Oh, snap! After 25 seasons, Fox's The Simpsons can still seem as fresh and inventive as when we first met this merrily mutant family — especially when the show raises its game as it does for this weekend's milestone 550th (!) episode (Sunday, 8/7c), a fantastical collaboration with LEGO in which all the elements of visuals, story and jokes click into place with spectacular results.
As reported in a recent TV Guide Magazine cover story, this episode is the most expensive in the show's history, taking two years to assemble (during which time The LEGO Movie proved the toys had legs, so to speak, as an audience draw) — and the painstaking care and craft show in this wildly amusing and typically self-aware episode, which begins with Homer declaring, "It's not selling out! It's co-branding!" before launching into a flurry of verbal and sight gags that seemingly exhaust every variation of pun on the notion of plastic bricks. It's a pretty potent metaphor as well, with Homer waking in a dream LEGO land where "everything fits with everything else and nobody gets hurt." This world is obviously too good to be true, but is it too good for Homer and the rest of Springfield? I'll let you discover that for yourself, but since Fox has given away one of the better jokes in its promos, let me quote Homer: "Kiss my flat plastic butt, reality!" If only the rest of us could get away with that.
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RETURN OF THE LIVING DEAD: What seemed very touching and profound when it was just a little boy returning from the dead to his aged parents swells to alarmingly epic proportions as ABC's surprise midseason hit Resurrection wraps its first season (Sunday, 9/8c) on a frustratingly cliffhanger-ish note. (It would have been particularly annoying had this turned out to be another of ABC's instant duds, but at least this seems assured of getting another season to play out its storyline.)
As seen at the end of last week's episode, the suddenly and inexplicably resurrected dead are flooding into Arcadia from all manner of time periods, and it somehow takes Agent Bellamy (Omar Epps) eight episodes to finally announce out loud: "Don't need this getting out online." Seriously? No one put an "Alive" status update on their Facebook page? (At least the source material, Jason Mott's novel The Returned, placed its events in the context of a larger worldwide phenom. And as we've noted before, try not to confuse this book and series with the eerier French drama The Returned, seen last year on SundanceTV and which A&E recently announced it is remaking in an English-language version.)
The improbabilities mount as the military arrives on the scene in Arcadia, at first seeming to bring aid to these displaced, dispossessed lost souls — until Resurrection turns into a blunt allegory of government oppression. The best reason to watch remains the poignant story of 8-year-old returnee Jacob (Landon Gimenez) and his overwhelmed parents Henry and Lucille (the marvelous Kurtwood Smith and Frances Fisher), whose reaction to the new cataclysm gives the finale enough emotional power to make up for the muddied logic and half-baked mysticism.
THE WEEKEND GUIDE: The deadly game between psycho therapist Lecter and profiler/subject Will Graham continues on NBC's fascinatingly creepy Hannibal (Friday, 10/9c), as Will agrees to an interview with crime reporter Freddie Lounds. ... If Freddie ever watched House of Cards, she might know that snoopy journalists on TV can have a limited shelf life. Speaking of which, the writers of Netflix's signature series discuss their process on SundanceTV's The Writers' Room (Friday, 9/8c). ... ABC goes behind the scenes of its hit Friday reality show Shark Tank and provides updates on some of the more memorable entrepreneurs in the special Shark Tank: Swimming With Sharks (Friday, 8/7c), followed by a new episode at 9/8c. ... Having left Good Morning America for NBC Sports, Josh Elliott makes his debut in his new gig, reporting on the Kentucky Derby (Saturday, NBCSN at noon ET/11c, NBC starting at 4/3c). Johnny Weir and Tara Lipinski, such an entertaining tag team during their Olympics figure skating coverage this winter, are on hand, supplying yays and the occasional neigh as fashion commentators. ... First responders relive their most outrageous emergency calls on TLC's OMG! EMT! (Saturday 10/9c). ... NBC's Saturday Night Live returns for the season's last batch of new episodes, with Andrew Garfield bringing his Spidey sense to his first gig as host, and Coldplay appearing for the fifth time as musical guest. ... On CBS's better-than-ever The Good Wife (Sunday, 9/8c), Alicia's head is turned, for the first time since Will's death, by a charmer played by Bates Motel's Nestor Carbonell, but before going all bad-wife, she seeks advice from her notoriously carefree mother (Stockard Channing). ... Discovery Channel had planned to stage a stunt atop Mt. Everest this month, in which a climber would have jumped off the summit wearing a winged flight suit. That idea was thankfully canceled after the tragic April 18 avalanche, but because members of an NBC News team were already at base camp for the special, they were able to produce a 90-minute documentary about the disaster: Everest Avalanche Tragedy (Sunday, 9/8c), which will also honor the memory of the Sherpas who lost their lives on the mountain.