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Season 15 Reviews

Here are the reviews of all the Season 15 episodes I wrote as they aired (2003-2004).

Treehouse of Horror XIV

Reaper Madness: This was by far the best segment of the three. There were so many funny moments, most notably Lisa's "My Dad's Job" presentation, Homer & Bart at the baseball game, and Homer killing Patty instead of Marge. 4½/5

Frinkenstein: Another good one. It was funny to see (or rather, hear) Jerry Lewis doing the voice of Frink's father (as Frink is based upon him). I thought the murderous rampage bit was a little extreme, but otherwise good. 4/5

Stop The World, I Want To Goof Off: Another good segment. Much like the previous two, there was a lot to laugh at. All of Bart & Milhouse's pranks were good, and them taking 15 years to repair the watch was funny. 4/5

Overall, this was a great Halloween episode, the best for several years, and a very good start to Season 15.

Rating: 4/5

My Mother the Carjacker

When I first heard about this episode, I was unsure if it would be good. The show has had trouble in the past with reintroducing one-time characters - for example, Cookie Kwan (the real estate agent) and Lindsey Neagle (business woman, sexual predator). But this time it worked very well. Homer's mother was great as always and the episode progressed perfectly.

I liked the opening, and Homer's subsequent need to outdo Marge. Then he meets his mother again. One thing I noticed is that the emotion in this episode was extremely well placed, I don't remember Homer doing his usual "crying for no reason" thing, this time he had a reason to be sad. I also liked the ending, it was good that they went for a 'nice' ending to reference "Mother Simpson".

Although this episode was not, and never could have been, as good as "Mother Simpson", it was still a nice episode, one I would readily watch again soon.

Rating: 4/5

The President Wore Pearls

Episodes revolving around Lisa nearly always have me laughing hysterically. Even in recent Seasons, Lisa episodes have been a ray of sunshine in an otherwise dull afternoon. Lisa the Tree Hugger, Bye Bye Nerdie, Little Girl in the Big Ten... all great episodes. And this one was no exception.

The parody of Evita was executed very well, and the episode had many funny moments. Surprisingly, most of these came from Lisa herself - very often Lisa episodes just serve as a gateway to Homer/Marge/Bart humour. Nelson was great as always, and I also loved the opening scene (the Casino Night). It was just the right length - not too long, not too short - and led nicely into the main story.

The only thing this episode lacked was a decent ending. Although it was a nice resolution, I disliked the rushing of it. But apart from that, another good episode.

Rating: 4/5

The Regina Monologues

Being British, this episode was highly anticipated and it has been pretty hyped over here. I really hoped that it would not be yet another wacky vacation episode, something we have seen all too often recently. And I'm glad to say to wasn't... to an extent.

To start, a good opening. Although the first act didn't really have anything to do with the main story, I liked how they kept the "doing something nice for Marge" theme running throughout. So then, we move on to the trip to England...

I felt that the whole story was well written - there were plenty of (good) stereotype jokes, as well as a couple of good parodies (such as Trainspotting - when Bart & Lisa eat too much English candy). However, there were several things I disliked. The first and most annoying was the over-reliance on guest stars. Tony Blair and J.K. Rowling were both totally unnecessary and added nothing to the plot. The appearance of Ian McKellen was pretty funny, but again it was just another guest added to boost ratings. Another thing I disliked was the two Lords kissing, again it was unnecessary and unfunny - I hope that's not a real British stereotype.

Well, the episode progressed well, and was looking pretty good... until the ending. Homer has a half-sister? I thought this was really stupid and tacked-on, and it ruined the episode a bit.

Rating: 2/5

The Fat and the Furriest

Animals on The Simpsons always provide a lot of good humour, and this episode was no exception. While the first act was typically disjointed, and had no real relevance to the rest of the episode, it was good enough to keep me entertained. However, I disliked the scene at the dump and the link into the main storyline. I can't say why exactly, it just didn't seem... right.

But once Homer's bear paranoia sets in, the episode picks up again. The hunter character was good and seemed well thought out. I loved some of the subtle humour they added in his scenes. The only thing I didn't like is when he actually ate the bird sandwich, it ruined the joke. Also the appearance of Lenny and Carl seemed unnecessary - they are probably the most over-used characters in recent Seasons.

The final act was pretty funny, though the ending seemed too rushed. I would have preferred the opening to be shorter and the last act to have been more carefully thought out. But overall, a decent episode, I guess.

Rating: 3/5

Today, I Am a Clown

Hmm... this seems to be the Season for average episodes. In fact for a Krusty episode, this was pretty poor. There was some good Jewish satire and well placed emotion, but overall, the episode wasn't very funny.

The opening scenes were probably the worst of the episode. They weren't bad, but Santa's Little Helper having puppies was a repeated storyline - even Lisa pointing it out was a repeated storyline too: remember Comic Book Guy in Saddlesore Galactica? That said, the appearance of the Complete Guide book was probably the only funny thing in this part of the episode.

The episode took a while to get going, and even when it did, the main parts (Krusty and his bar mitzvah) did not provide enough laughs to keep me entertained. The sub-plot, Homer taking over Krusty's show, was funnier for me than the main story - which, in a Krusty episode, should not be.

Rating: 2/5

'Tis the Fifteenth Season

This sounded like yet another "Homer changes his ways" episode, which at first I thought was bad. But then I remembered the other similar episodes: Hungry, Hungry Homer, Jaws Wired Shut, I Am Furious Yellow... and they all turned out great. This episode was average - not too great, but not too bad.

It's always nice to see Homer doing nice things, but revolving it around Christmas didn't work too well this time. Christmas episodes are another thing that have been done too much. Most of the characters were well-placed in this episode, the only exception that springs to mind is Ned Flanders. Well, not so much badly-placed, more badly-characterized - he just didn't seem himself.

Everything else, though, was good - Homer's selfish gift for himself, the Christmas specials on TV, Homer giving the homeless his clothes, and the occasional appearances of Santa's Little Helper throughout the episode (he seemed to keep popping up at all the right moments). For a Christmas episode, this was pretty solid.

Rating: 3/5

Marge vs. Singles, Seniors, Childless Couples and Teens, and Gays

I've said it many time before, and I guess I'll say it again: Marge is not funny on her own. Seeing that this episode was written by Jon Vitti, one of the few consistently good writers left, I had some high (or at least, better than average) hopes. But when, halfway through the episode, the main storyline had not even started, this began to wane.

We'd had some funny moments though - Maggie was great as always, and the Woodstock-style concert was without fault (I especially liked the babies passing the pacifier around like a joint). Until the riot, at least. From there it all went down hill.

One thing I particularly disliked is the man who turned into the devil, this just seemed totally random and unnecessary - it added nothing to the plot at all. Then in the last two minutes we had some rushed tacked-on ending, with an even more abrupt cut to the closing credits. Ugh.

Rating: 2/5

I, (Annoyed Grunt)-bot

Well, things have turned around a little. After a few good opening episodes this Season seemed to be getting progressively worse, but this episode had me laughing a lot. A great opening scene with Milhouse led quite nicely into a decent storyline. Although Homer took way too much punishment, and should probably be dead, there was some good emotion here.

I liked Homer's spring-loaded first aid kit, and Ralph's robot was cool. There were lots of other funny moments that I can't remember right now. The sub-plot also had some funny moments, but I disliked the unsubtle ending - Lisa calling Skinner "Tamzarian" ruined the joke about her new cat - would have been much funnier as a passing reference.

Rating: 4/5

Diatribe of a Mad Housewife

I take back what I said about Marge episodes (see Marge vs. SSCCATAG above) - this one was really good. A well thought out plot, some great lines, and Homer not being a total jerk (towards the end, at least). The episode took a little too long to get going, but then Marge deciding to start writing a novel seemed pretty abrupt. More time should have been spent on introducing this idea (from the beginning of the episode). But still, the episode got better and better as it progressed and ended extremely well.

There were a couple of things I disliked. The first was that there were too many guest stars who didn't do anything, really (Tom Clancy, Olsen twins). Secondly, Homer's eyes darting about all over the place (and later Bart's) was totally wrong and broke one of Matt Groening's core rules for the show (that character's eyes don't go in different directions). It's happened before (The Sweetest Apu), but I didn't expect it to happen again. The last thing was the appearance of Dr. Marvin Monroe who was supposed to be dead. Well, I'm not against his appearance, it just seemed unnecessary and he didn't do anything for the episode at all.

But overall, I liked the episode, definitely the best of the Season so far.

Rating: 4½/5

Margical History Tour

An average episode, somewhat tainted by the fact that it was pretty unoriginal. We've had so many of these historical trilogy-based episodes, and they don't get any funnier. Anyway, on with the review:

Homer as Henry VIII: This was okay, but the story didn't seem to go anywhere. Homer's opening song was good, and it was good to see Dr. Nick again - he hardly appears anymore. The worst part was Lisa trying to grow a penis. In fact, this was awful, we didn't need to see that. 6/10

Lisa as Sacagiwea: This was also average. There were no stand-out moments, and I thought that the killing of Milhouse was a bit extreme. Lenny and Carl had a few funny moments, but they are really used too much these days. 5/10

Bart as Mozart: This was the best of the three. Bart was great as Mozart and perfectly characterized (at least for the altered story). Also Dr. Nick's appearance again and Nelson as Beethoven were great. 8/10

The "Animal House" ending to this episode was bad too. Overall, an okay episode, but it really needed more humour to make it stand out from the other trilogies.

Rating: 2½/5

Milhouse Doesn't Live Here Anymore

Now and then, a new Simpsons episode comes a long which restores your faith in our favourite family. I was beginning to feel that this Season would be pretty boring and forgettable, but now I'm turned around on the subject. Full of humour, emotion and sight gags, this episode is comparable to other classics from recent Seasons, perhaps even the "golden years".

A solid plot which flowed almost perfectly was the foundation for twenty minutes of great writing. The first act really let Milhouse shine, although it would have been nice to hear more from Luann or Kirk (without them arguing). Other characters made this episode great too - there were good lines from Homer, Ralph, and especially Groundskeeper Willy.

The scene with the new Milhouse seemed a little short and could have been better, but apart from this everything else worked, whether filled with humour or emotion. It was also great to see scenes which did not depend on humour alone, reminiscent of classic episodes. The sub plot kinda filled in extra humour just where needed and, although quite separate from the main plot, worked well enough. The only thing which I disliked was the crappy tacked-on ending.

Rating: 5/5

Smart and Smarter

Two good episodes in a row? Wow! I thought the appearance of Simon Cowell would be pretty awful and leave me really annoyed, but he suited the character perfectly and he was made fun of a fair bit.

The opening was very good and quickly led into the main storyline... no waiting around for five minutes until some silly antics had finished (there were silly antics in the opening, but they didn't last long). There were a lot of great moments in the episode, such as Homer and the spelling machine (Hu-O-Meh-Eh-Err and later, Z-Z-Z-Z-Z...) and Bart's line: "Welcome to... the others!".

I actually can't think of anything bad at all in the episode, apart from we saw too much of Wiggum, Lou and Eddie in the museum, it got a little tiresome. And Maggie playing the saxophone at the end was pretty strange, even if she is really smart.

Rating: 4½/5

The Ziff Who Came To Dinner

Well, I guess it was a bit much to ask for three great episodes in a row. This episode was not bad per se, just a little "meh". The plot was quite weak and Artie was not as funny as he usually was. On the other hand, there was some excellent subtle humour and visual gags, and the couch gag was the best I've seen for a long time.

The first act, as usual, had nothing to do with the rest of the episode, but was probably the funniest. The two Matrix posters, and some of the movie titles were great (The Fashion Of Christ, Eating Nemo and Freddy Vs. Jason Vs. Board of Education spring to mind).

I thought it was pretty strange that Artie Ziff happened to be living in the Simpsons' attic, but the rest of the plot progressed okay. There were some good one-liners (such as "Morman? But I'm from Earth!" from Homer) and the resolution of the episode wasn't too bad, although the actual ending (Ziff spraying water on everyone) was a bit stupid.

Rating: 3/5

Co-Dependence Day

Do you ever find yourself in two minds about an episode? Sometimes a Simpsons episode can be pretty funny, but still boring, repetitive and strung out. Co-Dependence Day was ALL of these. The opening parody was at first very funny, but as Homer, Bart & Lisa got really bored in the cinema, so did I watching it. Boredom can be funny (two examples which springs to mind is the police interview with Skinner in Who Shot Mr. Burns and many of Grampa's rambling stories) but in this case, it was just boring.

I expected the initial storyline with Bart & Lisa to continue as a subplot behind the Homer/Marge storyline, but it ended pretty quickly (and without humour). The main plot was pretty was dragged out and disjointed. And it also seemed like a rehashing of previous plot lines: the most obvious is Duffless and other alcohol-related episodes, but also any episode with a Homer-Marge conflict (such as Brake My Wife, Please).

What saved this episode from complete disgrace was the humour. Great lines and other gags sprinkled around here and there kept me interested in the episode. Overall, another average episode.

Rating: 3/5

The Wandering Juvie

When I first heard about this episode, I wasn't sure if it would work - I felt that Bart going to juvie was a little extreme, turning him into a criminal when all he wants to be is a petty thug (as he said in Bart's Girlfriend). However The Wandering Juvie was a great mix of plot, characterization and subtle humour.

The first half was much funnier than the last, although that's not necessarily a bad thing. It set up the episode well. Once Bart gets to juvenal hall, the story is executed so well I almost forgot about the humour. There were many 'light' jokes here and there which kept the episode fresh and original. The guest appearance by Sarah Michelle Gellar was excellent and exactly what a guest voice should be about - the character they play and not the guest star.

The episode finishes pretty well, although the cut to the credits (the stuff about the Warden) was pretty abrupt.

Rating: 4½/5

My Big Fat Geek Wedding

I really wasn't looking forward to this episode - just another continuation in the Skinner-Krabappel soap opera storyline. However, it turned out to be quite funny. Not a great episode, but decent nonetheless. The opening was pretty good and the episode progressed well.

I thought Edna falling for Comic Book Guy was a little out of place. Although the reasons were obvious, I just think it should have been a different character because CBG has been used too much recently, and also once with a love interest (Worst Episode Ever).

Another thing which I disliked is the rushing of the Homer-Marge subplot. Little hints were given throughout the episode, and it would have been nicer to have a proper conclusion to this. I did like how Marge brought the subject of whittling batteries back up, though. Homer's "second" marriage to Marge (which is actually the third, cf. A Milhouse Divided) was way too rushed and pointless.

Oh and finally, Matt Groening's appearance as the creator of Futurama was great. It was quite short, but they managed to fit in some great jokes about him, such as Milhouse mispronouncing his name.

Rating: 3/5

Catch 'em if You Can

Hmm... a dozen vacation episodes rolled into one? Well actually, it turned out pretty well. There were very few of the typical stereotypes and vacation jokes we normally get (since only two places were actually mentioned), and some great one-liners (particularly Homer's "All I wanted was a second honeymoon, and now the floor is made of lava"). The plot was pretty good and kept me interested throughout.

The parody of the "Catch Me If You Can" credits was good for a few seconds, but it quickly got boring and was too long in my opinion. The subplot with Grampa, if you can call it a subplot, was bad and added nothing to the episode. It also did not reach a conclusion.

Furthermore the absence of Maggie from the episode was pretty strange - I can't believe they overlooked that obvious plot hole. All they needed was one line saying they put her in nursery or something, or at least to have her stay with Lisa and Bart. Seemed pretty odd to me. Aside from these flaws, the episode was good.

Rating: 4/5

Simple Simpson

I love episodes where character and plot development are almost thrown out the window to make way for humour. That's not to say that there isn't a plot or it wasn't very good. It was a little thin and underdeveloped, but Simple Simpson is an episode in which it doesn't matter. Just the premise of the episode makes me chuckle.

Again, the general idea of Homer "turning over a new leaf" and helping people was recycled from a dozen other episodes (most of which are from later Seasons) but for me the twist was different enough to avoid being repetitive. I could write more about what made this episode good (and in fact I've written too much already) but it would just detract from the purpose of it - which was to provide a solid 22 minutes of laughter. This episode achieved - and maybe surpassed - that purpose.

I'll finish my review of one of the most memorable episodes from this Season by highlighting my favourite gags and lines:
- Promiscuous Idiots Island... on FOX.
- Bart: What do you expect? When you sign a contract with FOX, you know you're gonna be betrayed and humiliated.
- Ralph Wiggum on the conveyor belt.
- Homer: I'm no genius... or are I?
- Wiggum: I didn't know I could fit in a bubble. I must be losing weight!
- Milhouse: I demand to know the identity of fist-face!
- All the superhero parodies.
- Homer: I've run out of pie-related puns!

Rating: 5/5 - Best of the Season!

The Way We Weren't

When you have probably the best storyline in years, and a great writer (J Stewart Burns, writer of many Futurama episodes), along with the excellent animation as usual, you can't really go far wrong. This episode was funny, witty and heart-warming.

However, there were several things which bugged me. First of all, there were several continuity flaws. One example is Milhouse saying Homer was his first kiss, which is blatantly not true. This didn't bother me too much, since it was not important to the plot. Something which was a bit stupid was Homer saying Marge was his first and only kiss. He has kissed several women over the course of the series (such as Lurleen Lumpkin from Colonel Homer) - in fact, he kissed Patty in this very episode too!

Yet another flaw was Chief Wiggum appearing to be around the same age as Homer. In Mother Simpson, Wiggum was a teenager when Homer was a kid, so Wiggum should have been A LOT older than Homer.

While these things were a little annoying, they didn't stop me from enjoying the episode. What stops this episode from getting a perfect 5/5 is the bad voice acting. Homer and Marge's voices were excellent... well done to Dan & Julie for those. Some of the other voices were good too (Lenny, Helen Lovejoy), but Moe's, Comic Book Guy's and Chief Wiggum's voices were way off. They sounded exactly the same as their adult voices!

Despite this, the episode was funny and definitely a classic of the modern era of Simpsons episodes. If the last two episodes of the Season are anywhere near as good as this and Simple Simpson, this Season may well be regarded as the best since the golden years.

Rating: 4/5

Bart-Mangled Banner

Unbelievable... this Season was going so well, then this episode just reminded us what was so awful about Seasons 11-13. The satire was terrible - it was not the intelligent, subtle humour that made the early episodes classics. It was obvious, tired jokes that just fell flat.

The first act, while the standard "nothing to do with the rest of the episode" opening, was quite funny. Bart going deaf was a bit odd, but it ended up okay just like the bubble thing did in "Little Girl in the Big Ten".

Most of the second act worked quite well, too, up until the church scene. After that it descended into total "Kill the Alligator and Run"-style chaos. I'm not even gonna review the last act, there was not one funny moment. The episode was totally disjointed overall, and lacked a lot of humour. Worst of the Season, maybe second or third worst ever.

Rating: 1/5

Fraudcast News

This episode started out pretty average, but got a lot better towards the end. Actually the first act was very reminiscent of Monty Can't Buy Me Love, but with a different outcome. There were several funny moments here though - most notably, the suicidal teenager saying "Why did they cancel Futurama?"

The rest of the episode was very good - the plot was solid, as was the characterization - especially Burns being back to his old evil self. Some good media and political satire this week (not like last week's pile of puke), and the episode was damn funny. Though there was some weird animation/drawing - Ralph looked overly fat to me, and Smithers both looked and sounded slightly different.

Talking about Smithers, his gay references in this episode were also weak, they were just the same things as before. They could find some new jokes for him. Also Burns and the mother mole was pretty gross... I thought that kind of humour was left behind in Seasons 11-13. The ending of the episode was excellent - it's a shame the episode was let down by a few niggling flaws which could have easily been avoided.

Rating: 4/5