After 23 seasons, The Simpsons has reached a milestone: 500 episodes!
Fortunately, "At Long Last Leave" was one of the more amusing outings on months. It left a really good impression of the long-running series, but even with some clever ideas and hilariously Simpsons quotes, things still felt a little bit stale.
The show's opening offered up some nostalgic pangs as it rapidly raced through past couch gags with Marge, Homer, Bart, Lisa and Maggie rushing to their places on the family sofa. It was a nice touch, but it definitely made me miss The Simpsons of old. All those classic gags connected us to the classic Simpsons episodes that went with them. And, unfortunately, reminded me of how these last few years have paled in comparison.
However, the beginning of the episode delivered some hope for an amusing night. The Simpsons are banished from Springfield in a covert town meeting. When the townspeople go through their list of grievances against the family (Bart's pranks, Lisa's environmental initiatives and Homer's drunken shenanigans), it's surprising that the "worst Simpson of all" is actually Marge. Her ability to humanize her crazy family has led the town to forgive them for far too long.
The whole "Simpsons as social pariahs" isn't a new theme. We've seen it in a Halloween episode, a Christmas one and even in the The Simpsons Movie. The repetitive nature of the newest Simpsons episodes is probably one of the hardest things to cope with as a long-time fan of the sitcom. However, this time it didn't really detract too much from the fun of the episode.
Here, the family finds a new place of exile, the Outlands, an off-the-grid utopia. While this home isn't as picturesque as Alaska, it's a perfect fit for everyone but Marge. However, Marge's homesickness is easily cured when she sees what jerks her neighbors really are. But that doesn't stop the Springfieldians from deciding they'd like to experience life off-the-grid as well.
Pretty soon it becomes it clear that people just can't go on without the Simpsons, and the Outland becomes a new Springfield. So Lenny, Carl, Moe, etc. cannot live without this dysfunctional family... but can we?
The Simpsons won't be on forever ... in fact they are getting down to their last few seasons. I don't know if I'm ready yet. Will television ever be the same? How much will we miss this animated family?
Aside from making me really question the continued relevance of the series, I was really happy to find that there were some very amusing antics and jokes. I felt like the writers really tried to create something entertaining for the 500th episode, and I hope they continue to work this hard in the future.
Some of my favorite moments:
- Maggie channeling Mad Max in her Outland home was too cute. She may be little, but she is fierce!
- Homer's "Man-ing up" and "Girl-ing Down" was a hilarious scene!
- Homer's discovery that there are bad ideas (some very bad ideas) made me laugh too.
The only thing that didn't really work for me was Julian Assange as a guest star. The "Wiki-leaks" reference was a bit out-dated, and the whole cameo seemed less appropriate in light of his possible extradition for rape.
Do you agree? Where do you stand on this guest-starring appearance?