Warning; this review contains spoilers.
After watching the first three episodes of The Simpons, season 27, I am beginning to think that I have been a little bit harsh on the five banana skinned humanoids in the past few years. Not that I have been hating on the show but I haven’t exactly been singing its praises either. I’ve maybe watched two or three new episodes in the past five years and I let myself get caught up in popular opinion and jumped on the “The Simpsons aren’t very good anymore” bandwagon. While it’s definitely true that the show has fell from its once staggering peak, there is still a lot of magic left in the show. In fact after the first two episodes of this season, I have found myself returning to watch some of the more recent seasons and haven’t been disappointed. That only goes to show that it is not always true what they say, ignorance isn’t always bliss, just ask Homer. Having said that, I would not hesitate in stabbing this lovable American family in the back if it meant even one more season of Futurama.
This week’s episode sees the return of a staple in The Simpsons storybook, Patty and Selma. Some of the most memorable storylines in Simpsons history have revolved around Marge’s older twin sisters, I’m looking at you, “A Fish Called Selma”. Unfortunately I don’t feel that this week’s episode will garner the same respect in the future. When Patty and Selma find out that their father died from lung cancer, they both vow to give up for good, sounds a bit familiar. After Selma admits to Patty that she has been lying and never really gave up they begin arguing and Patty moves out, also ringing a bell.
Since the ground is fairly well trodden and rather formulaic, this week’s main plot is rather by the by. Where Puffless really shines is its secondary plot. Spoofing various rescue movies and what felt like quite a few Disney films, Maggie befriends a group of woodland creatures and sets out to save the possum when it is captured by everyone’s favourite slack-jawed yokel, Cleetus. Maggie’s adventure was not only adorable, funny and outright entertaining it also reminded me just how much of a badass Maggie is, I mean this is the baby that shot Mr. Burns. Oops, spoilers. Amongst the other thoughts that this plotline provoked is that American possums really are creepy aren’t they? No matter how much of a pest they are, Australian possums will always be superior because even in an animated show the American possum looks like an overgrown, homeless rodent. Which if you think about is exactly what they are but hey I’m getting off topic here and you should really love all animals (except cockroaches and mosquitoes).
Aside from a few lines, this week was not as funny as the previous two but the fourth wall-shattering mention of the couch gags was a certain stand-out, along with the very clever observation that, “I did this for us” is both a more selfish, yet nicer version of, “I did this for you”. It was nice to see Duff-Man and Dr. Nick again, two of the recurring characters that prove The Simpsons is an ensemble masterpiece. There was a celebrity appearance from Yo-Yo Ma that only felt like an excuse for a weak yo-yo diet pun and I’m sorry Yo-Yo but I will forever think of the hilarious yelp of exclamation that you name has become thanks to Seinfeld. Jon Lovitz’s stint as a cigarette was a much better use of a famous voice but I can hold in no longer I MUST MENTION THE SPIDER-PIG.
Of all the teases Fox let out about the new season of The Simpsons earlier in the year, none was more exciting than the return of Spider-Pig. Of course I was expecting to see him and Homer set out on another roof-raising adventure but his appearance in this episode was a much more creative use of his web-slinging time. It was a surprise to see that Spider-Pig can actually shoot web and I enjoyed the fact that he didn’t do this in front of Homer, although I think they missed a trick by not getting him to shoot the web directly from his nose. That is probably more than enough on the return of your friendly neighbourhood Spider-Pig but as you can probably tell from my rambling; this was my highlight of the episode.
Puffless was a mixed bag of smokey, spidery, bacony fun and mediocrity. One the one hand, the main story was nothing new or special but on the other web-covered hand this was possibly one of my favourite secondary storylines to date. Originality is still strong in The Simpsons’ writing team but you just have to dig a bit deeper to find the real gems. This episode was the perfect example of finding a diamond in the rough and for that reason I am going to rate Puffless, a 3.5 out of 5.