Again I have seen very little of Simpsons beyond Season 11, so forgive me for the following review if I've not up to speed with everything...
Some folks have showered it with as much stupefied praise as they had with seth macfarlane's "performance" at this year's Academy Awards. While others have just claimed; "meh".
For a more in-depth view, I'll say this: it was SO nice to see something Simpsons-related that had nothing to do with the obnoxiousness of Homer or the idiocy of Bart. Maggie, as with Lisa for that instance, have been sorely underrated as decent characters throughout the show's legacy, and to focus on a "silent" episode with only Hans Zimmer's wonderful score to accompany it (next to Maggie's trademark pacifier sound-effect) made for a very good break of the usual.
I'm still in two minds with the visual quality, however. The animation crew appeared to have made a better effort at something along the lines of the Simpsons Movie, but in some places the quality is still mechanical-looking. It's been mentioned long ago how much energy in the series has been toned down, and it's a shame as this was directed by David Silverman, whose previous episodes were much more lively in animation than the current crop today. Homie the Clown being one of his finest moments of the show's history in all.
Then there's the plot - Maggie rescuing a butterfly from Gerald "The Monobrow" Samson. The storyline was good, but what this also suffered from were the number of jokes tossed in; some that fell flat (fat kid eating paste, close up on the lice) and others that, to me at least, were just sadistic. I mean, if done right, sadistic humour can be funny. But I barely chuckled as they separated the "Specially Gifted" kids from the "Nothing Special" group. A very far cry from Maggie's Great Escape as shown in A Streetcar Named Marge.
However, I'll give them credit. There were scenes that truly did hit the nail for chuckles (the timing of the Drumming Monkey), Silverman did a good job of keeping the energy and pace flowing, and the ending was overall very satisfying. Not the best short I'll admit, but for long-time fans (and those that have stuck by the show after so long right from the very beginning) it's something else to glee over.
I just wished that it had the same amount of energy and sharper humour as, say, Do The Bartman, directed by Brad Bird. I need not indulge in a breakdown of what was good there.
In fact, given the quality of the series now - in writing and animation - I think this would make a nice "retirement plan" for the Simpsons: call it quits with the TV Show and stick to theatrical shorts. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, as they say...that and the writers wouldn't worry about churning out more ideas to fill another 25-minute slot. Just sayin'.
If you're still feeling nostalgic, click here to view the original Tracy Ullman shorts from a previous blog post!