The 11th season of the Simpsons came out on DVD this week, so I've decided to do a little post on each episode as me and the missus meander through the season.
This is the season when the Simpsons puts the greatness of the past behind them and fully embraced the kind of whacky, zany, often nonsensical plotting that continues to plague the show to this day (though in recent seasons, they've toned it down a bit).
While the zaniness really began to show up two seasons ago with the ascendancy of executive producer Mike Scully, this season is when Jerk-ass Homer comes into his own, and the segues from the introduction to the main plot tend to be abrupt or non-existent. And the endings begin to foreshadow the shoddiness that will plague the show next season.
But this season isn't all bad; most episodes are either zany and over-the-top, or pretty good. There's plenty of funny stuff in the mix, including a rare Christmas episode, evil jockey elves and the first (and sadly, only) appearance of Furious George.
AKA: The episode which teaches us to beware dogs with shifty eyes. Also, Homer helps Mel Gibson make a movie.
The Setup: Homer tests drive a new electric car just to get a free gift, which turns out to be passes to the screening of the new Mel Gibson movie, which ends up pulling Gibson into the Simpsons' orbit.
Homer: Before "Lethal Weapon 2" I didn't know there could be a bomb in my toilet, but not I check every time.
Marge: It's true, he does.
Gibson: Lisa, take the wheel!
Lisa: But my dad is right-
Gibson: I said you!
Teebore's Take: This episode is probably funnier in retrospect: Mel Gibson complains at one point about how whenever he gets pulled over, the cops don't give him a ticket because he's so beloved. Plus, there's references to Robert Downey Jr.'s troubled past (the family passes a shootout between him and the cops, believing it to be a filming. Bart: Where's the cameras?) and Ellen Degeneres and Anne Heche's then-current relationship ("We're lesbians!"). Plus, there's the antics with the electric car at the beginning, which are funnier looking back now from our age of Hybrids. As such, this episode is more enjoyable as a curiosity than on its own merits but it still garners a few belly laughs along the way.
Zaniness (out of 5 Gazoos)
The electric car at the beginning, Homer making a movie with Gibson, and the subsequent chase through Hollywood is pretty over the top, but aside from that, it's a fairly straightforward episode.
Jerk Ass Homers (out of 5)
Homer acts possessive of Marge around Mel and bosses the movie star around through most of the episode.