(originally aired April 7, 2002)
While “Blame It On Lisa” got all the controversy, FOX executives were much more worried about this episode featuring Homer using medical marijuana. They were very dodgy at what they could and could not do, especially on the point that they couldn’t actually show Homer actually smoking, so I guess it wouldn’t be teaching kids exactly how to do it. The episode kind of talks about the benefits of medicinal weed and the legalization of the drug; there are several different interesting avenues this show could have gone down regarding this topic. Not that I’m expecting any meaty, serious discussion on the matter, just an comedic perspective on the issue. Or we could just have Homer become a stereotypical stoner and make jokes off of that. A big chunk of this episode is basically the most hacky hack material one could write for a stoner character, and it couldn’t feel more lazy. Add on a truly bizarre third act that serves only to make the parody title make sense and you get a very strange episode.
Following our first act wherein Homer gets his eyes viciously attacked by crows, Dr. Hibbert prescribes him medical marijuana to cure what ails him. After some brief hesitation, Homer eventually tokes up and spends the entire second act high as a kite, with his pupils doubled in size and a permanently glazed look in his eyes. What shenanigans does he get up to? Listening to Lisa’s saxophone for hours, laughing at everything, watching the Three Stooges in the attic with fellow pothead Otto, it’s the easiest material you can possibly come up with. And it all just feels so removed from Homer, I began to stop thinking him as himself for the second half of the act, which would have worked as the point if the rest of the episode was truly focused on him going cold turkey and sticking with it. Homer springs into action when anti-marijuana legislation threatens to harsh his mellow, so he arranges a pot rally. And he got Phish to play at the benefit! How? Doesn’t matter. But here’s the kicker. Turns out the vote for the proposition was the day before! They were so stoned they forgot what day it was! What a hilarious twist! Of all the hacky, pathetic shit this episode, hell, this season, this is the most uninspired comedic “twist” I’ve ever seen. The lack of originality is staggering.
So with pot banned, Homer is stuck living clean and sober, relenting to Marge in promising the kids he’ll never do drugs again. There’s a disheartening undercurrent here though, similar to “Jaws Wired Shut,” where people yearn for the status quo for reasons that even they can’t justify (Lisa comments, “I want the old Dad back, the one who was yelling all the time, and… you know, I’m not really sure what I want…”) He may have been dodgy and slightly off, but stoned Homer is a lot more bearable than wild, out-of-control regular Homer. But anyway, his penchant for laughing at everything got him promoted by Burns, who needs someone to yuck it up at all his zingers during his upcoming investor’s meeting. However, without dope, Homer is unable to laugh on cue, and unable to smoke the stuff, he has Smithers do it instead. But the two lose track of time while Burns is in the tub, and find the old man lifeless. And the investor’s meeting is in twenty minutes! What to do? Pull a Weekend at Bernie’s, and have Smithers work a super complicated marionette routine with Burns’ corpse, which for some reason works flawlessly, and revives Burns in the end. Even though it’s set up in act two, the ending is so jarringly out of place; it has nothing to do with Homer redeeming himself in any way. But, whatever, I should be used to this shit making no sense by now. So yeah, uninspired and clumsy, and for a show about such a risque topic, it sure did play it safe.
Tidbits and Quotes
– As if marijuana wasn’t enough, the beginning of the show takes on genetically modified foods. With the joke being that the food has become sentient. Not bad, but it’s a joke that takes three times the length as it really should.
– The Pop-Up video stuff with all of the old Simpsons artifacts is kind of clever. Not to be detrimental, but that’s as high praise as I can give it.
– Homer and the crows is kind of bizarre. The only thing I like is this exchange with Marge (“I’m very uncomfortable having a gang of crows in our bedroom.” “It’s a murder, honey. A group of crows is called a ‘murder‘”)
– We get a flashback to Homer’s traumatic experience with pot. Hiding a toke from the cops in his underwear, a police dog sniffs it and bites his groin, whipping him back and forth. Hysterical.
– I like Lisa commenting the smoked up house smells like the art teacher’s office.
– Homer is slightly cruel to Lisa making her play until the wee hours of the morning, but at least he’s paying her. Better than when he forced her to cut lemons for his garage bar that he didn’t even use. Again, I’d much rather have stoned Homer than insane regular Homer.
– We have more strangely out-of-character Burns in this show. He self-admittedly pissed away $60 million? On what? Why? He’s a responsible business mogul, how does that happen? And he’s so concerned about his jokes going over big, where’s the heartless, humorless miser? Burns is now almost adorable, where he was once a compelling antagonist.
– The only Homer stoner line I laughed at was this bit (“I got news for you! I just got promoted and it’s all thanks to Yes-I-Cannabis! …we have a kitchen?!”)
– Phish is basically another in the long list of expendable guest stars, but I do enjoy their music, so I got no beef with them. And I like the guy initially misreading “pothead” in introducing Homer on stage.
– The police start a marijuana bonfire after the banning, but inadvertently creates an alluring smoke. They dump some barber hair on top to mask it. At home, Homer bemoans the situation (“I could have smoked that pot! And worn that hair!”)
– The scene at Moe’s, the bit at the dinner table, it’s obvious that the writers really had no material for Homer going cold turkey, so I guess that’s why they fell back on the Burns thing. I guess it’s like Homer having to brave through a situation without using drugs… except not, because Smithers came up with the Burns dummy idea. And do I even need to comment on how the Burns dummy rig makes no sense and how no way in hell Smithers could pull that off? But as ridiculous as it was, I do like Homer very nonchalantly pushing Burns’ head behind the curtain and playing him off Elvis-style (“Mr. Burns has left the building!”)