Tag Archives: Mr. Burns

SSR #18: “Dancin’ Homer”

Introduction:
Homer has had a lot of jobs over the years, many of which have nothing to do with the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant. In today’s episode, we are going to take a look at the first time Homer got to spread his wings outside of the plant gates and do something he actually enjoyed. I don’t think he got any actual money for this particular gig, but he did seem to have a lot of fun with it and he seemed to be very good at it as well. Today we are going to go down to the old baseball field and take a look at “Dancin’ Homer.”

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SSR #17: “Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish”

Introduction:
I have no intention of starting a discussion on politics here, but I do hope all of you, American citizens, went out to vote this week. After all, you don’t want a person like Mr. Burns in charge, do you? So, last week we had a very appropriate episode to celebrate the Halloween holiday. This week, we have another episode that’s very appropriate, time-wise, to what the US is currently going through with the mid-term elections going on. It’s interesting how starting Season 2 so late ended up being thematically appropriate to the current schedule of events huh? It’s almost like I planned it that way (I really didn’t, don’t give me that much credit).

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SSR #15: “Simpson and Delilah”

Introduction:
We’ve all been quite accustomed to Homer Simpson’s hairstyle…an extremely bald head with two single hairs on top and a continuous “M” strand around the back (mainly to signify creator Matt Groening’s signature with Homer’s G-shaped ears). However, Season 2 decided to experiment very early on with an episode that gave Homer a full head of hair; an experiment that led to some very interesting results for the animated father-figure we all know and love. Today we will be taking a look at “Simpson and Delilah!”

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SSR #10: “Homer’s Night Out”

Intro

Introduction:
Last week we had a little trouble in paradise with Marge being tempted by the advances of another man. This week, Homer will have his own little adventures in the adult world, but not without getting sent to the doghouse after the fact. I really hope this is not the start of a pattern for future problems to come for this marriage, but we should probably get started anyway. Homer’s Night Out is the 10th episode of the Simpsons 1st season and was also the tenth episode written for the series, despite being written before Life in the Fast Lane and after a future episode in the season. The chalkboard gag is “I will not call my teacher ‘Hot Cakes,’” probably a wise lesson to learn for the future, and the couch gag is a repeat from earlier in the season when the entire family sits on the couch and it completely collapses under them.

HomerApuApu: “You look familiar sir, are you on the television or something?”
Homer: “Sorry buddy, you got me confused with Fred Flintstone!”

Plot:
This episode actually has a really interesting start, as the story takes place 6 months after the beginning scene. Homer is telling Marge about his new assistant who recently made a fool out of himself at a party in front of a girl he liked. Then, the scene switches to Bart who purchases a miniature spy camera from a mail order catalog. The story then jumps ahead six months to the present day. Homer is telling Marge about a bachelor party he’s going to for his ex-assistant (now supervisor) who is about to marry the same woman he made a fool out of himself in front of. Marge is concerned that the bachelor party is actually a stag party, but Homer assures his wife that it is nothing like that. Meanwhile, after six months of waiting and pestering the female mail carrier, Bart finally receives his spy camera.

Bart proceeds to use the camera in typical kid fashion, by taking pictures of humiliating things like Marge shaving her armpits, a piece of roadkill, and even attempts to snap a shot of his own rear end. Marge announces that they will be going out to eat that night, minus Homer (since he will be at the bachelor party) at the Rusty Barnacle seafood restaurant. Little do they know, the bachelor party Homer is attending is also taking place in one of the private party rooms in the same building. The party is very boring at first, but things start to go wild when a belly-dancer known as Princess Kashmir arrives on the scene and starts to dance on the tabletops. She invites Homer to dance with her and Homer agrees, at first nervous and not really knowing what to do, but then really gets into it and finishes the dance by putting some money in her g-string underwear. During this dance, Bart stumbles away from the family, sneaks into the party room, and takes a picture of his father in act of dancing with the woman.

Bart shows the picture to his friends at school and ends up giving a copy to his two best friends. However, his two friends end up making more copies for their friends, and soon enough, everyone around town has a copy of the picture, including the church reverend, Homer’s boss Mr. Burns, and it gets posted at the gym where Marge conveniently goes to work out. Homer is unaware of the photo’s existence until an angry Marge confronts him about the picture. Homer, at a loss of what to say, gets thrown out of the house by Marge, forcing him to stay at his friend Barney’s apartment. With the exception of Marge’s response though, most of the town is very complimentary towards Homer and his bravery for dancing with a beautiful woman. Even when Mr. Burns confronts Homer about the picture, after scolding him initially for his behavior, he asks Homer for advice on how to attract members of the opposite sex. Unfortunately though, the one and only person he wants to talk about this with is the same woman who threw him out; his wife.

Homer attempts to go home the next morning to talk to Marge. Marge is open with why she is angry and tells Homer that the reason she is mad is because Homer is teaching his son a very bad lesson when it comes to how men should treat women. She wants Homer to take Bart to meet this woman so he can show Bart that Princess Kashmir is more than just a belly dancer, but also a human being with real thoughts, feelings and emotions. They ultimately track her down at a club, but while Princess Kashmir is telling Bart her story, the performance starts and Homer falls on stage. The announcer, other dancers and the entire audience recognize Homer as the man from the photograph, and he is once again encouraged to dance on stage.

Homer starts dancing yet again, but when he sees Bart watching him and smiling, he realizes that he is not doing what he promised his wife he would do and immediately stops and grabs the mic to give a speech about women. While giving his speech, Marge enters the club and listens to Homer’s words. Homer tells the entire club that women are not only people too, but also a very big part of our lives; being not only wives, but also sisters, aunts, nieces, daughters and mothers, and that we should not treat them as objects. He finishes by saying that he would rather be at home in bed with his wife sleeping than shoving money in some dancer’s underwear. The entire club applauds Homer’s speech and Marge runs on stage to reconcile with Homer. The episode fades to credits on the two kissing.

Homer thrown outHomer: “But where will I sleep?”
Marge: “My suggestion is for you to sleep in the filth you created!”
Homer: “Would a motel be okay?”

My Personal History:
I don’t have much to say here. I didn’t get to watch this episode until it came out on DVD. I was interested in seeing the plot and premise as it seemed very different from what I was used to with Simpson’s episodes, but like Life on the Fast Lane, I couldn’t really form a major opinion on it until much later on in life, when it was more relatable to me as an episode plot. It’s still not really that relatable, but more so than it was as a 14-year-old.

Mr Burns“A plant employee carrying on like an oversexed orangutan in heat! This is a family nuclear power plant Simpson. Our research indicate that 50% of our power is used by women. I will not have you offending my customers with your bawdy shenanigans!”
~Mr. Burns

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I think the beginning part of the episode is great. I love the joke of how Homer’s assistant started out as pathetic as Homer is, but then in six-month’s time, not only did he manage to court and get engaged with the woman he was after, but he also got promoted over Homer while Homer is still just in the same place that he’s always been in. It’s also humorous to see Homer freak out about his weight twice, in the same exact fashion, when over a six month’s time period, he didn’t gain a single pound. And for Homer Simpson, with how much a food glutton he is, it’s honestly not that bad of an accomplishment. The jokes at the restaurant and bachelor party are also pretty good (especially with Bart’s exchanges with the waiter), but after that scene and the first act ends, the episode just kind of takes a very hard left turn, and unfortunately not in a great direction.

I’ll touch on what I didn’t like in the next section, as I’m mainly focusing on the stuff I liked here, but from the end of the first act to the very end of the episode, the only other thing I liked was the ending speech of Homer’s. I liked it because it was a good speech that had a great message, and even featured a little humor in it as well. There’s just something about Homer mentioning “nephews” as a female family title and then immediately retracting it when he realizes what he has said that just cracks me up every single time. But yeah, like I said, it was a good ending with a good message, but I really don’t feel like the message complimented the episode that well. And because I’m kind of getting into it now, perhaps I should move on to the next section first…

Speech“It’s about women, and how they are not mere objects with curves that make us crazy. No, they are our wives, they are our daughters, our sisters, our grandmas, our aunts, our nieces and nephews…well, not our nephews.”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
There has always been something that has really bothered me about this episode, and after watching it today, I think I finally have my answer for why I feel like this episode kind of misses its mark. First of all, I want to stress that when it comes to women, I am very much in favor of treating them as equals, and any man who goes out of his way to treat them as objects or possessions, is absolute trash. No woman, and for that right, any human being, should be treated in that fashion, and these days I feel like we should be through with that mindset already. We are all equals, and gender and race hierarchies just should not exist. Obviously there are still some individuals who disagree, and let’s be real, there will always be sexism and discrimination regardless of how the times have changed; however, sometimes I feel like there are times when someone tries to push a fight when a battle doesn’t need to be fought, and in this case, I feel like that “someone” is this episode.

What I’m getting at; I don’t really think Homer did anything that wrong here, especially in terms of what Marge is accusing him of. Throughout the entire episode, Homer is actually pretty considerate of how he treats women. He isn’t too forward with women when he’s around them, when he tries to give Mr. Burns advice, he gives very respectful, gentlemanly advice, and you can see and feel that his speech at the end of the episode is genuine and very consistent with how he is throughout the episode. And as far as dancing with all the erotic dancers…I mean, let’s be real here…those dancers are just doing their job and Homer is not going beyond any boundaries that exist in that type of interaction. He’s not grabbing the woman, touching the woman, making any obscene gestures towards the woman…in fact, the woman herself invited Homer on top of the table to dance in the first place, so clearly she didn’t have an issue with him. If anything, she probably picked him because he was the most respectful and least obnoxious at the party, but still someone she could have fun dancing with.

Now, was Bart witnessing the act a bad thing? Sure! And having that picture float around town was probably not the best way to make Homer look like a man of love and respect either, but I’d focus less on the whole “treating women like objects” argument, and focus more on the fact that Homer probably should have just been honest with Marge from the get-go. When he got home from the party, he should have confessed to Marge that there was a dancer that he was unaware of, and that he did dance with her, but it meant nothing to him and he treated her with kindness and respect because that is what Marge would wanted from him. And yeah, he probably shouldn’t have lied and said “the party will be classy,” at the beginning of the episode either, but to his credit, he wasn’t entirely sure at that point. For those actions in particular, yeah, I can understand why Marge would be pissed, but I think she jumped on the “objects” bandwagon a bit prematurely and without enough context. She should have at least listened to Homer’s side of the story first before making any snap judgments.

As far as exotic dancers are concerned, I think there’s a fine line between acceptable behavior and unacceptable behavior. For example (and this is stuff I have been told by women, so I’m not just making this stuff up), some women like being told and shown that they are attractive. Hell, sometimes it can be a bit of motivator and confidence-booster in knowing that they have a side that people find charming. So as long as people are respectful of that, and stick to their boundaries, I don’t really see much of an issue if women are fine with that line of work. However, the moment a man starts to overreach those boundaries, then yes, there is a big problem there, and then you do get into the issue of treating women like objects, which is not ok, or acceptable by any wavelength. I just don’t feel like Homer was anywhere near that point and he gets an incredibly raw deal because of some bad coincidences.

However, this does raise the question though; was that what the writers were going for? Was the point of this episode to show that while Homer isn’t like that, there are many people who are, and those very same people kind of look at Homer like he is some kind of player or superstar, when in reality, Homer doesn’t care about any of that stuff and just wants to be at home with his wife? And because of that, that does actually give Homer’s speech at the end a little more weight, because it’s not about him apologizing for his behavior, but more trying to teach some uninformed minds about how they might be treating women. If that was the angle, I wish they would have spent a heavier focus on that, just because it seems like the episode really tries to force the idea that Homer is a bad guy when he’s really not even close to one.

This is why I can’t say I hate the episode, because it seems like there is some kind of ulterior motive involved with the writing that just doesn’t come out the way I think it should. It really is like Life in the Fast Lane in a lot of respects, but the only difference is, I feel like the writing was a little better in that episode as opposed to this one. Life in the Fast Lane just made me a little uneasy. This episode makes me feel a little less uneasy, but a bit more
frustrated. Frustrated at Homer being misunderstood until the end and frustrated at the way Marge was acting towards her husband. Again, I’m not saying Marge was wrong by being angry, I just think she was wrong by being dismissive and not talking to her husband first, much like in the same way Homer was wrong by not talking honestly to his wife about the party in question.

I feel like I’m being incredibly redundant by this point, so I’ll try to wrap it up here. The episode does have some good jokes and some good merits. I just think the middle acts should have been differently focused and differently structured. It’s almost like it should have been two separate episodes; one episode focused on Marge finding out about the party Homer lied about and then them trying to reconcile, and an entirely, unrelated episode involving the topic of “treating women like objects,” where Homer is the voice of reason at the end. By having these two plots condensed into one, it kind of messes with what should be the main focus here and tries to resolve both conflicts at once, when Marge and Homer’s issue is a much different one entirely. It’s definitely not one of the worst episodes of all time, but it is probably in the bottom tier of episodes from Season 1, at least in my opinion.

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Do we really only have three episodes left of Season 1? I think we do! Thankfully this one didn’t take too long to write, even though I felt like I rambled on like mad at the end there. Sometimes it can be really difficult to talk about this kind of stuff, just because of the world we live in and with the many different viewpoints that can exist out there. Especially when it comes to topics about gender, race and all of those other things that could be seen as controversial viewpoints. I don’t “think” my viewpoints are controversial, as I am someone who tries to see things from all angles before I make my own opinion, but being a white male, I don’t exactly have the same experiences that others would have either. I personally see the world as a place where we all exist and we all deserve the same rights and freedoms (unless we lose those freedoms by doing something stupid like committing a felony or something), so there is no reason to discriminate or treat others that they are less than another. But I digress, I’m sure you don’t see me as a sexist or racist, so I’ll leave it at that and leave it alone until it’s relevant again (which knowing this series, will probably be sooner than you think). I’ll see you guys next week (hopefully) for another retrospective!

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SSR #4: “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”

Title Card

Introduction:
When it comes to the Simpsons, they are not a very high-end family. They aren’t very wealthy, they don’t share the same values or manners as other families, and as an outsider looking into their family dynamic, I’m sure a lot of questions and concerns would arise from that observation. In this episode, Homer takes a look at his own family and compares it to the other families in town, wondering if maybe somewhere down the road something went wrong, and puts his family on a quest for improvement, with “shocking” results. This episode debuted on January 28th, 1990 and was the fourth episode to air and the fourth episode written for the show. The chalkboard gag for this episode is “I will not burp in class,” while the couch gag features the entire family trying to sit on the couch at once, which results Homer (of all people) getting squished out and landing on the floor.

BurnsMr. Burns: “And make yourselves at home”
Bart: “Hear that Dad? You can lie around in your underwear and scratch yourself.”

Plot:
Homer’s boss, Mr. Burns, is having his annual employee picnic at his mansion, and the morning of the big event, Homer is in an absolute frenzy of getting his kids to not act up during the outing and making sure everything is absolutely perfect. Apparently Mr. Burns is a stickler for families that are well-behaved and harmonious with each other, and tends to fire employees whose families misbehave or make a scene. In fact, all of the families are so scared of Mr. Burns that they even let him win the annual sack race every year, for fear of what would happen if he didn’t win. During the picnic, the kids run amok, disturbing the local wildlife, and climbing on all the different fixtures, causing Homer to be on constant watch-duty. Even Marge, the most cool and collected member of the family, gets incredibly tipsy after drinking several cups of “punch,” causing her to dance around and sing; creating her own scene that Homer also watches disappointedly. As the family is leaving, Homer notices another family that is very well-behaved and good-mannered and he starts to compare the family to his own. The other family’s kids open the car doors for each other while Bart and Lisa fight over who gets in first, and the wife of the husband offers to drive back while Marge is still very much drunk and feeling sick. Homer is ashamed and disappointed by this observation as the show closes on the first act.

Homer confronts the rest of the family about their actions at the picnic and tries to make changes. He starts by making the entire family eat in the dining room and say grace before eating their meal, but the rest of the family continues to exhibit poor table manners. He decides to show them all how other families and households act by spying into their homes from the windows outside; which comically leads them to running away from gunfire after a family notices their presence and forces them off of their property. Homer goes to Moe’s Tavern where he sees a commercial for Dr. Marvin Monroe’s family-based therapy center and becomes inspired when he thinks this may be the only shot for things to get better for the Simpsons. He talks it over with the rest of the family, who are all very much against the idea, but Homer insists, knowing that this is the answer he was looking for. The only problem; the therapy is very expensive and they need to make some monetary sacrifices. They start by dipping into the kids’ college fund and Homer makes the boldest decision of them all by pawning the family television. Marge even offers up her own engagement ring, but is countered by Homer who says, “I appreciate that honey, but we need $150 dollars here!”

The Simpsons go to therapy and meet Dr. Marvin Monroe, but at first, his tactics seem to be falling on deaf ears and closed minds. Homer doesn’t listen during one of the exercises and Bart takes the padding off of the foam rubber aggression mallets, swinging the metal rod at the doctor’s shin. He decides that the only way the family is going to get cured is if he uses extreme measures, so he hooks the family up to the electric generator. In an all-time classic Simpsons moment, the family misses the point of the exercise and starts shocking each other continuously (even baby Maggie joins in on the fun), causing the lights to flicker and scare off all of the other patients. Dr. Monroe stops the exercise and claims that the family cannot be cured and that they need to leave. Homer, remembering an important part of the commercial he saw, states that the ad promised family bliss, otherwise they would get double their money back. The doctor reluctantly pays the family double their entry fee and sends them on their way. In a last minute realization of togetherness and happiness, the Simpsons go to purchase a brand new television to replace the one they pawned off; ending the episode on a very tender moment.

Evil Simpsons“Homie, get in the car. This is where you belong. Yeah, Homer, room for one more. One of us! One of us! One of us! One of us!”
~Homer’s freaky daydream of his family’s image

Personal History:
Although I don’t not remember seeing the episode in full until the Season 1 DVD released, I definitely remembered the classic electric generator scene. It was definitely used in a future clip show, for sure, but even then, that’s just a scene that has always stuck with me, regardless of how or when I saw it. It’s just one of those moments that you can never forget.

Good FamilyHomer: “Look at that, kids. No fighting, no yelling.”
Bart: “No belching!”
Lisa: “The dad has his shirt on.”
Marge: “Look, napkins!”
Bart: “These people are obviously freaks.”

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
I think it’s safe to say that this episode is an absolute benchmark for the series. If not for the final, big scene I’ve been putting a lot of my focus into, but also just because this episode plot confirms the type of family the Simpsons are and what they will continue to be for the rest of the series. They don’t have a high standard of living, they’re not the brightest crayons in the box (with exception to Lisa, but this is before the “brainiac” image really starts to get pushed, plus Lisa does have a very “Simpson-esque” side to her; all things considering), the kids are pretty unfiltered for their age and don’t give a lot of respect to their father, and they just don’t give off that typical American family vibe that you hear about on television and other forms of media. And personally, I think it’s great that they break that image, because every family in the world, real or fiction, has their own unique dynamic, and honestly, that’s the way it should be. A good family will always find a way to work things out, no matter the circumstances, and the Simpsons did just that at the end of this episode. Homer was disappointed at his family, the kids and Marge resented Homer for making them do the therapy, but they all came together, ripped off a therapy clinic, and left the place richer, happier, and most important, left the building together, united as a family unit. I’m not advising any family in real time to try conning a clinic out of 500 dollars, but for the purpose of this episode, it works, and was truly my favorite moment and best moment of the entire episode. Maybe of the entire season too, but we still have nine episodes left before we make that judgment.

As far as jokes are concerned, I think one joke that really caught me off guard in this re-watch was the fact that the family Homer was envious of at the end of Mr. Burn’s picnic was actually in the family therapy center waiting room before the Simpsons went in for their session. This was clearly a visual gag set up by the Simpsons writers, one that could very easily be overlooked if you don’t focus on specific details (like what those characters looked like), but I also think it’s a very nice message about how some families put up a mask or a façade when in public to hide their happiness. Believe it or not, not all families are necessarily happy all the time, and every family, even the closest ones, can have their issues and dirty laundry. Some just prefer not to air it in public and work on those issues in private where, arguably, that should be the case in most instances. I just thought it was funny to see that they were there at that point in time, and it was almost kind of cosmic in the sense that the Simpsons got to leave the building in harmony while the other family may have been unable to do so; essentially switching around the terrible feeling Homer had at the end of the first act. I also really enjoyed Homer’s comment on Marge’s engagement ring, implying that the engagement ring was worth less than a $150 dollar television.

This episode also features the first instance of the Homer Simpson “Mmm…” joke, where he makes that noise followed by some kind of food item or an item that sounds like it could be digested (in the mind of Homer Simpson anyway), and he does it while admiring the lovely gelatin desserts that Marge has made for the picnic. He makes his pleasure known by saying “Mmm…marshmellow.” And even though I am 3 episodes late on this, Homer does have another vocal joke in the series in the form of “D’oh,” a sound made by Homer’s voice actor, Dan Castellaneta when he read “annoyed grunt” in an episode screwed. Homer first did this in the episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” the first episode of the season, but since I’m just so used to Homer doing that in the first place, it didn’t cross my mind to mention it. I will not be calling attention to any of these gags throughout the series though (unless an extremely humorous one emerges), just because of how numerous and common they are, but I did figure this would be a good time to mention them now, at least while we are still this early in the series.

As far as other mentionable oddities, Waylon Smithers is back in this episode, but the “tan” that he had in episode 3 is now gone for good. However, on the topic of incorrect skin colors, this was also the first appearance of police officers Eddie and Lou from the Springfield Police Department, and I think at this point in the series, they hadn’t decided (or once again, the animators missed the notes) that Lou was going to be an African-American cop, because in this episode, he is definitely white. It’s quite amazing to look at all these episodes again and notice all of the little oddities here and there. In the same image linked above, you also can take a look at Moe with his black hair that he had back during this season as well. Those Season 1 memories…

pawn the TVLisa: “No, Dad! Please don’t pawn the TV.”
Bart: Oh, come on, Dad, anything but that.”
Marge: “Homer, couldn’t we pawn my engagement ring instead?”
Homer: “Now I appreciate that, honey, but we need $150 dollars here!”

My Review:
So after my incredibly positive analysis earlier on the ending of the episode, you probably think I’m going to be pretty generous and enthusiastic about this one. Honestly…with exception to the family therapy segment (which is basically the entirety of Act 3)… I’m not really a big fan of this story. I just don’t like the way Homer thinks in this episode. He spends too much time focusing on how he wants his family to be, whether it’s to score some brownie points with his boss, or just to appease his own wants and needs at home. Given, his kids can be a little too much to take sometimes, but they are kids! By pushing and forcing them into some kind of façade to make him look great, naturally the kids are going to want to rebel as much as possible; so if anything, Homer had been literally asking them for that kind of behavior all along. Even during the therapy session, when Dr. Monroe asked the family to illustrate the roots of their unhappiness, Marge, Lisa and Bart all drew Homer, while Homer ignored the question and drew a plane crash. This goes to show you that Homer wasn’t doing much better as the head of the household as the rest of the family was doing with giving him respect. The entire family was at fault, but I think the episode focuses a little too much on the Homer side of the story, when he was probably the biggest instigator of the family’s problems. I guess you could say that I just couldn’t really sympathize with him, and that’s probably why I have a hard time with this episode.

With that being said though, once the family gets to the therapy center, I think it picks up phenomenally well. It has a lot of funny moments and gags, it’s interesting to see where Dr. Monroe goes next with his treatments (and how the family continues to mess them up), and the ending was the most perfect way to end the episode. It ends with them taking all of that pent-up aggression and releasing it at each other in a creative way, and then they celebrate their “victory” by going to purchase a new television afterwards; the very same object that got them to that lowest point once Homer sold it to begin with. It’s a good finale that saves this episode for me, quite honestly. I just wish I could have been more invested in the story…you know, before the final act of the episode.

So overall, that is going to be my analysis for this one. I was honestly looking forward to see what this post would end up like, and I’m very pleased by the results. I think it’s good when you can praise a particular part of one episode, even if it’s one you don’t particularly like. And on the flip side, it’s always good to point out the negatives when going through an episode you enjoy as well. This is why I’m really curious to see how these will end up the further we get into the series. For now though, I’m putting “There’s No Disgrace Like Home” back on the shelf and I’m going to let the Simpson family watch their new $500 dollar television, because as Lisa said, “It’s not so much the money as much as the feeling that we earned it.”

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So yeah, I was a little late with this one, but honestly, this was probably the episode that took the least amount of time to make, so I am definitely starting to get this down to a science now. I just had a lot of stuff to get done last weekend, as I did get back into streaming again and I’m still trying to make some major headway with all of my videos as well (since I do have a vacation coming up). I’m not going to promise an issue this weekend, but if I get some time after all the craziness subsides, I will start working on the next episode, which was probably my favorite episode the first time I watched through Season 1, so it should be a good time!

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SSR #3: “Homer’s Odyssey”

Intro

Introduction:
So far in this series, we’ve spent some time with the Simpson family for the holiday season, and we took a look at what Bart’s life is like inside the schoolhouse. This episode, “Homer’s Odyssey,” will be examining Homer at the workplace, or to be more specific; how Homer deals when that world is turned upside-down on his very head. I’m sure this episode will shock you with what we will discover; especially if you’ve seen episodes that come after this plot. This episode aired on January 21st, 1990 and was the third episode written and aired on television.

The chalkboard gag for this episode is, “I will not skateboard in the halls,” a very basic and not-at-all surprising action to get in trouble for, but it is the first piece of evidence that we have in regards to Bart being a big skateboarder. The couch gag features the entire family sitting down on the couch with the couch falling apart at the very seams. These gags are still very basic in nature, but give it a bit as we are still in the first season. It won’t be until future seasons when they get more creative, whacky and start adapting references to other media. With that out of the way, let’s start talking about this episode.

Dip Sign

Marge: “Oh, Homer, I’m so proud of you!”
Homer: “Proud? Proud of what?”
Marge: Well, everything! Your dip sign for instance. Now people won’t be caught off-guard by that little ‘mmm-mmmm’ in the road!”

Plot:
Even though this is a Homer storyline, the first act of the show focuses entirely on Bart. His class is going on a field trip to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, which just so happens to be the place where Homer works. We get some more insight to how much of a troublemaker Bart is at school, learning that he may have been the cause of letting some prisoners out during another field trip to the Springfield prison. His teacher, Mrs. Krabappel, is also very tired of his antics as well; not showing any sort of pity for Bart after he is forced to sit next to the kid that pukes on every bus ride, nor doubt when twins Sherri & Terri continue to play tricks on Bart throughout the trip. When they arrive at the plant and start taking the tour, Bart notices his father and calls out to him, causing Homer to look away from what he is doing and crash into a nearby piece of equipment. This accident angers his supervisor and Homer is fired from his job as result; turning this mini-Bart storyline into the main plot of the episode.

After being fired, Homer looks for a new job but is constantly and consistently rejected at every interview. The rejection starts to affect Homer in a very negative way, turning him into an “unemployed whale” who does nothing but lay on the couch all day and not respond to anyone. After seeing a beer commercial, Homer is intrigued by the prospect of drinking his sorrows away, but when he checks the fridge, there is no beer in the house, forcing him into more extreme measures. He steals Bart’s piggy-bank and tries to take money from his own son, but when he realizes what he is doing AND finds out that not even his son has enough money, Homer feels like he is out of options and the next logical step is for him to commit suicide.

Now, for those of you reading this and who have not seen this episode before…yes, that is a very dark decision to make, especially to such a sudden degree, but I kind of understand what the writers were going for and I’ll talk about this more in the review portion of this entry. Anyway, Homer grabs a boulder, ties a rope around it and carries it to the bridge above Springfield River. Thankfully, before too much time passes, the rest of the Simpson family find Homer’s suicide note and rush to the bridge to stop Homer from going through with his plan. Before he can do anything, Homer sees the rest of the family coming towards him while a giant vehicle is about to crash into his family, forcing Homer into action as he runs to his family (while the boulder is still attached to him by the way), and pushes them out of the way before it’s too late. This act of bravery inspires Homer to not kill himself and take action to make the town safer.

Homer becomes a crusader of public safety; petitioning the town to construct more road signs and warn people of the problems and dangers that exist around town. While the thrill of making the town safer gives his life new meaning, Homer realizes there is a bigger threat to the town and that threat is his old workplace, the nuclear power plant. Homer sets up a protest outside the building, forcing the owner of the plant, Mr. Burns, to take notice. After being impressed of the way Homer speaks to the crowd, Mr. Burns calls Homer up to his office to speak with him privately.

Mr. Burns offers to give Homer a job at the plant again, this time being in charge of plant safety, on the one condition that he stops his crusade and tells all of the people outside that the power plant is safe and there is no more need to worry. Homer accepts the proposal at first, but when he tries to tell everyone that the plant is safe, he can’t do it because it would abandon his newfound principles. Mr. Burns is further impressed and gives Homer the job anyway, allowing Homer to take charge and make the plant safe himself instead of just sweeping the concern under the rug. Homer tells all of his supporters outside the good news, and the crowd cheers him on as he dances over his new promotion; leading him to falling off the balcony and being caught by everyone below him.

Protest

Bart: “Gee, Dad’s a hero.”
Homer: “What’d you say son?”
Bart: “Nothing.”
Homer: “That’s okay. I’ll just assume you said what I thought I heard you say.”

Personal History:
Like most of Season 1, I first saw this episode when it released on the Season 1 DVD. Back then I thought the episode was fine and was a basic introduction to the power plant, but in recent watches, there were definitely some things that surprised me. For one, it surprised me how stretched out the story is and how it feels like three separate mini-episodes that are combined into one storyline. I also took notice that the episode introduced a lot of side characters and continuous gags and jokes that would be used in later episodes. And to top it all off, just the idea of the main character (or one of them) considering and nearly attempted suicide just really took me off guard, especially after watching future episodes and seeing how Homer would react to similar situations in a much different way. So in a lot of respects, this episode just seemed like a very interesting outlier to me; being iconic for some reasons and incredibly different and out of place for other reasons. I still have a few other things I want to talk about first, but I’m really anxious to start breaking this episode down in the review.

BoulderWalk

Mrs. Winfield: “Oh, looks like young Simpson is going to kill himself.”
Mr. Winfield: “Well Maybe not. Maybe he’s just taking his boulder for a walk.

Favorite/Memorable Moments:
This particular episode brought a few, notable, first-time jokes. For one, this was the first episode that featured the classic Bart Simpson “prank call” joke that would go down as being one of the most famous jokes of the series. Basically, Bart would call Moe’s Tavern under a fake name, and get Moe to say the name out loud, which usually would be some kind of crude remark or dirty saying. In this episode, Bart’s identity is known as “I. P. Freely.” This was also the first episode that mentioned the graffiti vandal known as “El Barto,” a mysterious figure that would go around town and spray paint “El Barto” on various walls and landmarks. There’s a lot of speculation on this particular joke, particularly the identity of El Barto, and because of the sketch artist’s interpretation, it’s very heavily assumed and implied that the identity is none other than Bart Simpson himself. There is a future episode that confirms this, but it isn’t until much later in the series, and with how many times the writers have backpedaled on revelations like this, it’s hard for me to be entirely convinced. However, the writers did state in numerous audio commentaries that this was always the intention and that they intended to include “El Barto” tags in every episode (or most episodes). In fact, the Kwik-E-Mart usually has an “El Barto” tag in most episodes the store appears in.

This episode is also one of the episodes I think of when it comes to “freeze frame” jokes, especially with newspaper headlines. During the episode, when Homer is going around town and making the town safer, you see a variety of newspapers with funny pictures and captions of all of Homer’s deeds, and while they aren’t split-second like future instances of this, it’s definitely a big example of die-hard, classic Simpson fans going through these episodes and looking for all the little jokes sprinkled in during the story. It can be as simple as a newspaper headline or a bunch of humorous movie titles at the theater whenever the family goes to the movies, but one thing for sure, the Simpsons writers know how to make a good freeze-frame joke.

This episode also continues the trend of Homer getting a new job after quitting or being fired from his position at the nuclear power plant, or him just taking an odd job in his spare time. This will happen numerous times over the series, and although his duty as a safety crusader didn’t pay anything, it was something he took seriously and seemed to be more proficient at than his actual job. In fact, I find this to be rather humorous that Homer seems to be happier and work better at every job he has, with exception to his actual job, which is the job he keeps for pretty much the entire series.

I don’t have a lot to say about this episode when it comes to my favorite moments, but there are a few things that stand out to me. For one, I think it’s great that Homer is so passionate about his new calling of being a safety crusader for the town of Springfield. He may go a little overboard at times, but some of his suggestions were really good and he may have saved a few lives with some of the signs he got constructed. And then, when he realizes that the power plant is a big threat (because it logically is), he manages to fight the system with ease without any fear whatsoever. In fact, it’s his wife that actually has concern with him going against his old bosses while Homer is ready to fight tooth and nail to make the town safe. I think it truly shows, in a positive way, how much Homer can do if he just puts his mind to it.

And for being a very dark part of the story, the one joke I always remember from this episode, which might be my favorite joke as a result, is the snarky remarks from the Winfields when Homer is carrying the boulder to the bridge to commit suicide. Mrs. Winfield remarks that “Simpson is going to kill himself,” while the husband remarks that Homer may not be attempting suicide, but rather “taking his boulder for a walk,” instead. Suicide jokes themselves are not funny and they never will be in any case whatsoever, but just the fact that Mr. Winfield was not quick to assume that, because of the type of person Homer Simpson is, just seems very funny to me; like in the sense that, “he really COULD be taking a boulder for a walk, you never know; he’s crazy Homer Simpson!” So that joke will always be a highlight for me, despite the dark tone of that particular moment. Aside from that, all of the other gags I mentioned and brought up earlier, from the prank phone call and the newspaper headlines, they’re also funny as well, but are more footstools for a series-wide joke than just a single, episode gag. I will also say that I do enjoy the montage of Homer having doors slam in his face when looking for a job, with the final door being at his home with Bart saying, “don’t give up dad!” before slamming the door shut.

The last thing I want to call attention to, and this is probably the most shocking thing if you have watched episodes beyond this one, but in this episode, Waylon Smithers does not have the same skin color as he does in future episodes. This is the only episode where he is colored like this and the reason for it is because the animators were not sure what color he was supposed to be so they made his skin more brown/tan-colored. The writers of the show often joke that the reason Smithers was colored this way was because he had a very dark tan from an island get-away or something, so it’s good to know that they had their fun with this particular mistake. Other characters also have slight differences in the first season, namely Chief Wiggum and Moe have black hair instead of their trademark black and gray hair.

SimpsonInAllOfUs

“Friends, you have come to depend on me as your safety watchdog, so you won’t scrape yourself or stub your toes or blow yourselves up. But you can’t depend on me all your life. You have to learn that there’s a little Homer Simpson in all of us…”
~Homer Simpson

My Review:
Homer’s Odyssey is a very iconic episode, and I didn’t realize how iconic it was until I watched it back for this analysis. It introduces a lot of things we know about The Simpsons moving forward and it writes a lot of characters and jokes that we’ll see throughout the entire series. For that, this episode holds my respect for those particular introductions. However, as far as the story itself and the overall plot of the episode is concerned, I will say that this episode did fall short in a couple of areas, and is not one of my favorites as a result. As I mentioned above in the personal history section, this particular story is segmented. Act 1 focuses on Bart’s field trip, Act 2 focuses on Homer’s lay-off and depression, and Act 3 focuses on Homer’s safety crusade. I’m not saying there is anything wrong with jumping around to that degree, as I’m sure other episodes may do that format with success, but with this particular episode, it just kind of bothered me a little. I think it’s because there just aren’t a lot of jokes in this one because there is so much plot that needs to be set-up beforehand that the writers were trying to fill-in how to get Homer from point A to point B than writing joke after joke after joke. Whenever there were jokes, as good as they were, the jokes themselves seemed more like filler to compensate for a shorter run time than jokes that flowed nicely with the story. And sure, you probably don’t want to have too many jokes in your episode, but for this one, I feel like it could have used a bit more, at least in my opinion.

There’s also quite a bit of confusion I have with the ending of this episode. During the ending, Homer is offered another job at the power plant under the condition that he tells his supporters that the plant is safe. Homer tries to, but is unable to go along with it because of his principles. As a result, Mr. Burns compliments him and gives him the job anyway, which prompts Homer to go outside and tell everybody that he is going to be the safety inspector. This confuses me, because what exactly changed between the two times Homer went out to the balcony? Nothing really. So why couldn’t Homer just say his speech the first time he went out there? I feel like for this moment, you really have to examine the syntax of what the two were talking about. And as far as my interpretation goes; the first time Homer went out, he was just supposed to say the plant was safe with no context, in Mr. Burn’s interest of sending everyone away and stopping the protest. However, the second time he goes out, he says that he will taking the job and trying to make the plant safe on the inside, which is much different than the original intent of sweeping the problem under the rug. However, if Homer said that speech the first time, would Mr. Burns not give him the job? I mean, either way, it was a win-win. I think it makes sense from looking at it from the perspective I mentioned, but truth be told, that did have me confused for the longest time and I think it could have been written a little better.

And surely I can’t overlook the giant boulder in the room when it comes to the “attempted suicide” scene. I’m not going to speak ill of this moment, because again, I get what the writers were going for, and truth be told, I think they handled it very well. Homer was depressed, he couldn’t provide for his family, he had no skills to work with or any alcohol to help him cope with the pain; so he felt like he was only getting in the way of his family, and therefore felt useless and not important at all, which is why he made that decision. I can’t imagine how that must feel for someone or anyone going through those types of thoughts, which is why it was refreshing to see Homer discover his life’s purpose at the end of that scene, but I think it was good for the writers to spread that kind of awareness and the message that suicide is not the answer. And considering the extreme nature of this topic, it’s just really interesting to see them deliver that message so early in the series and they did it with only a two minute scene, as opposed to an entire episode. It’s also interesting, especially when looking at how Homer would cope with a problem like this in future episodes, just seeing how sudden and how out of left field this scene came from. These days, Homer would come up with a kooky scheme or crazy project to get his mind off and away from the power plant, but this time, it really hit him hard and in a way that most people probably wouldn’t see coming from him. I guess that goes to show you how much this show has changed over the years, and on a more serious note, how serious and scary depression can be in general, and how it should never be overlooked or ignored.

Overall, I wouldn’t say this is a bad episode by any means. It has its nice and funny moments and it has some good messages throughout the plot as well. I feel like it could have been a much stronger episode if they spent a little less time on story-telling and a little more time on the jokes and humor. Again, not saying the show needs to be a joke-fest or anything, but a nice balance of story-telling and jokes is a good way to keep your viewers interested and invested. I think that’s all I have to say about this episode, so as I’m closing this out, just try to remember what Homer Simpson taught us about being safe. He may no longer be our safety watchdog, but we have to remember that even though he is gone, “there is always a little Homer Simpson in all of us.”

———————————————-

This episode took me a bit longer to make because I was trying a slightly new format with these posts, but at the end of me finishing my rough draft, I realized there was way more information and writing than I really even wanted, so I spent an entire day re-editing and modifying this document to get it in the format I wanted before I realized that I was more happy with the usual format I’ve been doing for these posts. I guess it’s just a case of, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But seriously, as usual, any insight or advice is helpful, so don’t be afraid to tweet at me or send me a message if you have some thoughts. Thanks everybody! See you next week for the next episode!

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The Simpsons: Road Rage

The Simpsons: Road Rage

Game: The Simpsons: Road Rage
Start Date: September 22nd, 2012
Runtime: 5 hours
Videos: 24

Mr. Burns is once again up to no good when he becomes the owner of the town’s transit system, with his buses powered by nothing but pure radiation. In response, Homer starts his own taxi service and before long, all of Springfield is now supporting the cause to put Mr. Burns out of business!

I had gotten numerous requests to do The Simpsons Game and this game as Let’s Play projects, and when I saw this game just sitting in my library, realizing that it had been a long time since The Simpsons: Hit and Run, I figured it was time to play this game for the viewers. Not only did I play every stage and play every character, but I also covered the “Mission” mode as well and showed off a few holiday themed characters.

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The Simpsons: Hit & Run

The Simpsons: Hit & Run

Game: The Simpsons: Hit & Run
Start Date: August 31st, 2009 (Replay: July 7th, 2018)
End Date: October 15th, 2009 (Replay: — )
Videos: 46 (Replay: — )

In the town of Springfield, the citizens can’t seem to go a single day without some kind of chaos starting, and the effects only seem to multiply when the introduction of Buzz Cola is sweeping the town off its feet. What starts as a Black Van conspiracy turns into other crazy developments, and the Simpson family, once again, seems to be at the center of all of this. You won’t believe what will start to unfold in this crazy game!

This project is widely regarded and recognized as one of my best, and I can understand why. This game is a classic gem that I wish would be universally seen as the masterpiece that it is, and I feel that there are many gamers out there who feel the same way. Combine a good game with the comedy styling of The Simpsons, and you have a title you will be remembering for a VERY long time!

This was the third “replay” project I did on my channel, as I had done some videos for the game at a prior date, but due to the bad (camcorder) quality of the project, with no commentary to boot, I decided to redo the project with a modern spin in 2009. The older 2007 videos are no longer available on my channel. In 2018, I decided to redo this project again to celebrate my 11th year anniversary. Both projects are listed below with the replay above the original version.


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