Review -- The Simpsons: "To Surveil With Love"
Ariel Ponywether has been a fan of The Simpsons since the first time Bart was ten.View all articles by Ariel Ponywether
Kredit Kookies: In the place of the usual opening is a dance segment, performed to the tune of Ke$ha’s “Tik-Tok.”Lisa zooms through a day in Springfield to the tune of the song, which also follows Homer and Marge from Moe’s to their abode and ends with the Simpsons being held aloft on their couch by Rainer Wolfcastle, Duffman and Drederick Tatum.
Big Brother’s always had its eye on Springfield.From burlesque houses to school strikes to wayward monorails, a portion of Springfield’s citizens have always been up in arms about the town’s physical and moral well-being, and another segment’s always aimed to misbehave.When the two aims combine and contrast, “To Surveil With Love” hits its highest notes.
The plot starts with an appearance of Duffman at Moe’s.Homer brings home some swag from his meeting, including a gym bag – he takes it to work the next morning, and Burns and Smithers, searching the plant for an easy dupe, decide to stuff the duffle with radioactive waste.Homer carries it to the train station (he’s there to try some mac and cheese), then ends up abandoning it at the train station when given the prospect of even better noodle dish in Ogdenville.Someone assumes the bag is unattended and gets the authorities involved.When they discover the plutonium within it, they blow it up.
The authorities assume that the “dirty bomb” constitutes a terrorist act, and then they take the advice of security expert Nigel Bakerbutcher, who sells them on a security system that peppers the town with cameras.After the police force tires of watching the monitors, they turn surveillance duties over to any interested neighborhood busybodies.Eventually it’s only Ned working as Springfield’s morals monitor.When Bart grows tired of Ned’s meddling, he discovers a loophole that leads to the ultimate decision between Ned turning a blind eye to his neighbor’s faults and staring them down.
Meanwhile, Lisa takes up debating and becomes the butt of a blonde joke.
To get the highly-controversial opening segment out of the way; the animation is excellent for having been put together fairly quickly to coincide with Fox’s “Fox Rocks” promotional week.“Tik-Tok” may be a disposable pop tune, and it may be eyebrow-raising to watch the Simpsons reach for pop cultural relevance by singing along to a tune about partying drunkenly all night, but it could be worse.
The episode itself is one of the better outings of the season.Kudos to “To Surveil With Love” for containing a plot that feels organic to the characters (Homer’s innocent joy at getting his Duff swag; Burns would use his employees as scapegoats to get the nuclear waste out of the plant; Springfieldians have always been that antsy).Ned the busybody felt IC, as did Marge drawing the line at Ned’s attempt to govern people’s lives (the best joke of the episode: Maggie clapping her hands in delight as she watches footage of a gay bar, presuming it’s an episode of Sesame Street).The twist regarding Butcherbaker’s surveillance camera plan was funny as well, and provided resolution through a Homer and Ned conflict that worked better than the one in ‘The Greatest Story Ever D’Oh’d”.There were some very slight characterization flaws (and Homer’s line about Satan being the coolest thing God’s ever invented felt like a Bart line), which detract slightly from the grade, as does the well-written but underdeveloped Lisa subplot. Add in excellent voiceover work by Eddie Izzard to the mix, however, and you have a solid episode.
Letter Grade: A
Ratings: The show pulled in a 2.7, with 6.057 million viewers estimated.
Next New Episode: Reverend Lovejoy, Homer, and Apu all receive letters from Moe while they’re on a joint weekend trip with their kids.It seems the bartender plans on seducing one of their wives while the three men are away.Apu, Lovejoy and Homer gather to deduce who’s getting seduced in “Moe Letter Blues”, airing May eighth.
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