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

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Simpsons: Sex, Pies, and Idiot Scapes

After starting as a series of short wraparounds for The Tracy Ullman Show, The Simpsons begins its 20th season, tying the series-longevity record set by Gunsmoke. After a Boba Fett/Carbonite-inspired couch gag, the season premiere featured loads of action, a few cameos and even some light baking.

I returned to Springfield to find the Simpson family attending the first booze-free St. Patrick's Day parade the town has ever held. Despite not having alcohol, Mayor Quimby is determined to make the parade a success with floats and folk dancing where you don't move you arms. The Protestants and Catholics won't let these pleasantries ruin their riot, however. Even Homer and Maggie get in on the act — the riot act, that is.

Around the corner, Marge bumps into bakery owner Patrick Farrelly. After tasting Marge's cupcakes, he asks her to come work for him. She accepts the position and then sees her husband being placed in the back of a police car.

Homer's bail is set at $25,000. He's referred to bail bondsman Lucky Jim, voiced by Jackie Brown's Robert Forster. It's at Lucky Jim's that Homer meets Wolf the Bounty Hunter. Apparently this meeting is all one needs to become a bounty hunter oneself. Using the promise of "bail jumpers welcome," Homer runs a condo scheme to catch his prey. Local jailbird Snake (was that Julia Louis-Dreyfus in a brief cameo as Snake's baby mama?) is taken in by Homer's ruse. However, Snake pulls a gun and shoots. It is rival Ned Flanders who saves his neighbor's life by sliding a sheet of bulletproof glass in front of Homer's head. After this close encounter, Homer pays Ned half the bounty and invites him to become his partner in hunting crime.

When sisters Patty and Selma come into Marge's new place of work searching for suggestive cannolis, she begins to put the pieces together. She's working in an erotic cake shop! After initially being disgusted, Marge realizes there's no harm in what she’s doing.

Throughout Springfield, the Simpson/Flanders team is taking out the trash one criminal at a time. They've also mastered the art of the stakeout. Unfortunately, the fruitful partnership goes belly-up when Ned feels as though Homer isn't obeying the law in his hunt for Springfield's scum.

Homer's been so busy catching criminals he forgot about his own debt to society. After missing his court date, Ned is given the mission of bringing in his old partner. Homer returns home to find Flanders waiting in his darkened living room. Once Homer knows the score, he wastes no time fleeing. In an action sequence that evokes the free running opening of 2006's Casino Royale, an extremely lively Homer and Ned chase each other through the streets and construction sites of Springfield.

Suddenly Homer is given the upper hand as Ned hangs from a construction beam. Remembering the good times the two had as partners, Homer saves his neighbor from plummeting. But this is Homer I'm talking about here. After letting go of the beam, the two plummet into a section of wet cement. Ned regales Homer with passages from The Bible before Springfield's Finest show up to take him away.

With quite a hefty societal debt to repay, Homer sits in his cell reading a letter from Marge. Apparently she's used all her "new baking skills" to make him something to remind him of her. Inside the accompanying box, Homer finds a white sheet cake with lettering reading "To the love of my life!"

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