So yesterday I said that this week was going to be an improvement over the minor dumpster fire that was last week’s episodes. And that’s true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we get a week of perfect episodes. They’re just working better. And here’s a prime example. Because held up to some Golden Age episodes, this one isn’t great, but hey, it’s a funny episode with a lot of nostalgia for me.
The episode starts off with the family heading to the local massive movie theater to check out a new flick called the Poke of Zorro. And after a brief commercial for Buzz Cola that parodies the D-Day invasion, and Homer filling up his Milk Dud carton with butter (“swim my pretties!”), we get to the ridiculous Zorro movie. Why is it ridiculous? Well, it’s all about Zorro trying to free King Arthur from the clutches of the evil Three Musketeers, the Man in the Iron Mask, and the Scarlet Pimpernel.
And everyone’s loving this movie, but it really leaves a mark on Homer, especially when the final conflict is solved by having Zorro slap the Pimpernel with his glove and challenges him to a duel. The Pimpernel bails and Homer realizes that slapping people with gloves and challenging them to duels is a brilliant strategy for life. And that’s confirmed when they start leaving the theater, and Snake pushes into Marge. Homer gives him a slap, and challenges him to a duel, causing Snake to run away in confusion, and Homer has a new obsession.
And obviously this reinforces Homer into using the tactic like crazy. He begins wandering Springfield, slapping everyone and anyone who even marginally inconveniences him. But this leads to some conflict when Homer’s slapping people in line at the Kwik-E-Mart and just happens to slap some Colonel Sanders looking dude who actually loves dueling, and accepts, saying that he chooses pistols at dawn.
Homer’s obviously freaked out by this, and it just gets worse when the next morning the Colonel shows up in front of their house with a big old Winnebago, getting ready to wait Homer out. Homer’s not really into the whole “being shot” thing, so he convinces the family to sneak him out of the house in a rotten Christmas Tree, which shockingly works. So they pile into Marge’s car, and drive off, leaving the Colonel at their house while they set out to find a new life. And after driving around aimlessly for a while, Homer realizes that they’re close to the old farmhouse he grew up in. Which burned down in the Sex Potion episode. But I guess it’s okay now, because it’s still standing and in good enough condition that the family can just move on in.
So the family are farmers now. They start cleaning up the old farmhouse, while Homer just keeps getting crushed by the faithful tractor. But eventually Homer has to start growing stuff, so he heads down to a farm supply store, which features one of the dirtiest jokes I’ve ever seen snuck onto the Simpsons. Sneed’s Feed and Seed, formerly Chuck’s. Think about it. Anyway, Homer heads in, and starts to get mocked by the other farmers about how the Simpson farm is barren, and he’ll have no luck. So Homer buys a little bit of everything, and heads back to prove them wrong.
Homer begins planting all of the seeds he bought, including gummy bears and candy corn, hoping that something will at least grow. Unfortunately that proves to be incorrect. Nothing the does is making any crops grow, and it looks like he’s about to be a failure. That is until Homer finally starts to go crazy, and gives a call to Lenny, asking him to send Homer some plutonium, which will obviously lead to massive crops. So Lenny sends some dangerous substances to Homer, and he starts spraying plutonium on all of the crops.
And guess what. It works! Not at first like Homer was hoping, but some tomatoes start growing. Slowly but surely. However, when they’re finally ready to be harvested, Bart gives one a taste, and realizes it’s disgusting. Lisa then notices that he inside of the tomatoes are all brown and gross, which leads them to realize that the tomato seeds seemed to have mutated with the tobacco seeds, causing some sort of unholy hybrid plant. Oh, and it’s also incredibly addictive thanks to the nicotine.
So they have a solid business strategy! They begin selling ToMacco on the side of the road, hoping to get some innocent vegetable fans addicted to their weird plant. And they’re doing great. There ends up being whole lines of people to get their ToMacco fix, and the Simpsons start raking it in. Which obviously is going to earn the attention of Big Tobacco.
Which takes the form of some suits from Laramie Cigarettes, who are hoping to buy the idea of ToMacco from the Simpsons, and use it to get kids addicted to cigarettes. Unfortunately Homer misunderstands Lisa’s plea that they don’t sell their souls to Big Tobacco, and instead demands an obscene amount of money from them, at which point they just kick the Simpsons out of their limo and get ready to steal the ToMacco themselves.
Which proves to be a problem, because when the Simpsons get back to their farm they realize that all the local animals have gotten into the ToMacco, and are now addicted and eating all the plants. Homer tries to save the last plant to get rich with, but the animals become nicotine zombies and smash their way in. Homer throws the plant away to save themselves, which is promptly caught by one of the Laramie suits, who is them killed by a horrible sheep.
So everything’s all wrapped up, and the Simpsons head home to continue their life there. Oh, and they forgot that that murderous Colonel is still there waiting for Homer to return for their duel. Whoops. So as soon as Homer gets out of the car they get ready to duel, and Homer’s about to face the music. That is until the Colonel smells one of Marge’s mince-meat pies, and decides that’s more interesting. Oh, until Homer makes a comment about the duel taking forever, and he just gets shot in the arm. The end!
This is certainly not a great episode, but it at least made me laugh a couple times. There’s stuff in the episode that doesn’t make a lot of sense, like how the old family farmhouse is still standing even though we witnessed it be burned down to the group in a previous season, but the central premise is pretty good. That Zorro movie was hilarious. It at least has that going for it. And even though the dueling stuff was pretty weird and didn’t pay off that great, the central premise of the episode with the family becoming farmers was pretty solid and lead to some good jokes. ToMacco is a pretty great idea, and one of those classic Simpsons things, so it’s definitely got that going for it. It’s just a pretty uneven episode, like a lot of the ones from this era. Oh well, it’s one of the better ones we’ve had in a while, so that’s still something to hold onto.
Take Away: Plutonium is a wonderful thing that does whatever we want it to do. Oh, and dueling isn’t a good idea, just ask Alexander Hamilton.
“E-I-E-I-D’oh” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Bob Anderson, 1999.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons