The Simpsons: Specs and the City, Review

Football overruns are the reason Fox is still a network.

The Simpsons opened this week in a hail to the chief, The Super Bowl. Zooey Deschanel introduced America’s first family under the duress of contractual obligations. Marge wasn’t quite enthused enough about the wisdom of the National Football League to please Terry Bradshaw and Bart made devil horns behind his head. The Simpsons are aware as we all are that that even though they may be the longest-running, most acclaimed, biggest money-making and most prestigious thing Fox has, Fox hates them. Well, maybe not hate, but Fox treats the Simpsons with more passive aggressive sabotage than Principal Skinner’s mom does to him. The Simpsons can take it. Fox hasn’t killed them, they made them stronger.

The Simpsons may be stronger, but they’ve learned nothing, at least Homer hasn’t. At least when it comes to beer, football and electricity. We do learn that Carl has an IQ of 214, but if you keep throwing the word genius around it means nothing, but he’s smart enough to slap Homer to turn pages. Homer makes a grand arc in tonight’s episode, realizing that some secrets are better for the family dynamic. Especially in a family as dynamic as the Simpsons.

Mr. Burns has done a lot of evil things to his employees, to Springfield and to the world at large and the Simpsons at small. He replaced his workers’ health benefits with beer. He blotted out the sun. He rendered most of the Pacific Northwest’s environment toxic. He ordered the Rolling Stones killed. He kidnapped Tom Jones in an attempt to steal Marge from Homer. Ho ho humbug. Mr. Burns has also given some of the worst year-end bonus gifts. A daily hound calendar. A Mr. Burns anti-stress squeeze ball that warns “one more squeeze and you’re fired.”

In “Specs and the City,” Charles Montgomery Plantagenet Schicklgruber Burns, Sr., who’s actual time of death was 1998, outdoes himself in both Christmas spirit and evil when he spreads the joy with Oogle goggles, state-of-the-art solar-powered computer glasses. It looks like it’s the first cool gift he’s ever given to the anonymous clan of slack-jawed troglodytes that he pays to work at his nuclear plant. But it’s not. It’s one of the most insidious plans has ever hatched. But he really does nothing with it. Ultimately it comes to haunt him. Nobody wants to see Homer through the eyes of his lover during sex. Except Marge. Dear god, but he finally gets his comeuppance.

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I love Burns. His cruelties and frailties crack me so consistently up. When Homer is spying on the spy cams and Burns walks in and asks who he is and Homer screams in fear “Mr. Burns.” Burns takes him at his word and skulks out, cowered. That sums up his appeal. The little ironies he can go with. The big ironies he mistakes for commonplace unenhanced reality.

Oogle goggles (my eyes the goggles do nothing) give anyone who wears them enhanced reality, which beats the hell out of real reality, especially when that reality beats the hell out of you because you’re wearing them. Bart doesn’t need the goggles to see through Valentine’s Day though. You can’t win on Valentine’s Day. He may be standing up to classroom bully Nelson on the surface, but he’s standing up to Valentine’s Day itself. Valentine’s Day is a bully. No matter how hard you try you never get it right, so why try? The reason you try, of course, is because you can’t give a wedgie to a bully who doesn’t wear underwear. Nelson is as evil a genius as Burns. Even Groundskeeper Willie hides behind the desk.  Sure, Jesus can love his enemies. He knows that one day he gets to say “it was me who sent you to hell.” Valentine’s Day is always a massacre. You don’t need to be a fragile weirdo to figure that out.

You don’t have to be a fragile weirdo to go to therapy either. Marge is actually remarkably resilient. Sure, she may want things, proving the rumors that moms can want things are true, but she puts up with a lot, Homer recently converted their money into euros, the sandwich, not the currency, but he’s down to two beers in the shower. All that enabling drains you by Tuesday nights. Marge needs her reset every Wednesday. It’s tiring putting up that enthusiasm week after week, day after day. Parking in the compact only space doesn’t quite let off enough steam. We root for Homer every week, but we needs us some Marge.

The Simpsons are on a roll this year. Every line of tonight’s episode is individually funny. There are no forced laughs, which, let’s face it, there’s usually one or two in every episode. This season they’re cutting that down. Tonight, no misses. It’s not exactly a classic episode, but it will be in 25 years.

“Specs and the City” was written by Brian Kelley. 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, Harry Shearer as Skinner, Pamela Hayden as Milhouse and Jimbo, Tress MacNeille as Dolph, Hank Azaria as Comic Book Guy and Will Lyman as himself, one of the many brutal sociopaths along with Genghis Kahn and Mao Tse Tung, who never got a Valentine’s Day card.

But It All Went By So Fast:  The blimp over Springfield says Drink and Bet responsibly.” The sign outside the Springfield Nuclear Plant reads “Merry Christmas, the happiest workday of the year.” Lenny has 14 DUIs.  Burn’s pulse is 3 and his body temperature is 60.2 degrees. The Nuclear Console LEX-1963 is obsolete. Homer Simpson’s only exercise is pulling candy machine handle. The flowers Homer steals from the Flanderses are worth $10,000, do the math. Krusty Burgers are made up of 17% Hamster bedding, 49% newspaper inserts amd 34% sand emptied out of bathing suits. Jen and Berry’s Ice Cream comes in Occupy Walnut Street flavors now. Abe Simpson shot his own foot in three wars. Krustyworld welcomes recovering anorexics. Homer’s alcohol intake is through mouth. The Springfield Shopper reports “Presidential Order Overturns Double-Play.” News: Today: Wednesday, Tomorrow: Thursday, Next Day: TBD.

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Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

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4 out of 5