I’m happy, despite even how much attention I once gave the show’s more familiar opening credits.
The rest of the episode aired in hi-def too, but at this point well-polished opening credits beat even a halfway decent episode. Among the non-aesthetic pluses of the opening scene: Bygone characters like Jacques the bowling pro and Bleeding Gums Murphy are eliminated in favor of a more up-to-date character roster that includes Apu’s octuplets, evil Baby Gerald, Disco Stu, Crazy Cat Lady, Rich Texan as well as such non-human Springfield inhabitants as Mr. Sparkle and Lard Lad. And, finally, the crow whose call punctuates every establishment shot of the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant is for the first time depicted. (To you, I’m sure this sounds lame. For lifers like me, it’s strangely validating.)
As for the episode itself, I can at least say I was happy to see the return of Principal Dondelinger, the appearance of Al Gore on a show for which his daughter wasn’t a staff writer, and the debut of Debbie Pinson, a previous never-seen from Homer’s high school days. Also, the notion of Homer still being a high school student in the 1970s apparently eliminates that episode that had him being freshly graduated in the 1990s, which I have to like, even if it means Homer and Marge nearing are nearing their 60s.