This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 29 Episode 10
The Simpsons season 29, episode 10, “Haw-Haw Land,” takes Lisa through three defining chapters of love, music and chemistry on her journey to a loneliness she owes all to her community. If that sounds like a parody of Moonlight, the Oscar-winning, rarely watched film, it shouldn’t. But The OT went into overtime after the Panthers/Saints game, it looked for a second like The Simpsons drew Terry Bradshaw with a goatee and that made him look oddly coherent.
It’s a perfect day in Springfield, the cooked city books are burning and everyone bursts into song. Carl and Lenny promise to deteriorate together forever in the plutonium’s icy glow. The town that can’t afford mass transit can sure throw a tailgate sideshow. Just when it sounds like it won’t be over until the Cat Lady dies and is eaten by her cats, god puts it’s thumb down. This is a weird foreshadowing of a slightly discourteous Ned Flanders, but with fewer survivors.
Whether the sky is pouring ash or Groundskeeper Willy’s pouring Agent Orange, Lisa’s on her way to a perfect day. It’s science day in Springfield, and while she can’t stop whistling along with the roadkill, she’s got no time for the trivial frivolities. Science is afoot. Everyone who’s usually no one is there. Professor Frink is a dubious star, casting aspersions on the latest findings from the Institute of Purchased Science. This is a begloiben right to the oy as the comparison between the EPA doublespeak breakdown and the Nuclear Power Plant grade is more than a theoretical probability. It’s enough to drive someone to Stuicide.
But the science extravaganza has it all from Professor Noodlestroodle explaining Fallout Boy lyrics to automated TV recaps with more humanity than you’ll find in any reviews on my page. Even Bart finds something lurking behind the beakers and the Bunsen burners, and it’s not a pervert. It’s a practical use for science, well scientific solution for a practical joke. All in all, a perfect day.
That is until something destroys all Lisa’s logic and reason. Brendan is eleven, but could be a lounge lizard at the piano bar in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of Stephen King’s The Shining. He’s evolved past the tired German elephant toothpaste jokes Lisa’s juvenile crowd go for lately. He’s not one to fall for a passing fad. He tries a little too hard, though. You can see this kid brownnosing his way into a part on Game of Thrones to impress a saxophone playing hellcat.
But what a racket they blow under the used cover gag props in the basement. It’s so infectious, it’s got Homer banging along on the wall. Millhouse’s glasses aren’t thick enough to see his soda’s lost its fizz, but Nelson, who dated Lisa when she was going through her bad boy phase, notices she’s getting all squishy for this ding dong. Brendan points out Lisa’s chubby friend might do better laying off the Ding Dongs. The bully of Springfield Elementary strikes first with what he knows best, the same kind of degradation that earns him his lunch money. But Lisa’s talented showman turns extortion into entertainment in a moment not even dead gophers can ruin. Actually, the gophers are probably the best part of the scene.
The Simpsons go Little Rascals in the competition for Lisa’s affection. But while his Alfalfa-inspired rendition of “My Funny Valentine” makes Nelson vulnerable, it’s the meanness of Mingus that makes him no dingus. It is more of a stretch that he could get Kearney Zzyzwicz and Jimbo Jones to back him in the ice cream parlor than a upright bass solo debut but, like “Moon River” at an Andy Williams’ concert, he pulls it off. It’s no surprise he goes back to his old ways, Nelson is a rock, and if you don’t say he’s solid, he might throw on at you.
We learn that Cletus runs the local meth lab, but the real shocker is that Bart has him on speed dial. I hate think El Barto would have anything to teach a veteran moonshiner about cooking meth, a recipe is a recipe. Bart is content changing the ecosystem into candy. The Institute of Purchased Science is already preparing a paper on it. It isn’t hard to believe Bart isn’t planning a doomsday performance. Dennis the Chemist is a little thug, not Sideshow Bob. He’s still got to grow into those shoes. So the basic premise, Marge’s doubt in the trustworthiness of her own son, holds no real peril. The “Doors will be chained until the all the acts perform” sign at the front of the school is a threat.
The “I swallowed a couple of your earrings,” line from Homer is a twist on the “swallowed a band aid” line from years ago, the variation remains a classic because it works on more levels than a football in the groin. The tag, that Marge didn’t want to know how Homer retrieved them, is a redundant tag, but works on a too-much-information level.
Marge’s natural lie-detector would go off if I wrote that I loved this episode. It was sweet and predictable, but it kept the gags on a steady pace with not much really standing out. Bart’s last public experiment, at least, proves a mother’s trust wrong, a solid subversion. Chalmers gives it lower Yelp review.
“Haw-Haw Land” was written by Tim Long, and directed by Bob Anderson.
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 Seymour Skinner, Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. Guest stars: Ed Sheeran as Brendan and George Takei as himself.