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The Canceled Simpsons Crossover Secretly Reveals Its Best Future

ScreenRant logo ScreenRant 11/9/2022 Cathal Gunning
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While The Simpsons' spinoff Tales from Springfield never happened, the show’s canceled crossover did reveal the best plan for the future of the franchise. Season 34 is embracing many of The Simpsons' problems by openly joking about the age and irrelevance of the long-running series. Ironically, this has led viewers and reviewers alike to brand The Simpsons season 34 as something of a return to form for the show.

The Simpsons season 34, episode 3, “Lisa the Boy Scout,” took this approach even further as the show made fun of its own large supporting cast, its many unsolved plot holes, and its worst storylines. In the process, “Lisa the Boy Scout” also proved that the canceled Simpsons spinoff Tales from Springfield epitomized the show’s best path forward for its future. Tales from Springfield would have focused on the denizens of the titular town and shown what they got up to outside their interactions with The Simpsons, and “Lisa the Boy Scout” proved that this approach could still succeed if The Simpsons diversify its storytelling style.

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Why The Simpsons Season 34 Episode 3 Worked

As proven by Marge’s historic lack of story focus, The Simpsons has not run out of plots centered around the show’s titular family. However, repetitive stories about the Simpson family that follow a well-trodden sitcom formula inevitably become tiresome after more than 700 episodes. This is why episodes like “Lisa the Boy Scout” are vital to the success of The Simpsons, as these zanier adventures allow the writers to temporarily ignore the demands of conventional story structure in favor of simply following funny ideas about the show’s massive supporting cast to their conclusion — no matter how silly.

According to a Vulture interview with Simpsons writer Christine Nangle, sketches like those featured in “Lisa the Boy Scout” allow the writers to forget about narrative structure and focus on comedy: “Writing sketch, you don’t have to worry about emotional journeys; you’re just like, 'Hey, what if this funny thing happened?' And then we stopped and moved on to the next thing.” From the backstory of Ned Flanders’ mustache to the Lovecraftian origins of Raphael the Sarcastic Clerk, the sketches of “Lisa the Boy Scout” could not sustain full episodes each. However, that doesn’t mean this sort of comedy doesn’t have a place in the world of The Simpsons.

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Why The Simpsons Is Suited To Sketch Comedy

The Simpsons is particularly well suited to the sketch comedy format as the series enters its 34th year since the show features a large cast of well-known, but not lead, characters. While figures like from Moe and Comic Book Guy might be able to sustain an episode of their own, more obscure characters like Disco Stu and Lindsay Naegle (the recurring character with a constantly changing job) are good for a few laughs but not for a whole three-act, 20-minute storyline. Rather than squeeze these characters for more than they are worth or ignore them entirely, The Simpsons can use occasional sketch comedy episodes to make the most of them.

The Simpsons Sketches Revive The Show’s Canceled Spinoff

The canceled Simpsons spinoff Tales from Springfield was going to focus on various Springfield citizens in a looser take on the world of the main series. Producer Al jean admitted that The Simpsons season 7, episode 21, “22 Short Films About Springfield," was intended to convince network executives to get the spinoff off the ground. While this endeavor was unsuccessful, that doesn't mean that the writers of The Simpsons should give up on the idea. As its full-episode parody of Stephen King’s IT proves, The Simpsons season 34 is not afraid of weird ideas that toy with the show’s formula.

Related: The Simpsons Pennywise Spoof References A Classic Treehouse of Horror

The Simpsons Could Transition To A Springfield Spinoff

Already, The Simpsons has a large cast of well-established supporting stars whom fans want to see more from. The series also has carte blanche in terms of creative freedom, as evidenced by bizarre outings such as “Lisa the Boy Scout.” Thus, the critical success of this episode proves that The Simpsons could gradually include more sketch-comedy style outings that center around less central Springfield citizens. This approach would make the most of the show’s supporting cast while also ensuring that the Simpson family isn’t over-relied on. After 34 seasons, it is only fair for The Simpsons to get a showcase for its less central stars.

While it is fun to see The Simpsons fix IT: Chapter Two’s disappointing ending, Halloween specials aren’t the only episodes that should be able to toy with the show’s normal formula. Outings like “Lisa the Boy Scout" earn stellar reviews precisely because they drop the usual setup followed by most episodes of the series, and The Simpsons should make the most of this by using the ideas contained in its unmade spinoff. While Tales from Springfield may never have happened, there is no reason that The Simpsons can’t revive its best ideas with more sketch comedy episodes in the show’s future.

New episodes of The Simpsons air on Fox on Sundays.

Next: The Simpsons Nailed IT: Chapter 2’s Worst Problem


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