(originally aired March 16, 2003)
Here’s an episode I barely remembered anything about, and after watching it, I see for good reason. It’s so aimless, with characters saying and doing things that don’t make sense; the plot shifts so much, I have no idea exactly what the show is supposed to be about. We begin with Homer making a big to-do about Valentine’s Day, only to find Marge is far too tired to do the deed with him (perhaps it was the relaxing bath and all the liquor he pumped her up with). From this, for some reason we get that Homer doesn’t think his wife finds him sexually attractive anymore, so he takes a stripping class at the learning annex taught by Dr. Hibbert. Confused yet? Don’t worry, a minute later, he ends up in a class about becoming successful, which is one of the only good things in the episode. The instructor is a loud, in-your-face self-made man hawking his seemingly helpful wares (“Friends, there’s a force that runs through the universe. We used to call that force God. We now call it… ‘Megatronics: The 48 Tips to Corporate Success’!”)
So Homer now vows to live more efficiently and follow the book’s code, for reasons that escape me. But let’s just say he wants to better his life, I can see him putting a modicum of effort into this. He performs a safety report, something as safety inspector he hasn’t done in years, and presents it to Mr. Burns, who coldly and predictably boots him from his office. Later, Homer sadly muses about how Burns is so ruthless and has no respect for him. No shit? You’ve worked for this man over a decade, this is something you’d think you’d have grown a callous over. So now the story is about getting revenge on Burns, but also tying into his get-up-and-go attitude, when Homer discovers that for ass-covering purposes, the power plant is actually owned in writing by a canary in Burns’ office. Homer frees the canary, gets Burns to think there are nuclear inspectors afoot, so Burns makes him the new plant head as a cover. Homer then fires Burns, taking over the plant for himself. We’ll get to all that in a sec, but I’ll say that I like Burns being impressed before he gets angry (“So, the caterpillar has emerged from its cocoon, as a shark with a gun for a mouth. I only have one thing to say to that: bravo.”) Then Homer throws the old man off the balcony. Hrm.
I can buy Homer wanting to improve his station at work, but falling his way into CEO and then staying there? Act three switches gears once more and becomes about Homer becoming a workaholic and not spending enough time with his family. Shots of Homer sitting at his desk mulling over papers just does not compute. What is he doing? Does he even know? It would make more sense if this act had Homer knowing he’s way over his head and working on a scheme to get Burns back in charge, ending with Homer realizing he bit off more than he could chew and wanting to go back to his lazy ways. Instead we wrap things up with more pathetic Burns where the miser attempts to seal Homer into his mausoleum, but over an entire night only gets four lines of bricks completed. At one point in this series Burns actually presented a threat to the Simpsons with his power and resources. Now he’s just a doddering old fool whom they pity; Homer just walks away and puts a blanket on the old man to placate him. Then everyone celebrates with a “Homer’s 305th Everything is Back to Normal BBQ,” which, like the counter in “Barting Over,” bothers me that this is the encapsulate of the series. Tune in next week on The Simpsons as that wacky Homer gets in another craaaaaazzzyyy scheme! TV off.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The “Strip For Your Wife” class is filled with a lot of familiar faces, like Legs and Louie, Superintendent Chalmers, Lou, Arnie Pye, Martin’s dad, one of the barflies… almost too many familiar faces. Also there is Mr. Largo, which seems to be an error, because he’s gay, right? I’m sure one of the recent episodes has made this transparent.
– “Successmanship 101” has most of the episode’s only good lines, from the instructor (“You see that car out there? That’s a Bentley Mark 12. They gave one to me, one to Steven Spielberg, then they shot the guy who made it.”)
– Marge’s “Woopdee-doo!” bit is really bizarre; I had the same awkward reaction as Bart and Lisa. Her callous reaction to Homer drowning his sorrows every night has this really sad undercurrent that the episode is not prepared, or frankly cares to address.
– “Wait’ll Burns steps on this flaming bag of… Lisa’s college fund?!” Yep, that’s dumb Homer!
– Not sure why they made it Burns dumping toxic waste under Lego Land when they could have made it Blocko Land.
– The bit with Flanders sitting at the window staring in the Simpson bedroom with his flowing pipe is so creepy… is that a reference to something?
– “Check and mate! Now king me!” is a pretty good line I use often.
– As the super-intelligent know-it-all as she is, Lisa alerts her father to the plant’s earnings report as she goes over the books. She’s eight fucking years old.
– Man, I really don’t have a lot to put here. Really, this episode’s biggest fault is that it’s completely innocuous and disposable, two words that I really wish I wouldn’t have to apply to a Simpsons episode.