Well here’s a great episode. It’s basically just Homer and Mr. Burns shoved together for a while, with a dash of great Mr. Smithers moments to sweeten the deal. This episode is so up my alley it’s crazy.
Now, we start off with the Power Plant having a special employee night at a drag racing track, which really made me realize that as horrible as it seems to be working at the Power Plant, they sure do buy out a lot of places for all the workers and their families. It’s not always great, because I can’t imagine a night at the drag racing track would be overly fun, but hey, it’s the thought that counts. Anyway, we get a couple good gags at the race track, like Marge being too busy making bad jokes that she misses a whole race, Mr. Burns drinking teaspoons of beer, and the fact that he asks them to do a race at like two miles an hour so he can actually see it. But they clearly didn’t have a lot of material for the drag racing track, so they quickly move on and show the aftermath of the night, when Mr. Burns is alone in his car while Smithers goes off to buy a smaller foam finger for him. But while Burns is by himself, a drunken and appreciative Lenny comes up and tries to tell Burns how much he appreciated the night. But this freaks Burns the hell out, and he starts screaming for help, which Smithers comes and gives him.
On the way home, Burns is still worrying, even though all Lenny did was want to shake his hand, and Smithers is feeling awful for his miniscule dereliction of duty. And he immediately starts beating himself up over it, and doing all sorts of things to impress Burns and get his respect back. But when he tries laminating the newspaper, unaware that it would ruin Burns’ junior jumble, Smithers freaks out and basically tries to kill himself with suicide by water cooler. Burns saves him though, and demands that he goes on vacation, because he’s clearly too wound up. Smithers obviously doesn’t want to leave Burns, but is forced to go on a trip, and find a temporary replacement for himself. So Smithers starts searching the employee database to find someone who won’t upstage him, and searches for the term incompetent, but it shocked that that brings up 714 results. And when he gets the same 714 results when he searches for “Lazy, clumsy, dim-witted, and monstrously ugly,” he just gives up and picks Homer, since of course he does.
So Homer starts being Mr. Burns’ assistant, while Smithers tries to quickly teach him the 2,800 small jobs that make up that duty, including not letting Mr. Burn’s ridiculously old and horrible mother from calling him. Apparently they don’t get along because Mrs. Burns had an affair with President Taft, which is hilarious. But Smithes heads off for his vacation, and Homer is instantly in over his head. He doesn’t know how to do anything, and has a serious problem writing down all of Burns’ weird demands, although that does lead to the wonderful line “Uh huh. Okay. Um, can you repeat the part of the stuff where you said all about the …thing? Uh…the things?” Wonderful, I really wish I worked with people who got Simpsons references, because I would say this constantly.
And things get even worse for Homer when it turns out he needs to take care of Burns outside of work too, even having to get up at 4 a.m. to go cook him breakfast, which is two hours earlier than he usually gets up to watch Little Rascals. He heads to Burns’ mansion, and finds that he doesn’t know how to cook, and even catches cereal on fire. And the abuse of the day begins when Burns berates him for bringing donuts for breakfast, since Burns doesn’t like ethnic food. We then get the great scene where Homer informs him that his car had been towed and smashed into a cube, and while they’re talking Homer gets a phone call, leading to Burns’ great line “is it about my cube.” But it’s not about his cube, it’s Smithers who is checking in from the strange gay resort he’s at, and Burns just starts telling Smithers how horrible Homer is, all while he’s right there.
And it’s at this point that things start getting bad. Burns start being horrible to Homer, berating him and throwing stuff at him like crazy, wearing Homer down until he just can’t take it anymore. After a particularly bad dressing down, Homer finally snaps and just punches Burns, knocking the old man out. Homer then logically freaks out and runs away, leaving his boss there, and going home. But Marge and Lisa convince him that he should probably go check on Burns, in case he’s dead, so Homer goes back to the Plant, only to find Burns alive and terrified of him. Burns gets Homer to leave his office, and tries to call Smithers for help, but since he’s never used a phone before he accidently calls Moe, who assumes it’s a prank call and threatens him, just freaking him out more. And so with no other options, Burns decides to hide in his office all night, and actually start taking care of himself for once.
And the next morning when Homer gets to the Plant, he’s shocked to find that Burns is now perfectly okay with the assault, and if anything is appreciative, because it finally forced him to do things for himself, which he’s loving. He made his own coffee, shredded environmental reports, and is handling his phone like a pro. And as he thanks Homer with a friendly hug, Smithers shows up, back from vacation. Smithers is a little worried about Burns’ friendliness with Homer, and it’s made worse when Burns ends up firing him, because he no longer needs an assistant.
Smithers is then forced with having to look for employment, and things don’t go well. He tries to be a piano mover but destroys his back, tries to work as the announcer at the drag race track but doesn’t have enough enthusiasm, and finally ends up being some sort of Barney wrangler for Moe. But Homer can’t abide that, and decides to help Smithers get his job back. They come up with a plan where they’ll make Burns talk to his horrible mother, and that will somehow prove to the old man that he still needs Smithers. So they call Mrs. Burns, who is pissed that Burns spends all his time “Strutting about his atom mill,” and is all ready to yell at him. But Homer accidently disconnects the call instead of transferring it, and tries to impersonate her before Burns catches them. He’s furious at the both of them, and it ends up causing Smithers and Homer to start fighting. They have a ridiculous brawl in Burns’ office, while Burns does his best to stop it, until he finally climbs atop that polar bear that’s in his office. And eventually the fight ends up knocking the bear over, and toppling Burns out the window. And since Burns is ridiculously old and fell out of a third story window, he’s incredibly broken, and once again relies on Smithers to take care of him. And to show his appreciation, Smithers sends the Simpsons a nice goodie basket, which Homer explains he got with this interaction:
Bart: “What’d you get that for?”
Homer: “For knocking Mr. Burns out of a third story window.”
Bart: “Makes sense to me.”
Lisa: “Did he die?”
Homer: “What am I, a doctor?”
What a silly, fun episode. I’ve explained so many times before that I couldn’t possibly love Mr. Burns more, and this is some peak Mr. Burns. He’s so on point this episode, delivering some truly wonderful lines, and just being all around horrible to everyone else. I love how freaked out he gets at happy Lenny, and just about everything that happens with him and Homer. The line “is it about my cube?” makes me crack the hell up every time I think about it, mainly because, as usual, Harry Shearer knocks this performance out of the park. I love that Shearer does both Burns and Smithers on the show, which means that most of these scenes are him talking to himself, and it still comes off as hilarious. It was really fun seeing Mr. Smithers’ awkward vacation at this strange, clandestine gay resort, and I love how they just make it obvious that Homer’s going to be the one to take care of Burns while he’s away, since of course it’s going to be him.
Take Away: Do things for yourself, unless it’s talking to your Taft-screwing mom, you don’t need that drama.
“Homer the Smithers” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 1996.