“Like most of America, I think I know the movie business.” The Simpsons’ (every year is now a) record-breaking 30th season premiere, “Bart’s Not Dead,” is, in one way, a relief. In other, all-too-familiar ways, it’s also sort of a low-key bummer, but let’s stick with relief for a moment. Unlike previous years that have begun with a high-concept would-be attention-grabber (like season 29’s inconsequentially medieval fantasy episode or what must still be termed the “Lena Dunham’s Tattoos Simpsons Universe” episode), “Bart’s Not Dead” (credited to Stephanie Gillis) aims for a more character-driven return. Sure, Bart, Homer, and Flanders wind up making a Christian-themed movie that winds up making $100 million, but the heart of the episode is, well, heart. Bart commits the bully-baiting sin of turning down a dare from Jimbo to pull the fire alarm during Lisa and Milhouse’s talent show jazz dance-and-sax performance, and attempts to restore his li’l bastard cred (with the bullies and the ashamed Homer) by taking a death-defying plunge into the Springfield reservoir. Waking up surprisingly un-shattered in the hospital (it was a hell of a plummet), Bart attempts to save his and Homer’s bacons by distracting the furious Marge with tales of… Read full this story
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