(originally aired May 9, 2004)
I feel like so much more can be done with these flashback shows. These characters have all lived rich full lives on their own, there’s so many avenues you can explore of seeing how their personalities grew and what events changed them. But because that’s too hard, now in every flashback we see that everybody knew everybody as a kid. This might as well be Simpsons Babies. This show takes that lazy concept to the nth degree as it’s revealed that Homer and Marge had their first kiss as kids without even realizing it. But let’s get the bare basics of the story out of the way first. Homer and Marge both retell their stories from their point of view: li’l Homer gets dumped off at camp by his father, only to be put to work at the kitchen of the girl’s cabins. Li’l Marge is there to learn proper etiquette and lady-like decorum. The two “meet” when Homer retrieves Marge’s retainer through the tray return, and they agree to meet each other for a date without seeing one another. Mishaps lead to Homer wearing an eye patch and Marge being a brunette, but the sparks still fly regardless as the two youngsters share their first smooch.
I don’t like this idea. I really don’t. “The Way We Was” was perfect, where Homer first lays his eyes on Marge, he’s completely bowled over at this vision of beauty he’s never seen before. Social circles are weird like that, you go through high school and flip through your old yearbook and you see people you have no fucking idea were in your class. But in these new flashbacks, Homer has been friends with Lenny, Carl and Moe from the beginning, and Marge hangs out with the three female characters the series has. And now we see that the two met long, long before that fateful afternoon in detention. Great effort was made to obscure things so that neither would remember the other’s identity. Homer makes up a fake name to impress Marge, but on the flip side, why does he never ask her her name? That’s normally the first thing you’d ask a girl you like, right? There’s also this weird thing going on in insisting that Homer and Marge have never kissed or been with anyone else, which ultimately I have to agree with. Homer is a loser and Marge is a prude, I don’t think either of them had many relationships before they crossed paths.
Via some wacky happenings, Homer ends up trapped at fat camp, keeping him from his second date with Marge, leaving her crestfallen. Patty and Selma fuel the disappointed flames, leaving her disillusioned about boys. Homer manages to escape, but ends up being too late. This is a terrible memory Marge has harbored for a long time, and as she explains, one that won’t just up and go away. But, two things. One, she seems a bit too cold toward Homer about all of this; after hearing the explanation, she could at least express some relief, even if that doesn’t quell her years of repressed feelings, which nothing really could. And second, we’ve got a minute of screen time left, so like “Geek Wedding,” we have to remedy the situation fast. But at least here we see that a few days have passed, and that Homer is trying to make things right. So Homer produces Marge with a blast from the past: half of the special rock he gave her as kids. She still has the other, and two pieces become one… in more ways than one. Like “Simple Simpson,” this show’s got nothing on the holocaust of episodes last week, but ultimately is unremarkable and boring. It’s just so uninspired in these flashback shows that we have to see all familiar faces. When Homer arrives at fat camp, I could already guess Wiggum and Comic Book Guy would be there. It’s just too predictable.
Tidbits and Quotes
– A spin-the-bottle mishap causes Milhouse and Homer to kiss. Milhouse fawns for some reason over his first kiss, which of course it’s not (there’s an episode called “Bart’s Friend Falls in Love,”) and for some reason hangs around being a weirdo later on (“He’s the kind who kisses and leaves you!”)
– Moe gets some new characterization, in that he was abandoned by his parents at the camp and sleeps under their canoes. More sad, pathetic Moe; I’m fine with him being a little sympathetic, but they push things way too far.
– They do their best, but Marge’s voice is not easy to disguise. I’ll say Julie Kavner does a pretty good job making her voice higher and less scratchy for Li’l Marge, and Dan Castellaneta is as good as ever as Li’l Homer.
– Lenny gives Homer some “protection” for his date, a switchblade. He looks right at it and gets stabbed in the eye, which is why he has the eye patch. It’s a pretty loud stab, wouldn’t he need to go to the emergency room for something like that? I’m getting creeped out just thinking about it.
– Homer decides whether he should take a rowboat or swim to the girl’s camp (“Hmm… I guess it’s row vs. wade, and it’s my right to choose!”) What an unbelievably lame joke. It’s one of those things you hear and you can feel your brain throb out of annoyance.
– I think this show has had its fill with Katherine Hepburn parodies. We had the old beach biddies from “Catch ‘Em If You Can” and now here two shows later. Sure parodies of the actress date back to the amazing “Lisa’s Pony,” but they were a lot better written back then.
– Why does Helen Lovejoy have graying hair as a little kid? It’s like they just shrunk down some of these characters. Also Cookie Kwan is there too. I’m surprised they didn’t have Li’l Lindsey Naegle with a candy cell phone or some shit.
– The only bit of the show I really liked was Homer “inventing” the clever move of yawning and stretching to put his arm around Marge, but her misinterpreting it that she’s boring him.
– Walking no more than ten steps from where he had been sitting with Marge, Homer unwittingly falls down a incredibly steep cliff into the lake. Now he had just gotten to a shore there by boat, was the camp built on the steepest incline ever? Where is this gigantic cliff and why is it so close to a camp with a bunch of ten-year-olds who could easily fall down it like Homer did?
– Homer is stuck at fat camp… for some reason. Surely he wouldn’t appear on a camp roster, and surely they wouldn’t waste their time working him if they weren’t being paid for it. I guess they’re just a bunch of masochistic slave drivers.
– Homer cites the things he’s done that are far worse than the incident in the past: when he hid a gun from her (Scully show), suing the church (Jean show), ruining Lisa’s wedding in the future… huh? That never happened; can you imagine “Lisa’s Wedding” being done now, with insane, jerkass Homer doing some wacky antics at the wedding? It’s a small line, but it’s almost like rewriting the past to make it like Homer’s been this crazy asshole for the entire series. His character has changed dramatically, to the point where they literally feel like two different people, and that the writers don’t seem to address or acknowledge this is worrying to me.