(originally aired October 7, 2007)
Jesus, three Homer shows in a row, and another new job! Have no fear, they’ve got stories for years! Desperately trying to find milk for Maggie, Homer ventures to Guidopolis (too subtle), where everyone, of course, is an Italian-American stereotype. I remember the press release or some advance information about this show mentioning that Homer goes to New Jersey… either that’s wrong, or they decided to change it last minute. I’d believe either one, honestly. So Homer ends up being a tow truck driver in Springfield working for an amicable, but deeply psychopathic guy Louie. He starts out doing somewhat of a decent job, kind of, until he starts hooking Arnie Pye’s helicopter in the sky and towing the Sunday school bus with the kids still in it. The townspeople get pissed and devise a plan to get Homer in hot water with his territorial employer. But after that we see that without a tow (because I guess no tow drivers existed within Springfield, and Louie didn’t hire anyone else to work in a neighboring city), the streets turn to anarchy, as cars pile up on each other and all hell breaks loose. It’s like in “Marge in Chains” where one seemingly insignificant shift makes the whole town nuts, except there it was so wonderfully tongue-in-cheek and hilarious, and here, it’s just noisy, meaningless chaos.
Louie locks Homer in his basement for disobeying his rules, where there are other tow drivers who “got greedy.” This guy should hook up with Julia from the last show, he’s completely insane. But at least Julia suffered for her crimes, here Louie gets no comeuppance. The only thing in the episode that works is the B-story: Marge gets some outside assistance with an unusually fussy Maggie, and is told she needs to leave her daughter be so she can be independent. Being an infant savant, Maggie takes to this just fine, but Marge is lost without someone to mother. She ends up saving Homer in the end, and returns to Marge’s arms where she belongs. The first part of the story felt kind of cloying, especially when immediately contrasting with Homer’s bullshit plot, but in the end, I really liked how they tied together. Maggie roaming the streets on Santa’s Little Helper’s back was a cute sequence, and I’d have to have a cold, dark heart to not be touched by her reconciliation with Marge at the end. Maggie is so underutilized it’s nice to see her actually being acknowledged. Unfortunately it’s barely a fourth of the show. The rest sucks as usual.
Tidbits and Quotes
– While Marge is trying to get Maggie to go to sleep. Homer, Bart, Lisa, Milhouse and Ralph are having a loud toga party. I guess that’s the night that they re-enact Animal House? That as young children they’ve probably never seen? And Homer rides a motorcycle on the stairs, just like in the movie! I just don’t understand…
– I did chuckle at the milk bottle breaking and Homer being reduced to tears (“Spilled milk? All over the floor?”)
– The kids tutor Marge how to use a computer… despite the fact she was doing just fine about ten episodes ago.
– The bit where Louie’s alluding to being his own boss and Homer just not getting it is so lame. It’s like the joke in “Maximum Homerdrive,” where Homer looks back and forth between the pictures of Red and Tony Randall and can’t figure out who he’s looking at. There’s it’s pushed to such a ridiculous degree that I could laugh at it. Here, it just feels tired and bizarre; Louie mentions his boss is in the truck right now, so Homer concludes… he’s his boss.
– More gay bashing when Homer turns his tow hook the other way around, a car full of effeminate gay stereotypes start cat calling him instantly. Am I being too sensitive about this? It just feels so lazy and offensive to trot out this kind of shit in this day and age. It’s shocking how “Homer’s Phobia,” an episode that aired fifteen years ago, was more progressive about gay characters and issues than episodes that air today.
– “When you married a man who years later without warning become a tow truck driver, you knew what the deal would eventually be.” “If my life as a tow truck driver were a teleplay, this would be the end of act two!” I think the writers are thinking they’re being clever by being self-conscious, but it’s just annoying, and at worse, pointing out how shitty their writing is. And then they even ruin the latter joke further by at the end of act two, having text come up reading “End of Act Two.” The dummies watching might not get it unless we explicitly tell them!
– Louie having a Jon Bon Jovi bust gives me further evidence this originally took place in New Jersey.
– Homer’s missing for four days and no one decides to do anything, because he told Marge not to worry. So, again, Marge being a completely inactive character when her husband could be lying in a ditch somewhere. And what exactly is Louie’s plan? He’s got these guys locked in his basement… I guess until they die? He forces Homer to call home at gun point just to tell Lisa everything is fine and “goodbye forever.” No phony story, no fake explanation, why did he have him call in the first place? I’m so confused…