The Simpsons: Season 28 Episode 5
This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.
I was very hopeful going in to this episode because it was written by frequent guest star Harry Shearer, who co-wrote This Is Spinal Tap, some of the best skits Saturday Night Live did in the early 90s and other assorted sundry. Shearer held out on signing up again for another season of The Simpsons because, he said, the quality was going down. He delivers a classically-structured episode of the Simpsons here.
“Trust But Clarify” is very layered and the characterizations are deep. The jokes come so fast, they are often stacked on top of each other and the sight gags are perfectly paced. The couch gag is replaced by true existential crisis in animated reality. While the rest of the Simpsons and Springfield at large become part of the cubist art movement, Homer finally surrenders to the changing reality but only manages to transform into the polka dotted struts of comic strip coloring.
The show even reverted to opening with an Itchy and Scratchy cartoon. “Mousetrapping a Murderer,” complete with a rendition of the Making a Murderer musical theme, is a perfectly subversive encapsulation of the episode. It is an updated reference that points to a rising TV journalistic tradition, the long-form news documentary series, that acts as a preamble to the fallen reporter.
The episode focuses on anchorman Kent Brockman, who has been fired in disgrace from Springfield’s local news for reporting news first person and singular. He is replaced by Arnie Pyle, the former traffic reporter in the sky. Krusty the Clown is once again the symbol of celebrity corporate greed, with his newest snacks following in the tradition of his Krusty-Os, delicious but deadly.
Krusty’s new Krustaceons snacks are part of a long line of sorry products that have gotten met the “high standards” of Krustylu Studios’ head enchilada. The merchandiser who brought the world such culinary gutbusters as their pork sandwich, The Clogger, whose advertising dared “If you can find a greasier sandwich, you’re in Mexico,” and Chocolate Frosted Frosty Krusty Flakes, which promised that “Only sugar has more sugar.” All the food from the TV clown’s franchises is guaranteed to taste funny, usually funnier than his corny, stolen jokes.
It is no wonder that the secret ingredient is formaldehyde, it’s been keeping Mr. Burns alive so long, it’s considered a vitamin supplement in Springfield. Just look at the wondrous effects it’s had on Ralph Wiggum. But leave it to Lisa to take all the fun out of poison. During the Krusty The Clown Show’s product placement segment, the captions runs the disclaimer that the candy the clown is selling is absolutely not delicious. But the Krusty Prime Members’ sample testing have already given the board members enough positive feedback not to oust their titular figurehead.
Lisa and Bart are once again cast in their familiar roles of solving the problems of the minor characters by their, or Lisa’s rather, intrepid investigations. Homer gives a more than half-hearted attempt at self-improvement. This, of course, thrills Marge, though she keeps her expectations vigilantly lowered. All of these elements have come into play before, after all this is Springfield, the very symbol of the small town. Shearer only plays with the pieces on the board, the way The Simpsons were at the beginning and the episode expands by remaining small.
When Brockman stumbles, he stumbles into a whole new world of what passes for news. SEO has replaced Associated Press style and everything has to do more than bleed to lead. Brockman’s ideas are as fresh as yesterday’s leisure suits and he becomes spokesperson for the town, aside from just its talking head. The town of Springfield is in a constant state of stagnant flux. Homer’s decision to update his wardrobe underscores how Lenny is still rocking those suspenders, though I noticed he wasn’t wearing them by the end of the episode.
Everything moves forward, onward and upward, but nothing really changes. Homer’s ambition will play itself out, just as his cleavage will return to get him out of trouble. Kent Brockman will be back at the anchor desk, having shaved the prerequisite David Letterman/Al Gore beard of self-imposed hermitry. You don’t see Tom Brokaw losing his electric razor. Krusty will hack up another nutritiously-negligible nibble and Bart will be the first to try it. Millhouse and Nelson will both treasure Lisa’s least-edible leavings as intimate kisses.
By sticking to the earliest of the shows formulas, Shearer makes it almost fresh. There is still too much gloss in the new animation, which dampens both the setups and the punchlines.
“Trust But Clarify” was written by Harry Shearer and directed by Michael Polcino. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer 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 Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. The special guest was Dan Rather.
Chalkboard: The first episode of the second 600.
But It All Went By So Fast: Beware rigged voting machines. All voting machines fine. People Vs. Itchy – Crimes: Hanging, gouging, stabbing, kicking, inflating, freezing, breaking. Fresh Cut Meat becomes Fresh Cat Meat, cruelty-free. Veterans of Unpopular Wars. The Late Late Late Show with Jimmy Jimmy.
Kent Brockman has never heard of Talking Heads. Kent has the largest forehead in the news business. Kent has no interesting ancestors. Comedy suits for the homeless. Kent be trusted. Potboiler magazine: The Thrilling Art of Making Great Soup.
Duller Image. The 9 cents store. Bruised Banana Republic, Boarders, No Books. Bed Bath and Beware. Channel 6 Pye on the Ground. Rod Lewin’s “Restricted” Lifestyle Gallerium. Come Back Soon. Everything with Black Mold 20 percent off.
Best Regional White Haired Anchor. Outstanding Segue: Non-Tragic. Dancing With the Press. Channel 8 Softball MVP. Sorry no ethnic foods in microwave. Yum. Pye twice a day.
Bizzfad. 100 actors who were never considered for James Bond. The 20 people Donald Trump hasn’t insulted. The 6 Things You Don’t Know About 6 Things. The Queen of England Met an Alligator. What Happens Next Will Amaze You. Rod Lewin.
Former Anchor Support Group Meeting. We won’t be right back. Integrity, Ego, Vanity and Fake Tan.