Amazingly, it’s been 18 years. Or, more correctly, 18 seasons as its own entity, and before that a part of The Tracey Ullman Show. And it’s 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 it’s 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, the even have a movie coming out next summer. And, last night they premiered the first episode from their 18th 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-alec, Marge a long-suffering housewife, and Maggie still doesn’t speak (except for that 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 showrunners 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. Last night’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 that 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 too had never really met. It actually happened so much that at one point that 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 that if Fat Tony had a kid in Bart & 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 that 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 18 may not have been the funniest episode ever, and despite its rehashing of plots it was funny, it was irreverent, and it certainly looks as though the family could go on for another 18 seasons.
I for one hope they will.