"In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is a sign of perfection." - Curnonsky

Sunday, November 25, 2007

The Simpsons: Midnight Towboy

Three episodes of The Simpsons down. Time for an extensive, in-depth analysis of the nineteenth season so far.

Not bad.

Honestly, I wasn't expecting an earth-shattering change in the show after The Simpsons Movie premiered this summer. What has come down the pike since late September has been entertaining and provided a good solid laugh or two. However, I do have one concern and an observation about our favorite yellow-headed patriarch.

My concern first. I'm beginning to feel that the producers are using guest voices a bit too much, and not utilizing them when they do. Over the last three weeks we have had four separate guest voices: Lionel Richie, Stephen Colbert, Maya Rudolph and, this week, Matt Dillon. Other than Richie, who was really a walk-on role, none of the other voices were really used well.

Take for example Matt Dillon's voice. In this week's episode Matt voiced Louie, a tow-truck driver from the town of Guidopolis (which seems to be past Odgenville. Mark that on you Google Maps). Louie's big scene was during the first act of the episode, and that was about it until somewhere between the second and third acts. True, he had some good lines during the first act, especially when he told Homer that he would rip his head off, vomit in his body cavity, then stuff the head back down into Homer's body if he ever came looking for a tow job in Guidopolis; however, there wasn't much to the character after that.

Is it really worth it to have these stars voice characters if the writers really aren't going to do right by them? There are more than enough talented voice actors already part of The Simpsons' cast that could do a character like Louie. In fact, they've done it numerous times. Perhaps it's time to give the guest voice actors a break.

Now for the observation. Well, actually Bart's observation. During a conversation about Homer between Marge and the rest of the family Bart mentioned that Homer had been getting dumber each year, but he now seems to have plateaued. This surprised me because I've been saying the same thing since the season began. There have been episodes and actual whole seasons where Homer has seemed so unintelligent. This season he's sort of evened out.

Yes, he does have his moments -- the whole pledge scene (reminiscent of Animal House) in the first minute or two of the program -- but he seems to be holding his own. In this week's episode he even takes a leadership role after being kidnapped by Louie and thrown into his basement, which is full of other tow truck drivers who crossed Louie's path. I like this type of Homer. The extremely childish Homer can get on my nerves. I don't know what the writers have in store for him for the rest of the season. So, I will just have to wait and see.

Let me get to a quick review of this week's episode as a whole. After two weeks of one-story episodes we are now dealt with two sub-plots again. Yet, it was different this week as the sub-plots diverged from one main story, then converged again at the end of the show. Despite my feelings on multi-plot episodes in FOX animated programs (don't like them) I was actually grateful to see another person being focused on other than Homer.

In fact, the plot about Marge's attempts to get Maggie to be less clingy interested me more. I got a good chuckle at the scene where Marge was trying to find a website about Maggie's condition while Bart and Lisa were trying to tell her how to navigate. In one click she's buying a freezer all of a sudden. The representative from C.R.I.E also interested me because she seemed to complete every sentence with a word ending in -ize. Actualize was my favorite.

Other little thingys of note:
  • Maggie spells out 'I AM OK' on her building blocks after initial separation from Marge.
  • Maggie's new found independence. Clipping her own nails, putting a lock of hair into her baby book.
  • Moe not knowing if the glass he was giving to Homer was full of paint or milk, then Homer drinking what was in the glass.
  • Lenny and Carl mentioning that things would turn out okay in a lawless society now that Homer stopped towing people. Now, how many times have the citizens of Springfield said that only to have something spontaneously burst into flame.
  • Mr. T. is in The Lion King! Man, I got to get me tickets for that show!

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