The Simpsons: Season 28 Episode 17
This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons‘ season 28 episode 17, “22 for 30,” tells the story of the worst sports scandal to hit Springfield since some tightrope walker sneezed. The title is the breakdown of what goes into a show like this: 22 producers, 22 minutes and 30 commercials.
In another side note to Simpsons’ trope, we get the hyper-reality documentary, with mystery, intrigue and deceit. Bart’s hijinks get him thrown in detention. Not just any detention, the longest detention ever imposed in Springfield Elementary. The irrepressible boil on small town society’s ass crumples his repressions and repeatedly slam dunks them into basketball glory. Why not? He’s been a hockey chump, his old man was taken off the bench to pinch for Daryl Strawberry and owned the Denver Broncos for a little while. Bart’s never really been a sports star. He was a lousy quarterback, but he knows how to get his quarters back, maybe not from Grampa, but from concession kickbacks at the very least.
Marge is happily clueless, though she’s the one who has to find room for all the clues, but Maggie isn’t fooled.
Bart’s showboating pisses off Homer, who gets it in his head that the kids should all get a chance to touch the ball once in a while. This isn’t very Homer, who normally would run with the glory if only for all the free stuff it gets him. Bart gets it. But Homer wants to turn into the kind of guy who lets anyone hit the ball who wants to so everyone could be happy and that’s not what kind of guy he is.
Okay, maybe he wouldn’t be thrilled that Bart can spin a basketball on his doodle and Homer probably harbors major childhood fears of spiky headed kids on stilts, but he still seems like he’d be down with it, if only to rub it in all the other parents’ collective faces. Also, did anyone catch that court rage breakdown on camera phone? It would have gone viral if we hadn’t spent so much time getting poked in the eye by the opening couch gag. But that’s better than getting kicked in the nuts by Millhouse. The bobblehead line is a sly nod to The Godfather Part II.
I love to hate to quibble, but it’s already been established that Fat Tony does capeesh Italian and Sicilian, or at least a little Bensonhurstese, when he married Marge’s sister. But, that might have been the original Fat Tony who died and was replaced by a Fit Tony gone sfigadel.
We get to see a few new sides to Fat Tony tonight, and a dessert. The interviews he gives with his “mafia attorney” are revealing. A little too revealing, for the line of work he’s in. That goes for some of his crew too. They tell it like it is, and if it seems a little cruel, that’s the business they’re in. And if it seems a little too much like omerta’s being broken, that’s written off to a social tic. That’s what’s killing crime today. Did I say crime? I don’t know crime is. I was told I was just kidding. Johnny Tightlips is my personal favorite minor recurring character and tonight he sang his aria. Though I think he had something in his throat. Not that he’d say anything about it, not even to a doctor, who he’d tell to go suck a lemon.
What’s a mafia story without food? The initial sit-down between the mob boss and the hoops prince is delicious, like eating the bone marrow of an angel. The two hatch a scam that will really stick it to Homer and the only wrinkle is that nobody gets hurt. Except sports fans. And when you hurt one sports fan that’s bad for sports fans everywhere. Especially if they gamble. It’s also bad for honest, hardworking bookies, who have a rep they have to keep. Or else.
The episode is full of great verbal and sight gags that come fast. The documentary style editing gives every line a punch. At one point, Marge is confounded at how Homer gained weight nervously chewing on towels, which quickly cuts to Homer admitting he filled them with jelly. Lisa gets cut off right as she’s about to deliver a promised sax solo. Marge swears there’s no way Bart would associate with known criminals, which cuts to Principal Skinner casually saying that everybody knows Bart associates with the criminal element. Long-time Simpsons fans know Bart was once the head of the Springfield crime family and has been assured an association as soon as he skips school.
The bit where Krusty empties his clown pockets to go through security is a classic, as is Skinner’s observance that you could cut the tension with a knife, if they allowed knives in school, which they don’t.
Nelson’s father comes back long enough for leave, giving the coda the exact sadness Marge had hoped to avoid.
There was nothing really surprising about this episode. Once it was laid out as a spoof of spoof of ESPN’s 30 for 30, it had to follow the show’s format, which is to restate the lead over and over until it’s over. It’s always a surprise when Lisa’s a sports hero, since she threw down her goalie mitts, but not really, except when it’s the last twist in the plot. Then we’re not so surprised.
The Simpsons tries to shake things up tonight with a sports documentary parody, but winds up shaving points. This isn’t for lack of shots, this episode is, line for line, one of the funniest under the laugh quotient, but there is an encroaching slickness that just misses the spread.
“22 for 30″ was written by Joel H. Cohen and directed by Chris Clements. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer and Abe Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Kirk Van Houten, Chief Wiggum and Moe. Harry Shearer is Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. Tress Macneille and Pamela Hayden also star. Stephen Curry, Earl Mann and Joe Mongegna.
But It All Went By So Fast: Air Dingus. Anger Watkins, ESBN Analyst – Once punched his own birthday cake. Bart Simpson Basketball Star – The Bartman, El Barto, Lord of the chalkboard. Marge Simpson – PTA Alternate. Seymour Skinner Necktie Renter. Grampa Simpson – Retired Bag Boy. Gary Chalmers – Founding member Steeley Dan. You’re invited to Polar Bear Remembrance Day. Olease Come to the School dressed in White Attire. Assembly on Bees – Everyone Gets a C.
Pyramid of Success: Skill, Poise, Competitive Greatness, Confidence, Team Spirit, Condition.
Rhombus of Righteousness: Swagger, Ball-hog, No D, Special Treatment.
Dodecahedron of Dominance: Franchise, showboat, mamba, trash-talk, personal glory, gang tats.
Lisa Simpson – Hardnosed journalist, 8 p.m. bedtime.
Daily Second Gradian: D-Student Knows O-ffense. Boy Scores 50, On Court and On Test. Student Makes Rare Appearance in Class.
Bob Johnson Square Dance Caller.
Cathode Ray’s TVs. Plasma Palace. 1000 Petes. We Give Up TV Store Name. Skinner’s mom drinks black label scotch. Acme Gym Construction Since 1926.
Marion “Fat Tony” D’Amico – Honest Businessman.
Springfield Shopper: Noodle Canoodle? Shaving Lessons? Mafia Boss Beats Rap. Daily Fourth Gradian: Disobedient Student Beats Rap.
Legitimate Businessmen’s Social Club. La Coffee Nostra.
Johnny Tightlips – born Giovanni Silencio.
First Bank of Springfield Says Screw You Bart! Next Two Miles of Highway Disgraced by Bart Simpson. First Church of Springfield: Jesus Saves, Bart Shaves.
Moe Szyslak – Local Troll. Moe’s Tavern: The Low Bar for Weird.
Bada Bing – Mafia Search Engine.