Full admission: I'm one of those fans of The Simpsons. You know the kind. Always crying about how the glory days of The Simpsons — they of the monorail episode and the pool episode and Homer's atomic chili-induced spiritual quest episode — are long gone, and that the newer episodes are a crude shell of a once great and brilliant show. I had to stop watching years ago when the characters and the overall feel of the show became not only unrecognizable, but borderline unlikable. (It's the same reason I had to quit The Office not long after Steve Carell jumped ship).
I say this because it had been close to 7 or 8 years since I gave a new episode of The Simpsons a chance, so I went into last night's Season 24 (!) premiere episode with reluctant optimism that I could fall back in love with the series. Or, at the very least, drop my snobby early-era Simpsons stigma I have attached to the show and its newcomer fans.
The episode, titled "Moonshine River" (Nelson certainly would have appreciated that Andy Williams nod) brought the Simpsons clan back into familiar territory: New York City. Say it with me now: "Simpsons did it!" In fact, they did it during the Season 9 premiere episode back in 1997 during the classic, albeit now bittersweet "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson". While "Moonshine River" had plenty of similar elements to "The City of New York vs. Homer Simpson (Homer was reluctant to visit the Big Apple, Bart had a bad time on the subway, Marge and Lisa had an interesting theater-going experience, and even Klahv Kalesh guy was still making a living) but there was something that set the Season 24 premiere in an unsettling way.
Simpsons fanatics are acutely aware of how bizarre, even all these years later, it can be to watch the 1997 episode with the World Trade Center scenes.But at the episode's core remains a love letter to NYC. When Homer complained about having to return to New York in last night's episode, Bart reassured him, "Don't worry. Your two least favorite buildings have been obliterated... old Penn Station and and Shea Stadium." A shock value 9/11 joke? Say it with me now: Family Guy did it!
Granted, there was plenty in the episode that resembled shades of The Simpsons of old: there was Milhouse's unrelenting love for Lisa; smart pop culture references (both Woody Allen and Spike Lee popped up in an NYC dance sequence); in-jokes (the line for Shakespeare in the Park is unfairly long); and well-done guest spots (Fox's golden girl Zooey Deschanel, pictured, returned as Cletus' daughter and Bart's lost love Mary for a cameo that including some singing, natch). But for better or worse, The Simpsons have changed with the times. Hell, Bart even carries a smart phone now. They are now more "modern" versions of themselves, and perhaps less lovable, relatable ones at that. But when the show was at its peak, its comedy felt timeless, rather than timely. If anything, the Season 24 premiere just reinforced that I'll continue to be one of those obnoxious Simpsons purists.
Hey, at the very least, that butterfly couch gag was pretty inspired. Nobody ever suspects... the butterfly.
[Photo credit: Fox]
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Kaelin was a star witness at Simpson's 1995 murder trial and helped the accused and his defence team win an acquittal.
The actor and reality TV star accounted for some of Simpson's movements before the murders of his wife Nicole and her friend Ron Goldman in court.
Kaelin has always maintained that Simpson was not guilty, but a new New York Post article suggests he may have changed his tune.
He reportedly told the newspaper, "The statute of limitations has now passed... so I can now say... yes, he (Simpson) did it," adding he was "too scared" to reveal the 'truth' before now.
However, Kaelin has now dismissed the Post's report, telling TMZ.com he has been misquoted.
Asked by the website for his verdict on whether or not the fallen sports legend killed his wife, Kaelin added, "I have no first-hand knowledge."
Simpson was acquitted of the murders in 1995, but a civil suit against Simpson found him responsible for Brown and Goldman's deaths two years later. Simpson is currently serving time behind bars in Nevada after being found guilty of robbery, kidnapping and assault following a raid on a Las Vegas hotel room in 2007.
The writer passed away at his home in New York on Friday (14Sep12).
Born in Jamaica, Simpson moved to the U.S. at the age of 17 and studied at the Big Apple's Columbia University, where he was lectured by poet and critic Mark Van Doren.
After joining the U.S. Army during World War Two, he published his first poetry book, The Arrivistes, in 1949.
He released more than 18 tomes during his lifetime and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1964 for At the End of the Open Road, which was inspired by Walt Whitman's Song of the Open Road piece.
The Bedazzled star has been accused of sexualising kids with her two-piece designs, which are modelled by young girls on her website.
The range includes an leopard-print Mini Cha Cha Bikini, as well as the Collette Bikini, for eight to 13 year olds, which is described as being "great for girls who want to look grown up".
Hurley has attracted criticism from customers as well as officials at British child protection charity Kidscape.
The organisation's director Claude Knights tells Britain's Daily Mail, "It is very disturbing to see some inappropriate items in this swimwear range. The pieces that are very adult and which contribute to the sexualisation of young girls - especially in the poses portrayed - do not take account of the child protection concerns that have been well-aired."
A spokesperson for Hurley was quick to hit back, insisting, "Our collections sell extremely well in (U.K. luxury retailer) Harrods and in numerous stores across America and the Middle East. Most of our customers are repeat customers who report that their kids adore the designs."
Hurley isn't the only star to land in hot water with Kidscape bosses this month (Sep12) - singer Jessica Simpson was also criticised for showing off a picture of her four-month-old daughter Maxwell in a "totally inappropriate" yellow bikini.
Christopher Darden repeated his claim that O.J.'s high-profile lawyer Johnnie Cochran may have torn the glove the prosecutors claimed Simpson used to kill his wife and her pal in an interview with Reuters, and now former members of the fallen sportsman and actor's legal team are speaking out to defend their late associate and friend.
Former defence attorney Carl Douglas has denied Darden's allegations that the bloody glove was tampered with - to make sure it didn't fit the accused when he tried it on in court in 1995.
The incident led to Cochran's famous statement to the members of the jury: "If it doesn't fit, you must acquit".
Simpson, who is now serving time in Nevada for armed robbery and kidnapping, was acquitted of the murders.
Darden told the students, "I think Johnnie tore the lining (of the glove). There were some additional tears in the lining so that O.J.'s fingers couldn't go all the way up into the glove."
Cochran's co-counsel, Douglas, has expressed outrage at Darden's claim, stating, "He lost and he should get over it and go on with his life. It is an insult to the dignity and integrity of one of the greatest lawyers in America to imply that he did anything unethical during that historic trial.
"We were under the watchful eye of a sheriff's deputy and court staff every moment the glove was being examined. The very first time Mr. Simpson placed his hand inside the murder glove was when all of America saw that it did not fit his massive hand. I am offended for Mr. Darden to suggest otherwise."
Shawn Holley, another member of the defence team, tells the Los Angeles Times, "Mr. Darden's self-serving assertion that Johnnie Cochran tampered with the glove - or any piece of evidence - is false, malicious and slanderous... Almost 20 years later, it seems Mr. Darden is still trying to exculpate himself from one of the biggest blunders in the history of jurisprudence."
Comedienne Tina Fey has signed on to play a mean substitute teacher on The Simpsons. The 30 Rock will voice the character Ms. Cantwell, who makes an enemy of Lisa Simpson in an episode to air in America next spring (13).
Executives at Utah-based NBC affiliate KSL-TV have ruled out adding the show, which stars Justin Bartha and Andrew Rannells as a gay couple who have a child via surrogate, to their autumn schedule.
The station's CEO Jeff Simpson says, "After viewing the pilot episode of The New Normal, we have made the decision to keep it off our fall schedule.
"For our brand, this program simply feels inappropriate on several dimensions, especially during family viewing time."
Ellen Barkin, who also stars in the series, is fuming over the move, taking to Twitter.com to accuse network chiefs of homophobia.
She writes, "Shame on u ?kslcom? not airing ?NBCTheNewNormal? So L&O SVU (Law & Order: Special Victims Unit) (rape & child murder) is ok? But loving gay couple having a baby is inappropriate?
"Anyone in Utah interested in NBCTheNewNormal please clog up ksl5tv feed 4 (for) their blatantly homophobic decision 2 (to) not air the show."
TMZ.com has obtained a tax lien filed by Internal Revenue Officials, which suggests Simpson owes them unpaid taxes from 2007 to 2010 - while he was serving time for kidnapping and armed robbery in Nevada.
It has been a bad year for the incarcerated Naked Gun 33 1/3: The Final Insult star - in January (12) bank officials in Florida moved forward with legal proceedings to take control of his home in the state over unpaid mortgage dues.
Simpson is serving a prison sentence of up to 33 years.
The reality TV star took to Twitter.com on Tuesday (07Aug12) to boast about landing a place at the top-flight school, but university insiders insist he hasn't even applied to study at USC.
One unnamed official tells The Hollywood Reporter that Rob Kardashian attended the university's Marshall School of Business in 2009, but there is no suggestion he will be back.
The star's full tweet read: "Going to Law School very soon and so excited and can’t wait!. School just never ends for me! University of Southern Cal (sic)."
Ironically, the university is the same one where O.J. Simpson played college football and became a Heisman Trophy winner.
Kardashian's late father Robert represented Simpson in his mid-1990s murder trial.
Kim Kardashian's younger brother has been accepted into the University of Southern California and he can't wait to hit the books when classes begin this autumn (12).
In a Twitter.com post on Monday (06Aug12), the 25 year old writes, "Going to Law School very soon and so excited and can't wait! School just never ends for me! UniversityofSouthernCal".
The Kardashian clan's dad, Robert Kardashian, famously defended O.J. Simpson in his 1995 murder trial, which led to a controversial acquittal.
He died of cancer in 2003, aged 59.
Kardashian won't be the only celebrity enrolling at USC this autumn - iCarly star Miranda Cosgrove will also be studying there.