(originally aired April 13, 2008)
In a feeble attempt to try to tie themselves into the classic years, the show in later years featured the re-appearance of many classic guest stars: Rabbi Krustofski, Artie Ziff, Mona Simpson (with a third outing in a few episodes), and now, Lurleen Lumpkin. This episode stands in stark contrast with “Colonel Homer,” and does all it can to tear down any emotional resonance from that show and replace it with incomprehensible nonsense. We start with Quimby announcing the town is broke, after discovering the town vault is completely empty, something he must have known about. At a town hall meeting, Lisa walks in announcing she’s gone through the town financial records, as an eight-year-old would do, and proposes a solution: reign in on everyone’s owed back taxes. Everyone agrees, but the only person they can’t track down is Lurleen Lumpkin, who has been missing for years. She hides out with the Simpsons, just ’cause, then they reunite her with her deadbeat father, just ’cause, who then steals her song and sells it to the Dixie Chicks, just ’cause. I can’t even write out plot points anymore without them seeming like jokes.
There’s so much I can tear this episode down for, and shall do in the tidbits section, but here’s what absolutely kills it for me. Lurleen mentions she’s been married thrice before, showing off photos of varied ethnic men who all look like Homer. Then at the end of the show we see a boorish Homer-like roadie Lurleen’s shacked up with, who crudely asks her for a hundred for beer. So the gag here is that she’s attracted to men like Homer, except here it’s retconned. She fell for Homer because he was kind and helpful, and selfless for helping her with her career, a real sweetheart. But modern-day Homer is none of those things: he’s a selfish, self-absorbed asshole. So all of Lurleen’s newly discovered failed relationships reflect this. Plus, her long lost father apparently destroyed her faith in men, which I guess is what drove her to be with these dickheads in the first place, which now includes the current incarnation of Homer. It might seem like I’m over-extrapolating off of small jokes, but this episode’s full of stuff like this, and it all adds up. These shows where they dig up the past just infuriate me; it’s like throwing an old friend into a lion’s den and seeing how much they get beat down.
Tidbits and Quotes
– This episode opens with one of the most distasteful things the show’s ever done. We see Grampa driving Homer at night when their car is cut off the road (by Patty and Selma, who are quite happy with this) and tumbles down a cliff. Grampa is seriously injured, and informs his son he’ll need to take care of him during recovery. Instead of call for help, Homer proceeds to smother his own father to death. And of course it was all a dream, a wonderful dream that Homer bemoans waking up from. I think this is a Sopranos parody, right? But parody or not, this is terrible. There’s a bit from one of the Family Guys I had the misfortune of watching where Peter has an elaborate dream sequence when Lois is talking to him of killing and burying her, but this scene is handled in such a dramatic and intense way, followed by Homer’s satisfaction of it that it seems so much worse. Why should I sympathize or relate to Homer one bit after something as horrible as this?
– At the town hall meeting, Homer (ugh) suggests the town fake a natural disaster and have FEMA fit the bill for helping them rebuild. This episode aired only a year or so after Hurricane Katrina. Does this seem… kind of terrible to anyone? Am I being too sensitive?
– Things turn sour immediately after Lurleen is reintroduced on TV, where Bart surmises the back story of her trying to seduce and screw his father. Why the hell would he know that?
– Beverly D’Angelo certainly sounds fifteen years from “Colonel Homer,” but in this episode she’s still 34, even though in-show they talk about how she’s been missing for years. Whatever. I still prefer when Doris Grau voiced her for one immortal line: “I spent last night in a ditch.”
– Homer speculates twice this episode about how he could get away with ditching his family. I’m just getting pummeled this episode with Homer hatred; why would he want to run away from his family? He loves them… doesn’t he?
– So Lurleen’s got a deadbeat daddy she hasn’t seen in forever. When we see him, what’s written on his shirt? “No Child Support.” Little on the nose, huh? So they’re reunited, and for some reason both of them start living with the Simpsons. That motherfucker has a house, we saw it, why doesn’t Lurleen go live with him?
– During Lurleen’s song we run through things that run with “patri-otter,” including Lisa saying she’s reading Harry Potter. Last episode we had Angelica Button. Writers, you need to pick one and stick with it, please.
– Lurleen’s father makes off with his daughter’s song, and in a time period unspecified, he contacts the Dixie Chicks, pitches them the song, they like it, they fly him out to wherever, edit the song, record it, release it, and it becomes a big hit. How did all this happen? Who the fuck knows. And it’s funny because they’re singing an ultra-patriotic song and praising FOX News following controversial comments they made… five years ago. The lyrics suck, but melodically the song, and them performing it, is the only good thing in the episode.
– When Colonel Homer stepped up, followed by “Major Marge,” …uggh. Fucking terrible. Terrible.