It's hard to resist the temptation to start every review with something about how The Simpsons have lasted 20 years, and what had to happen for this episode to exist. I admit it's a tired construction, but for whatever reason, it's been something recently that's been on my mind, and a very prevalent theme throughout this season. Tonight is not all that different: It's an episode that gives Homer a second, third, fourth chance to give Marge the dream wedding she's always wanted. How does the show pull off yet another wedding episode? By spending 5-6 minutes on the fact that Reverend Lovejoy had, somehow, nulled his priesthood for the last three months, so everything he officiated didn't count. So that wedding he did for Homer and Marge, back when Homer decided to surprise her with a divorce? Didn't count, and they're still split.
First of all, that was only three months ago in Simpsons time? Sure, whatever. (I'm thinking of the "I sleep in a race car, do you?" episode, but was there another one?) But because the show has to spend a bunch of time explaining why they are allowed to do what they are about to do—presumably to appease message board fans—they've wasted time they could be spending on the episode proper. It's only 5-6 minutes, yeah, sure, but now that there are four commercial breaks, that's, like, one fourth of the episode.
Not surprisingly, the rest of the episode was really hurried. So yeah, the Simpsons haven't been married this whole time, so Homer decides to give Marge a dream wedding after all. She goes overboard and becomes a Bridezilla, which causes Homer to leave her at the altar. Except, no, turns out he was kidnapped by the Bouvier sisters and held, Saw-style, in a basement, in the hopes that Marge would end things with Homer once and for all. That's a lot of ground to cover, and not much time to do it in.
But, was it funny? I wrote down "Pizza" in my notes, which was a bit that Homer had with Reverend Lovejoy when he showed up at the Simpsons's door unannounced: "Reverend Lovejoy, you're delivering pizzas now? We didn't order a pizza… but you don't have a pizza either," etc. As they say, I LedOL. Other than that, um, Sideshow Bob made a homoerotic appearance with Krusty, and, um, well, Helen was a man at one point… Guess it wasn't really all that great.
And speaking of! Family Guy. That's almost all I have to say about that. As each episode passes, it's becoming more clear that the writers have no idea how to best use Meg. She's often the butt of one sort-of-okay joke per episode, and then vanishes from sight. Tonight, she was the focus, which prompted Peter to literally tell people that they are free to change the channel. Hell, I bet a bunch did, and I bet they found more exciting things to do. The rest of us sat through a half hour of Brian being the bleeding heart liberal and atheist he always has been, counterpointed by Meg's complete blandness and not-at-all-endearing blind following of Kirk Cameron's religious messages. Meanwhile, Stewie kidnaps the cast of Star Trek and allows Patrick Stewart to do double-duty in the voiceover department for the evening; also, he takes them bowling. It was a pretty textbook Family Guy episode: Bring up a conflict early on that everyone in the family, minus that one person, has a problem with, then hammer the point home until the episode ends. Throw in a few random shampoo gags, another run of a gag that got old the first time around ("Thwill"), and call it an only mildly entertaining week, if that.
Also disappointing: American Dad didn't live up to the winning streak it's been on as of late. While still a good episode, I think one of the problems with "Wife Insurance" was that Stan and Francine remained apart for most of it, even though they were the central characters. At the beginning, Stan and his partner are trapped overseas, and Francine begins to preemptively lament the loss of her husband. Stan returns, and Francine tell him that, were he to die, she would have been okay with it, since she met the love of her life and was with him for however long. Stan, though, admits that he would probably move on, and hey, he's already picked out a back-up wife. This infuriates Francine, so she goes and tells Stan's painfully well endowed partner that he is her back-up husband. There was a lot of potential to really milk the shakiness that now exists between Stan and Francine—especially after she put all that out there the first time—but unfortuantely Stan goes off on another mission, albeit one with a midget hot air balloonist.
On the other side of the action, I really enjoyed Steve and Roger's cop duo, Wheels and Legman. This plot line pretty much played right to both of their wheelhouses—Steve enjoying the sheer imagination of it all, Roger demanding to always be the center of attention, and crack all the good wise. Plus, given everyone's abuse of Hayley's toothbrush, it appears Family Guy isn't the only show where the sister gets no respect.
The Simpsons "Wedding For Disaster": C+
Family Guy "Not All Dogs Go To Heaven": C
American Dad "Wife Insurance": B-
- So that's what Calvin sounds like.