In keeping with the new format of reviews, here's a summary, analysis, and grade for each of tonight's shows.
Sit Down, Shut Up: Recycle much?
Like the two episodes previously, this Sit Down, Shut Up, had some good and some bad. Problem is, the good has already been done before somewhere else. A loose plot description: The board wants to determine whether or not the school is "distinguished," and it falls to one lucky teacher to convince them by giving a speech. No one wants to rise to the task—that is, until Miracle promises to sleep with that person, annually. Larry decides to rise to the task, but must give up the post to Ennis, who caught a bit of fame when a student captured a talk he gave about people he's slept with that sounded like an inspirational speech. (This was possible because he went at it with a bunch of hippies with names like Destiny. Oh, the double entendres!) As a side "bonus," all the teachers try to do little heroic things, like drive a car again or find suitable books to ban, and say the word "hero" over and over. Plus, the board president is named Colonel Cliché. That's the bad stuff. The good? A joke Willard makes about The Fonz still being relevant (he's voiced by Henry Winkler, remember); the ridiculous fart track on Larry's own attempt at a viral video (via Wet Hot American Summer); a brief appearance by Mr. Banana Grabber. And, finally, the weird: An animated cat tells Ennis to lick his own junk and sabotage the speech, for some reason. I know it's only been a few episodes, but this is a show that desperately needs a comic voice of its own. Borrowing from others can only go so far—and for most of you, that's not nearly enough as of right now. Grade: C-
The Simpsons: Largely inoffensive
Marge winds up in Springfield Elementary to use the bathroom, but notes that the school is falling apart—teachers don't care at all about their students, classrooms are overcrowded, gym class has been combined with reading to create the game "dodge book." So she decides to send her kids to Waverly Elementary, a ritzy school in a ritzier suburbs akin to Beverly Hills. The catch, though, is that the family has to rent an apartment to keep up appearances, making like they actually live in the proper zip code. Two plots shake out. Bart and Lisa lie to fit in—Bart exchanges favors with Chief Wiggum, promising an appearance at Ralph's birthday party for a fake, public arrest; then he tells everyone at the school that Lisa is best friends with Alaska Nebraska, teeny bopper all-star. Homer is forced to live in the pint-sized apartment to fool the surprise inspector (the bad guy from No Country For Old Men), and shenanigans ensue because, um, Homer is living just like he's in college, and Marge plays along. The moral of the story is basically that Bart and Lisa would rather go to a school where they're ostracized for being themselves—not for lying—and that the Simpsons parents really miss the college lifestyle. Other than a few inspired moments ("Twins!"/ Other Ralph speaks French / Milhouse hiding in a dumpster for three weeks because he thinks it's an epic hide and seek game), the episode wasn't terrible, but in the grand scheme of things, I hardly think it's going to be memorable. Plus, Marge giving Homer a "present" that he wants to see right now, and can't wait till he gets home, then realizes what exactly she's talking about? Been there, done that. Grade: C+
King Of The Hill: Hank + Bobby = Gold
If there's one thing this show usually does well, it's depicting the richness and complexities in Hank and Bobby's father-son relationship. Tonight doesn't disappoint: It's baseball season again, and Bobby is really excited to play. Hank, though, would rather Bobby sit this one out, because he's the suckiest bunch of suck that's ever sucked. But he finds a solution, enlisting Bobby on the Arlen South team, where no one knows who he is, and no one can make fun of Hank for his son's lack of abilities. It backfires though, because this new coach is beyond obsessed with helping Bobby achieve his potential, even if that means playing him and losing tons of runs. It also means that Hank looks like a bad guy for not believing in his own son (even Bill gets in on the action, now the assistant coach… putting him in a position of power over Hank yields some suprising comedy). But Hank's not one to give up on trying not to give up on his son—he continues to hang around, hoping to be a part of the team and encourage Bobby's newfound excitement. Because everyone in Arlen South hates him, he's forced to work the concession stand; then when he finally gets his shot as an assistant coach/catcher, he inadvertently punches a kid in the face trying to make a play at home plate during practice—so, of course, everyone turns on him even harder. This great back-and-forth adds some much needed tension to an often soft show, and the conclusion—Hank saving a baseball-worn Bobby from further playtime/embarrassment—demonstrates that the strength of the Hill family has always been the core of this show. Not the funniest KOTH ever, but one of the most solid in recent history. Grade: B+
Family Guy: Embrace the silliness/ridiculousness
Often Family Guy is unbearable, and I attribute that to the fact that, because the show has established a certain style and rhythm, jokes come off as smug. But I found myself enjoying this episode more and more as it went on, and I think that's because it was willing to fully embrace the silliness and ridiculousness of what it was setting up. In this one, Brian is having a hard time getting over the fact that Jilliann is moving on and getting married, so he goes on a bender, finding himself in bed with Lauren Conrad from The Hills. But when Brian goes to break things off, he finds that LC is, in fact, a genius who hides her smarts from the camera. Everything surrounding that was a nice mix of randomness and oddities: Spencer as a Planet Of The Apes monkey; the fact that The Hills splices in old A-Team footage; Sting's bit about only understanding the last three words of every song (didn't need a repeat, though); "Quagmire, NO!" And, as opposed to the Conrad Twitty thing a few weeks ago, I liked the splicing in of late night hosts and their jokes about Brian and LC, if only to add a certain element of timeliness to the material—plus, it didn't hang around too long, supplied some laughs, then was on its way. I wonder, though, if Lauren was okay with all the terrible things people said about her on the show/if she knew. Or maybe one day, as is true of Kenneth The Page, we'll all either be working for her, or dead by hear hand. Grade: B-
American Dad: Bring it all home, yo.
Two things went down: Roger, fed up with Stan, reveals that he's The Decider, an alien sent to Earth to determine whether or not its inhabitants were worthy of life. He has finally made his decision, and it is no, so he sets out to Roswell to end all life. Meanwhile, Steve accidentally offends Toshi, who challenges Steve to a duel—a hot dog eating contest. Both were promising story lines, especially once Roger finds out that, in fact, he's a crash test dummy led to believe he's important, and is no longer The Decider. But what I enjoyed most of all was the way they came together in the end. Because Roger is so desperate to have power over people's lives, he steals a bunch of deadly hot dogs, hoping to lord them over whoever annoys him; but Steve accidentally grabs them for the contest. Not much to say about this one, other than anything that ends with a CSI: Miami riff is fine by me. Grade: B+