Say what you will about modern-era Simpsons: when it bothers to go after something ambitious—which mostly happens in the pre-episode couch gags these days—it’s still capable of generating something legitimately beautiful and smart. Case in point: the teaser for this Sunday’s episode, a lushly animated Disney homage from veteran animator Eric Goldberg.
Goldberg—who was responsible for the animation of the Genie in 1992’s Aladdin, and who went on to direct the company’s Pocahontas and portions of Fantasia 2000—takes the Simpson family through five different eras of The House Of Mouse’s history. “Disney-fying” popular characters has become so popular that there are whole DeviantArt accounts devoted to nothing but, but it’s worth pointing out how well Goldberg manages to merge the show’s aesthetic with the look of the eras he’s mimicking. There’s also a really pleasing attention to detail here: take a look at the sketchiness of Homer-as-Baloo, capturing the rough edges of the character designs on the 1967 Jungle Book.
The short clip ends with the Simpson clan being turned back into their normal selves, so that they can get on with the regular episode. Meanwhile, their disappointed expressions possibly reflect the feelings of the show’s long-suffering audience, who—given how much buzz these special couch gags tend to generate—might be just as happy if the show gave up this whole “episodic storytelling” thing and became a showcase for more inventive animated shorts.