This week’s episode was one of my favorites of the season. It had all the things that make a Simpsons episode great, it was funny, had great guest appearances and had sentimentality to make the story meaningful.
The episode was centered exclusively on Lisa, who becomes a magician’s apprentice after accidentally entering The Great Raymondo’s home. The Great Raymondo, an old and washed-up magician, teaches Lisa almost everything he knows. He does this because he is lonely after the death of his wife/assistant, and wants to pass the magic on to someone else.
I said he teaches her almost everything, because there is one trick he will not explain to anybody, his unique escape from a locked milk can. Eventually, Lisa grows on Raymondo and he shows her the trick, only for Lisa to mistakenly tell the answer to Craig Demon (a hilarious take on Criss Angel). The Great Raymondo, along with Lisa, then try to stop Craig Demon from performing the trick at the World Magic Championship.
This episode may sound like “The Lastest Gun in the West,” the episode where Bart stumbles onto an old cowboy performer and takes on the cowboy lifestyle (both episodes even have an animal that forces the children into the homes of the old men). I do not see a problem in this. Even though this episode borrows from the previous, it is still a great episode that stands on its own.
The episode had so many highlights. When Raymondo asks Homer what it would feel like if Homer’s worst enemy learned Homer’s biggest secret, Homer thinks of Ned Flanders discovering and enjoying a peanut butter and pretzel sandwich, a combination only Homer supposedly knows.
The biggest highlight of the episode was behind the scenes look at the World Magic Championship. The dialogue between the likes of Penn & Teller and David Copperfield was great, as was the magic fighting sequence between all the magicians and the Great Raymondo. It was one of the funniest bits of the entire season and had me in stitches.
I also mentioned earlier that the episode had the right amount of sentimentality and emotion to it. The occasional reference to the Great Raymondo’s late wife was nice, as it made the viewer really connect with the magician. Another touching scene was when Raymondo reminisces about his wife and tells Lisa the only magic he and his wife couldn’t make was a child. The last scene building on all this emotion was also great, but I won’t spoil it here. It’s not often that a prime time cartoon can be so heartfelt.
The guest appearances were also big hits. From Jack McBrayer at the beginning of the episode, to Penn and Teller, David Copperfield and Ricky Jay near the end, each one brought something special to the episode. David Copperfield in particular had me laughing quite a bit. Martin Landau as the Great Raymondo also did a stellar job.
This episode’s a stand out from the rest of the season. Even the ending of the episode was unique. Usually at the end of an episode everything turns back to normal for no apparent reason, but this episode didn’t resort to that. Sure, Lisa’s abilities as a magician will probably never be mentioned again, but the episode was not dragged down by the show trying to revert back to square one.
To watch clips of this episode (highly recommended) and others, or to learn about upcoming episodes, go to thesimpsons.com.