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New Episode: Season 16 Premiere THOH 15. Clever as Ever

Simpsons News — Posted 09 Nov, 2004 by Scott

Ned Flanders foresees how people die in "The Ned Zone." Lisa Simpson mimics Sherlock Holmes in "Four Beheadings and a Funeral." The Simpsons clan goes miniature to travel into Mr. Burns' body for "In the Belly of the Boss."

The last sketch sends up the sci-fi favorite "Fantastic Voyage," a title that nicely sums up the history of "The Simpsons."

The Fox show delivers its devilishly clever Halloween special Sunday, a week late. But the series has been ahead of its time in just about every other respect. Ironic wit and inspired spoofs have carried the animated classic to its 16th season, making it the longest-running television comedy.

"It's the most meaningful thing we've done," executive producer Al Jean said. "It's hard to surprise people week after week." Full Story.

That's the goal this season, especially for a Feb. 6 episode that will air after the Super Bowl. The writers will poke fun at last year's much-debated halftime show starring Janet Jackson.

In the episode, Homer's exuberant dancing wins him work as a choreographer to star athletes Michelle Kwan, Yao Ming, LeBron James, Tom Brady and Warren Sapp. But Homer makes a misstep in asking neighbor Ned to help put together the Super Bowl halftime show.

"Homer makes the halftime show too religious," Jean said. "The halftime show is so inoffensive that people get mad."

In another episode, Springfield legalizes gay marriage. Homer becomes an ordained minister via the Internet and performs the unions. Toward the end, one of the regular characters comes out of the closet.

The series continues to draw big-name guest stars. Ray Romano plays Homer's new best friend in a parody of "A Beautiful Mind" that raises the possibility the character doesn't exist.

Kim Cattrall portrays Marge's high-school pal whose success as a television journalist leaves the Simpsons mom bitter. Albert Brooks stars as the leader of a fat camp that Bart attends.

For the Nov. 14 episode, the show repeats a coup from last season. It again has landed Thomas Pynchon, the secretive author of "Gravity's Rainbow."

"We depict him with a bag on his head," Jean said. "He helped write the jokes. One reason he did the show is he has a son who's a fan."

Jean predicted that the show will run through at least season 19 because the actors are signed through that time. "The only reason it might not is we don't have the stories," he said. "I think we do."

He is one of the writers on a big-screen Simpsons movie. "It won't come out this year or next," Jean said, "but I think it will come out."

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