The Simpsons: What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting, review

April showers do not bring Matt Lauers.

The Simpsons “What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting” reminds us that alcohol is the cause of, and answer to, all of life’s problems. That and voodoo. People will tell you that booze and voodoo don’t mix. Who are these people? Probably the same people who say booze and drugs don’t mix. Leaving others to say don’t knock it til you’ve tried it. You can’t do good voodoo without a little rum, like you can’t make a good soup without killing a couple chickens. The Simpsons has been dabbling in voodoo for years, at least since the Simpsons kids raised the dead. At least the car was all right.

The Simpsons’ “What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting” opens, after a couch gag, “Inside Homer,” that was a fantastic voyage through the body Homer, on our hero: Moe. Moe has been dispensing drinks at his dive since Jedidiah Springfield’s time, it seems, between getting his eyes blackened as a Little Rascal. Mom and pop bars are losing business to trendy upstarts and wine-by-the-gallon chains. The only way to fight neon is with neon, and the cocktail collective decides to save the saloons with a superhero pub crawl. With a face like Moe’s on video pause, how could that go wrong?

Who’d’a thunk El Barto wouldn’t like art class. It would seem like a natural easy slacker slide. But no, Bart’s doodles are a little too disturbing and usually land him in counseling. So to battle it Bart dabbles in a darker art. Cut-rate voodoo. Premixed gris-gris. Thumb of newt and tear of chum stuff. The incantations rolls off Bart’s tongue like he was the devil’s own and daddy would be proud. Fourth graders doing voodoo, what could go wrong?

The news hits the schoolyard the very next day. Once again, The Simpsons are the slug crawling across a straight razor in the heart of the darkness of social taboo. It was Ralph Wigum who broke the news. Bart Simpson got a teacher pregnant. But The Simpsons aren’t going to get into Mary Kay Letourneau territory, not this week. After Principal Skinner skirts the dirty details and Superintendent Chalmers’ daughter dips a tongue, Bart is declared a Womb Wizard, a Lucy Van Pelt version of a lemonade stand Houngan. Soon Bart’s getting the whole town pregnant.

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The Simpsons consistently turn as many possibilities upside down as they can. Every option they choose is the guaranteed to be the most absurd or subversive. Homer yells “I’ll teach you to answer people’s prayers” he is making fun of all spiritual endeavor with the throttle of a throat. I mean, this is the guy who invented Naked Frisbee golf, why am I surprised by his incisive perception? He comes across so Joe Six Pack ambiguous, but is so accidentally clever. So consistently.

Where did Homer get the costume change during the big number, “Let Them Play?” I love Simpsons song parodies. This one is no “See My Vest,” but it’s got some great rhymes. What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting slides a little on getting the horses pregnant. I mean there’s Fat Tony in a stable with all those horses and we don’t hear a single horse’s head in the bed bit or even a reference to Pie-O-Mie, Ralph Cifaretto’s horse on The Sopranos. I guess the producers couldn’t go too far with a fourth grader getting teachers pregnant but at least they got some mileage out of the equine love triangle. But I’ve never seen Johnny Tightlips so happy.

We learn that when Marge breaks things in the Simpsons house, it’s really Maggie to blame. Darn kiln cups. Groundskeeper Willis is buff as ever in class. Homer lets slip another hint about Mr. Smithers, everyone knows, right? Tonight’s episode had every element of a classic. But instead of driving us home in a limo, they take us back in a loaner. The Simpsons got in a Modern Family joke, they owed them one. As much as I liked voodoo and booze, the gangsters and hot teachers, the delightfulness ended hours ago. After I changed the channel.

“What to Expect When Bart’s Expecting” was written by John Frink. The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer Simpson, Groundskeeper Willie and Principal Skinner, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Selma and Patty Bouvier, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson and Nelson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson, Pamela Hayden as Millhouse. Hank Azaria plays Moe Szyslak. Guest star: Joe Mantegna.

But It All Went By So Fast:  Apu’s billboard says Total Recall: All Items Tainted. Bars at Moe’s meeting: Poppawheelies, the Aristocrat, Moe’s, Wanna B. Actors, Cletus’ Moonshine Shack and the Airport Lounge. Nick Fury Agent of Schnappes: Welcome Aboard Bongo, Sex in the Batmobile and Wolveriskey. Bar names at pub crawl: Drunkenstein, Sir Soused a Lot, Well-Hung-Overs, The Stein Way, Stinko’s on Main, Five O’Clock Somewheres, The Bendy Elbow.  Voodoo, Hexes, Curses, Checks Cashed. Duff: Great Taste Is Always Pulled by Horses.

Den of Geek Rating: 4 Out of 5 Stars

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4.5 out of 5