The Simpsons: The Wreck of the Relationship, review

The Simpsons flounder in The Wreck of the Relationship.

Skateboard in the groin, it works on so many levels. Sadly, when The Simpsons opens with such a classic timeless set up, now growing tired, the rest of the episode will be turn out to be filler. The Relation Ship only works two ways. Pretty good. But only pretty good. Like the rest of the episode. It happens. The Simpsons have been around for 26 years and they threaten “The Wreck of the Relationship” with their viewers a few times per season.

Maybe I’m the bad dad, but I’ve never really seen Homer as all that lacking in parenting skills. Why, I’ve learned a lot from the way Homer is consistently edumacated by his kids. He may be a stubborn oaf but he grudgingly grows with the help and guidance of his family with every transgression. Of course, Homer never retains anything. This isn’t like in the case of Mr. Burns, where he will have an uncharacteristic twist of temperament only to revert to his old ways. Homer is a main character. The titular head of the family. If he learned from his mistakes and retained the information, The Simpsons would run into a wall.

Tonight The Simpsons hit a wall of foam in an almost rudderless episode cruising on autopilot. They named the episode “The Wreck of the Relationship,” which could almost be a nod to the overlong Gordon Lightfoot song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald.” It may have been a hit at the time, but it probably started out as the best filler material on an album.

Marge is always right, except when she’s wrong and she’s wrong fairly often. Bart really is a mini-Homer. Just like Homer is a chip off the old Abe. You can see the genetic animation evolution. Occasionally you see a little Marge in Bart, like in the episode where Homer builds Bart a bike, only to have it fall apart on its first ride. When Homer, in that episode, offers to build a killer robot, Bart says that it’s okay that Homer isn’t handy, he’s good at other things. Bart names something really inconsequential, but his encouragement is very reminiscent of Marge. Why am I spending so much time talking about another episode? Because tonight’s episode wasn’t much to talk about.

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Lisa is reduced to just a concerned bystander. And sadly eating her ice cream sundae. Probably because she already played the role that Marge is playing tonight. Lisa and Homer bonded years ago when the young overachiever studied plays and averages to handicap a whole betting season of football. Marge usurping Moe as the fantasy football champ is a hollow victory in a war that’s already been fought and fought funnier.

Nick Offerman could probably have been better used in the Fantasy Football subplot than on the Relation Ship. We know, quickie psychological fixes never work. They are a waste of time. The Simpsons have already skewered Est and other self-help cons. They’ve been reduced to making one up that is pretty far-fetched and doomed to failure, but not far-fetched enough or wrought with enough doom to create the classic Simpsons comedy mix. And the worst thing about it is that this sham self-help ploy works for Bart and Homer. It shouldn’t. Nothing should work for them. Yes, Bart should save the day and yes he should do it in spite of Homer instead of because of Homer, but they should leave therapy as clueless as they started. They are Simpsons, after all.

And what are the Flanderses doing there anyway? I don’t think even the writers knew, because they didn’t even give Ned and the boys much to do or say. Come on. Rod and Todd at sea? So many missed opportunities, what with the god-boys already moving toward an alternative lifestyle and all. Even Smithers knew “women and seamen don’t mix” in “King Homer.”

The best part of the episode was the opening Itchy and Scratchy couch gag. And the best part of that was the Fritz the Cat feline fatale cameo appearance.

Not the worst episode ever, but it was almost lost at sea. That might have been an improvement.

“The Wreck of the Relationship” was written by Jeff Westbrook. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Groundskeeper Willie, Gil Gunderson and Principal Skinner, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson, Pamela Hayden as Millhouse. Hank Azaria plays Moe Szyslak. Guest star: Nick Offerman as Captain Bowditch.

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But It All Went By So Fast: Fake Football Trash Talk: Lenny: Homer, your team sucks. Carl: Homer, your quarterback is garbage. Professor Frink: Your WR1 is at best a WR3. Sideshow Mel: Your flex suxx. Chief Wiggum: Your RB is worse than Arby’s. Kent Brockman: This just in: You Blow. Moe: I KILL YOU! Dr. Hibbert: Your team is dying and I’m pulling the plug (CHUCKLES). Rev. Lovejoy: Your defense is a sinkhole!

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2.5 out of 5