The Simpsons: Simpsorama Review

A show out of ideas teams up with a show out of episodes. The Simpsons host Futurama. Here is our review.

Excuses are the refuge of cowards, crossover shows are the refuge of cowards who have run out of excuses. Someday the future will be here, I mean, when you think about it, the future will be here tomorrow, but there will be a not-too-distant future in the far future and that future may be a future without The Simpsons or Futurama. Of all probably futures, the worst would be that this episode would be the only testament remaining of these two shows.

Futurama has been gone for a year now and is clinging to the hems of The Simpsons to assure itself some kind of lasting legacy. This episode is a kind of time capsule because, while The Simpsons will be saved for posterity, Futurama will one day be buried under the sands of time. Sure, it will live on in syndication for a while, but The Simpsons will live on until Burns destroys the earth as pure Americana, designed as a last-minute replacement to TV sellout.

The Simpsons and Futurama both came out of the head of Matt Groening. This crossover proves Matt really is Bart Simpson, because the mutated creatures who threaten our very future are the demon spawn of Bart and they look like further mutated versions of Groening’s first cartoon, Life In Hell. New Yorkers caught Life In Hell weekly in The Village Voice. The comic strip skewered life from the outside view of warped creatures who really wanted no part of it. It is the spiritual center of all Groening’s work. It is the ethos that drives Homer and Bender, who are the future Bart and Fry. Grown up and still not wanting to get off the couch. Especially when the couch gives a good massage and peels grapes like we saw in the opening couch gag.

The genius of The Simpsons is its willingness to go after any and all subjects, its creator included. “Simpsorama” attacks all the laziness, self-plagiarism and self-cannibalism that make up Groening’s animated universe. There is a mixture of self-loathing and pre-emptive offensive in all the admissions. There is also pride. No one owns laziness like Groening, except maybe Homer. While Futurama never reached the heights that The Simpsons did, becoming an American icon, Groening always maintained that he preferred the science fiction series. The Simpsons, after all, was just something he knocked off so he didn’t have to give away the rights to Life In Hell to the Tracey Ullman Show.

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Bender really is a lazy Homer knock off. He even says d’oh. Fry started off as Bart right out of high school, slacking his way into the future. But, as Homer says to the picture who’s eyes are following him, “isn’t all great art a kind of mirror.”

Professor Frink is a genius creation. I can’t say I’d never get tired of him, because we’ve never had a full-on Frink episode that didn’t also include Jerry Lewis, but he has never been overused. Hank Azaria is now recognized as the comic whirlwind he’s always been, but for years he might as well have been walking the dog of a documentary filmmaker or something. It just occurred to me that Azaria and Jerry Lewis both appeared on Mad About You. Helen Hunt, who was married to Azaria, also played almost the only woman who could ever love Moe Szyslak.

Professor Farnsworth may consider Professor Frink to be a comparative moron with an IQ of 199, but I’d put my trust in Frink. He did after all predict that “within 100 years computers will be twice as powerful, 10,000 times larger, and so expensive that only the five richest kings in Europe will own them.”

I’m sure there are some in-jokes in the mathematical equations in Bender’s backpanel door. Please, someone translate for the numerically impaired in our comments section below. All hail the hypnotoad.

The jokes came fast as usual tonight. I particularly liked the Marge/Leela hair/eye standoff and the ease with which Lisa can manipulate Bart. The roundabout circular-saw logic by the respective professors is also consistently wrong, which makes it right. I was also tickled by Marge’s empathy with Bart’s sandwich.

My favorite Futurama gag in the episode was the atheist prayer. “Oh nobody’s father who art nowhere, I know you can’t hear me, completely ignore this prayer. Nothing art thou and nothing will thouever be. Jesus was just a man. A man.” And the big reveal is that both Kang and Kodos are women and that their last name is Johnson.

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The problem with mashups is that something gets mashed out each show. This is an okay episode in an otherwise almost okay season. When The Simpsons get tired they often suck the life out of other shows, like Mr. Burns needs the blood of a young boy more than all the tinctures and all the tonics, in crossover episodes only to see their own juices get drained. Here they are cannibalizing themselves and letting themselves be cannibalized by a show that was already eating its own flesh. Sometimes it’s pretty tasty, but it repeats on you and has a lingering aftertaste.

“Simpsorama” was written by J. Stewart Burns and directed by Bob Anderson. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson and Groundskeeper Willie, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Professor Frink, Chief Wiggum and Moe. Harry Shearer as Principal Skinner and Mr. Burns. Pamela Hayden plays Millhouse. Guest star: John DiMaggio as Bender. Maurice LaMarche as Morbo and Hedonismbot. Phil LaMarr as Hermes Conrad. Katey Sagal as Leela. Lauren Tom as Amy Wong. Frank Welker as Nibbler. Billy West as Fry, Professor Farnsworth and Zoidberg.

But It All Went By So Fast: Time capsule: It sounds cool, but it’s just a box we bury. The things in Binder’s socket that doesn’t require special characters: IBM Do U? UR 2YS 2B 4GOT. 2SPEP. Starter Condos: Beginning at $99,000,000,000,000,000! Duff Holo Beer All the rage. No 1 among the calories. The Android’s Penthouse: Take me to your comic books and baseball cards. Professor Frink’s Carbon Dating Service. Ralph Wiggum 2006 – 2017. The eBook of Mormon. The Tesla Building.

At least they didn’t waste 10 minutes on a pointless overdone fight.

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3.5 out of 5