Kredit Kookies: Absolutely no credits at all; we immediately open into the plot.

After a side-trip to a peach picking farm results in the Simpsons household being inundated with fruit, Marge runs herself ragged trying to cook the family peach-based dishes.Homer respondsby buying them his-and-hers massages and sending the kids out into the town to get rid of the peaches.Bart runs afoul of the bullies while selling his, but Lisa gets lost in a bad part of Springfield and accidentally stumbles on the home of the Great Raymondo, a lonely magician who still longs for his late wife and deeply abhors what the world of magic has become in the years since his retirement.Gradually winning his trust, Raymondo takes Lisa under his wing.Eventually, she learns the secret of his greatest trick, the milk can disappearance.After performing it at her elementary school, she accidentally reveals its ultimate secret to the son of Raymondo’s greatest rival, Criagg Demon, a Criss-Angel esque magician bent on revealing the secret at the local magician’s club.Raymondo rejects Lisa’s attempts at apology, but when Demon‘s version of the trick goes wrong, it’s up to Lisa to save the day.

What a gorgeous episode.

I actually wanted to take the extra time to examine just why this is such a terrific episode, and the key lies with Martin Landau’s Raymondo, who is grand, silly and absolutely heartbreaking in turns.His relationship with Lisa is incredibly sweet and well-constructed, and even better isn’t redacted by the last scene.This episode really does have everything a good Simpsons episode needs; a well thought-out and even haunting dramatic backbone, well-written character portrayals, A ridiculous nonsense song that isn’t irritating, one of Grandpa’s nonsense stories, Bart’s petty jealousies, Homer’s well-meaning advice and protectiveness.Only Marge’s bit is slightly weak, but the peach subplot is done and over with so quickly that it barely registers a blip.

The Simpsons’ always reaches its peak when it takes a good look at a specific industry and makes you laugh with and at it.Think of their lampoonings of baseball and small-town musical theatre. TGS takes a solid stand in the name of ethics.Finally, a Simpsons episode that takes a definitive stand on something and MEANS it (And for those not paying attention at home, the message is: modern magic isn’t necessarily the best magic, but the most important thing is kindness).The episode holds together beautifully emotionally.

An overall delightful episode, and in the season’s top ten.


NEXT WEEK: Selma gets married.Again.