The Simpsons Season Premiere Review: Monty Burns Fleeing Circus

What part of what I’ve never told you don’t you understand? The Simpsons bring variety to a singed town.

The Simpsons: Season 28 Episode 1

This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.

“Monty Burns Fleeing Circus” is worth watching. It’s worth watching twice, if only to get the taste of last season off your eyeballs.

This is the reason I stuck up for Harry Shearer when he was in contract negotiations. Leave it to Mr. Burns to bring life back into The Simpsons after 28 seasons. The old, old man has more life in him than Satan itself. So it makes perfect sense that the lowly residents of Evergreen Terrace make a contract with him to rebuild the town after the devastating unveiling of the new Lard Lad billboard.

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And breathe new life he does. This season’s opener seems fresh. Maybe as fresh as season 20, but who’s counting? From the very opening, which puts an Adventure Time spin on Springfield (ain’t that a kick in Homer’s head), “Monty Burns Fleeing Circus” is a full variety show, the likes of hasn’t been seen since about aught nine. Or at least the Pee Wee Pageant of 1913.

The voice acting is superb. I especially like how the entire Simpson family reassures Burnsy that his trap door system was indeed unexpected and, really quite frightening. It reminded me of the time Patty and Selma came to visit and caught Bart and Lisa hiding in the closet. Each of them going through painful turns to assure the two chain-smoking, photo-carouselling sisters that, yes, they would be pleased to hang up their coats.

Marge continues to be Springfield’s queen of denial and Homer’s greatest enabler. She believes Burns will make good on his promises even as she hands over the fate of the entire town to his wise wizened hands.

The jokes and asides came at a lightning pace. Chief Wiggum sits for a thoughtful homage to Rodan, not the monster, while waiting for the Bureau of Missing Statues to get moving before a riot starts. And what a quiet riot it is, with the town evenly split between rioters and don’ters. What the town saved in reclamation costs, Quan Jin Mining and Smelting and Donuts spends as their nouveau arte billboard rebranding torches the town to cinders and blocks. Really, what were they thinking? Even after it was unveiled it looked like the tarp was still on.

The people of Springfield then band together and do, largely, nothing and no one does it larger than Homer, who brings a non-negotiable plea of desperation. Mr. Burns agrees to rebuild the town, but not out of any feeling of largesse, he wants to put on a variety show at the Springfield Bowl, the site of his ultimate humiliation, called The Springfield Follies (now open to women, with permission from husbands or ministers.)

But it ain’t even started after the crazy cat lady sings, astride her Puccini pussies. Burns is wounding an old heal that no amount of butterscotch lolly licks can cure. They might actually make it worse, giving a glimpse into Monty’s childhood we may never unsee.

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It gets creepier when the oldest man in Springfield, and several adjacent towns, goes prowling Springfield Elementary in search of children who will perform for him. High-spirited, snaggle-toothed children willing to work 18 hours a day aren’t a thing of the past as Lisa steps in to clip Burns’ boards.

It’s not that he doesn’t understand trauma, knowing how the grain farmer’s son lost his taste for wheat after his father was ground by the harvester, but he still inflicts Rod and Todd on us.

While the boss is away, Homer “Arnold Palmers” the nuclear plant and yet again Marge has to step in and remind him that he is his own backup. Marge enables Homer to be the tallest man he can be. The owner of the nuclear plant can’t take the weight of too many photons.

What Burns doesn’t understand is what The Simpsons do best. They adhere to the time-tested rule of comedy: If all else fails, drop your pants. Even a young, silent screen Scratchy knows that. But saying “if only Burns had embraced the laughter” is like saying “if only someone bought one of Hitler’s paintings,” some evil cannot be contained by art, no matter how low. What we’d all give for all of America to crank to our bottoms.

Chalkboard: This Arm Needs Tommy John Surgery.

But It All Went By So Fast: Vote Kodos: Make The Universe Great Again. Why are they hitting themselves? How to bully-proof your kid. Kent Brockman holds Shuffling Papers. Marty’s Mirrors. Kevin’s Kindling. Ed’s Extinguishers – just closed yesterday. Damaged SPRINGFIELD SIGN says S I N G E D. Minutes since broken promises: 259, 233. Homer holds a flag reading Local News. Montgomery Burns: Dead at 89. Montgomery Burns: Still Not Dead. Springfield Bowl: The Skunk Smell Is Gone. Auditions Today. Two men in black suits dance behind Burns at the auditions. We may have lost either Sherrie or Terri.

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“Monty Burns Fleeing Circus” was written by Tom Gammill and Max Pross and directed by Matthew Nastuk. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Apu Nahasapeemapetilon and Chief Wiggum. Harry Shearer is Mr. Burns. Pamela Hayden plays Millhouse and Jimbo Jones. Guest voice: Amy Schumer.


4 out of 5