(originally aired November 5, 1992)
Homer’s only real contribution to the family is being the bread winner: despite him sleeping through most of the work day, he still brings home a paycheck to keep his family afloat, while meanwhile Marge takes care of pretty much everything else in the household. The idea of Marge getting a job and taking over Homer’s seemingly one purpose in life seems full of potential. However, this episode only hints at the relationship, not really making it its focus. More time is spent with Mr. Burns pining for Marge, which is an odd storyline, as well as a tacked B-story of Bart feigning sick to get out of tests. The episode begins, though, with the Simpson house listing, as in the entire left side is slowly sinking into the earth. Unable to pay the money to get it repaired, Marge takes an open position in the nuclear power plant, and ends up becoming the object of Mr. Burns’ affection.
I can’t tell if it’s me or the show, but there seemed to be a weird flow for most of the episode. We start with Homer and Marge talking about the retirement party for one of the employees, then we have a huge chunk of time spent with the house sinking, from gags involving it to Surly Joe giving Homer the figure to repair it. By the time we get to the party, I’d forgotten they had discussed it. Then in the second act when we get Marge working at the plant, we intercut with the B-story with Bart. We never see Marge’s struggles in working at a foreign environment (aside from one joke), or much of her and Homer’s interactions in the workplace, it seems like there’s a bunch of material they could have mined. Instead we have the “Boy Who Cried Wolf” plot, which has some amusing bits, but is pretty forgettable. The Mr. Burns story at the end works, I suppose, but its wrap-up felt very rushed, with Burns going soft-hearted and forgiving upon realizing that Homer has love for Marge too, then holding a romantic concert for the two. A sympathetic Burns, while very uncommon, almost makes sense here… but I dunno, I just wasn’t feeling it.
I feel like I’m shitting all over this episode… I think after five absolute gems, this one fell a bit short. There’s still a lot of great moments in this one though; I do love the idea of the house listing, which lends to some great animated bits of people and things sliding, like Homer angrily sitting on the couch, sliding to the end, spilling a bit of his drink and knocking the lamp off the end table. There’s foundation repairman Surly Joe, who is really anything but surly, but still agitates Homer to no end with his helpful advice and friendly candor. The retirement party is a great scene, with an excellent Citizen Kane parody, showing that it’s all about Monty Burns. Then of course there’s Tom Jones, who is such a great sport considering what they do to him over the course of the episode. It’s an enjoyable episode overall, but one I feel had more potential if the main plot had been streamlined a bit more.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Another great Troy McClure appearance hosting the video “The Half-Assed Approach to Foundation Repair” (which has a great cover of the title covering half of a donkey), in perhaps the only depiction of Troy actually being competent in one of his gigs. I could hear Phil Hartman narrate step-by-step on how to apply poly-vinyl foam insulation all day.
– Great little moment when Surly Joe puts a level on the almost 45-degree shelf, which falls and breaks immediately. Homer meekly asks, “Did you see the bubble?”
– I do like the scene of Lisa padding and embellishing Marge’s resume, to include ‘curator of large animals’ (on cue, a bulging hairy Homer walks in) and ‘worked for the Carter administration’ since Marge voted for him twice (Marge tells Lisa to keep hush about that).
– One of the most insane dream sequences is ever is Bart’s vision of Pierre and Marie Curie as giant monsters with laser eyes destroying a city. Quotable line is the poorly dubbed fleeing husband: “It’s the Curies! We must flee!”
– Homer’s advice to Marge on her first day is very helpful: “If something goes wrong at the plant, blame the guy who can’t speak English. Ah, Tibor, how many times have you saved my butt?” He later laments about those who have been promoted before him, including Tibor.
– The Bart B-story does have its fair share of jokes, like Grampa’s rattling off of old-timey diseases (and using a rectal thermometer on Bart), Krusty’s insanely loud and noisy secret word trigger that spooks the wolf (almost a la Pee-Wee’s Playhouse), and Willie’s consoling of the wolf after their big scrap (“Don’t feel bad for losing. I was wrestling wolves back when you were at your mother’s teat!”)
– The series of tubes sequence is beautifully animated, and has a great pay-off joke, with all the tubes being used by beavers to dam up the river.
– Marge’s suggestions for funny hat day and other themed days to boost moral is very true to her character, and gives us a great double-sequence of depressed employees before and after (the Angel of Death, now in propeller cap, wanders off to do his calling.)
– Classic sequence of Smithers’ dream of Burns flying through his bedroom window. As overt as this is about Smithers’ sexuality, it’s still not as glaring as gay jokes would later be toward him. He only has eyes for Burns; he’s the ultimate toady that has placed his boss on an idol-like pedestal.
– Poor Tom Jones, gassed, shackled and held at gun point: for some reason, even after all this, we still don’t see Smithers, or Burns, as complete monsters. And we laugh when Jones is hit over the head by a vertically closing trap door.
– Unbelievably disturbing line by Burns (“You don’t have to sue me to get my pants off,”) which is so out-of-character for him, but still funny because of it.
– Great brief appearance by Lionel Hutz, who swigs down some Scotch at 11:30am and runs off screaming from Burns’ crew of ten high-priced lawyers, leaving behind his suitcase full of shredded newspapers.
– I love Homer’s idea of giving Marge the time of her life: “Marge, we’re getting some drive-thru, then we’re doin’ it twice!”