of one of the tricks. The press release from Fox made it seem like the "schoolgirl crush" would a pivotal plot point but it's not. The boy, who is Craig Demon's (a parody of Criss Angel) son, shows up on screen, says a few things to Lisa and is nearly forgotten about the rest of the show. During the magic montage, Lunchlady Doris is seen and heard. Apparently she was heard back in season 18, 19 and season 20 and voiced by Tress MacNeille. This unnerved me because after Doris Grau passed away in 1995, the character was reduced to just a background character. And that's where she should remain--she doesn't need to talk.

Anyway, Craig Demon fails at performing the milk can trick that only Houdini, the Great Raymando and now Lisa can perform and the Great Raymando is attacked by fellow magicians Penn & Teller, David Copperfield and Ricky Jay (all voicing themselves) but is able to severely injure all of them.
In real life, these guys can kick your ass.

The episode ends on an odd note with the Great Raymando hepped up on ether and hallucinating about his deceased wife. The two begin dancing, fade to black. That would've been sweeter and a little less creepy if there was something in the plot about the Great Raymando wanted to dance with his wife again. It would've been a better plot if there was actual substance to the plot like Raymando wanting to show everybody that magicians like Craig Demon are not in it for the magic but for the fame and glory and used Lisa to achieve that goal but no, Raymando just seems like a bitter old man and this episode already had enough Grandpa.
We had to say 'dickety' because the Kaiser had stolen our number 20.

For the sake of posterity, here is how the peaches subplot ended:
Homer and Marge are getting a massage and Homer blurts out "The kids are getting rid of the peaches." Marge freaks out and screams "But what will we have to eat!" but then the masseuse begins working her elbow into Marge's back who slumps back down on the table and moans "Who cares?"

My thought exactly. "Who cares?"