Episode 14 - At Long Last Leave
7 March 2012
Synopsis: The Simpson family is lured into a bomb shelter while the town have a secret meeting about exiling them. The Simpsons end up in the Outlands, a small community of the off-grid homeless. Marge and Homer sneak back into Springfield for one night but are found and leave claiming the Outlands is their new home now. Soon the residents of Springfield come calling to see just how great this new town is.
The Good: I actually didn't enjoy the opening montage of Couch Gags much because it was all so brief and I've never once laughed at one. But I do appreciate the effort put into it and it seemed appropriate for the show's 500th episode. The only part of the actual episode which I enjoyed was Homer and Marge sneaking into Springfield and drunkenly reminiscing about their time together. That little vignette did touch upon just how long it feels like these two have been together and how pleasant their love remains. It also fitted into the story (at that point) about how much they missed Springfield.
The Bad: However that point was soon lost when they claimed that they loved their new home in the Outlands, something that was clearly not true. If they had been bluffing then no problem but in the next scene it became clear that they had actually fallen for their new town despite no evidence as to why. Then the residents of Springfield all came pouring in trying to start a new life.
Ok so the idea here is that despite banishing the Simpson family, Springfield is still a crummy place to live. So Lenny and Carl and Moe are all coming to find out if the Outlands might be a fresh start. That makes sense right? Well not really because then in moves everyone else and they bring civilisation with them. If they were looking to escape Springfield then why would they erect the same buildings and landmarks? I guess at some point those left behind were just following those leaving to keep the town together but that idea had no time to take hold because this all happened in the space of two minutes.
If you didn't see the episode then take my word for it, the writers had no idea what they were saying. This was just a mish mash of old ideas from the Simpson family leaving town (502 and the Simpsons Movie), to the town moving (922) and various stories about hillbillies, rednecks, the homeless or the otherwise estranged (2107 for example). There was no moving or even coherent story being told and that remains the most frustrating thing about The Simpsons. There are plenty of comedies I don't like (30 Rock or Happy Endings for example) but at least they make wholehearted attempts to make you laugh. The Simpsons doesn't even try anymore.
The jokes we got here included nonsense about Homer believing in dragons (a pale imitation of gags about Springfieldian ignorance) or Chief Wiggum handing over his gun to Mr Burns to keep him warm (ditto). We got Homer trying to "man up" before bursting in womanly sobs (so tired). We got disconnected jokes about Maggie going feral in her new surroundings (no one seemed to care) or Flanders being hit with a huge swinging log (the lamest of ways to stop him from interfering in the town meeting). We also got an entirely pointless cameo from the dull sounding Julian Assange.
Best Joke: The new credit sequence and joke about watching FOX (in the Outlands instead of a TV they just watched a fox you see) were the closest I can think of to actual gags.
The Bottom Line: This was an especially feeble outing from a show still capable of half decent television.
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