Since--like an idiot--it did not occur to me to make notes until much later, I found myself trolling the web for quotes from tonight's Episode. (Did you know this was Season 20???) I found this Message Board full of people just tearing the show apart; some were not even waiting for the show to conclude! Over and over I read how terrible the show was, how it was not like the olden days, how the plot was nonsensical; one guy, who had over 8000 posts on this message board, said he was never coming back. (Somehow I doubt it.)
This is what I don't get. Why would fans of a show be so....gleeful to tear their favorite programs apart? I mean, if you don't like it, say it once and QUIT WATCHING!
Of course, that said, I have already written a piece tonight--in my very first day doing this site--worrying about the direction of Season 2 of Californication, and this after one episode!
I don't want to be one of those "Everything Sucks!" people. My goal for TV Warrior is to champion television shows that deserve an audience, and implore people not to watch things that don't. However, in practical terms, I will be doing a lot more of the former, since A) I'm a TV optimist and B) I usually quit watching things that are terrible.
There is a reason I'm doing all this. I'm going to write about it more in depth later on, but let's say it boils down to this: the more people who watch good shows, the more likely good shows are to get made.
Back to those Message Board people for just a moment. A personal taste is one thing. If you don't like something, you don't like it. But for a fan of The Simpsons to claim the show is "awful" now tells me that person should be sterilized, because we don't need any more of their dumb-as-hell genes. I am totally serious.
Objectively speaking, you can make the case that The Simpsons had a few years when they did not hit it out of the park. Even today, I will grant you that not every episode goes straight to the top ten list. This could be partly because of the difficulty of coming up with fresh material after so long (while not ripping themselves off too badly), and also because those early episodes have cemented such a place in our hearts through repeated viewings and nostalgia for our younger years.
What is also objectively true, but any competent analysis, is that The Simpsons can still hit the cover off the mutha-f*&king ball. When they are on, it's amazing. Just last year, the venerable series had seven great episodes, four outstanding episodes, and one that arguably is in the top ten-fifteen of all time, once the dust settles. (They also did two "out there" episodes, that don't completely work, but that's another reason why I love The Simpsons: they take chances.)
Off the Soapbox for now. As for the first episode of this season's The Simpsons:
A bang-awesome episode, one I found myself consistently laughing all the way through. Start with an inspired couch opening (with actual foreshadowing by Boba Fett), and then straight into the opening scenes, where poor Irish heritage gets trashed. (I WISH I had written some of those lines down!)
Marge's plot revolved around (unknownst to her) working in an Erotic Bakery, while Homer and Ned team up to become bounty hunters (while listening to Ned's favorite group, an AC/DC cover-band: AD/BC).
The Marge stuff was funny, with several risque moments (involving Patty and Selma and then Principal Skinner and Superintendent Chalmers), but the heart of the episode was Homer and Ned. I don't know why, but I love all Homer/Ned interaction. There's even this amazing chase scene that has the two flipping off walls ninja style. (And then still doing it, even in an elevator!) I don't know how to describe to you how subtly brilliant those last two sentences are. I guess you'll have to see for yourself.
I would probably watch a B or even B- Simpsons out of out loyalty, but I am not afraid to call a spade a spade, and if an episode falters I would say so. But coming out of the box, The Simpsons are still in fine form.