Do we find him?
As much as The Simpsons are now burdened to infinitely repeating itself, it can still tell certain evergreen stories with enduring appeal. With that in mind, I will never tire of a good Bart-breaking-good episode. And if his conversion stems from a prank or a scheme, all the better. Thus, I am happy to look for “Mr. Goodbart,” and I am pleased to find him providing companionship to all the grandmothers of Springfield.
Bart’s journey to perfect grandson-for-hire begins as (what else?) a means of taunting Skinner, as his first client is Agnes. He quickly makes his way through every retirement community, and while he is being awfully opportunistic, it is hard to be angry with him. These are mutually beneficial relationships. These ladies are on the lookout for someone to dote upon, and Bart is there to receive their doting of Xboxes and PlayStations. Eventually, he attracts the attention of Phoebe Pratt (Absolutely Fabulous’ Jennifer Saunders), who requires services a little more complicated, but also perhaps more satisfying.
Bart and Phoebe’s relationship is heartwarming, but it gets a bit of short shrift. She ought to appear earlier in the story, but as it plays out, she feels like a footnote, when clearly she is meant to be the main focus. Either have her show up no later than five minutes into the episode or make the story about all the grandmothers. Instead what we end up with is a split approach that can satisfy only so much. Still, I must praise this as the latest piece of evidence of how kindhearted a show The Simpsons is. It may have a history of ruffling the feathers of moral muckrakers, but this is the latest example of how that is just so boneheaded.
Elsewhere, 2017 in Springfield looks a lot like 2016 everywhere else, as the whole town is obsessed with Peekimon! Get! I would call that a thinly-veiled joke at the expense of Pokémon GO, but that would imply that there is any – even the thinnest – subtlety at all, or that there is a parodic spirit to the name of the fake version. That is not a criticism necessarily – there is a certain breed of delightfully nonsensical mischievousness to just replacing one made-up word with another made-up word. Still, it would be nice if there were more cleverness to this spoof, though it is hard to avoid laughing at the rapid-fire delivery of bizarre monster names.
Anyway, the hook to this storyline ultimately appears to be that Homer would rather pay real money to bulk up his virtual inventory rather than maintain the fun of legitimate gameplay along with the physical benefits that jut sneak up on him. One would think that Lisa would attempt to set him alright, but she goes along with his scheme because … she can be athletic in this world? It is not exactly clear what her motivations are. Alas, this storyline never really wraps up because its constituent parts have to be borrowed to find Phoebe Pratt. And so, we have yet another overcrowded Simpsons. The Peekimon business does not really need a resolution. It would probably be better served as a running side gag providing relief to the heart-tugging of the grandma plot.
Memorable Lines and Random Jazz:
-So how about that opening? A throwback segment with Marge and Maggie that segues into a Big Bang Theory parody, eh? It is not clear how those two go together, but I suppose it would have been alarming if it went straight into the Barenaked Ladies spoof with no warning.
-“I wanted to make sure you remember that I think your job is stupid.”
-Catching Peekikmon results in the message, “Congratulations! Enslaved!” I love peppering in little bits of disturbia.
-Kent Brockman is on at 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 1, and 2? Really? In what market is the local news that saturated?
-“Now that’s a spicy Peekabill!”
-“In this world, I can throw a ball!”
-Apparently, Bart is “a ne’er-do-well and possibly a scofflaw.” Whoa. Settle down there, Skinner.
-Apparently, all the trees in the forest are cell phone towers. 28 seasons in, and there are still new details about Springfield’s cheap artificiality.
-Of course, Ol’ Gil didn’t get the Peekimon that everyone else got.