Original airdate: November 23, 2014
The premise: Homer teams up with the other neighborhood bands to form a small town cover band, with Apu as the lead singer, who uncannily channels the sound of 80s crap rock. It isn’t long before the washed up band Sungazer shows up to tap Apu to join them on their new tour.
The reaction: Boring… so boring… When you’re getting flashbacks to “How I Spent My Strummer Vacation,” that’s not the best sign. We’ve got Homer, Lovejoy, Kirk Van Houten and Dr. Hibbert together in a dude band… okay. These are four personalities I don’t see gelling, but of course, the latter three don’t exhibit any real character or really do anything except stand in the background and occasionally say a line about how great things are going (“Guys, are you feeling this? Are you feeling this?” “I’m feeling it.” “I’m definitely feeling it.” “I felt something earlier but I was afraid to bring it up.” “I think we all felt something.” ACTUAL DIALOGUE) The real highlight of the band is Apu, who sings in a completely different voice that’s not Hank Azaria’s (I think) due to some bullshit about 80s wuss rock bleeding into his brain after years of all-night Kwik-E-Mart shifts. So now it’s like “Strummer” meets “Homer’s Barbershop Quartet,” except a drunken Barney being discovered lying on the bathroom floor singing in an angelic voice is actually funny, and this shit isn’t. They sing covers from the fake 80s band Stargazer, and like we’ve seen with style “parodies” this show has attempted over the last few years, they more or less just replicate shitty songs, not actually write jokes and make fun of them. Later, Stargazer shows up, and despite being a fictional band, Kirk names off all four members individually when they first appear as if they were actual celebrities that they always namedrop all the time. They want Apu to replace their dead band member, and he agrees, but Homer gets jealous about his friend’s newfound fame. The writing is so fucking bad… here’s how this goes. Apu gets on the tour bus, and we get this exchange from Kirk and Homer (“Gotta say, I’m kind of jealous of Apu getting a break like that.” “Not me. I’m nothing but happy that our friend is heading for fame and fortune.”) Then Apu flies away in a helicopter, that I guess was on top of the tour bus that nobody noticed, shouting how they’re gonna play Las Vegas. Homer then breaks (“I want his fame and fortune so much!”) The whole episode is this, and for the thousandth time, is nothing new: characters just explaining what they’re feeling and what’s happening. Every fucking episode is like this now. In the end, Homer’s anger subsides when he finds Apu is being held against his will by a contract, they scheme and get Sungazer sick, and Apu gets his buddies back together to play to thunderous applause at a packed house in Springfield. So it’s like the ending of “Strummer,” except not as bad, considering it’s a fake 80s band that Homer and company are replacing and not the Rolling Stones, and I also could give less of a shit. Ugh.
Three items of note:
– Our opening features Moe getting into a back-alley fight with his neighbor, King Toot himself, played by Will Forte (I guess ownership has changed hands since “Lisa’s Pony.”) So many super talented guest stars have been completely and utterly wasted over the past decade-plus of shows, and now Forte joins them. Occasionally we see guest stars put in extra effort on their end, like Willem DeFoe did last show, but they have absolutely zero material to work with. The Last Man on Earth, created by and starring Forte, would premiere on FOX a few months later, and is such a wonderfully cringey and dark series, and he is masterful in it. Shit like this is beneath him. MacGruber is smarter than this. …it’s actually a surprisingly funny movie, go watch it.
– There’s a line early on that really annoyed me. Homer first plays his bass in the garage attracting the attention of the other Simpsons. Lisa comments, “It’s so cool to have another musician in the family!” Let’s ponder this. Lisa is smart enough to be able to see right through her dad that he isn’t truly serious about being a great musician. He bought it on a whim, thinking it would be easy, or he was suckered into it. Which is what happened. It happened at the same store that Lisa was in. She was there when, over the course of what must have been a couple hours, he was suckered into buying the bass and a whole bunch of other musical equipment. But this show has the memory of a mayfly, so I guess they forgot Lisa was in that scene. But again, the line makes no sense if Lisa was there or not. It’s just empty, meaningless dialogue that pushes the story forward; it doesn’t matter who says it, as long as we explain what’s happening. And in the end, Covercraft is a big local hit, so I guess Homer and company were instantly great, just like every other character that tries a new skill. Wonderful.
– The stupid story with Apu, besides the thing with his voice, is that he only feels comfortable singing at the Kwik-E-Mart, so Homer has him wear his uniform under his clothes so he’ll feel comfortable. Later, he attempts to sabotage him by stealing the uniform back when he’s on stage with Sungazer. This feels so fucking thin, like the plot of a shitty tween sitcom or something. And I guess we’re just forgetting about Homer and Apu playing around the world as the BeSharps then. I don’t care that much about continuity at this point, but it doesn’t help when they put a framed picture of the BeSharps on Apu’s dressing room wall for the sake of fan service. So they remember the episode enough to throw in a reference to it, but not enough to realize that it makes their flimsy premise completely fall apart.
One good line/moment: Guitar Central (Where Dreams Become Purchases) was a decent set piece; the conceit of the salesman preying on mid-life crises and over-complimenting them into buying as much as possible was good, not perfect, but there were some alright lines (“Usually it takes years to learn such neck confidence!”)