“Eww.” – Lisa Simpson
Near the beginning of The Great Muppet Caper, Diana Rigg, playing wealthy fashion designer Lady Holiday, tells Miss Piggy all about her ne’er-do-well brother and the giant diamond that will be central to the plot. Miss Piggy then asks Rigg why she’s telling her all that stuff. Rigg’s response should be carved into the walls of studios, film schools, and wherever they’re producing Zombie Simpsons these days:
It’s plot exposition. It has to go somewhere.
Indeed it does, but “somewhere” is not “everywhere”, a distinction that was lost on “How I Wet Your Mother”. About two thirds of the way through the episode, I stopped even trying to keep track of the verbal duds that were competing for being the longest, most literal, and most unnecessary pieces of clunky exposition. Some of the contenders include Marge saying “This might be a clue, what’s in that coffin could be behind your nighttime whoopsies”, Homer declaring “It’s the land of my innermost thoughts and fondest desires”, and the one-two punch of Frink’s “You see, I have invented a device that allows you to enter someone else’s dreams and explore their subconscious”, to which Marge responds, “So we can go inside Homer’s sleeping mind and find out why he’s wetting the bed?”. Inception, which this episode so incompetently copied, is seven times as long and makes more sense, and I don’t think it had half this many explanations.
Of course, the exposition was only the most glaring problem because it was in pretty much every scene. There were plenty of other head shaking “whoopsies” ranging from small to huge. There was the fact that Burns clearly sees Homer leaving the office with stolen supplies before declaring him the only one who didn’t steal. There was the bizarre way Marge didn’t notice Homer was wetting the bed. There were several instances of characters appear and disappearing, and all of those took place outside of those interminable dream sequences. The less said about Frink coming flying out of the sky the better.
It wasn’t all bad. They do seem to have picked up their game in terms of background and sign humor of late (the putty in the supply closet was nice), and there was some far above average animation in Homer’s dream utopia. I even liked the extended callback to the Tracey Ullman shorts, though it’s always more bitter than sweet when the thing they do best is inadvertently reminding everyone of when the show was good. But ultimately, this was talking bar rag redux. By pretending that it’s Halloween all the time, they can give themselves enough space to add in a nice piece of trimming here and there, but the main elements of the episode are all dumb, tired, and shoddy.
Anyway, the numbers are in, and they are wet the bed embarrassing. Last night’s satire free Inception remake was slumbered through by a mere 4.96 million viewers. That’s the second lowest number of all time, leading only last month’s “The Daughter Also Rises”. Overall, they’re off more than 15% from this time last season, which was itself chock full of historic lows. Just a few years ago it was notable when they dropped below six million viewers, now that would be a good night for them. Us internet die-hards notwithstanding, the general viewing public has very clearly stopped caring in the least about new episodes of Zombie Simpsons.