After last week delivered such a mediocre Treehouse of Horror, The Simpsons returned for its first regular episode after the FOX scheduling nightmare that is baseball.
It's tough to be too critical of the Jane Lynch-led "Replaceable You," after Treehouse set the bar so low for season 23's return.
First was the return of the underutilized Martin Prince, as Bart and the school's nerd teamed up to win the science fair.
Martin's reward? Aside from being taken down from the tree? A weirdly bisexual fantasy of being picked first for basketball. Anyone find that funny or more creepy for the fourth grader?
That's when the plotline went a little too out there, even for Simpsons standards, when their science project, an adorable seal, became part of a plot of funeral industry leaders to kill off nursing home residents. Yeah, you can't make that stuff up.
Luckily, the only victim was Mrs. Glick. The Simpsons rarely kills off a character and most of the time they seem to be a bigger deal. Either way, RIP Mrs. Glick and Doctor Hibbert's keys forever.
The only real highlights of the "A" story for me were appearances by Dr. Nick and Professor Frink and his team of nerds. Oh fine, there were some decent laughs at the science fair visual gags and the nursing home folk hitting up the kids for heroin.
Then there was the "B" story, where Jane Lynch's Roz stepped in. We're certainly not strangers to episodes based around Homer's lack of work ethic for the past 23 seasons, and here was another one.
This week, Homer had to deal with a back-stabbing assistant, Roz (Lynch), which he managed to defeat using the help of Stupid Flanders and the power of a hug. Yeah...
Again, like the "A" story, the strength of The Simpsons always resides in its ridiculous array of characters, and a little S.F. can go a long when used in short doses. Hail Flanders, mightier than Jesus.
Overall, it was two very weak plots held together with some decent jokes, mostly highlighted by visual gags. What did you all think? Feel free to check out my favorite Simpsons quotes from the half hour to help you decide.
Eric Hochberger is the programmer of TV Fanatic, so please forgive his mediocre writing. His programming is far better. Follow him on Twitter and/or email him. Just don't request threaded comments. They're coming.