366. Homer’s Paternity Coot

(originally aired January 8, 2006)
You might have noticed that first acts in later years have been becoming increasingly more tangential, having absolutely nothing to do with the main story. While they do present the opportunity for some good jokes or satire (which there have been neither of lately anyway), as a viewer, you feel a bit like your time has been wasted, that the writers couldn’t come up with a full enough story so they bullshitted for six minutes and then kicked the plot off. This episode has, bar none, the worst tangential first act of the entire series. Marge is incensed that a toll has been put up on a much-traveled road, and instead opts to take the free alternative. To combat this, Quimby installs dividers on either side to block that route, which would basically be enough, but also puts in rows of tire spikes to lock everyone in. Why entire rows? You’re already boxed in. Marge freaks out and slams into reverse, which causes an entire row of cars behind her to get rear-ended. It’s like the stupid shit in “See Homer Run,” there’s randomly like twenty cars bumper-to-bumper. So all the popped tires get thrown on the tire fire, which causes a great level of smog, so much so that it melts the ice caps of a nearby frosted mountain, revealing a frozen postman. What was he doing up there? Was he fucking flash-frozen? How are his letters still intact and not soggy and unreadable? This is the catalyst for the plot to start: the Simpsons receive a long lost letter. There are a billion ways they could have started this story, and this is the one they landed on. It’s baffling.

The main story just bored me more than anything. The letter is from an old lover of Homer’s mother, who believes that her child is actually his, leading Homer to believe Abe might not be his real father. Homer tracks down the mystery man: wealthy treasure hunter Mason Fairbanks, voiced by Michael York. He’s a delightful old Brit who Homer immediately gloms onto, tossing Abe aside like a sack of hot rocks. It’s actually not as cruel as it sounds, so I wasn’t annoyed, it was just kind of uninteresting. We know that Fairbanks isn’t his father, so the episode is meant to posit how Homer’ life would be different had he been raised by another person. Except it doesn’t do that at all; it ends with an undersea treasure salvaging where Homer nearly dies. The only thing that aggravated me here is that he has visions of his father in the past, showing him as a great dad, which as we’ve seen, he wasn’t at all. Him playing around with Li’l Homer is fine and sweet, but the bit of him giving Homer all his money on his wedding day feels so phony (“I gave you everything, and it still wasn’t enough.”) Sure, this did actually happen in “Lisa’s First Word,” but emotionally it was handled so much more efficiently and they undercut it with a joke. Here, it’s just saccharine for saccharine’s sake. In the end, Abe reveals he’s the real father… God, whatever. How could an episode with such a startling in-universe conceit be so safe and boring?

Tidbits and Quotes
– Joe Frazier has a quick guest spot, which only makes me wish I was watching “Brother, Can You Spare Two Dimes?”
– “Voila! Which is French for ‘ta-da’!” “I’m trapped like the ‘L’ in a BLT!” These guys are really at a loss in writing dialogue for Marge. Every line makes me cringe a little bit.
– I can’t get over how fucking stupid the frozen mailman thing is. I could bitch about it for so much longer than I already did, but why bother. It’s one of the dumbest things ever done on this show.
– I definitely believe that Mona cheated on Abe, given the time period and how much of an ass he was, but it’s kind of uncomfortable to hear. I dunno, it’s like the bit from “D’oh-in’ in the Wind” where Seth and Munchie not-so-subtly admit they banged her to her own son.
– This episode would be remedied instantaneously by a DNA test. At first Grampa refuses to take one, then by the end of act two instantly agrees to one. Plus there’s the fact that Homer basically looks like a non-wrinkled Grampa, as he demonstrates to the audience. Of course they’re related, you dolts.
– The dream sequence of Li’l Homer playing catch with a question mark is kind of cute. Then they break a window and an exclamation point comes out shaking its fist.
– Marge warns Homer not to get too emotionally invested, they all seem very apprehensive about the whole thing. Next scene they’re all on Fairbanks’ boat yukking it up. Whatever.
– The treasure hunt is so uninteresting, like who cares? What is is supposed to mean, that Homer’s life would have been more exciting if this guy was his father? Is that what he wanted? I really don’t know.
– Homer’s new catchphrase seems to be a very looooong moan. They keep using the same one, but condense it when need be. It’s annoying every time. Every. Single. Time.

15 responses to “366. Homer’s Paternity Coot

  1. Its above and beyond over the top bullshit like the tire spikes that absolutley ruins season 17. Even the most bland and boring seasons afterwards aren’t infuriatingly wacky like this fucking shit.

  2. Agreed Zartok-35 and great review/analysis of this episode Mike!

  3. I actually liked the first act, at least until the caveman thawing bit. No, it doesn’t relate in any way to the main plotline, but it’s at least more enjoyable than jerking the audience around with, “Mason is Homer’s real father! Wait, no he isn’t!” and uninteresting undersea adventures.

    I did like Grampa’s line, though: “Mona cheated on me? I don’t know how she had the time with her late night pottery classes and supermarket trips that took all weekend!”

  4. This is the single most nerve racking, coma inducing, absolute worst insult to any Simpsons fan period. This episode takes all of the good and all of the bad and just shit all over it with its putrid piss stain of a plot. It is an insult to anyone who enjoys the series at all whether it be through the cartoon, comics, or toys. No episode has ever enraged me as much as his sack of shit, and whomever allowed this episode to exist should never be allowed to work in the entertainment industry ever. Even the shittiest Family Guy episode has nothing on this atrocity.

    • Ah, I was waiting for your response on this one. Care to elaborate why you hate it so much? I was interested to re-watch it since you made many comments alluding to it being total dog shit, but nothing in the episode infuriated me that much.

      • I just feel the entire concept insults the fans of the show. We know Abe is Homer’s father. Homer knows Abe is his father. Then suddenly they decide to do an episode where Homer is somehow not sure anymore and we are supposed to believe it? There was no need for an episode like this to exist.

    • Ererrrrrrrrrrrr

      Oh, I can think of one episode miles more insulting. “Every Man’s Dream”.

  5. Wait til you get to the next episode which has a total non-ending! and also why would the letter be sent to 742 evergreen terrace wouldn’t the letter be sent to wherever Mona lived 40 years ago? PFFT!

  6. Didn’t Family Guy do this exact episode a while later, only without the cliché sappiness? (i.e. Peter doesn’t have a ‘sudden change of heart’ – the guy who raised him was a huge dickhead.) It’s hard to believe that that episode isn’t a response to this.

    At this point FG is basically eating The Simpsons’ lunch. Which isn’t saying much, but still.

    • Yeah, it was the one where Peter finds out that his dad (who dies during Meg’s birthday) isn’t his biological father and his mom tells him his real father is a town drunk in Ireland with a sheep who looks like Brian. “Peter’s Two Dads,” it’s called.

    • This is 2006? So meanwhile, South Park is putting out gems like “Cartoon Wars” and “Manbearpig.” Yeah, i definitely made the right choice giving up on The Simpsons and generally avoiding Family Guy.

  7. So I used to think this was hands down the worst episode of the franchise. It is just so down right insulting, but after rewatching it, it isn’t as degrading as “Bonefire of the Manatees.” I never realized how horrible that episode was until now (probably because I kept forgetting about its contents). Even “Every Man’s Dream” isn’t as bad as that.

  8. Crap, can’t edit.

    I will say that the animation in the underwater scene is pretty nice and is probably what ultimately salvages this episode.

    Still, trying to pretend that Abe isn’t Homer’s dad after 17 years is giving the middle finger to your audience.

  9. I thought the episode was incredibly lame. There were a few good lines, like the pottery class one and Homer’s “Err, you do know that’s a boat” when Fairbanks dubbed his boat “his lady”.

    One thing I will say for the era around S15-17 is that Homer was probably at his funniest. He had just the right balance of stupidity to give him some blindingly funny moments, to the point where the content didn’t have to be that funny in the first place.

    • I’ve gotta disagree there as his attitude in Manatees was completely unacceptable. Frankly, I think 18 was like a godsend compared to 10-17 despite that season having “Boys of Bummer.”

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