“The Flaming Moe dates back to my forefathers who were bartenders to the Tsar.” – Moe
Whatever else may be said about it, and we’ll likely be saying a lot this week, “Moe Goes from Rags to Riches” is further evidence of why there’s no hope whatsoever for Zombie Simpsons ever getting any better. It had a Halloween episode level of weirdness, gore, and insane things (Moe is apparently a yeti, for example), but still couldn’t manage to squeeze out anything satirical or intelligent despite not having any rules to play by. It had a celebrity playing someone other than himself, but didn’t have him do much of anything and didn’t give him any meaningful lines. It had a B-plot in which Bart and Milhouse could have been just regular kids, but instead had them acting in that same weird, knowing, painfully self aware manner that Lenny and Carl do nowadays. They gave themselves a completely blank canvas with no restrictions on story, character, believability, setting, or even time, and still fell back on things like Homer’s head being used to break down a stone wall, people beating Burns’ corpse with sticks, and multiple beheadings. Oh, and there was a talking sponge. This is the show now.
The magical narration tapestry/rag/respected character actor was theoretically the common element, but it didn’t have anything to do with about half the things that happened. No explanation was given for how it got from place to place, it was hardly involved in a number of those sketches, and the entire thing with Nelson and his many wives didn’t involve it in any way. The rag may speak in the dignified tones of Jeremy’s Iron, but it didn’t have anything to say other than to complain. The entire “history already written on the tapestry” thing was dropped completely midway through the episode, as was the curse of the sheep or whatever that origin thing was. Confusingly, some segments had regular Springfield characters (Homer ended up as a peasant, a Viking, and a mountain climber) while others seemed to involve just random dudes.
Making the entire thing even more bizarre was the way the Bart-Milhouse story apparently happened while the rag was narrating. It wrapped up at the same time that Moe got the rag back from Marge, which means that Bart freaked out about Milhouse (and had Lisa write him a poem or whatever) all in a single night. If that’s the case, then why did the two plots have nothing to do with one another? It’s one thing to abandon Springfield for an episode of historical sketches, but to keep yanking us back there every few minutes for some more creepy passive aggressive conversation between Bart and Milhouse just made it even more sloppy and scatterbrained than it already was.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are lower and grimier than the floor at Moe’s. Last night’s incoherent history essay was yawned through by a mere 5.12 million people. That’s just a hair above three weeks ago and is good for fourth place on the all time lowest rated list. Season 23 remains on track to be the least watched ever by a fair margin.