“Like one out of every nine Americans, I’m left handed. And, let me tell you, it ain’t all peaches and cream. Your writing gets smeared, Lord help you if you want to drive a standard transmission.” – Ned Flanders
I have two good things to say about “Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend”. First, we dodged the “storytelling episode” bullet. When they were backstage at the beginning talking about why they didn’t do Lenny’s story, I thought for sure we were in for four short, equally dull segments, but it turned out that they went with the less annoying single, long dull story. Second, this exchange from the Left Gifted Bi-Dexterous and Transhanded community scene was one of the best things they’ve done all season:
Flanders: We’re trying to decide on the theme for our Left Is Right parade.
Left Handed Woman: Our Scissors, Ourselves!
Left Handed Man: How ’bout Death to Righties.
Left Handed Woman: We have to live among them.
Left Handed Man: To live among them is to die! Are you even left handed?
They over explained it and kept the scene going a bit too long, but that argument is a genuinely excellent parody. Plus, “Fete Accompli” and “A Day to Pay Full Price” were well above average sign humor. I don’t say this often, but, well done, Zombie Simpsons.
Unfortunately, those brief moments were surrounded on all sides by the usual array of aggravating and careless problems. Need a character in a scene? Have them walk right up and announce their presence (there’s Homer and Bart through the window, there’s Helen, Luann and Bernice in the wedding shop, there’s Bart and the window again). Want to cram in a personal conversation or three? Have characters argue and reconcile in public with a total disregard for where they’re supposed to be (Ned and Edna at the party, Homer and Marge in their kitchen, Ned and Edna again in front of the school). Feel like explaining your jokes even as you make them? Have each punchline carefully pre-chewed for ease of audience digestion (Flanders with the chip clips, the recitation of what goes on at the liberal college, pretty much everything Homer says about playing Jesus). And, let’s not forget that the main story involved a lot of weird, out of character behavior and bizarre plot twists.
Zombie Simpsons has a habit of ignoring the history and characteristics of people, but asking us to believe that Ned Flanders (widower) and Edna Krabappel (divorcee) are unaware that marriages aren’t perfect was bad even for them. Flanders and Krabappel having problems with their relationship? Fine. Flanders and Krabappel not seeing eye to eye on Rod and Todd? No problem. Flanders being unaware that couples argue? Wha? And how on Earth did Krabappel pull the kids out of a school without Flanders knowing about it? All to often these characters and their actions are barely recognizable as human.
Anyway, the numbers are in and they are the worst ever. Last night’s meandering pastiche of marital woe and wonder was ceremoniously endured by just four million people. (TV by the Numbers has it exactly at a flat 4.00 million.) That is far and away the lowest number of all time, displacing “The Daughter Also Rises” from earlier this season in the coveted #1 spot. Eight of the ten least watched episodes are now from Season 23 (numbers are millions of viewers):
#1 23-21 4.00 Ned ‘N Edna’s Blend
#2 23-13 4.33 The Daughter Also Rises
#3 23-20 4.75 The Spy Who Learned Me
#4 23-18 4.86 Beware My Cheating Bart
#5 23-16 4.96 How I Wet Your Mother
#6 23-19 5.00 A Totally Fun Thing That Bart Will Never Do Again
#6 22-18 5.00 The Great Simpsina
#8 23-10 5.11 Politically Inept, With Homer Simpson
#8 21-11 5.11 Million Dollar Maybe
#10 23-12 5.12 Moe Goes from Rags to Riches
Presumably Lady Gaga will give them a boost next week, but it would take a viewership of 26 million just to haul Season 23’s average viewership (currently 6.20 million) up to the level of Season 22, and that ain’t gonna happen.