(originally aired January 30, 2005)
Homer’s frequency to Moe’s is another one of those show staples that’s really dower when you think about it; this man liquoring himself up in a dank bar instead of spending time with his family. As a result, we see that Marge really harbors a disdain toward the place, and its proprietor Moe, who is by all accounts a miserable, misanthropic psychopath. This episode posits the idea that these two could have an emotional affair of sorts, which is a mighty big leap for these two personalities. How is the connection made? Well, it’s not; we’re just told that it is, and for latter-day Simpsons, saying something is happening instead of actually developing it logically is good enough. Moe’s is closed following a disastrous health inspection, and a crestfallen Homer offers to foot the cost of re-opening, taking out another mortgage on his house just as he had just paid off the previous one. Marge is incensed when she finds out, and decides to get involved in Moe’s business considering she’s technically co-owner. She and Moe completely renovate the place to be like an old time British pub? Why? I dunno. Where did they get the money for such a lavish renovation? I dunno. Do I care? Nah.
So yeah, the new tavern is a smash. Moe thanks Marge for her help, and that’s basically all the build-up we get out of their new relationship. Now they’re best of buddies (“I used to think of Moe as a scabby, dead-eyed hunchback, but now that I’ve gotten to know him, we’ve kind of bonded.”) I’d really like to know how or why this is, but the show can’t be bothered to explain. The bulk of the second half is focused on Homer’s worry that he’s losing his wife, a conceit that not only feels so tired at this point, but strikes so sour. Between digging himself further in debt after having just escaped it and telling his wife he hates her mother, Homer isn’t exactly very easy to root for. The clock is ticking when Marge and Moe leave for the Tavern and Restaurant Owner’s Convention in Aruba, where Moe intends to make his romantic move. Lisa comments as her mother leaves (“If Hollywood movies have taught us anything, it’s that troubled relationships can be completely patched up by a mad dash to the airport!”) The show specifically highlights one of the most tired cliches ever… and then does it, and plays it completely straight. Gone are the days when the show would buck convention, now not only do they go by the numbers, they highlight it as if that makes it any better. It doesn’t.
Tidbits and Quotes
– The opening with the family at brunch is pretty empty, and ultimately reminded me of that fucking awful episode I saw last season, “Them, Robot,” which also featured a fancy brunch.
– I think this is the first episode where we see the leprechaun from “Treehouse of Horror XII” in a normal show, here appearing at Moe’s “funeral.” Somehow he just entered into the regular universe, like all of a sudden this leprechaun is real.
– More lazy, uninspired gay material with the bar “The League of Extra-Horny Gentlemen.” The She-She Lounge, this ain’t.
– I’ve spoken of the tarnishing of Moe’s character, and he’s effectively dead at this point. I didn’t mind them showing a more vulnerable side to him as we’ve seen in “Dumbbell Indemnity” and “Moe Baby Blues,” but they’ve just pushed it way, way too far, making him the loneliest, saddest man on the planet, a pathetic troll who’s had his number blocked by the suicide hotline and sleeps in a pink bathrobe and curlers. Then they try to keep him an asshole at times and it’s like dealing with two completely different characters. You can’t have your characters change and still stay the same, it doesn’t work that way.
– The writers reveal an awareness to the web community by having Homer feign ignorance to Marge to get out of taking care of the kids, identifying himself with a specific moniker (“How many magic beans should I sell the baby for? Three? Duhhh, duhhh, that’s me, Jerkass Homer!”) It’s especially insulting in that they have seemingly read the complaints, but don’t understand what “Jerkass Homer” means. It’s not Homer being a brain dead idiot, it’s him being an inconsiderate, needlessly reckless asshole. It’s not that hard to discern.
– We get an all-CG DreamWorks parody trailer “Cards,” which mocks the studio’s penchant for pop culture references and stunt casting, i.e.: Jack Nicholson as the jack of diamonds. It’s alright, mostly just neat to see another animation style on the show, but it’s also another instance of pot calling the kettle black; poking at DreamWorks for its lame jokes and empty cultural references when this show is basically doing much of the same.
– Lenny and Carl pep talk Homer at Itchy & Scratchy Land, which makes no sense given the long cross country trip it took the Simpsons to get there last time. We also get a ghastly joke where Homer inadvertently causes a ride vehicle to crash, potentially killing a young boy’s father.
– Each episode is at least worth one or two chuckles in a silent twenty minutes, but I smirked at Homer’s paranoid mind turning the bird in the cuckoo clock into Moe (“Cuckold! Cuckold!” “What’s a cockold?”)
– This is another episode where the plot just keeps going up until the end and nothing is resolved. What will become of Moe’s now? What about he and Homer’s relationship? Surely it must be strained considering his attempts to steal his wife from him. Nope, the reset button solves everything. This mentality is exemplified perfectly by the end bit involving the Simpson kids inexplicably contending in a hot air balloon race in Paris. Lisa asks if this is alright, to which Bart replies, “Sure, why not!” I imagine the writer’s room is no different (“Hey, let’s do this incredibly stupid and random joke!” “Sure, why not!”)