Lifetime of Simpsons

S11 E13 – Saddlesore Galactica

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What better way is there to end the week than a chilling expose on the truth about jockeys? And illegal horse diving operations?

The episode starts off with Lisa and the rest of the school band practicing for a big show. Apparently they’ve gotten into some State Fair competition for Elementary School bands, and the kids don’t have a lot of faith in Mr. Largo and his insistence that they just do Sousa marches. Lisa instigates the kids to do something more bold and interesting, and even though Mr. Largo isn’t a fan of the idea, he goes along with it, since he clearly doesn’t care that much about both his job, and kind of his life.

We then cut straight over to the State Fair where Homer is trying to get free-entry by pretending to be a Vietnam veteran and just yelling at Squeaky Voiced Teen. They then start looking at all the stupid crap for sale in the Fair, like drain-clog bugs and some sort of mop that eats food. We also get to see Homer loudly heckle Bachman-Turner Overdrive while requesting “Takin’ Care of Business” and then complaining about it. Because Homer’s a classy fellow.

And after the abuse of BTO, the battle of the bands begins, and we see that Lisa’s team has arranged a really rollicking version of “Living in America” that the crowd is loving. So it looks like Lisa’s team is the clear winner! That is until a team from Ogdenville shows up, and just does “Stars and Stripes Forever.” Nothing special. That is until the end when they start waving around glowsticks that look like the American Flag, and if there’s one thing stupid people love, it’s the American flag, so they give Ogdenville the prize, even though visual aides were forbidden.

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But that’s enough Lisa stuff for now, because as the family is leaving the Fair with furious Lisa, they end up coming across some shady performance of Duncan the Wonder Horse, that’s basically a man dropping a horse from a high-dive into a shallow pool of water. The crowd is into it, but Chief Wiggum showed up asking to see his animal cruelty license, and he runs away. So, to save the horse from being turned into food, the Simpsons offer to take Duncan, even though as Comic Book Guy tells them, they already had a horse and it didn’t work out great.

So they take Duncan home, and quickly run into the same issues they had with Princess, the food bill. But instead of getting a second-job again, Homer decides to monetize the horse this time. First they consider teaching him to be a kicker in the NFL, but horses aren’t allowed to play. Then they think about having Duncan dive for pearls, but while Homer’s having an insane fantasy about being a pearl baron, Bart realizes that Duncan’s pretty fast, and they decide he should be a race-horse.

And after a quick update with the Lisa plot where she’s escalated to writing a complaining letter to President Clinton, we get to check out how this amateur horse-racing is going. Homer and Bart show up at the track, ready to race, and are quickly making enemies of the other jockeys, who are pretty rightfully insulted that this weird family just showed up with no training and assuming they can win. And it turns out they’re right, because during the first race Duncan refuses to even run, and loses quite handily, mainly because he was scared to race.

So I guess that plan didn’t work and they’ll just have to come up with another scheme. Nope! Because Homer has an even crazier idea. He’s going to toughen Duncan up and give him a new identity as Furious D. And even though the other jockeys continue to mock them, it’s actually starting to work. Duncan has a whole new confidence, and is managing to intimidate the other horses and bullies them into a winning streak.

Unfortunately the jockeys can’t stand by this winning streak, so they kidnap Homer and bring him down to their lair. Because the jockeys aren’t actually humans, they’re some sort of weird elf-life creatures that live under the track in a little treehouse. They tell Homer that he has to start losing, otherwise they’ll eat his brains.

So Homer is released, not quite sure what the hell just happened to him, and has to figure out what to do. But when he goes to talk to Bart to tell him that they have to lose the race, he changes his mind and decides that they need to win anyway. So They go to the race the next day, and Duncan wins, leading to the jockeys attacking Homer and Bart. They hop on Duncan and ride through the street, leading the jockeys to a trap, because Marge and Lisa are waiting his hoses to knock the jockeys of their horses so they can be put in trash bags. Problem solved! Oh, and President Clinton shows up to give Lisa the award, since complaining pays off some times.

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Okay listen, this is a stupid episode. The whole idea of the Simpsons getting a horse, again, and then deciding to become amateur horse-racers is pretty ridiculous. And the reveal that all jockeys are some sort of mythical creatures that live under race-tracks and threaten outsiders is so bizarre. It’s kind of like that episode when Homer and Mr. Burns find the Loch Ness Monster. It’s crazy, and it’s not happening in a Treehouse of Horror episode. Homer, in normal continuity, literally finds monster jockeys that live in a magical realm. And then beats them and puts them in garbage bags. But where that Loch Ness Monster episode kind of rubbed me the wrong way, I kind of love this one. Honestly, it’s probably nostalgia, because I remember seeing this episode all the damned time in syndication, but whatever the reason is, this episode really leaves me grinning.

Take Away: It’s super easy to enter the professional horse-racing business. Oh, and complaining to Presidents is a great idea.

 

“Saddlesore Galactica” was written by Tim Long and directed by Lance Kramer, 2000.

 

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