TV Club: The Simpsons: “Bart’s New Friend”

“Bart’s New Friend” tests the theory that The Simpsons needs to look back to move forward. Judd Apatow was in his early 20s when he wrote a spec script for the show’s first season in 1989, and that script, which sees a work-beleaguered Homer being hypnotized into thinking he’s 10 years old, was dusted off at showrunner Al Jean’s request. It’s good marketing, with Apatow (This Is 40 notwithstanding) having proven himself an influential comic force in Hollywood—and appealing to a broad swath of the series’ desired demographics. But it is also based on a refreshingly simple and human Simpsons premise, as Homer’s transformation allows him and his son to connect with each other. That the conceit doesn’t land as feelingly as it could is a disappointment, but not a crippling one (especially after the colossal bummer last week’s “high concept …

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