This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 19.
The Simpsons never go wrong when they bring in the Flanderses. The two families have a long and complicated history of abuse and redemption but the Simpsons always manage to forgive their pious fencemates. The Simpsons never seem to forgive Walt Disney, though. They’ve been milking that mouse for years.
The Simpsons’ “Fland Canyon” is a flashback episode to the good old days before Homer accidentally killed Maude Flanders and we are reminded why we didn’t miss her all that much since she’s been gone. Certainly not as much as Ned’s rebound date, Mrs. Krabappel. Once upon a time, Homer tells Maggie while trying to bore her to sleep, two feuding families attempted to bury their differences by going on a pilgrimage to a great American tourist trap, the Grand Canyon.
Ned won the majestic trip by clearing the most refuse during a Saturday of church-induced community services. Homer, who usually attends court-mandated community service, complains that, it figures, the guy who does the best job always wins and gets himself and his family a free ride with the Flanderses to the best place America ever stole from the Indians.
There isn’t quite as much tension between the two families on the trip as there is at home. This is a kinder, gentler Simpsons than the neighborinos’ dynamic of the past. Homer barely makes fun of Ned’s mustache. He actually stops when Ned chides him for it. That’s very un-Homerlike. It’s also non-Nedly for Flanders to sell out his moral compass so quickly when the families get lost.
Maude is always putting down Marge’s parenting because her boys sit in quiet reflection on their misdeeds, while Bart revels in the idea that he is haunting the nightmares of his closest friends. Homer and Ned have just as close a relationship as Ned and his boys. Sure, Homer gets mad and sometimes gives in to the urge to strangle the boy, but he never stays mad long enough to turn down a quick game of batting scorpions with rattlesnakes. That’s love and love is never having to say thank you, at least to a waitress.
Homer and Ned see very different versions of god’s glory. Ned sees a forgiving benevolent supreme being lovingly dotting the sky with stars and Homer just sees an arms dealer who has a residency at the Omni Hotel. He also sees his mule Gordo as a great stallion, so he’s got a history of over inflated memory. Homer calls his infant daughter little Marge and his middle child Big Maggie also, so maybe it’s not exaggeration as much as not really paying attention.
Ned gets in some good lines here. Turning cheeks isn’t as bad for comedy as it might seem. When Reverend Lovejoy tells Ned that the lord would love it if he took his loutish neighbors on vacation with him, Ned asks “our lord?” and puts the emphasis on “our?” Like a football to the groin, this works on so many levels. The line skewers faith, hope and charity and even dares question the wisdom of the all-knowing omnificent one, who both sees when we are sleeping and knows when we’re awake. Scary, huh?
The social commentary of the rich people enjoying all the comforts of home while roughing it in the wild, while still being able to screw the little guy, with the curling mustache, and the much bigger guy who can test the strength of a gravel carrying mule, was a little cooler than tepid at best. There was some mild foreshadowing with the Hubberds and the Van Houtens, but really can you blame Springfield’s first physician for trying to duck Millhouse’s dad? It was nice to see Lenny get into the spirit of doing good so fully as well. It’s a real high, doing for others.
The Simpsons’ “Fland Canyon” didn’t quite bridge the gaping hole between the next door neighbors on Evergreen Terrace, that’s something only a wife can decide, but it filled in a sinkhole in Springfield’s heart. It was good to see the Flanders and the Simpsons bury their differences aside in the great out doors. But we, of course, would prefer to see one family bury the other somewhere in the rocks that jut off the rapids. The episode kept my attention longer than the car wreck on the way home.
In the end the Flanders family and the Simpsons learn a valuable lesson: If you’ve already coveted, you might as well steal.
“Fland Canyon” was written by J. Stewart Burns and directed by Michael Polcino. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Pamela Hayden plays Millhouse. Couch gag by Eric Goldberg.
Chalkboard: Dad swears he’s get his taxes in soon.
But It All Went By So Fast: Take that kite-eating train. Assistants wanted. Must be pretty and soft slapper. Sherri and Terri are texting during the opening, either that or they’re punching in their notes on an autotune app. Krusty Komix. Skid Row: If you were homeless you’d be home now. 10,000 places to see before you’re 10. Visitors must wear booties. Hagwar Swanson. Platinum Visa. CEO of Giant Corporation. 1320 7242 0765 1031. River diverted for dancefloor. HBO. Planet Ocho. The Car Chase Channel. Netflix. Tragedy Central. The Cheese Channel. NBC.