can you do any less?

This is not the interview I hinted at in the last post.

Instead, it's a quick note to ask the populace this: what is going on with The Simpsons?

Last night's episode "Rome-Old and Juli-Eh" (#JABF08) featured an unfunny yet somewhat disturbing exploration of intergenerational love and/or sex filled out by some insights into Marge and Homer's fantasy roleplaying ("Hola, I am Esteban de la Sexface!" was a highlight of classical Simpsonian absurdity that I will probably never forget). However, the true gold was to be found in the 'B' plot. The throwaway plot required to fill 22 minutes of airtime.

It was clear to me that the writers, or the subteam of writers assigned to the B story, have discovered that they can literally do whatever they want given the world's oft-referred to and artfully handled lack of continuity. This, coupled with the show's high yet underutilized budget leads to the kind of epic High Weirdness engaged in by Bart and Lisa to which we were treated. In summary, Bart discovers a source of unlimited free cardboard boxes and Lisa concocts a plan to use them to build a huge castle in the backyard. When the free box company learns that the boxes were used for imaginative play rather than legitimate business, they assemble an assault team of delivery drivers to storm the fortress and take back the boxes. This plays out in a Lord of the Rings-esque battle sequence featuring waves of attackers and, and I am not kidding here, a dragon. The high point comes when Nelson arrives out of nowhere to help save the day, and dives off the battlements shouting "HAAAAAA HAAAAAAA!". Bart and Lisa are, of course, victorious and celebrate their win by melting down the castle with a garden hose. The last we see of them is an overhead shot of the backyard which reveals the dragon, slain by a cardboard lance, lying dead behind the house.

Given the high level of craft involved in this sequence and the number of laughs per minute it evoked from myself and my housemates, I move that The Simpsons progress toward an all-absurdity format. There have been paradigm shifts before; the one that leaps to mind is the famous Monorail episode which has come to be acknowledged as the beginning of a new Simpsons era. Here's hoping the Cardboard Castle episode will garner similar nostalgia.

No comments: