(originally aired January 22, 1995)
We had an episode about Bart’s birth and its effects on Homer and Marge. Then one of Lisa’s. Now we get up to Maggie. And for the second time in one of these flashback shows, family story time comes as a result of the television being turned off. Homer semi-reluctantly spins the tale of how when he became completely out of debt, he quit his job at the plant and started work at his beloved Bowl-O-Rama as a pin jockey. Meanwhile, Marge finds she’s pregnant once more, but is hesitant to tell her husband. Any time we see Homer actually content with his life, it’s a pleasure, and here it’s ramped up even further where he crows that his life is perfect the way it is exactly, only to give Marge further delay to give him the news.
Basically all of the flashback shows really hinged on the emotional aspect of the stories: Homer and Marge finding love, the birth of two beautiful children. This is the first that really goes more for the laughs, with Homer’s love affair with the bowling alley, Patty and Selma’s desire to ruin his life, countered only that Homer is the thickest, most oblivious person on the planet. It’s almost like a more comedic version of “I Married Marge,” where Homer’s perfect man child life is disturbed by another unexpected pregnancy. It’s all pretty jokey up until the very end where Homer once again must sacrifice his dreams for his family, literally crawling back to a life of joyless servitude at the power plant. Things take a turn for sweet at the end when Homer’s mountain of woe crumbles at the mere touch of his newborn baby girl, turning him into a cooing father. Homer sheepishly waving hello to a minute old Maggie is one of the sweetest moments of the entire series, followed of course by the hilarious bit where he mistakes her umbilical cord for a penis (“It’s a boy… and what a boy!”)
I always love these flashback episodes because it shines light on how our characters came to be and the decisions and sacrifices they made to be where they are now. This one is a bit different; only taking place a year or two before the present, it feels a lot more like a normal episode, since everything looks the same (save Homer’s one extra hair.) The theme of Homer’s doing right for his family is there, but as mentioned, it’s treading familiar flashback ground. This episode is largely for laughs, with lots of crazy Homer antics and obliviousness. But at its center is Homer’s eternal love toward Maggie. In later years a lot of jokes would surface of Homer forgetting about his baby’s existence, which I don’t know if I care for considering this episode, and its super duper sweet ending. At the end of the day, Homer is a man who loves his children, and has sacrificed so much of his own happiness for their own good. He’s A-OK in my book.
Tidbits and Quotes
– I love Knightboat, which… I don’t really know if it’s so much a parody of Knight Rider as it is just a riff on it. I like how adamantly Homer shoots down Bart and Lisa’s complaints (“Quiet! I will not hear another word against the boat.”)
– I always like Homer (or sometimes Marge’s) opening monologues before the start of the flashback shows. This one is particularly great (“It was a tumultuous time for our nation: the clear beverage craze gave us all a reason to live. The information superhighway showed the average person what some nerd thinks about Star Trek. And the domestication of the dog continued unabated.”) It’s like he couldn’t come up with a third thing, so he threw that in randomly.
– This flashback show starts silly off the bat, opening with Homer’s fantasy retelling of how he saved the plant from terrorists. Also later when Bart messes with the memories and has his father’s head explode.
– Homer knows how to make an exit. After “trashing” Burns’ office, he uses his head like a bongo (Burns muses, “I should be resisting this, but I’m paralyzed with rage… and island rhythms.”) He rides a cart through the plant, still holding Burns, then tosses him off outside (“That’s for employing me for eight years!”) He drives across a small wooden bridge, and for good measure, lights it on fire.
– Making budget cuts, Homer announces they’ll be getting regular toilet paper instead of the fancy quilted kind. Bart is so upset about this he runs up and punches the wall.
– I like how Homer and Marge have a nice romantic moment on top of each other on the beach, but they’re semi-sensible adults now, so a little excess sand in their undergarments leads them to leave. But not before Homer shoves a bit more down his pants. Also great sequences with the glut of Homer sperm entering Marge’s lady parts, and the one lucky specimen to pierce the egg.
– Great sequence showcasing the wastefulness of Barney’s Bowl-O-Rama: all knocked down pins are carted off, where inside one large tree is shaved down to make a new pin to be put up for the next set.
– I like Bart’s sense of logic regarding the gender of the new baby (“You know nothing about genetics, Lis: it goes boy, girl, boy, girl.”)
– Great, great play on a classic convention: it seems that Patty and Selma have called every single person in the phone booth to blab about Marge’s pregnancy, but really only called Mr. Aaronson and Mr. Zykowski, the two biggest gossips in town.
– Classic runner with Homer’s consistent obliviousness toward people congratulating him on Marge’s pregnancy. The best, of course, is Moe’s blunt, “Hey Homer! Way to get Marge pregnant!” Homer blindly responds, “This is getting very abstract, but thank you: I do enjoy working at the bowling alley.” Of course it’s only when Maude congratulates Homer on his new job that it finally resonates with him that Marge is pregnant.
– Continuity police! Ruth Powers is at the baby shower but they hadn’t moved in until after Maggie was born. Also, they flashback to Homer’s reaction to Marge being pregnant with Bart in the Simpson house, but they hadn’t lived there yet. I sure how someone got fired for these blunders.
– I think Homer firing off shotgun rounds to arouse bowling interest is a bit too dumb, even for him, but I laugh every time (“My marketing plan attracted a record number of police and fire officials, but few stayed to bowl.“)
– Apparently Captain McAlister is a father. …yep. Never seen that kid ever again.
– There’s another real cute moment toward the end where Homer is lovingly fawning over his new baby, and Marge, exhausted from her birthing ordeal, gives a quiet sigh of contentment. Homer urges his wife, “Come on, Marge, show a little enthusiasm!”