So, yesterday was kind of rough. We had a real crappy ending to a season-spanning story that didn’t feel very justified. And we don’t have anything that bad today. It’s just a lousy episode with one great sequence. Let’s discuss!
The episode starts off with Bart and some of the bad boys of Springfield Elementary hanging out in the back of the school bus while Bart gives a lecture on the art of water balloons. And he demonstrates his technique by launching a balloon at the back of Lisa’s head, causing the siblings to start tussling on the bus. Which Otto doesn’t approve of, so he kicks the kids off the bus, letting them continue to fight all the way into their house.
Marge yells at the two of them, already fed up with their bullshit at the top of the episode. And to make matters worse Marge tells them that it’s almost time for the family to fly out to Dayton, Ohio to hang out with the family for their great uncle Tyrone’s birthday. Which sounds terrible to the kids. They have no interest in going to Dayton to be bored with their extended family, and start complaining to Marge, requesting not to have to go. And after a lot of bitching Marge breaks down, and tell them that they can stay home with Grandpa. Which is weird because I think Abe is supposed to be related to Tyrone, and probably should go too.
But they try to move past this unpleasantness and have a nice family evening before they split up for the vacation. So they head to a movie rental place (oh, 2004) and they end up picking the terrible 70’s flick Love Story. The kids are not interested in this idea, but Homer and Marge overrule them, putting the movie on and forcing them to watch it. Which was a bad call, because Bart and Lisa just MST3K the hell out of the movie, mocking it the entire time and ruining the evening.
And after the movie Homer and Marge head upstairs to go to sleep, and start complaining about their children. They talk about how they don’t have any fun together as a couple, because they’re always dealing with warring children. And that malaise continues the next day as they stand in line at the airport, getting ready to go to dreary Dayton, Ohio. Which is made even worse since they have to stand next to a line of happy newlyweds who are ready to go to Miami to honeymoon.
But Marge and Homer are apparently depressed enough with their lives to do something stupid, and they decide to skip Uncle Tyrone’s birthday, not go to Dayton, and fly to Miami instead for a second-honeymoon. So they upgrade to first class, get on the plane, and head off for fun! Which really becomes suspicious when Bart, Lisa, and Grandpa are sitting around watching the news and hear about a terrible tornado that’s destroying Dayton, Ohio.
Bart and Lisa get worried that something happened to their parents, especially when they see the tornado destroy the hotel that Homer and Marge were supposed to stay in. And wouldn’t you know, that’s right when Marge calls them to check in. She’s at the pool in Miami, but is pretending to be bored in Dayton, oblivious to the fact that a tornado destroyed their hotel. So when Marge hangs up Lisa realizes that they’re lying, and that they didn’t go to Ohio.
And that realization brings a lot of rage to them. So they pull a *69 and find out that the call actually came from a hotel in Miami, and they decide to get revenge on their parents for having the gall to do something without them. They convince Grandpa to come with them, and head out to Miami to bust Homer and Marge. And after an impossibly long car-ride, the kids ditch Grandpa on the beach to scam on old ladies while they go to ruin Homer and Marge’s good time.
Later that day Homer and Marge are giggling and returning to their room, when they spot Bart and Lisa standing in front of their door, waiting for them. They’re obviously pissed that their terrible children have done such a ridiculous thing, but Homer decides they need to double down on the madness. He suggests that they escape the children and go to a different vacation, ditching them in Miami. And when Bart and Lisa see them running away again, and decide to double down as well, and keep following them.
Bart and Lisa find out that Homer and Marge are headed to Atlantic City, all on Ned Flanders’ dime, and begin messing with their flight. Oh, and they also buy their own tickets to Atlantic City, on Rod Flanders’ dime, and head out. They also leave Grandpa in Miami so that he can continue to creep out old ladies and make friends with an elderly gay man who is in love with Grandpa for some reason. But they seem to have a nice time, and the old man turns out his hearing aide to listen to all of Grandpa’s story.
But that doesn’t really matter. What does matter is that the episode now gets to the only part that I enjoy, when it becomes a parody of the opening sequence of Catch Me If You Can. The episode starts to use that Art Deco design of the title sequence as Bart and Lisa start to follow Marge and Homer all around the country, using a wide variety of ridiculous conveyances. It’s a pretty great sequence, well animated and with some great music.
That comes to an end though when they finally corner Homer and Marge at Niagara Falls, since for some reason that’s considered a romantic place. And that is immediately spoiled when Homer and Marge open a room-service platter and find Bart and Lisa hiding in it. Which is when Homer and Marge just give up, and accept that they aren’t allowed to have time together anymore. They say that the kids can stay, and that they’ll go home in the morning.
However that night Bart and Lisa start talking, and realize that they’ve been horrible this entire episode. They finally figure out that Homer and Marge need time just the two of them, and decide to go to an amusement park for the day and let them have time together. Which would have been sweet if Homer and Marge didn’t also have that plan, and also headed to the amusement park. So while Homer and Marge are enjoying themselves again, they run in to Bart and Lisa and freak the hell out.
Homer and Marge run away from the kids, and end up hiding in a bouncy castle. The start jumping around in it, having a good time, when the castle becomes unfastened and ends up rolling down a hill until they inevitably end up falling down Niagara Falls. They survive the drop though, and end up having sex the whole way down, where they’re saved by the Maid of the Mist tour group. And everything is fine now!
This episode bugs the shit out of me. Mainly because Bart and Lisa are so out of character, and so damn irritating. Don’t get me wrong, I’m always for an episode about Homer and Marge’s marriage that doesn’t just fall back on them being in a fight, because that plot has been so played out by this point. I liked seeing them trying to spend time together and just be a goddamn couple again. But boy do Bart and Lisa come off as terrible. They’re usually not like this! They’re both so out of character and unlikeable. We’ve had plenty of other episodes where Homer and Marge have left them alone to spend time together and they’ve never been this hell-bent on specifically ruining their parents good time. That Catch Me If You Can sequence is pretty great, but other than that this episode just kind of pissed me off.
Take Away: Sometimes you need time away from your children to just remind yourselves that you’re a couple and you’re in love. And that may be hard if your children are goddamn monsters.
“Catch ‘Em If You Can” was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Matthew Nastuk, 2004.