My initial reaction to the Apple Computers and the might-be-terrorists plotlines in The Simpsons was that this was old news. Apple has been skewered before, and the "not actually a terrorist" storyline has turned up in loads of comedies in the past few years. But then it hit me that both Apple and, unfortunately, terrorism are still a big part of our culture. So, really, The Simpsons aren't behind the times due to their drawn out animation schedule, they've simply reached their time to put in their two comedic cents. And for the most part, it was a funny episode.
The first act primarily focused on the Simpson clan's experience at the mall's new Mapple store. Not hard to figure out the target here. The store was stark and the equipment very familiar looking. There was even a "Brainiac Bar" where Comic Book Guy could spout off his complaints. The scene had some great moments. One of my favorites was when Lisa admitted she couldn't afford a myPod and asked to purchase some ear buds just so she could look the part. The "myPhonies," of course, cost forty dollars. There was also a great parody of Apple's famous "Big Brother" commercial from the '80s, which had Comic Book Guy angrily throwing a sledgehammer into a giant screen showing Mapple president Steve Mobs.
The remainder of the episode, for the most part, focused on Bart's new friendship with Bashir and his family, who had recently moved to Springfield from Jordan. When it came out that Bashir is Muslim, certain townsfolk became suspicious. Homer, at first, was not, but he was easily swayed by Moe, Lenny and Carl… and scenes from the Simpsons version of 24. After inviting Bashir and his family to dinner, Homer tried to uncover their secret terrorist plots. I especially enjoyed Homer's vision of Lenny giving him advice on how to handle the situations that arose: "The doorbell will tell you when they're here."
The family left the dinner offended, and Homer begrudgingly went to their house to apologize. Upon arriving, he noticed lights inside the garage and peeked in to see Bashir's father handling boxes of dynamite. Homer thought this proved him right: "Everybody is whatever I think they are." From there, it was typical Homer. One highlight included a Three's Company-type moment where Homer would only hear a portion of what Bashir's father was saying. He'd catch the "I love blowing up buildings," but miss the "safely and legally to make room for new buildings." Homer thought the Springfield Mall was in danger, but in fact, it was the old, abandoned Springfield Mall that was set to be demolished. Bashir's father explained to Bart how carefully he planned the implosion so no other buildings would be affected, and Bart wisely asked, "Did you factor in one bald idiot?"
The story ended with all being forgiven at a "Pardon My Intolerance" meal. As a whole, this part of the episode was funny and strong and gave the now familiar "suspected terrorist" plot a Simpsons twist. Unfortunately, the remainder of the Mapple storyline was less impressive. It's always fun to see an "Itchy and Scratchy" cartoon, but elaborate doesn't always equal funny. The rest of the bits -- the pricey download bill, the visit to Mapple headquarters -- weren't as effective. And Lisa's final scene as a costumed myPod handing out flyers was a very anticlimactic punch line. But factor out Lisa's involvement after act one and I had myself a decently funny episode of The Simpsons.