What, exactly, was the point of the guest stars on “Changing of the Guardian”? Obviously, The Simpsons has the power to just bring celebrities on for no good reason, and constantly, but this week seemed uncharacteristically egregious, especially given how much Danny Devito’s comeback as Herb was hyped in the marketing. And then he just shows up for one line? Maybe that would have been fun as a little surprise, a nod to the show’s history, but it still rubbed me a little wrong. And then there’s Rashida Jones, who is given basically nothing to do for the entire episode.
Not that anyone is given much to do in this episode. The whole thing feels rushed and weird, as well as heavily front-loaded. The twister seemed like it might be the whole story of the episode, but instead it’s just the trigger for the boring story that follows, which is also illogical. I know it’s a cartoon, and cries for logic are completely beside the point, but I’m talking about character logic here, and it just strikes me as completely insane that either Marge or Lisa would go along with the plot to hand the Simpson kids over to total strangers in the event of an emergency. When The Simpsons is operating well, it takes something truthful and mundane and spins it out into the absurd; this just started at absurd.
But maybe I’m being harsh. There are still some great gags in “Changing of the Guardian,” like the opening riff on a Settlers of Catan-type complicated board game, their version perfectly titled “Emissaries to Byzantium.” Or Homer’s injecting of melted donuts, ending with the insistence that “It helps me write,” which was deadpan and very, very funny to me. Or, the best by far, the visual gag when the animals landed from the tornado, then spit each other out, then ate each other back up. I loved that. But what about y’all? Was this episode of The Simpsons as grating to you, or could you enjoy it?