Sunday TV Round-Up: November 3

Wherein I review The Simpsons and Brooklyn Nine-Nine very quickly because I’m tired.

The Simpsons – Opposites A-Frack

This was a very funny episode. Something about it just popped. The directing? The Writing? The voice acting? All of it, I presume. In a pretty standard plot, Burns is discovered to be fracking Springfield. When Lisa asks a liberal Assemblywoman (played by Jane Fonda) to stop him, and he starts fracking her, too. Homer gets asked (nay, commanded) by Burns to sway the town of Springfield into pro-frack mode. A check for five grand doesn’t hurt, and soon everyone’s on board. Minus Marge. Because, as she points out, their water was on fire. On. Fire.

What starts with some funny Homer/Patti/Selma bickering naturally progresses into the fracking subplot. None of this “cemetery plot the size of a tennis court/tennis court, eh?” hubbabaloo. No, the episode just makes sense, with everyone playing their correct role: Homer as the pushover/do-gooder, Marge as the worried mother, Lisa as the skeptic, Burns as the selfish manipulator, and Bart as…window dressing. It’s an actual, could-you-believe-it plot-based episode. And it zips along.

But what really works are the one-liners and throwaway gags. Watch the episode to know what I mean. I know it’s a cop-out, but there’s too many to remember here. Seriously! What is this, 1994? My favorite include: “Lisa! Motorcade!”, Homer’s smoke detector overkill, the amazingly banal bedroom conversation at the end, and Homer standing leg-up on various objects as he tried to persuade the town. Like…I have a smile on my face thinking of the visual gags and lines from this episode. That’s really all you can ask for from recent seasons of The Simpsons, so in my book, this episode’s a winner.

Review Grade: A

***

Brooklyn Nine-Nine – The Mole

Back in top form, B99 had an episode that was over too quickly, and felt a bit rushed in the editing department because of it. Like The AV Club review said, this could have benefitted from one of those “super-sized” episodes that created a couple classic The Office eps. I couldn’t put my finger on it while watching, but that summed it up really well. Some scenes felt like they could have gone longer. Others ended abruptly. Others seemed like they needed more context. In what was an otherwise funny, nice episode, that inconsistency in pacing really took me out.

There’s a mole in the precinct, and Holt and Peralta need to figure out who it is. They know it can’t be any of the team doing it consciously. Why? Because they’re good people. And because Peralta knows them head to toe. And because what are they gonna do, boot out a principal cast member? Logistics aside, Wuntch sends in a IA officer to snoop around. Dan Bakkedahl, who was great on the sorely missed Legit, is a germaphobe ready to bring the hammer down. Since we know it isn’t going to be one of the main crew, suffice to say that it should have been more obvious to me that it was him. Wuntch sent him in to dig up dirt. A “spy” if you will. So Wuntch is to blame, and Holt’s got the upper hand by the end. It resolves a bit too nicely, but that’s what happens with guest stars.

The story had plenty of laughs though, and tied in with the C story perfectly, as Peralta and Santiago stumble upon Boyle and Gina’s secret carnal affair. The best part is Peralta’s whole world comes undone, because his best friend, who normally incapable of doing so, has kept a secret from him all this time. Suddenly his trust in the group falters. Of course, once the news gets out about Boyle/Gina, Jake realizes that Boyle’s still Boyle: watching for a friend (in this case Gina) and being a decent guy. And he had his first casual relationship. Score!

Their subplot wraps up nicely, too. Will Gina and Boyle continue to bang? Perhaps, but probably unlikely. Gina seems like the type to cut things off for good (hence why she’s already in a new dance crew, The Dancy Reagans, aka the first ladies of dance. Awesome.) and Boyle knows when his free ride (pun intended) is up. But she’s sweet about it, saying she doesn’t regret it, and had fun, “adequate” sex with him, so that was greatly appreciated. Plus, no one is really that grossed out by it, which is also nice. They’re humans, after all. This isn’t inhuman high school. Or a CW soap.

The b story is pretty weak, though it has some gags. Sarge and Rosa go undercover to get more leads for their drug task force, as Wuntch points out that the task force has produced diddily squat on giggly pig, much to Holt’s chagrin. Sarge, obsessed with his daughters and how they will turn out, can’t seem to get that off his mind. When a young girl lies to him about her drug affiliations, and about which preschool she went to (her shirt implies she went to the one his daughters are enrolled in) his world turns upside down. Rosa, the most level-headed of the group somehow (her fits of rage notwithstanding) talks him down. For such an imposing man, he’s quite a softie, and ditto for Rosa. It’s a nice character beat, but plot-wise it’s a bit weak.

Still, this show pulled off gags just as well as The Simpsons did: Peralta and Holt’s “sleepover”, Scully with wing sauce all over his face, Rosa and Sarge at the silent disco to name a few. And Holt’s delivery of everything, especially “and yet you ask me…” and his “that line was hilarious” and other such things are great. Plus, we learn his middle name! And Peralta’s reaction could not be better. Another solid episode that could have benefitted from a longer runtime, but that’s just me being greedy, ain’t it?

Review Grade: A-

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