The Simpsons has been running out of steam for years now, and “Adventures in Baby Getting” not only confirms that by being, in general, the sound of a balloon deflating for twenty-two minutes, but also by referencing its own past several times throughout the episode. We see the corpses of the first-incarnation Simpson family buried underneath their house (in what was maybe the funniest joke in the episode), Bart complains that he’s running out of ideas for the chalkboard gag, and Moe forces us to remember what is generally considered one of, if not the best episode in the history of the series, “Marge vs. the Monorail,” when he references a “runaway monorail” as an example of a previous Springfield catastrophe. It’s just unkind, to make us compare this episode to that one.
The first act centers around a sinkhole, which allows for some good-enough bad puns (“sink-o de mayo”), but not much else, and only serves as the impetus for Marge buying a new car. At the dealership, it seems like we might be getting an episode about absurdly sexist marketing strategies, but again, that’s just a mislead to get us to the real problem: Marge wants another child.
That’s the kind of premise-breaking idea that an animated sitcom that’s stayed basically the same for over twenty years simply can’t sustain, so of course, we know she’ll be dissuaded by the end of the episode. How we get there is occasionally fun, like the stop-off at the string of roadside attractions like the Christmas Ornament Museum and Krusty’s Hot Tub, but mostly just rote. Homer gets a change of heart, then Marge gets a change of heart, and we leave the same way we came, except maybe a little more bored.
Oh, right. Bart and Lisa did something, too. It was so undercooked that I honestly almost forgot. Lisa is doing something mysterious, and Bart gets together all her ex-boyfriends (another weird nod to continuity from a show that is infamous for jettisoning it constantly) to investigate, and it turns out she’s learning cursive. Sure. Whatever. I don’t think there was a single joke from this part that made me laugh.
But please, let me know if you felt different. Did “Adventures in Baby Getting” push your buttons the right way? Or does The Simpsons continue to feel a little too flaccid to you, too? Hit me up in the comments and let me know.