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

Thursday, February 14, 2008

The Simpsons: E. Pluribus Wiggum

"To Springfield!"
"Which one?"
"The one where The Simpsons live."

My oh my, was this a jam-packed episode of The Simpsons or what? I haven't seen this many sight gags in one installment of the show for the longest time. Not only that, but this was probably the first episode of the season where Homer and the rest of the family took a back seat to the rest of Springfield's citizens.

That's not to say that the Simpsons were entirely missing from this episode. It was Homer's accidental destruction of Fast-Food Boulevard (1972-2008) that actually helped move the presidential primaries up to a time before the New Hampshire primaries. If you think about it, Homer has probably done more damage to Springfield in the time he has lived there than any alien invader or army could do. If Springfield existed in the real world the place would be utterly and totally broke, or bonded up for so many generations that the ape people who conquered Earth in the 27th century would be left with the burden of paying that bond off.

Besides Homer, every other member of the Simpsons crew had something to do this week. Lisa was at the forefront since her former "boyfriend" Ralph Wiggum was the person picked to run for president. Lisa hasn't had a good episode all season -- she usually gets at least one a round -- so it was nice to see her defending Ralph from the Democratic and Republican representatives who wanted him to run for their party.

While there were a few good laughs in this episode, and I found the show as a whole pretty entertaining, there were some disappointing points. One was the amount of time it took to bring Ralph in as the presidential candidate. It took nearly two whole segments before the young Wiggum's name was even mentioned. Then, he only got one segment, at the end, to do what he needed to do. Hey, I understand that this episode was a take on the hype that surrounds the presidential primaries (even more so this time around than last), and they did a good job at showing all of the absurdities.

Another disappointing...well, more weird than disappointing...matter was the way the episode ended. After Ralph became a bit more coherent and devious (to the point where Lisa actually exclaimed 'Whhaaaaaattttt?') all I saw was a joint campaign ad from the Democratic and Republican parties --- the donkey and elephant kissing was a bit disturbing for some reason --- featuring Ralph. Once his campaign slogan appeared the show ended and the credits rolled.
Perhaps I've gotten used to an episode of The Simpsons being tied up in a nice bow after 22 minutes.

Moving on, Dan Rather and Jon Stewart were the guest voices on this week's episode. I didn't expect too much from Dan, so I thought he was used pretty well, especially where his voice just drips of elitism when he introduces a member of his panel from print media. I thought Jon Stewart was used pretty well, even though he only had one scene. What really got me were the first few lines where he asks himself if he should tell people he's Jon Stewart since they already know who he is. I also thought his interactions with Krusty were fairly amusing.

Here's just a sampling of what I found good:

The appearance of Cheesy McMayor seen on the Town Hall Stage. Gee, he looks and sounds an awful lot like Mayor McCheese from McDonalds past.

Bill Clinton asking the air 'When is she going stop holding that over my head' when he asks Hillary what he did so wrong for him to be putting up campaign signs on people's lawns.

A return of the Republican Party headquarters for Springfield as well as those who are part of the committee.

The Democratic Party headquarters is in a Trader Earth's, which is making fun of the Trade Joe's organic supermarket chain.

Homer's phone call to the mailroom guy to get him out of the way so Burns could go home. His use of 'Happier...Happier' is something that is utilized all of the time on the show.

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