After a summer movie that was, if not great, at least well above average, and a season premiere that was equally solid (at least during the first half), I had almost forgotten just how unbearable a bad episode of The Simpsons can be. Now I remember.
The bad ones usually start out with a ridiculous premise — such as the Simpsons unwittingly crashing a wake after their post-church search for a meal yields only long lines at establishments such as Griddler on the Roof, Thank God It’s Fried Eggs, Luftwaffles, Bodacious Frittata, Buffet the Hunger Slayer and Denny’s. If the writers had spent as much time planning the rest of the episode as they did in brainstorming funny restaurant names, maybe the episode would have recovered. They didn’t, but at least they gave us Homer’s oh-so-appetizing analysis of roast beef au jus: “Mmm … Au jus. Not quite gravy, not quite blood.” I’ll never order anything au jus again.
As part of his party-crashing ruse, Homer fills in as a pallbearer (because he mistakenly thought they wanted him to be a polar bear) and falls into an open grave. A subsequent hospital visit uncovers the fact that Homer has a beautiful and powerful singing voice — but only while lying down. On one of his frequent organ-harvesting trips to the morgue, Mr. Burns hears Homer singing and decides to make Homer a star. Woo hoo! An opera star! Oh.
The only one who could possibly enjoy this development is Lisa, who tells her father after his first performance that he has added to our culture — to which he responds, “Oh good. This makes up for me showing up drunk to the father-daughter dance.” Lisa reminds him that the dance isn’t until next week, and Homer simply replies, “Sorry, Lisa. Can’t change the future.”
Homer quickly rises to the top of the Springfield opera circuit, where he meets legendary tenor Placido Domingo (P. Dingo, to his friends) and an obsessive stalker named Julia (voiced by Maya Rudolph), who takes over as the president of Homer’s quickly expanding fan club. Julia tries to steal Homer from Marge, but he spurns her advances. Julia decides that if she can’t have Homer, no one can, which leads to an assassination attempt, multiple chandelier crashes and all kinds of ridiculousness — none of which is particularly funny — at Homer’s final performance.
Homer gives up the opera, and things go back to normal in time for next week. While this wasn’t the worst episode ever, let’s hope it will be the worst of Season 19.