The Simpsons: Puffless Review

There’s only one thing The Simpsons can’t beat this season. Competition.

This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.

The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 3.

In the future, when this season of The Simpsons airs on syndication, people are going to wonder what series is this? Are we seeing the death throes of an American institution or have the writers just given up like they admitted last week. “Puffless” feels like one of those itchy sweaters Jacqueline Bouvier knits for Christmas. I wonder if Mr. Burns wasn’t the only person in Springfield to come down with dementia. The Simpsons Rick rolled us.

The couch gag is very prescient to the episode as Monster-truck Maggie runs over the whole family. I suppose they had to give Maggie something to do, it’s not like she’s getting any older. She hasn’t gotten this much screen time since she was incarcerated at the Ayn Rand Daycare Center and maybe this proves children shouldn’t be indulged. “Maggie’s Extraordinary Animal Adventure” should have just had its own platform.

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The episode winds up being kind of pointless. It has a good premise. Patty and Selma quit smoking, the very thing that defines them, after they finally learn that their father died of lung cancer. That kind of thing wasn’t talked about when they were kids. Jacqueline would have told them about the dangers of smoking, if they didn’t look so cool doing it. Patty goes through withdrawal while her sister keeps her cheery disposition without having to lick a patch, like Krusty used to do. Of course, that’s because she only spends ten minutes nicotine free.

The Bouvier family has never liked Homer and has tortured Marge since she settled for him. Watching Patty crawl through a small window of niceness kills much of the bad will she’s built up. It’s only too bad Homer and Bart already wasted all the bleach.

The Simpsons afford themselves a lot more self-referential humor than most shows. They have the background for it, 27 seasons, but they don’t only poke holes in their own history. They are upfront about how the characters never age and give other minor cracks in the fourth wall. Tonight they take on their very own couch gags. Now we know that it is the Simpson family that has been staging them. They are fully aware that the couch is for more than watching TV and eating on. Those guest gag directors are probably dinner guests who get tired of playing charades with the drunk Van Housens.

Dr. Nick is in trouble at the beginning of the episode. He misdiagnosed a pregnancy but at least he’ll be getting a lot of free advertising on Malpractice TV. Dr. Hibberd is almost proven to be just as incompetent, but it really is tough to keep negative and positive results straight. Sometimes positive is good in medicine, sometimes negative can be a death sentence or cost someone their job.

Ultimately, the Bouvier sisters can never part with each other or their smokes. This could have ended with them changing their behavior, like Lisa did when she became a life-long vegetarian as a condition to Paul and Linda McCartney appearing. It doesn’t and therefore keeps a little integrity and a lot of recurring gag potential. The Bouviers not smoking is like Mr. Burns turning over a new leaf. It’s okay for an hour, but, like those vacation slides, it would belabor any point it might make.

It is good to see Mr. Burns is still up to his old tricks: Beating Abe just because he can. Of course he doesn’t really want Marge’s mom. It would be too hard on his old knees. His invitation to Yo-Yo Ma wound up being the highpoint of the episode when the cellist performed a solo version of The Simpsons theme over the closing credits.

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“Puffless” was written by J. Stewart Burns and directed by Rob Oliver. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Pattie and Selma Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Dr. Nick. Harry Shearer is Mr. Burns. Guest star: Yo-Yo Ma as himself.

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Springfield General. Remember to tip your nurses. Contacts: Ex-husbands Bob, Sideshow, Stu, Disco and Tony, Fat.

After securing the perimeter, the ground troops will advance and reinforce flanks, as the aerial units soften their defenses. Then we shall advance in a pinger movement to infiltrate the compound and liberate our friend. If you’ve read all this, congratulations, you’re a genius!

Likker Enthusiast: Ethanol, Isopropyl and other baby names.

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1.5 out of 5