351. Don’t Fear the Roofer

(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!

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12 responses to “351. Don’t Fear the Roofer

  1. Funny thing about this episode is that I didn’t like it much at first either, but it grew on me on repeated viewings. It’s incredibly silly, yes, and we have to ignore logic for quite a while for things to make sense. Even then, it’s better to take the episode lightly because trying to make sense of everything would be MADNESS. It helped me enjoy it a lot more.

    I was actually expecting you to comment on this episode a lot more, like the scene at the bar in the first act. That was probably my least favorite scene in the episode considering how unusually cruel it seemed to be. It’s Lenny’s birthday and Homer isn’t invited? And then everyone mad at him for ruining the surprise? It felt quite painful because Homer wasn’t even being a jerk, his screw-ups were completely unintentional.

    You also didn’t comment on Dr. Hibbert at all, and this was probably one of his biggest roles. Although I guess at this point in the run, you’re probably far too tired of reviewing so many bad episodes and just want to get it done fast. Can’t say I don’t understand.

  2. Prevert would be someone who’s about to become a pervert, I guess? Pre-pervert?

  3. Everyone is needlessly mean to Homer, which is really unpleasant. Then they start electrocuting him, which feels lazy and cliche. “Aggressive dumbness” is a perfect way to describe this outing.

  4. I do think it was sort of clever how Ray Magini is an anagram for imaginary. While I do agree that the end credits ramble was well timed, I didn’t care for it otherwise. It just felt like blatant promotion for Romano’s sitcom, and I might have excused it in a better episode, but it just didn’t work for me.

  5. I felt that this episode was pretty well done and ok, more or less. That’s about all my thoughts on it, other then what Mike said and the comments here. Funny episode, esp. towards the end, but nonsensical at best as well.

  6. Eh. It’s watchable enough, besides Homer screaming a lot.

    “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.”

    I gotta admit, I laughed at that line, just because of the abrupt and cruel ending to the story, but it really doesn’t feel like a Simpsons line/joke, does it?

    Isn’t there a Stephen Hawking action figure? And he’s Simpson-ized in it if I remember correctly…?

  7. I was so annoyed at:

    * People not believing Ray exists
    * Dr. Hibbert practicing electroshock therapy. Why is he suddenly practicing advanced psychiatric medicine? And why is he so incompetent?!
    * The Lenny birthday party and the cake-shaped bar stool
    * Marge going from 0-60 in two seconds about the roof

    fuck this show

  8. “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.”
    Have you ever listened to a DVD commentary during one of these scenes when they’re actually paying attention to the episode? The writers usually laugh their asses off, which explains why we’ve gotten so many scenes of Homer screaming.

  9. Crazy funny episode, this one. Homer is an epitome of how life really is being lived in our modern world.

  10. In Dr. Strangelove, Colonel “Bat” Guano thought that everyone at Burpleson AFB were “deviated preverts”. Also, I think this is the last episode I saw when it originally broadcast.

  11. I cant understand why ppl defend this kind of absurd episode saying “if you accept the sillyness or absence of logic..”, or, “if you dont mind the absurdity..”, why should i accept it? its The Simpsons. if i wanted to laugh at this kind of absurdity i would have watched some other brilliant (cartoon) shows, like “Dexters Laboratory” or “Spongebob”.. i mean, i see the plot(and especially the ending) of this absurd stupid episode perfect for those kind of cartoons shows, not for The Simpsons.. so i dont accept it.

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