The Simpsons: Season 29 Episode 1
This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
The Simpson family, second-to-last of their name, is moving on up, to Eastwatch, to a deluxe hovel by the sea. The Simpsons opens Season 29 with a full-episode series parody. While it gets its references from dozens of fantasy sources, including C. S. Lewis’s The Chronicles of Narnia, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, “The Serfsons” is firmly set on the map of HBO’s national obsession, Game of Thrones.
The Kingdom of Sprinfieldia is ruled by King Quimby, first of his name, propped up with the help of heroic knights who run rampant on the general populace without fear of repercussion, and cunning wizards who use gifted kids in a magical sweatshop. The Iron Bank of Springfeildia is funded by Merchants of Fantastic Wealth, but there is no wealth for the Simpsons. They would be dirt poor if dirt wasn’t so expensive.
Marge’s mother, who is wrapped up at The Webs at Giant Spider Acres, a retirement forest, was bitten by an Ice Walker in the heat of passion and is now suffering from progressive frozen mortification, though it comes on more like Greyscale. Maestors cost so much Homer lances his own boils, de-icing costs 100 gold pieces.
The only way to get money fast, whether during Medieval times or modern times, is illegally under the Magic V Gathering Act. Lisa, a budding magician who keeps it secret so she’s not taken away in service to the king, cooks one up on her grade school Alchemistry Set. Lisa suffers from unicorn envy. Unicorns are supposed to like nice people, like serfs, the lowest of the low. They are not supposed to like powerful knights who make her father grovel and kiss the hooves of horses. Lisa sees this as a class war, but in a feudalistic society, what is one to do?
Sir Montgomery [Burns] runs the Human Power Plant, which doesn’t produce energy, it just keeps the local peasantry going around in circles. The monotonous work does make for something: Misery, which can be collected and ground up into dust, that rich people snort to give them tiny wings. Not that the Hex trade is any better in a kingdom under an all-smelling nose. The peasants, peons and distinguished beggars unprotected under the bill of no rights give off the stench of rebellions
“She’s going to make me sleep on the iron couch,” is the best throwaway line of the night. As always, Homer is only saying what we are all thinking. What’s so big a deal about the Iron Throne? For centuries the lord-of-the-ringleader on Gang of Thrones fights to their last drop to sit on this thing that was constructed of the steel of hundreds of swords. Who wants to sit on that? The Whitewalkers, the zombie horde that threatens to overtake the seven kingdoms, and all their subsidiary rights, are depicted as evil, heartless unfeeling wretches who have been wandering the ice-covered tundra north of the wall since a few days before time began. The first thing the Ice King is going to do when the walking dead take the crown of thrones is upholster the iron throne. Then he’s going to throw some cushions on top of that. And the first time he gets a nick from a tip of one of the swords he’s going to melt the whole thing down, make it into a classic 1965 Mustang and put in a comfy chair.
Even Cersei, who is far colder and more heartless than the Whitewalkers, sits sidesaddle on the Iron Throne. While there is no specific reference to Marge being Cersei, she does have a twin brother-would be lover waiting in the wings played by Nikolaj Coster-Waldau himself to give the wink a little nod. The episode throws in a lot of great medievally detailed gags. Millhouse, the entire multitude of Millhouses actually, suffers from asthma. He uses a billow as an inhaler. Ned Flanders’s head is on the spike, and it’s nice to see people you know. Bart sends prank parchments to Moe tied to the talons of ravens, or is it crow because the Serfsons can nevermore afford first class?
Bart also questions the preconceived notions of the afterlife. The peasants have a several beliefs, including Goblin money heaven, killing and being killed for all eternity, and one where snakes eat out your eyes but it feels good. But in the end, it is good old nihilism that gives Springfieldians a sense of comfort. Bart may not be especially gifted in a world where magic is fueled by dragon’s blood, but he is not a dimwitted troll. It’s his father’s job to troll the system’s beliefs. Marge’s mom thinks of Homer as an ogre, but he is no Shrek. After Homer’s mother was eaten by an ogre, his father married a different ogre.
“The Serfsons” is steadily paced, the laughs come regularly and there are a few that really deliver. The overall takeoff of Game of Thrones is both loving and irreverent, but it is only a gentle ribbing, not a full-assault. The Simpsons season 28 was a very funny season, after two lackluster years. This season is off to an amusing start, but it doesn’t come on with the abandon of classic years.
“The Serfsons” was written by Brian Kelley, and directed by Rob Oliver. 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. Guest star: Nikolaj Coster-Waldau.
But It All Went By So Fast: Tannery: John Tanner, owner. Mill, Robert Miller, owner. Candy Shop, William Childeater, owner. Filth Wagon. Hovel Sweet Hovel. King Lute. Springfield Human Power Plant. Sir Duncan’s Doughed Maughts. Fresh Krullers. Rural Outfitters. Banana Monarchy, Fool Locker, Restoration Bard Wear. Hyborian Apparel. Just Half-Capes. Snake is “caught reading.” Victarion’s Secret. David’s Merkins.
P. Jackson’s Overstuffed Hobbit recipe: Cut hobbit into threee pieces; pack with unnecessary stufing; serves many, satisfies none.
King Mitothin The Statue-Worthy.