This Sunday saw the return of 3 Fox series, The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine Nine, and Family Guy. While 1 of those 3 delivered a quality episode of comedy television, 2 did not.
Wow, just wow, and not in a good way. That sums up my feelings of the season 26 premiere of the iconic series. This time we were promised a big death, in an episode about Krusty. Where to start? Lets just get the death out of the way. Krusty’s Dad died. So ends one of the least significant characters to ever grace the series, after all the build up, it just meant nothing. The more interesting story was Krusty struggling with his mediocrity. At least it would have been the more interesting story if it hadn’t already been covered in just about every Krusty centric episode of the series. It would have been more impactful if they had killed off Krusty the Clown himself, and he is hardly an essential character to keep around.
There was a (probably mostly unintentional) commentary about The Simpsons’ own mediocrity as Krusty watched himself repeating jokes while reflecting on his career. It wasn’t really an insightful commentary, but it was there to be read into. In the end it only served to highlight that the show is indeed mediocre (at best) these days. This in contrast to other shows that have handled similar themes with genuine heart and laughter, such as South Park’s 2 part You’re Getting Old/ Ass Burgers story.
To show some positivity, there was a decent bit with news anchor Kent Brockman, transparently reeling. Though even that has been better dissected by others, most notably British writer/columnist Charlie Brooker’s How to Report the News.
It is said often by longtime fans, but the series really does need to come to a conclusion. Unfortunately I doubt it will ever happen, so I’ll propose a counter offer to The Simpsons‘ staff. Cut the number of episodes down, cut it down to about 10 episodes a year, focus on special occasions, like Treehouse of Horror, and the Christmas specials. Maybe consider some drastic changes that force you out of your comfort zone. Just please, do something, because it is hard to watch the desecration of the corpse of someone you once loved.
Brooklyn Nine Nine
While Brooklyn Nine Nine is the odd one out amongst its cartoon Sunday night sisters, it was also the best of the 3 airing tonight, by far. Brooklyn Nine Nine launched into its second season with series protagonist Jake Peralta working undercover in the mob, Administrator Gina Linetti dealing with a bad sexual choice, and Captain Holt putting his team through rigorous drills in dealing with civilians. Though none of that really matters, as the strength of the series lies almost entirely in the chemistry between the actors/characters.
Highlights of the episode included Captain Holt talking about how his husband hasn’t seen him smile in weeks, and Boyle’s fumbling with Peralta’s door clicker signal that he needed help. The overall best moments came out of Santiago and Diaz having to take civilian reports from Terry in different roles, under the command of Captain Holt.
There just isn’t much else to say, Brooklyn Nine Nine delivered a hilarious character driven comedy in a night of retread franchise milking, though both The Simpsons and Family Guy were golden in their first 2 years as well. Hopefully Brooklyn Nine Nine doesn’t live beyond its obsolescence, like the other 2, long ago, did.
Family Guy, like The Simpsons, has been a shell of its former self for years already. Unlike The Simpsons, however, the quality of the series was never legendary, so it isn’t as painful to watch the degradation. Also, currently, I would say that Family Guy is better than The Simpsons, though that is saying very little.
Tonight’s season 13 premiere of Family Guy was the much hyped 1 hour cross-over with The Simpsons. It was an episode that started as a decent homage to the iconic series before going off the rails into the boring world of character comparisons. 1 thread I enjoyed were the jabs at The Simpson’s faltering quality and Family Guy’s imitations of the series, that is until they began to hammer away all subtlety.
It was initially pretty neat to simply see the town of Springfield through foreign eyes, there were a lot of nostalgic winks and nods, but before long it all just became obtuse, forced, and boring. It was almost as if they worked off a half baked check list of favorite spots from Simpsons tropes and moments, while trying to force their own iconic offerings in, as if to say “we are a big show too ya know”.
As a significant cartoon event, it was hard not to compare it to the various South Park episodes that have tackled similar territory. Simpsons Already Did it, was a more compelling addresser of homage vs rip-off, and Cartoon Wars did a better job at taking jabs at the competition. Now in its 18th season, South Park is still relevant, The Simpsons stopped being relevant around its 8th or 9th season, and Family Guy stopped being relevant around its 3rd.
If The Simpsons is keen to trade on nostalgia, perhaps a better method would be to consider what South Park did with its recent game The Stick of Truth, let us create our own Simpsons character and explore the town of Springfield and all of its rich history (and no, Tapped Out doesn’t count), I for one would better appreciate taking in the nostalgia at my own pace, as opposed to having it force fed.
While more enjoyable than The Simpsons’ cringeworthy 26th season premiere, Family Guy’s 13th premiere was, by and large, over-processed, underachieving, and unfortunately unremarkable in any way.
So, those are my thoughts on the season premieres of The Simpsons, Brooklyn Nine Nine, and Family Guy. What did you think of Fox’s much hyped Sunday Smashtacular night of programming? Let us know in our comments, and stay tuned for more coverage of all of your favorite shows, rotting corpse of its former self or not.