A little Grandpa goes a long way, almost the length of Matlock Expressway, which was built by the elderly bully voting bloc of Springfield. In The Simpsons episode “The Winter of His Content,” Abe Simpson slouches to conquer. But at what cost? The cost of a lackluster episode, sagging like the earlobe falsies Homer was sporting. Still leaps ahead of any other TV sitcom, this episode needed some Simpson and Son Revitalizing Tonic.
The Springfield Retirement Castle is closed down for multiple health violations. Dr. Hibbard picks up his father and it is revealed, as we all suspected, he is the son to Redd Foxx’s Fred Sanford. This is the dummy who thought he could coach a basketball team, play buck buck with or without Fat Albert and be an international spy, but will always owe a debt to the comic who went blue before anyone. Aging is a societal problem that The Simpsons tackle regularly. It really is wrong to leave the elderly in a kennel. I mean, you wouldn’t do that to a dog.
Marge, of course, the moral trapezoid at the center of Springfield, understands you shouldn’t leave old people on street corners and turns Evergreen Terrace into a little slice of Collins Ave. Three octogenairiasauruses take their pills and paddles and set up shop on the cots. Their generation did their part in World War II and The Rockford Files and Homer’s happy to leach off them while they do no part in his. He learned that from Lisa, who is looking to her future and the father she’ll one day have to lock in a home. Maybe one day soon. He has suffered a lot of head trauma.
Homer is forced to face his own inevitable slide into the Abe Simpson he is fated to be. We’ve always known it. With a couple more lines, a darker shade of yellow and a little off the top, Homer is Abe. Homer has always been just a fig off his old man’s Newton. Just like Bart is the Homer-to-be of his generation. Bart seems to have little more going for him, but he’ll put a stop to that. It takes too much work. He learned that from Homer.
Homer’s always been looking for the lazy way out and old age suits him. But it doesn’t suit us. Episodes with Homer stuck in the mud never really moves forward. His life is already an endless parade of drudgery. If this feels like a retread, it’s because Homer’s already taken the elderly pass when he hung at the old age home himself. Well, it’s been 25 years, it’s not like everyone’s seen that episode, like Sting 2. Things like breakfast at six in the morning, leisurely mall strolls masquerading as exercise and Bingo and BBQ night suit him. We get that. Homer is sloth. But he’s a 38 year old sloth, not a 79 year old sloth. He still knows how to bring Marge a hot chicken dinner. His initiation into old age as comfortable as a bath of warm urine, as long has he doesn’t have to clean it.
At Springfield Elementary, Bart and Nelson bond over hand me down underwear. Nelson wears his mom’s old Naughty Lady undies, Bart is wearing Homer hand-me-down gorilla thingies he got from the circus. But as we know, Homer would also hand his son down women’s underwear, which he wears strictly as a comfort thing. Bart and Nelson could very well both be wearing panties. Bart may very well be lucky on just this one day. Bart and Nelson have bonded over many touching things. They both had parents in jail (Ha ha, you’re dad’s a jailbird. So’s yours. Oh yeah, let’s go play.). Nelson used to date Lisa. Bart has stood up to Nelson and stood up for Nelson. There’s always been a mutual fear and disrespect. Nelson’s gang of bullies has been looking to recruit Bart since season 1.
Bart’s initiation at the graveyard for stolen bicycles is a classic case of I wouldn’t be in a club that would have me for a member. That is unless you’re a witness to who’s in this not-so-secret society of bullies. Bart doesn’t really have in him the requisite cruelty it takes to be a bully. He’ll develop it. His father has it in him. Homer has fantasized about beating and bullying hippies, phonies and Flanderses forever. He probably got it from his old man. Abe got to bully Mr. Burns, would have done the same thing to Santa if he got the chance, dagnabit.
It’s been a month since Roger Hill, who led all the gangs of New York City and boroughs to the gang unity in the Bronx in the 1979 cult classic The Warriors, died. Hill was a native New Yorker who never left and was every bit the magnetic Cyrus as he was in Hamlet. I was glad to see him immortalized in the extended movie segment. The legendary bully warrior, Chester, calls a bully summit in Little Pwagmattasquarmsettport, and anyone who’s ever taken someone else’s lunch money has to attend. Or else. It seems that the day of the bully is over, popular music turned its back on it, filmmakers exposed it and cyberbullying just took all the humanity out of it. Chester is a visionary. Can you dig it? Bart’s gang, of course, is the wrongly accused Warriors and it’s sling-daddy Bart’s Lil Bastard slingshot that offs Cyrus, I mean Chester.
The Springfield Bullies are chased all the way back uptown by the most horrific and violent street gangs from as far away as Shelbyville. These kids are ruthless. They should be feared and loathed, but they’re not heartless bullies. They stop the now-armed bus they stole to pick up passengers. Whether they have exact change or not.
After the Springfield retirement home closes, what next? The coda had Abe still living at the house. Usually the Simpsons don’t really care about that kind of continuity, but I’m just conjecturing here. Abe in the house might liven things up a bit, as long as there aren’t too many episodes with him at the center. Not the worst episode ever, but if you’re not a Simpsons fan already, don’t start by watching this one. Although, it is possible that a fresh eye on this would cut it more slack. In a few years, when I run into this on syndication, it might not seem so bad. It’s not like there weren’t any laughs. You really can count on The Simpsons for laughs. It just didn’t leave me wheezing to catch my breath. It was a tad tired.
“The Winter of His Content” was written by Kevin Curran. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer and Abe Simpson , Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Selma and Patty Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson, Harry Shearer as Skinner and Jasper Beardsley, Pamela Hayden as Milhouse and Jimbo, Tress MacNeille as Dolph.
But It All Went By So Fast: The graffiti on the wall at Bart’s initiation reads: Scram Dames!, Misogynist and Proud and Death Before Ladies Tees! Skobo’s has New Duct Tape On Our Booths. Bart is reading Where the Dweebs Are. The Best Places to Bully in America. Featured that month is M.I.T. The gangs at the summit include The Blinky Sneaks, Krusty’s Kids, The Purple Nurples, The Scary Potters and The Baseball Furries.
Den of Geek Rating: 2.5 Out of 5 Stars