(originally aired February 15, 2009)
So the show finally makes its leap into high-definition widescreen, and wouldn’t you know, it’s just as shitty as ever. I’m gonna save my comments on the new opening and format for down below and focus on the actual episode for now. Springfield honors successful businessman Vance Connor, and Homer recalls how he was their class president in high school, back in… 1974. I was willing to accept a floating timeline for that goddamn ’90s show last season, now their past is in the ’70s again. Come on, you guys, what the fuck? So it’s about how Homer bemoans having lost class president to him, which I guess he wanted. What? Homer was a lazy smoking slacker in high school, why would he want to run in the first place? Anyway, turns out Principal Dondelinger rigged the election, and Homer actually did win. He had Lenny and Carl bury the ballot box, instead of just… throwing it out. Turns out it was to protect Homer, as the jocks did a mass vote for him so they could ridicule him. But even after hearing that, Homer still believes his life would have been amazing if he had been class president. Why?
Turns out there is a way to see what could have been… by way of some weirdo Italian cook at Luigi’s, who can show you alternate futures in his special sauce… okay, this totally makes sense and is completely believable. We see that Homer would be a great class president and go to prom with the head cheerleader, but drop her the instant he laid his eyes on Marge, who is basically falling over herself to be with Homer. So much more romantic and satisfying than “The Way We Was,” huh? Mr. Burns gives him a high-ranking plant job due to his position, and now he lives in a gigantic mansion with no children. What? How the fuck could he afford that? Oh whatever, it’s just a pasta sauce hallucination. So Homer bemoans his current life and his family, and the others try to cheer him up and reward him in spite of his selfishness. Hey, it’s happened before. He said awful things about his wife and kids, they send him to go play with the Rolling Stones at rock ‘n’ roll camp. Here he wishes his kids were never born, we install a plaque for him on the wall of fame, and apparently pay some father and son to take a picture of him, because that’s the only reason that makes sense. The first episode in HD and this is the slop you start off with? How embarrassing.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Okay, so here it is: the show is finally in HD, and it’s as stiff and lifeless as ever. High-definition worked for the movie because it had a budget, and David Silverman directing, so it actually looked pretty sharp for the most part. Now, the clarity makes the un-detailed backgrounds, unmoving extras and short-cutted drawings stand out even more. There’s also the matter of the new opening. I could dissect it scene by scene, but why even bother? My thoughts can effectively be summed up in this heavily passed around gif. Just look at the old version. The arc in Marge’s hair as she turns, and her look of relief that her baby is safe. The stretching of the cashier’s arms, bounce of the bag and how Maggie pops out, all of it so visually appealing. And look at it now. Marge rotates her head at a perfect angle, and smiles. Maggie emerges from the bag and shakes her fist at Gerald in a manner so empty and soulless it defies description. There’s also a blog post by an animator who worked on several shots, and his frustration of having being told repeatedly to tone his work down and make it “less cartoony.” Astonishing. The only connection the show used to have to its classic era was the opening titles, and now that’s long gone too. I remember after seeing the new opening and this episode, it was the first time I seriously started reconsidering watching the show. I just felt so bewildered about the whole thing, and figured I’d give it until the end of the season to decide. The show’s new HD beginning was the beginning of my end…
– And also, we have the new four act “structure.” I hate it. Act one, act two, act three. It’s a natural order of storytelling, used in every film ever made ever. Now everything’s all mixed up.
– The episode is immediately annoying from the start with the Springfield Wall of Fame, which honors Hank Scorpio, who isn’t from Springfield, Poochie, widely reviled cartoon, and Lisa’s dance instructor, Chazz Busby. Who for some reason is now in the opening titles. Who the fuck cares about that guy?
– Al Gore is at Moe’s bar. And no one acknowledges a fucking ex-Vice President sitting there until he opens his trap. This is the world this show exists in now.
– Homer announces his revenge on Dondelinger (“I know what he did last summer… twenty-two years ago!”) From 2009, that would make Homer’s senior year 1987. Which we see it’s not. Come on, you guys. What the fuck.
– We see teenage Maude asking Homer out in high school, despite a few shows ago we see her and Ned as adults picking up a twenty-something Homer and Marge. Oh, whatever. Also, I’m shocked at the attention to minute continuity with showing us Debbie Pinson, who Homer got a call from in “Homer to the Max.”
– The alternate future of everyone loving Homer and him being amazing makes no sense whatsoever. Suddenly Patty and Selma are taken by him, and we get this gem (“Who’s that side of beef munching on our sister?” “I don’t know, but in this reality, I am not gay! Hubba hubba!”) Ugh.
– My God, I fucking hate the ending (“Dad, do you think I could be elected class president?” “Well, we can’t all be Homer Simpsons, son.”) Where did this father and son come from? It’s so pathetically saccharine with no attempt at irony or jokes or anything. This show used to tear this kind of cloyingly phony material apart, now it’s what we settle for an ending.