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The Simpsons

The Simpsons is an animated sitcom about the antics of a dysfunctional family called the Simpsons (surprise surprise). Homer is the oafish unhealthy beer loving father, Marge is the hardworking homemaker wife, Bart is the ten year old underachiever (and proud of it), Lisa is the unappreciated eight year old genius, and Maggie is the cute, pacifier loving silent infant.

Watch Simpsons – Days Of Future Future Online S25E18

Simpsons - Days Of Future Future
The Simpsons “Days of Future Future” is yet another future episode and the future ain’t what it used to be. It can mess with Simpsons canon. I’ve always assumed there would be a future with a President Lisa Simpson. I assume it will happen before Malcolm from Malcolm in the Middle will be president. It’s a future I look forward to. Not only will she legalize “it” for Bart, both Lisa and Malcolm are both really intelligent people from families who know what’s what in the world. Not that I want a President Frankie Muniz or President Yeardley Smith, well maybe Yeardley, President Yeardley sounds like it will be comic gold. But I digress.

I’m going to miss Homer #1, his irrepressible humor, his insatiable hunger and unquenchable thirst. We’ve gone through so much. And come back for seconds. Free refills and all the shrimp we could eat. Thank science for Professor Frink, until Bart recorded over Homer, he begloibened the day. Homer has had a storied story. He came into this world a kind of magical gorilla, lived as a fat, fat, fat, reckless fat pig, died his way into the future future through a series of surplus wholesale clones, will be downloaded onto a zip drive, turned into a screensaver (bonk, bonk, ooh corner, badonk) and finally transported into a robot who sounds like Kazoo, the alien on The Flintstones. Very fitting. Except Homer’s junk, which comes separately and has to be assembled by hand.

The future in Springfield is a conglomeration of the myths of TV and movies made fleshy yellow. Bart feeds the dinosaurs from Jurassic Park , I mean Cretaceous Park, like he was working at Seaworld, only without the dolphin abuse. Lisa does charity work for the undead, her future being written by The Walking Dead. Her future marriage to Millhouse is in a rut until Millhouse gets bitten by a zombie and Lisa by the love bug. Once you go zombie you never go back. Just like bubble wrap is the great equalizer.

The Simpsons is playing it fast and loose with death this season, what with the death of the most beloved person in Springfield, the real-life death of Marcia Wallace, whatever happened to Nelson a few weeks ago and, I swear, Hans Moleman has died at least four times this year. The Simpsons play with the idea of Homer dying a lot. Probably more so after Matt Groening’s father, who Homer is based on, died. It’s a scab he just has to pick. In a past future episode (if this is beginning to sound like the Mad magazine version of the Poseidon Adventure, go down to go up, good), when Lisa tells her mom she’s marrying a Hugh Grant kinda guy, Marge says “I wish your father were here” no Homer will not have had died in that future, he was out. The Simpsons has prepared us for Homer’s death. But not Abe’s, he’s at Homer’s funerals. Cremo, the crematorium-bot is ever-ready, though.

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Watch Simpsons – Black-Eyed Please Online S24E15

Simpsons - Black-Eyed Please
It’s Martyrdom Week on The Simpsons. First, Ned Flanders beats himself up for doing something that never bothers other Springfieldians?beating the crap out of Homer. In the subplot, Lisa is in the unaccustomed position of being hated by a teacher (voiced by Tina Fey and sounding nothing like stressed-out Liz Lemon), something that ultimately gives her a bit of perverse pleasure.

At this point, Ned has a lot in common with The Simpsons itself, just plugging away and turning the other cheek to criticism, secure that he will be rewarded in the afterlife. (Or, in the show’s case, that overall reputation will wash away the nitpicking about individual episodes.) Early in the show’s run, the annoying-but-sincere Ned served as a counterpoint to the blasphemous Homer and the phone-it-in Christianity of Reverend Lovejoy. He also gave an idea of what the self-righteous Lisa might become if she weren’t so dazzled and humbled by science.

As Homer and The Simpsons have become more blatantly nihilistic, Ned seems less specifically a parody of Christian evangelicalism and more of a stand-in for any kind of belief system. (Marge has a vague appreciation of The Golden Rule, but pretty much all the other adult characters will embrace any craze that comes down the pike.)

At times, he also reminds me of the infamous one-shot character Frank Grimes, from “Homer’s Enemy.” Frank seems unaware that he’s in a cartoon universe and is baffled by Homer’s invincibility; in “Black Eyed, Please” Ned punches Homer in the eye (out of jealousy that his neighbor gets along so well with Ned’s hippie, pothead parents) and is consumed with guilt.

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Watch Simpsons – Gorgeous Grampa Online S24E14

Simpsons - Gorgeous Grampa harlem shake edition
The episode opens with a fun Harlem Shake video.

Homer questions why Lisa is reading a book when there’s so much wonderful TV to be watch. She makes a crack about the wonderful writing and acting of today’s television, and Homer dismisses it, saying the only TV worth watching is reality TV shows.

Homer is entranced by a show called “Storage Battles” (an obvious spoof of “Storage Wars”). Homer tracks down Marge and informs her that they are going to get rich off the poor, forgetful, and dead people.

At the Springfield Storage auction, many town members arrive. Homer buys his first locker for a cool $1,000, despite the bid only being $650. He flashes his cash to the cameras that aren’t actually there, delusional that he’s on Storage Battle.

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Watch Simpsons – Hardly Kirk-Ing Online S24E13

Simpsons - Hardly Kirk-Ing
Everything’s coming up Milhouse! Tonight’s episode revolving around Milhouse “The House always wins” Van Houten was quite amusing.

We start out with Maggie watching educational DVDs. It turns out, Bart and Lisa also watched those educational programs. Except, Bart actually watched the programs while Lisa was distracted and used her imagination to play with the packaging instead. After flipping through various cable reality shows supposedly with educational elements, Marge bans tv for the next 24 hours. Instead, they take Maggie to a children’s bookstore. Lisa also goes to the bookstore with her parents while Bart hangs out with Milhouse.

A bored Bart accidentally sprays epoxy onto the top of Milhouse’s head. To get rid of the epoxy, Bart shaves Milhouse’s hair. It turns out Milhouse looks just like his dad! Milhouse dresses up in his dad Kirk’s suit and his voice turns into Kirk’s when Bart tightens his necktie.

Milhouse (as Kirk) skypes with Homer to ask for permission for Bart to stay over at the van Houtens. Milhouse also convinces Homer to “order” Lisa to go to the prom with Milhouse 10 years into the future. Can’t blame a guy for trying.

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Watch Simpsons – A Test Before Trying Online S24E10

Simpsons - A Test Before Trying
Tonight’s episode revisits that glorious era, with Bart once again being called to do the absolute minimum to get by in life. In “A Test Before Trying” he has to get a barely passing score on a standardized test that all the other students have already taken. If he fails, Springfield Elementary’s test average will earn it the title of Worst School In The State and it will immediately be torn down ? thereby giving politicians and administrators a ready answer when they’re asked, “What are you doing to improve public education?”

Bart’s study session includes drawing on the pictures his history textbook, so that Abraham Lincoln says, “Nice wig, Grandma” and George Washington replies, “At least I can take a bullet.” Pleased with his work, Bart says, “Thanks for the freedom of speech, DORKS!”

That was about the biggest laugh The Simpsons has given me all season. The show has been mean and sick and cruel, but it hasn’t had a lot of Bart’s gleeful subversiveness lately, and it’s a nice change from Homer’s idiocy.

“If you don’t pass this test, it will destroy the school” Principal Skinner tells Bart ? who fantasizes about Springfield Elementary as a fiery ruin, with Skinner hanging from the flagpole (suicide or the result of an angry mob?). Bart finally agrees to put in some effort after another fantasy in which he imagines a future Springfield with an even dumber population than it has now ? and a spinach farm, tended by dozens of Popeyes, in place of the school.

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Watch Simpsons – Homer Goes to Prep School Online S24E09

Simpsons - Homer Goes to Prep School
The Simpsons started this season fairly poorly, but seems to have settled into a groove recently of perfectly acceptable episodes. “Homer Goes to Prep School” is a fantastic example: it’s not great, but it’s not horrible. It’s just fine.

At the very least, the story is coherent, a loosely-connected first act leading to the main story, without any superfluous sideplots, and no confusing separate short at the end. The premise is a take on the recent popularity of apocalypse-fearing reality shows, with Homer becoming a “prepper” after a traumatic experience at the hands of other fathers at a children’s indoor amusement park. Of course, his new obsession actually distracts him from his job, bringing about a small disaster, and he’s forced to put his practice to the test. All in all, it’s a pat little story, with an expected ending. (Followed by an absurd, inconsequential twist as a joke, to be fair.)

The story was buoyed by a number of pretty solid gags, starting right off the bat with one of my favorites, the name and slogan of the play-place where the story starts: “Smart Tykes: Dump your kids in the learn zone!” It was the perfect amount of silly, same as the escalating ridiculousness of the various trampoline activities.

Homer’s seduction into the world of prepping via a single video was pretty good too, especially the house of cards, each containing a single context-less buzzword, which then collapsed, making the whole thing the exact kind of messy, unclear metaphor you see in real doomsday prophesiers.

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Watch Simpsons – To Cur With Love Online S24E08

Simpsons - To Cur With Love
I’m a sucker for dog stories. Nothing consistently makes me weepy like a sad story involving canines.

To Cur With Love” was no exception. Homer’s foray into hipster culture in last week’s “The Day the Earth Stood Cool” was pretty amusing, but this week’s episode combined the silly with the sweet.

The story of Homer’s best friend Bongo followed the usual narrative of boy and his dog. Grampa’s retelling of their friendship hit all the emotional notes. Their separation, due to Mr. Burns’ desire to put down the protective Bongo, didn’t exactly make me cry, but I did get a little misty-eyed.

Even more touching was when Homer found out that Bongo never forgot him or their special bond. Seeing Bongo curled up on Homer’s old sweatshirt made him finally open his heart to Santa’s Little Helper and forgive his father.

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Watch The Simpsons – The Day the Earth Stood Cool Online S24E07

The Simpsons - The Day the Earth Stood Cool
Making fun of hipsters is practically a professional sport by now, and I can’t say I was looking forward to what The Simpsons might have to say on the subject. So, I was pleasantly surprised when “The Day The Earth Stood Cool” turned out to be one of the strongest episodes of the season so far.

It certainly didn’t hurt that we got not only Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein bringing their Portlandia cred to the show, but Patton Oswalt rounding out the guest stars to a nice, even three, but what really shone in the end were the one-off jokes of the night.

The plot was simple, and featured surprisingly few diversions. Every member of the Simpson family got something to do, but it all centered around Springfield becoming Portland-ified. A particularly nice note was seeing Lisa instantly take a liking to her new neighbors; the few moments we got of her ogling T-Rex’s Studio Ghibli parody animated movie were maybe my favorite of the whole night, if only for a certain specificity of parody that’s often lacking in newer Simpsons.

Also fun was watching Marge stumble her way through Homer’s new hip obsession. She doesn’t understand The Onion, and even less so The A.V. Club. When Lisa comes back proclaiming the brilliance of a piece of art that was just a guy crying in a room, Marge gives the best version of her signature disapproving grumble in a while. The breastfeeding plot with her didn’t quite land with me, but it was marginal enough that it didn’t weigh the rest of the episode down at all.

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Watch The Simpsons – A Tree Grows in Springfield Online S24E06

The Simpsons - A Tree Grows in Springfield
I’m usually pretty unimpressed with The Simpsons. As you can tell from the last episode, I, like show’s writers, am just waiting for the inevitable conclusion to this long-running series.

But occasionally the sitcom can still surprise me with an understated story that carries all the warmth of its earlier seasons. “A Tree Grows in Springfield” focused on one character, Homer, and despite my dislike for his increasingly ridiculous shenanigans, I found myself moved by his tale of hope lost and regained.

I must be feeling a little sappy today.

Homer definitely suffers from the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune more often than not. His luck can only be described as bad, and he doesn’t help matters when he makes irrational and irresponsible decisions all the time. But this week, the pressure of all the little things just got to be too much for him and not even a drink at Moe’s (or an impromptu Duffman party) could help.

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Watch The Simpsons – Penny Online S24E05

The Simpsons - Penny
When a show runs as long as The Simpsons has, it?s not surprising if it feels a little tired every week; just look at the bug-eaters? meet up that Lisa attends in ?Penny-Wiseguys.? It?s a completely arbitrary assortment of recognizable Springfield residents in attendance, none of which are given any good reason (or even excuse) to be there. It?s like they knew they had to fill the room, and the writers just drew names from a hat, so the animators could just use old character models. Like I said: tired.

That?s not to say it can?t pick itself up out of its chair from time to time and deliver laughs. There are clearly still funny people at work on this show, and exhausted as it may be, it usually does us the service of at least showing up and seeming presentable. It?s a throwaway line, but when the lunch lady explains that she mistook Lisa for Bart by saying, ?I just see mouths,? I laughed out loud.

The plot elements of that scene, meanwhile, are more than a little arbitrary. Lisa?s vegetarianism is certainly a story well worth pulling from, and insects as a protein source is silly enough to work, but the things that click into place to get her there feel pretty slapdash. The lunch lady eats bug pies? I guess it?s fine, and serves the purpose it needs to for the episode, but it isn?t especially interesting, and whatever humor comes from it is largely incidental.

I?m focusing on what?s arguably the B-plot so far (although, the two threads do come together nicely in the middle, instead of being completely separate as has been annoying in a number of more recent episodes of The Simpsons) because I found the A-plot inconceivably boring. Steve Carell guests a mopey mob accountant, and I?m not sure what it was, but something about his performance was just off-putting. None of his line deliveries sold the jokes, and so this half of the episode leaned on Homer, who?s really hit-and-miss without a solid foil. The one bright spot was Homer?s demonstration of how he gets of doing work by hiding behind various large objects.

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