Hey everybody, it’s season 5! This may sound crazy, but time has legitimately flown. It seems crazy that I’m already in season 5, and at the same time it’s ridiculous that there’s 21 seasons ahead of me. This may have been a terrible mistake. But enough of that, I have a Beatles parody to ramble about!
The episode starts off with the Simpsons entering the Springfield Swap Meet. I’m not positive what a swap meet is, but it appears to just be a flea market, and those are super weird. We have a big one in Denver, and it’s one of the sketchiest places I’ve ever been. Good place to get deep-fried seahorses though. Anyway, the Simpsons start wandering around the Swap Meet, trying to find some junk to buy. We see Moe’s weird oysters that are painted to look like Lucille Ball, Flanders selling Bible trading cards (a Methuselah rookie card!), and Herman selling his military antiques where Skinner has found the crazy POW helmet that he had to wear in Vietnam, and he’s very nostalgic about it. I also love seeing Mrs. Glick’s weird booth of priceless artifacts that Homer just ignores, such as a Stradivarius violin, the Declaration of Independence, and a copy of Action Comics #1. We also see poor Marge fail at trying to sell some of her paintings and some homemade jewelry. But then the plot actually gets going when Bart and Lisa are flipping through some records at Comic Book Guy’s booth, and they come across a copy of a record with Homer’s face on it.
Turns out this episode is a flashback one! And instead of talking about relationships or babies, this one talks about a weird moment in Homer’s life when he was briefly in an enormously popular barbershop quartet band, the Be Sharps. Back in the far-flung past of 1985 Homer, along with Principal Skinner, Chief Wiggum, and Apu were performing around Springfield to much acclaim (pretty much just Barney). But after doing some shows they get more and more popular, even playing the coveted prison gig, but things reach a new peak when they’re approached by a British agent, Nigel, who offers to work with the band. His only caveat is to get rid of Chief Wiggum, since his presence is a little too Village People, so Homer pretty much immediately drives Wiggum off over the state line and gets rid of him like an unwanted dog. They then begin auditioning replacements in one of my favorite scenes of all time. We see Grandpa trying to do a swinging version of Old McDonald, Willie singing “Downtown,” and most hilariously we have Jasper grunting out “a Theme for a Summer’s Day,” which makes me laugh so goddman hard.
And just when they’re about to give up, they find that Barney is apparently a wonderful singer as he sings a mournful Irish tune while looking for his toothpick on Moe’s bathroom floor. So they formally make a band, and call themselves the Be Sharps. And after Chief Wiggum briefly arrests them, they begin becoming the Beatles. We briefly pop out into the present where they’ve gotten a flat tire in the middle of the desert, and Homer continues to tell the story while Marge has to walk miles away to get a new tire. Apparently Homer was the lyricist of the group, and he had to come up with the new hit single for the band. He wasn’t having much luck making one about the whole scandal of Al Capone’s vault, but he gets a flash of inspiration when Marge comes in with little Lisa and her new purchase, a Baby on Board sticker. And boom, Homer has a hit number one. The Be Sharps record the single, and immediately get famous. I love that Nigel wants Homer to keep his marriage a secret since as he says “women are going to want to sleep with you, and we want them to think they can.” Always a great thing to tell your wife.
Anyway, their fame starts to grow exponentially as they have a bratty press conference that I think is pretty much exactly one the Beatles gave when they first came to America. Then they get a Grammy! In the crazy category of “spoken word, soul, and barbershop.” Homer then has the best moment of his life, when George Harrison stops by to show him a giant plate of brownies at some Grammy after party. Two Beatles. Way to go Simpsons. But after the brownie binge, Homer starts to get depressed in his hotel room, missing his family. I love that he gives the room service kid his Grammy as a tip, and the kid just throws off the balcony, creating the running gag that the creators of the Simpsons hate the Grammys.
Back in the present, Marge apparently got their tire okay, and the family is back home. Homer finds a box full of Be Sharps merchandise and starts showing the kids all the worthless crap he got slapped on. We also learn that the Be Sharps second album was called “Bigger Than Jesus,” which is a wonderful album title that someone should really snatch up. We also see a brief scene where Marge tried to make a horrifying fake Homer to keep his presence in the house so the kids wouldn’t miss him. And man do I love that scene, because as will quickly become apparent, I love kids screaming in horror in unison on this show. But we get back to the main story, where the Be Sharps has quickly jumped from the “Meet the Beatles” stage of their career to “Let It Be.”
They’re starting to dislike each other, and Barney gets super pretentious and gets a Yoko Ono girlfriend. Then the death knell happens, and Us Weekly labels them “not hot” in their magazine. So they break up and just go back to their old jobs. And man do I laugh hard when Barney shows up with Yoko at Moe’s and they ask for a beer and a single plum floating in perfume served in a man’s hat. And Moe just has both of those ready to go. The story is then over, and the kids obviously have a ton of question, just like the audience should. Not a lot of it makes sense, especially them not remembering those months when their father was one of the most famous people in the country. But Homer just ignores them, and sends them to bed. But just as he’s about to put the record away and forget the band again, he gets nostalgic and call the band up. They meet on the roof of Moe’s and reenact the classic rooftop concert the Beatles did at the end of their career. And it’s wonderful, especially George Harrison just driving by to dismiss them, and Chief Wiggum getting ready to tear gas them out of spite.
This episode is so funny. I love that it just becomes a riff on the Beatles, and just cuts out all the crazy psychedelic stuff. And man does it not make sense. All of Lisa’s questions at the end are incredibly valid and I love that Homer just brushes them away; because of course it doesn’t make sense. It’s the Simpsons. It’s just so great, and man are the Be Sharp songs great. The singing shockingly wasn’t the real Simpsons cast, they got the Dapper Dans, a barbershop group that performs in Disneyland to do them, so they sounds great. And I’m not positive if the Dapper Dans still are a thing, but if they are I really hope that they take Baby on Board as a request, because if they do, I’m doing that next time I’m in California.
Take Away: You find all kinds of great stuff at swap meets. Oh, and I guess it’s hard to keep a barbershop quartet going.
“Homer’s Barbershop Quartet” was written by Jeff Martin and directed by Mark Kirkland, 1993.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons
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