Warning; this review contains spoilers.
Season twenty-seven of The Simpsons seems to be the Lisa show. Homer and Bart’s storylines have been done to death and there isn’t much left in the tank but when it comes to Lisa there’s a lot more fuel to burn. Whether this is down to the richness of the character or the sign of the times is up for debate. What isn’t up for debate is the fact that it seems to be working. Of all the episodes this season, the Lisa based episodes have been the best or at least they’ve been the least awful. This week’s episode was no exception.
Lisa The Veterinarian
After another one of Bart’s pranks, a raccoon’s life hangs in the balance and Lisa steps in to save the day. This small moment of heroism inspires Lisa to do more and she seeks out work experience in a veterinary clinic. Meanwhile Marge is stuck in a traffic jam caused by a horrific crash. Chief Wiggum informs Marge that no one is moving until the crash gets cleaned up. Marge steps in to help and she’s offered a job cleaning crime scenes full time. After a bit of persuading by a busted ceiling fan Marge accepts the offer and sets about “ignoring her family” like every other time she gets a job or a hobby on the show.
As invested in animals and their welfare as much as Lisa is, I could’ve sworn that Lisa has been a vet at least twice before. This is a no-brainer, the kind of idea that is so obvious that it must have been done already. Honestly, for the amount of episodes I’ve seen it may have happened already and I just haven’t managed to catch but regardless this was a great episode. Even the slightly weak subplot surrounding Marge’s career as a crime scene cleaner was not enough to bring down the brilliance that was Lisa The Veterinarian.
There are many reasons this episode was great but it starts off with the jokes. Lisa The Veterinarian was hilarious from start to beginning with the line of the week going to Ralph Wiggum; “Your breath smells like don’t drink that.” The opening scene set in an indoor swimming centre was a pure joy from Bart causing chaos to Bart causing even more chaos and was the highlight of the episode. This high only dulls for a second with Marge’s very short plotline that is redeemed somewhat with the synchronicity of the two plots. No episode this season has been as in sync as this one, with Bart’s prank inspiring Lisa’s dreams of becoming a vet and Marge’s career blinding her from Lisa’s issues. Nothing felt forced or crammed in this week and both stories ran side by side beautifully.
Apart from Marge’s rather pointless plotline there is not much to complain about this week so for once I think I leave the complaining up to the rest of the internet, I mean they do such a wonderful job. Instead I have a few observations. This week saw the return of Bart’s red cap. What, why, when and why? What is the point of this hat? Why does he where it when he looks so ridiculous and what situation calls for him to wear it? There have been hundred of sunny days on The Simpsons but for some reason I think I’ve seen this hat no more than maybe twenty times. Also Ralph has got to be the smartest stupid character of all time. Sure a lot of the times the things he says portray his comical stupidity, ergo the previously mentioned quote but other times they take the long way round. For example this week he calls television “the picture radio” which is both more work and if anything a reference to a medium that kids his age would know less about than an actual television. Aaaanndd observations over.
It strikes me that the best episodes of this year surround an underutilised character as with Lisa The Veterinarian, Much Apu About Something and Maggie’s sideline story in Puffless. So maybe that is where the remaining Simpsons magic lies, within the characters aside from Homer and Bart. I would love to see some stories surrounding a few characters that we haven’t seen that much of, like Mayor Quimby or Otto. Or maybe it was down to the fact that this was a story the was both new and reflected the character at the same time. If we take a look at the other side of the coin, Marge’s storyline was nothing new and really just very silly, even for The Simpsons. Lisa The Veterinarian was a funny, fresh episodes with only a short boring storyline so I am rating this episode 4 out of 5 stars.