(originally aired April 26, 2009)
So this is the show’s take on over-involved, over-protective parenting, and surprise, it’s actually a very creative, inventive satire! …just kidding, it’s over-the-top, blatantly obvious and absolutely not funny. So Homer decides he needs to get more involved in his kids’ lives. How do we get to this point? Simple enough; Homer gets serious burns on his tongue, needing a comically large cast put on it, then when removed finds his old taste buds burnt off, exposing new, extremely sensitive ones. Now with a painfully enhanced sense of taste, the only food bland and flavorless enough for his palette is what’s being served at Springfield Elementary. That makes him go to the cafeteria and learn his kids need help. What a hell of a ride. Wouldn’t something as serious as Homer, a man who lives to eat, discovering he can no longer eat anything, denote its own premise? Or at the very least come back into play at some point in the episode? Nope. Or, why doesn’t Homer get a bunch of meals in a Tupperware and eat them at work? Oh wait, he doesn’t go to work anymore. Whatever, this is already shit and the story hasn’t started yet.
So Homer meets a mother at the cafeteria who is hovering over her son, as she explains the plot of the episode to us, and manages to pin point what’s wrong with Bart and Lisa, because I guess she knows them. Bart is a drooling moron (literally) with no future, and Lisa is a loser outcast with no friends. Homer to the rescue! Everything is played so exaggerated and obvious, with parents huddled outside the classroom doors looking in, and the mother forcing her son to recite all the state capitals alphabetically. The light touch is gone; think back to the science fair in “Duffless” with the psychotic father usurping his son’s project (“I’ve worked too long and hard on this for you to screw it up now!” “But it’s got my name on it…” “Just stand over there. Over there!“) That’s one joke, and it summarizes the dynamic and parental outlook perfectly. Here is a whole twenty minutes that says nothing. Homer helps Lisa become a girly girl in a clique obsessed with decorating cell phones, Twitter and Facebook, but eventually admits she wants out (“It’s hard work staying this shallow.”) Then why did you bother to begin with? Homer also helps Bart build a model for a contest or something, and fucks it up and acts like a helicopter. Oh, whatever, fuck this noise.
Tidbits and Quotes
– This episode was written by Rob LeZebnik, his first show in an eight-year absence. What was the last episode he wrote? [looks it up] “Homer vs. Dignity.” Okay, that makes sense. I’m surprised they let him back in the building.
– I love that not only do we get single shots of all three rows of outdated carnival prizes, but we also get ADR of Castellaneta making reaction noises to each. Oh, and they’re dynamite jokes. Commie Swatter? To paraphrase Milhouse, whatever those writes are paid, it’s not enough.
– A “subplot” involves Marge discovering a door in the basement leading to a perfectly functional and pristine sauna. She found it after replacing the water heater, of which she’s replaced it many times. How did none of them know this room existed ever? Also, we see her lug the old water heater upstairs and throw it on a giant pile of old ones, pushing the floor down right over Maggie’s room. There’s numerous instances where we see Marge, or someone who’s not commonly an idiot, do something stupid like this; for some reason, everyone’s a moron if the joke allows for it.
– Homer strangling his son whilst spitting giant amounts of fire into his face is so uncomfortable to watch. Like, this is what they think is hilarious now. Clearly so, it’s all the movie was.
– Lisa lists off all the comically named foods from the cafeteria, and the writers lampshade their shitty puns with a joke about how they’re named by old sitcom writers working in the cafeteria. I can only hope the actual writers suffer a similar fate in the future. We also get more of Tress MacNeille doing Lunchlady Doris, which is always sad to see. Again, why didn’t they just create a new fucking lunchlady?
– The only bit I laughed at was when the mother was forcing her kid to recite capitals on her claps, we cut to Homer who is staring dumbly attempting to clap along with her. It’s so weird, it’s like he reverted to this full-on idiot mode, but it made me laugh all the same.
– I hate this episode. They make Bart out to be this braindead moron, shoving spaghetti in his nose and lying his head on the desk drooling. He’s not a dumb kid, he’s actually very sharp and perceptive, he just doesn’t give a shit about school or tests or anything of the like. Here, he’s just a big dummy, at least until the end where he’s forced to give the moral of the story and quote Oscar Wilde, because he knows who that is. Ridiculous.
– Homer pours a gigantic jar of mayonnaise into his mouth, complete with close-up of the gooey mess slithering down his gullet. It’s fucking nauseating.
– Homer sprays a bottle of what he thinks is spray-on tan (?!) all over his face, but it turns out it’s… ant poison! That wacky Homer!
– The episode feels like it’s just one long build-up to the punchline that Homer was so inept, his work got mistaken for a child’s, so Bart got the prize. What a waste. “Homer’s Enemy” had a similar punchline, but had a zillion other great things going on before it.