I finally got down to watching that Simpsons episode, nonchalantly dubbed “Donnie Fatso”, after the 1999 Johnny Depp/Al Pacino film Donnie Brasco. This the infamous episode where Fat Tony dies. I can’t say I wasn’t looking forward to it, what with all the endless possible gangster homages they would pull off. Sad to say it however, at the end of the episode; I was disappointed, severely let down and once again left with the same feeling I get after watching the new episodes of The Simpsons; its tedious, its not funny and its completely lost all quality and originality. Sure thing a TV show loses its depth and isn’t as good as when it started off, but with the last three or four seasons of The Simpsons the writing has just become ridiculous! It’s not good enough and it’s not what you expect from an episode of such a popular program like The Simpsons.
I mull over the episode and I just see the same dry spells throughout. First Homer is hit with fines by the police for reasons you would think were interesting but are just dull -“failed to separate bottles and newspapers”, “mild obscenity before 10am”, “telling it like it is, is also a crime!” Also a crime- this dialogue, which is diabolical. Then there’s the scene where he completely gains Fat Tony’s trust. Why – because “he feels”! Come on, that’s the best you got? Then the tosh when Homer is inducted into the mob family. He says his neck is itchy so the mob says his problems are their problems, so there necks are itchy too. Guess what they do? They all start itching their necks. Seriously? Am I supposed to laugh or I am supposed to cry that one of my favourite programs, if not my favourite, is burying itself in the ground?
Also there’s the pivotal scene; just before Fat Tony dies he asks Homer why he’s acting so nervous and this is his line “You’re as nervous as a cat when Johnny-kick-a-cat walks into the room”. What are they paying the writers? The writers can do so much better than that gibberish. It’s not intelligent anymore; the jokes use to be so much more fluid and clean. But now most of the new episodes are filled with such lumber which just doesn’t work. Immediately the joke collapses and I’m not interested in watching. I need to write a strongly worded letter: Dear Mr. Matt Groening – The jokes are stale.
Fine, there were a few OK gags like; how the cat and dog had a one night stand during Christmas eve, when Homer is picking names for his undercover and the scene where Homer butchers frozen steaks (although this was a little bit predictable). But the rest is utterly dire. There are some nice homages. But they’re still out of context. Homer closes the episode with a Henry Hill-like voice-over of what happened to Fit Tony, which is fine. He explains everything about how Fit Tony became the new Fat Tony etc, referencing the car bombing scene in Casino and of course the ending sequence of Goodfellas. But this little montage isn’t scripted as good as it could be, meaning I find myself waiting for the episode to finish as soon as possible, so that I can say at least I’ve seen it once.
Another thing – Homer has to go undercover to infiltrate organized crime. Haven’t we heard this story before in a Simpsons episode. “The Seven-Beer snitch”, when Homer is arrested for kicking a can five times down the street, then becomes a prison snitch. Then there’s the episode “The Trouble With Trillions” when Homer has to go undercover for the Treasury department and find and acquire a trillion dollar bill from Mr. Burns. I guess that’s precisely my whole point with The Simpsons at the moment. It’s lost its freshness. It’s lost its uniqueness. The jokes are reused. The story-lines are hardly different. The writers have lost the plot. Stories which are new, aren’t thought out well and are full of dryness throughout. All that is left in these meaningless episodes, which is of any value are small gags about new things in our culture, like mipods and mapple. If it wasn’t for these small additions, these episodes would hardly last.
It pains a lifelong fan to see such dribble, especially when you think back to the old classic episodes of The Simpsons such as when Homer became sanitation commissioner; when Radioactive Man was being filmed in Springfield and Millhouse got the lead and didn’t want it; when Homer was the mayor’s bodyguard; when Marge was claustrophobic after being mugged; or Lisa and Bart got stranded on an island when the school bus went off a bridge. Classic episodes which are being ruined by the crap being broadcast today. I hate to say it but I will. They should stop making The Simpsons if the episodes are going to continue to be as rubbish as “Donnie Fatso”.