The Simpsons: Season 28 Episodes 12 and 13
This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
Tonight’s The Simpsons‘ season 28 “The Great Phatsby, Parts 1 & 2″ marks the first time these yellowbellied caricatures have given us a full-hour episode. Granted, they broke it up into two parts, but not into two episodes, like they did for “Who Shot Mr. Burns?,” and it’s just slightly less a great treat. In that story we got two credits and couch gags. As I’ve written before, the longer the couch gag and opening, the less inspired the episode. Here The Simpsons foregoes the blackboard entirely, which is less lazy, but not as lazy as telling a story through a narrative voiceover. Though they are also lazy enough to steal, at least they steal from a classic, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Last Tycoon. And, like the film version that starred Leonardo DiCaprio, they also stole the idea to modernize it. The oldest cheat of all.
I want to start this by giving a personal thank you to Harry Shearer, who refused to come back to the show unless they upped their anti. He didn’t hold out for the money, well, maybe a little, but the main reason he gave was the vast drop in quality to the longest running TV comedy of all time. He is getting what he wanted. So far, this season has been shy of stellar.
The Simpsons are back and it’s in large part due to the guy who played bass for Spinal Tap. He does the voice for both Waylon Smithers and C. Montgomery Burns, the last living tycoon of the jazz age. He maintains his youth by taking blood transfusions, like the urban legendary Keith Richards. And why not? When the richest man in Springfield was young he Charlestoned with the best of them. Nothing succeeds like excess and Burns exuded it all back in the days of the flappers. Now, in the winter of his malcontent, he wants to throw more bash, a Roaring Twenties bacchanal put some Cole in his Porter.
Nothing’s too good for the Burns soiree. He won’t even settle for store bought ice. He sends Smithers out on an errand to get pure Canadian lake ice, hand tonged. The Smithers side trek is a classic diversion. It reminds me of Ernest Borgnine’s turn on the canoe trip episode the Simpsons took with the Flanderses.
Being the last surviving member of his lost generation, Burns is at a loss for friends and Smithers tasks Homer with stringing in Springfield’s glitterati. Marge’s sister Selma Bouvier seductively scents herself with an eau de woodfire put out by pouring coffee on it. We learn that Chief Wiggum is no longer a closet stoner and mourn his life because he became a cop too young. Springfield’s finest in all their finery are still outclassed in a world where getting drunk on a boat is called sailing.
Sadly, Burns didn’t get to be the wealthy miser he is today by splurging, so his party flops like so many safety shoed hoofers on a dance floor. If only they knew it would be a cash bar, they might have brought cash. Money talks and Homer can only mumble, to paraphrase Stiff Records.
Rap Mogul Jay G learned everything he knows from Burns’ book, The Rungs of Ruthlessness, which he found on the seat of a bus he stole. The hip hop tycoon is a quick study and takes the old man in, just to conclude his edumacation. Jay G frees Burns from his cheap-taggery with the issuing of the billionaire’s first Obsidian credit card and Burns crumbles under the titanium weight of it like a freshman at Michigan State. Burns flings the bling, living large until he hits the curb, or at least the cold stone headstones of his family plot.
Elsewhere on the Hamptons, Lisa meets a rich kid who finds her morals quaint and Bart meets someone who I think comes back later I forget why. For Lisa, and her unyielding liberal values, the son of the richest man in town gives up the one thing that gives his life meaning: being a douche. Lisa gives up the chance to beat on a protest drum and proves that her sacrifice only goes so far. At least when it comes to horses. She is, after all, eight years old and has a long history with horses. Why, she once rode one on the bow of a yacht, though she didn’t get spoiled.
Lisa doesn’t get spoiled by the glitzy life of the jet set here either. When Marge loses her marbles and falls prey to the frightening allure of cute little stores, Lisa is right there picking up stick pins.
Life doesn’t have second acts, but TV shows do. The least lazy narration was the saddest part of the episode, when Homer describes the extended stages of grief that Burns goes through after learning everything he has is gone. Jay G cashes in Burns’ chips and turns the Springfield Nuclear plant into the sexiest nuclear plant on earth. He knows excess too. He learned it by climbing the rhymes of the lyricist who made him, Jazzy James.
Choke on dis, Bart suggests, because he is really such a master of pranks his friends, family and most legal experts worry about him. The best revenge is revenge rap and Burns serves it cool. Well, as cool as a tone-deaf old dust bunny can make it, which is more rigid than frigid. At least Homer gets to chill, sniffing up Snoop Dogg’s recording studio haze.
The first half of the episode is much better than the second. The episode is very funny, but suffers a bit under the extra time. The jokes still come, fast as ever, but they have less impact as Burns claws his way back to the top. And how does he actually get his money and power plant back? I can’t really see Jay G forgiving his debts. Burns has been featured a lot this year, which might be to appease Schearer, because the old man is consistent even as the show digs at traditional grooves that modern DJs might merely scratch. I laugh at the punchlines before they come. Years of watching The Simpsons has given me an almost telepathic ability to connect the dots but I love the payoffs anyway. I was sad that the hounds turned on Burns though.
“The Great Phatsby” was written by Dan Greaney and directed by Chris Clements. 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 Chief Wiggum and Moe. Harry Shearer is Kirk Van Houten, Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. Guest stars are Common as himself, Snoop Dogg as himself, Taraji P. Henson as Praline, Keegan-Michael Key as Jazzy James and RZA as himself.
But It All Went By So Fast: The Colay A and B. The New Yorkest. Egg Hampton. West Hampton. Sag Hampton. Hampton Bay. Southern Hampton. Beach Hampton. Middle Hampton. Hamptonhasset. Hampton Hackey. Left Hampton. Welcome to Hamptonshire. Up Hampton. NevRSkuff. Golden Goose Vodka. Golden Goose Brake Pads. Quality is job – yay yeah!
Downward Dog. A Yoga Studio for Pets. Lavendar, a shop for guest bathroom soaps. Julia’s late-afternoon scarves. Jane’s Not-Sure-What. The Enlightened Scoop Ice Cream Shop. Classic Scoops. Quince Jelly and Pepper, Market Greens. Bone Broth Brittle. Planes – Golden Goose Records, Beatz by Jay, JG-eanz Leatherwear. Shawn Carter Jewelry. Vitamin G. Laudanum B. Dr. Dres without borders. Horse Show Blacklake Investments, Utica’s Finest Champagne. Ignorital. Prancing equals torture. Wilson’s Garage. Jack Nicholson and Elton john are both at the auction. Jay G’s lawyer sticks his head out the window of the limo with the rest of Burns’ hounds.
Jay G “Monty Burnt” The Obsidian Album. Golden Goose Records. Golden Goose Repo Co. Golden Goose Realty. Peppermints and Pussy Willows By Marge. Volts by Jay. Count Vlad Burns. John Wilkes Burns. Ebenezer Burns. Benedict Burns. Revenge Meeting In Progress. Revenge Ideas – Ring doorbell and run, Sandwich made of acid, trick into spending all money on credit card that we secretly own. Gold Records on Walls Recording Studios. Hate Squad and the Rhyme Crime All Stars. Diss Rap Release Party. The Concert to Ruin Jay G. Lavender Zeppelin the Doorables. Non-paying customers can use our restrooms.