Sunday, January 27, 2008

Simpsons: I love the '90s!

Just wanted to say that tonight's "The Simpsons" was easily the best of this season, and one of the best I can remember from the last few years. A single story from beginning to end, lots of funny '90s period gags, lots of funny pop culture gags (the "This is your cousin, Marvin Cobain!" joke was brilliant), song parodies within song parodies (when you get Weird Al to make fun of you making fun of Nirvana, you've accomplished something), and they finally acknowledged the continuity/chronology problem of Homer being 40 and Bart being 10, even though Homer got Marge pregnant not long after high school. It may be a lot rarer these days, but when "The Simpsons" has got it, it's still got it.

20 comments:

Anthony Foglia said...

I appreciated the mention of the age discrepency, especially because Jon Stewart pointed this out to Matt Groening on TDS during the promotion for the movie. Groening seemed to understand the problem, but maybe he was just pretending.

Otherwise, the episode was better than most this season, but not great. Still, even a week episode of The Simpsons is better than most other sitcoms.

Undercover Black Man said...

Pound Head Down!

Figgsrock2 said...

Those Nirvana parodies (and the one Nirvana-ripoff band Bush parody callaed "Maragine") were brilliant. I must say, I think there's only been one true clunker ep this season. I feel it's the show's best season in 5 years. Maybe working on the movie paid off too in that regard.

Craig said...

The Back to the Future cousin gag was good but Family Guy did it last year with Rick Astley

Millie said...

It was cool to see Kurt Loder. I can't help but feel a connection with him being that he was the constant source of music's bad news in the 90s...and there was a lot of it in that decade.

Ben said...

Eternal Moonshine of the Simpson Mind was much stronger then this one.That episode is the one I think is the best Simpsons episode in a long time.

That 90's Show was funny too, but didn't have the emotional aspect of Eternal Moonshine.

CitylifeJC said...

i agree, it actually reminded me of a classic episode and had me cracking up throughtout.

Bruce Reid said...

I have to second Ben that this just doesn't compete with Eternal Moonshine, the only episode in over a decade I'd consider for a personal best list.

But I hadn't realized how much I missed Homer setting up the flashback episodes. "The Iraq war was finally over for all time; a struggling Matt Groening was launching Futurama...." It's one of his sweeter flaws that he's so immersed in pop culture everything seems as important as everything else.

Tracey said...

I think that age discrepancy evolved over time. Keep in mind: this series started in the 1980s, and Bart has been 10 for almost 20 years! When they first started giving years in flashbacks, those years would have been right for a 10-year-old Bart. Who knew the series would keep going for 10 more years?

I did, however, love the way they openly and consciously retconned the whole thing, inserting an entire decade into the chronology.

But the one thing that made me laugh out loud: Marge's reference to fraternity boys in their beanies ... while the camera scanned past Hillel, with Jewish boys wearing their yarmulkes!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Eternal Moonshine was very good, too, but I found this one much funnier, and I've always been a sucker for the Homer/Marge flashback episodes.

Also, if we're talking last decade, there's at least one other episode that deserves mention along with the vintage stuff: Half-Decent Proposal, from season 13, with the return of Artie Ziff.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I think that age discrepancy evolved over time. Keep in mind: this series started in the 1980s, and Bart has been 10 for almost 20 years! When they first started giving years in flashbacks, those years would have been right for a 10-year-old Bart. Who knew the series would keep going for 10 more years?

The issue isn't just Bart being born in the late '70s/early '80s. It's that Homer has always been around 40, while Bart has always been 10, and yet the old flashback episodes sold us on the idea that Homer knocked up Marge not long after high school.

Alan Sepinwall said...

The Back to the Future cousin gag was good but Family Guy did it last year with Rick Astley

That (Simpsons copying Family Guy) had to happen sooner or later, I guess, given how much things flowed the other way for so long. Must've missed that FG episode.

Adam said...

Look: in terms of continuity and character and plot, this was more like Family Guy than the Simpsons, as my co-blogger Matt noted.

But, damn, it was still funny. I wonder how many of the cracks at 1990s academia will go over younger (or older) viewers' heads.

jim treacher said...

I don't see how Homer could have knocked up Marge in the first place, considering they're both crude line drawings.

Andrew said...

Easily the funniest episode in recent memory, and I have no objection to them playing fast and loose with the years. It is not just a neccessity for a show like this, it is one of its hallmarks. I love seeing the years pass by marked not by a calendar, but by whether or not Dr. Hibbert has a high-top fade.

I do have one problem with this episode, though, and that is the re-writing of their personal history. The Simpsons has established for the last 15 years that Homer knocked Marge up right after high school, forcing them to get married. Marge's inability to follow her dreams of college have been a plot point as well. The idea that she suddenly has a college degree and didn't get preggers until well after high school rings pretty false. Again, my complaint is not with the years, but with the timeline they are screwing with.

They couldn't have had Marge taking classes the summer after high school? Or even going for just a semester before discovering she was pregnant? Why did they need to suddenly decide she got a four year degree when the lesson she learns is that school and education don't matter as long as a her man truly loves her.

Alos: Love love love the line about how they wouldn't have gotten back together if the professor had been just a little nicer at the beach.

Funny funny episode, but I don't like them re-writing history (althoug the Back to the Future joke may make this OK...)

And why was Lou the Cop the fourth member of their band and not Barney? Lou soundchecking his name as "Lou the Cop" was funny, but when did he start sitting at the lunch table with the cool kids?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Andrew, the way I see it, the major accomplishment of the episode isn't pushing Bart's birth into the '90s; it's explaining how Homer can be 30 years older than Bart, which was a huge hole in the original chronology. You can't have Homer be almost 40 and also say he fathered Bart shortly after high school.

dez said...

^Sure you can! It's a friggin' cartoon! They don't have to make sense. :-D

The Marvin Cobain joke was funny, but overall, it felt like this parody was way too late.

BigTed said...

I don't mind them messing with the time line, but they screwed up a lot of character points in the process. For instance: In the episode where Homer takes the kids to a "Lolapalooza"-style rock concert -- basically the same '90s setting in which this one took place -- it was established that Homer loved "dinosaur rock" oldies and couldn't understand the downer music that kids listened to in the '90s.

Or in the episode in which Homer recounts how when he was young, he and his pals had a novelty barbershop quartet -- in the '80s -- one of the jokes was that Bart asks, "Since when could you write a song?" Not only did this episode essentially rewrite that one, it gives us an entirely different Homer in which he COULD have been a Cobain-like rock star.

Also, Marge went to college, and Homer paid for it? That kind of dumps all over the episodes where Homer went to college, or didn't finish high school, or gave up his dream job at the bowling alley to support his family, etc.

I don't think it makes me Comic Book Guy to be annoyed by all this. I understand that the writers felt a need to change things up as "The Simpsons" chugs along through yet another decade, but it's a little off-putting to see them discount long-established characterizations and basically throw out the coherent universe they've spent such a long time creating.

dez said...

^Just like Armin Tanzarian, we shall never speak of this again ;-D

Tracey said...

^ Or like MST3K, repeat to yourself: "it's just a show, I should really just relax." Yes, it's blatant retcon, and yet they made fun of the fact that it was blatant retcon.