I usually think there are two categories you can usually place each episode of the Simpsons into. There’s family and emotional stories that revolve around a characteristic of one of the Simpsons or one of their friends. Or there’s the episodes that try to say something and make a truly unique statement. That first category is the type that most fans lament as something of the past, and the second is the type that the writers seem to be more apt to try these days.
However, the 400th episode nailed it last night. It was a fitting commentary on the state of the media and the watchdogs of said media. To sum it up, Kent Brockman accidentally used the F-Bomb (which wasn’t actually used, but passingly implied) live on the air. Flanders, representing a highly overzealous public summed up the reaction. “I’m imploring people I’ve never met to pressure a government with better things to do to punish a man who meant no harm for something nobody even saw.” Sounds eerily familiar.
The show even went this far..
The scene that followed this one was a brilliant and funny take on Edward R. Murrow and his likeness in ‘Good Night, And Good Luck’. I wish I could find a YouTube version, it was awesome.
A lot of critics take offense to the show taking less time to cover stories, but I see no room for this. Statements and scenes as seen above take time to work up to. And the stories that hold that commentary isn’t self substantial. Even they have to be built within a larger story that says something about the Simpsons family or their Springfield neighbors. At the end of the day, and after a commercial period considerably more lengthy than the show saw in the early 90’s, there’s really only a little less than a third of the run time of the show to really say something.
And as seen above, when they say something, they don’t fool around.