Review: The Simpsons ‘Simpsorama’

SIMPSONS-FUTURAMA

Spoilers Below:

It is indeed a curious move for a show to feature two crossover episodes in the same season, separated by only six weeks, nonetheless. (Okay, in all fairness, technically “The Simpsons Guy” was a Family Guy episode, and not a Simpsons one, but you get the idea.) Given how meta the jokes were for the last crossover, one would wonder what’s left to exploit for this one. Sure, Futurama will have plenty of material to work with, but does this mean The Simpsons will take a backseat? Or will it simply be another comparison of the two series’ similarities and differences. I’m sure there will be more of an emphasis on the former, considering they were both created by Matt Groening, and share some producers, writers, and voice actors. “We’re always looking for things that are compatible with us,” Simpsons showrunner Al Jean said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly. “And I thought, ‘Well, what’s more compatible?’”

In the crossover, Springfield Elementary decided to make a time capsule to place under the town square, with contributions that included Milhouse’s lucky rabbit foot and a sandwich into which Bart sneezed.

During a thunderstorm, Bender fell from the sky and ended up in the Simpson Family’s basement. He and Homer appeared to hit it off at first, but then Bender remembered his mission was to kill his new friend because his DNA was found in the masses of rabbits (a nod to Groening’s Life in Hell days) overrunning New New York in the future (or present, or whatever).

Turned out that some of the objects, along with Bart’s snot, mixed with underground radioactive material (thanks, Mr. Burns) to eventually spawn the bunnies. Using Butterfingers as bait (and the threat that “people are laying fingers all over them!”) the nuisances were lured into Madison Cube Garden, and shot into space. Everything of course went back to normal in the end, save for Homer stashing Bender in the basement for safekeeping.

In Case You Missed It:

1) The couch gag was the first of two appearances by the Hedonismbot.

2) There was no chalkboard gag, but in the first scene, the board read: “Time Capsule: Sounds cool, but it’s just a box we bury.”

3) The original label on the time capsule read: Civil War coffin.

4) Moe called Bender a “Blade Rummy.”

5) Look, it’s the Pin Pals!

6) One of the scribbles inside Bender’s head read: “IBM DO YOU?”

7) Looks like South Park beat The Simpsons to the freemium game app punchline. By four days.

8) Futurama characters that made appearances: Bender, Leela, Fry, Prof. Farnsworth, Dr. Zoidberg, Amy, Morbo, Linda, Seymour (still sadly waiting outside of Panucci’s Pizza), Scruffy, Nibbler, the Hypnotoad, and the Omicronians. And then, for some reason: Kang and Kodos.

9) At one point, there’s a background ad for the Canyonero 2014 Hybrid, which gets 11 miles per gallon!

10) Why were the father and his son (being pushed in the stroller) wearing the exact same outfit?

11) Bart’s birthday is February 23rd.

12) A police code 608 is when a robot kills a horse.

I’ll get it right out there: I think this was a better crossover than the Family Guy one.

(pause for dramatic effect)

That’s right. And believe me, I’m surprised. Despite The Simpsons and Futurama having the same creator, the mash-up between The Simpsons and Family Guy just seemed like it would be better. I mean, their blueprints are so similar, how could it go wrong? In my opinion, it really didn’t. I didn’t review the episode (one of our other organ banks, Tommy North, gave it a 6) but I probably would have ranked it at about a 7.5 or 8. In “The Simpsons Guy,” the laughs were frequent, but some of it seemed forced. You could tell the writers were trying so hard to highlight the similarities and make feeble, albeit tongue-in-cheek, attempts to point out the scarce differences. They made fun of each other the whole time, which was definitely funny, but got old. In the end, the episode probably would have benefitted from a standard 22-minute runtime, instead of the double length. Bigger isn’t always better. (So take that, all of my ex-girlfriends!)

By contrast, this one only made a few jabs at the show’s parallels, like the shared likeness between Homer and Bender (Lisa: “Little lazy if you ask me”) and instead celebrated them – like the beginning of the end credits, which was a hearty, final grab bag of references to both series.

However, because the shows are not similar in plot – like the subjects of “The Simpsons Guy” – and are only related because of connections outside of the story, the jokes revolved more around things outside of their plots. Like the aforementioned use of Butterfingers, Life in Hell, and Madison Cube Garden striking an FXXX satellite (and a craft marked, “Super Bowl MMMXIV Losers Buffalo Bills.”) Even the Simpsons amusement park couldn’t escape a crack: “But it’s not as crowded as the slave-labor camps at Universal Studios.”

Full disclosure, I’ll admit that my scoring may have received a boost because I truly enjoyed Futurama, and this was a sort of combination tribute and farewell to the show. (I’m not the only one: our Editor-in-Chief says he wept like a baby when Homer poured a last bit of Duff into Bender’s noggin. Okay, I may have exaggerated the extent of his emotions.) I don’t know if you can call that bias a sympathy vote, or just a genuine appreciation of quality television cut down before it reached its full potential – but it doesn’t matter. I think this episode deserves a solid grade, because it was funny enough, and totally sweet, enjoyable, and entertaining throughout. I would be tempted to suggest that it would have succeeded as a 44-minute installment, but we all know how that turned out previously.

In the end, not everyone will love “Simpsorama,” but as someone who is definitely a big fan of both shows, this episode was meant specifically for folks like me. If you consider yourself a member of the same camp, then there’s a solid chance you feel the same way.

 

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Gonzo Green

@Gonzo_Green is a chronic sufferer of Pre-life Crisis Syndrome. He drinks frequently, and wears hats sometimes, with these events occasionally occurring concurrently. Gonzo also likes watching baseball, and putting ketchup on foods that ketchup has no business being on. He enjoys rock’n’roll from the 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s, when rock was rock, and meaningless repetitive phrases were frowned upon. But it is what it is.

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