(originally aired December 14, 2003)
I still remain bewildered as to why the writers seem content in writing Homer as an asshole. But it’s not even like his character is consistently dicky, from scene to scene he can run the gambit of being insensitive, callous, ignorant, infantile… now, these are traits that classic Homer also inhabits, but the key difference here is the lack of a human soul. Homer may fuck shit up at home, or allow horrible things to happen due to his inattentiveness, but he’ll work tooth and nail to get it fixed for the good of his family. He may go about it the entirely incorrect way, but his heart is always in the right place, fueled by his love for his wife and kids. Look no further than the very first episode “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire,” where we see Homer do everything within his power to provide a perfect Christmas for his family. That Homer is long dead, as now we have selfish Homer, who upon falling into a bunch of money, splurges it on an extravagant, worthless gift for himself. When Lisa asks why he did it, he responds, “If I’m happy, I’m less abusive to the rest of you!” He’s less of a patriarch and more like the family’s jerkoff housemate at this point.
An iteration of “A Christmas Carol” convinces Homer to change his selfish ways, so he vows to be the nicest guy in town, doing good deeds everywhere he can, which sparks some jealous from Flanders. So, basically it’s a low rent version of “Homer Loves Flanders.” None of Homer’s actions feel genuine whatsoever, it seems it’s more of obligation to save his own ass from scorn. He engages dueling collection plates at mass with Flanders, collecting a much bigger till, and has the smuggest fucking look on his face when he walks off arms crossed with Lovejoy. This couldn’t pale more in comparison; Homer unintentionally stealing Flanders’ thunder and it slowly eating away at him is much more interesting than this. Here, Homer is Mr. Wonderful and succeeds at all his charitable efforts because the story demands it, even going so far as building a fucking ice rink in his backyard. Homer had two dollars to spend on a Christmas tree, now he has the money to build that?
There’s really not much story to be had, as a lot of this show is filled with TV parodies and lengthening music montages, none of which are particularly funny. As a final charitable effort, Flanders gets gifts for everyone in town, and misconstruing Lisa’s words, Homer decides to steal all the gifts so the people can enjoy a non-commerical Christmas, basically just an excuse for them to do a Grinch parody. So despite having committed hundreds of burglaries, Homer gets off scot-free in the end of course. The town is out for his blood, Flanders defends him, claiming he’s partially responsible, which I’ll buy because he’s Flanders, then Homer distracts the crowd with a bright shining star in the sky, Flanders reads from the Bible, they get their presents back, and that’s the end. I really don’t understand the ending. Or most of the episode, for that matter. Homer was once a character you truly cared about, who felt real and you hoped would succeed. Then he started to do stupid, reckless shit and you started to hate him. But now we’re at the point where a lot of what he does just plain confuses me. He’s just this anything-goes character they can have do whatever they need for whatever scene. But none of this is new information. At some point these reviews are going to become somewhat redundant, because all this shit’s going to start running together.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Comic Book Guy dumping out his entire register for the Joe DiMaggio card is not nearly as funny as the backpedaling of his excitement about Mrs. Prince’s box of priceless Star Wars memorabilia from “Worst Episode Ever.”
– Lots of claymation in this episode, with the Jimmy Stewart Xmas special and the California Prunes commercial. The ending of lifting prune baby Jesus in the air, complete with cool shades reaching towards the heavens made me smile.
– You really don’t like Homer for his actions in act one, don’t believe his strive for redemption in act two, and are just flabbergasted by his criminal behavior in act three. In the end, I’m just left very confused.
– Instead of her star suit, Maggie is wearing a white jumper with a little ear nub, sort of like Bongo the rabbit from Life in Hell.
– Homer is swayed by Mr. McGrew’s Christmas Carol, where they basically just do Mr. Magoo straight, with no subversion or twist. And we spend a while on Homer watching the thing, it all feels like time killing. I like the Star Trek version of an Xmas Carol though (“Mr. Scott, fire photon torpedoes!” “It’s no use, captain! He’s showing visions of me future! God, I’m so fat!”)
– Homer gets Lenny a photo cube with rounded off corners, then proceeds to jab his eye with it repeatedly, because I guess now, eye injury is a “thing” with Lenny.
– The only laugh I got from the episode was the retouched photo of Homer used on the news, of him looking like a maniac lunging at Marge and Lisa, with a bouquet of flowers in his clasped hands. Now that I look at it again, I guess they blurred out Bart where he’s strangling, but I always envisioned that he was holding a knife or a gun or something.
– Another joke about Nelson missing his father. And another joke about Moe committing suicide. Any topic can be made funny, but the show really misses the mark when it comes to these two topics. The former is presented as far too sad, and the latter plays off the serious subject so callously that it’s almost offensive. Merry Christmas, everybody.