452. Million Dollar Maybe

milliondollarmaybeOriginal airdate: January 31, 2010

The premise: Homer skips out on a wedding where he and Marge planned an elaborate toast for to purchase a lottery ticket, and ends up sending his car down a cliff attempting to hurry there. Upon coming to, he finds he’s the million dollar winner, but knowing if he confesses he’ll admit he ditched Marge, he keeps the winnings and spends them in secret. Meanwhile, Lisa gets the denizens of the Retirement Castle happy and active with… sigh… the Funtendo Zii.

The reaction: Such an odd episode. For a show where Homer wins a million dollar jackpot, it certainly felt like nothing was happening. And I guess something that huge isn’t meaty enough so we get a B-story and a fare amount of filler to go with it. So Homer can’t tell Marge he won because he’ll be admitting to skipping out on that wedding thing? If we couldn’t pick that up, thankfully his inner monologue explicitly exposits that for us. In order to covertly spend it, he hides presents for the family about town, be it a washing machine in the bushes in the park, or filling the family car with brand new electronics at the car wash. Marge and the others just accept these random happenings, I guess, because they’re idiots. Couldn’t Homer have done this in a savvier way? Why not lie and say he got a raise at work? He’s not the smartest man, but surely there are dozens of other ways he could have kept this quiet. It all just felt very dumb. As for our B-story… it’s like Mapple all over again, it just felt like a giant Wii commercial; no satire, no real humor, just talking about how fun it is. Buy one today! Though surely you have one, since the system was out for over two years before this aired!

Three items of note:
– Even before Homer wins the jackpot, it seems the Simpsons are already pretty well off considering Lisa is just able to buy the Zii herself. Remember when Bart was saving up money to buy Bonestorm? Certainly felt more realistic than an eight-year-old buying a video game system by herself on a whim.
– Why would Marge go up and just sing her part of the toast with the silent gaps where Homer should be? It’s like that bit in the Tenacious D movie where Cage plays a song at a house party but with only his vocals, except there it kind of works because he’s an idiot. Between this and blindly accepting expensive gifts that just show up out of nowhere, I guess Marge is a big idiot too.
– Kind of similar to treating Grampa’s rambling stories seriously in that other episode, here our B-story is resolved in hearing the nursing home staff’s poor lot in life. The poor conditions and environment of the retirement castle used to be such sharp commentary and so underplayed, whereas now the plot ends with the staff griping to Lisa as overtly as possible (“You still should’ve let them have their fun!” “They should have had their fun before they got here!”)

One good line/moment: Homer posits all he can buy with his new fortune, like Hitler’s baseball, or a magic mirror that dispenses advice. Cue thought balloon with the magic mirror (“My advice is to buy Hitler’s baseball.”) Nice bit, the quick timing made it work.

9 responses to “452. Million Dollar Maybe

  1. I’ve always been kind of bothered by these sorts contrived moral dilemmas in The Simpsons. In the golden years they at least made sense and handled in a believable and memorable fashion. Like how an average family would react. But here the sinful deed is winning a million dollars! I know that what Homer did was a jerkass thing to do but Marge isn’t exactly a saint either, especially if she had $1 million staring at her in the face. I’m thinking of episodes like “Blood Feud” where the family was willing to use their son in a blood transfusion in the promise of huge rewards.

    And the Funtendo Wii sideplot reminds be of the South Park Wii episode where Cartman is desperately after one. Sure it was more timely, funny, and had decent commentary but it still had the air a Wii commercial with Cartman saying “Nintendo Wii” 50 times instead of just “Wii” like a normal person and how everyone in the world seemed to want one.

  2. My “One good line/moment” from this episode would be where Homer Is in line at the store and he gets everyone around him to make train noises to simulate waiting at a railway crossing. That might just be because I like trains, instead of it being a quality moment, though.

  3. Mike just to note that the Twitter and Episode Index needs updating.

  4. You state that the Simpsons must be well off as Lisa is able to buy the Zii herself, which is incorrect. Prior to this scene, when Lisa is in the retirement home, one of the octogenarian’s gives Lisa all the money they’d collectively been saving there in order to buy a cable box. She instead buys them the Zii thinking they’d get more satisfaction from it.

  5. My favorite line from this episode is actually the part where Homer tells Barney that he can read his “adult magazines” and Barney pulls out an issue of “The Economist”, still cheering.

    Then again, with some things happening to me, that may just be personal.

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