Okay, first things first. This week is kind of rough. We end on a really emotional episode that made me tear up at the end, but for the most part, this week was kind of a drag. And after yesterday’s Super Bowl episode, let’s see Homer change his name and meet rich people!
We open up with the family eagerly preparing to watch some mid-season replacement shows, which Homer for some reason expect to be of any passable quality. Homer anticipates all of the shows to be great, and even has a score-card printed up to grade them. Although we do get a great gag about how easy animation is, and how you can change voice actors without even noticing, which is told to us by Ned Flanders, with a noticeably different voice. But Homer’s night starts to fall apart right after seeing a terrible comedy called Admiral Baby, that’s exactly what you think it is. This kind of bums Homer out, but they decide to keep going, and give a new police procedural, called Police Cops a shot. And it changes Homer’s life.
Police Cops is just a crazy procedural buddy-cop type show, with two exceedingly competent cops who murder a bunch of people who are stealing a bank. The family think that the show isn’t half bad, but what really starts to blow Homer’s mind is the fact that the suave, millionaire, playboy cop is named Homer Simpson. And because Homer has never encountered a fictional character with his name, he flips shit. And honestly, so does the rest of the town, who begin calling Homer to congratulate him on having a famous name, because Springfield is stupid. There’s even an article in the newspaper about it, which is hilariously buried deep in a paper with the headline “It’s War!!”
And as the town gets even crazier about the whole name thing, Homer starts to milk it, even wearing the signature scarf that the show Homer wears. And it all culminates in Homer and his friends gathering around Moe’s bar to watch the second episode of the show. However, it becomes clear that the pilot wasn’t quite working, so they shook some stuff up, and the Homer Simpson character has gone from a competent police officer, to a bumbling idiot comic-relief character. Which horrifies Homer. Especially when the rest of the town instantly turns on him, and starts to treat him like the idiot character.
Homer quickly starts to go crazy, even after Lisa tries to explain the difference between fiction and reality, and how television production works. But I guess he has good reason, because everyone around town starts assuming he acts just like the character. Hell, the Plant workers even start to watch him while he works, assuming that he’ll do something dumb. He does, but that’s beside the point. Thing even get so bad that Homer start shunning the outside world, mainly because people just harass him at the mall, and he decides to become a weird recluse in the attic.
However the rest of the family aren’t on board for Homer becoming an insane person, and they recommended he maybe goes to talk to the producers of Police Cops, and see if they would change the character’s name or personality. So Homer gets over to the television studio, and has a meeting with the writers and producers of the show, as he starts to beg for his dignity. They don’t really listen to him, and only care about his exit when he walks into a cactus, giving them a new gag for their next episode. And when it becomes evident that they aren’t going to change the name of the character, and Homer is going to be trapped in this terrible world, he decides to sue the makers of Police Cops! And when that fails, he decides a better decision is to change his name to Max Power!
So Homer heads home, with his new name, and informs the rest of his family about his crazy life-change, without apparently even telling them. As usual, Marge isn’t happy that Homer made this ridiculous decision without her, but that’s not going to stop him, especially since he’s created a whole new shitty personality for Max Power, which quickly puts off the rest of the family. Although it does lead to the amazing scene of:
Homer: “There are three ways to do something. The right way, the wrong way, and the Max Power way!”
Bart: “Isn’t that just the wrong way?”
Homer: “Yes, but faster!”
Great. And even though the family aren’t really on-board for Homer’s new name, it seems like everyone else is. Hell, even Mr. Burns remembers his name now.
But being Max Power really starts to pay off when he runs into a guy named Trent Steele at a department store, and they being appreciating each other’s names. Steele invites Homer and Marge over to some sort of fancy party for rich and important people, assuming anyone with the name Max Power has to be important. So they head out to the party and start rubbing elbows with the likes of Woody Harrelson, Ed Begley Jr, Lorne Michaels, and even Bill Clinton.
Homer and Marge start to have a good time, hanging out with all the famous people. There’s even a great scene where Bill Clinton starts hitting on Marge, only to leave because “Quebec has the bomb.” But the day takes a sour turn for Homer when it comes out that the real goal of it was to raise money and awareness to save trees. Homer pitches a bit of a fit, and that gets worse when everyone apparently has to go and chain themselves to trees in protest. Homer and Marge aren’t that happy about it, especially when the cops come. Eddie gets ready to swab Homer’s eyes with mace, and he freaks out, running away from Eddie. And since he was chained, that running starts to cut into the tree, until it comes down, knocking them all over like dominoes and decimating the entire forest. So Homer’s made an ass of himself, he’s kicked out of Springfield’s elite, and apparently changes his name back to what it belongs as.
I’m not really sure how I feel about this episode. I remember really liking this one when I was a kid, and I think it was one of those that have been coming up more and more that played on syndication like crazy. But it just fell flat for me this time. Honestly, the part of the episode before he becomes Max Power is pretty great. I love the idea of Homer freaking out, and throwing his entire identity on some terrible show, because it used a character with his name. That’s a really solid joke, and one that probably could have played out the whole episode. But then he changes his name, and the episode just kind of fell apart for me. The whole Springfield Elite thing just didn’t work for me, and it felt like this could have been a goofy episode about Homer dealing with having the same name as a character, or an episode similar to “Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield,” where Homer is trying to get the family into the upper crust by changing his name. But as it was, there were two halves that just didn’t add up to much for me. Who knows, maybe I was in a weird mood. I usually love John Swartzwelder penned episodes, but this go-around didn’t click for me.
Take Away: If you have the same name as a fictional character, don’t let it ruin your life. Oh, and don’t change your name for virtually no reason.
“Homer to the Max” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Pete Michels, 1999.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons