The Simpsons look into the long-forgotten past of six years ago. The president back then was the president and the popular music of the time was all the rage. Photo developers had just been declared extinct and Bart and Lisa Simpson fought likes creationists and common sense. Much like today’s Springfield, it was even drawn as clearly.
The older, rougher renditions of the show capture the grittier reality they were trying to reflect. The young versions of the characters lose their sting with the edges are smoothed. As The Simpsons bear overtly left in their politics they cut less. It’s not that the writers have become more politically correct, but they lose a large portion of their arsenal. Tonight’s episodes had nothing overtly political, and their social commentary is still on target. I particularly liked the bit about Social Services, but being a parent, I probably should put that in print.
“The Kids Are All Fight” deals with Bar and Lisa’s sibling rivalry. All kids, except the Flenderses, rough house and make each other their scape goats, but the two Simpsons kids with lines have always gone beyond what’s necessary. They often collaborate but their competitive natures usually get the better of them. It’s hard for them not to be, they both excel in their given talents. One is smart and good and one is dim and evil. As a reviewer, it would be a SPOILER to say which one is which. Though I will hint by saying that Lisa is the kid who kills the 100-year-old Grandma Flanders with her “Hell’s Bells” prayer
The episode started strong. Solid jokes with codas told in a rapid, almost overlapping pace, but faded. There were also some very poignant moments, like Bart’s first strangling, to the tune of Richard Strauss’s “Also Spoke Zarathustra,” famous for the discovery scenes in Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Oddessy.” We also saw Bart’s first encounter with the neighborhood bullies’ teaching fists. It was also almost nice to see flashback Maude Flanders again, almost as nice as brunch.
Homer’s parenting is as good as his photography. Bart may have put Lisa in the washing machine without using fabric softener, forced her to swallow his train set or even partake of afternoon tea while gagged, but it was all fine as long as the light was good. He does make a good seagull, diving into Marge’s open boardwalk garbage can in role-play sex.
The trust exercise from the child psychiatrist was a Simpsons chestnut joke. Every couple of episodes someone excuses themselves to get something from their car, only to drive off or from another room, only to escape from a window and speed off, or once in a while they just say “I have to stand over there.”
The line “your smarts and my Barts,” is kid clever, a cloying cliché kind of joke that ties things together that are better left unspooled. Not quite the cliché as psychic gets hit by car, never saw it coming, but Selma pulls that one off.
The Seinfeld bass slapping of The Simpsons theme is enough to place the flashback in the 90s. Ralph Wiggum is best as a third wheel, going round and round, round and round. The kids brave the death valley zombie old people in Springfield Retirement Castle like it’s a haunted castle. Moe has a sweat shop in his bar where kids toil the night away making those little drink umbrellas.
Marge’s revelation that Maggie’s room used to be the room where she grow her weed seems a bit out of character for the Simpsons matriarch. Homer has always been upfront about his love of the verdant plant, but Marge seems a little too uptight to be a former inhaler. However, we know, from the “Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily” episode from season 3, that the only thing Marge gets high on is love. Love for her son and daughters. Yes, a little LSD is all she needs.
The Simpsons often look to the past to break with canon. It usually suffers in comparison. While “The Kids Are All Fight” kept up the pace of the jokes, they had less and less impact as the kids wheeled their way to the uneasy truce they maintain to this day. Lisa still controls the relationship by letting Bart think he’s in charge. But he can still beat a two-year old. And be proud of it.
“The Kids Are All Fight” was written by Rob LaZebnik and directed by Bob Anderson. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Pattie and Selma Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Chief Wiggum and Moe Szysla. Harry Shearer is Ned Flanders. Maggie Roswell plays Maude Flanders.
But It All Went By So Fast: Monty Burns is The Jinx 2. Playbill Sea Captain and Chief Wiggum are The Sunshine Boys. Citation: Indecent Snowman building. Coal Boobs. Carrot Wang. Total $50. Selma and Bob Terwillinger Together in love forever. Come for the drinking fountain, stay for the lifetime of learning. See and Psalm. The Gilded Truffle. Bart and Lisa in ‘Criminal Neglect.’ They scream toward ice cream. Where daddy peed. Sleeping place. Where Bart got sick. Giant donut God. Hose of Milhouse. Aunt Farm. Can’t read yet. Cop surrenders to scarecrow. What to do when your children are missing: 1) One parent goes out to loo, ne mans the phone. 2) It’s better if the one who goes out is the funny one. Sour Duds.