The Last Traction Hero
Couch gag: The Simpsons find their couch gone, and face a firing squad. The scene then turns into… well, I’m not really sure. It’s a pop culture reference I don’t get.
Director: Bob Anderson
Synopsis: After an accident at work, Homer is confined to an upper body class. Meanwhile, Lisa solves the school’s fighting-on-the-bus problem.
Discussion: It’s not the first time Homer has been incapacitated, and this one really doesn’t add anything. There’s no plot to speak of and no point to anything.
…And that’s about it, really.
Billboard: Costington’s: Open Thanksgiving. Celebrate your holiday by ruining others’
I will watch all 600 episodes without sleep (There was a marathon of Simpsons episodes over Thanksgiving)
Couch gag: During the opening titles, the family end up dead in various accidents related to their usual segment. Bart sees the family gone, takes their pictures off the walls, places them on the couch and realises he finally gets the remote to himself.
Matt Leinart as himself
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Synopsis: Homer discovers a new app which outsources all his responsibilities.
Discussion: OK, so this episode isn’t too bad. It’s from newly credited writer Ryan Koh who has taken some elements from classic episodes and reworked them into a modern narrative.
Here we see Homer outsourcing his parenting duties via an app called ChoreMonkey, something similar to AirTasker. It’s a classic Bart/Homer bonding episode mixed with technology, with passable results.
There are weird subplots involving Abe becoming a father again, Milhouse & Homer bonding, Bart and Kirk bonding, Marge and… well, everyone.
There are also some weird “jokes” that don’t really gel, but altogether it’s definitely not the worst episode ever, or even of this season.
Havana Wild Weekend
Billboard: Cletus’ Thanksgiving turkey eggs! Get to love it before you eat it
Being right sucks (This was the first ep to air after Trump won the election)
Couch gag: The family are sitting atop Mt Olympus, but Lisa is missing. She emerges from Homer’s head and Homer uses Maggie’s dummy to close the hole in his head.
Stacy Keach as HK Duff
Deb Lacusta as Isabella
Director: Bob Anderson
Synopsis: Grampa feels young again during a trip to Cuba.
Discussion: Hindsight is everything… I watched this episode the week Fidel Castro died. It puts an interesting angle on US/Cuba relations in the aftermath.
We start with a parody of Shark Tank called Vulture’s Nest. It was mildly amusing however it descended quickly when Grampa peed on the rug.
Oh dear God! This is another Grampa-feels-old-then-young episode, but set in Cuba where they can be free to make as many cultural jokes and stereotypes as they like. There’s no actual plot, just a set of random “jokes” set into 20 minutes.
Give this ep a complete miss.
There Will Be Buds
Synopsis: Milhouse’s dad clings to Homer’s friendship.
Discussion: This ep skips the intro and head straight into the “story”. Homer is forced into a friendship with the town loser, Kirk van Houten. It reeks of the Homer-Ned friendship episode, but way more lame. Homer doesn’t want to be friends with the weirdo. That’s it.
I honestly don’t know what to say about this episode. It wasn’t bad per se, just boring as hell. Or as the cool kids say, shit af. The highlight is Homer and Kirk’s Bro song, which garnered a giggle or two.
On the upside, it was one of the more rounded plots seen in recent years, so I can’t complain about that. Sure, it didn’t contain any depth or layers that are discovered with each viewing, but considering some of the tripe the writers have been dishing up for the past ten years, this is a definite pass mark.
Trust But Clarify
Billboard: Beware Rigged Voting Machines
The first episode of the second 600
Couch gag: Homer sees his family and world as cubist art.
Dan Rather as himself
Director: Michael Polcino
Kent Brockman is fired after admitting he didn’t do any of the things he claimed to do. Homer is jealous that someone else got a promotion. Bart and Lisa investigate the new candy by Krusty.
Discussion: The beauty of South Park is that they have a turnaround of two weeks, so whatever is happening in the world can be made into a brand new episode in a fortnight. With The Simpsons, the turnaround is about six months. Even so, the jokes are so old I rode them to school before dinosaurs were invented. I did notice a small insert where late late late late night talk show host Jimmy Jimmy tousled Brockman’s hair…
Kent Brockman is hard on his luck after admitting he hasn’t done anything he’s said he’s done, like the killing of bin Laden. Lisa and Bart are investigating the latest Krusty candy and trying to enlist Kent to get somewhere. Meanwhile, in a deja vu moment of Marge buying a Chanel suit, Homer buys a new suit to emulate the guy who got the promotion over him to impress Mr Burns.
This episode was written by regular voice actor, Harry Shearer. You’d think someone involved with the show would know what a decent episode entails, and write to their strengths. Instead, this is a mish-mosh piece of garbage that left me scratching my head as to what was actually going on. This episode had no plot whatsoever, instead just throwing characters around with no conclusion. There’s potential for some really interesting stories and scandals involving Krusty and his new candy, but instead it’s waylaid by Kent taking back his old job for no reason other than the episode was finished.
There’s really nothing to like here. The episode was too short, none of the three plots were satisfying in any way and the cultural references were way behind the times.
It’s a particularly weak effort in all aspects.
Treehouse of Horror XXVII
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob
Drew Carey as himself
Sarah Silverman as Rachel
Donald Fagen as himself
Judith Owen as 600 singer
Synopsis: The Simpsons’ annual Halloween episode. Also their 600th episode!
Planet of the VR couches: The past three episodes have featured VR glasses… Just sayin’.
Dry Hard: When a drought hits Springfield, Mr Burns organises a Hunger Games style battle where the winner has a day of aquatic fun. This segment is worth it just to see Mr Burns’ homage to Flashdance. I actually quite enjoyed this segment even though I loathe the source material.
BFF RIP: Lisa’s best friends die and she blames the deaths on her imaginary friend, Rachel. It’s predictable and not terribly good, but Homer’s imaginary friend Sgt Sausage is pretty funny.
Moefinger: Moe turns out to be a spy and needs Bart to avenge Homer’s death. I like that the ol’ Love Tester is seen. However, the rest of the segment is pretty stupid.
At the end of the ep, there’s a Bond-inspired song in tribute to the 600th episode. They say in hell, they make you watch all the episodes back to back.
Director: Rob Oliver
Bill Burr as Townie
Michael Chiklis as Handsome Quarterback
Rachel Dratch as Bostonian Doctor
Doris Kearns Goodwin as herself
Dana Gould as Murphy
Synopsis: Something about a football game and Bart barracking for a Boston team.
The premise of this episode is hate: Homer takes the family on a hate-cation to show them the worst the city has to offer. It’s brilliant in that this episode also shows the worst the series has to offer. What terrific irony!
This ep is full of insults and offensive phrases, some of which aren’t even intentional. I’m not sure what this episode is about other than to make fun of the Bostonian accent. I’m sure there’s a deeper meaning hidden in here, but I’m having trouble isolating it. Ultimately, it’s just another Simpsons family outing which doesn’t make sense.
Friends and Family
Billboard: Dr Nick with a chainsaw: Tell me what, and I’ll cut
I will stop losing 50% of my NFL lead-in
Couch gag: An off-screen finger taps the Simpsons through a smart phone but Homer is too fat so he’s whacked on the head to render him unconscious.
Director: Lance Kramer
Alison Janney as Julia
Synopsis: Mr Burns decides he wants a family. Let the auditions begin!
Mr Burns finds Professor Frink’s VR headgear and decides that the Simpsons sans Homer would be the perfect virtual reality. Cue a bunch of random scenes thrown together featuring the family in green-screen technology and Homer at Moe’s.
What makes classic Simpsons classic is the storytelling. Here we have a ton of montages with no end product- there is no point to seeing Homer washing his underwear in the dishwasher. Living in a virtual world should be perfect fodder to see what Mr Burns tick… However all we end up seeing is Mr Burns turning the shower knobs on for a hot shower. Really? With a lifetime of memories to relive and a whole world to explore, Mr Burns wants to pretend to have a hot shower. Yawwwwwwwwwwwn!
Meanwhile, Homer is naked and meets the back neighbour Julia, voiced by Alison Janney who is clearly reading from a script while wishing she was somewhere else.
This episode is lacking cohesive narrative, any form of direction and very poor performances. Have the actors finally realised this is a pointless exercise with a biiiig paycheque?
There’s two distinct plots here which could have been so much better. Julia’s friendship with Homer could have been so much better! Instead there’s two minutes smooshed somewhere near the end where Marge gets angry at Homer’s friendship. Had the episode focused on this, it would have been watchable. At the heart of every great episode is the family coming together after a misunderstanding. Unfortunately, this episode lost its direction altogether.