Hey, you know what’s weird? This week we had an episode with an Olympics gag, and an episode that takes place in Rio. That’s odd. The Olympics are over now (thank the gods) but it probably would have worked better if this week came out a while back. That’s probably not interesting. Let’s talk about a stupid vacation episode.
The episode starts off with Homer and Bart laughing at some insane Itchy and Scratchy cartoon about golf when Marge comes in with bad news. She just got the phone bill and there’s a ridiculous long-distance charge to Brazil on it. Homer and Marge obviously assume that it’s Bart’s fault, what with his history of prank-calling foreign nations, but he claims innocence. As does Homer. So, with no other alternative they decide to go to the phone company and yell at them.
They head over to the storefront of their phone company and we get some sight gags, like robotic switchboard operators and a telemarketer being depressed that someone hung up on him. And obviously the worker they get to talk to is Lindsey Naegle, since it’s either going to be her or Gil, and she explains that there’s nothing they can do, and that they have to pay the bill. Homer refuses to do so, and they get their service cut off. So Homer heads home, furious that his scheme didn’t work, and he decides to solve the crisis by tampering with the phone lines to get free service.
This logically ends with Homer being electrocuted and smoldering in the bushes. So Marge and Bart drag him inside the house to heal, which is when Lisa finally shows up. She asks what’s going on, and when they tell her about the Brazil call, she gets really suspicious. Yep, Lisa made the call. Turns out she’s been sponsoring some little Brazilian boy named Renaldo, and when she hadn’t heard for him in a while she decided to call his orphanage. And he’s apparently missing.
So the Simpsons decide that they should just pack up and head to Brazil to find this boy that they’ve never met, because they like their vacations to be stressful and weird. Oh, and Bart also points out that he’ll now have been in every continent except Antarctica, which is pretty insane for a ten year old. The family then drop Maggie off at Patty and Selma’s and get on a plane to Rio, where Bart learns Spanish. Unfortunately they don’t speak Spanish in Brazil, so he just forgets it all.
And when they land in Rio the stereotypes start pumping in. Everyone in Rio apparently congas everywhere, and they all talk about and play soccer constantly, which makes getting to their room a little tedious. But they finally do, and after unpacking and watching some smutty children’s programming they hit the streets of Rio to try and find Renaldo. But when they get to the orphanage they find that the nuns aren’t particularily helpful, and just say he’s been missing.
So after a trip to a Brazilian steakhouse (which is the best kind of restaurant, it’s just a mess of meat on swords) they decide to split up into pairs to go find the missing boy. Which means it’s time for more sight-gags and stereotypes. Bart and Homer end up on Copacabana Beach and start strutting around wearing Speedos while Marge and Lisa find a samba school that is creating a new dance sensation that will be filthier than sex.
But things get even more dire when Homer and Bart accidently get into an unlicensed taxi, and get kidnapped. Well, just Homer, Bart was smart enough to jump out of the car before it got locked, so he gets to leave. But Homer? Homer’s screwed. He ends up getting tied up and taken to a secret shack somewhere off the Amazon by his two captors, and things aren’t looking great. But at least Bart casually mentions to Marge and Lisa that Homer’s been kidnapped when he shows back up at the hotel to watch the smutty kids show.
The hostage scenario then starts to play out as the Simpsons get a ransom note and end up talking with Homer and the captors over the radio. But they aren’t able to scrounge up the money required to get Homer back all in one piece, so Homer has to start making some calls. He tries Mr. Burns first but didn’t want to work off the loan, Moe didn’t work because Moe also needed $50,000, and Ned just couldn’t give him it. So no luck.
And when the money thing falls apart the Simpsons take to the streets to investigate Carnival to clear their heads, and end up making an interesting discovery. Because when they come across a float devoted to that kids show Bart’s been watching they find that the big flamingo puppet is actually Renaldo. He’s been working on this TV show for a while, and I guess that’s why he didn’t write back to Lisa? Whatever, he has a shitload of money so he decides to give it to the Simpsons to buy Homer back.
So they call the captors and agree to meet in between two gondolas, which seems ridiculously dangerous. Especially when they mention that it was Homer’s idea, who has been getting some serious Stockholm syndrome. So they toss the money over to the captors and Homer jumps into the other gondola, which causes a huge disaster where their car falls off the line, and crashes down to the ground. But they’re okay. Oh, and Bart got eaten by a snake. Episode’s over!
Yeah…vacation episodes don’t really do it for me. And this one is no different. As always, there are solid gags tossed in there. I liked the smutty kids show, Bart learning Spanish, and Homer having Stockholm Syndrome, but most of the rest of the episode kind of falls flat to me. The phone stuff in the beginning was really odd, especially because “Bart vs Australia” has basically the same introduction. And man did the kidnapping thing seem odd. They were there to find Renaldo, and it quickly just switched to caring about Homer, and they just brush Renaldo aside with his weird reveal. I don’t know why they needed to escalate the drama of the episode with Homer’s kidnapping. They were there to find a possibly kidnapped little boy. Just seems weird to me.
Take Away: Don’t trust taxis. And Brazilian steakhouses are tremendous.
“Blame It on Lisa” was written by Bob Bendetson and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2002.