"Double Double Boy in Trouble" was one of those pleasant, "hanging out with the gang" experiences. It was a far from groundbreaking episode, to be sure, but my familiarity of the characters and the fair amount of laughs made for yet another pleasurable viewing experience from this 20-season-old stalwart.
And the episode began in a very familiar fashion: with Bart causing trouble. The writers fully realize that this is a commonplace situation, so Bart's exclamation of "Look at me! I'm doing stuff," was humorously self-aware. Bart's behavior in the Kwik-E-Mart drew Homer away from buying the last lottery scratch ticket from Apu. Lenny purchased the ticket instead and ended up winning $50,000. In a great line, Homer declared that Bart had reached "a Dennis-level of menace."
Meanwhile, Lenny took his winnings and threw an extravagant party for his friends. While there, Bart got into the gift bags and turned on all the Vac-U-Bots, changing their settings to "malevolent sentience." Homer and Marge had had enough and started listing possible punishments. Again, this is nothing new, so it was funny to hear Marge run through a generic list -- "no more TV," etc. -- only to finally land on "no more non-dice board games." ("You can't take away my Balderdash!")
The episode then introduced Bart's doppelganger in the form of Simon Woosterfield. Simon is one of the heirs to a tremendous fortune, but he confided his general unhappiness to Bart. Tired of being harassed by his parents and excited to live the life of the wealthy, Bart switched identities with Simon. This, of course, is a tried and true sitcom plotline, and one that The Simpsons have used several times before in various forms. But there was enough humor to keep me distracted from feeling like I've seen this all before.
The majority of the laughs in this ol' switcheroo came from Bart's new, wealthy lifestyle. His bedroom was especially memorable, with a candy corn volcano, a ceiling from one of Saddam's palaces and a Joe Montana poster that was actually the real Joe Montana holding a pose. Eventually Bart learned that Simon was standing in the way of his half-brother and sister receiving their full inheritance and that the siblings planned to off him. Lisa, meanwhile, had figured out Simon's rouse based on his politeness and reluctance to punch. Simon confessed to the trickery in time for the family to save Bart from being killed on an Aspen ski trip.
Aside from everything going back to normal so quickly at the end, the story as a whole was interesting and the jokes were funny enough to illicit several audible guffaws. But the other important factor that made "Double Double" enjoyable was the 19 previous seasons of the series. Being so familiar with Lenny made his "friends" party that much funnier. And my shared history with Milhouse made his visit to Bart as Simon a standout moment in the episode. Milhouse regarding the half-brother and sister: "They're beautiful. I mean just the girl. I didn't notice the beautiful boy." Apu, Krusty, Wiggum and Mr. Burns also added great bits to this episode. They're old friends, just like the series. And, yes, sometimes friends can let you down. But when they are there to make you smile and laugh, it sure feels good to know they're still around.