Lifetime of Simpsons

S11 E06 – Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder

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Hey, you know who one of the most underused characters on the show is? Maggie. She almost never gets episodes about her, even though the few that there are, especially the ones that have revolved around Homer’s relationship with his youngest daughter, are pretty great. So let’s do another one of those. The episode will eventually get to it!

This episode starts off with a really weird throw-away gag where Homer hits the snooze button one morning, and somehow sleeps through 28 hours, not noticing all sorts of weird stuff that happens in the room, like Otto making out with some lady in their bedroom. It doesn’t really lead to anything, other than Homer waking up and quickly leaving the house for work, too busy to hang out with Maggie. So Homer’s not having a good day.

And that continues when he starts driving to work, and gets slammed into traffic. So he decides to do the brilliant move of just driving on the median, which obviously gets him pulled over and given a ticket for pointing out police stupidity. And the hits just keep coming, because when he finally gets to work he gets chewed out by Burns for beings so late. So yeah, things aren’t going great. Especially after his punishment from Burns is to eat whole drums of nuclear waste.

But things take a minor turn for the better when Lenny and Carl come rescue him from the toxic waste, and get him to come bowling with them. Home briefly calls home and tells Marge that he’ll be late coming home since Lenny got in some terrible accident at the Plant, and then heads out to bowl. And even though it takes him a couple frames to realize, Homer’s actually doing great. He’s gotten strikes every frame, and is on his way to a perfect game.

This is apparently huge news in Springfield, as a whole group of people start crowding around to watch Homer, and they even break into Krusty’s show while he’s talking about some dangerous gum he sold and have Kent Brockman report it. Which blows Homer’s lie to Marge, but the family heads down to support him anyway. And with his last frame, Homer throws the ball in an insane fashion that nevertheless crashes down on the pins, triggering a massive shockwave that knocks down all the pins in the alley. He’s bowled a perfect game! Celebration!

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And since Springfield is a really quiet place, this feat makes Homer a local hero. He gets to come talk to Bart’s class about heroism, and even gets to be the center square in some sort of local Hollywood Squares type show. Which hilariously features a drunken Ron Howard in a bathrobe, who gets really irritated with Homer’s stupidity. And during their bickering, Kent Brockman slips that Homer’s a flavor of the month, and Homer finally realizes that his fame is fleeting.

Which would be a good time for home to cede his momentary fame gracefully. But obviously that’s not what our Homer is going to do. Instead he marches on-stage during a Penn and Teller performance, and ruins everything, earning the ire of Penn, and getting Teller to actually speak. So that’s not going well. And things just get worse when Homer sees some sort of entertainment news show that refers to him as yesterday’s news, and he starts to get super depressed.

So Homer begins wandering the town, depressed, and trying to figure out what to do with his life now that he’s no longer for bowling. Which obviously leads to suicide. So Homer climbs to the top of some massive skyscraper, and gets ready to jump off. However he starts to have second-thoughts, but is still pushed off by a waiting suicide participant. So Homer falls off the skyscraper, and ends up coming across Otto on the way down, who is bungee jumping. So Homer grabs on, and the two end up shooting down through a manhole cover where they meet Morlocks, CHUDs, and Molepeople, before coming back to the surface, still alive.

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And that brush with death gives Homer a new zeal for life. And after running into Ron Howard again, he decides to give his life meaning by showering his children with the love that he’s never given them. So Homer heads home, and finds that he’s not really needed anymore. Bart gets his father figure needs handled by Nelson, and he can’t help Lisa with any work. But then there’s Maggie! Homer decides to put all of his eggs in one basket, and starts over-parenting Maggie, who couldn’t care less.

Homer’s parenting basically just keeps terrifying Maggie, especially when he tries to make himself a Teletubby, and just ends up electrocuting himself. But Homer doesn’t give up! Instead he takes Maggie to some sort of father/daughter swimming lesson, which also goes pretty terribly. But as they’re driving home Maggie tries to point out a butterfly to Homer, trying to bond with him, which he misreads as her wanting to go to the beach.

So the two head down to a beach, and Homer starts trying to get her to swim in the ocean. Which doesn’t go great. Maggie has no interest in swimming in the ocean, and things just get worse when a wave sweeps Homer away from the beach, and the tide starts dragging him out to sea. So Homer’s screwed. That is until Maggie springs into action, and dives into the sea, swimming after her father. And, somehow, she’s able to grab Homer and drag him back to the shore to safety. Dr. Hibbert shows up to check Homer, and give some bullshit explanation for how Maggie accomplished that, but who cares? We end on a really cute scene where Homer and Maggie go bowling together, and Homer gets another perfect game, but couldn’t care less, because he’s busy loving his daughter.

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This episode is really great in concept. Although in practice it kind of ended up feeling like to different stories smashed into each other. Which pays off sometimes, but not really in this case. I like the idea of Homer accidently becoming a celebrity, and then realizing that fame fades, kind of like when Bart became the I Didn’t Do It boy. But that story just kind of petered out, and then suddenly became an episode that was basically structured like a Homer/Lisa episode, but with Maggie stuffed in there. Which is a good idea. I really like Homer and Maggie trying to have a better relationship, and that ending scene is super adorable, but it just felt so tacked on at the end. I feel like we had two acts of one episode, and one act of another, and they didn’t quite gel, whereas they would have been two really solid episodes on their own. I don’t know, it wasn’t a bad episode, it just felt strange.

Take Away: Fame is fleeting, and you should get your happiness and sense of worth from something more substantial like family.

 

“Hello Gutter, Hello Fadder” was written by Al Jean and directed by Mike B Anderson, 1999.

 

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