(originally aired January 24, 1991)
NOTE: During the past week I was visiting my hometown in New Jersey. However, that did not hinder my Simpsons obligations. I managed to burn through six episodes with two very good friends of mine, and together we recorded brief, five-minute commentaries for them. They’re quite rambling, misguided, and mostly disposable, but hey, they’re only five minutes, and if you’re reading this, chances are your time isn’t that valuable to begin with.
These audio reviews will also be an excuse for me to write less. A bit of a cop out, but hey, I got four hundred episodes more, so cut me a break.
“Blowfish” is truly a tragic comedy, an episode that deals with the most serious of issues, in a main character’s mortality, never shys away from the premise, but still manages to get some laughs out of the premise. We begin with the Simpsons’ visit to a new sushi restaurant in a time when eating raw fish was a new and scary thing for the American populous. It is there that Homer ingests, amongst most everything else, fugu blowfish, which contains a poisonous toxin, giving him 24 hours to live. The show manages to keep tension not with foolishly messing with the audience about Homer’s imminent death, but in the worriment of Homer and Marge over the situation.
Comedy continues to shine through the dour plot, as Homer runs through his last wishes during his last day. He teaches Bart some valuable life lessons and phrases (“Cover for me,” “It was like that when I got here”), sits in on Lisa playing the sax, and records a postmortem video for little Maggie. With the latter, he borrows a camcorder from Flanders, and devilishly agrees to attend his barbecue the following day; not even death will stop Homer from being an asshole to his neighbor-eeno. The show has its cake and eats it too best when Homer makes a tearful amends with his father, but grows weary of him taking up too much time during his final day. And of course “I like your sheets.” As the show ends, Homer, of course, is not dead, and continues to live exactly as he did before: we see him eating salty snacks and watching mind-numbing bowling on TV. Homer is a simple man who appears to have learned nothing from his near-death experience, but we love him all the same for it.
Tidbits and Quotes
– I love Homer’s rampant stubbornness toward Lisa at the beginning; when she mentions how she’s always been told to be open-minded and try new things, Homer shoots back, “What are you talking about? Nobody’s trying to teach you that!”
– Great work by George Takei as the waiter Akira. Hank Azaria would later take over the role, doing a mighty fine Takei impression.
– First instance of depicting Mrs. Krabappel’s… sensual exploits. Ironic as I was talking with my friend Brad about the silly “Nedna” stunt from last season, and how it didn’t seem like those two were compatible.
– Despite Homer’s insistence against, he ends up loving sushi and eats everything. Then he’s going to die. The lesson here is never try new things. (“‘Try something new, Homer! What’ll it hurt you, Homer?’ I never heard of a poison pork chop!”)
– So many sweet bits in the show, but I love when Homer innocently asks Marge what she refers to their lovemaking as. That bedroom scene may be one of the most heartfelt moments in the entire series, but of course, it is immediately followed to Homer being shocked and furious that Marge let him sleep in (“You looked so peaceful lying there.” “There’ll be plenty of time for that!!”)
– Also first look at Burns’ antiquated form of ogling (“That’s it, baby. Work those ankles!”) I love Smithers’ follow-up “Ring-a-ding-ding, sir.”
– I like the inane chatter of the bowling announcers during the credits. It takes real skill to make something sound that boring, but still be funny.