The Simpsons have done a curious thing by airing Now Museum after a historical piece and immediately before the Treehouse of Horror. Not to say that its a bad thing but the show has never gone this long between main story events and fantasy/historical episodes. I suppose the showrunners wanted to set the mood in the leadup to Treehouse but what was always interesting about Halloween was the contrast between the episodes before and after.
Now Museum is a series of small vignettes, not unlike Treehouse. Here , Lisa is sick and Marge advises that she stay home and gives her books to pass the time. Lisa of course asks to be tested on the material later at an undisclosed time. What we get are lessons in art history. The first on Leonardo Da Vinci (Lisanardo), the second on French impressionist art with Bart and the third on Diego and Frida Kahlo (Homer and Marge). In the first Lisanardo is shown to be too talented making everyone hate her. The funniest part here is when a literal angel blesses her with more talent right when she’s trying to defend herself from criticism. She exiles herself to France where she lives out her days working on her masterpiece: The Da Vinci Code.
In the second part Bart and his friends react to new camera technology by painting in the abstract which is rejected by Skinner and Chalmers for showcase to the emperor. Bart and the gang devise a plan to get their paintings seen which leads to the funniest part of this story. They all hide in a giant roll of cheese and stroll their way into the gallery as the emperor (Homer) chases them and starts eating away at the roll. The emperor likes their paintings and chooses them as winners leaving Skinner and Chalmers to be beheaded.
In part three, Diego and Frida are recently married and move to New York where Diego has secured a job painting a mural for the new Rockefeller Center. Diego routinely dismisses Frida and she begins to paint her self portraits. When the mural is revealed Rockefeller (Burns) demands that an image of Lenin be removed. Diego rejects it for artistic purposes which leads to the funniest part where Rockefeller releases the hounds but they’re on the 66th floor. When the elevator stops at 65, Smithers by saying they’re probably eating the attendant.
For me though, the highlights don’t have much to do with the main stories. El Barto makes an appearance at the beginning of the third act which is always fun to see. We also get one small interlude with Maggie and an outro with Moe. In the former Lisa is somehow able to read Maggie’s mind who asks if there’s any baby art. We then get Maggie as cupid style angel trying to save Homer and Marge’s relationship from the bad baby angels. The scene plays out like a war scene involving fighter jets (complete with sound effects). Maggie’s arrows are changed for death ones and Homer is sent to hell. The scene was short but funny mostly because it was off the wall amusing. In the outro, we get a song by Vincent Van Moe where he sings a sad ballad with the works of Van Gogh in the background. Again, funny because it was unexpected and very on brand for Moe.
Fresh, clever and a little spontaneous, the episode delivered even though at points it felt like a history lesson. Unfortunately, its odd placement in the season means its going to get over shadowed by Treehouse of Horror.