The Simpsons “Every Man’s Dream” Review (Season 27 Premiere)

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Say it ain’t so, “The Simpsons”! Or, given this show’s propensity for bad puns, perhaps I should say, say it ain’t…d’oh! Whatever the case, unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve no doubt heard that, on this season of “The Simpsons,” Homer and Marge were allegedly going to get a- gasp! – divorce. Hey, if you’d been together 27 seasons and counting, you’d probably have your weak moments, too.

And lo and behold, on the premiere, they did just that. Or did they? In the “Inception”-by-way-of-HBO’s-“Girls” first episode, “Every Man’s Dream,” the Simpsons clan did indeed do the unthinkable: they broke up. Except they didn’t really.

It all began with Homer getting diagnosed with narcolepsy, after falling asleep on the job at the nuclear plant. Not that it took Homer falling asleep on the job to cause an incident in the first place, but you know, that’s what they went with this time. To remedy it, he was prescribed a mess of heavy drugs, but before filling it, Homer basically used the diagnosis as a sort of ad-hoc “get out of anything free” card. Time to do the dishes? Narcolepsy. Time to take the kids to school? Narcolepsy. And so on.

This led Marge to request couples’ therapy for the umpteenth time- the two have quite literally worked their way through practically the entire alphabet at this point, landing on the tail end of the “Z’s” in this episode. Only this time, the therapist in question suggests the unthinkable- that the two take a break from one another in a trial separation of sorts.

While doing so, Homer moves into the nuclear plant, and finally picks up his prescription, where he meets comely pharmacist, Candace (guest voice Lena Dunham, of the aforementioned “Girls”). Eventually, she asks Homer out, much to his shock. “I don’t know what you see in me,” he ponders, “I’m just a lonely guy with a bag full of drugs.” Sure enough, the two take said drugs together and go out for a wild night on the town that ultimately ends up with Homer waking up in bed with Candace naked the morning after!

He tries to back pedal and go back to Marge and beg her forgiveness, but he discovers that Marge has a beau of her own. So, he continues to see Candace, eventually meeting her constantly whining friends- played by Dunham’s cohorts on “Girls”- and finally agreeing to meet her father for dinner. Alas, when he does, who should show up but Marge, who’s dating Candace’s dad! Awkward.

Then, as if things could get worse, Candace’s dad proposes to Marge, and then Candace herself drops a bombshell: she’s pregnant! Eep! How are they going to wrap this up by the end of the episode? Well, that’s where the “Inception” bit comes in. Turns out, it’s all Homer’s dream, and that he’s fallen asleep at the therapist’s office. Or is it? Then Homer wakes up again, and he’s at a high-end bar with Candace. So, the dream that it was a dream was apparently a dream instead. Except that’s it’s not that, either.

Nope, it turns out that the dream is actually Marge’s, which she dutifully reports to the therapist, who asks to hear more about this dream. Then, in the final moments, we pull out from the therapist’s office to reveal that the whole thing has been, not a dream, but a tattoo on some lady’s back, and that the episode has been her explanation of the tattoo. Or something. I’m not sure I understood “Inception” completely and I didn’t really get this, either, but I’m going to go ahead and say that it was all a big fake out, and that the Simpsons are still very much together, thankfully, which is as it should be.

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All in all, it was a big stunt, and it worked, more or less. Yes, it was a bit jarring seeing Homer and Marge with different people, even though they’ve gone to this well before in the past on both ends, but, as aforementioned, it was all a “dream,” so it’s no big deal in this case. The real question is: was it funny?

To be honest, it was hit or miss. Like most “Simpsons” episodes these days, it felt like a bit of a retread, but they’d be hard-pressed to tread new ground at this point, anyway, given how long the show’s been on the air. As such, it had a few laughs here and there, but overall, it was just okay. I’ll break down the highlights for you below.

Intro: After a semi-amusing bit about zip-lining- the entire family zipped across the screen, with Homer bringing up the rear and getting stuck on his line- we then got a Beatles-themed couch gag, complete with a faux Beatles-type song and various Simpson-ized album covers, with titles like “A Hard D’oh’s Night,” “The Yellow Album” and “Flabby Road.” “The Yellow Album” was the best one, with a recreation of the iconic “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts’ Club Band” cover, only with various “Simpsons” characters in the place of The Beatles and their favorite people.

Among them were the “older,” more wacked-out looking early Simpsons and various little in-jokes for fans, including the “Life is Hell” bunny ears poking over one character’s head, and the aliens’ ships sailing over the group in the background. I’m sure there were plenty more where that came from, but I’ll leave that for hardcore fans to decipher.

Best lines/sight gags:

After Homer’s doctor declares he’s going to need to do a spinal tap, Homer says, repeatedly: “Please be the band, please be the band, please be the band.” A nod to the raise hold-out Harry Shearer’s former day job, obviously, and a cute one at that, which shows that there’s no hard feelings- although there might be a double-meaning in there somewhere, what with it served up in the middle of a scene delivering pain to Homer, sans a sedative until the last moment.

After a sequence in which Mr. Burns is thrown out a window and lands in the arms of his own statue in front of the power plant, he shouts out: “Smithers, come up through my rear and grab me!” At which point we see Smithers gleefully climb up to the statue via a ladder and open a panel in, yes, the rear of the statue and go inside. Yikes!

After viewing a typically gruesome “Itchy & Scratchy” cartoon that ends with Scratchy being decapitated and having his brains scooped out and replaced with dipping sauce for nachos, Homer laments: “I wish my head was filled with guacamole.” LOL.

Finally, after Marge told the therapist about the dream and she asked him about it, Homer admitted: “Like all married men, I didn’t hear that first thing and I’m overconfident of the second.” I’m sure there were a lot of married men who could relate to that one. And women, for that matter, who rolled their eyes in recognition.

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Beyond that, there was a semi-amusing prescription drug trip sequence and it was somewhat amusing to see the “Girls” and their boys skewered in animated form- at one point Homer summed it up thusly: “All they do is complain, even though they don’t really have any problems.” Ain’t that the truth.

Still, the sad truth is that a lot of this felt like retread because a lot of it WAS retread, which is the negative side of being on the air as long as this show has. At this point, “The Simpsons” should do their own take on the infamous “South Park” episode, “The Simpsons Did It,” in which the boys floundered trying to come up with a plotline that “The Simpsons” hadn’t done yet, with not much success. And hell, that was a good five years or so back itself! Is there even a plotline left that they haven’t done?

I mean, don’t get me wrong: much like “CSI”- which, in fact, did end it’s run the same night- and “Law & Order,” there’s a comfort in having “The Simpsons” around year after year. We might not always watch, but it’s nice to know its still there. So, yeah, if this maybe wasn’t the best episode they’ve ever done, or the funniest, or what have you, it was still moderately amusing enough to watch at dinner time and get a chuckle or two out of. Hey, there are worse things in the world than being the TV equivalent of comfort food, right?

What did you think of “The Simpsons” premiere? Did you laugh? Or were you a bit disappointed? Were you shocked by the seeming break-up? Or did you figure out it was all probably a stunt? Did you get a kick out of the “Girls” voice cameos? Would you have stopped watching if the scenario was for real and the Simpsons had actually broken up? Did you spot any more in-jokes in the Beatles send-up at the beginning? Sound off on this and more and I’ll see you later in the season for an update!