Jimmy told me I got a character name wrong last week. He told me the character I referred to as fictional superhero “Airsoft” was actually “Airshot”. But, I think “Airsoft” is funnier, and we both figured I shouldn’t bother fixing that blatant error for that reason alone. Besides, this week’s episode got a strange guest star.
Yes, that’s right: Werner Herzog returns to The Simpsons for the second time. He’s always such Maggian…odd choice. And yet, here he is.
But we don’t get to Herzog right away. People so rarely do so. Instead, we get the Simpsons watching TV while Maggie tries to get everyone’s attention. But she can’t talk and no one knows what she’s saying. Marge finds out baby sign language is a thing, and she goes about teaching it to Maggie.
By the by, Maggie was trying to alert the others that Hans Moleman was trapped outside under a downed tree.
As it turns out, Maggie picks up sign language rather quickly. Marge is so impressed, she opts to show the rest of the family, but they’re all engaged with smartphones and tablets and can’t be bothered. Homer appears to be watching his own show, but I could be wrong.
Now Marge is bothered. She worries over screen addiction, and when Marge is bothered, stuff happens. First up, limiting the entire family to 30 minutes a week.
That works until Marge finds the others hired a guy to reset their weekly usage.
Then Marge gets serious, and the strangest thing happens: it works. Homer finds out he’s good at newspaper jumbles, Bart discovers the fun of using his imagination at play, even getting Jimbo and Dolph to join in, and Lisa rediscovers the fun of cardstock with the card catalog at the local library because Lisa is a huge nerd.
But Marge, she needs a sauce recipe, and Luigi won’t share. She goes back online bad, and even decides the rest of the family is still hooked because denial is a sure sign of a problem. Time to go to Dr. Lund’s place.
Dr. Lund (that would be oddball Herzog’s voice) runs a rehab for screen addiction that he swears isn’t evil, and it’s free because guilty tech giants pay for it. It has everything you would want to do that isn’t online, like eat, sleep, fornicate, adult hide-and-seek, and listen live to guest star Dana Gould’s podcast. It does look like it has guest star Dr. Drew on call, but he’s there trying to lick his Fruit Ninja addiction.
So, everything is fine now? Marge used the rehab’s only computer to cancel all her accounts, and Bart only got gassed the one time when he wouldn’t stop talking video games. Gas always is a bad sign. But the Simpsons, well, they’re bored, and Homer of all people makes a rousing speech explaining why we need screens: it keeps families together because then they don’t have to look at each other and remember how much they annoy each other. It’s the American way!
That works, but Lund says they can’t leave. They especially can’t leave when the Simpsons discover Lund is using all the passwords he got from Marge and other patients to send spam emails to everyone in their contact list.
Or they can when they combine skills and sneak out. Homer’s jumble skills rearrange signs to confuse guards, and Maggie comes up with a plan to see invisible lasers using baby powder, something that becomes clear when she uses the baby sign language she is sure to have forgotten next episode.
Heck, Jimbo and Dolph are waiting to give the family a ride outside, so Bart’s time offline also worked. Lisa’s might have been useful, but as she is a huge nerd, I failed to notice. See, I can do callbacks, too.
So, Chief Wiggum comes to arrest Lund, who threatens to limit the WiFi in the police car so Wiggum can only listen to the Little River Band, but that turned out to be more torture to Lund than Wiggum.
Serves that freak right.