After 27 seasons, there isn't much that The Simpsons hasn't brought to the world of primetime broadcast TV animation. As we've seen in past seasons, even concepts that most people wouldn't have considered - such as having a live sequence or a LEGO-animated sequence - have come and gone. But somehow, America's most recognizable TV family has never put forth a full hour-long episode. Until Season 28, that is, and this isn't going to be your average installment, either. They're going big with it.
What better way to experience a record-breaking 28th season on the air than with another first-time accomplishment? The Simpsons will bring in the hour-long music-themed "The Great Phatsby" at some point in January 2017, and it will hit upon that question than I know everyone out there has been thinking about for decades: just how good are Mr. Burns' musical skills? Okay, so maybe you weren't asking that either. But it's getting answered, and with a pair of familiar faces.
Empire star Taraji P. Henson will guest star as the wife of a music mogul whose name is Praline, which should sound not at all familiar to anyone who's ever cackled at the actress' Emmy-nominated performance as Cookie Lyon the hyper-dramatic Fox series. The hip-hop music mogul Jay G. (put that name together with the episode title) enters the picture here when Mr. Burns attempts to relive his former days of glory, but Burns gets conned and loses all of his money.
This is where the always hilarious Keegan-Michael Key comes into it as the rapper Jazzy James, who joins Praline, Burns, Homer and Bart in trying to get the money back. Oh, man, to have Simpsons writers putting words in Henson's mouth is a strange nerdy dream. (And if "Do the Bartman" gets referenced, everyone may hear my squeals of delight.)
The episode will also feature a selection of side stories to keep the extended time limit fresh. We'll get to see Lisa get wooed by the richest kid in Springfield, while Marge opens up a strange boutique. Gotta love Marge-with-a-job episodes. And then there's Smithers, who heads out on some kind of a perilous adventure. Never enough Smithers stories on this show.
The Simpsons will return for Season 28(000) on Fox on Sunday, September 25, at 8:00 p.m. ET, and mark your calendars for the October 16 "Treehouse of Horror XXVII," as that will be the 600th episode of the beloved comedy. To see when all your other favorite families are coming to the small screen later this year, check out our fall TV schedule.