This week ‘The Pin Pals’ are reunited, sort of.
Singin’ in the Lane replaces Otto and Apu for Lenny, Karl and Barney. Moe is still on the team but he plays the role of coach and leads the team against arrogant millionaires in the finale. In the ‘B’ story Bart gets corrupted by money and its up to Lisa to teach him that money isn’t everything.
South Park once famously said: “The Simpsons already did it” referencing the fact that no matter what was done in animated comedy, it was already done on The Simpsons. Keep in mind, South Park said this back in 2002 and after 29 seasons the accuracy of that statement couldn’t be more poignant.
Singin in the Lane remakes season seven episode Team Homer. In that episode a ragtag team is put together with accidental funds from a drugged up Burns (Poppin Fresh). That was a great episode because it showed us that true friends could triumph over great odds especially when up against the allure of corporate/big business, which Burns represented. It also contained one of the better ‘B’ storylines about the school uniforms. Unfortunately, Singin’ leaves very little to hang onto.
There are some laughs however, a team called The Sidekicks does well before their bosses drag them off the lanes, for example. Also, Moe is subject to some amusing abuse as the new Pin Pals’ coach, his Gatorade victory shower turning out to be, in fact, a drink cooler filled with extra bowling balls. The ensuing montage of The Pin Pals running roughshod over the competition has been done before and so is not particularly funny. Though the writers get some points for the team names which are quite clever.
The laughs however, slow down when the team reach the finale and face off against the arrogant millionaires: The Fund Bunch. Perhaps its the fact that this team is meant to portray snooty jerks that makes them less funny. In any event Moe bets his life away to the ringers because his sad existence is picked apart by the hedge fund douchebag who was the model for Martin Scorsese’s The Wolf of Wall Street. He grinds Moe down with a series of simple questions about his last birthday, including whether Moe got any phone calls that day. Moe breaks when he admits he pretended to be interested in carpet cleaner for just a half hours’ worth of conversation.
The strength of this latter half of the episode comes from Moe who perennially swings between misery and improbable empathy. The main reason for the team getting back together is to alleviate Moe’s loneliness and depression. Hank Azaria shines in this episode as most of the lines are delivered brilliantly and you can almost feel the weight of Moe’s entire history with every word. The bet alluded to above is a promise to give up his bar and “his name,” while the rich guys let Moe get away with the vague promise of “an experience only a rich guy can bring.” In the end Moe realizes that getting out of his current existence would be the best thing for everyone. The Pin Pals win and Moe is stuck with the bar and name so we’re left in an awkward place where Moe is still depressed and no closer to achieving anything that would make him better. Though it was funny to see that in his fantasy do over life Moe is still a bartender albeit in Paris.
In the ‘B’ story Bart sucks right up to the hedge fund crowd. He even smooths out the points in his hair, trades the slingshot for some vodka and remembers to tip the baby. “I’ve finally found my path in life, its socio,” Bart coos. While Marge can’t give him many good reasons to choose poverty over wealth, in the film-within-an-episode, The Hateful of Eight Year Old, directed by Quentin Tarantino, Lisa and her group of Nerds teach the millionaires and Bart a lesson in undervalues. Sadly, the sequence doesn’t have enough of the Tarantino touch to make it very funny. It also doesn’t help that this story doesn’t start until the second half of the episode and so is rushed.
For those with attention to detail:
- In the background of the rich bowling alley you can see Jacques who was Marge’s bowling teacher in an early classic from season 1’s ‘Life on the Fast Lane’.
- On the exterior of the rich bowling alley, which is in high rise form, you can see Plopper the Pig swinging around the building in his alter ego ‘Spider Pig’.
- The episode marks the first appearance of The Yes Guy since season 19’s ‘All About Lisa’ and his first speaking role since season 15’s ‘The Wandering Juvie’.
All in all this was an ok episode that unfortunately did not live up to the original. There were some pretty good laughs and performances but this could have done with a better reason for getting the team back together. What’s worse is that the conclusion left viewers with a bitter taste in their mouths. Even the intro, which was unique (The Shrimpsons), could have been shorter to focus on the story.
As always make sure to tune in every Sunday on Fox for new Simpsons episodes and keep it locked on TGON for all your reviews and analysis.