Original airdate: March 13, 2011
The premise: When Cheech & Chong have a falling out during their reunion tour, lifetime fan Homer partners with Cheech, while Chong finds an unusual partner in a horribly unfunny Skinner. Meanwhile, Marge tries to help the Crazy Cat Lady with her hoarding problem.
The reaction: Being of a demographic too young to have experienced Cheech & Chong in their heyday, I only really know about their comedy through pop culture osmosis. As such, a lot of this episode had me really lost, for multiple reasons. Firstly, it seems incredibly reliant on the viewers being huge fans of the duo and having awareness of their library of material. I know about “Dave’s not here,” but the bit with the headmaster? The long exchange about the van being made of pot, which is a reference to one of their movies? I hadn’t a clue what was going on. It was almost like fanservice, the writers paying tribute to a comedy act they love and respect by… just repeating their jokes? Secondly, Cheech & Chong haven’t been culturally active in quite some time now, outside of some choice appearances on late night shows and other one-off occasions. So why do this whole episode around them? So what we get is yet another instance of a Simpson becoming instantly famous and revered. Homer gets up on stage to take Chong’s place and do their comedy bits, and the crowd eats it up. Why would fans who have paid decent money to see these shows be thrilled that one half of their favorite comedy duo have been replaced by a nobody? It reminds me of “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation” when the whole crowd is more thrilled to see Homer on stage than the fucking Rolling Stones. The whole show just seems filled with things that feel like inside jokes; Chong’s desire to reinvent his older bits and Cheech’s love of Latin art, I didn’t know what to make of any of it. And then at the end, the two reunite for no real reason. We don’t even see Homer confront Chong about mending fences, it’s like we just skip to the end, because that’s what’s supposed to happen. Why write scenes that connect story beats when you can just skip to the bare bones plot elements instead? Another sorry outing.
Three items of note:
– The subplot barely gets any screen time, and also makes no sense at all. Marge takes it upon herself to clear out the Crazy Cat Lady’s house of her mountain of junk, which then makes her lucid. So her hoarding problem was the sole cause of her mental disorder? But then Marge becomes enraptured by the pile of “treasures” and unloads them in the Simpson house. Bart and Lisa arrive to find the home full of garbage, and Lisa surmises the only one that can help is Homer. Why? For what reason? And no reason is ever given for Marge being like this whatsoever. Is this her obsessive compulsion like with her gambling problem? Homer arrives home with Crazy Cat Lady, still lucid, who I guess gives up her sanity to help Marge for some reason, becoming manic by her beloved trash once more, and calling her army of cats into the Simpson house. Homer and Marge leave to wrap up the A-story, and that’s the end of it. We see so little of what actually happens in this episode, that I didn’t even realize until writing this now, that we end on the Crazy Cat Lady seemingly taking over the Simpson house with all of her cats and garbage. You’d think that would be something you would resolve. But why bother?
– Something the show seems to love nowadays is lists. Listing off jokes. We get it with Lisa reading off the six comedy album titles, and then three separate occasions of Lisa, then Marge, then finally Crazy Cat Lady naming off items in the giant hoard pile. None of it is funny, and it all just stinks of the writers trying to kill time. Additionally, there’s Homer’s psychedelic 70s fantasy of him hanging out with Cheech that lasts a full minute which also seems to exist just to run out the clock.
– When we got to Chong auditioning for replacements in the Springfield Elementary auditorium (why?!), I was really lost. We get Gil, Willie and then Skinner performing bits that may or may not be Cheech & Chong bits, but I have no idea what the fuck they’re talking about. I felt like I was having a fever dream, I just could not understand what these characters were doing. Ultimately, Chong picks Skinner, wanting to turn the “Dave’s not here” schtick into some kind of bizarro performance art, which was equally as confusing. And we almost got away with a solo Skinner appearance, but Chalmers sneaks in right near the end shouting at Skinner in the audience. But, on another tangent, this whole conceit of a classic duo breaking up, one wanting to just recycle the same material over and over, the other wanting to break out and do different things, it reminds me a lot of the old South Park episode “Terrance & Phillip: Behind the Blow,” where the Canadian comedy duo have a falling out. An episode that aired ten years prior to this feels so much stronger and funnier than this slop.
One good line/moment: I honestly can’t come up with a thing. This show is already extremely ramshackle, but put on top of that an extended tribute to a comedy team that I have basically no knowledge of, it just left me incredibly bemused for most of the running time. This is tied with “Angry Dad” for worst of the season thus far.