Monday, September 24, 2007

A New Season of Fox Primetime Cartoons

Last night, Sunday the 23rd, was season premiere night for three Fox television animated sitcoms: The Simpsons, King of the Hill, and Family Guy. I was quite pleasantly surprised that each show brought something slightly different than usual fare for their respective premieres.

The opening sequence of The Simpsons' 19th season opener shares continuity with last summer's The Simpsons Movie. I'm pretty sure virtually everyone who watched last night's show, whether or not they also saw the film, got the joke. The episode pretty much focuses on Homer's trials and tribulations of wanting to relive the jet-set experience and failing to do so. This episode is unusual in that it lacks the dramatically large plot drift (the Mr. Burns-to-Homer shift is not as drifting), and there aren't any noticeable subplots involving the rest of the family.

"He Loves to Fly and He D'oh's" is basically this (spoilers for those who missed the episode the first time around): The Mr. Burns and Smithers beginning sequence is much too short to consider the rest as plot drift. Homer saves Mr. Burns from a water fountain. Burns rewards Homer by letting him experience the life of a jet-setting billionaire (a man date with Mr. Burns to Chicago). Homer is sad because he'll never have that experience again. Homer tries and fails to get a new job that would grant him access to a private jet. Homer tries to hide this failure from his family, until Bart stumbles onto the truth and persuades Homer come clean to Marge. Homer hires a private jet to tell Marge the truth, but an emergency gets in the way. In the end, Homer resolves to return to the status quo at the beginning of the episode. The theme of wealth (and the lack thereof) remains constant throughout the episode, unlike, say the usual progression of Blockoland to Homer, defender of the underdog to hunger strike Homer in "Hungry, Hungry Homer."

I don't watch a lot of King of the Hill, other than the occasional weekday syndicated episode. In those episodes, Hank is arrogantly insensitive, Bobby is a disappointment to Hank, and Peggy Hill! is an annoying moron. Needless to say, I don't really find King of the Hill to be pleasant viewing, other than during the usual happy resolution. However, this episode was especially pleasant viewing for the entire 22 minutes, as Hank has a growing pride in his boy for taking interest in watching football, and thus his characteristic arrogance and insensitivity aren't really directed at anyone during this episode. And Peggy Hill's not really stupid in this episode, as she is paired with the even more obtuse Luanne. She's just a really destructive football fan, which was actually funny without being annoying.

Finally, the Family Guy Star Wars parody was hilarious. For once, the usually non-sequitur humor of the show ("That reminds me of the time when I forgot how to sit down...") is actually focused, more logical, and suits the setting and story - while maintaining some degree of absurdity. While an homage to Star Wars, this parody episode pokes fun at plot holes in the original film. It's such a well-written episode that there's a slight chance that Eric Cartman might approve this episode and this episode alone of Family Guy. Okay, probably not.

Real-life Kwik-E-Mart photo credit: User:SchmuckyTheCat.

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