Hello and welcome to Laughing Place’s regular recap of new episodes of The Simpsons on the FOX Network. This week’s episode, entitled “Podcast News,” is the sixth episode of the long-running series’ 32nd season.
Chalkboard gag: None.
Couch gag: None.
We open with Homer (voiced by Dan Castellaneta) retrieving some 2 AM ham, when he overhears Lisa (Yeardley Smith) ranting while listening to her iPod. The next morning, Lisa hasn’t slept and Marge (Julie Kavner) is concerned. “Lisa seems really frazzled. Did the climate change again?” That night, Lisa is hiding under her covers listening to her iPod again, though she claims it’s ASMR noises. Marge listens in: “Music in a minor key? You’ve been listening to true crime podcasts?” It turns out Lisa is somewhat addicted to these shows, to the point where she breaks down to Marge. “Aw, she’s all murdered out,” observes Homer.
Lia wakes up the next day to find that Marge has now become addicted to the podcasts. Cut to mother and daughter folding laundry together while sharing earbuds and discussing their mutual obsession between pauses and plays. “How could a woman with four PhDs be so dumb?” Homer and Bart (Nancy Cartwright) say it’s time to visit Grampa (Castellaneta again), but Marge and Lisa decide to see a live taping of their favorite podcast instead. At the Springfield Retirement Castle, Homer and Bart find Grampa making out with his new girlfriend, Vivienne St. Charmaine (guest star Morgan Fairchild of Falcon Crest fame). “Hey, you look familiar. Didn’t you used to be younger?” It seems Vivienne is a former soap opera actress, and has now fallen for Abe Simpson, to the point where they have couples colonoscopies.
At the live podcast recording of “Interminable,” Lisa remarks that the host Tabitha Shingle (Christine Nangle) is “even more dry in person.” A Channel 6 news van pulls up outside and Kent Brockman (Harry Shearer) enters the theater. He’s shocked to see how popular the very boring-seeming host has become, then returns home dejected to find his entire family glued to their mobile devices. Later, Brockman reports breaking news that a woman is presumed dead after going overboard on a cruise– Grampa’s girlfriend. Abe has been detained for questioning and Homer reacts: “Grampa, a killer? He doesn’t have that kind of follow-through!”
Kent Brockman launches his own true-crime podcast called “Guilty Grampa,” and the citizens of Springfield are hooked. He interviews Agnes Skinner (Tress MacNeille), who was also on the cruise. She claims to have heard Vivienne scream “Abe, don’t!” before a splash. At the police station, Abe’s only defense is “I don’t remember” and he passes a hand-swab test, so Chief Wiggum (Hank Azaria) lets him go. “Grampa’s not some monster,” Bart defends as Abe shows up moaning in the rain outside the bay window. “That’s ridiculous– you’ve never been a person of interest. Not for one second!” says Homer. Abe goes to the bathroom, “so we only have an hour to talk.” The family votes on whether or not they think Abe is guilty, and Homer is the only one who thinks it’s possible.
An angry mob forms outside the Simpson home, and they throw bricks through the window for harboring an accused murderer. Kent Brockman’s podcast has topped the charts, and he shows up to interview Homer. “He was a quiet loner, but he could be abusive when he wanted to be.” Homer also admits that his mother disappeared when he was young, and Brockman says “another woman in his life vanished.” Bart lies egregiously in his interview, which doesn’t help Abe’s image at all. At a local celebrity restaurant, Yeardley Smith shows up as herself to talk to Brockman. “Where do I know you from?” “The true-crime podcast ‘Small Town Dicks’ and nowhere else.” Abe breaks the story that Vivienne had a million-dollar life insurance policy and Abe was the main beneficiary. Grampa listens to the podcast and becomes convinced that he himself is indeed the killer. He turns himself in to Wiggum, who arrests him for spoiling episodes he hadn’t yet listened to. “Oh, and also for murder.”
Judge Snyder (now voiced by Alex Désert) sentences Abe to life in prison, and he’s sent to Springfield Penitentiary. He explains to his family how the podcast convinced him of his own guilt. At dinner, Marge tries to convince the others of Grampa’s innocence, but in reviewing the facts she herself becomes unsure. “For the record, I was willing to believe he was the murderer back when there was no evidence,” says Homer. Dr. Hibbert (also Désert) shows up with news and asks the Simpsons if there’s somewhere public they can talk. Brockman is hosting a live episode of “Guilty Grampa” when the Simpsons and Hibbert show up. It seems during the couples colonoscopy, both Vivienne and Abe swallowed tracking devices and Vivienne faked her death and fled to Mexico. The crowd chants “Guilty Grampa!” and Kent starts to feel the pressure: “I have a confession to make– Guilty Grampa is not guilty.”
Brockman swears to report with restraint from now on. “I know you will all come along with me on this slow, measured ride.” At Moe’s Tavern, Moe (also Azaria) is still listening to “Interminable,” which mocks Brockman’s choice as the end of his podcasting career. Homer consoles Grampa who says he thought Vivienne would be the last love of his life. Walking home from the bar, Abe runs into Vivienne who says the plan was for him to meet her in Mexico with the insurance money. On the boat, she had shouted “Abe, don’t– forget the insurance money!” as she dived into the water. Admitting their own mistakes, they decide to live out the rest of their days in a place no one will ever notice them: the Retirement Castle.
Next week: “Three Dreams Denied”
Mike serves as Laughing Place’s lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly “Who’s the Bossk?” Star Wars podcast. He’s been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general since a very young age and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.