Finally, a season 26 episode of The Simpsons that brings on the laughs. For most of this season The Simpsons have been delivering relevant episodes. The death of Krusty’s father bordered on maudlin territory. None of that tonight. “Blazed and Confused” was purely silly. Sure there was some subtle social commentary, but it was so on-target you barely notice it’s not straight ahead spoof.
After the annual Dance of the Lemons, presided over by Superintendent Chalmers, Springfield Elementary has a new fourth grade teacher, Mr. Lassen, a lemon from another school who is being squeezed into Edna Krabappel’s desk. When Marcia Wallace died last year, the producers of The Simpsons said they would not be making any references to the character, they would not kill her off or make some lame excuse for her disappearance. They would just move on. They stuck to this promise. They did not trade her off to another school as a bad teacher, that would taint the memory of Bart’s long-time nemesis. The Simpsons are not South Park and Mrs. Krabappel is not Chef, who’s memory was tainted long before Isaac Hayes died, so it’s probably an unfair analogy.
Lassen brings a world of menace to Springfield Elementary. He has asymmetrical nipples. He bullies the bullies and all those above and below. He rebrands Nelson as Smellson and it sticks. Willem Defoe has many menacing characters in his past. We all cowered as he tried to bring reasonableness to the Vietnam War in Platoon. We hid our eyes as he pulled the bleeding heart from his Rabbi Jesus in The Last Temptation of Christ. This is one scary guy. It’s enough to inspire prayer in school. Public school.
Mr. Lassen left the private school system because certain wealthy parents didn’t like seeing their precious entitled being duct-taped to the wall. The Simpsons take aim at the teacher’s unions and the ultimate disregard of all things edumacational in Springfield. They placate the parents and only the children the children suffer. So, no harm no foul. Except maybe Millhouse, who wets his pants at the very sound of Lassen’s voice. Millhouse is the butt of a few extra jokes tonight. They reference how both his parents look exactly alike and he finds his own form at Blazing Guy to be hideous. Why did the Simpsons take Millhouse to Blazing Guy anyway? I guess somebody had to drive the octorobot.
Marge cries over the sin of daring to hope that this year’s memorial day won’t be spent watching grass grow through the pavement of a converted parking lot. The pork chops look traumatized. The mashed potatoes can’t stand to watch. Even the children seem upset. Homer is once again saved from any consequences of his inactions. One day, of course, he will create a mess so enormous it can’t be cleaned up. Bart goes too far this time though, creating a fake Facelook page without reading the terms and conditions.
The Blazing Guy, in conjunction with Duraflame, section is inspired nonsense. The animation was very lively in its psychedelic splendor. All the Simpsons found what they needed at this desert celebration of anarchic free expression. Lisa disrupts drum circles where you have to be a real freak to freak out. Cars are shaped like cupcakes, clothes are optional, pranks abound and any kid can suck a syringe. We didn’t see Homer blaze anything, but it was nice to see Marge let her hair up with some calming tea, ironing out all the wrinkles in her brain. I loved the way Julie Kavner’s voice went through a split second transformation before she grew to accept and embrace the better living through chemical entertainment.
Once Lassen is stripped of his nudity, he reverts to his violent and bullying nature. The human prisoners reaction to how long they have to be bars in a cell is understated and hilarious. The school can do what it’s never been able to do before and Skinner fails nail inspection. I was beginning to smell sequel when Lassen was getting comfortable in his new job, but that was sadly skewered over a debate over who gets to flay Bart. I was looking forward to that pairing.
“Blazed and Confused” may be a classic episode, the laughs are poured on like gravy on Homer’s pork chops. It doesn’t have that tired feel that has been hampering the forward momentum of this season. It isn’t forced. It’s as free and easy as Blazing Guy itself. The Blazing Guy compound is rich with the possibilities of visual gags without having to actually get too jokey. There aren’t as many subliminal satirical bits because they had the freedom to be comfortably over the top. The Simpsons are always at home in a land of freaks.
“Blazed and Confused” was directed by Rob Oliver and written by Carolyn Omine & William Wright . The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson and Groundskeeper Willie. Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Harry Shearer as Principal Skinner. Pamela Hayden plays Millhouse. Guest star: Willem Dafoe as Mr. Lassen and SPOILER ALERT: Kelsey Grammer as Sideshow Bob.
But It All Went By So Fast: Ask me what was so funny. Electricity generator: Educational and Agonizing. New Zealand (The Millhouse of Australia) www.nzfilmhere.nz. Facelook: Jack Lasson share a picture: Fan conclave was off the hook. Please Do Not Shoot Signs. It Makes Us Look Like Hicks. Leave it Beaver.