So, The Simpsons Season 24 comes to close not with a bang, but a very long whimper.
Instead of the standard half-hour installment, the season concluded with an hour-long finale. The only problem was there really wasn't anything to connect the two stories
In fact, "The Saga of Carl; Dangers on a Train" were two separate episodes, so the question has to be asked: why? More than likely there was just one episode too many for this season, but honestly "The Saga of Carl" could have been dropped.
Beginning with the conceit of Homer, Lenny, Carl and Moe winning with Springfield lottery, the story took a weird turn. It's not that Carl taking the money was strange; although he was the least likely suspect for such a crime. In fact, Marge even mentioned that she would have expected that behavior from Moe or Homer or Lenny. No, the weirdness involved Carl's apparent Icelandic roots as an adopted Carlson.
The strange tale of the saga of the Carlsons and Carl's attempts to regain his family's pride was really just a contrived excuse to take a trip to Iceland. And possibly to explore the shallow friendship between the guys. In the end, it didn't seem to matter that they never talk about anything cause they do care about each other. And guys don't talk about their feelings, right?
Snore! Except for the one clever sight gag involving a "Fjord Fjiesta" in Iceland. That one made me chuckle.
Slightly better (but still annoyingly repetitive) was the story of Homer and Marge's anniversary. Marge thought Homer forgot, so she let herself flirt with a married man who had similar interests and, more importantly, was interested in her. We've seen both Homer and Marge tempted by other people on the show (Homer more than Marge), so we kinda already know where this is heading.
Instead of taking Marge for granted, Homer was actually working on a wonderful anniversary surprise for his wife, which once again validates her decision to stay loyal to their marriage.
The only thing that elevated this episode above the mundane was a Downton Abbey parody. Marge and Ben's obsession with the costume-drama Upton Rectory perfectly captured the global preoccupation with the PBS show.
Seth MacFarlane also provided an amusing addition to the episode, but he pulled his usual shtick of using his Stewie voice and Sinatra-style singing, which was definitely suffering from the law of diminishing returns.
At least there were some winning additions to our section of The Simpsons quotes. Read through them now.