278. Jaws Wired Shut

(originally aired January 27, 2002)
These reviews are getting harder and harder to kick off; at some point I might just forgo trying to come up with an opening statement and just jump into the episode. It’s not like there are any overarching themes or interesting character stuff to talk about, these shows are just a bunch of stuff that happens. Here’s how this one starts: the Simpsons watch a gay pride parade. Then they go to a movie. That’s it. There’s literally no connection between the two; they leave the parade and show up at the theater without even mentioning it. It may not seem like a big deal, but it just makes me feel like the two minutes I just watched was worthless since they couldn’t have been bothered to connect it. It’s almost like it was lifted from another episode. Also the parade stuff itself is so unfunny and makes no sense. First, I don’t know any parades that go down a residential street. Second, Homer’s behavior. At first he’s very enthused by the parade, even giving a “Woo-hoo!” but then we see that he’s kind of nervous and uncomfortable by the floats. Characters have changed drastically from scene to scene before, but I can’t remember them changing mid-scene. It’s like they’re not even paying attention, or caring. And look, I blew this whole paragraph on the first fucking two minutes of the episode.

Let’s skip to the plot. Homer makes a ruckus at the theater and is chased out by ushers. Now for some reason they continue chasing him even when they’ve gotten him out of the building, and Homer runs face-first into the fist of the newly christened statue of Drederick Tatum. His jaw busted, Homer must have it wired shut in order for it to heal, keeping him completely mute, and worst of all, unable to eat solid foods. Now, at this point I’m glad, because this looks to be an episode where Homer won’t be loud and screaming. Unable to speak, Homer ends up becoming a pretty good listener, much to the delight of the family. Marge even feels confident enough that they can go to the formal ball at the country club. Which they do, with people like Mr. Burns and the wealthy dowager there. What is this event? How did they get tickets? A past episode showed that the Simpsons were complete outsiders, financially and socially, from the high and mighty social elite at the country club, now all of a sudden they can get in with ease, and rub elbows with the elite. It’s like stuff like this doesn’t matter anymore, just whatever the story calls for, do it, regardless if it makes sense.

When Homer gets his wires removed, Marge fears he will revert back to his normal self, but he actually remains the same. They end up on a The View-style show somehow to talk about Homer’s transformation. Marge complains that old Homer was a complete glutton, and it’s not exactly addressed or explained why Homer doesn’t go back to eating a lot. But anyway, the weeks drag on and Marge finds herself completely bored without Homer causing some wacky, dangerous schemes for her to clean up. This whole conceit is very disturbing as it further clinches Homer’s new “character,” the reckless impulsive maniac as revealed in “Lost Our Lisa.” Here, we see he’s forgone entering the demolition derby. Why would Homer want to participate in the derby? Real Homer would be sitting on his ass, drinking beer, and whopping it up in the stands, not risking his life in the pit itself. So Marge enters the derby, wanting some excitement in her life, something she immediately regrets, and Homer has to save her by going back to his old reckless self! I guess. We end with Marge saying the family needs its live wire; of all the fucking things I’d call Homer, “live wire” is not one of them. Homer is a lazy, lazy, lazy man, not Captain Daredevil as the writers apparently think he is now.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The only good thing at the gay pride parade was this bit between the marchers and Lisa (“We’re here! We’re queer! Get used to it!” “You do this every year! We are used to it.” “Spoilsport!”) Then we have the bit with Smithers and Patty on a float hidden “in the closet.” The subtly for Smithers’ sexuality is basically gone at this point, but I guess Patty’s been officially outed. But what a total garbage way to do it. Go back to “Treehouse of Horror III,” where Homer runs naked through the kitchen, and Patty comments, “There goes the last lingering thread of my heterosexuality.” Classic.
– The movie jumble at the theater is pretty good (“Otm Shank. He is India’s answer to Brian Dennehy.”)
– I don’t know what to think about the Soccer Mummy trailer and the bit with him getting a boner. The joke is that this is a terrible gag from a bad movie… but the movie they’re presenting looks like a family film, since it’s about a downtrodden little kid (with an adult voice, for some reason) and this supernatural being who’s helping him achieve his dreams. So what’s a sex joke doing in there? Again, no thought put into this.
– Why do the ushers keep chasing Homer outside? I worked at a movie theater; believe me, no one gave that much of a shit. This show used to be a satire, and no fucking way a staff of unqualified teens is going to go above and beyond the call of duty like that. With giant Kit Kat batons. Hilarious.
– The “So Your Life Is Ruined” pamphlet is basically reused from “I Married Marge,” except it makes a whole lot more sense regarding a pregnancy than having ones jaw wired shut for a few weeks. And then there’s a conveniently labeled suicide machine in Hibbert’s office for some reason. Okay.
– The scene at the bar with Duffman is alright (“Newsweek said you died of liver failure.” “Duffman can never die, only the actors who play him!”) The quiz is so unbelievably stupid, but that’s kind of the point, so I don’t mind.
– Here’s a scene that bothers me: Homer listens to Lisa’s complaints. She talks about a tiff she had with Ralph playing four-square, and how he basically ignored the rules because he’s a moron. Considering how un-child-like smart the writers make Lisa, you’d think she’d know that he’s special needs and not get so upset, but whatever. What bothers me most is what Homer thinks when he hugs his daughter: “Maybe a hug will cork her cry-hole.” What an awful, awful thing to say. Er, think. There’s the classic line, “Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand,” which is a perfect Homer line that shows him being unintentionally offensive and misguided. Thinking “Maybe a hug will shut my daughter the fuck up” is different, it’s just mean.
– The only really funny line in the show comes from Grampa, following one of his long-winded stories (“Anyway, ‘long story short,’ is a phrase whose origins are complicated and rambling.”)
– We have Homer trying to tell Marge he’s horny, Moe on the phone with an escort wanting to be taken to “Orgasm-ville,” and Homer at the derby yelling, “Quit banging my wife!” These crass jokes just don’t belong on a show like this, and I guess they’re just trying to get laughs because of that fact. I guess.
– Homer and Marge go on “Afternoon Yak” to talk about Homer’s transformation. And they bring a clip with them. A clip of Homer making ostrich burgers, meaning he’s got ostriches in his backyard and he’s going to beat them to death to make burgers out of them. This bit kind of broke my brain; as if this show wasn’t further removed from reality, this shot it even more so. I can’t even be bothered to comment; who out there can tell me this bit, hell this episode, made any sense at all or was funny?
– Homer saves Marge a la Popeye, but at this point I don’t really care. Though there’s one exchange at the end that is so incredibly indicative of the writers’ outlook (“Isn’t it great to have the old Dad back?” “I thought you liked the new Dad.” “Whatever.”) There it is. If the writers can’t even be bothered to care about whether their show is good or makes sense, why should we?

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10 responses to “278. Jaws Wired Shut

  1. Guy Incognito

    Just remembered this is the episode with the “My son still wets the bed” thing. It’s been bugging me where that scene came from. Homer fights another Ostrich 9 seasons later, except 9 seasons later it’s longer than 7 seconds and is used as a lazy exuse for a plot resolvement.

  2. This is neither here nor there, as I can barely remember this episode. Just butting in that my town actually has major parades that go down residential streets during Mardi Gras. I’ve always thought how crap that must be to live there and have to schedule your lives around the parade schedule.

  3. The only part I actually laughed at was the “I’M HORNY” line followed immediately by the ”awww, I dunno what you said just now, but I’m sure it was sweet.” line by Marge. A bit obvious, immature, and silly, but the delivery and timing make it funny to me.

    I don’t think this episode is THAT bad — multiple people who play Duffman, eh? That’s pretty funny — but it seems like late Simpsons seasons would work better with an adult swim format.. you know, 11 minute episodes… they just don’t know how to end these damn things. The last act SUCKS.

  4. Yeah, I had forgotten about the ending to this one because as I was going through your review, I was thinking “Wow, this is shaping up to be a halfway decent episode!” I did enjoy the Afternoon Yak segment, with “I’m talkin’ DOWNtown!” But you’re right, everything after that point ruins everything the episode almost had going for it.

  5. I noticed the over-abundance of sex jokes when I first saw this episode, and I remember thinking “Holy cow, this show’s gotten raunchy. What the hell happened?” (The answer, as always, is South Park and Family Guy.)

    This one pisses me off for all the same reasons you mentioned. The Gay Pride Parade opening set piece that exists only to fill time (which I’m sure Al Jean and his staff probably threw together in an afternoon after the color screening because Jean has some sort of chronic inability to showrun an episode that’s longer than 19 minutes), the utter ridiculousness of everything that happens at the movie theater, and the notion that Marge loves Homer because he’s some sort of wacky insane troublemaker whose screw-ups she enjoys cleaning up after. This is not how The Simpsons is supposed to work.

  6. Pingback: The Glories and Vagaries of Blogging « Dead Homer Society

  7. I just don’t get why the voice actors go along with this. Do Julie Kavner and the others not care about the fans and their characters any more?

  8. – “There’s literally no connection between the two; they leave the parade and show up at the theater without even mentioning it.”
    The connection, loose as it is, is Homer feels uncomfortable with the Gay Pride Parade so he takes the family to the movies to avoid it.

    – “At first he’s very enthused by the parade, even giving a “Woo-hoo!” but then we see that he’s kind of nervous and uncomfortable by the floats.”
    Never got that, either. I’m guessing someone felt the need to ADR something over the shot of the parade and decided to add a stock “woo-hoo.”

    – “The subtly for Smithers’ sexuality is basically gone at this point”
    I always thought his official “outing” was in “Homer’s Phobia” when it’s all but said Smithers and John used to be a couple. I don’t think Smithers has ever explicitly been called or referred to himself as gay, but it’s pretty much confirmed. Personally, I preferred it when the only target of his affection was Mr. Burns, but those days are gone.

    – “but I guess Patty’s been officially outed”
    Not quite. That comes in season 16.

    – “I don’t know what to think about the Soccer Mummy trailer and the bit with him getting a boner. The joke is that this is a terrible gag from a bad movie… but the movie they’re presenting looks like a family film, since it’s about a downtrodden little kid (with an adult voice, for some reason) and this supernatural being who’s helping him achieve his dreams. So what’s a sex joke doing in there? Again, no thought put into this.”
    The live-action “Cat in the Hat” was a family film and had plenty of sex jokes. That was one of the reasons it sucked, but the point is they exist in family films.

    – “What bothers me most is what Homer thinks when he hugs his daughter: “Maybe a hug will cork her cry-hole.” What an awful, awful thing to say. Er, think. There’s the classic line, “Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand,” which is a perfect Homer line that shows him being unintentionally offensive and misguided. Thinking “Maybe a hug will shut my daughter the fuck up” is different, it’s just mean.”
    I never took the line that way. I just thought Homer was being really crude in how he wants to stop Lisa’s crying. Listen to the line, Homer sounds sympathetic rather than annoyed.

    – I actually really like this episode. I generally put it in the top 10 of the post-classic seasons. I guess things fall apart if you think about them too much, but for me the jokes in the episode saves it. It’s too bad, I was hoping this one would’ve made Mike feel better about watching the season.

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