The Simpsons: The Marge-ian Chronicles Review

The Simpsons launch an out of this world episode by turning into the skid.

This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.

The Simpsons: Season 27 Episode 16.

The Simpsons’s “The Marge-ian Chronicles” opens without a couch gag, which is usually good news even if the Simpsons have gone into space before. Now, with Homer an ex-astronaut who almost killed his entire crew out of the way, the intrepid explorers from Evergreen Terrace can move on, eventually.

The episode starts off briskly with a neighborly spat before taking its U-turn. This is also a hallmark of classic Simpsons. The love-hate relationship between the Simpsons and the Flanderses is an evergreen chestnut, a battle of wills as old as the show itself. The Simpsons’ godididly fearing neighborinos have turned all their collective cheeks and Homer never misses a chance to find new ways to let them be martyrs. When he does miss a chance, like finding out that there’ve been chickens being raised next door for the past six months, he martyrs Ned and the boys retroactively.

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But what can the Flanderses teach the Simpsons? Lessons I guess. Tonight Homer and Bart learn that theft adds flavor and enjoyment. They even test their theory. They steal food from Flanders and give a side by side comparison and prove, with mathematical precision, that theft is an addictive additive. Homer imparts quite a few knowledgeable tidbits tonight. While he probably won’t be alive long enough to teach Bart about sex, he goes a long way to edumacating the boy about females and their crazy ideas, like G-rated comedy clubs.

The Simpson family bring their chickens to roost in a cruelty-free lab, which means cosmetic companies can only be involved as corporate sponsors. The lab is a fertile breeding ground for crazy ideas. The hangar at Exploration Corporation seemed like the UFO manufacturing plant on The X-Files. Lisa is immediately filled with the joy of eventual discovery. Marge’s maternal instincts immediately kick in.

The mother-daughter dynamic on The Simpsons is rife with suspenseful give and take. Lisa is smart, very smart. She’s a genius. She’s an overachiever. She’s also the saddest little girl in grade number two. Lisa sees her mom as unfulfilled potential. But instead of encouraging that potential, Lisa stomps on it. Homer backs Marge at every turn. He’s learned it’s the only way to circumnavigate the perils of the matrimonial speed track. Married life is a hydroplane and Homer turns in to the slide.

The family decides to turn in to the slide together and it looks like it might even work until the Ego lands. Springfield’s geekiest all turn out for the chance to ride the rocket to Mars. Skinner sees it as the ultimate field trip. I’m surprised Martin didn’t try out. Of course, he might have gone with the competitive flight with different corporate sponsorship. Martin would have been added unnecessary layer to the episode, but The Simpsons usually have no problem dispensing with annoyances early and inexplicably. Just ask Disco Stu.

Lisa sees Mars as a wonderful beginning. While the earth is on its way to its ultimate destiny as a barren, lifeless planet, our cosmic neighbor is a pristine red beauty where a true utopia can blossom and jazz can be the official music. Marge is okay with all of that, especially the jazz part, because that’s just the right distance from it you have to be to truly appreciate it. Unlike Loverboy, a band so electrifying it can only truly be appreciated in the rain.

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Lisa and Marge’s tensions weren’t actually the seeds of the humor in the episode. The funny happened around them and they were largely oblivious. Of course Marge was going to enjoy the sterile environment of space. She’s been prepping for this all her life. She’s the poster child for Mop ‘n’ Brag in a sanitarchical society where cleanliness is godliness. And her motherly instincts would definitely drive her to follow her daught into space.

Lisa has also been getting ready for this trip forever. Well, since preschool at least. She is a math major who loves science and education in all its forms. She is a teacher’s pet and a middle child and it’s just in her DNA. But she doesn’t see that if she had partnered with Marge they would have worked perfectly together. Lisa is selfless but self-centered. Marge is self-sacrificing and sanctimonious.

“The Marge-ian Chronicles” was a very funny episode. It moved fast and didn’t skimp on rapid-fire succession in the lines. This season has been a little ponderous and subtle, the early part hardly worth mentioning, but The Simpsons have been inching up the quality a little bit each week. Not only did the writers give enough story to render the couch gag superfluous, the ever-energetic Exploration Inc. chiefs continued riffing through the end credits. More is better. And Homer probably still isn’t full.

“The Marge-ian Chronicles” was written by Dan Brian Kelley and directed by Matthew Faughnan and Chris Clements. 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 Stars: Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster.

But It All Went By So Fast:  Chippo’s Potato Chips. Food Sauce. Atlantical: Canada Builds Border Fence. Regional Geographic: All Frogs Gone. Scientist American: Scientists: Mad Max 100 Optimistic. Times: Our Full Planet Preview. Rational Review: Larry the Cable President? Staying close from far away. Virtual hug machine: Like they never left. Posters: Mars. Mercury 7 Astronauts. The Solar System (eight planets). Mega Charge. Fantasy-lunatics.com. Trudge-rite Work Boots. Draft-Pigs.com. Fig Glutens. Hab Sweet Hab. Nutrition Zone Sterilization Sequence. Terminal Events Volume 4: Cannibalism-Cyanide Leak. E.V.A. Suit Patch Kit. Summertime Salty Italian. Caesar Alfredo. Hickory Pineapple. Jerk Marinara.

Rating:

4 out of 5