Lifetime of Simpsons

S01 E07 – The Call of the Simpsons

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Oh man you guys. This episode. While Moaning Lisa was probably the Simpsons first great episode from a storytelling and emotional level, I think this is it’s first great episode from a comedic point of view. Now, other episodes so far in the series have had some great jokes, but this episode is hilarious. It’s funny top to bottom, while also being the most cartoony episode yet. Yeah, there’s not a lot of pathos in this episode, but it makes up for that with a ridiculous joke per minute volume. It rocks.

Now, first of all, I want to mention that this couch gag was the weirdest yet. I’m probably not going to comment on the couch gags or chalkboard gags, unless they’re something truly special, and this one is super strange, they just run in, and sit down. And that’s it. They sit for an awkward amount of time, and the episode starts. It’s like an anti-joke or something. Weird.

Anyway, the episode starts with Bart mowing the lawn with a terrible old push mower, which I’ve never had to use before in my life, but my wife has, and says they’re awful. And the sure look that way. Screw that. Well, Bart starts to covet the Flanders’ motorized lawn mower, and just as Homer is scolding him for being greedy, Flanders pulls up in a crazy new RV, and he immediately starts to want one. Now, I’ve never been in an RV, and have never had any desire too. They seem horrible. Road trips are bad enough, why would I want to sleep in my car, and constantly be like ten feet away from the toilet? Sounds thoroughly unpleasant, but whatever, to each his own. Homer decides that the family needs an RV of their own, and heads off to Bob’s RV Round-Up, owned by Cowboy Bob, an under appreciated Albert Brooks character. I love the Albert Brooks characters, and I feel like people always talk about Hank Scorpio and Jacques when they talk about the roles he played, but Cowboy Bob really made me laugh the whole time he was on screen. He was so slimy. Well, Bob is a stereotypical used car salesman, and after schmoozing Homer and comparing him to a Greek god, Bob convinces him to apply for a credit loan to buy an enormous RV that has it’s own satellite. But as siren goes off alerting Bob to Homer’s terrible credit, and he instead convinces Homer to buy a used, rundown RV instead, something more in his price range.

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So Homer and the family bring the RV back to the house, and pack up for an inaugural camping trip. I love that the kids pass the time by playing a game called “what’s that odor.” Family road trips are really the worst. My family didn’t do them that often, because we had terrible luck on them, and based on the fact that the typical presentation of them in pop culture is having everything go wrong, I feel like that’s kind of the norm. My family has dealt with double tire blowouts on a highway and once almost getting into the path of a tornado because we were too busy listening to the soundtrack of the Disney Pocahantes movie to listen to the radio and hear the weather warnings. Good times. So of course, they drive through the forest, and eventually almost fall off a cliff, having it teeter on the edge like a Warner Brothers cartoon, before the family bails out, and the RV along with all their belongings, plummets to he bottom of a cliff and explodes.

This leads to the rest of the episode, which has the family struggle to survive lost in the middle of the woods. Homer insists that he’s an experienced woodsman, and that they should all rely on him, even though his lament of “I’ve murdered us all!” echoes throughout the canyon. So Homer, Bart, and Maggie head off into the woods in search of food while Lisa and Marge start to make camp. Lisa parts with advice on the location of the North Star, which has Homer deliver the amazingly condescending line of “That’s nice Lisa, but we’re not in astronomy class, we’re in the woods.” I love the joke of Homer not understanding Lisa, and meeting her advice with condescension. Always classic. So Homer and Bart head out, not realizing Maggie is with them, and when she makes a noise, they freak out and run off into the woods, losing her. Homer and Bart end up having a serious of misadventures that leaves them naked and hungry in the woods, while Lisa and Marge get a fully functioning camp up and running, and Maggie is taken in by some very kind bears. I love how much more competent Lisa and Marge are in this episode compared to Bart and Homer.

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Homer decides to turn a sapling into a snare, leading to two of my favorite jokes in the episode, Bart asking if Homer’s plan is for them to hang themselves, and of course the snare backfiring and launching the rabbit that it catches off into the forest like a catapult. Maggie continues to be taken care of by the bears, as they steal food and toys from other campers, including a hilariously passive-aggressive man who mocks his wife by talking to the seemingly nonexistent bears.

The episode then gets super crazy as a naked Homer tries to eat some live bees, which ends up numbing his mouth, and in a rage he runs through some mud, and is caught on camera by a man filming a stream, and of course, the news decides that he’s Bigfoot. I love everything about this scene, the news anchor talking about Bigfoot so seriously, the fact that the graphic was just the word “BIGFOOT!” with an exclamation mark, and of course the tag on the end of the joke when he says that they’ll get back to the President’s address, already in progress. Anywho, a phalanx of reporters comes down on the forest, looking for Bigfoot. Marge and Lisa are found by reporters, and after they show a picture of Bigfoot to Marge, she reveals that it’s just her husband, and we get a series of magazine cover with titles like “I Married Bigfoot” and “the Bigfoot Diet.”

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Homer is eventually caught, and scientists begin studying him. Their results are inconclusive, and a furious Homer watches the new with Marge in bed as the scientists proclaim that what they encountered was “either a below average human being, or a brilliant beast.” We then get Marge consoling Homer, and the episode ends.

Such a hilarious episode, another classic John Swartzwelder. It’s so silly and funny, and has way more jokes than I remember. Definitely the funnies episode yet in my opinion, and one that I was very happy to rediscover.

Take Away: Don’t go camping. And it’s better to be a brilliant beast, than a below average human.

“The Call of the Simpsons” was written by John Swartzwelder and was directed by Wes Archer

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