I had a lot hope that "Moe Goes from Rags to Riches" would be an amusing episode, especially after the particularly clever couch-gag that opened the half hour.
As the family wanders from one sitcom set to another (moving from The Honeymooners to Dick Van Dyke to The Brady Bunch and ending with Cheers), they sighed in relief when they make it to their couch. Perhaps these nods to classic shows expresses a desire to cement The Simpsons as part of television history.
But that's not really necessary because The Simpsons is already a part of television history. Alas, the sitcom is beginning to seem as archaic as the programs it referenced in this opening. Episodes like this week's depict the fatigue of too many years on the air.
Moe, Springfield's resident sad sack, was sort of the focus. When everyone began mocking his lack of a best friend, I knew we were supposed to feel bad for Moe and his depressing little rag. However, the lonely-Moe bit has been used so many times before.
Moe has always been portrayed as an ugly loser/loner, but I think, over the years, he has built some friendships. So it's rather surprising that he would believe the rag was his only pal. The little bar rag was a good security blanket for Moe (the Yeti lovechild).
The use of the anthropomorphic rag was supposed to be quirky and funny, but the gag just didn't serve any purpose. Using Jeremy Irons' voice was a clever casting move; no one does lugubrious, yet sophisticated like this classy British actor. It added a some humor to the otherwise dull story. However, that addition couldn't bring up the substandard plot.
The rag's auspicious beginnings in Medieval France seemed like great set up for the episode.I thought the demonic-wool angle would carry on into the present day, but instead we were treated to a rushed story of the former tapestry as the narration tries to hit the most important historical milestones: Viking invasions, the Sistine Chapel, the Great Depression, etc. While this offered some great opportunities for sight gags and clever quips (tapestries were the rock stars of the Middle Ages!), it just didn't really add up to anything.
Did you find the rag's story witty or tedious?
Also slightly pointless this week was the fight between Milhouse and Bart. These two have had their disagreements in the past, but they've always remained friends. Milhouse is definitely the doormat in the relationship and that dynamic works for the most part. Having Milhouse suddenly get fed up with it could have been a good storyline, but he gives up on his newfound confidence far too quickly. The whole B-plot seemed like just a way to fill time in between the rag's autobiographic scenes.
It was really a waste of a good opportunity. Milhouse-plots always seem to amuse me, but not this time.
Is Milhouse getting boring? Or is the show just suffering from creative exhaustion?