I hadn't heard anything about when the new season was starting, but while going to IMDB to look something up, saw that it is debuting this Sunday. A quick check of the Tivo schedule shows that they are showing the last season on Friday and Saturday for a primer of the new season.
I just can't wait to see how the airplane crash effects things.
I liked the episode too. I also liked the last new episode aired, the Sideshow Bob one. I feel like the show has slowly gained back some of its zing. I tend to be a Simpsons apologist (or justifier as I see it). I love The Simpsons.