So it's a little disheartening to read Matt Groening say:
"I'm particularly proud of our recent episodes. I think they're as sharp and surprising as anything we've done since the beginning of the show," Groening said.
Now the article does to on to say:
(He concedes that some fans carp the new episodes are inferior to old ones; being measured against a fond memory is a standard problem for comedies, Groening argues.)
But part of the problem I've had with them lately is not that I'm measuring the current episodes against a fond memory, it's that I'm measuring them against the current episodes of "South Park". I may have said this before, but: I'm not sure exactly how or when it happened, but "South Park" is now a better show than "The Simpsons". It is consistently funnier, and they have a considerably defter touch when it comes to socio-political satire. At its height, as I remember it, "The Simpsons" was better than "South Park" was at the same time. Since then, they've traded places, presumably through some combination of "South Park" getting better, and "The Simpsons" declining.
Throughout last night's hour of new "Simpsons", I found myself occasionally chuckling, but with no real laugh-out-loud moments, and worse yet, there were multiple times I noticed that I wasn't laughing at all at something that was clearly meant to be a laugh line. When your audience becomes self-consciously aware that your jokes are completely falling flat, there's a problem.