The Simpsons: I have no idea what The Simpsons was trying to do tonight. On one hand, it felt like a Platonic example of late-period Simpsons lack of quality: It relied almost entirely on guest stars (Cheech & Chong) and topical references (hoarding), along with a minor character who didn't really need fleshing out (the Crazy Cat Lady). But what made it even worse was that it seemed to be designed as a tongue-in-cheek homage to Cheech & Chong's comedy. It didn't seem to like them, and it didn't expect you to like them either, but it wanted to say, “Hey, these guest stars we have were really famous or something once!”
Whatever the causes, the effects were pretty pathetic. Too much winking at the camera about Cheech & Chong's stoner humor gave the impression that The Simpsons was pulling a MacFarlane show reference stunt: “Look, we're making a pop culture reference, but we know it sucks, so it's ironic, right?” Normally, there's some respite to be found in the B-plot, but one where Marge discovers that the Cat Lady is a hoarder, helps her, and becomes a hoarder herself wasn't going to offer that respite. I've never liked Cat Lady as a recurring character, though her one initial joke was quite funny. But that was based on shock value and Lisa's self-righteousness, not the character herself. She's not as bad as Family Guy's Herbert, but she operates in a similarly unfunny, one-joke section of the The Simpsons' setting. Adding an oh-so-timely reference to hoarding doesn't help at all.
Nothing really works in this episode. Even the clever animations of Homer imagining pot-fueled adventures with Cheech don't really work, which has been the saving grace of mediocre Simpsons episodes this season. Pretty much the only part that really made me smile was Bart inexplicably summing everything up as Puck from A Midsummer Night's Dream at the end. Otherwise? Worst. Episode. Of the season. D
Bob's Burgers: Remember back at the very beginning of The Simpsons, when Bart was the main character? He got all the t-shirts, he got all the catch-phrases, and who could forget this on their Top 40 radio stations? Rather quickly, the Simpsons' creative team realized that Homer, not Bart, was their star. Something similar might be happening with Bob's Burgers, where Bob, who is not in any way a bad character, is typically overshadowed by his ridiculously funny children. In tonight's episode, Bob is pushed just slightly into the background, the kids get a few more lines, and it turns into a bit of a mess, but it's an often-funny and charming mess.
Linda has decided to turn the family's apartment into a bed & breakfast for the “long weekend,” which Bob opposes on the grounds that whenever she hosts, she turns into a crazy person. Knowing people who are like that, it definitely felt like a storyline built on realistic emotion. Of course, weirdness soon followed. One guest was an entymologist, and the others were a young couple who just want to spend time in their room, practicing being escape artists with their handcuffs. Tina quickly bonds with the entymologist, or rather, his bugs and their “so romantic” mating habits. The guests are unimpressed with Linda's hostessing, but downstairs in the restaurant, Teddy sounds like the most appreciative bed & breakfast guest ever. So Linda invites him to stay the weekend, in Louise's room, which leads the apparently extremely possessive Louise to swear vengeance on the both of them.
Bob participates mostly as an annoyed bystander, leaving the bulk of the comic work for the rest of the family. The best bits take the form of murmured asides by the kids, usually when Linda is being excessive and they quickly toss out reactions. This, I'd imagine, is a benefit of the Bob's Burgers voiceover sessions, which are done before the animation and allow for improvisation by the cast members. This episode lacked some of the big laughs like last week's episode had, but it had a pleasant weirdness and expansion of the form that Bob's Burgers needs if it's going to work. Also, it ended with Linda rating the bed-and-breakfast experience a “B&B+!”
The Cleveland Show: I have to be a broken record and say, once again, that Cleveland had a decent start, then lost all its momentum. An opening trailer for The Cleveland Show: The Movie was nice and silly, and it ended with the quote “See it high! Or else… YOU WON'T ENJOY IT!” Amen, Cleveland Show, but that's not my preferred method of inebriation.
Last week, a few of you asked me why I was reviewing The Cleveland Show when I clearly didn't like it. The simple answer is that I'm paid for the whole block, which includes Cleveland. But hey, there's a bigger question here, which is: Why am I reviewing it equally with the other, more interesting and better shows? My writing (and sanity) are probably better off giving much of the attention I give to Cleveland to other shows. So consider this a generic review:
This show is generally boring, with extremely poor pacing. There might be a couple good gags at the beginning, but otherwise, it's a waste of time. D
With that in mind, I'll try and just give a quick recap most weeks, and if it does do something especially good or horribly offensive, it'll get the attention it deserves. Until then…
In tonight's episode, Cleveland discovers that his parents are totally broke. In order to get revenge on his apparently abusive father, he overworks him, until he discovers that it was his mom who was the real problem. Then they make up. The episode is worth it if you couldn't wait for Cleveland and his pals to get into drag, and there are a couple decent jokes about Cleveland's childhood stuff and memories. The definition of forgettable. C
- “Who are Beavis and Butthead?” Oh, The Simpsons, you're just wallowing in your age now.
- “Then what did I just smoke?”
- “That's not the Cheech & Chong brand!”
- “Save lust and rage for me and the kids!”
- “Too high in trans fats.” “Awwwwww, stop speaking Spanish.”
- “But mom, just put Tina by the toilet!” “YEAH!” “I don't mind.”
- “It wasn't a perm; it was a body wave.”
- “I'm not a doctor. But that's a raisin.”
- “Ding-dong! It's for you!” “Mm-mm.” “You should answer it, it might be a package!”
- “I'll see you in hell, Teddy! I'll see you in HELL!”
- “Gene! Take that off!” “NEVER!”
- “Cleveland! Cleveland… I'm your bear now…”
- “I ain't no damn mouse cobbler.”
- “Kinda rinkidink.”