'The Simpsons' gets a Lego makeover for 550th episode

Homer wakes up in a world where his

Homer wakes up in a world where his family and everyone in Springfield are made of Legos and must "put together" how he got there to get home in the milestone 550th "Brick Like Me" episode of "The Simpsons." (Credit: Fox)

SPECIAL EPISODE "The Simpsons"

WHEN | WHERE Sunday at 8 p.m. on Fox/5

WHY WATCH It's just about the coolest thing ever.


INTERACT: New fall TV series | Greatest TV characters

MORE: Best shows to binge-watch | TV Zone blog


WHAT IT'S ABOUT The cartoon world meets the Lego world in "second-rate science fiction." Or, in the immortal words of Homer Simpson, "Kiss my flat plastic butt, reality!"

America's favorite yellow dad this week enters an alternative universe in which "Everything fits with everything else and nobody ever gets hurt." Or, in the immortal words of wife Marge Simpson, "It was probably just a mini-stroke."

But no, Homer's entire universe has turned, from its usual fleshy cartoon roundness to the computer-generated clickability of those slick Danish building bricks. Even the comic-style thought bubbles are hard-angle Legos. (More classic Homer: "Oh, brick me!") At church, the Bible now tells a plastic creation story. At Moe's, beer is made of hard plastic circles.

In this crazy world of Brick Brick & Beyond, Lisa steals the spotlight a bit from Bart, but both perform heroic acts of dad-rescue.

MY SAY And "The Simpsons" stretches itself like those little jewelry-weaving rubber bands that are now sooo 2012. Writer Brian Kelley and crew have hatched a delightfully twisted take on just about everything this long-running Fox wonder (since 1989, this is episode 550!) has proved so good at.

The visuals are kicky fun, literally taking apart the Springfield universe (and inhabitants) and putting it (them) back together again. It's a fresh look and feel that's almost cinematic.

The gags, too, get new life with Lego angles. (No, no, I can't, I won't spoil the really pun-ny jokes.) And so does the sentiment. The dirty little secret of "The Simpsons" isn't its wide-ranging humor but its supersized heart. Sure, episode barbs target "My Little Pony" and "The Survival Games." But emotions score just as smartly, arising as they do from our human core. Homer really loves his new perfect world -- until he learns he's missing "real-life" pleasures as well as pains.

But if you watch only for the Sparkle Unicorn tea party, that's OK, too.

BOTTOM LINE Be there, be square.

GRADE A

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