After a long baseball break, The Simpsons returned to the TV line-up with a memorial service, both fictional and actual. The former was a bit of a letdown as the writers trotted out some tired old tropes and gags, while the latter was actually quite touching.
The episode began with a bittersweet tribute to the late Marcia Wallace, the actress who gave voice to Mrs. Krabappel for 25 years. It was a touching and sentimental tip of the hat, with Bart writing “We’ll really miss you, Mrs. K.,” on the chalkboard and looking a little bereaved at the idea of never seeing his much loved (and loathed) fourth grade teacher again. Of course, Mrs. K. isn’t really gone, her character is just now retired, but with The Simpsons, understatement works best, and even the most cynical fan should have been left with a tear in their eye.
Unfortunately, the rest of the episode didn’t stand as much of a tribute to Wallace, not that it was intended to. It also didn’t stand up as much of an episode. The unfortunately named “Four Regrettingss and a Funeral” encapsulated a lot of what people don’t like about the modern run of The Simpsons, too many hit-and-run gags, mixed with a heavy dose of celebrity guest voices and too much time spent amongst the supporting cast over the titular family.
Basically, “Four Regrettings and a Funeral” hit a lot of overly-familiar notes: Homer ignorantly burning books, Mr. Burns remains old and evil, McBain is a fraud, Ralph is simpler than a pet rock, the Springfield police are incompetent in extremis, and Lisa’s accomplishments are ignored in the face of her brother’s antics.
The episode begins at the funeral for Chip Davis. Who’s Chip Davis? Damned if I know, but to a number of Springfieldianites they know him as Sideshow Chip, or the Dome Shards Removal Supervisor, or Hans Moleman’s biographer. Some people even called him the Sixth Simpson. But despite his accomplishments, Chip had his regrets, like how his high school high-jump record was “wind-aided.” And for four different people attending Chip’s funeral, Reverend Lovejoy’s words drudge up a few regrets of their own.
Homer’s regret is that he sold his Apple stock so that he could buy a fancy bowling ball. Ha, ha, ha! How stupid is Homer? “Technology is a fad,” he declares in a flashback, although any regret doesn’t last long thanks to Homer’s flash-fire anger and a lot of fun memories hanging out with his bowling ball. The gag would have been funny if we hadn’t before had ample experience with Homer being dumb when playing the stock market. Plus, the Siri gags were so 2009.