That wasn’t so bad, now was it? A pretty easy week with some fun little episodes. And I’m grateful. Things have been hard lately for this project, and I’m always glad to have a fun little week. And look what we have to cap off the week, a batshit insane episode parodying a ridiculous British tv show. I’m down!
The episode starts off with Homer angrily banging on the gate surrounding the Nuclear Plat, unaware that it’s closed for fumigation. Lenny and Carl happen to be driving by on their day off, and let Homer know that he came all the way to work for nothing, and tell him that he should have gotten an email about it. But since Homer is still living in 1989, he has no idea what an email is, and doesn’t even have a computer. So Lenny and Carl mock him and drive off, while Homer decides to get a computer.
So Homer heads to a computer shop and talks with a high-pressure salesman who gets Homer to buy the most expensive one. Which he promptly drags home behind his car, because Homer is a brilliant man. Unfortunately Homer has no idea how to operate a computer, so he just sets it up in the kitchen and commands it to kill Ned, with minimal effect. But Lisa takes pity on her father, and helps him set it up, and after a brief trip to the garbage, he gets a hang of it, and starts using the internet.
Which doesn’t go well. Homer just loves stupid gifs and tools around on stupid websites like the Springfield Police Department. And after getting a minor look at all the joys the internet has to offer, Homer decides to do what all dorks who want to have their stupid thoughts heard, and he starts a website! And it’s terrible. Mainly just a lot of stolen gifs and obnoxious sound effects that keep him from noticing the crazy dark stuff Bart is saying.
Homer gets worried at first that people will figure out he stole all their stupid gifs, and changes the name of the site to Mr. X’s Webpage, and then does what everybody with a new website does. He gets obsessed with the lack of traffic. And it starts to drive him crazy. That is until Lisa points out that he needs to actually offer something on his site that people may find worthwhile, and Bart just so happens to wander by and mentions that he heard a rumor that Mayor Quimby has been diverting some tax money that was supposed to pay for pothole repair to make a private swimming pool. And just like that, Homer’s in the muckraking business!
He writes up an article exposing Quimby’s presumed crimes and posts it to the internet. Where it’s promptly found by Comic Book Guy, who was busy looking for porn, and sent around Springfield, letting everyone know that Quimby is a crook, and that Mr. X is a new force of gossip in the town. And the crazy thing is, Homer was right, Quimby was totally making a private pool, and got busted, lending that much more credence to Mr. X’s ramblings.
So Homer takes to this new way of life, and begins sneaking around Springfield, exposing all sorts of horrible secrets. Like the fact that Kwik-E-Mart bagels are just old donuts, Miss Springfield uses cosmetics, and the police race prisoners. People have to know! But the real doozy comes when Homer overhears Mr. Burns and Smithers talking in the bathroom after Homer delivers the immortal line “I’ve been sitting on the toilet, all the live-long day,” which is totally something me and my college roommates would say.
Anyway, Homer finds out that Mr. Burns plans to sell uranium to some terrorists, and even is able to sneak into the meeting a confirm it. So he posts the story, Mr. Burns gets arrested, and people decide to give Mr. X the Pulitzer Prize. Unfortunately no one knows who he is. Until Homer outs himself in order to accept the prize-money, thus ruining his cover. And his profession, because now everyone in Springfield knows that he’s Mr. X, and don’t want to be around him in case he writes up their secrets.
At which points Homer does what anyone in that situation would do. He starts to make up news! And it gets outlandish fast. He reports on a race of subterranean creatures called Morton that live under Denver (totally true by the way), that Italian and Spanish are the same language, and the the government is controlling our minds with flu shots.
And things are going good for Homer. People are reading the site and loving his bullshit. That is until he goes to the Kwik-E-Mart one day and is kidnapped by some mysterious forces, and brought to a strange Island. And it’s at this point that the episode becomes a weird Prisoner parody, complete with the outfits and Patrick McGoohan. Homer is trapped on the mysterious Island, not sure where he is, or why he’s there, and he just keeps getting gassed whenever he tries to escape or ask questions.
But after a little bit he meets up with Number Six, who explains what’s going on. Turns out there’s some secret shadow government that rounds up people who have stumbled on great secrets, and abandons them on the Island. And Homer was actually correct about the whole flu shot thing, so now he’s trapped on the Island with a creepy German double pretending to be him back in Springfield.
So Homer tries to live on the Island for a while, constantly getting drugged, until one day Number Six lets him in on a secret raft he’s been building, suggesting that they flee together. Homer then pushes Number Six down and steals the raft for himself, heading back to Springfield. He then tries to write an article exposing everything, until the head of the Island appears on his computer, and German Homer starts to fight him. But Homer is able to kick him in the groin, and win the fight, just in time for the family to show up and get clued in about what’s going on. Well, until Santa’s Little Helper shows up and gasses them, and they all wake up on the Island. Which they actually like now, so happy ending!
This episode is stupid as hell, and I love it so goddamn much. I was obsessed with this episode when I was younger, probably because I had no idea what the hell was going on in it. It took me years to learn that the second half of the episode is a reference to the Prisoner, and when I was younger I just thought it was the craziest episode I’d ever seen. Which it still kind of is. The Prisoner still is a huge blind-spot in my geek knowledge, and seeing this episode again has spurred me to pick up the series and check it out. Who knows, maybe I’ll write it up on the site or something, try to puzzle it out. But even not knowing what’s going on in the episode, it’s a lot of fun. I love the idea of Homer finally learning about the internet, and using it to muckrake. And man is a lot of Homer’s frustrations with getting people to visit his site relateable to someone who also has a stupid site running. It’s just a really fun and goofy episode, and I adore it.
Take Away: You can lie on the internet, but you probably shouldn’t in case you get sent to the Island.
“The Computer Wore Menace Shoes” was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2000.