8,000 years into its run, the couch gag is pretty much the only element of The Simpsons that still consistently works, giving bored animators a chance to flex their muscles and generating positive buzz whenever the show’s producers can lure a high-end name in to provide a little spark. And while there’s no Guillermo Del Toro or Banksy attached to the upcoming gag for this week’s “Teenage Mutant Milk-Caused Heroes,” it does look to be one of the most ambitious opening shorts of the year.
Starring Homer as musclebound detective Joe “Kaz” Kazinsky, who fights crime with the aid of his sentient, pimped-out couch, “La-Z Rider” plays aggressively in the same ’80s-pastiching, neon-soaked vein that Comedy Central’s Moonbeam City operates in every week, complete with a tatted-up Ned Flanders as Kaz’s sinister nemesis, “Fernando Whitmore.”
And in the interest of saying something other than the same five things about the corrupting influence of Family Guy or pervading intellectual malaise that everybody always says about latter-era Simpsons—and ignoring the fact there was a time when the idea of lazily using “Push It To The Limit” from the Scarface soundtrack for an ’80s fantasy sequence, instead of crafting a brand new, parody-filled stylistic homage, would have gotten a Simpsons writer tossed out on their ear—this is actually kind of fun. If nothing else, the sheer number of background sign jokes and weird interpretations of the characters—Mr. Burns and Smithers pop up as Doc and Marty from Back To The Future for some reason, presumably “because it is the ’80s”—makes it worth watching with the pause button handy.