(originally aired November 20, 2005)
Feeling like three stories smashed together, this episode is just a jumbled, aggravating mess. We open to see Homer crowing about Father’s Day and being incredibly giddy, and my fears of him being completely grating through the entire show are confirmed. From top to bottom, he’s just way too mindlessly chipper, and every word out of his mouth makes me want to hit him. Not wanting to buy a gift, Lisa makes her father a heartfelt storybook for the holiday, which Homer thoughtlessly rejects. Pretty cold stuff. They tried to make it like he’s just ignorant more than scornful (like the perfect example, “Just because I don’t care doesn’t mean I don’t understand,”) but he’s just so incredibly callous, I think even Homer would realize how much he’s hurting Lisa’s feelings. Lisa ends up snapping at school, and the diagnosis is that with Homer as her prominent male figure in her life, she’s losing faith in the entire gender. Alright, I’m still on board, kind of. To regain her daughter’s respect, Homer agrees to be the school’s safety mascot by donning a salamander costume. Umm… what?
Homer is the Safety Salamander, and of course fails spectacularly at it. Lisa is just becoming more appalled by her father (“Janey’s father just takes her to the zoo once a month. Couldn’t you be that kind of Dad?”) It’ll take a miracle to get Homer into her good graces, or more accurately, a gigantic multi-car pile-up which he can rescue people out of. With one act left, the plot completely shifts gears: Quimby’s many illegalities are called out, resulting in a recall election, where every wacko in town, including Schwarzenegger expy Rainier Wolfcastle, tries their shot at running. It’s like the California gubernatorial election… that happened two years ago. For some reason, people really respond to Homer dressed in that stupid suit, so he ends up running. But when Marge washes it and it falls apart mid-debate, his candidacy is over. But don’t worry, Lisa’s here for our unearned saccharine ending (“You tried to make this town a better place, and no matter what, that makes you my hero.”) If by that you mean drinking constantly and showboating for the crowd, then sure. It’s more of just Homer being a maniac and doing whatever he wants, and the family standing by to support him for no reason whatsoever. Just complete garbage, and the worst Homer-Lisa show since “Make Room For Lisa.”
Tidbits and Quotes
– Homer tossing aside Lisa’s gift is really so heart wrenching (“You didn’t like it, did you?” “No, no, it’s great! I’m done with it now!”) It feels like one of the cruelest things he’s ever done. There really is a huge difference between this and the aforementioned line from “Lisa’s Substitute.” There, Homer really has not been on the radar regarding Lisa’s feelings about Mr. Bergstrom, nor does he really see how upset his daughter is about it. The quote itself is mean, but the intentions were not. The same could be said with this episode, but here the situation directly involves Homer, and Lisa eagerly and visibly anticipating her father’s positive response. Even a fucking lunkhead like Homer should be able to pick up on this and at the least humor his daughter, but instead, he acts like a fucking asshole and make her cry. Later, Homer reflects on the situation (“I still don’t understand how her feelings can be hurt. It’s my day!”) Remember the days when Homer would fight tooth and nail for the affections of his kids? Now he whines and moans and has absolutely no regard for others. Now that’s great character development.
– Dr. Pryor returns after sixteen long seasons. He was in “Lisa’s Sax,” but in terms of present day, he’s basically been completely forgotten. I like how that’s kind of alluded to as he appears in the shadows of Skinner’s office before he’s mentioned, then feels he can step out and speak his piece.
– “Now I’m off to bring safety to Springfield Elementary and win back your love!” The dialogue here is so painfully on the nose, Homer mentions winning back Lisa’s love a good four times this episode.
– The car pile-up is so ridiculous. It starts as a line of twenty cars rear-ending each other, somehow all driving in a close proximity on a residential street. Then when rescue vehicles arrive from all directions and crash into each other, it turns the wreckage into a gigantic pile of cars. How the fuck did that happen? Doesn’t matter, it gives Homer the opportunity to be a hero. And also for a Smithers gay joke, where Homer pulls him and Mr. Largo out of the wreckage (“We were just carpooling, and that’s it!”)
– Once again, the only gags about Quimby involve his rampant infidelity, showing him hijacking a plane for that reason (“Take this plane anywhere girls are going wild!”) Also the annoyingly voiced Miss Springfield has somehow become a regular character, despite being fucking aggravating to listen to.
– Speaking of aggravating regular characters, the Crazy Cat Lady is of course running for mayor too, and her full name is revealed: Eleanor Abernathy. I guess the writers fucking love this character.