Season Ten Revisited (Part Three)


13. Homer to the Max

  • The midseason TV opening is pretty good, with Homer’s blind excitement over what will undeniably be a night of great television (with his ranking chart of “Excellent Shows” and “Really Good Shows.”) Lisa’s comment about midseason being “a dumping ground for second-rate shows” may be mostly correct, but it feels especially mean given that Futurama would premiere mid-season just a month after this aired.
  • “Police Cops” is great dumb TV, with its random explosions, “Homer Simpson” catching the crook’s bullet and throwing it back at him (followed by him ordering, “Arrest that guy!”) and the ending text revealing the blood used being provided by the Red Cross (Donate Blood Today!)
  • I really like the idea of Homer being admired solely for having a cool character on TV having the same name as him. It definitely feels true to Springfield’s small town nature that Homer’s bar buddies would be especially impressed by something like that. I do not like the opening bit where Homer is too stupid to realize that it’s not actually him on TV (“Did you see the way Daddy caught that bullet?”)
  • There’s a bit too much literal dialogue of characters plainly explaining the mechanics of television, from Lenny’s “Looks like they changed the character into a bumbling sidekick!” to Lisa explaining how TV pilots work. This feels like the early stages of the over-explaining dialogue creeping in.
  • Moe and the other barflies cheering Homer for his cool-by-association name I can buy, but Homer the town-wide pariah after “Homer Simpson” becomes a bumbling buffoon is another. Why would everybody in town, including actual celebrity Krusty, publicly hound Homer because of this? Even putting aside that “Police Cops” is apparently this monster hit two episodes in that everybody in town has seen, are they all as dumb as Homer in thinking that he’s literally the same character? And yes, “Homer Simpson” is a moron just like our Homer, but that’s not even part of it. It feels like this could have been a weird meta episode where Homer is upset about his TV doppelganger’s exaggerated portrayal. I don’t know where they could have gone with it, but it could have been interesting.
  • Pretty good visual summation of the past year.
  • Homer not only flies to Hollywood for just one scene, but manages to get a meeting with seven producers to express his grievances. Absurdity of the set-up aside, their explanation about their dumbass ideas is great, from their original idea (“The thirteen of us began with a singular vision: Titanic meets Frasier”) and its evolution into “Badge Patrol” (“The network idiots didn’t want a show about high-tech badges that shoot laser beams!”)
  • It’s a bit over half the running time that Homer actually changes his name, making the episode really feel like two stories crammed together. “Homer vs. TV” wasn’t perfect, but definitely felt like it could have been expanded and smoothed out into a full-length, competently told story. But I really don’t know what to make of the Max Power story. I guess it’s supposed to be Homer reinventing himself, but he just kind of falls into the “friendship” of a charming upperclassmen, and that causes Homer to get excited about rubbing elbows with “Springfield’s young, hip power couples,” for some fucking reason.
  • I said last time it was the last Dankmus, but “strap yourself in and feel the G’s” reminded me there’s actually one more fantastic one.
  • My favorite joke in act three is Homer’s innocent admission he got the idea of “Max Power” off a hairdryer. That line alone makes me wish it belonged to a better episode.
  • A fatal flaw of the third act is the very existence of Trent Steele and his rich, young and hip associates residing in Springfield. Springfield had always been a small nothing of a town, with Mr. Burns being a sole heartless plutocrat throttling the throat of a poorer city, with the other “elites” being the likes of Evelyn and her friends from “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield,” born-and-raised Springfieldians with a little more extra income they can flaunt in others’ faces. Meanwhile, Trent Steele lives on a lavish estate, holding garden parties attended by Hollywood celebrities and the fucking President. What business is he in? What the hell are he and the others doing in a jerkwater berg like Springfield? This feels like the first warning sign of Springfield slowly becoming whatever the show needs it to be, which more often than not is Los Angeles, Jr. so the writers could make relatable SoCal jokes.
  • The ending just sucks so much. Homer and Marge getting swept up in the whole environmentalist cause was a left field plot turn in an entire left field third act, but then the chain sawing through the entire giant redwood within a minute or two and knocking down the whole goddamn forest like dominoes… fuck.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Pure crap. If there is a season next year, I will not watch it. The writing was pathetic, the jokes were all repeated, and the Clinton joke was simply terrible. Please, please, please, please end the Simpsons now.”

14. I’m With Cupid

  • Bart’s last minute digestive system project serves the necessary plot function of establishing Apu’s never-ending work schedule and setting up the dinner date, but there’s not really anything clever or funny about it. Nelson makes it explode on the bus, and that’s basically it. It feels like a first act set piece that would have at least seven or eight solid jokes just a few seasons ago.
  • A season after her introduction, we get our second look at Manjula (it can be argued that it’s really her first look since she only appeared in the last two minutes of her last episode.) There’s not really much to her character, which to be fair, in this plotline, she’s just supposed to be the disappointed wife. It’s just weird considering they bothered to marry off a significant secondary character, they didn’t even think to examine how his life would change or what his partner would be like. One season later, they decided to give him eight kids, and since then, we’ve learned next to nothing more about Manjulia or the octuplets except that they make Apu more exhausted because having a wife and kids sure is hell, amirite, folks?! Even though putting a magnifying lens up to Apu’s sworn allegiance to the Kwik-E-Mart kind of sours the joke of it, an episode actually about Apu’s rivaling love between his work and his wife might actually be interesting, but instead, we got a painfully generic Valentine’s plot that tells us nothing about the couple themselves, but ends up mostly being hijacked by wacky Homer shenanigans. You know, just like last time! 
  • A very funny touch to see Surly Duff in a hot rod on the Duff calendar. A very romantic picture for February.
  • The best scene in the episode is the brief glimpse at Chief Wiggum’s love life: him talking about how Sarah is usually all over him after he reads a couple of tasteless jokes is pretty adorable, quickly followed by his pathetic plea to his wife about how expensive Viagra is. How exactly did I learn more about Chief Wiggum’s marriage in a ten second scene than Apu’s in an episode ostensibly all about his?
  • Homer riles up the other husbands at Moe’s, which of course consists of familiar faces like Dr. Hibbert and Ned Flanders, for some reason. Why doesn’t he bust out the ol’ heart costume and croon for Maude like the good old days? Also Moe goes along for the ride, because why not. Once more, we’re just plugging in our regular characters whenever possible, regardless of the situation, which ultimately makes the once sprawling town of Springfield feel much smaller.
  • Elton John doesn’t have much to do, but he’s not bad. I like his incredibly touched response to Moe’s bullshit made-up compliment about teaching them to love again (“Really? I did that?”) and how instantly annoyed Apu gets at him referencing his songs. It’s actually even funnier given in the recent episode “Uncut Femmes,” Bob Seger’s guest appearance was just a series of him quoting his song titles, and that was supposed to be the joke. Season 10 is where the free fall for this series really starts, but we’re nowhere near the bottom yet.
  • A big problem for me in this show is Homer is basically a raging jackass for most of the running time. Then we get to him beating up a pilot in mid-flight, dangling off the plane, flying through rose bushes… I guess when they watched that sequence back, they were just laughing their asses off? Despite ignoring Marge through the entire episode, he is completely redeemed by the end via complete coincidence, and it sucks. We love Homer because despite his ignorance and occasional selfishness, he genuinely cares and tries to do the right thing if pressed. Here, he doesn’t do a damn thing.
  • Sarah cutting Ralph’s hair on the front lawn is really cute, as is Pamela Hayden’s sweet little laugh after she reads the skywriting blob in the air as “Poppin’ Fresh,” Clancy’s pet name for her. This may be the most we saw of Sarah Wiggum before “Uncut Femmes,” but you know what, I’ll take “sweet housewife in love with her big dumb husband” over “retired girlboss jewel thief who fell in love with her mark” any fucking day.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “Like always these days, Home-boy owned this episode, yet some good support was brought from other residents of Springfield. This ep had a few humorous laughs, a nice(tacked on) cameo, and a good focus on Apu and Manjula. The problem was, though, that Homer acted too much like he usually does in this season: a jerk. And that is never a good thing.”

15. Marge Simpson in “Screaming Yellow Honkers”

  • “That’s Edu-tainment” doesn’t work whatsoever. The teachers and staff of Springfield Elementary can’t fucking wait to bolt out of school at last bell, why are they holding an elaborate live comedy show? Even if it was a fundraising effort, it would be a big stretch, but there’s no mention of anything like that. The opening really could have been anything, they just needed a set piece of a traffic jam of people trying to leave, leading Homer to see the Canyonero (driven by Krusty, who was inexplicably attending a school event.) The only bit I liked was Chalmers seething with anger at Skinner blowing the “Who’s On First” routine, muttering about the “sexless freak” while storming off stage.
  • “I hate to change lanes once I get going. That’s really for race car drivers.” “As soon as I get over, that lane will stop moving. Erma Bombeck said so, and Dave Barry agrees.” I’m a pretty overly cautious driver, so I feel somewhat embarrassed that I found these lines very relatable.
  • Gil definitely feels like he’s starting to wear out his welcome. It’s not easy shaking him up when it’s basically the same schtick every time with him.
  • An episode actually about Marge’s unaddressed pent up anger being channelled through road rage might have been interesting. She’s definitely a woman with a lot of locked away frustration, but very few episodes actually deal with it. I remember the third act of season 14’s “Brake My Wife, Please” introduced that plot angle randomly with Marge unconsciously trying to maim Homer, and it was really stupid. Here, Marge starts driving the Canyonero and just randomly starts raging, then anger management cures her, then she gets angry again, feels remorseful that her license is revoked, then is angry one last time to save the day. It’s not so much plot progression as a random character trait being switched on and off as needed.
  • The anger management class is easily the best part of the episode: Wiggum’s speech about breaking the class down and building them back up (if time permits), Eddie getting savaged as Curtis E. Bear, and the Road Rage filmstrip, which is a pretty perfect piece on its own (“Anger is what makes America great. But you must find a proper outlet for your rage. Fire a weapon at your television screen, pick a fight with someone weaker than you, or write a threatening letter to a celebrity. So when you go out for a drive, remember to leave your murderous anger where it belongs: at home.”)
  • Mike Scully, his wife/show producer and writer Julie Thacker and their five daughters make an appearance running out of the wildlife sanctuary. Switching to the commentary for this part, Mike Scully laughed, “Take that, No Homers!” I don’t know if people actually complained (or even knew about this) at the time, but it feels weirdly vindictive. I dunno, I guess it’s fine, you’re the boss, you can put your family members into the show as cameos if you want, why not (his kids also make a noticeable appearance in “Simpsons Bible Stories.”) It just feels kind of lame and cheap to me as a viewer though. We previously saw cameos of the writing staff as the much abused and beleaguered writer’s room of Itchy & Scratchy, which actually feels appropriate, but stuff like this feels like when somebody’s niece gets to be a featured extra in a movie because their parents are friends with the studio head or something.
  • The fucking rhino ending is so bad. It’s bad enough that it’s unintentionally caused by Homer being a dick, but it’s just so cartoonishly absurd, and it just goes on for so long, where Homer and the kids are trapped, then the last rhino takes Homer through the town, then he’s stuck in the porta-john… all completely boring and laugh-free.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review:Well, this was pleasantly surprising … It’s rare these days when they can make a good episode about Marge. Can’t really say I liked the overall wackiness of the rhino scenes but the first two acts were a treat. For a late-season Simpsons episode, this is about as enjoyable as they come. The Simpsons to me is a shadow of it’s former self these past couple of seasons, but it can still be quite entertaining once in awhile.

16. Make Room For Lisa

  • Bill & Marty’s lame “Men Without Jobs” crack followed by them obnoxiously laughing is pretty good.
  • The OmniTouch stuff at the beginning is pretty solid, with the representative outlining America’s priorities (“Anti-tobacco programs, pro-tobacco programs, killing wild donkeys, and Israel.”) The corporate sponsorship/possession of historical treasures concept is also interesting, but doesn’t really go anyway beyond the opening.
  • I’m sure I bitched enough about how awful it is that Homer just completely gutted Lisa’s room. Where did all her stuff go? Why didn’t they put all that stuff in Maggie’s room? Why does Marge seem to not give a shit? The whole thing is pretty much forgotten partway into act two, so it really could have been any slight of Homer’s to alienate Lisa to kick this story off.
  • Homer spends half the episode acting as a fucking asshole to Lisa to the point that she becomes physically ill with stress, and it really sucks. I get that it’s establishing how diametrically opposite they are, contrasting Lisa doing homework with “When Animals Attack Magicians,” but Homer just comes off so, so bad here. His inability to connect with Lisa in the past came off as awkward, and at worse ignorantly dismissive, but here it’s just moment after moment of him aggressively ignoring Lisa’s pleas, and all of this after completely destroying her room.
  • The baby monitor subplot is just boring time filler. I guess instead of helping her daughter out in any way, Marge decides to revel in town gossip. I do like Agnes being upset about Skinner driving through tunnels (“I know what they represent!”)
  • Not a fan of Homer dismissing new age medicine as “touchy-queery crap.” I know he’s a latent homophobe, but it feels a little gross.
  • The wild adventures of Homer in the tube goes on for so fucking long. Even this episode needs a lengthy action sequence? There’s little to no jokes in these scenes, it’s not exciting or interesting, why were there so many of these in the Scully years?
  • The moving men are easily the strongest part of the episode: their gruff rebuttal to the new age shop owner (“Channel somebody who gives a damn!”), the two of them arduously trying to lift the heavy deprivation tube with Homer in it (“Ah, screw it, I got health insurance!”), and the one guy teasing the other with the crystal while driving (“Your baby will be a girl!” “Shut up!”)
  • Homer has it even easier here than the ending of “I’m With Cupid,” where he re-enters Marge’s good graces by complete accident. Here, he doesn’t have to do a damn thing, Lisa forgives him after seeing things from his perspective in the deprivation tube. Lisa even blames herself for her frayed relationship with her father (“I can really be a pain in the butt.”) I mean, we never saw Lisa be irrationally angry at Homer in this episode, despite all the truly terrible things he said and did, nor have we ever seen her be that sternly direct to Homer as she was in her dream sequence. It’s very strange, and feels completely unsatisfying. On the commentary, Mike Scully and company joke about the message of the episode being kids seeing things from their parent’s perspective (“We do our best, kids!”) With this episode being written by Brian Scully, could this script have been born out of grievance about all the things they were dragged to by their kids, with having Homer be their surrogate and Lisa apologizing to them? I mean, it’s not a bad idea, but it feels like too big of a burden that an eight-year-old should be that compromising of their fragile, idiotic manchild of a father, especially after, again, he completely destroyed her room for no reason and it never being brought up again. Fuck this episode.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “An excellent episode about learning to compromise, taking family for granted, and character growth. A month after I lost all hope in the series, they come at me with this. I pray that this trend continues. ‘Make Room for Lisa’ is easily the best episode so far with Mike Scully as executive producer.”

17. Maximum Homerdrive

  • I appreciate Lisa’s more restrained outrage in the opening about The Slaughterhouse (“Lousy meat-eating scum! …not you!” is a good line.) Her being upset about the cartoonishly brutal practices of the new restaurant feels appropriate, and it’s also great how she’s just not present when the family goes there, that you can fill in that gap of her refusing to go yourself as a viewer with moderate intelligence paying attention to what they’re watching, something that doesn’t really happen anymore. This Lisa stands in great contrast with the recent episode where she tricks everyone into eating mushroom tacos and then feels personally attacked when she finds meat was added to it.
  • The Slaughterhouse is honestly a pretty great set piece, with its incredibly graphic neon sign and the pounded flat chicken menu (“The kid’s menu is on the beak!”) Even though it makes little sense for him to be there, I like Mr. Burns’ dissatisfaction that the original steer he chose to kill “didn’t put up much of a fight. Homer entering an eating contest and becoming horrified at actually becoming full is a great concept as well, as is Dr. Hibbert turning a blind eye to any wrongdoings of a restaurant he owns 12% share in (“Looks to me like beef poisoning… probably from some other restaurant.”)
  • The end of act one where Homer takes up the job of trucker feels like a self-parody of these wacky “Homer-gets-a-job” episodes, which on one hand I can somewhat admire the transparency of, but on the other, it feels pretty shocking that they are this referential about it so quickly. Pointing out shoddy writing doesn’t excuse it, of course, as I’ve screamed and ranted about over and over on this blog, but there’s some level of innocence to it in this early episode that I can’t quite place exactly why.
  • The Red Rascal decal on the truck is a great design, with the Tex Avery wolf and Confederate babe.

  • Marge and Lisa’s doorbell escapades is definitely a much better follow-up than their stupid egg-scapdes in “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday.” Marge considering doorbell shopping to be a walk on the wild side, then wanting the first ring to be organic all feels appropriate, and lends itself to some funny scenes, like the Jehovah’s witnesses having a change of heart moments from ringing (“Let’s go get real jobs,”) to Marge’s conservative Luigi’s order of half an order of garlic bread just to get him to the house. It’s not amazing material, but still enjoyable.
  • The scene of Homer and Bart at the diner (which I think is a syndication cut) is so bizarre, with Homer waxing on about divorcing Marge to live the trucker life. It’s this weird thing where you’re not sure whether Homer is fantasizing or if he’s serious and believes he can be a real trucker… it’s difficult to tell with these kinds of episodes because Homer has no real motivation for any of his new occupations, so anything he says and does ultimately feels pointless.
  • The auto-driver third act twist isn’t a bad idea (“All you gotta do is sit back and feel your ass grow!”) but then Homer just lays out on the hood of the car and blabs about it to strangers for no real reason just so we can manufacture a conflict to close the episode on. Then he flips his big rig multiple times over an entire convoy because who gives a shit about writing things that make sense, right?
  • The ass-pull appearance of the train to get Homer and Bart back to Springfield is another clear example of the self-awareness of this nonsense (“Are you crazy?  I’m not driving a trainload of napalm to Springfield!”) But you know what, I laughed. This episode isn’t any less dumb than a lot of season 10, but for some reason I have some fondness for it. Maybe the acknowledgement of its goofiness makes it easier to swallow, especially in the early stages of the show turning into wet garbage, but I give this episode a pass.
  • Simpsons Archive retro review:Typical of later-season Swartzwelder material in that the humor was lacking but we got to see some nice Homer-Bart bonding, which was about the only thing really redeeming about it. Not much to laugh at; they can’t seem to progress beyond the most obvious gag anymore, and it’s very very sad. This ‘Homer gets into some crazy crazy job’ was getting tiresome last season and yet it’s still being rehashed over and over. The subplot with the whole doorbell thing was a snooze. Even Futurama was disappointing – has Groening lost his touch completely? Half-grade deduction for using a Spice Girls song – SHAME ON YOU STAFF!

18. Simpsons Bible Stories

  • Ah, the very first, and certainly not the last, trilogy episode. I’ve bitched about this before, but I really don’t like these episodes, nor do I like fantasy episodes of any other series. When you’re retelling a known story with your protagonists, there’s no interest from me as a viewer because it feels just like going through the motions of an established narrative, which is not why I tune into what was once an original and creative comedy program. Treehouse of Horrors are different because they’re stories that still exist within the reality of Springfield (at least in the classic era) and experiment more with tone than the other trilogy shows. 
  • “Christ Dyed Eggs For Your Sins” is a damn solid church marquee joke, definitely in the top 3.
  • I don’t know if I ever caught this, but Bart’s “Bush set me up!” complaining about the burning bush ratting him out is definitely a reference to the immortal words of former D.C. mayor Marion Barry’s famous words after getting busted smoking crack with a hooker, “Bitch set me up!” Making such a crude reference in a Biblical story definitely deserves some degree of props.
  • I’m pretty sure I mentioned this in the original review, but Milhouse/Moses commanding his people to flush the toilets to empty the Red Sea feels like something they would have done in the Rugrats Chanukah special or something. That’s maybe not the best comparison to make for a show like this.
  • Homer’s People’s Court dream is the best one, with the twist on the King Solomon tale and Jesus taking the stand (his “My Accident” folder always makes me laugh.) I think it’s my favorite because it’s like a minute long, you get the joke about the story and you move on.
  • Bart’s David vs. Goliath dream being somewhat structured like an action movie, with its revenge story and training montage, definitely makes it feel more distinct, like what you’d normally get from a Treehouse of Horror. I also like that it feels like something Bart might actually be dreaming about, a Biblical story filtered through his perspective. If all the trilogy stories were done with this distinct point-of-view storytelling device, they might be more interesting (Bob’s Burgers does its trilogy stories this way, with the stories being told by one character in their own unique way.)
  • Simpsons Archive retro review: “I’m not one of those Old Testament-thumping fundamentalists, but come on! MILHOUSE AS MOSES? What better way to insult the Jewish people in the middle of Passover than to have the Red Sea part by flushing a bunch of ancient Egyptian port-a-potties? Were the writers looking for a way to shock people? Mission accomplished. As for the Adam and Eve story, it started out kind of cute, but after the apple business it all went downhill. Watching this episode was like LIVING in a Treehouse of Horror episode!”

12 thoughts on “Season Ten Revisited (Part Three)

  1. I figured Ned reached his creative peak with the heart costume and didn’t want to be repetitive.

    (Also, wasn’t The Simpsons Spin-Off Showcase the first trilogy episode?)

    1. It can definitely be seen as a precursor, but the format of Simpsons characters being inserted into famous stories in non-TOH episodes really started with “Simpsons Bible Stories.”

  2. * I feel the first two thirds of “Homer to the Max” are among the best Season 10 has to offer, especially that “All in the Family 1999” show at the beginning where Archie Bunker is no longer a bigot. The final act is where it falls apart, but I feel that is a good summation of a lot of Scully-era episodes: fine until the third act.

    * I do like the scene of Apu and Manjula arguing and Homer trying to make it out. (“I think ‘sala’ means ‘jerk,’ and ‘Manjula’ appears to be some kind of spaceship.”)

    * The talent show at the beginning of “Screaming Yellow Honkers” did give us Bart’s immortal line, “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.” It’s a quote that easily applies to a lot of modern Simpsons episodes.

    * Also immortal: “I sentence you to kiss my ass!”

    * “Make Room for Lisa” is very much the poor man’s “Lisa’s Pony.” This episode also tries to dive into the Homer/Lisa relationship, but any attempt at sweetness is undercut by Homer being a jerk. I do like Bart and Homer’s excitement over the pen-clicking race, and Wiggum’s “Crime doesn’t take a vacation.”

    * The Slaughter House is a great opening set piece. I love Homer’s reaction to Lisa’s description of the restaurant (“There’s a place like that in Springfield? Then why are we eating this crap?”) and the cows mocking him in his hallucination (“Lousy drunks!”)

    * “Simspsons Bible Stories” is basically the best of the non-TOH trilogy episodes, although it was basically all downhill afterward so I’m not sure that’s high praise. (“Tales from the Public Domain” ain’t bad though.) Bart’s dream is the best of the three, and ending the episode with “Highway to Hell” playing over the credits was a good way to go.

  3. The ALFie for…

    EPISODE THAT COULD HAVE BEEN AWESOME WITH A MINOR REWRITE

    “Homer to the Max”

    Damn, “Homer to the Max.” You could have been so good. I mean, Homer discovering a popular TV character with the same name as him and suddenly being well-liked to the public because of it? This is a concept that I’m surprised the show didn’t do while it was in its prime. Could you imagine a premise like this in a Mirkin episode? The problem is, it just kinda draaaaaaags. Of course, the premise of Homer wanting to change his name after said TV character becomes a dolt like him and gets ridiculed by the public for it is also an awesome concept. But it just ends up falling apart as Max Power for some weird-ass reason gets accepted to high society. And then it ends with Homer knocking down a bunch of trees like dominoes. Oh well, at least I can count this as the episode that gave us “Admiral Baby.”

    “I’m with Cupid” is another episode that starts off fine but goes off the rails by act three. Just a nice simple grounded story of Apu having marital troubles with his wife of one full season and asking Homer for assistance. And then all the other husbands become jealous of Apu for some reason when Homer helps mend their relationship with all those romantic gesutres and it ends with a wacky action sequence of Homer on a plane. This and “Homer to the Max” are not bad episodes. There’s plenty of funny stuff in both of them. I only wish that they were written under more competent hands.

    The next couple of episodes though, are certainly bad. You know that classic Bart line during the intolerable Faculty Talent Show opening (Why would an elementary school have something like this to begin with?!) where he says “I didn’t think it was physically possible, but this both sucks and blows.” Not only is it the best part of the episode, it’s the perfect way to describe “Screaming Yellow Honkers” I do like the title though, I only wish “Honkers” referred to those muppet creatures instead of road rage. Oh yeah, a Marge-centered episode about road rage turns into a wacky Jerkass Homer escapade where he gets attacked by rhinos and Marge has to rescue her circus clown of a husband. It’s terrible. There’s even a brief scene that apes The Shining that really makes me wish I was watching “Treehouse of Horror V” instead. I guess I’ll conclude my mini-review of this crap with probably the first line in the series that feels laugh-track worthy: “When will Detroit build a sunroof for the husky gentleman?” Ugh… Still better than “Brake My Wife, Please” which ties with “Three Gays of the Condo” for my most hated Season 14 episode and seriously, fuck Season 14! I can’t believe it’s graduating high school this year.

    “Lost our Lisa” sucks too just for the simple reason of Homer being an intolerable ass to his daughter and Lisa’s reconciliation with that raging douchebag being the fact that he takes her places that he hates which doesn’t work because of how he was whining about it in the first place. Oh yeah, and Homer’s wild ride in the tank is sooooo stupid. Season 10 feels less like a satirical FOX comedy and more like a Nicktoon whose target audience is grade-schoolers.

    “Maximum Homerdrive” is dumb. That’s the only way I can describe the plot of it. It’s just dumb. The doorbell B-Plot is also kinda dry but at least it had the best jokes in the episode and Senor Ding-Dong is an underrated character (With a great animated cape too!) Other than that though, yeah. I’ve got nothing on Homer getting a job as a trucker with the dramatic climax being an action scene where the truck flips 360 degrees.

    Obviously I’ve got nothing on “Bible Stories” either because… ya know. It’s the first of the anthology episodes that plagues Zombie Simpsons. The segments aren’t bad and all three have funny jokes but really, there’s no reason for this or any of the other ones later in the line to exist. Even “Tales of the Public Domain” which is probably the only anthology episode I genuinely enjoy, I still question why it exists. Oh, and shoutout to Season 17 for having TWO of these episodes. I love you two, Season 17. JK no I don’t. You’re awful and you make Season 10 look good.

    I’m glad we at least got one more Dankmus remix but a small part of me is desperately hoping that they made Dankmus remixes for Season 11 episodes and that you show them once you get to the final season.

    I know re-reviewing Season 10 must be a slog but hey, at least this dreadful season ends with the two best episodes. Looking forward to those diamonds in the rough next week!

    1. Okay, I found a Dankmus remix from Season 11. I’m not going to say which one because it will ruin the surprise.

  4. “Homer to the Max” had a very interesting premise, despite the abstract lengths it went in presenting both Homer as suave and a buffoon due to a TV show. There were even a few moments in the second act that call attention to how similar both are, and I’m not simple referring to run-ins with cacti. It’s just, we’re starting to get at the phase of the series in which the staff begin to come up with ideas, only to either lose interest or struggle to figure out what exactly to do with them, which is only made worse by the fact the show is starting to hit the audience over the head with explaining the situation or jokes as opposed to having faith they’ll figure out what’s going on (ironically, as the show started producing more TV-14 rated episodes, it felt like it was being written to younger children & the dimwitted with having to point out stuff like their audience is unable to get the point… ironically, Family Guy often makes TV-MA programs and literally just writes “This is a Joke” on the screen, so make that what you will about irrelevant animated programs and who they target). More than likely, it was an excuse to have Homer change his name first and foremost, but they spent so much time building up the TV show that you’d think they would rather just have Homer, a lifelong devout and supporter of all things television, suddenly oppose TV and fight to cancel “Police Cops” in order to restore dignity to his name as opposed to the whole “Let’s have Homer change his name and get a new identity” shtick. I should quickly comment there’s a very weird syndication edit in this episode, since the syndicated joke implies that the idea of making a show where “Titanic” meets “Frasier” scared the crap out of the writers, when the original joke was that ABC was already working on a similar premise with Jeremy Piven, and the executives were scared of either a lawsuit or learning what a “Jeremy Piven” was.

    The third act is very awful, since like you said, it makes no sense for Springfield to have affluence. That’s Los Angeles suburbs starting to ooze into the show. I also was and still am very annoyed by how adamant Homer was against helping the environment, that Homer literally becoming a Captain Planet villain would become one of his lesser-known bad traits as the show goes on. Homer’s selfishness and laziness was written largely as him being a generic American suburban man at the beginning, but after that random bit in “Bart Gets Famous” in opposition to charity, Homer being opposed to worthwhile causes sort of became a running gag that was done more often to have Homer be a jerkass than to highlight people’s lack of motivation to help the less fortunate or to do what’s right. And this was kicked into high gear in the Scully Era. Lastly, score another point for “Homer is a terrible husband” for randomly changing Marge’s name without her consent.

    “I’m With Cupid” is a generic Valentine’s Day episode that’s likely best remembered for two things; Elton John, and the fist fight on the plane. Homer moaning about never eating chili again and then excitedly eating chili is one of the best Scully Era jokes due to how realistic it is. Plus, we need to show some love to “You’re A-Peeling, Let’s Never Split”. It’s surprising that, looking back, the series made an effort to take a few years to build this new character in Manjula, only for the show to drop her and the octuplets in favor of more generic “women be annoying” shtick during the 5 or 6 times she appeared since (voiced by Tress MacNeille in her limited range). Ironically, her lasting character trait was in her last spotlight episode right when Al Jean returned to begin 20+ years of malaise as the old nag who never forgave her husband for the extramarital affair. The episode also has a good idea, but botches the execution, which is normal for Mike Scully’s run, as a whole episode about Apu struggling between his job and his new wife could present an interesting dynamic, but we’d rather do a jealousy angle. It also has presented how the cast of the show is starting to lose their definitions and range as they are starting to become slotted into situations in order to fit a joke or a segment as opposed to wondering if it makes sense, in addition to having the trademarks of “Homer in pain is supposedly funny” and “It’s okay if Homer is a bad husband, since he’ll do something at the end to make everything all better”.

    “Screaming Yellow Honkers” is very manic about what it wants to be. I don’t personally care for the opening set, and while I know some people don’t like the specific moment, I’ll always love Homer going, “Aww, you suck, Marge!” When I was younger, the more capable salesman always angered me cause I wanted Gil to finally make a sale, especially as he ignored Gil’s pleas to let him do it for once, and that still rings true. I think it also is at a point where Gil is starting to wear out his welcome, since the character was written more like “the desperate failure who is never good at anything” and farther and farther away from being a mere parody of “Glengarry, Glen Ross”, which I had no idea was the origin back in the day. On the one hand, we live in an age where it would be a thrill to see older characters used, but I kind of liked the idea of having one-offs fit a niche, especially since Gil also came with Cookie Kwan, who not only was racist, but one-note (over-the-top real estate salesperson that you likely should never buy property from due to emphasizing shtick over seasoning).

    The most recent episode of the series, “Panic in the Streets of Springfield”, featured Homer randomly buying a truck, and it’s ironic that we go to the first episode of Homer foolishly buying a vehicle just cause (yes, I know “Mr. Plow” exists, but to be fair, the family had no vehicles and needed a ride for the sake of plot; this is just buying something for excess), only to wig out when he realizes it’s a special version made for women. Remember this is the guy who wears women’s underwear as a comfort thing, but the late 1990s was a particularly homophobic time period. Meanwhile, Marge just randomly develops road rage. Sure, we can debate that Marge has all sorts of instigators in her life that warrant anger, but road rage is often caused by taking one’s frustrations out while behind the wheel. It’s all purely for the sake of giving Marge something to do as it’s long established that Marge episodes are the writers’ bane since they failed to give her much character early on besides “nag” and “housewife”. Finally, ending sucks. Rhinos, Dateline, Homer being shot repeatedly during credits. Whatever.

    On an aside, Mike, the “Take that, No Homers” bit was out of context, but I think Scully’s hatred of No Homers stems for more than 20 years (technically 9 or 10 as of that commentary) as he said in a 2001 interview that there was a specific website that kept talking about wanting him fired & blaming him for everything wrong with the show. He also commented about how the internet grew during commentary for “When You Dish Upon a Star”, concluding “And now I’m despised by it.”

    “Make Room for Lisa” is a godawful episode. Not “Kidney Trouble” awful, but it’s pretty close. There’s some surprisingly subtle commentary about how the OmniTouch exhibition values celebrity knick-knacks over legitimate historical documents, given the Bill of Rights was left unguarded and treated with little attention, but beyond that, it’s hard to give it praise. Homer is very awful in this episode, as he finds the idea of doing anything with Lisa a laborious task, then when he’s forced to pay in some manner for the damages he caused, he destroys Lisa’s room without asking, as well as ignoring everything she says with boneheaded giddiness. The commentary find this kind of funny, but there’s a “deadbeat father” level of sadness going on here. I also have issues with Lisa being the one to have to apologize to Homer. Although the idea is “parents have to sacrifice stuff sometimes to make children happy”, at no point was Homer doing anything in this episode to warrant that, since he bitched about all of Lisa’s ideas of a daily excursion, destroyed her room, put her in with Bart without asking, gave her a stomach ache due to stress, recommended the anabolic steroids instead of hearing her idea, and being closed-minded about the holistic shop.

    “Maximum Homerdrive” is an episode I do like, yet I am aware of its weaknesses. It has a very good set piece in the Slaughterhouse, complete with Homer being undone during an eating contest (“I’ve become everything I’ve ever hated!”), yet it’s another “Homer gets a job” episode this season, and the most abstract, since Homer challenges a trucker who has experience in eating competitions and effectively kills him. On a side note, it’s weird that Homer considers 72 ounces “girly” since that’s a 4 pound steak, and the tourist trap known as the Big Texan in Amarillo, Texas is famous for offering a 72 ounce steak with sides as a competition if you eat it all in an hour without vomiting or leaving the area, you eat it for free.

    The driving stuff in the second act is largely the writers’ attempts at being observational, but also highlighting how Homer is both oblivious and incompetent at what it takes to be a long-distance truck driver. I’ve played both Euro Truck Simulator as well as American Truck Simulator, and also regularly watch BigRig Travels on YouTube. It’s not perfect, especially the cut scene where they’re at a truck stop diner (with more obligatory NRBQ music), but it’s harmless. I do like Homer’s attempts to be reckless and responsible biting him in the ass at the end of the second act. When we get to the auto driver is when the episode collapses on itself, which again, is how it always goes, since we suddenly need conflict as well as Homer being needlessly stupid. I think the B-story of this episode works as opposed to the random, non-sequitor story from “Sunday, Cruddy Sunday” as we are motivated by how Lisa and Marge are often the ones left alone, doing nothing, yet their attempts at something simple like getting a door bell lead to the whole town getting annoyed as it won’t stop. “Your father traded our tools for M&M’s again.” is a good line, even if it calls attention to Homer’s growing stupidity.

    I hate “Simpsons Bible Stories”. I hate that it started the trend of trilogy episodes (“Spin-Off Showcase” doesn’t count as it called attention to the concept and mocked it, while these episode genuinely do these stories), and I personally do not care at all for any of the segments. It’s particularly an infamous episode due to the ending being set in End Times, with Homer taking the family down to Hell where there’s a terrible barbecue waiting for them as AC-DC’s “Highway to Hell” blares during the credits cause why not? Commentary, which usually dozes off or is so busy laughing at themselves during the Scully Era episodes and beyond, seemed particularly defensive about this ending, arguing “You wanted them to get in the car and drive home?!”

    So, based on the salvage rankings, we’re looking at a poor bumper crop, in my opinion.

    1. “Maximum Homerdrive” (Salvage)
    2. “I’m With Cupid” (Mixed)
    3. “Homer to the Max” (Destroy)
    4. “Screaming Yellow Honkers” (Destroy)
    5. “Simpsons Bible Stories” (Destroy)
    6. “Make Room for Lisa” (Destroy with Vengeance)

  5. I’m gonna be honest in that a lot of Season 10 kinda blurs together for me- the memorable/great episodes stick out to me, but the boring ones are really forgettable and the worst of the season ranks amongst the worst of the series for me. The shows on today’s chopping block are honestly really forgettable to me, so I really don’t have a lot to say besides that I hate Make Room For Lisa with the heat of a thousand suns, it’s one of my least favorite episodes bar none.

    -I can’t say much about Homer to the Max that already hasn’t been said- great first 2 acts but just completely goes off the rails at the end. It really feels like they just had no idea how to end the episode and just pulled something out of their ass. I will say I love that the show is named “Police Cops”- it’s stupid in the best way possible.

    -I honestly like barely remember I’m With Cupid and Screaming Yellow Honkers, so no thoughts really on that one.

    -FUCK Make Room For Lisa. One of the most mean-spirited half hours of television I have ever seen. I just hate how Homer is a cunt, pretty much instigates everything that goes wrong in the show and is seen as in the right at the end. God fuck this shit. I agree with the “being dragged to places your kids want to go” is an interesting story concept but god they botch it so hard. Fuck this shit.

    -I love The Slaughterhouse set piece, it’s one of the best Scully set pieces. I’m from North Carolina so I kinda get an extra kick out of it- it feels like a steakhouse from there with a classic streak of Simpsons absurdity. The rest of the episode is pretty alright, so it gets a pass from me.

    -I also really don’t like the trilogy episodes, even for other shows unless they’re done in an interesting way like how Bob’s Burgers does them or if they have anything genuinely interesting to them- unfortunately, Simpsons Bible Stories doesn’t fit the bill at all. I do like the ending as dumb as it is though- I don’t mind it because I almost always accept that these trilogy episodes are far removed from reality/canon.

  6. I have a confession to make: I quite liked Make Room for Lisa when I was younger, mainly because of Lisa’s experience in the sensory deprivation tank (“Yuck! That sandwich is full of meat! There’s bacon… Canadian bacon… Mexican bacon… [long drool] …and a mouthwatering veal chop…”).

    Nowadays, being a lot less naive and a lot, LOT more aware of Jerkass Homer, I’d throw this episode on the scrapheap without a second thought. Homer shamelessly gutting Lisa’s room and aggressively ignoring her pleas, and yet *she’s* apologizing to *him* at the end? Fuck you, Scully brothers.

    Mind you, I’d still like to try out a sensory deprivation tank for myself…

  7. Homer to the Max is not a failure of an episode, just a disappointment. The first two acts really remind me of the Golden Years and the jokes are so good (“Let’s get this bank back to our hideout and we’ll break into it later”), if only it could’ve stuck the landing and changed the third act. I don’t even hate Homer changing his name, but the celebrities and action sequence were unnecessary and dragged the whole episode down. So close to being great, this one.

    I’m With Cupid is mediocre. Too sitcom-y and not enough good jokes, but it’s not outright terrible.

    Agree with everything on Screaming Yellow Honkers and Make Room For Lisa. Those episodes are hot garbage.

    Glad you kinda, sorta like Maximum Homerdrive. It’s always been a guilty pleasure for me. The jokes are snappy and clever and most of them land. Not every episode needs to be deep. It has the same vibe as Marge vs. the Monorail, Homer the Vigilante and Bart Gets an Elephant. Just 20 minutes of fun.

    Simpsons Bible Stories is okay. Much better than any of the trilogy episodes to come after it.

  8. I always felt that “Make Room For Lisa” could have been so much better if they kept the first third of the episode the same, but had the rest of the episode focus on Bart and Lisa’s relationship after they’re forced to share a room.

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