Orange is the new Yellow
Billboard: Apu holding wilted roses with the caption: “Wilted Mother’s Day roses, 1% off”
Milhouse does not live below the puberty line
Couch gag: Animation of instruction of how to put together a couch, Ikea style
Director: Matthew Faughan
Synopsis: When Marge allows Bart to go to the park unsupervised, she’s hauled away to jail.
Discussion: I like the premise of this episode. I like that it’s a parody of Orange is the new Black and I like that Marge is in charge.
Unfortunately, it’s really boring. It tries so hard, but falls waaaay flat. The writers have tried to give Marge a holiday from the family by being in jail but she did it already at Rancho Relaxo, with better results.
The family are looked after by Flanders, but Homer and Bart still find a way to mess it up. Marge misses her family. There’s a cow in the tornado. Yawn.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s still a lot better than 60% of this season’s episodes, but it’s still a total yawn fest. It’s the kind of smooshy ending ones expects from a season finale but the zing is long gone.
Thank God that season is over, but I don’t hold high hopes for season 28. Sigh.
Couch gag: Rick and Morty crash into the Simpsons’ living room, killing them. They then attempt to revive the family.
Director: Michael Polcino
Justin Rolland as Rick and Morty
Synopsis: Springfield Elementary mathletes are coached by Willie to defeat reigning champions Waverly Heights.
Discussion: First of all, I have no idea who Rick and Morty are. Secondly, I suck at maths.
I had really high hopes for this episode. Maths jokes have long been part of The Simpsons so I was really hoping this ep would be smart, sophisticated and cater to the intelligentsia.
Not so. The ep takes a really long time to get to the point and while they’re distracting us with pointless technology and Homer singing proudly, there’s still no discernible climax when we actually get to the maths competition! It’s rather less clever than everyone was hoping, with a few random maths equations and Bart randomly solving a puzzle using Homer’s hair.
Al Jean promised last year that there would be a future episode featuring all the smartest maths jokes the writers could come up with. This is it? I was expecting maths jokes out the wazoo but all I could find was a sign: Math joke of the day: √-1 2^3 Σ π (I know it has something to do with pi/e…). There’s three potential stories presented here but all the audience is left with is a goddamn jug band to fill up the last 30 seconds. With the extended couch gag (which I also didn’t understand but saw a couple of Futurama references shoved in there) and the jug band finale, plus a disjointed lazy “plot”, I’m really wondering where the hilarity is.
On the bright side, there’s a looooooong wait til The Simpsons graces our screens once again.
Lisa Goes Gaga
Couch gag: The family are playing a video game but Homer can’t sit on the couch in either the game or in life.
Director: Matthew Schofield
Lady Gaga as herself
Synopsis: Lady Gaga is travelling through Springfield and senses that Lisa needs her help.
Discussion: Despite being a huge Gaga fan, I do not love this episode. It feels like a contrived PR stunt to portray Gaga as a persona she wishes to be known by: the great anti-bullying crusader saving the world from rough childhoods.
Lisa discovers… again… that she has no friends and is in fact the least popular kid at school. I guess this is because everyone’s forgotten about Ralph Wiggum (a joke saying so wouldn’t have gone astray here). At the same time, the Gaga Express is about to pass through Springfield, and Gaga senses that a little girl there needs help.
What follows is an impressive array of costume changes based on Gaga’s real-life outlandish costumes (including the infamous meat dress) while Gaga sings about loving oneself and generally uplifting the town’s spirits. Except for Lisa, of course. Lisa is depressed (again) and despite Gaga’s best efforts, Lisa denounces Gaga for trying to make everything sunshine and rainbows.
Lisa is typical Lisa and it’s boring. We’ve seen, what, three episodes just this season about how Lisa has no friends. Gaga is over the top in a caricature way: not because of her costumes or songs but because she’s campaigning far too hard for self acceptance and love. Don’t get me wrong, this is why I love Gaga, but here she’s a manufactured personality with a one track plot which feels contrived. I’m reminded of the feud between her and Sharon Osbourne over the cyber bullying of Kelly Osbourne by Gaga’s fans. This ep just feels like a massive PR stunt to perpetuate a character.
Having said that, I am glad that Gaga was a dominant character within the episode and not relegated to a cameo appearance as so many other celebrities are. Gaga seems to have taken the role and used it with lots of fun and creativity, adlibbing lines and lyrics in specially written songs (although I would have loved to have seen a rendition of ‘Born This Way’).
It’s not a great episode, but it is a memorable finish to season 23.
All About Lisa
Couch gag: The family are placed on the couch by a cursor, then dumped into trash, which is then emptied.
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Synopsis: Lisa wins Entertainer of the Year and Sideshow Mel narrates the backstory of how she got there.
Discussion: Underneath the glitz and glamour of a technically well-done episode lies the kernel of crapness. Of course, Lisa’s not the only Simpson kid who has been employed by Krusty in a pleb job only to become famous, and it was a lot funnier when Bart did it. Or is that, didn’t do it?
Meanwhile, Bart and Homer are bonding again, this time they’re collecting coins. Wow, exciting. There are a few giggles at their collecting escapades, but really, how much excitement is there in coin collecting?
One thing I did really like about the ep was the narration of Sideshow Mel. I’ve said before that I wished we had some sort of back story for him and my wish was half fulfilled in this episode. He’s always destined to be a sidekick, never the main character, but to have some sort of background for him is very satisfying: we know a lot about every other character except Mel. As a whole, the episode just wasn’t that great. It was deja vu and lacked any real spark of creativity.