Original airdate: February 17, 2019
The premise: Krusty relays a story from his past in the 1980s, where he embarked to direct his own passion project of a seemingly unfilmable story, with the help of some beloved familiar faces on the crew.
The reaction: After our introduction to the story through Krusty appearing on Marc Maron’s podcast, we get a glimpse of Krusty’s old film career, where he hit it big off a successful high-concept comedy (“You mix two kooky words together in the title, put a rap song at the end that explains the plot, and bam! You’re on the cover of Premiere magazine!”) When the film execs come at him with a sequel, Krusty rebuffs, having fallen in love with a sci-fi book he randomly came across, wanting funding to star in this story that clearly has great meaning to him. The execs agree, but only with a shoestring budget, and a Mexico shoot with a non-experienced crew. And just about when I was starting to get interested, said crew was being shuttled in from Springfield, featuring two production assistants by the names of Homer and Marge. The story then becomes about Marge becoming Krusty’s AD, and Krusty wanting to push Homer out of the way so he can have Marge and her decision-making skills all to himself… so, another Homer-Marge show. Sigh. I’ve mentioned a couple times before about how I feel like there’s no reason a show with this large of a cast couldn’t stay fresh after thirty years as long as they experiment with the components they have. Why not have an entire episode devoted to a secondary character and their world? How does Chief Wiggum unwind after a long day’s work? What’s Professor Frink up to in his lab? But as always happens, a Simpsons always needs to be crammed into the story somehow. Yes, I understand this is The Simpsons, but really, did we need another fucking episode where Marge reassures that Homer is her soulmate for the ten thousandth time? I don’t get why we can’t have stories about secondary/tertiary characters featuring the Simpsons in minor or supporting roles (“A Fish Called Selma” being one of the only examples, and one of the best episodes of the show ever.) It would allow some new personalities to take center stage, new perspectives, new kinds of stories, but instead, we just go through the same familiar beats over and over again. The ending involves Homer inexplicably being kidnapped by some Mexican ruffians, and in lieu of their requested million dollar ransom, Krusty offers up the negative to his film instead. Does that sound like a fair trade to you? Who are these blackmailers? Why did they still continue their shoot-out with the film crew after realizing they were using space-age prop weapons? What a pointless anti-climax. At the beginning, I thought the show would culminate with Krusty becoming demoralized by the creative process, a de-evolution of him not caring about art and just wanting to be crass and commercial (and financially lucrative) for his whole career. Y’know, something illuminating about his character. Instead, it’s this nothing story that wraps up with Krusty doing a nicety for a woman who name he doesn’t remember, working a job that made zero impact on anybody.
Three items of note:
– Late into the last act, young Homer has a vision of a cactus Bart and Lisa, appearing to him as representations of his future with Marge and how he needed to win her back. It felt very unnecessary, considering I didn’t really care about him in the story and his viewpoint on this relationship “strife” was stupid and it just resolved itself in the end. It seems the scene was only there so to justify paying Nancy Cartwright and Yeardley Smith their hundreds of thousands of dollars that episode for more than just three lines in the wrap-around segments.
– The tag features Krusty going down to Mexico with Marc Maron to finally see his masterwork, shocked to find that audiences are laughing at it (“It was supposed to show how we’re all connected!” “Look around, man. Maybe it did!”) This whole idea of this deeply personal creative endeavor Krusty went on that didn’t turn out how he wanted, actively avoided seeing it for over thirty years, and now mustering up the courage to go and seek it out is incredibly interesting, as is the conclusion of making peace with the fact that audiences are enjoying it, and that it shouldn’t matter if it’s not for the reasons he intended, but it’s relegated to a quick joke in the tag. Once again, I really, really wish the Homer-Marge shit was cut out of this.
– More timeline nonsense again… I really don’t pay much mind to this stuff anymore, but I can’t think of a third thing to talk about, so whatever. This show takes place in the “late 1980s” and features a young, childless Homer and Marge who are maybe 19 at their youngest. Which would put them in their mid fifties in the present timeline. I know the writers don’t care about this, but surely it must come up at some point during production.
One good line/moment: Aside for enjoying the potential of Krusty’s story at the beginning, I liked elements of Krusty being an indecisive wreck during the entire production. Again, if there had been more of a focus on that for the entire episode, this might have actually been something intriguing. Working in post, I certainly empathized with him scrolling back and forth between dailies, unsure of what nearly identical take to go with.