By and large this week is pretty great. We’ve had two really great episode before this one, and the next two are also some of my favorites. But this one? I honestly forget about it all the time, and barely remembered the structure while watching it this time. So let’s see the instantly forgettable “Simpson Tide!”
Things start off with Homer having an elaborate Planet of the Apes parody dream at work where he’s stranded on the Planet of the Donuts. But when Lenny and Carl wake him up, he joins them in the break room to eat donuts, only to find one left. So Homer decides to use the same understanding of radiation that Stan Lee has, and drops the donut in a reactor to make it grow. But all it does is cause a meltdown where everyone has to be evacuated. Mr. Burns is obviously pissed off about this, but almost forgives Homer when he lies and says it’s his first day. But Smithers screws him over, tells Burns the truth, and Homer ends up getting fired.
So Homer goes home, and starts doing what most people who have recently become unemployed do, they sit on the couch sadly and watch TV. But since TV’s are magical in the Simpsons, he almost immediately sees an ad that gives him the idea to join the Naval Reserve, since it looks like the best job in the world. So Homer heads down to a recruitment office, we get a weird joke about “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and Homer’s officially a member of the United States Navy. Without telling Marge. Good call Homer. And she is not pleased. Luckily though, Homer does have some support, because Moe, Barney, and Apu decide to join up too so they can work together. Right after Moe stops his Russian Roulette tournament he has going on between Krusty and Skinner.
Our four dopes then head out to boot camp to get their hair cut, and to get yelled at by drill-sergeant. But apparently there’s not a lot to joining the Naval Reserve, because they quickly pass all of the tests, and end up graduating. Which does lead to the hilarious gag of some WWI historical reenactors graduating their course and tossing some German helmets up in the air. So Homer is now in the Navy, despite being a terrible seaman that seemed to fail every test. But whatever, let’s get him on a boat.
But before Homer actually goes out to see, we’re introduced to the weird B-Plot. Turns out Milhouse has gotten one of his ears pierced, which Bart thinks is ridiculous. But the rest of the kids on the bus don’t agree, in fact they think it looks awesome. So after trying to impress everyone by doing the Bartman, Bart realizes he needs to get his ear pierced. So he heads to the mall, which is in the process of becoming a massive Starbucks, and gets his ear pierced. Which Homer and Marge are not cool with. Which is weird, because who cares about getting your ear pierced? I get when they didn’t want him to have a tattoo, but an earring? It’s just strange. Plus it doesn’t even matter, because the fad quickly spreads around the school, and when Bart shows up to show off his cool new earring he finds everyone has gotten them, and he’s not even cool.
But that’s enough of the earring plot, because it’s time for some War Games. And not the Matthew Broderick kind. Turns out Homer, Apu, Moe, and Barney are being put on a nuclear sub, since Homer worked in a nuclear plant, and they’re going to be tested. Which should lead to disaster, but the captain of the sub shockingly gets really endeared to Homer, and ends up taking him under his wing. So the sub heads out to sea, after Bart gives Homer his earring since he’s sick of Homer complaining about it. And as the Village People drown after singing “In the Navy,” the sub heads out to certain doom.
Which happens quicker than expected, because Captain Teneal is regaling the crewmen about his love of the ocean, and ends up putting Homer in charge when he goes to check out a problem. It turns out one of the torpedo tubes is jammed with something, which apparently required the Captain to personally inspect. He goes down and finds it full of contraband, and climbs inside to get it all out. Which happens just as Homer hears word that one of the subs that they’re supposed to be warring with shows up, and since he’s in charge he orders them to fire, which sends the Captain through the water, and into the enemy sub. Where he dies? Eh, we kind of gloss over that.
And things get even worse when all of their instruments start to fail, and they’re fully in Homer’s control. And after a weird slam on David Schwimmer, “yes, he is handsome in an ugly way,” they start sailing back to Springfiled, only to go the wrong way and end up in Russian waters. Which obviously causes an international incident, since everyone assumes Homer is a secret Russian sympathizer who has hijacked the sub. And things aren’t helped when the news interview Abe, and he explains that “Homer is not a Communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a Communist, but he is not a porn star!” And things get even worse when Russia reveals that they’re still the Soviet Union, and start becoming evil again.
Plus, as if things couldn’t get worse, the sub also gets some sort of pinhole leak that’s going to slowly drown them all. So Homer springs into action and goes down to inspect the leak. And after struggling to figure out a way to fix it, he has a fantasy about his family, and realizes that Bart’s earring could fix the situation, although he first has to say the hilarious line of “I’ll plug your hole.” And with that the sub is saved, so they surface only to find battleships from several different nations awaiting the sub to destroy it. Luckily Homer is able to use his excuse from earlier, that it’s his first day, and everyone just laughs and lets the presumed sedition go. So Homer heads back to the States for his court martial, only to find all the members of the Board of Conduct are under indictment and leave him with just a dishonorable discharge as punishment, so everything can back to normal. Except for the resurgence of the Soviet Union I guess.
I don’t know what it is about this episode, but it really doesn’t do much at all for me. I remembered bits and pieces of it, but it’s one of those episodes that when I started watching it I really had forgotten about it completely. It’s just weird. We’re getting to a period when they seemed to just base episodes off “what if Homer does this for a week?” And while some of those work out for me, him randomly joining the Naval Reserve, only to be involved in some crazy War Games situation just doesn’t work for me. I also find the whole Bart’s earring plot baffling. Why do Homer and Marge have such an issue with Bart getting his ear pierced? They even make it sound like it would be terrible for Lisa to have one, which is even more baffling. I don’t know, this is just a weird one. There are some great gags and individual scenes, but the sum of the parts just kind of built up to nothing.
Take Away: Don’t flippantly join the Navy. And “it’s my first day,” is a great excuse that can get you out of all sorts of jams.
“Simpson Tide” was written by Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia and directed by Milton Gray, 1998.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons