Amazingly, it’s been eighteen years. Or, more correctly, eighteen seasons as its own entity, and, before that, a part of The Tracey Ullman Show. And The Simpsons is still going strong. The center of the show seems to have changed over the years from the boy to the man (I use that term solely to denote age, not mentality), but it continues apace.
From its greatest hits like “The Bartman” and the famed, much ballyhooed tomacco episode, The Simpsons has done just about everything at least once, and sometimes two or more times. Heck, they even have a movie coming out next summer. On Sunday night, they premiered the first episode from their eighteenth season. Homer is just as dumb now (some say dumber) as he was at the beginning, Bart is still a little hellion, Lisa a smart-aleck, Marge a long-suffering housewife, and Maggie still doesn’t speak (except for one episode).
But, it doesn’t seem to matter. They’re just as funny now as they were then. There have been a number of different show runners over the years and consequently, the show has changed somewhat, but they still find new things to lampoon, or new ways to lampoon old things. Sometimes the episodes are topical (but even those don’t seem to get stale years later) and sometimes they are less so, but they are always funny and often smart.
Last night’s premiere was no exception. The episode's pop culture lampooning was of The Sopranos and more than one of The Godfather movies. There is a certain illogic to the episode, and the series, that works wonderfully. Last night is, by no means, the first time Fat Tony and Homer have crossed paths, but for both it is like the first time.
As a short aside, for years, every single time Mr. Burns met Homer, he had no idea who he was and the plot was acted out as though the two had never really met. It actually happened so often, at one point, the producers made an episode in which Homer was infuriated that, despite all the time they’ve spent together, Burns still couldn’t remember Homer. Besides that piece of illogic, one would have thought if Fat Tony had a kid in Bart and Lisa’s school, everyone would have known it before last night. There are numerous other moments of illogical lunacy, but those two will suffice to highlight my point.
The true genius of the show exhibits itself in the fact the producers are blissfully aware of these inconsistencies and plow ahead anyway — as though they made no difference. And, for whatever reason, they make no difference. Whether the inconsistency is noted by the producers or not (they often are), they are quickly overlooked by everyone involved, including the audience.
The premiere episode of season eighteen may not have been the funniest episode ever, but, despite its rehashing of plots, it was funny, it was irreverent, and it certainly looks as though the family could go on for another eighteen seasons.
I, for one, hope they will.