Well we’ve found another episode that I really forgot the details to. Certain aspects have lingered around in my head, and some of the jokes still come to mind, but the sum of the parts just didn’t stick in my mind for some reason.
The episode starts off with Bart’s fantasy of a school science fair, which had Principal Skinner say one of the craziest lines I’ve heard in a while, “for a school with no Asian kids I think we put on a pretty good science fair.” Oh the 90’s. Anyway, we see that Bart’s project involves him creating some sort of Go-Go ray gun that makes people involuntarily dance when he shoots them with it. And after hitting all teachers with the ray, Principal Skinner is overjoyed and gives Bart first prize, which is where the dream ends and we see Lisa is just sitting on Bart’s bed saying “First Prize” over and over again just so screw with Bart. Siblings are great. After that little scene we learn what the kids actually have ready for the upcoming science fair. Lisa has created some giant tomato that she grew with steroids, and Bart is testing the effects of cigarette smoke on dogs by getting Santa’s Little Helper addicted to cigarettes. We then introduce the main plot by having Homer think to himself about how he’s going to skip out of work and sneak off to the Duff Brewery, which he announces to the family by accident. I love Homer talking to his brain so much.
We follow Homer to work where he enacts his plan. He sneaks away from the trudging masses of Plant workers by consulting what’s essentially a treasure map with rhyming steps on how to get out of the Plant with no one noticing. Homer goes through some crazy forgotten sector of the Plant where he comes across a gigantic spider that’s guarding the secret exit. And man do I love this scene. Homer quickly consults the map and finds out that “to overcome the spider’s curse, simply quote a Bible verse.” Which leads to Homer desperately trying to think of something that comes after “thou shalt not,” before giving up and throwing a rock at its head, which does the job. He then runs past the spider and jumps out the window onto the waiting Barney’s car. Except Barney mistakes a pile of rags for Princess Diana, and drives off at the last second, causing Homer to smash into the pavement. But since this is a cartoon, he‘s fine and they head off to the brewery.
Before getting to the brewery though, we pop over to the Elementary School where Lisa is walking around with the tomato, even though this isn’t the day of the science fair, and she gives it to Bart before running back into the building. Bart then throws the giant tomato at Principal Skinner’s ass while he’s tying his shoes, because of course he does. But Lisa is pissed. Back at the brewery we see Homer and Barney on their tour, watching crazy old Duff commercials, like a cartoon doctor recommending it and Richard Nixon halfheartedly vouching for Duff. They then meet the quality control guy and see him get rid of bottle full of rats and syringes, but while Barney is talking to him we see a couple bad bottles pass through, including one with Hitler’s head in it. But they get the tour over with, and head off. However when they get to the car Homer is concerned that Barney is too drunk to drive, so he fights him for the keys. Barney finally gives up and Homer drives off, almost immediately getting pulled over by the police, since Chief Wiggum is watching people leave the brewery in the disguise of a giant beer stein. Homer passes all the sobriety tests though, until Barney suggests they use the breathalyzer, which gets him in trouble and he’s arrested. Barney then drives off since the cops didn’t think to test him, and he hits Wiggum’s stein costume, causing him to roll off before hitting a tree and exploding. And man do I love anytime the Simpsons cause something to explode that shouldn’t.
Homer is sent to jail and Wiggum calls Marge, apparently surviving his explosion, and lets her know that Homer’s been brought in DOA. He then realizes he mixed that up and says DUI, which is not a good thing to mix up. I love that we see Homer talking with Lionel Hutz in jail, before seeing that he’s just another prisoner, not his lawyer. And things don’t go well for Homer, he’s released, but his license is revoked and he has to go to driving school and AA. I laughed so hard at the gag of Homer riding Lisa’s bike to work, and Nelson comes zipping up while doing a wheelie and mocks Homer. I love Nelson. We pop back over to the B plot where Lisa is mad about Bart destroying her project, but thanks to Marge’s suggestion she decides to start a new one where she tests Bart’s intelligence against a hamster. She goes and gets a hamster and starts setting up experiments where she builds models of the Simpsons’ home and places treats in different places to see if the hamster can figure out how to get it. Meanwhile, she puts cupcakes in similar places of the house, and watches Bart fail at getting them. I love that Bart just keeps grabbing the electrified cupcakes, despite the charge.
Back in Homer’s plot, he’s sitting through traffic school, which is just watching a video hosted by Troy McClure (Alice’s Adventures Through the Windshield Glass is the one that got me this time) that’s apparently just footage of car accidents with zany music playing. He also attends an AA meeting in the church basement where we learn that Ned Flanders is 4,000 days sober after getting tipsy and insulting Ann Landers, and that Hans Moleman is only 31 years old and has a rough life. Homer thinks the whole program is a joke, and doesn’t take it seriously, but Marge becomes convinced that Homer actually does have a drinking problem, and has him agree not to drink beer for a whole month. And after briefly seeing Bart fainting before grabbing some cupcakes because he has a Clockwork Orange operant conditioning thing going on, we see Homer pouring out all his beer while singing a version of the Frank Sinatra “When I was Seventeen” song.
The Lisa/Bart plot comes to a head when Bart is walking through the house and finds Lisa’s notebook that details the experiment in her room. He gets mad and decides to get revenge, hiding the notebook and waiting for Lisa in her room with the hamster like he’s a Bond villain. She quickly finds the book though, so he decides to escalate his revenge. We pop over to the Science Fair where we some of the other kids terrible projects. Milhouse just uses a Slinky and talks about gravity, Martin has a hot-air balloon which Nelson pops with a pellet gun, and Ralph has a little alcohol powered car, which gets Homer thirsty. We then see Bart’s revenge fueled project, which is just flying the hamster around in a remote controlled plane while dressing like an old timey circus barker. And unfortunately for Lisa Bart gets first prize, because as Skinner says, every scientist is half BF Skinner and half PT Barnum.
And with that story over we finish Homer’s. We see him going around town doing his best to avoid alcohol, but Duff just keeps showing up. He watches some crazy commercial where some Duff dudes spray feminists with beer and they turn into bikini babes, he realizes just how boring baseball is without beer, and he even sits through a Tupperware party sober. Then things gets real crazy when he’s out riding Lisa’s bike and comes across a Duff billboard, a Duff Train, and a blimp that drops bottles of Duff on him. But he does it! He made it 30 days without a beer, and immediately plans on going to Moe’s and getting shit-faced. Marge isn’t too cool with that plan, but Homer doesn’t care, and runs off to get drunk. But when he gets there he actually sees the barflies for the sad people they are, and decides he doesn’t want to drink that day, and goes and has a lovely tandem bike ride with Marge. Aw.
This episode is pretty great, even though I found it a little forgettable. It has some really great parts, but it just kind of feels like two stories that they couldn’t get to be whole episodes, and just kind of put together. Neither seemed that strong, but they both had some great gags and moments that held the episode together. I had a great time watching it, and was laughing a lot while writing this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if this one falls out of my head again in a couple weeks. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted.
Take Away: Don’t experiment on your family, and try not to be a hideous drunken wreck.
“Duffless” was written by David M. Stern and directed by Jim Reardon, 1993.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons