This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpsons: Season 29 Episode 7
The Simpsons season 29, episode 7, “Singin’ in the Lane” reunites some of the Pin Pals, the championship bowling team Homer put together with Moe Szyslak, Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Otto Mann, for a state championship competition, but rolls out a 7-2 split. The episode begins with “The Shrimpsons,” a fairly impressive alternative to the usual introduction, with every scene of the opening lovingly played out underwater.
At first glance, “Singin’ in the Lane” might look like a paint-by-numbers rehash of an earlier success. But when you look at it again, it becomes clear that is an understatement. The Simpsons might as well be a show about nothing, like Seinfeld, because when it is about something, it’s been done. The original episode, “Team Homer” from season 7, was about how true friends could triumph over great odds, but that one rich man would always make a run for glory when the last pin falls.
“Singin’ in the Lane” replaces Otto, Apu and Moe, who once again becomes coach like he did for Homer’s hardheaded boxing career, are replaced by Larry, Carl and Barney. An insufferable group of hedge fund douchebags replace Mr. Burns, though never in our hearts. Other than that, not much else changes besides Bart learning a valuable lesson at a bargain price.
“The Simpsons did it,” they cried on South Park, referencing that no matter what was done in animated comedy, it was already done on The Simpsons. Now we can change that to “The Simpsons did it again.” After 29 seasons, they are now in the position to redo all their classic episodes, because they’ve gone into a kind of public domain.
The reunited and revamped Pin Pals quickly rise to top of the Springfield league championship. They defeat the Holy Rollers, in spite or because of a congratulatory high-five from Jesus himself. When they mow down the Legitimate Businessmen, Fat Tony does the job on the lone pin standing in open betrayal with a quick shot from a .22. He leaves the gun. We assume he goes out for cannoli, because bowling alley pastries are mediocre at best.
You won’t find mediocre anything at the State Championship lanes. The lucky competitors are even let in on the secret of which state Springfield is in. They have everything at their beck and call, even tuxedoed Frank Nelson sound-alikes to polish their balls. To think, a lowly working class bowling team formed at a bar you don’t want to look up on Yelp get the chance to share shoes with the privileged few, and they get to be seen on ESPN-8.
Bart sucks right up to the hedge fund crowd. He even smooths out the points in his hair, trades the slingshot for some vodka and remembers to tip the baby. He found his answer, and it’s money. And he found his path, and it is socio. While Marge can’t give him many good reasons to choose poverty over wealth, in the film-within-an-episode, The Hateful of Eight Year Old, directed by Quentin Tarantino, Lisa and her group of Nerds teach the young wannabe sycophant a lesson in undervalues. Sadly, the sequence doesn’t have enough of the Tarantino touch to make it very funny. They squeak some shoes and talk too close in a Mexican standoff that goes straight into the gutter.
On most days, the gutter is an improvement for Moe. The Pin Pals reunited because the usual crowd at the bar, the closest things to friends the bartender knows, possibly the closest thing to things he knows, are stricken with a sudden twinge of guilt for not including him in things. Moe is a sad sack, but is still very evasive about what he’s a sack of, besides abject depression and possible depravation. He bets his entire current existence on an experience only a rich man can buy for his friends, only to find that getting out of his current existence would be the best thing for everyone.
Moe bets his life away to the ringers because his sad existence is picked apart by the hedge fund douchebag who was the model for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. He grinds Moe down with a series of simple questions about his last birthday, including whether Moe got any phone calls that day. Moe breaks when he admits he pretended to be interested in carpet cleaner for just a half hours’ worth of conversation.
There was a lot of music in this episode but most of the laughs came at the beginning. Like classic episodes of seasons past, subliminal sight gags like Duff being called “the liquor of beers” pepper almost every early scene. But the animators seem to run out of quick gag ideas when the show really needs the distractions, the second half. Long before most bowlers would begin looking around for their regular shoes. The spoiled rich yuppie Ponzi schemers aren’t funny, not even ironically. The Tarantino bit flounders. And the ultimate payoff, the ride on the Zero Gee, isn’t quite buoyant enough for a strike.
“Singin’ in the Lane” was written by Ryan Koh, and directed by Michael Polcino.
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.
Chalkboard: We do not live in our own pee.