I'm not reviewing The Simpsons Movie now because I haven't seen it. I don't have anything against it and am not avoiding it or anything; I just figure I'll intend to catch the movie sometime and then forget until it's come on a cable channel which it will turn out I don't have.
I did see for the first time in ages an episode of The Simpsons, the TV show, which I don't usually watch because I typically get one of five episodes I've already seen, mostly that first-season episode of ``Bart Versus The Bully''. (My father had picked the channel because he ran out of This Old Yet Uninteresting House.) I was surprised, after generally good if ancient memories and the week of love over at the Onion AV Club, by the episode, in which -- after rescuing Homer from a corn maze -- Bart's dog becomes a police dog and rescues Bart from a chemical spill in a school laboratory. It was surprisingly poor an episode.
It wasn't awful, mind you, and most of the elements -- like reeling off a constrictor at the pet shop to buy it by the (linear measure) foot -- were fertile enough ideas. It was the timing. Nearly all the jokes were delivered at the wrong tempo, often with awkward pauses, so material that should compound with its neighboring jokes misfired instead. Never mind the question of whether whether one can have fresh ideas for a show after two decades of dozens of episodes a year: by this time shouldn't everyone involved be practiced enough they couldn't get the mechanics of a joke wrong even if they tried? I don't mean that they couldn't tell a joke that misfired, but that you shouldn't have to deduce from the evidence afterward where the punchline was supposed to be. (I also don't care for jokes about Them Hicks And Their Dang Fool Ways, but that's a matter of personal taste and I'm more hesitant to declare that wrong.) It was frustrating to see how much better an episode was lurking around the corners struggling to get out.
As I say, I'm surprised, since the impression I'd had was that when a episode went wrong it was due to forced wackiness and illogical developments. This episode wasn't absurd, at least not testing my limits for cartoon logic, but it did make me want to go over there and edit it myself if that's what it takes. I hope I'm not just in a bad mood because I discovered after this, American Dad, and as much Family Guy as I could stand that over on Turner Classic Movies Singing In The Rain was on all that while. I don't have many hard-and-fast entertainment rules, but ``Singing In The Rain is better than the other thing that's on'' is one of them.
Trivia: Pope Leo X (Giovanni di Lorenzo de Medici) once created 31 new cardinals in a single day, which let him collect over 300,000 ducats from the recruits. Source: The March of Folly, Barbara Tuchman.
Currently Reading: A Modern History of Japan, Andrew Gordon.