Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E12 – I Married Marge

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Flashback episode! And a depressing one at that. Man these episodes are great. Just like “The Way We Was,” this episode is structured around the kids being told a story, but I think its extra adorable that this time it’s all Homer, it’s just him telling the kids the story about Marge and his wedding and early months of their marriage. It’s so great.

The episode start right off with Homer and Marge sitting in the bathroom, while waiting for a pregnancy test to give a result. It’s hilarious that Homer bought them a Barnacle Bill’s Home Pregnancy Test, because it came with a free corncob pipe, which would totally sell me as well. But shockingly, the good people at the Barnacle Bill corporation didn’t make a reliable product, and they get an inconclusive result, so Marge heads off to Dr. Hibbert to get a more definitive answer. Homer starts to get worried about the potential new child, and he starts to tell them the story of his and Marge’s engagement. We then cut to 1980 where Marge and Homer have been dating for a couple of years, and things are going pretty good. Homer is working at a mini-golf place as the guy who turns the windmill’s blades, and Marge is living with Patty and Selma. Then we learn of the evening of Bart’s conception, which is amazing. The start the evening off by going to see the Empire Strikes Back, leading to the great scene of Homer revealing Luke Skywalker’s parentage to the crowd waiting to come in. We also get to hear Homer’s amazing compliment to Marge of “you’re as pretty as Princess Leia and as smart as Yoda.” They drive around listening to “You Light Up My Life,” and Homer talks about how God’s always angry, then they retire to the windmill on the mini-golf course, and have sex in it. And boom, Marge is pregnant. They confirm with an afro-sporting Dr. Hibbert, who gives them a pamphlet titled “So You’ve Ruined Your Life,” which I really would love to give people now that I’m an age where everyone is having babies. Homer asks Abe advice about the pregnancy, and of course Abe suggests that Homer proposes, since he’ll never get anyone as good as Marge, and now he has her trapped. So Homer decides to propose, and the scene is super sweet. He wrote down a really emotional proposal on a card so he could remember it, and then promptly loses it in the car. And while he’s digging around in the back seat for it, Marge finds it, reads the card aloud, and spoiler alert, accepts the proposal.

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We pop back to the present for just a moment to hear Bart and Lisa argue if they should name the potential fourth Simpson child Ariel or Cool Modee Simpson. All the talk of baby names has Homer remember the time that they were shopping for wedding rings and talking about boy names. Homer makes it his mission to shoot down all of Marge’s picks because they rhyme with things that the other kids can mock him for, and doesn’t notice the problem with Bart, so they stick with it. So they head off to the romantic locale of Shotgun Pete’s Wedding Chapel, and get hitched. It’s so sketchy. The “reverend” doesn’t even learn their names and just has them speak a fill in the blank vow. The happy couple head back from their romantic nuptials to continue living with Patty and Selma while Homer realizes that he can’t get a house and support a family with the salary that comes from turning a crank in a mini-golf place. So he heads off to the new Nuclear Power Plant looking for work. Unfortunately the job he applies for only has two openings, and there’s two other guys applying for the job, and not only are they competent, they’re frat brothers with Smithers. So Homer leaves, jobless, and begins getting really weird part times jobs. He makes candles at an old timey place, sells knives door to door, and gets attacked by attack dogs. He even goes to a pyramid scheme, and the dude uses an overhead projector, which was hilarious to see. My teachers were still using overhead projectors my whole time in high school, so I know as of 2007 they were still in use, but I can’t imagine people use them anymore. It was a hell of a flashback.

But sadly Homer doesn’t find work, and things start to get bad for them financially. Repo men even show up and take all the baby stuff they had bought, and even take Marge’s ring. That’s the final straw for Homer, and he leaves the family, writing a letter to Marge, and heads off to find employment with the promise that every cent he makes will come back to Marge and the baby, and they won’t have to deal with his failure any longer. No one knows where Homer went, until Patty and Selma go to the lovely named Gulp-N-Blow fast food restaurant and see that he’s working as a chef there. And because they’re terrible, they decide not to tell Marge. I love that Homer goes and looks at the Power Plant like it’s a goddamned paradise. Anyway, Marge is obviously depressed about Homer’s absence, and Patty finally grows a heart, and tells Marge where Homer is working. So Marge goes to Gulp-N-Blow and talks to Homer through the drive-thru speaker, and they run out to reunite. Then things gets super emotional, and Marge tell him she wants him back, and he puts an onion ring on her finger to symbolize their love, and even says “pour vous,” in a super adorable nod to the whole French tutor thing. Homer then marches straight to the Power Plant, busts into Burns’ office and tell him to give him a job because he’ll be a completely subservient worker. Burns agrees, and Homer heads off with a job. He stops by the Bouvier house, and learns that Marge is in labor, and gets a ride to the hospital with Mrs. Bouvier. Homer then finally grows some balls and stands up to Patty and Selma, yelling at them to give him respect and stop demeaning him. Then little Bart is born, and Homer gets to hold his son for the first time. Bart then promptly lights Homer’s tie on fire with a lighter, because he’s a natural born trouble maker. With Bart’s birth, the story is over, and we see Homer tell the kids that he was blessed with each of their births, and is ready for a fourth kid if it comes to that. But then Marge comes home, announces she isn’t pregnant, and they high five.

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Man this episode rocks. I’ve mentioned before that I love all of the flashback episodes I’ve ever seen, and man this one is great. It’s so fun to see Homer and Marge’s fist months of marriage, and it’s legitimately moving. It’s probably the most moving of the flashbacks that I remember. Some heavy shit happens in this episode. Homer abandons Marge and the unborn Bart because he can’t support them, and feels like he’s just dragging them down. Jesus, that’s dark. But things work out great, and Homer proves his worth as a husband and a father. Plus, the proposal scene is the sweetest thing ever. So good.

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Take Away: Don’t abandon your pregnant wife. Even if you’re hard up for cash, that’s not a good plan. Problems in a marriage should be worked out together, not by flying solo.

Reel Talk

I Mainlined the Indiana Jones Trilogy

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This weekend I got to spend six and a half glorious hours marathoning the Indiana Jones trilogy up on the big screen at the Alamo Drafthouse, and I guess I’m here to report that it’s still amazing. Obviously they didn’t put in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, since that movie stinks. It always felt more like a What If? Indian Jones movie to me, something not really in continuity that was just based around “What if Indiana Jones was old?” But I’m here to talk about the good ones, not that turd. This isn’t going to be like a normal Reel Talk article, I’ll probably do individual articles on each of the movies some other time, but for today I’m just going to talk about some stuff I noticed seeing all three in a row. It’s such a good trilogy, with a lot of similar elements that gel together perfectly. I know the story I’ve always heard about this series is that it came about because EON wouldn’t let Spielberg make a James Bond movie, so similarly to how George Lucas made Star Wars after not getting the rights to Flash Gordon, Spielberg decided to make his own damn James Bond movie. And you can really see that influence. Spielberg created a character that drew on pulp-adventure roots that travelling around the world to exotic locales, meeting beautiful women, and stopping evil villains. It’s great. So I think I’m going to just talk about the tropes that the franchise had, and compare them between the films.

The Story

All three of the movies are truly amazing films that have some of the most fun and inventive stories of all time, but it was kind of surprising to see how similar they were. They certainly found a formula that worked with Raiders and worked out two more great stories from it.

Raiders opens up with the classic cold open of the giant boulder in the Peruvian temple, but the real story has him on the hunt for the Ark of the Covenant, which government officials inform Indy the Nazi’s are close to finding. So he heads off to find an artifact that belonged to his friend and mentor, and now is in the possession of his daughter, and Indy’s ex, Marion. The two team up and head to Egypt, where with the help of an excavator friend of Indy’s, Sala, they begin unearthing the hidden tomb that’s hiding the Ark. Unfortunately an evil French archiologist, Belloq is helping the Nazi’s, and he manages to get the Ark, and Marion from Indy. But Indy comes to the rescue and after the weird scene on the boat and submarine that I always forget happens, he gets captured and brought to a place where the Nazis and Belloq are planning on opening the Ark to make sure it’s legit. It then proceeds to melt their faces, leaving only Indy and Marion alive to bring the Ark to America, where it’s promptly filed away in a massive storage center.

Temple of Doom played a little bit with the formula, since Indy doesn’t really get a mission from his M, Marcus, and instead just kind of accidentally falls into a plot after escaping the insane cold open in Shanghai. But he, his young Chinese partner Short Round, and the insufferable nightclub singer Willie Scott end up in a small village in India that has recently been blighted after the theft of a sacred stone that they claim has made them prosperous. So Indy and crew head off into the Indian jungles until they come across an ancient temple that has been thought to be abandoned for years, and is now home to a new group of people. Indy thinks that the stone that was stolen may be one of the Sankara stones, artifacts from Shiva of immense power, and he pretty quickly finds that the new group in the palace are remnants of the violent Thuggee cult, and are preforming human sacrifices to Kali to gain power. And they’ve kidnapped a bunch of children to use as slave labor to mine out the remaining two Sankara stones that will give the high priest Mola Ram supreme power. Indy and the gang manage to fight off the Thuggee, and after Indy is briefly made a thrall by drinking magical blood, the uses the power of the stones to drop Mola Ram down a cliff into some waiting crocodile’s, and they return the stone to it’s rightful place in the village.

And last, I really didn’t remember how much a retread Last Crusade really is. After it’s cold open, which serves as a rather heavy handed origin story/flashback for young Indiana Jones, and then ends with him rescuing a Spanish cross from another evil archaeologist, he heads back to college, and gets another mission from Marcus. This time he’s introduced to a rich man named Donovan who claims to have evidence that relates to the location of the Holy Grail, an obsession of Indy’s father. And to sweeten the deal, he tells Indy that his father had previously been on the case, and is missing. So Indy and Marcus head off in search of Dr. Jones and the Grail, and end up in Venice with the assistance of Elsa Schneider, a fellow Grail hunter who had been helping Dr. Jones. The two end up finding a reference to the location of the Grail, and head off to find Dr. Jones before finishing the quest. They find him in Nazi Germany, where he’s being held by Nazis. Donavan and Elsa then reveal they’re Nazis, and Indy and his dad have to escape their clutches. After a bunch of cat and mouse slapstick, they all end up in the location of the Holy Grail, and Donavan shoots Dr. Jones, giving Indy an even better reason to find the Grail. He passes all the tests, and meets a knight who has been guarding the grail for centuries. Donavan then shows up, chooses the wrong cup and turns into a mummy. Indy picks the right one, saves Dr. Jones, and I guess they’re both immortal now? Whatever, the resting place stars to blow up, Elsa dies, and Indy, Dr. Jones, Marcus and Sala ride off into the sunset.

The Cold Open

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Similar to James Bond movies, all the Indy flicks start off with a pretty irrelevant mini-adventure that just gets up ready for action.

Raiders is certainly the most famous, where we’re first introduced to Indiana Jones, and get to see all his tricks as he sneaks into a Peruvian ruin, and manages to find a fertility idol. But right as he gets it, he triggers a trap that releases a giant boulder that comes bounding after him, and he has to run to freedom. And after briefly being trapped by Belloq and some natives, who steal the idol back from him, he has to run off and get on a plane, flying back to the plot.

Temple of Doom is definitely the weirdest of the three. It starts off with a straight up musical number featuring several Chinese women, and Willie Scott singing some Cole Porter while dancing about. We then learn that it’s taking place in Shanghai in the club Obi Wan (because Speilberg and Lucas are dorks) and that it’s oddly a prequel to Raiders. Then Indy shows up dressed exactly like Sean Connery in Goldfinger, and has a fight with a Chinese gangster named Lao, who hired Indy to find the mummfied remains of a great ruler. But he tries to poison Indy instead, and there’s a crazy fight scene in the nightclub that ends with him and Willie jumping out of the club in the waiting car driven by Short Round, and the three race off to the airport to escape Lao, but unfortunately are taking a plane that’s owned by him, and they end up getting dumped out in India.

Last Crusade’s cold open is probably the one that does the least for me. We open up with a bunch of boy scouts walking around in Utah, and we see one of them crawling around in a cave, and he comes across some men excavating, one of which is dressed like Indiana Jones. But then it turns out that this is a flashback, and the dude isn’t Indy, the kid is, and they’re stealing some Spanish cross for their employer. So little Indy grabs it and they chase him to a circus train, where he learns everything that makes him Indian Jones. He falls into a snake cage, getting his fear, learns how to use a whip to scare off a lion, and by the end, even gets the guys’ hat. Turns out he’s working for some shady guy who says he owns the cross, and we cut back to the present day where Indy is still trying to get the cross back from the guy. He gets it, then blows the guys boat up, I guess killing him.

The Allies

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In all three movies Indy has several friends and allies who help him out along the way. He also gets help from some women, but I’m going to give them their own category, because they really are like Bond Girls.

With Raiders we get probably the most famous of Indy’s associates, Sala the excavator. Earlier in the movie we meet Marcus Brody, owner of a museum who buy all of Indy’s treasures, but he doesn’t really do anything in this movie. Sala is a great character, a loud boisterous man who does very well for himself in Egypt, and jumps at the chance to help Indy. He does a lot for the group, even saving Indy from eating a poisoned date that killed a Nazi monkey.

Temple of Doom probably has the most loathed ally in the whole series, but man do I love Short Round. A little Chinese boy that Indy apparently saved from death on the streets of Hong Kong, Short Round is a feisty little kid who is learning how to be an adventurer like Indy. Yeah, some of his lines are a little ridiculous and stereotypical, but Shorty is a great character, and really loves Indy like a father.It’s especially great that his love manages to wake Indy up from the magic of the evil Kali blood. That and the torch in the side.

Last Crusade rehashed two great characters from Raiders to great effect. Sala and Marcus come back, and this time Marcus comes on the adventure, and is amazingly ineffective. But the real star of Last Crusade is the amazing Sean Connery as Dr. Henry Jones Sr. He’s so funny and goofy, so not the typical Sean Connery role, and he really made the move for me on this viewing. He’s just so gruff but wacky, and doesn’t take any of Indy’s shit, making him appear more childish, craving his father’s approval. And the fact that really the whole plot revolves around Indy doing everything he can to save his dad is pretty sweet.

The Ladies

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I kind of wasn’t sure if I should split the ladies up from the allies, because really they’re pretty similar, but I figured it made sense to give them their own category.

Raiders has the best lady in Indy’s life by far. Marion Ravenwood is a tough, smart, resourceful woman who is apparently running a bar in Nepal when Indy finds her in the movie and demands to tag along with him. Yeah, she gets kidnapped a lot in this movie, but they all kind of do, and it’s kind of a trope of the pulp adventure genre more than anything. Mario is the best, and definitely my favorite of Indy’s love-interests, and really the only one who makes herself a competent ally.

Now in the last section I defended Short Round. I can do no such thing for the love-interest in Temple of Doom, Willie Scott. I really don’t even know what to say about her, she’s the worst. She’s loud, abrasive, fearful, and doesn’t really contribute anything the group the whole movie other than annoying Indy and Short Round, and the one time she saved them from a booby trap. The less said about Willie the better.

Last Crusade’s main female character was a little weird. Elsa starts off similar to Marion, a smart woman who is there to be of assistance to Indy. She’s a doctor in her own right, and is pretty much there to help him as a second expert. But then she’s a surprise Nazi, who keeps flip flopping the rest of the movie. She’s just kind of weird. And it’s kind of gross that she apparently slept with both Indy and his dad. Odd.

The Villains

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As with any good Bond movie, the Indiana Jones flicks has some great bad guys who were out to get the magical artifacts that Indy has to stop.

Raiders has two of the most recognizable villains from the franchise, the Nazis and Belloq. There were a couple head Nazis in the movie, but the one that really shined was Toht, some sort of commanders and torture expert who keeps showing up and giving the heroes hell. Plus his face melts off at the end. But the character that I really love in Raiders is Belloq, the evil French archaeologist. I love that they gave Indy a Moriarty, a man who is equal in his archaeological knowledge, but uses his gifts for evil instead of honor like Indiana Jones. He was a really fun villain, it’s just a shame that his head blew up and didn’t get to be a recurring baddie.

The big bad of Temple of Doom is also pretty recognizable and fun. The evil Mola Ram is a crazed Thuggee priest, hellbent on using he powers of the Shankara stones to bring Kali enough power to take over India, and then the world. He doesn’t have a lot of characterization, or lines, but he’s a really intimidating bad guy. He pulls dudes hearts out and lights them on fire. But he betrayed Shiva, and he had to go.

Donavan, the bad guy in Last Crusade was kind of a dud for me on this go around. The Nazis were back, and the main Nazi we interacted with, Vogel, is pretty fun and evil, but kind of like Mola Ram, he doesn’t get any real characterization, and is just evil because he’s a Nazi. But Donavan is just strange. He acts like he’s helping Indy, but is actually helping the Nazis, but is planning on screwing them over and taking the Grail himself. He’s just a greedy rich dude who didn’t want to die. Oh well, at least he got to be turned into a crazy mummy.

The MacGuffin

Indy Ark

I feel like this term gets used a lot, so I assume people know what it means, but just in case you don’t, a MacGuffin is a plot device that the protagonist is in search of, and drives the story along. For the Indiana Jones movies these are all the magical artifacts that he’s after.

Raiders of the Lost Ark is all about Indy and the Nazis racing to find the Ark of the Covenant, the container for the original Ten Commandments that God gave Noah. It also apparently can shoot people with lightning, which doesn’t seem like something that holds some stones should do. The Ark is amazingly powerful, and when it’s opened by the wrong hands, it straight up liquifies all the Nazis. And I know people have said this for years, but man is it dumb that the Nazis are trying to use a weapon made by the God of the Jews…to kill the Jews. Not a lot of research, Nazis.

Temple of Doom went the most obscure of all the movies by having Indy and Mola Ram looking for Sankara stones, magical river rocks that Shiva gave to mankind that hold magical properties. When the stones are all brought together, they glow and give off magical energy. I think the most interesting thing about the Sankara stones is that apparently in the universe Indian Jones lives in, the Christian God is just as real and powerful as all the Hindu ones, because Shiva and Kali definitely exist, and Mola Ram’s whole plan seems to be to give Kali a magical boost so she can go challenge Yahweh to some sort of crazy deity Royal Rumble.

Last Crusade returned to the Christian artifact well by having Indiana Jones follow in the footsteps of King Arthur and track down the Holy Grail. Which I guess gives eternal life. But can’t leave the cave that it’s hiding in? The movie doesn’t really explain the Grail that well, I guess assuming we all now it’s deal. But I still don’t understand if when the knight says that the Grail and it’s magic need to stay in the cave, that means that Indy and his dad are only immortal in the cave? Like when they left, did they become mortal again, or are they now forever immortal because the drank from the Grail? Whatever.

Final Thoughts

I love these movies. They’re all three really great. And man is it impossible for me to pick one I like the best. It’s kind of a three-way tie for me. I know a lot of people hate on Temple of Doom, and it’s certainly the weirdest and has the strangest tone, but I really love everything about it (except Willie). Shockingly the one that did it the least for me in this viewing was Last Crusade, which I think is because it just felt like such a rehashing of Raiders. Indy gets told by Marcus to go find a Christian artifact that the Nazis are looking for in the Middle East, and he needs Sala’s help. But the thing that really saved Last Crusade for me was how charismatic and fun Sean Connery was. And Raiders is a perfect film. Man, these movies are great. And they sure didn’t need Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.  But to be honest, I also don’t think they need a reboot, or whatever the hell they’re talking about doing with them. I’ve never read any of the Indy books, but I feel like that’s the prefect place for him. We have these three perfect adventures of Indian Jones, we don’t need any more to mess with them.

Raiders of the Lost Ark was written by Lawrence Kasdan and directed by Steven Spieberg, 1981

Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom was written by Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz and directed by Steven Spielberg, 1984

Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was written by Jeffrey Boam and directed by Steven Spielberg, 1989

Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E11 – Burns Verkaufen der Kraftwerk (Burns Sells the Power Plant)

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More Mr. Burns goodness everybody! And man is it a crazy episode. For reasons that are unexplainable to me currently, I took German in sixth and seventh grade. I did terribly, and remember essentially nothing of the language, but one thing I remember doing was bringing in my old battered episode guide and having my teacher translate the grammatically messed up title of this episode.

The episode starts up with Burns getting his hair washed by Smithers, because Smithers has the worst job description of all time. And Burns isn’t feeling very fulfilled lately. But he doesn’t want to open up to Smithers about his angst, so Smithers uses a crocodile puppet named Snappy to help Burns express his feelings. And I love that it’s named Snappy, because if it has a name, they must do this a lot. Burns admits that he’s depressed, and thinking about selling the plant, which shocks Smithers. A distraught Smithers bonds with Homer after he assumes Homer is sad about Burns, and not the fact that the vending machine won’t take his dollar. Homer then gets a call from his sketchy ass stock broker, who tells him that for the first time ever Homer’s meager stock in the Power Plant has gone up, so Homer cashes in his holdings for a whopping $25. I love that he daydreams about getting a haircut, a carwash, and a fancy hammer with his wonderful earnings. And of course, as soon as he does that, word breaks that Burns is looking into selling the plant, and that makes the stocks go through the roof, to the point that Homer’s stock would have been worth $5,200.

Homer heads to Moe’s after he cashes out his stock, and gets a fancy Duff. While there though he strikes up conversation with two German businessmen who happen to be in town looking to buy the Power Plant. Homer says that Burns would only sell for $100,000,000, which is apparently no big deal for them, so they decide to go ahead with the bid. Homer gets home to the family who all assume he’s just made thousands of dollars, and are disappointed to learn that he pulled an idiotic move and only got $25, which he apparently spent on beer. The next day Homer gets to work, and it turns out everyone else cashed in their stocks, and have spent their money on fancy cars and clothes. Meanwhile Burns is meeting with the Germans at a restaurant called the Hungry Hun, and they talk about the sale of the plant. At first Burns is resistant, but then they hand him the briefcase full of cash that Homer recommended, and he goes for the deal instantly while hopping around hooting.

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Once the news of the sale is released however, all the plant workers start to get scared, assuming they’ll lose their jobs. I love that Homer, Lenny, and Carl talk about the fear, and Lenny and Carl decide that they’ll be okay, since they have important jobs that not everyone can do, but Homer is probably screwed. Then the Germans take over, and the workers meet with Horst, a friendly looking executive who’s there to help them acclimate to the new order of things. Meanwhile Burns is moving out of the office, off to bigger and better things, and I’m frankly shocked that Smithers is staying behind. It really seems like he works more for Mr. Burns than the Plant, you’d think he’d leave the Plant with Burns, and just become his butler or something. Oh well. Homer starts to get scared that the Germans are going to fire him, so he asks Lisa for knowledge about Germany, and once she tells them that they’re diligent and efficient, he becomes convinced that he’s doomed. Then Homer gets called in to meet with the executives to talk about his job as safety inspector. He then has his great Land of Chocolate fantasy, which is pretty great, especially him eating the little dog and wanting the half-priced chocolate. Then when he comes back from his fantasy he realizes the meeting has not gone well. Then he gets laid off. Just him, no one else in the whole Plant.

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But while Homer loses his job and the family starts to save money we find that Mr. Burns is starting to get bored with his retirement. He even hangs out with Grandpa and Jasper, who mainly just make fun of him. But he calls Smithers to catch up, and the two decide to go for a drink. But we then learn that no one is happy with the current order of things, because the Germans are starting to hate the Plant, since it’s a hellhole after all. But later that night Bart gives Moe a prank call with the classic Bea O’Problem, and right after he hangs up from Moe’s threats of horrible violence, Marge asks him to go get Homer back from Moe’s. Which is weird. Marge is having her ten year old son walk to a sketchy bar to her his drunk dad home? Sounds like something he’ll be telling a therapist in great detail eventually.

So Bart heads to Moe’s and is terrified that Moe will recognize his voice, and kill him for the years of crank calls. And at first that looks like what’s about to happen, since Moe recognizes his voice, but then it turns out that Moe just knows it’s Bart, and is a huge fan of his. He starts chatting with Bart, telling him how good it is that he’s a hellraiser, and gets him to sing the “Teddy Bear Picnic” song. And just at that moment Burns and Smithers show up, deciding to get their drink at Moe’s. But as soon as Burns comes in, Home sees that the man who ruined his life is there, and starts yelling at Burns, even getting the whole bar to chant and yell at him. Burns then realizes that he’s no longer feared in the town, so he goes to buy back the Plant. And just as he gets back to the Plant he finds that the Germans are desperate to sell, so he gets the Plant back for half of what they paid him, and his reign of terror returns. He even hires Homer back, because he wants to keep his enemy close to him, before destroying him, just like he does to a stuffed pig on his desk.

This was a fun and goofy episode. Another good story that didn’t have a B plot keeping it from reaching it’s potential. We got great Mr. Burns weirdness and got to see the weird things he would do with retirement. It’s also sad seeing that Homer is completely expendable in his job. And that he has the worst luck, I mean, can you imagine if you sold all your stock before it became super profitable. Poor Homer.

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Take Away: Stocks are complicated, the Germans are decent businesspeople, and it’s really hard to keep a Nuclear Power Plant safe.

“Burn Verkaufen der Kraftwerk” was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Mark Kirkland.

Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E10 – Flaming Moe’s

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This episode is so amazing. A secondary character episode that gets to focus on the relationship between Homer and Moe the bartender. We get to see how the two relate to each other, and a little bit of a look into what makes Moe tick. It wasn’t as in depth of a look as an episode like “Principal Charming,” but it was still great to see Moe. The episode starts right off the bat with “Eye on Springfield,” a crazy local show that’s apparently a reference to a show that played in Los Angeles at the time, but who cares, it’s nuts. It’s basically just a montage of local landmarks and ladies in bikinis while Kent Brockman talks about public interest stories, including the anniversary of the great Tire Fire. It’s awesome, and I would love to watch whole episodes of “Eye on Springfield.”

It turns out while Homer is watching “Eye on Springfield” Lisa is hosting a slumber party. Bart’s getting nervous about the party, assuming that the girls have evil plans in store for him, and we get one of my favorite types of Simpsons sight-gags, the look between the Simpson’s floor boards, where this time we learn it’s full of lead and asbestos. Up in Lisa’s room the girls are playing some sort of game where they drip wax into water and decide that whatever the wax becomes will tell you the job of their future husband. And the poor girl who goes gets a janitor, because even when Lisa bullshits a better answer for a mop, she gets a dustpan, sealing her fate forever. But after that game is done they decide to do Truth or Dare, and of course the girl picks dare, and has to go kiss Bart. We then get a crazy scene where Bart is attacked in the kitchen, and after she kisses him Lisa tricks Bart into getting jinxed. There’s then one of my favorite scenes in all Simpsons history when Bart comes down to get Homer to unjinx him, but Homer refuses to say his name, leading Bart to blow up yelling “I’m jinxed damnit!” To which Homer punches him in the arm, because that’s the law. The girls then decide to chase Bart down and give him a makeover, and after they unscrew his door from the walls to get to him, Bart decides to jump out of the window to escape, leading them to pick Maggie instead. When Homer sees what the girls have done to Maggie, he decides to bail, and goes to Moe’s.

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But when Homer get’s to Moe’s it turns out it’s the slowest night of all time, mainly due to the fact that Moe is out of beer. Homer tries sucking on the taps, but apparently Barney already had that idea, so Homer decides to let Moe make him a mixed drink. But when they can’t decide what to make, Homer tells Moe about a secret cocktail he invented once. One time when Patty and Selma came over, and drank his last beer, Homer mixed all the leftover bits of alcohol he had, and some Krusty brand children’s cough syrup by accident, and made a pretty decent drink that didn’t make him go blind. But then when some of Patty’s cigarette ash hit the drink and lit it on fire, the drink became amazing. So Homer and Moe whip up some “Flaming Homer’s” and they’re a great success, but when another customer gets on, Moe of course takes credit, saying he invented them, and that they’re called Flaming Moe’s.

And man do people love Flaming Moe’s. The bar becomes super popular and everybody loves the drink. Things are even so busy that Moe has to get a waitress, who is essentially Diane from Cheers. Moe even gets approached by a representative from a popular restaurant chain with the amazing name of “Tipsy McStagger’s Good Time Drinking and Eating Emporium.” He wants to buy the drink from Moe, but Moe won’t sell it. And as Moe’s becomes more and more popular, Homer starts to get really bitter. There’s also a funny little scene tossed in where Bart brings alcohol to work to make a Flaming Homer to honor Homer as his favorite inventor. Moe’s ends up changing its name to Flaming Moe’s, and becomes the place to be. There’s a bouncer, a red carpet, and all sorts of local celebrities start showing up. Even Aerosmith, who agree to play a set in exchange for pickled eggs. Homer shows up, disgusted at what the bar has become, and has to sneak in the window. I love the quick gag that Lenny lights his head on fire with his drink. There’s also a weird gag that Barney is in a suit and has friends named Armando and Raffi, which I guess is just random? I did some cursory googling, and couldn’t figure out if that was a reference or not. Homer also gets hit on my Mrs. Krabappel, which is creepy. There’s then an amazing scene where Bart calls in a prank-call with the name Hugh Jass, and then there’s actually a Hugh Jass there, who talks with Bart, and thinks he’s a nice young man. But then Homer calls Moe out on the drink theft, and Moe deflect it. Homer then leaves, telling him that he “lost a customer” but the crowd is too loud, and all Moe says is “Yeah, you can use it.”

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I love that when we come back from commercial we get a faux-Cheers opening, and it’s spectacular, especially the song. So good. Moe’s is still doing amazing, and the Tipsy McStagger guy is back, offering to give Moe a million dollar for the secret ingredient, since all of Professor Frink’s research revealed Love to be the secret ingredient. A sad Homer tries to go find a new bar, but ends up finding some crazy place where a guy with an eyepatch tried to shoot him. He then consults Lionel Hutz, but apparently you can’t copyright a drink. I love that Hutz is shocked to find that the books behind him actually have precedent that are helpful. Turns out Moe is sleeping with the waitress, and she convinces him to share the million dollars with Homer, and he agrees. Unfortunately Homer has gone insane, and is hearing everyone say Moe, before seeing everybody as Moe, and he heads off to confront Moe again, and destroy him! Back at the bar, Moe is getting ready to sign the contract, just as a crazy Homer in a bathrobe shows up, clinging to the rafters of the building, telling everyone that the cough syrup is the secret ingredient. So the guy cancels the deal, and the next day everybody in town is selling Flaming Moe’s, and Moe’s goes back to being a dive bar no one goes to. Homer and Moe sit around in the empty bar, apologizing to each other, and becoming friends again.

This is such a great episode. Moe is such an amazing character, and it was so great to see him and Homer’s relationship crumble and regrow in this episode. And I think one of the most beneficial things about this episode was that there wasn’t a B story. Besides the great slumber party stuff in the beginning, this was all about the Moe story, nothing else diluting it, letting it come to fruition. It’s such a fun premise, and it’s really sad to see Moe completely screw his friend over for his own gain. And it’s tragic that right when Moe grows a conscience, Homer kamikazes both of their chances at money and success.

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Take Away: Don’t screw over your friends, and don’t steal other people’s ideas. Oh, and the secret ingredient is always Love.

“Flaming Moe’s” was written by Robert Cohen and directed by Rich Moore and Alan Smart.

Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E09 – Saturdays of Thunder

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Weird, two episodes in a row that are about Homer’s relationship with his kids being bad. That seems odd. Also, this one wasn’t as good in my opinion. Oh well, it does have a pretty great chalkboard gag with “I will not fake rabies.” The episode starts up with Homer watching an infomercial called “I Can’t Believe They Invented It,” where Troy McClure gets Dr. Nick to shill some crap. In this case it’s a magical stain cleanser that Dr. Nick demonstrates its power by cleaning the grime off the tombstone of Edgar Allen Poe, which would certainly sell me on a cleanser. Homer is of course fixated by Dr. Nick’s miracle cleanser, and is ready to buy it, while we start to see Bart busying himself by building something in the garage. Patty and Selma show up to get Marge’s advice on hairstyling while Homer orders some cleanser and ignores Bart, and when the three head off to the beauty salon, she tells Homer to spend time with the kids. So Homer takes Lisa and Maggie to the video store, which in incredibly antiquated thing already, but leaves Bart since he’s busy welding something in the garage.

I love the scene in the video store. We get some more great McBain, featuring some wonderful “One day until retirement,” action before Homer starts looking through a whole category that appears to be sports injuries. I worked in a video rental place inside of a grocery store in high school, and it’s crazy to think that that’s just something that doesn’t exist anymore. I also worked in the photo development counter there, which makes me feel shockingly old. Anyway, Homer finds “Football’s Greatest Injuries,” and heads out to watch his wonderful find. Meanwhile we pan over to Marge, Patty, and Selma in the beauty salon, and Marge finds some sort of magazine quiz that will apparently prove how good of a father someone is. So of course Marge gives the test to Homer, and he fails miserably. Doesn’t get a single question right. He becomes worried that he doesn’t even know his son, so goes to find out if Bart has any hobbies. And it turns out that he does, because the whole episode he’s been building a soap box derby racer, and is planning on competing in a big upcoming race, which Homer knew nothing about. I love that when a despondent Homer calls the hotline for the National Fatherhood Institute, the hold music is “Cat’s Cradle.” Now, I know that the Simpsons are famous for the great sign gags, and newspaper gags, but between this joke and having the hold music for the mental hospital be “Crazy” by Patsy Cline in “Stark Raving Dad,” I’m beginning to think that the “Hold Music Gag,” is an underappreciated staple of early Simpsons.

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While the other neighborhood kids are over admiring Bart’s racer, representatives of the Father Institute show up, because they’ve never had someone score a zero on their test, so they need to take Homer away for re-education. He gets taken to the Institute, and starts to get advice on how to be a better father, including getting a fatherhood book written by Bill Cosby, which…yeah not going to talk about that. With the advice of the Institute scientists (?) Homer heads home to help Bart work on the racer. Bart is a little hesitant at first, citing advice from a reigning Derby champ that Bart admires named Ronnie Beck, but Homer convinces him and we get a sweet montage of the two bonding while dangerously making the racer. And finally they’ve created the Lil’ Lightinin’, a terrible looking racer that should fall apart at any minute, but was made with father/son love. So they head off to the race, where Bart sees his competition is Martin, who has created an aerodynamic little car that’s shaped like a NASA rocket called the Honor Roller, and Nelson, who has a sketchy racer with blades on the wheels and a person locked in the trunk. Nelson also puts a cigarette out with his tongue. Metal. Anyway, the race begins and it quickly becomes Ben Hur, complete with whips, and while Nelson is busy pestering Bart, Martin handily wins, but his racer reaches unsafe speeds, and Martin ends up crashing into a hay bale, and catches on fire. We then get a great scene of Martin running around screaming while on fire, because this is still a cartoon after all.

After the race Bart goes to the hospital to visit Martin, who knows that he’ll never race again. But he also knows that if he doesn’t, Nelson will win, so he offers Bart the opportunity to use the Honor Roller. Bart is initially hesitant, since he worked hard on Lil’ Lightnin’ with Homer, but ends up taking the offer. So he has to go home and break Homer’s heart by telling him that he’s abandoning the racer they made together. And Homer is devastated, but just acts super passive aggressive. There’s then a silly scene where Homer takes Lisa to Dr. Hibbert’s office, because she scheduled her own tetanus shot (what?), and he calls Martin a homewrecker when he sees him. We then reach the next race, and the episode switches from Ben Hur to Days of Thunder. Homer doesn’t wish Bart luck, and doesn’t even come to the Derby, but it’s apparently being televised, so he still watches it. When the rest of the family leaves Homer gets depressed, and looks at the test he failed in the beginning of the episode, and realizes he can know answer all the questions, after pretending to talk to Flanders about parenting that is, and races off to the Derby with the knowledge that he’s a perfect father now. Back at the race Bart is distracted and not wanting to participate in the race, sad about Homer, but when he sees him show up he gets his confidence back, and starts the race. And after a close race, he wins! He even gets a trophy from Ronnie Beck, who is like four. The episode then ends with Homer and Bart bonding by being a sore winner and mocking Nelson for his loss.

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This was an okay episode, but it didn’t really work for me. I couldn’t quite tell why though. It’s certainly funny, but the emotional core didn’t strike quite right. I thought about it, and I think the answer might be that I generally don’t think the episodes about Bart and Homer’s relationship being in trouble works as well. Homer and Lisa episodes are great, because Homer and Lisa are very different people, and have a lot of personality clashes. Homer has to work to share interests with Lisa, and he generally doesn’t know how to support her, because he doesn’t understand her. But Bart and Homer are two peas in a pod. They’re so similar, and I think they work best when they’re little buddies, up for helping each other’s schemes. It kind of reminded me of “Principal Charming,” where up until that episode Patty and Selma had been terrible people, but then we had to feel bad for them. Homer and Bart’s relationship has been great generally in the show, but now we were supposed to believe that they were distant and had problems. It just seemed out of left field. But oh well, it was still a funny episode, just not exactly a heartfelt one.

Take Away: Take interest in your kid’s passions. And don’t give up using the derby racer you made with your dad for the one that will let you win.

Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E08 – Lisa’s Pony

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Aw, a very sweet father-daughter episode. I can’t help feeling that episodes like this will mean a whole lot more when I actually have kids, but it’s still pretty impacting. We start right off with a weird 2001: A Space Odyssey reference with the dawn of man scene. And while all the other apes start to get intelligent, the Homer ape just uses the Monolith as a chair. But it turns out that’s all a dream, and Homer gets woken up at work by a call from Lisa. She’s in a talent show later that evening, and needs a replacement reed for her saxophone, and because like ten other people who were more reliable for her couldn’t help she asks Homer to get it for her. So Homer writes down a reminder on his shoes, and gets back to his work nap.

After work he rushes off to King Toot’s music store, with just a few minutes left before it closes…but it turns out King Toot’s is next to Moe’s so of course Homer needs to stop in for a beer first. We pop over to the school to look at some of the terrible talents the kids at Springfield Elementary have. We see Milhouse playing the spoons, Bart doing terrible impressions, and some random kid singing about his ding-a-ling. I also love that the judges for the talent show are Willie, Lunchlady Doris, and Bleeding Gums Murphy. And that Murphy likes Bart’s bad impression of Principal Skinner. Back at the bar Homer finally decides to go get the reed, but King Toots is closed now. He comes back to Moe’s, furious, and insulting the owner of King Toots who is in the bar. He gets offended, and refuses to open the store of Homer, until Moe mentions that the guy owes him one since he pulled his wife and his bodies from a burning car once. Good work Moe. Homer goes to King Toots, but quickly realizes that while he has the reed size down, he doesn’t remember what instrument Lisa plays. He finally remembers, and gets the reed, then runs off to school to save the day. Unfortunately he’s just a few minutes too late, and Lisa has had to go up with her broken saxophone, and performs in from the of the whole school, sounding terrible. She’s even crying while performing which is so incredibly depressing.

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Because Homer made her humiliate herself, Lisa is pissed at Homer. He initially tries to fix things by buying her the biggest ice cream sundae of all time, but that doesn’t quite work. We then get a super sad scene of Homer watching baby videos of Lisa, and realizes that he missed all her important moments growing up, and that he’s been a generally bad father to her. He decides to act like a better father, but that doesn’t work out very well. He has a tea party with her, helps dry her hair, and pushes her on a swing, to disastrous results. Homer then gets really frustrated, and decides that he wants a quick fix, which would be to get her the pony that she’s always wanted. Marge of course shoots the idea down, but Homer is a weasel, so he heads right out to get a pony the next day. But sadly ponies are very expensive, and there’s no pony pound, so goes to get a loan from the Power Plant’s credit union. For some reason Mr. Burns and Smithers personally approve loans, and after making sure Homer doesn’t know what the word usury means, he sets Homer up with a loan with a crazy interest rate.

So Homer goes a gets Lisa a pony, and after sneaking it into her bed like the Godfather, she comes galloping into Marge and Homer’s bedroom thanking Homer. She names the pony Princess, and absolutely loves it. Marge is obviously mad, and starts to think realistically pretty quickly. Her main concern is what Homer plans to do with Princess, and his solution is brilliant. During the day it’ll wander the neighborhood, and at night it’ll live in the garage between the cars. But Lisa and Marge don’t care for that plan, so Princess ends up getting a stable, and Lisa gets riding lessons. There’s then a quick throwaway scene that’s kind of pointless, but I loved it. Grandpa is playing a video game while Bart judges him, and after Grandpa fails he gives the amazing line “I got down on the floor for this?” It’s so funny and pointless. Anyway, turns out that the family’s financials aren’t doing very well thanks to the pony, so Homer decides he needs to get some money.

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He goes to the Kwik-E-Mart and after he tries to scam Apu by lying about a scratch lottery ticket, but that doesn’t go well, and instead Homer gets a job working the late shift, midnight to 8 a.m. Apu gives him some great advice about getting shot, and lets him in on all the secrets of the Kwik-E-Mart. Homer’s life then starts to get terrible as he works all day at the plant, and then gets to his Kwik-E-Mart job, sleeping fifteen minutes a day. But for a while it’s worth it, because Lisa absolutely loves Princess, and stays up with her in her stable, playing music for her. But Homer quickly stars to fall apart thanks to this schedule, and starts falling asleep constantly. He even falls asleep while driving, and has this weird Winsor McCay, Little Nemo dream sequence. But Lisa finally finds out that Homer is working two jobs to keep Princess, and that it’s killing him, so she decides to get rid of the pony, saving her father. She comes to the Kwik-E-Mart to tell him, and they have a sweet scene. “there’s a big dumb animal I love more than that horse.” “Aw, it isn’t a hippopotamus is it?” Homer then quits, and walks off into the morning with Lisa.

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This was a really cute episode. I love seeing Homer and Lisa’s relationship, since they’re such fundamentally different people, but they still love each other no matter what. Their relationship gets tested almost as much as Homer and Marge’s, and it’s always nice to see Homer do whatever he can to be a better dad. Yeah, the pony thing wasn’t a good idea, but it really showed that Homer loves Lisa with all his heart, and wants to make her as happy as he can.

Take Away: Be present in your kid’s life. But also, don’t just try to buy their love, it takes actual effort. And on the flip-side, cut your parents some slack, they’re doing the best job they can.

Lifetime of Simpsons

S03 E07 – Treehouse of Horror II

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Halloween time everybody! There’s a lot to unpack in this episode, so let’s dive right in. I love that we start with another plead from Marge not to watch the episode. She explains that the episode is even worse than last years, but becomes fatalistic, realizing that no one will listen to her, so the episode starts. I think the best tombstone we pass this year was “Bambi’s Mom.” That one made me laugh pretty hard. We also get a good frame story this year, where the kids come back from trick or treating, and eat too much candy, resulting in the nightmares that we get to see. I love that Bart dressed up as an executioner and that Lisa is a totem pole, possibly the most Lisa thing anyone could dress up as for Halloween. So the kids gorge themselves on candy, and we get our first nightmare.

The Monkey’s Paw

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First up is Lisa’s nightmare, a parody of the classic short story. The family is visiting Morocco for some reason, and Homer wanders off to a sketchy souvenir stand, where he finds a dried up monkey paw. Homer buys it after the weird dude who works at the stand tells him that the monkey paw grants wishes. I love the gag of Homer pointing out the stand, initially assuming that it vanished, before he sees that it’s just to the left. The family heads back to Springfield after a brief and strange Midnight Express reference. The family then begins bickering about what they should wish for, and Maggie steals the paw, wishing for a new pacifier that gets delivered by a limo for some reason. And while they’re wondering about Maggie’s wish, Bart grabs the paw and wishes the family would be rich and famous. But that wish backfires and people quickly become annoyed with the Simpsons antics, in a weird meta-commentary on the success of the show. When the family starts to get frustrated with their fame Lisa grabs the paw and wishes for world peace. Her wish starts out pretty good, the whole world gets rid of their weapons and become hippies, but then Kang and Kodos invade earth. They pretty quickly take over the world wish just a club and slingshot. In the face of the world now being run by aliens, Homer takes his last wish very seriously, and orders a turkey sandwich. So then Homer throws the paw away, and Flanders takes it. He then quickly saves the world, getting rid of the aliens and making his house a castle. I love that Kang and Kodos have a weird monologue about the Earthlings destroying themselves with bigger and bigger boards with nails in them. Commentary!

In between nightmares we see Lisa wake up, terrified, and go sleep with Bart. But Bart requires payment in the form of a candy necklace. Then we get Bart’s nightmares.

The Bart Zone

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This nightmare is a great reference to the classic Twilight Zone episode, “It’s a Good Life.” It’s a pretty straight forward homage to the episode, except without the weird cornfield stuff, and even starts off with a faux-Rod Serling narration. Bart has magical powers and is able to do anything he wants after an accompanying bongo solo, and the whole town lives in fear of him. He demonstrates his powers by turning Snowball II into a monstrosity, and I love the line “It’s good that you made that awful thing Bart.” We then just see Bart go around town, living like a god. He gets to change American history to correlate with his answers on a test, where America is now called Bonerland. He calls Moe up and has him just say horrible things about himself without the need for a pun, and after Homer has the gall to make Bart watch football he makes Homer vanish and turn into the ball live on TV. He also is apparently forcing Krusty to never get off the air, even when Bart isn’t watching the show, which is making Krusty go insane. But Homer gets back from the football game, and tries to smash Bart’s brains in, but Bart catches him, and turns him into a giant Jack-in-the-box. The story then takes a weird turn where Homer and Bart go see Marvin Monroe, and start to try and bond. They play catch, go on a roller coaster, and just generally do father-son stuff. Then after a sweet day where the two have started to enjoy each other’s company, Bart turns Homer back into a human, and they hug and say they love each other. Cut to Bart waking up screaming.

So Bart and Lisa leave Bart’s room, and come sleep with Homer and Marge after Homer ensures they’re potty trained. Then we close out the episode with Homer’s nightmare.

If I Only Had a Brain

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This is definitely the wackiest of the three nightmares, probably because it features Mr. Burns. Homer gets fired from the plant because he’s sleeping on the job, and we learn that Mr. Burns has made a giant robot worker that he wants to replace everyone in the plant. But it needs a human brain. Homer becomes a gravedigger employed by Groundskeeper Willie, and he decides to take a nap in a fresh grave. Then Burns and Smithers show up looking for fresh corpses, and they take Homer. When Homer starts protesting, Mr. Burns just whacks the sack they keep Homer in with a shovel until he stops making sounds. They bring Homer back to their secret lab and cut his head open super easily, then rip his brain out with an ice cream scoop. Burns then becomes Dr. Frankenstein as he brings the robot to life. “That fellow at Radioshack said I was mad!” But sadly the robot has Homer’s work ethic, and it runs off to eat donuts. Burns decides the robot was a failure, and he takes the brain out of the robot, and puts it back into Homer. Burns then takes out his aggression of the robot, which falls down on him, crushing his body.

Homer wakes up from his nightmare, and heads off to go pee. But then it turns out that his dream came true, and Mr. Burns’ head has been sewn onto his shoulder, making them look like The Thing With Two Heads. We then get a weird “Next week on the Simpsons promo,” where Homer still has Burns’ head on his shoulder, and they have wacky misunderstandings. We then get some great examples of the cast and crew having “scary” names while the awesome Halloween theme song plays.

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Take Away: Don’t trust Moroccan monkey paw dealers, don’t take advantage of your magical powers, and always check the freshness of your corpse before you steal it to make a robot.