Here’s something that might sound familiar: Grandpa needs medical treatment so the family goes to a foreign country where they can benefit off the system. In the process they each end up loving it except for Homer. That’s basically the plot for a majority of the travel episodes that The Simpsons have done over the years with some slight modifications.
The reason these episodes are essentially the same is because for the most part they work. Yes, The Simpsons may be out of ideas but as the saying goes ‘if ain’t broke don’t fix it.’ In this episode we head to Denmark so Grandpa can undergo an unknown medical procedure for free.
The episode looks great and easily has some of the best visuals of the season. The Danish specific jokes are pretty good too even if I had to take their word for it on some of them. The gags worked too—their ultra-modern Danish apartment has a dishwasher TV and a fridge/bed hybrid. Another funny bit was when they came across a traffic sign reading “Fart Kontrol” (translated as “speed check,” by their friend), Marge attempts to soft-pedal what the phrase means in her language, only for the guy to explain, “Yes, I know. I’m speaking to you in your language.”
Everyone except Homer is bowled over by everything Denmark has to offer. Lisa gets art, culture, wind power, a blessedly singable national anthem that (as Marge says, “doesn’t mention war until the second verse”), and the joy of, finally, living in a “celsius country.” Lisa even falls in love momentarily with a Danish prince and she has a funny daydream about their life together where in the end Bart thwarts an assassination attempt. Lisa yells get out of my fantasies to which Bart replies “hey, I saved your life.”
Then in the last few minutes the show rushes through a few loose storylines: Homer and Grandpa bond over a departed Mona (the procedure was to get a tattoo of her name off), Homer and Marge go through some marital troubles after a Danish woman flirts with Homer, the rest of the family decide to stay in Denmark but then quickly change their minds. On top of that the Lisa love interest storyline goes nowhere.
The Simpsons have already shown this season their penchant for focusing on locations rather than story. In previous episodes the show developed a story first only to drop it completely once they get on location. Here The Simpsons travel to a new location off a loose story, focus on the location but only to realize by the end that they need to develop a complete story and so they rush it. Its essentially the same thing only in reverse which makes it less of an issue but still an issue nonetheless.
Other than that the episode was okay, there were some laughs to be had which is a relief. When Homer protests that he can’t leave all his friends behind he imagines, Lenny, Carl, Lard Lad and his couch. When Homer is being seduced by the Danish woman she invites him to dance their mating dance which turns out to be not sexy at all and actually a pretty group ensemble. Also Homer’s Hamlet soliloquy about great American food wasn’t exactly funny but was impressive.
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