The Simpsons Season 24 Review “A Tree Grows in Springfield”

“A Tree Grows in Springfield” is a perfectly serviceable episode of The Simpsons. The premise, at least in the first act, is the kind of overly-topical spoofing that can quickly get tiresome, but it didn’t stick around too long, and some of the jokes were funny regardless.

The extended dream sequence in the beginning, where a hot dog baseball announcer narrates Homer’s pleasant hammock-nap fantasy-turned-nightmare, is pleasingly silly, and Homer’s ensuing depression turns out what may have been the funniest joke of the night, the quick visual gag when Moe tells him he has a “Charlie Brown wiggle-frown.”

After winning a raffle at an inexplicably Western-themed school fundraiser, we’re introduced to the Mapple MyPad, the name of which is probably the most annoying thing about it. I know Mapple has been used in previous episodes, so it wasn’t something that could be solved here, but still, that name is so grating that it threatens to demolish any and all humor that comes after it.

But, even in a sea of dumb app jokes, we’re given proof that the writing staff on The Simpsons is full of funny people. The crotchety old man translator was fantastic, as was the game “Distracted Driver,” in which you play as a man driving a car and playing “Vengeful Pigs” on a MyPad-within-a-MyPad.

It’s all very silly, and it only gets sillier as the episode progresses into one of the show’s fairly dependable riffs on faith. Springfield’s easy acceptance of the miracle (save for Kent Brockman) is standard-issue Simpsons, as is the reveal that Homer himself wrote the message in store-bought maple syrup. But, like the act before it, it’s saved by a good number of laughs, my favorite being the cavalcade of incorrect graphics the news puts on for Kent’s segment.

At the end, though, the show really threw me for a loop; the last few minutes, in which we’re given a Springfield-ified version of the Academy Award-winning French animated short Logorama, came out of absolutely nowhere. And, while it as fun enough, I’m left clamoring for any kind of explanation. Was the episode just a little too short? Or did they have this segment in the bag, and just tacked it on to any random episode they could fit it into?

But what do you guys think? Was “A Tree Grows in Springfield” just a normal one of The Simpsons, with an added bonus? Or is the show struggling to fill 22 minutes with a coherent plot anymore?