Lifetime of Simpsons

S14 E08 – The Dad Who Knew Too Little

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So this week has been…less than stellar. There’s been some highs and lows, but nothing really all that great. Which is kind of a bummer. I don’t like being so negative on here, but this week just generally didn’t do much for me. And that trend will somehow continue with this episode, which should be doing better, being a Homer/Lisa episode, but that’s not how the cookie crumbled.

Things start off with the family sitting around watching a TV show called Padz, where we get to see glamorous mansions. And this episode we get to see Krusty wandering around, hung-over and having forgotten that he was supposed to be taping this. Although we do get to see Krusty get beat up by Elliot Gould. That’s pretty cool. But things really get going when the show takes a commercial break and they see an ad for some electronic diary that keeps people that aren’t supposed to be reading it out.

Lisa obviously decides she needs this diary, especially because Bart is literally reading her current one that moment, so she goes to tell Homer and Marge. She asks her parents to get her the diary for her birthday, and Marge unfortunately gives that task to Homer. So Homer and Bart hit up the mall, but he quickly gets distracted by some free food samples, and takes a whole lot of time to gorge himself on that.

And once Homer’s done eating, he heads to the toy store and finds that they literally just sold the last one of these diaries to Mr. Burns, who has no interest in giving it up. And because Homer apparently can’t just go to another store or something, he leaves dejected. But as he’s leaving he runs into Ned, who is picking up some video from a kiosk that can put your kid’s picture in a terrible little animated movie, and have a voice recite basic information about them. And Homer thinks this is the greatest thing in the world.

We then cut to Lisa’s birthday, where she’s eagerly anticipating checking out her diary after getting a high-powered laser pointer from Bart. Unfortunately she’s in for a surprise, and ends up being baffled by the video cassette she gets instead. But Homer tells her it’ll be okay, and has her put the movie on. And it’s terrible. It’s a Western, uses a terrible picture of her, and is riddled with false information. It claims that she loves chicken McNuggets, that her best friend is Maggie, and that her favorite book is ‘magazines.’

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And Lisa is not pleased. She freaks out, yelling at Homer because he clearly doesn’t know anything at all about her. Homer assumes that this will just blow over, since kids almost never remember terrible birthdays. But the next morning when he wakes up he’s shocked to find that she’s still furious at him. So he obviously goes to Moe to commiserate about his issue. And, shockingly, they have an idea about how to get his little girl to love him again. It’s not a good idea, but it’s an idea at least. Moe recommends that Homer hires a private detective to spy on Lisa. Good work Moe!

So Homer heads to the bad part of Springfield and meets with Dexter Colt, a shady gumshoe who doesn’t seem that weirded out by the prospect of stalking a little girl to aid her father. Red flag. Colt then hits the town, trying to learn everything he can about Lisa. He breaks into her locker, threatens Skinner into letting him see her permanent record, gets Nelson to steal a copy of her book report on the Secret Garden, and finally just goes to an ice cream store to grill Ralph, getting him nothing.

And after getting enough information, he drops off a packet of details about Lisa on Homer’s car, and he gets to work being a better parent. He puts on Lisa’s favorite album and waits until she comes down to investigate, and is shocked to find Homer listening to it. And he sweetens the deal with a trip to an animal-rights protest and some ice cream. Lisa is obviously put off by this sudden turn of events, but gives it a shot, and heads off to have a nice day with Homer.

So Homer and Lisa go a protest about animals being tested on, and they shockingly have a good time. Lisa more or less forgives Homer for his birthday gaff, not realizing that it’s suspicious that Homer has suddenly learned about her interests. Unfortunately things take a weird turn when Homer goes to thanks Dexter for helping him win back Lisa, and he’s presented with a bill for $1,000. Mostly expenses. Homer refuses to pay such an exorbitant price, and ends up getting into an altercation with Colt, earning yet another enemy.

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Homer then just forgets that he has a vindictive detective after him, and just goes home to watch TV with Lisa. And they see a news report about that animal testing lab being broken into and all the animals being freed. Oh, and there’s a ton of clues in the lab that the person behind the heist was Lisa. So Colt has obviously framed Lisa, and only Homer knows what’s going on, so he convinces Lisa to run away and hide with him before the police can show up and arrest her.

The pair head out into the woods and get some disguises going before getting rooms at a little hotel. But when Homer calls home to Marge he ends up getting the line traced, and the police rush over to arrest them. The two escape the hotel just in time, and end up having a heart to heart in the woods where Homer admits what he did. And Lisa is not happy. Shocker. So they just keep wandering in the wood, not speaking.

Eventually though they come across a weird little carnival, and decide to hide out in there. But as they’re investigating the carnival, they find the animals from the lab, and of all the weird coincidences it turns out they’ve found a carnival that Colt is working at. Colt threatens to attack them, and ends up firing a man out of a canon into Homer’s gut, before they try to escape again into a house of mirrors. Colt tracks Homer through the house of mirror, and is about to attack him when Lisa comes to the rescue, learns that Homer actually does know things about her, and uses the laser pointer from earlier to blast Dexter in the eyes. So the police show up, arrest Colt, and everyone else can go back to their normal lives.

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This is a weird one. I’m usually a huge sucker for episodes that revolve around Homer and Lisa’s relationship, but this one falls flat for me. And I’m not quite sure why. It could be the absurd premise, with Homer literally hiring a creepy PI to stalk his daughter, but I don’t know if that’s necessarily my issue. I mean, that premise is ludicrous, but I think the larger issue is the fact that usually we just get Lisa and Homer having one big fight, and getting over it, whereas this episode has them fight, make up, fight, and make up constantly. They just can’t find common ground in this episode, and they just vacillate wildly. Which, I don’t know, maybe is more realistic that a normal Lisa/Homer episode, but it felt weird and rushed, like they kept trying to come up with excuses to keep the plot going. I don’t know folks, just a weird week.

Take Away: Learn things about your kids, but if you’re going so far as to hire a gumshoe, maybe take a step back and rethink your life.

 

“The Dad Who Knew Too Little” was written by Matt Selman and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2003.

 

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