272. Homer the Moe

(originally aired November 18, 2001)
My word, I thought “The Parent Rap” was bad, but at least it had some semblance of a story with a beginning and end. This episode has a completely unrelated opening and ending, all completely out of nowhere, and a middle filled with a bunch of random elements that are both dumb and make no sense. It’s perhaps the messiest show we’ve seen so far. Our opening features Bart digging a hole. Yep, that’s it. The family becomes increasingly worried about his behavior, then we get some bizarre Chinese satellite monitoring nonsense, and then it’s revealed that it was all a story Homer was telling at the bar (“Eventually, I become king of the Morlocks.”) Aside from the fact that none of it actually happened, this has got to be the oddest standalone first act, but honestly, I was more interested in finding out why Bart was digging that hole than I was with anything that happened in the rest of the episode. How did they come up with this? And why did they think it was funny, or made any sense at all as a story Homer would tell? Three minutes in and I’m already annoyed.

Moe finds he’s lost his vigor for his work and decides to take a sabbathical to his old college Swigmore University, and of course leaves Homer in charge of the bar. Now, Moe attending a bartending school works as a quick joke, but as it went on, it kind of bothered me more. I’m sure Moe never dreamed about being a bartender, and as such, he’s not a very good one. Instead he shows up at the college and is looked on as a valued student. Moe’s just some creepy sleazebag who opened his own shitty bar, now he’s some kind of campus hero. Moe’s professor informs him a renovation to his workplace may be in order. So Moe’s is torn down to make room for “m,” a bizarre post-post-modern club to cater to the most pretentious, high-minded and pompous. A joint that looks like it came with an incredibly high price tag, one I’m sure Moe had the funds to afford. Or wanted built in the first place. Homer and the others feel out of sorts in these new surroundings, and eventually have a falling out with Moe. This leads Homer to put up his own bar in his garage, as at this point he never goes to work anymore ever and can do such a thing.

After realizing he’s sold out, Moe goes to make amends with Homer, only to be surprised at him running a bar out of a residence. Homer counters that it’s actually a hunting club, and when Moe catches him that all clubs are required to actually go hunting, Homer insists he’s going to shoot a turkey the next day. So our ending involves Lisa and Moe trying to keep Homer from shooting a turkey. I have no fucking idea how we got to this point. I guess the writers felt like they wanted to do another Thanksgiving episode but couldn’t figure out a story around it, so they decided to cram it in here. But there’s literally two minutes of episode left and we’re completely off the rails with this random-ass ending. Then R.E.M. appears for some reason, and we get a beyond forced, attempting to be sentimental ending where Homer and Moe make up. The level of laziness has reached an all-time high with these last two episodes, it’s absolutely staggering. Perhaps once we wade through these Scully holdovers, the series will stabilize a little bit, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

Tidbits and Quotes
– “That’s odd. He’s outside, digging.” “Probably digging for drugs.” “There’s no drugs out there.” “No… of course not.” THIS IS LIKE THE THIRD FUCKING TIME THEY’VE DONE THIS JOKE. WRITERS, PLEASE STOP.
– I honestly don’t even know what to say about the hole plot. I’m almost curious to hear the commentary, but I don’t have this season’s DVD. But I’m sure they don’t address it at all, or mention it briefly and laugh about how stupid it is.
– I do like how Moe decides who runs his bar by way of a pissing contest (“Oh, don’t look so proud. That was wind-assisted.”) Also good is Homer’s lack of understanding of Moe’s business (“Hey, what are you doing? I gotta pay for that!” “No, Moe, you’ve got it all wrong. People buy beer from you.”)
– If I may do a quick compare and contrast, compare the first act break here to that of “Homer the Smithers,” both in which Homer is left in charge of a job he has no experience for. In “Smithers,” Homer is befuddled by his new responsibilities, and the one question he has time to ask Smithers, he doesn’t get an answer to: what to do in case of a fire? Then we see Burns’ office is on fire. Just his luck. In this episode, Moe is out the door two seconds before there’s a giant explosion. He goes back in to see the bar in ruins, and Homer very cavalierly says, “I thought you had to go.” In the days of old, misfortune and bad luck befall Homer, and he tries to sort it out in his own dim, stupid way. Nowadays, Homer causes his own messes, and either disregards them, or belittles those who call him out on it. Which of these two sounds better as our lovable protagonist?
– I like the saloon doors at Swigmore U, but the whole set piece still bothers me for my aforementioned reason. Also, what they did with Moe’s professor was really in poor taste. This show, especially the state it’s in now, is far too silly to pull off dark comedy, especially making as grim as someone dying of cancer drown themselves funny.
– Homer attempts to fix the skipping jukebox a la Fonzie by hitting it with his fist, and he ends up breaking the glass and bleeding profusely from his hand. Like, copious amounts of blood. This is one of the earliest instances of ridiculous and gross cartoonish violence being used in the series proper. When did this show start crossbreeding with the Treehouse of Horror segments?
– I feel the crazy ultra-hip bar could have been good fodder for jokes, but it just doesn’t work here. The only thing I care for is Moe’s explanation of the place (“It’s po-mo! …post-modern! …alright, weird for the sake of weird.”)
– So apparently Homer has the technical prowess to construct and program a working sentient robot. …okay.
– Being the great main character he is, we see that Homer is forcing his children to stay up until all hours of the night cleaning glasses and slicing lemons. Child abuse is funny!
– Homer somehow got in contact with R.E.M. and got them to perform in his garage. And they believed his dumb lie. Whatever, who cares, fuck you.
– This is a really small thing, but when Homer’s hunting his target, he does a really quick roll on the ground before getting back into his prepared stance. When did he get some nimble that he would do a roll like that? It’s just more sacrificing character traits in favor of whatever the fuck is happening in the scene, however stupid or ridiculous it may be.
– My God, I thought the “Three mistrials later” from “Children of a Lesser Clod” was bad. This makes that hand wave look brilliant. We have a still shot of Moe’s Tavern restored, with this voice-over (“How’d you get the bar back to normal so quickly, Moe?” “It’s a snap when you use certified contractors.” “Like the ones found in your local yellow pages?” “Exactly.”) Astounding. They didn’t even bother to write an ending explaining what happened, so they just threw this together at the last minute. Lazy, lazy, fucking lazy.

16 responses to “272. Homer the Moe

  1. Wah!!! Yep, the episodes are getting pretty sh*t. What a weird, weird episode. Thanks for nailing down in detail all the things that bothered me about this episode, but I couldn’t quite put into words.

  2. “This is a really small thing, but when Homer’s hunting his target, he does a really quick roll on the ground before getting back into his prepared stance. When did he get some nimble that he would do a roll like that? It’s just more sacrificing character traits in favor of whatever the fuck is happening in the scene, however stupid or ridiculous it may be.”

    Homer has shown dexterity before… see also Whacking Day kung fu homer.

    • Yeah, but at least there we are shown how psyched Homer is for Whacking Day and we can assume he’s been training for it a long while. Here, it’s totally random; Homer never wanted to hunt, it was just his stupid cover.

  3. Harvey Winder

    Hi, long time reader, first time poster. Love the work Mike. I can’t seem to get enough of watching and reading reviews of bad tv shows/films/video games (and in this case, a tv show that fell from greatness). I have watched the Redlettermedia Star Wars prequel deconstructions twice! (:/)

    I guess this is an odd time to start posting, but this is the first episode that I don’t think I have seen. I remember getting Sky tv (in the UK) around 1999 and the first series I watched straight off the production line was series 10. I remember enjoying it at the time (I was 14) and the subsequent series but I think the Tomacco episode was the first that really brought home what was happening (had happened) to this show. By the time series 13 rolled around (2002 in the UK) I had lost interest and watched it extremely sporadically from then on. Although I did not realise I gave up as early as episode 3.

    I remember my friends still loved it though and I feel thoroughly vindicated that they were the ones with no taste, rather than me being too picky!

  4. drewzuhoskydaily

    I LOVED the joke about Moe’s dirty TV set. I didn’t love the ending of the episode or the R.E.M. cameo. If Homer actually shot the hungry monster (turkey), the ending would have been better. The writing staff was PREA-CHY with the resolution.

  5. The hole plot at the beginning is odd. It wasn’t really funny, but when I reflected on it I decided I liked it. Granted, it’s pretty po-mo, but there’s a riskiness to that sort of humor that I don’t think you’d ever see in a more recent episode.

    • I think that as a joke it completely fails, but as a premise it’s actually really interesting. I hardly remembered this episode, so I went back and re-watched it, and I was excited to see where they were going before they just dropped everything.

      Also, is it just me, or is it really jarring when Bart shows up normal later in the episode?

  6. Here’s a fun game: Imagine any other show on television structuring an episode like a post-Classic Simpsons episode. I can’t even begin to wrap my brain around it.

  7. “When did this show start crossbreeding with the Treehouse of Horror segments?”

    My guess is, when they realized that South Park and Family Guy were getting away with this kind of shit and getting huge laughs for it, so they brazenly decided to copy their formula in order to “stay relevant”. The fact that such gratuitous gore doesn’t fit the tone of The Simpsons one iota seemed to escape the collective consciousness of the writers’ room.

    On a similar note, this is also the first episode where the word “penis” is spoken by a character, and explicit dick jokes show up in tons of subsequent episodes after the wall gets broken down here. Again, I cite South Park and Family Guy for setting the precedent for this kind of shock humor, and The Simpsons just followed along and flailed wildly at trying to be something they’re not.

  8. The commentary notes that the hole idea came from George Meyer. He just said “There should be a bit about Bart digging a hole,” and that’s it. It seems that even he ran out of steam after all those years.

  9. I’ll be honest, I did laugh pretty hard at the legless robot part. Yeah its completely random, doesn’t make any sense and it plays up more of Jerkass Homer’s mean traits but I still laughed at how pathetic the robot looked dragging itself down the street. Its the one memorable joke from this episode (Well also the ‘buy beer from you’ line).

  10. (Phone rings at Moe’s)
    Homer: (answering) “Yello?”
    Bart: “Uh, yeah, I’d like to speak to a Mr Tabooger, first name Ollie.”
    Homer: (excited) “Ooh, Bart! My first prank call! What do I do?”
    Bart: (already annoyed) “Just ask if anyone knows Ollie Tabooger!”
    Homer: “I don’t get it.”
    Bart: “Yell out ‘I’ll eat a booger’!”
    Homer: “What’s the gag?”
    Bart: “Oh, forget it…” (hangs up)

    Ehhhhh… not great. Plus it wasn’t even the first prank call Homer was directly involved in.

    I did like the “I won’t drink at Moe’s” bit, although of course it was almost immediately followed by the revelation that Homer was forcing the rest of his family to stay up and help run his “bar”. And his response when Lisa tells him that he’s not even using the lemons he’s making her cut up? (mock baby-talk) “She’s so sweepy, she doesn’t know what she’s saying!” Fucking bastard.

  11. “Whatever, who cares, fuck you”
    I believe I read somewhere that’s what they are planning on renaming the show to >.>

  12. The beginning with Bart digging an hole was not funny as a joke(why should it be so?), but it was really interesting.. one of the most interesting plot that I’ve seen among the post-classic seasons. And the writers fucked it up, for one of the worst and confused episodes ever. We’re only in season 13 and the level of incompetence is already shocking.

  13. Moe went to a bartending school because it was his dream?
    Moe’s dream was to be an actor. He was one of the ‘Little Rascals’, and “Pygmoelion” anyone? ugh, the writers don’t even care about their characters backstories anymore….

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