(originally aired May 1, 2005)
In another inaccurate marketing gimmick, FOX billed this show as the 350th episode, touting its big name guest star Ray Romano. That stuff doesn’t really bother me at this point, but the show’s bizarre third act turn and yet another insultingly asinine conclusion does. A major thunderstorm causes the Simpson house to leak, and Homer is tasked to fix it. What’s amazing is how quickly and angry Marge gets at her husband (“I’ve let a lot of things slide, but when you can’t keep a roof over your family’s head, you’re just not much of a father!”) Considering the dozens of much more awful things Homer has done over the years, it seems random that this is what sets Marge off, but maybe it’s just all that bottled up rage coming out. Or whatever. Mainly it’s just to set the plot in motion: cast off by his family and his bar buddies, Homer ends up at a bar down the instate and meets Ray, a like-minded slob who also happens to be a roofer. He continues to make intermittent appearances to Homer, never committing to finishing the roof, but stranger than that is that no one else seems to see Ray but Homer. It isn’t long before the family becomes worried, and hauls him off to receive psychiatric care.
The third act involves Homer getting six weeks of electroshock therapy until he cops that Ray is imaginary. It’s just very weird and sad to watch a whimpering Homer getting strapped down and get prepped with electrodes over what we know must be a misunderstanding. They couldn’t look in a phone book or on the Internet to see if a Ray Magini actually exists? Moreover, it’s just an excuse to work over Castellaneta’s vocal chords, and for us to laugh because Homer getting shocked for no reason is funny, I guess. Of course, Ray shows up at the end, and we explain the reasons why nobody actually saw him. All well and good, yes, but how do you explain how nobody heard him? Most egregious is the bartender; he had an eye patch blocking Ray from his view, but Ray also had a beer and nachos, which he must have ordered from him. It makes the episode just feel like a big waste when you give an explanation this shoddy, but it’s not like these unsatisfying conclusions are anything new. There’s a few choice laughs here and there, but not enough to cover the aggressive dumbness.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Stephen Hawking makes his second appearance on the show, just randomly in Springfield for some reason. He’d show up again for a third time later on too. He’s also had three appearances on Futurama, enough for them to comment on it (“You’ve solved the problem that baffled Einstein, and drove Stephen Hawking to quit physics and become a cartoon voice actor!” “I like physics, but I love cartoons.”)
– I’ve always been confused at the Knockers waitress yelling at Homer, “Read the sign, prevert!” And that’s not a typo, she says “prevert.” Is the joke that she mispronounced it? Is “prevert” a word?
– Marge’s tasks for the day: take the dog to the vet, and take Bart to get circumcised. And she’s making this decision just now? I don’t want to open the can of worms that is my stance against circumcision, but I will say the joke just feels crass for crassness’ sake.
– Ray Romano does a fine job, and gets a few good lines in (“Sorry, man, I gotta go. It says my kid attempted something… I hate the way these things cut off.”) I even thought the bit at the end endlessly promoting Everybody Loves Raymond over the credits was funny, it was really well timed.
– Walking to Home Depot… I mean, Builder’s Barn, Homer waxes nostalgic (“My dad used to bring me down to Johnson’s Hardware. Old man Johnson used to know everything about fixing stuff. When they built this place, he hung himself.”) That’s the joke. Funny?
– Homer eats the rubber mouth guard before his electroshock, because that fat Homer will eat anything! It’s funny because he ate it even though it’s not food!