Wow! Whose ready for a garbage-episode folks? And I’m not talking about Homer running for garbage commissioner again, I’m talking what’s possibly the worst episode I’ve tackled on this project yet. Buckle up folks!
The episode starts off with Homer sitting on the couch, being excited for the return of the XFL, which was a reference that really brought me back. Remember when that was a thing? For a year, I think? That joke held up! Anyway, while Homer is despondent about his terrible football spinoff being cancelled Marge is busy fielding an automated phone-call from the Retirement Castle that claims Grandpa has died. Because that’s the kind of high-touch service you expect from the Retirement Castle.
So the family get dressed up in their church clothes and head over to the Retirement Castle to stand in Grandpa’s old room and weep. But as they’re mourning Grandpa shows up and kind of spoils the whole thing. Apparently some other old guy with a similar name died, and they called the Simpsons by accident. So I guess they came there for no reason. Whoops.
But as the family is making awkward chit chat, something interesting does happen. Because the old dude who died’s room is already being rented, and the new tenant is moving in. And she happens to be a saucy old lady named Zelda, who Grandpa immediately starts crushing on. And because he’s the first person that she met, she lets her show him around the place, and get to know this depressing building they’re trapped in. So Grandpa shows Zelda around, telling her about all the cliques, and they seem to be having a good time.
That is until some smooth old guy who all the other old ladies are in love with shows up to smooth talk Zelda. Turns out this dude can still drive, and that’s the most appealing thing about him, which quickly causes Zelda to trade up and leave Grandpa. But Grandpa can’t abide this, and heads over to the Simpsons’ house to ask them to let him get a driver’s license again. Homer refuses, for obvious reason, but after Grandpa throws a temper tantrum like a petulant child, Marge agrees to help him.
So Grandpa goes to an adult learning annex and refreshes his memory on how to drive, and then Marge takes him to the DMV to talk with Patty and get a license. And, for some reason, Patty gives him one, even using an insane picture of Grandpa yelling at a cloud as his photo. So Grandpa can drive now! Unfortunately he doesn’t have a car, so he has to go to Homer and ask him to borrow Homer’s car for a double date to the drive in movies. Which is mainly just Grandpa and Zelda making out while Homer and Marge are awkward.
And for a while things seems pretty good. Grandpa and Zelda are driving around, dating, and just acting like horny little teenagers. But since he’s still relying on Homer’s car, he has to keep begging to borrow the car, and their whole relationship kind of flips until Grandpa becomes a moody teen to Homer, even getting furious when Marge refers to Zelda as a “hoochie” who only is dating Grandpa because he has a car.
Yet they still give Grandpa the car occasionally, and on one trip to the Kwik-E-Mart to pick Homer up food, things start to fall apart. Because he just happens to run into Jasper and the Old Jewish Man, and they accidently get into some beef with a gang of old dudes who wear souvenir jackets. The beef escalates and they somehow come to the conclusion that the only thing they can do is have a death race.
So the two gangs of old folks head to some weird aqueduct and get ready to race down the path to a pipe that’s only big enough for one car. So the cars speed off, and for a while things are pretty neck-and-neck. Until Old Jewish Man straight up cheats and uses a boot on a stick to cause the souvenir jacket dudes to crash. So Grandpa and his buddies succeed! And go straight through the pipe, fly down a hill, and smash Homer’s car into a tree in Homer’s back yard. Where Homer promptly rips up Grandpa’s license.
And, shock of all shocks, Zelda decides she no longer wants to be with Grandpa now that he can’t drive anymore, and dumps him. She immediately then starts dating that smooth guy from earlier, and the pair decide to go to Branson, Missouri to have a romantic vacation. Which pisses Grandpa off so much that he heads to the Simpson’s house to hotwire Marge’s car and steal it. And because Bart is there, and offers help with the hotwiring, Grandpa lets Bart come with him, and the pair head off to Branson. Which Bart has been to already.
Meanwhile, Homer finds the car missing and a flier for Branson, and the rest of the family decides to hop on a bus and head to Missouri to stop them. Although they take a brief break at Bronson, Missouri, where everyone is some sort of failed clone of Charles Broson, which is an incredibly stupid joke, but one that made me laugh quite a bit.
But back in the real Branson we see that Grandpa and Bart have spotted Zelda and that old dude going into a show called That’s Familiar! and follow them in. And this show is weird. It’s basically just a bunch of has-beens standing around announcing themselves, like Charro, Mr. T, Ray Jay, Yakov Smirinoff, and Charlie Callis. But when Grandpa spots Homer, Marge, Lisa, and Maggie showing up, he knows he’s running out of chances, and runs out onto stage to get Zelda’s attention. But when she comes up to be with him, it turns out he wasn’t here to win her back, he’s there to shame her, and just gets the whole crowd chanting “hoochie” at her until she runs away crying. Yay? Well, things reset I guess.
Yikes. What a rough episode. There were one or two jokes that I liked, like the Bronson, Missouri gag, but overall this episode is pretty bad. Which is a bummer, because we haven’t been getting enough Grandpa episodes. I love Grandpa, and he’s just been in the show less and less, and then when we actually got an episode about him, it’s this thing. I kind of enjoyed the weird relationship between Homer and Grandpa where Grandpa ended up becoming an angry teenager, but I think the thing that really spoils this episode is Zelda. She’s just kind of the worst. She’s just takes advantage of Grandpa at all point, and just bails on him when he’s not useful. And yet, they decide to basically slut-shame her at the end, which is even shittier than the stuff she was doing to Grandpa. We’re supposed to cheer that some old lady is called a whore by a whole auditorium full of people. What the hell? I don’t know guys; this one did nothing for me and just felt kind of sketchy.
Take Away: Old people should not drive, they’re just having crazy sex or getting in drag races.
“The Old Man and the Key” was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Lance Kramer, 2002.
Categories: Lifetime of Simpsons