(originally aired April 30, 2000)
I think at some point, John Swartzwelder noticed the decline of the series or he himself lost interest, and just began punking his fellow writers, and then nobody got the joke. The man responsible for some of the greatest episodes of the series’ prime now has his name attached to some of the worst of these later years. Now either the scripts got completely botched in the rewrites (of which Swartzwelder is not present), or he’s just fucking with us. I kinda feel it to be both; you flip through some of his novellas and you know that not only is he still hysterical, but he is quite partial to over-the-top silliness. So basically I’m not entirely sure who to point the blame for some of these episodes, particularly this one, definitely one of the worst of the entire series. Messy, uninspired, derivative, directionless… I could throw about more negative adjectives, or I could just give you a plot synopsis. I don’t even need to critique that much; just read this shit. It speaks for itself.
Homer is shocked after taking a magazine quiz revealing he only has three more years to live. It’s basically the beginning of “Wizard of Evergreen Terrace,” but worse, where we have him become a sleep-deprived insane wreck. A lot of times Homer has acted like a mental patient, but here where he actually is one, it’s just as not funny. The plant psychiatrist suggests he take a sabbatical, and soon the family is off to sunny Florida to get some rest. Unfortunately they’ve arrived during a rowdy spring break bash. Despite him being completely incapacitated prior, Homer is now an insane wannabe party animal, acting as boorish and obnoxious as possible. There’s also a runner of him trying to look cool to today’s youth, another plot string that’s been lifted from a previous episode. When spring break ends, Homer tries to keep the party going and drags his family along with him, but ends up mowing down the beloved town mascot, Captain Jack the gator. Now the family is on the run from the law, and holy shit, we’re not even to act three yet…
So more crazy shit happens… they work at a diner in the middle of bumfuck nowhere, they’re caught and put in a chain gang, end up catering at a fancy high class party for some reason, then try to escape and fail, then the gator’s alive again and they can go. Whatever. What a fucking travesty of an episode. There’s just so much shit in here that makes so little sense it’s frustrating. Why would Homer want to tackle a lost child? Why would the entire family fall asleep while their goddamn car is being pushed by a train? Why does the family become a bunch of hicks for some reason? Why be so complicit with Homer after he’s basically ruined everything? As you may have guessed, there’s no concurrent theme here; it’s like they had four stories lying around and just pieced them together. They attempt to justify that Homer’s exhaustion from partying and subsequent passing out cured his insomnia, but it’s done so haphazardly. This episode doesn’t care about its own rules, or logic, or proper characterization, or humor. It’s just a bunch of stuff that happens, but done in the least coherent and least funny way possible. A true landmark of awfulness for the series.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer’s a swell guy right off the bat giving Flanders a ‘sex test’ and belittling him for all the crying he did. Apparently he forgot that his wife died (“Six months ago. You were at the funeral. You fell into the grave!” “Oh, yeah. I saw a gopher. What a day!”) Fuck Homer.
– I did smirk at the ridiculous set-up for one of Homer’s quizzes (“There’s a black widow at the door, a rattlesnake in the window, and a scorpion on the phone…”)
– Why would Marge recoil in horror after checking Homer’s life expectancy quiz? She shouldn’t be giving it any credence at all.
– More useless guest stars to add to the pile. Was having Charlie Rose and Robert Evans on the show really necessary?
– If nothing else (and really, there is nothing else), this episode gave me the moniker of Florida being “America’s Wang,” which has come in handy since I’ve moved here.
– Do the writers realize when they’ve turned Homer into an asshole, and how it’s really kind of worrying? Act one ends with him helping some rowdy teens flip the car with his wife and children, including an infant, inside. They could have been really hurt. But oh that wacky Homer, so fuuunnnnnyyy…
– I don’t mind Kid Rock and Joe C., they fit perfectly into spring break. It’s just they have no material written for them. They’re just reacting to Homer’s moronic escapades. Homer’s just this comedy imp now, just appearing on stage for no reason to get drunk, then takes the mike and plays for the crowd. Just a drunken idiot raving like a lunatic. That’s our lovable protagonist.
– I did like the bit of Homer attempting to drive without a license, and being surprised that the engine was able to start.
– So the car jumps over the railroad tracks, and stops. We see the car has stopped in frame and it’s still on road. Cut back to the sheriff. Then cut back to the car, which is now on another set of tracks. Fucking lazy. What is happening? And once more, why would the family just fall asleep? Even for Homer this is a stretch. And the conductor wouldn’t have stopped after hitting a vehicle with people inside, let alone wait for many, many hours to do something about it? Fucking bullshit.
– I really don’t even feel like talking about this episode anymore… I can’t really dissect or explain what the hell happens in act three, because it really is just whatever the writers could pull out of their ass. Like there’s this diner literally in the middle of the swamp, that can afford four new employees, and the owner lets them sleep in her trailer. Then they get caught and are sent to prison for a relatively minor misdemeanor. People run down gators all the time. The fact that it was the town mascot, maybe that’s a bit more severe, but still, a jail sentence seems so harsh. And Bart, Lisa and Maggie are in the chain gang! What?! Actually, I did like this exchange (“No listening. You hear me?” “Uh, no.” “You just don’t learn, do you?”) Then later when the family tries to escape, whip guy whips the door shut then whips over a torch creating a ring of fire around them. And the family applauds him for no fucking reason. Then Jack is okay and they’re banned from Florida, and apparently every other state but two, in a fucking stupid ending to a fucking atrocious fucking show. …fuck.