I’ve long been a Simpsons devotee, and never could’ve imagined I’d be in a position where I’d have to support my favorite show as if rallying for a cause, but this year the Fox Network has decided to try and pull the rug out from under its best show during one of its strongest seasons. At the start of the 23rd season, with hardly any episodes aired yet, Fox announced the voice actors would all have to take a pay-cut if they wanted the show to continue. After long negotiations, it was announced the actors had ceded and the beloved series was picked up for at least 3 more seasons. Since none of the principle cast or crew have publicly announced any dissatisfaction with working on The Simpsons, I feel every fan needs to do their part to keep this going for as long as possible. Now, if the episodes were lousy I wouldn’t support it so adamantly, but lately, the series has been terrific.
I’ll admit, the season got off to a weak start in my opinion–but this will be only complaint. The first episode was essentially a parody of A History of Violence, but as that movie isn’t particularly well-known, a lot of the humor was hit or miss. The episode did however play a large role in the ongoing Simpsons story as it announced the results of the Nedna poll. Last season, Ned Flanders and Edna Krabapple became an item, and it was left up to America to vote on whether or not they would stay together. I was pro Nedna, and it turns out a majority of people were. Starting this season, Ned and Edna are in a committed relationship, which sets the tone for the season nicely. The theme of this season seems to be that love will prevail, as another episode features Krusty the Clown’s soft side, falling in love with his agent played by Joan Rivers.
Out of the nine episodes that have aired, three have been big wins for me. The first is the episode titled “Bart Stops to Smell the Roosevelts.” In this one, Superintendant Chalmer’s characters is finally fleshed out. For years, he’s been a static character, with his main schtick being his love of yelling at Principle Skinner. Here, he gets to be the central character, as the episode revolves around him personally trying to help the school’s most troublesome students, including Bart. It also makes some pretty bold social commentary on the public school system, as Chalmers exclaims that “boys are falling behind in every subject” due to how schools are emphasizing feelings instead of things boys will naturally like. He personally teaches them about Teddy Roosevelt and they go on a wilderness adventure. This was a perfect episode.
The episode that aired last night, titled Holidays of Future Passed, was also among my favorites. Once again, this episode takes us into the future of The Simpsons. There’s no point in trying to piece together The Simpsons chronology, for instance, in a different episode it’s suggested Lisa becomes the president in the future, but in this one it’s never mentioned. Instead, Lisa’s married to Millhouse and has her own daughter who’s lost in her own cyberpunk world. Bart is a deadbeat dad with two children of his own, and for some reason he lives in Springfield Elementary.
While the premise might sound depressing, this turned out to be a one of the series best Christmas episodes yet.
Lastly, I’ll have to mentiont the episode that now is not only my favorite of the new season, but one of my top 5 favorite episodes of the entire series (and I’ve watched the entire series too): The Book Job. When I first watched The Book Job, I thought The Simpsons’ writers had been reading my dream journal. Not only is it about the world of fiction writing (I’m something of a writer myself), it also features one of my favorite writers, Neil Gaiman. I haven’t been this excited about a Simpsons cameo since the two episodes featuring one of my other favorite writers Thomas Pynchon. Surprisingly, Neil Gaiman doesn’t just say one or two lines then disappears, but actually is one of the main characters of the entire episode. The plot revolves around Homer and Bart deciding to assemble a team to get together and write a best-selling young adult novel… I don’t want to give away too much. Here’s a clip.
So while a lot of fairweather fans will say they don’t watch The Simpsons anymore because “it’s not as good as it used to be” (definitely one of my pet peeves), I’ll have to say that it’s still good, and, for my money, it’s still the best show on TV.
The Simpsons airs Sunday nights on Fox at 8 pm.
It’s cartoon month on this site. If cartoons are your thing, you should bookmark paneldiscussions.wordpress.com or subscribe for free.
—-I have recently published a novel titled A Rapturous Occasion. It’s a comedy of errors set around the holiday season. My book is available on Amazon as a paperback and as an ebook (the ebook is currently just $1.50). Please visit the Amazon product page to find out more.
If you’d like to watch The Simpsons on Hulu, click here (if you act fast, you can watch The Book Job).