Yeah I'm something of an insomniac and still bored so I decided to watch my 3rd episode of the same 24 hour period(less than that actually) so here goes:
Season 20 continues when Moe falls in love! But first we begin at the house where Homer is trying to watch a hockey game while Maggie tries to get his attention. Marge notices this and berates her husband for his neglectful behavior. She insists Maggie doesn't even know her dad, and this is proven to be true when Santa's Little Helper proves to be a superior guardian. Homer takes Maggie out for a play date of sorts which, of course, winds up with the two going to Moe's. We learn that Moe's happens to be next to a playground with a visible window into said playground so Homer decides to watch Maggie play outside from inside the bar. We learn Moe has met a woman over the internet and is supposed to meet her tonight at the bar for a first date. Maggie is in trouble on the playground however, as the other kids intend to bully her. Homer saves her without knowing what's really going on as the two head home. Moe awaits his date, a woman named Maya, and discovers she is in fact a little person as we end act 1.
Moe and Maya hit the town in act 2. We're given several cute Moe gags as he tries his best not to repulse her. At Maya's house she wonders why Moe won't introduce her to any of his friends. Moe is in fact scared that they'll make a bad impression. Marge meanwhile has become suspicious of Homer and Maggie's play dates and has decided to hide a mini camera inside Maggie's bow. Moe decides to introduce Maya to Homer and Marge as we end act 2. In act 3 we're given a nice little fake out of Homer seeming to make an ass out of himself, but actually not doing anything wrong at all. Marge gets the results from the camera and is about to watch when Homer calls her down for their double date. At a carnival Homer suggests to Moe that Maya might just be a keeper. He proposes to her, but unintentionally insults her and she kicks him out. Devastated, he plans to have an operation to make him the same height as Maya in an attempt to make up with her as we end act 3.
Maya stops Moe in act 4 saying she wants someone who sees her as beautiful and not little, and breaks up with him in tears. When Marge finally watches the footage she is first annoyed but eventually driven to tears of joy when she sees father and daughter bonding. Homer goes to Moe's the next day and gives him some advice about the potential for love. This cheers Moe up who thinks back on his time with Maya as we end the episode.
This is probably the best secondary character episode since Season 8, and probably the best use of emotion on the show since even earlier. The episode isn't really laugh-out-loud funny or anything, but it doesn't need to be as it relies heavily on the story for entertainment. There are some good gags though; I loved the Homer gag where his head expands as it fills with water, as well as the several misleads like Homer's nuclear power question or Moe with the car seat. As I've said many times before Moe, like Nelson, is one of those characters who hasn't really declined in quality as the years go by and this is an excellent Moe episode. I liked the Homer/Maggie sub plot and feel like it was probably needed for a more casual audience, but still wish we could have gotten more time with Moe and Maya. As it is, the reason they break up comes off as a bit forced and makes Maya seem somewhat unreasonable. I suspect this is because of the lack of time, which is a shame. Although it does help us feel more for Moe. As others have said this actually feels like a weird mix of very early and modern Simpsons. The animation and some gags are clearly more recent but the story seems like something which might have fit in Season 2, or at least somewhere before the Mirkin Era began. In that sense it sticks out as one of Season 20's(and the last 5-6 years at least) best episodes, to me at least. We got two nice Moe callbacks from the early years too: his snake religion and the Little Women book.
Grading this episode is actually pretty tough for me though. It's tough because this episode is very good, but its good for all the reasons that almost none of the other episodes from this era that I also genuinely love are. It tells a great, touching story and has heart and doesn't rely on wacky or dark humor(much anyway). It is episodes like this that differentiated the Simpsons from other shows of its type in the early years, and this could've been reborn here if the show would've only stayed in this direction. Nothing else on FOX is capable of making an episode like this and have it work so well(animated at least), nor South Park. In fact, the only other prime time animated sitcom which still exists that could would probably be Futurama, unless I'm forgetting one. Alas, the show didn't choose to stay in this vain with future episodes. That doesn't hurt this one though at all, at least not for me. 5/5 Somehow though I actually don't think this little review I have written actually does this episode justice.