“Oh, you’re gonna love it in Cuba, Marge. There’s shredded pork everywhere.” – Homer Simpson
In a world where up has become down and black has become white, I suppose there’s some comfort to be taken in the fact that Zombie Simpsons remains as incoherent and forgettable as ever. In this season’s second travel episode, the family goes to Cuba to get Grampa medical care, or something. That story line gets dropped very quickly in favor of a series of disconnected Cuban references and something about the CIA. This episode also features an unusual amount of “look a character just appeared out of nowhere” scenes.
- We open with a Shark Tank parody that has voiceover that explains what it is. Later, they will explain this again.
- After an expository scene with a retirement home nurse, a van drops Grampa off in skid row. Wiggum just happens to be there to tell no one in particular that this is also where he drops off mentally ill people. There are a lot of darkly funny jokes to be made about how many homeless people in America are also mentally ill. Zombie Simpsons decides to explain it with no actual joke. This show can be painful to watch.
- Now we’re in a VA hospital waiting room where there’s a long wait time and that wait time is explained over and over again. Then a random guy walks up from nowhere to explain that Grampa should go to Cuba for cheap medical care.
- Smash cut to a cruise ship where Fred and Ricky from I Love Lucy walk up from nowhere to banter for a bit. Yeesh, this episode is lazy.
- Grampa sees a Cuban doctor. You’ll be unsurprised to hear that nothing else happens.
- Montage of Grampa driving in an old car with helpful exposition from a Cuban guy who walked up from nowhere for no reason. I should be counting these, but I’m not going back and you can’t make me.
- The family is having dinner, while Homer exposits where they are. Then they’re in a hotel. Then Grampa’s in a bar. These are just scenes next to each other.
- “Wheels McGrath, I knew you in the Air Force!”, says Grampa as another random person walks in from offscreen.
- Grampa’s old friend wants to start a nightclub in an old airliner. Which he got to after “hacking” through the jungle because he likes hacking. Repeating words is funny. Repeating words is funny. Repeating words is funny.
- Second montage.
- There’s a Ticketmaster joke that gets explained twice.
- Now the airliner is flying away because it was all a CIA plot, or something. The episode still has two minutes to go, so there’s a random golf scene tacked on and a rehash of the Shark Tank thing from the beginning.
There are a couple of okay sign gags in all that (Marge is reading a book called “Cuban Escapes by Elian Gonzalez”, for example), but it’s hard to notice amidst the swerving plot, layers of exposition, and half-dozen or so characters who randomly appear from the ether. In other words, it’s typical Zombie Simpsons.
Anyway, the numbers are in and Zombie Simpsons once again got a nice bump from football, and once again failed to hold even half that audience. The post-game show drew 21.28 million viewers. Zombie Simpsons managed just 7.13 million.
Obviously numbers like this are enough for FOX to pick up two more years worth of episodes, but while this qualifies as a good (even great) number these days, it’d be a terribly low one even just five or six years ago. That’s the sorry state of network TV: crowing about audience numbers that would’ve been a disaster at the beginning of the decade.