It’s Christmas time in Springfield, and the results are great. The show was divided into several mini plots (a la Treehouse of Horror) and each one delivered a good story and some laughs.
On the night before Christmas, each Simpson is angry as they fall asleep. Marge angry with the rest of the family for their lack of Christmas spirit, Bart is angry that his annual wish for a dirt bike is never answered, and Lisa is disturbed at the practice of cutting down trees for Christmas (“Fir is murder!”). These unhappy thoughts lead to each one having some strange dreams.
Bart’s is first, and his is a parody of the Polar Express. The train flies to the North Pole, with the help of some hallucinogenic drugs. Bart tours Santa’s workshop, looking for Santa in order to get his dirt bike. The workshop is essentially empty, because “After NAFTA a lot of these jobs went to the South Pole.” Bart eventually makes his way to Santa, only to find the guy in a crappy office and forced to eat his reindeer out of poverty. Bart gives up and heads home on the Polar Express, only to be tailed by the cops. Some good laughs came from this segment, and it was decent overall.
The next dream was Lisa’s, a dream set during World War II. Marge is off fighting the Germans and Homer is dodging the war. Lisa does not want a Christmas tree, as it reminds her of Marge, who left for the war right after buying a tree with Lisa. When Marge is declared MIA, Lisa runs off, only to find herself at the very same lot where Marge and Lisa bought their tree before Marge left. It seems the tree seller kept the tree Marge bought and fashions it to look like Marge. Lisa is happy and brings the tree home, while Marge kills Hitler, imitating Inglorious Basterds. This segment didn’t bring very much laughs, but I was completely absorbed. The animation was wonderful, imitating the style of the 1940s, and the story was perfect for a Christmas episode.
Marge’s dream was next. Her displeasure with the family’s Christmas spirit leads her to write to Martha Stewart, who accepts the challenge of making the holidays special for the family. Stewart quickly goes out of control, dressing Bart up as a wind-up toy and forcing him to walk around, and telling Lisa to do snow angels face down. Marge becomes unhappy with Stewart’s methods, and asks her to undo her changes, which she does. Marge wakes up to the family giving her breakfast in bed. The ingredients for it at least, and the family tries to make breakfast in bed, with disasterous results. Homer quickly resolves to go out for breakfast, specifically at a Jewish place, as “They don’t think this holiday’s so great.”
The episode quickly transfers to Maggie’s dream, which was the best of the night. The Simpsons are real life puppets, inspired by Maggie’s “A Fluppet Christmas Special” movie. It was great to see the show try something new with the last segment. It really brought an interesting twist to the episode as a whole. The plot for this one was simple, Homer lied to Mr. Burns to get a week off in order to go on a trip to Hawaii. Moe shows up as the house sitter with a date, who turns out to be Katy Perry. Mr. Burns shows up and Homer tries to keep the lie going as long as possible. Mr. Burns eventually releases the hounds from the Simpson’s house, but turn out to be simple sock puppets, as the show spent all their budget on Katy Perry. This leads to some laughs and the Simpsons singing “The 39 Days of Christmas.” (That’s right, 39).
The best parts of this segment was the homage to the Muppets and Sesame Street. There was a laugh track in this segment, Moe acted like the Cookie Monster and Abe Simpson and Jasper were Statler and Waldorf. The show was brought to you by the symbol umlaut and the number e (whose exponential function is the derivative of itself). All of this created some great laughs and really saved the episode. It was something The Simpsons had never done before and it worked perfectly. I’m also pretty sure Katy Perry is the first guest to actually appear as herself.
Overall, a great episode. Bart’s and Marge’s segments were hit and miss and Lisa’s was carried by the production and story. Maggie’s segment delivered a whole new experience to Simpsons fans and made this episode a success.
To watch clips of this episode (highly recommended if you’re a muppet fan) and others, or to learn about upcoming episodes, go to thesimpsons.com. The Simpsons continues next week with “Donnie Fatso” with Homer trying to bring down Fat Tony and the Springfield Mafia.