397. Crook and Ladder

(originally aired May 6, 2007)
It’s almost like I’m being punished; two surprisingly great episodes in a row, followed by two of the worst episodes of the season, perhaps of the entire series. From beginning to end, this one is just nonsensical garbage. We start with Maggie losing her shit when Marge takes away her pacifier, which ends up getting replaced by a squeaky dog toy. The noises keep Homer up at night and he develops insomnia. Why are none of the other family members affected? No reason given. He turns to drugs to get him to sleep, namely a product called Nappein. You know, like Ambien? We’re getting closer and closer to Mapple territory; making a thinly veiled parody specific to one product really limits the range and possibilities of your jokes. This turns him into a sleepwalking mess which Bart takes advantage of, and through a series of ridiculous events that hurt my brain to think about, he crashes his car into the fire station and ends up incapacitating the entire crew. The way this happens is so mind-bogglingly cartoony, and makes absolutely no sense. But whatever, it’s time for Homer the Firefighter! Another fucking job!

Homer, Apu, Skinner and Moe becomes volunteer fire fighters, and grow accustomed to reaping the fringe benefits from the people they save. But eventually Moe figures that they can just steal shit from local residents and businesses under the lie that items were fire damaged. And everyone just goes along with this, with Skinner as the lone ethical hold-out. Moe is a lecherous reprobate, so I can see him doing this. Homer at this point is a brainless sociopathic crazy person, his characterization is out the window, so whatever. But Apu? No way in hell. They just walk out of stores carrying stolen shit in broad daylight, and no one says a thing. Marge witnesses this thievery and forces him to go clean. This involves saving Moe and Apu from a burning building, and him being regarded as a hero. Does he ever confess his misdeeds? No. Does he stop being a fire fighter? No, but he sure won’t be one next week. What about all the shit he stole? Instead of return it to the stores, we see he’s given them away to homeless people, as we see bums on Segways waiting at the soup kitchen. Wonderful. The store knows Segways were lost, and are gonna see these guys riding them and think that they stole them, and they’ll be arrested. No lessons were learned, Homer suffers no repercussions for his actions, and nobody seems to care. The writers clearly didn’t. And neither do I. Fuck this episode.

Tidbits and Quotes
– The first few minutes of show concern Maggie throwing a fit after Marge tosses her pacifier, and Homer is unable to find her regular brand. When she replaces it with a dog squeak toy, I knew at some point later in the show, we’d see her again with her regular pacifier. And sure enough, we do. It’s not like I give a shit how she got a new one, it just says that what I spent watching in act one was a complete waste of time.
– My God… the mood swings joke. Twenty-two seconds has never felt so long listening to Homer scream, “Mood swings!” over… and over… and over…
– Homer fucks up the exhibits at a wax museum, and then later is personally responsible for smashing his car in the fire house and injuring everyone inside, but of course, he’s never held accountable for any of it. Same with the end where he never gets brought to task for his many thefts. He’s invincible!
– Okay, so here’s how the firemen get incapacitated. This is incredible. Homer plows his car into the fire station, knocking over a pot of chili boiling on the stove, which is on despite all the firemen sleeping, and also bending the fire men’s pole ninety degrees. Homer smashes through the windshield and triggers the fire alarm. The fire men get up, slide down the pole, get thrown down the hall sliding on the chili and slam against the wall. Then hungry Dalmatians maul them because they’re smothered in the chili. But why are the dogs vicious? Wouldn’t they just be fervently licking them, instead of mauling them off-screen? It just doesn’t make any sense… but then again, why should it? Do I expect any different at this point?
– It’s stunning how little life our supporting cast has left in them. Skinner just barely puts up a protest about the shenanigans in act three, and Apu barely says a goddamn thing as he proceeds to steal up a storm. Again, why the fuck is he doing this?
– Marge and the kids follow the fire trucks to see Homer in action. They’re on the sidewalk right in front of the store next door as Moe, Apu and Homer are all outside as they’re making off with the loot. How the fuck do they not see Marge standing right there?
– I feel like the montage of the kids looking sad trivializes Homer’s dilemma, it almost seems like it’s a big guilt trip for him to relent and change his ways, instead of him acknowledging that he’s breaking the law and should stop on his own.
– With thirty seconds of show left, we see crowds cheering for Homer, and then a slow push-in on the big oaf’s dumb smiling face. It’s stunning; he’s gotten away with all this shit, and they give him a fucking hero moment at the end? Then we get the actual end where he instead of giving the stuff back to their rightful owners, he gave them to hobos. Wonderful. What a wonderful fucking scumbag.

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23 responses to “397. Crook and Ladder

  1. There was a Simpsons Comic where Homer, Moe, Lenny, Carl, and Barney became firefighters, and it was far superior to this episode.

  2. Admittedly, the plot to this episode is awful, but it has more funny stuff than you’re giving it credit for:

    -“Aw, I have three kids and no money. Why can’t I have no kids and three money?”
    -Nappien is better than Sleepia because it doesn’t cause foot-fattening or elbow stink
    -“You’re confusing drugs with (ominously) druuuuuuuuugs!”
    -“Zombie file grievance!”
    -Brockman: Sir, how does it feel knowing that no one is coming to save you?
    Man in burning building: Not as bad as knowing that somewhere, gays are marrying each other. That’s the -real- emergency, Kent.
    -Brockman: Once again, crisis has brought out the -best- in us.
    -Moe: (watching the call for volunteer firemen on TV) Y’know, I think I’ll volunteer too.
    Barney: Why did you say “too”?
    Moe: Well, I assume I’m not the first one.
    -Carl: We’re here to join the volunteer fire department.
    Moe: You’re too late, beat it. Lousy civilians… I wish I could burn them all.
    Quimby: Easy there, Fire Chief Moe.
    -Burns insults the four after they save his life and mansion. Good stuff. And followed by: “Burns stiffed us!” “I can’t believe he acted completely in character!”
    -“Next time Maggie does that in a pool, tell me quietly. Don’t announce it.” “But mom, the lifeguards have to know!”
    -“Moe, can we talk?” “Are you crazy? It’s 500 degrees in here! Oh no, wait, it’s only 495. What’s on your mind?”
    -“You have just been Apu’d!”
    -“MY BABY! MY BABY!… could do worse than grow up to be like you, sir!” Again, I love jokes that screw with audience expectations like that.

    • One more…

      During the “zombie montage”, we see Homer getting beat up by a man and not fall over, whom he then simply punches over. It’s like a callback to “The Homer They Fall”, only this time, the callback is… gasp… SUBTLE?! It’s a miracle!

  3. is this the same garbage episode where Homer steals the segways by riding a stack of them? cuz that’s physically possible?

    Its like every episode has become a Halloween episode, where the the rules are made up and the plots don’t matter.

    • ^ Yep, that’s the one.

      One thing not mentioned: Did the writers forget that Apu was -already- a member of the volunteer fire department? Look at “Homer the Heretic”:

      “You ducks are really trying my patience!…But you’re soooo cute.”

      • Came here to say that. It’s the only thing I can say about this episode, since this is about the point I gave up on the show (except when really bored). This was one of about 3 or 4 episodes in a row I missed.

  4. I don’t think Nappiea is too bad, when you consider that it isn’t too far off from what some sleep medications are called (“Relaxall” for example) while still clearly being an Ambien, uh… parody?

    Anyway, I did know a girl who was a little strange and then she started taking Ambien and ended up sleepwalking and then sleepdriving and crashing into a pole at like 5mph. She was okay, the car was a bit scratched up, but she slept through the whole thing; they found her in her nightgown. Strange but true.

  5. This episode is very silly. It has a good amount of laughs, but it’s not a real Simpsons-style episode (but what is now?), it has a decent story build-up, but it feels like it’s all a big gag. It has a huge pace. I don’t mind for the cartoon stuff, but I can see your frustration about it.
    I agree on the looting, how can they get away with it?

    • It depends. Without stating any specific titles, what is your definition of “a real Simpsons-style episode”?

  6. You know, if Barney had been in Apu’s place, the characterization would have been way better.

    Still a bad episode though.

    • I still thought it was a little funny when Apu pretended he was reincarnated as a cat. To the episode’s credit…I guess Apu as a character would bounce off Moe, Skinner and Homer better than Barney would.

  7. Rembrandt Q. Einstein

    This is a pretty good and enjoyable episode, IMO. I reckon you should go into more episodes with an open mind like you did with episodes like “Homerazzi”. You’ll probably find you enjoy them far more.

    • jesus fkng christ! this must be the most deplorable thing I’ve ever read here! oh god..
      So, according to you, people should passively accept anything horrible and insulting the TV gives them, and just be “open minded”(its really the opposite, its being brain dead) in order to enjoy the squalor of nowadays entertainment, instead of avoiding it for what really is? you can’t be serious jesusfuckingchrist! no wonder the standard of quality in arts has dropped so much with people like you.
      if you like something sloppy and poorly done, fine!, we are all different; but suggesting people to lower their intelligence to enjoy something, instead of , you know, humbly shut your mouth and try to learn something intelligent about things you clearly know nothing about, is simply deplorable.

      • To be fair, this episode *did* get positive reviews… albeit from the likes of IGN.

      • But it’s comments like THAT that explain why Teen Titans Go is on the air.

      • Kaiju no Kami

        Edde, you need to chill out. While I agree you shouldn’t have to dumb things down to enjoy them, I also understand what Rembrandt is saying. However, holding newer episodes to the pedestal that was the classic era is not going to do you favors. Just like how Star Wars fans need to stop comparing every film to the Original Trilogy. Neither the classic era nor the original trilogy were perfect by any means. In fact, they did some things just as bad as the newer stuff. However, because we hold those aspects on a pedestal, we overlook their negatives, sometimes to our own detriment.

        Like people keep saying the classic era was grounded in reality, but exactly how were things like Bart and Lisa becoming detectives to prove Krusty did not rob the Kwik-E-Mart, getting Krusty and his dad back together, Herbert giving Homer totaly control of his company, a baby being able to lift a hammer to hit her dad over the head with it, and Homer randomly stopping a nuclear meltdown completely realistic? Same goes for Bart selling his soul, a town that has a huge snake population and goes on a murdering spree once a year, a cat buglar that tricks an entire town to go search for some treasure, Bart getting an elephant, and a baby shooting someone.

        At the end of the day, the show is and always has been a cartoon no matter how much we try to ignore it. It may have had more realistic stories, but it was still animated so they could do anything they wanted when the time was needed.

  8. A Guy Incognito

    Referring to burns victims as ‘melty faced weirdos’??? One of the nastiest jokes I have seen from this show, a new low. Great sensitivity there, you assholes. Fuck this show.

    • You know, I’m not easy to be offended by this kind of stuff, but I weirdly felt the same about the joke. Don’t know why. But it proves how much is important the writing even in the littlest details. Instead of nasty in a funny way it felt nasty for the sake of it.

  9. Seven uses of “fuck” in this review, six of “shit”, and Homer is called a “scumbag”… yep, this was a rotten episode alright.

    As for “I have three kids and no money; why can’t I have no kids and three money?” …meh. It’s no “To alcohol, the cause of and solution to all of life’s problems”…

  10. This is such a minor thing it’s hardly even worth mentioning, but I love the two seconds of multiple segways driving themselves around the lawn.

  11. This episode could have been a lot worse as I’ve seen worse. Though, I liked it better when it was called “Homer the Vigilante.”

    I did like a lot of what Ian said above, especially the Maggie in the pool moment and Burns acting in character. On the other hand, I agree that some jokes, like Homer’s mood swings, went on for way too long. It’s like they just had Dan record all of these different mood swings so they could pick and choose the best three but decided to go with them all to stretch out the running time.

    There’s not too much excitement to be had here, but considering I laughed a few times compared to other episodes, it’s okay in my book. Just nothing great.

  12. It’s nice that Homer tried to make up for his thievery by giving the segways to homeless people who would need them more, but you have a point. The episode would be way better if Homer was really sorry and actually RETURNED everything he, Moe and Apu stole. Johnny Test knew better than Crook and Ladder in No Homework Johnny. When Johnny found out his homework robot stole cookies and frankfurters and TVs and zoo animals, he got his family to return all of those things, so they wouldn’t get in trouble for robberies they didn’t know the robot was responsible for happening.

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