This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 7.
Is that syncopation I hear? Yes, “Lisa with an ‘S’” was a breathless jam, breathless because the dusty relic Laney Fontaine is an homage to Elaine Stritch and The Simpsons couldn’t mess that up. The couch gag bodes well, because Star Trek is kind of muse to The Simpsons and when the couches set their photon torpedoes on stun, no donut is safe.
The episode counts off with a parody of the “Tonight Tonight” medley from West Side Story. It’s poker night at Moe’s and everyone has a secret weapon. Lenny is getting tips from a beginner’s guide to poker. Carl is squeezing into his lucky pants. Homer is wearing his lucky “Snoopy For President” t-shirt and is studying How to Crush Your Friends At Cards. Barney is stone cold sober. Moe plans to blast all that preparation with a special cocktail. Well, not a special cocktail, a cheap one, but that’s Moe’s.
Moe’s is shut down for the game. To be sure that no one interrupts, Moe figures that hiding in plain sight is better than pretending to go fishing. As Clancy Wiggum, the town cop, spies all the signs of illegal gambling, in this case quite literal signs of it, he vows to put the fix in. If only cops were this helpful. It reminds of the Seinfeld episode where Jerry says cops should carry brooms to clean the streets while they’re not chasing criminals.
Lisa’s audition video for the Highnote Band Camp obviously wins because it had Bart as a guest performer dancing a full moon throughout. Homer obviously is no match for miss ladyfingers, regardless of whatever she was huffing. But for me, the $5,000 he lost is worth it just to hear that new noise Marge makes when he comes home after losing all their scrimpings. Homer might see it as a win-win proposition that Laney brings, exchanging the little girl for the pot, but Marge is a very different person.
Life on the road is no music boarding school, where the worst thing they might exchange are reeds, jazz musicians exchange papers with burning weeds. Lisa may be precocious, she was the saddest girl in grade two, but she is also very prone to peer pressure. She graduated from second hand smoke quickly when she was studying ballet. Marge is probably right to worry. If you want to know how bad show biz kids could turn all, all you have to do is look at all of them. It was warming to see her get to watch Lisa get her chops, but the life lesson of show business cut the treacle perfectly.
Stritch is gone but Laney lives on. The Simpsons love their regular guests and celebrate them when they can. They often retire characters if the voice actors die, but they do it reluctantly. In some cases it is better to continue the spirit the actor brought to a role. Stritch taught Lisa to make wallets at summer camp with Andrew Lloyd Webber in the “Elementary School Musical” episode. “That’s worth being in the business for 150 years,” she concluded. Tress MacNeille first paid homage to Stritch in the “My Fare Lady” episode.
The Simpsons have a love-hate relationship with nostalgia. It is a great source of gags, from Grandpa’s snake oil to Mr. Burns’ turns of citizen chicanery. The writers elevate the past, but they don’t particularly varnish it. The Simpsons have a tendency to point out what ails a generation for gags. The Jazz Age may have been a blast, but it’s more fun to play up the drugs and debauchery that were whitewashed in the past for laughs. It gives it the extra bite. Unlike the bite actors get from the show biz bug, which can only be extinguished by working with Bruce Willis.
Ah, the unnecessary add-on was worth it just hear Ned Flanders admit he suckles far too much at the devil’s diddly, although it didn’t make sense that he would be regarded as the most far left of the Flanderses. His own parents were beatniks, which didn’t make them nogoodniks. Maybe his parents were shunned and thought of no more by the feared Pennsylvania Amish.
The episode was exquisitely paced and had punchlines galore. Gags ran like passing tones in a Bob Fosse musical. Which side of the Mississippi is Springfield on? Hardees is Sardi’s there. Take a walk on the wild side.
“Lisa with an ‘S’” was written by Stephanie Gillisand directed by Bob Anderson. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Groundskeeper Willie and Moe. Harry Shearer is Mr. Burns.
But It All Went By So Fast: Watch Extender. High Note Band Camp: Memories, Mosquitoes, Mozart. Closed for illegal poker game. Don’t you dare go to another bar. Dear Pot – IOU 5 Grand PS I OUT stands for “I owe you.” Laney sings the Blues. Electric Laneyland. Laney Butchers The Beatles. Rehab Yourself a Merry Little Christmas. Welcome to Hartford. The City Where Howard Stern Met Fred Norris. Deadbolt Inn. The Brass Spittoon. Laney Fontaine She’s Still Alive. Call to Confirm. Hartford Herald-American: Little Girl Forces 40-Year Vet Out Of Job.
Highway 202 New York City As Seen On The Today Show. Candu Crush The Musical. Spider Pig. Turn Off The Pork. Long Day’s Journey into the M&M Store. Krusty Burgers. Lafayette The Musical. Hedwig and the Furious Foot. Welcome to Amish Country. You Shouldn’t Be Able to Read This Sign At Night. Laney Growls Sondheim. Introducing Lisa Simpson. Don King And I, Closed. Timeless Memories. $20 a minute.