I just did something I haven't done in over a year. No, it wasn't pirate an episode because I missed it earlier, because that's something I've done plenty of times in the past year. Rather, I actually clicked the 5/5 option on a Rate/Review thread for a new episode.
Season 18 has proven to be even more mediocre than Season 17, and the JABF run has thus far been the worst of it. Yet when I finished watching this episode, my exact thoughts were...HOT DAMN, that was actually fantastic. These types of "gimmick" episodes are often times very refreshing from the standard recycled garbage plots that plague many other episodes, as proven by episodes like TSNES and Behind the Laughter (Though I think BTL is overrated to hell and back, different as it was). Yet it wasn't just the fact that it was different that made this such a good episode.
The episode was able to transition from entirely documentaries to an actual plot relatively nicely. There were no pacing problems whatsoever. We got some nice insight on numerous characters. The origin of Disco Stu was a riot, considering how there's no way you could have seen it coming. In other words, it was the proper way to do a "screw-the-audience" joke. Also, while Declan Desmond's appearance in "Fat Man and Little Boy" felt entirely pointless, it was used well here. However, he's ran his run by this point. He went out with a nice bang, no use whoring him out further.
Most of the jokes were pretty good. Well above the Jean norm. For once I actually laughed at the Crazy Cat Lady. Loved the hounds gag, the entire Wiggum documentary, the gag with the knives, and again, Disco Stu. Only a few jokes were flat, and the only one that really made me cringe was Smithers in the clock. There were also some slight outburts reminiscent of jerkass Homer, but nothing episode-ruining. Really, the same minor types of drawbacks that TSNES had.
Best of the season, first A-range ep since TSNES. Season 18, that's now TWO episodes so far that I would consider "really good". Get another one, and you won't wind up being worse than Season 11.