I’m going to be honest here folks, I don’t know if I’m just in a mood today or what, but this episode just straight up leaves no impression on me. It’s like a big blank spot for me. Let’s see if I can explain it!
Things starts off with the whole town mooching from the YMCA during some sort of free-entry night where people are allowed to try out classes and activities that they’ll never return to. Which obviously means that it’s time for some rapid-fire gags! We see Grandpa and some other old folks playing a weird basketball variation with a peach-basket, Lisa meeting a loud and abrasive gymnastics teacher, and Bart getting tricked into a terrible etiquette lesson.
But after the gags we land on Homer, who is doing some basketball himself. He gets put on a team with Principal Skinner and Moe, and they start playing, having some goofy antics for a while. But tragedy strikes when Homer comes up with an insane idea to have Skinner kneel down and jump off his back to dunk. Which seems against the rules, but whatever. Homer pulls off the trick, and it works too well, because he ends up jumping so high that he legs gets stuck in the net, destroying his knee.
So Homer’s raced to the hospital, and has an awkward conversation with Dr. Hibbert about his accident where he blames George Jetson, mainly because he’s whacked out of his mind on morphine. And once he’s repaired, he learns he has to stay off his leg for two whole weeks, which isn’t really a fun prospect. So after trying to run away from the bill and failing, Homer’s brought home and forced to sit alone in the house, trying to avoid madness. You know, like “Bart of Darkness!’
But we don’t have a Rear Window plot going this episode, so let’s just move on to what actually happens. Because as Homer is sitting at home, watching the rest of his family do everything they can to avoid him, he starts looking for something to do. And his luck shines when Ned comes over looking to see if Marge could babysit Rod and Todd while Ned goes to a Chris Rock show. And because he’s so damn bored Homer says that he’ll give it a shot, and for some reason Ned agrees.
So Rod and Todd have a fun evening with Homer, watching TV and eating junk food, and when Ned comes back, a little rattled from the Chris Rock show, he asks the kids how they liked their time. And they loved it, and so did Homer shockingly. So Homer decides to keep up with this fun, and starts a babysitting gig until his knee is fixed. Because I guess he really only works at the Power Plant when they want him to now.
The Uncle Homer’s Day Care Service opens up and business is booming. All sorts of kids start becoming regulars of the service and having a great time with Homer’s loose supervision. And after a month of babysitting, Homer’s knee has completely healed, apparently due to his love of children, and he decides to keep up the job, since everyone seems more happy this way.
Well, not everyone. Turns out Bart and Lisa are starting to get really jealous of all the attention that Homer’s dotting out to their friends. Even though they didn’t want to hang out with him when he first broke his leg, but whatever, kids are fickle. So after an attempt to pluck his heartstrings with a framed photo of them backfires, Homer just uses the frame for his babysitting license, they decide to up their game.
And they get their chance when some guy representing a super fake-sounding awards show for local heroes shows up to film some sort of documentary about Homer. The news of this babysitting center has apparently reached the point that it’s huge news, so they start to film the saintly Homer, while ignoring the fact that he’s clearly treating Bart and Lisa like crap to better his image. Which was a bridge too far, causing Bart and Lisa to plan some revenge.
We then cut right over to the awards show, being hosted by Krusty, as we start to anticipate their revenge. Which comes in the form of pranking the little documentary that starts to play when Homer wins his award. We get to see all sorts of schmaltzy footage of Homer and his “kids” before Bart and Lisa’s spliced in footage shows up. Which is less than flattering. We get to see Homer being drunk, gambling away Maggie, and chasing Bart through the streets with a mace.
So that doesn’t look that good. And people obviously freak out, not wanting their children to be in the care of this psycho. But, like all sane people, Homer flips out and decides to grab the kids, and run away with them rather than have them taken away. So Homer packs the kids inside a van, steals it, and starts driving away while Arnie Pie chases in a new chopper. Which does lead to some amazing Arnie Pie vs Kent Brockman goodness:
Arnie Pye: (describing Homer’s actions) “He’s jumping out of the car, Kent! He’s trying to climb over the fence. Now he’s realizing he’s too fat. He’s digging a hole like a dog. Now he’s given up on that, and he’s running back and forth. He’s climbing into a pipe, and he seems to be stuck. His legs are dangling in a comical fashion. Oh, it’s the saddest thing I’ve ever seen!”
Kent Brockman: “Arnie, Arnie, how are the children?”
Arnie Pye: (sarcastic) “I can’t see through metal, Kent”
Good stuff. Anyway, Homer’s caught, the children are freed, the daycare is shut down, Homer is not arrested for some reason, and he decides to appreciate Bart and Lisa more.
Yeah, I don’t know what it is about this episode, but it does next to nothing for me. Like every episode I’ve done it’s not all bad, there’s some great stuff in here like the aforementioned Arnie Pie meltdown and a bunch of the YMCA stuff from the beginning. But overall it just feels like a dud to me. The idea of Homer suddenly being a caregiver just didn’t pan out for me, although I totally believe the idea of Homer passing on his own kids to give attention to other kids. That’s just the kind of dude Homer is. Like I said, maybe I’m just in a weird mood today, but there you have it.
Take Away: Don’t take your kids for granted, and maybe vet your babysitters?
“Children of a Lesser Clod” was written by Al Jean and directed by Michael Polcino, 2001.