Review: The Simpsons ‘Waiting for Duffman’

The latest The Simpsons outing threatens to retire a much-beloved member of the Simpsons canon: Duffman. Naturally, Homer fills in for a while, bringing a few decent laughs along the way in a more traditionally funny episode of the series.

The proceedings start during Springfield’s Springcycle event. The best visual joke in the early segment (aside from Millhouse’s bike – see below) is a sequence in which career cyclists taunt Hans Moleman and are subsequently run over by a train. Brilliant. Anyway, during the associated parade, Duffman is asked to give a traditional Duffman 21-hip salute to America’s military. During his pelvic thrusts, Duffman breaks his hip, effectively ending his career.

So, who becomes the next Duffman? The company holds a reality show competition to select his successor called “So You Think You Can Duff?” hosted by Cat Deeley. With a few amusing challenges, Homer is eventually selected as the new Duffman. The best joke of the episode follows soon as his announcement video is a take-off of the Game of Thrones introduction, proclaiming “A new star rises in the yeast.” This is really what The Simpsons does best these days: mashing up pop cultural references in a creative fashion that somehow manages to minimize their creativity while still being funny.

Once Homer officially takes the oath of Duffman, he is implanted with a chip that serves to detect alcohol in his blood stream – Duffman cannot drink. By the end of the episode, Homer discovers you can indeed have fun while being stone cold sober. He eventually starts a campaign to share this message as Duffman, naturally upsetting his corporate sponsors. This honest but foolish campaign becomes the end of Homer as Barry, the original Duffman, returns to take his former post.

So, what’s the theme of the episode? Umm… Alcohol is bad? Being sober is fun? Corporations and corporate mascots are silly and thoughtless? Sure, it’s something along those lines. Sometimes, The Simpsons can still be funny without reaching deep to elicit truths about every day life. It is nice to Homer see through the perma-fog in his brain and experience a few moments of clarity. Even if those moments of clarity do come as Home tries to escape an any mob on a race track by driving around the race track continuously…

As always, here are a handful of my favorite observations from the episode:

  • Bart claims Lisa is riding the “girliest bike ever.” That stands until Millhouse rides by on a unicorn bike playing a harp.
  • Kent Brockman laments the retirement of Duffman in an extended report. He then cuts to “other news” like the Chinese landing on Mars and “no more elephants.”
  • Cat Deeley proclaims her favorite words are “Seacrest passed.”
  • On a tour of the Duff Corporate Office, the Simpsons walk past a “Duff Strong Tea” poster which proclaims “There’s no prohibition on taste!”
  • Only three people know the secret formula for Duff: H.K. Duff, II, the president of the company; his brother-in-law Terry; and Condoleezza Rice.
  • The formula for Duff beer is “Schlitz plus water.”
  • Bart and Lisa are playing with a t-shirt cannon when he trips, firing an errant t-shirt into Ned Flanders’ home knocking down a picture of the deceased Maude. Maude was killed by a t-shirt shot from a cannon.
  •  Homer as Huffman exclaims “With great taste comes great responsibility,” aping the famous Spider-Man edict.
  • The Egyptian-themed music store next to Moe’s Tavern is “King Toot’s Music Store.”

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