Lifetime of Simpsons

S22 E12 – Homer the Father

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I’ll be honest right up top, nothing the rest of this week is going to top yesterday’s episode. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the rest of the week is lackluster. Today’s episode for instance is a whole lot of fun, while being incredibly stupid. Which makes an interesting chaser to yesterday’s terrific episode.

Things start off with the family sitting around, watching the news. But when Kent Brockman starts up some segment about corrections to things he’s said, they lose interest and decide to start flipping channels. And what they land on is some station that replays old episodes of sitcoms from the 80’s, including some hacky little show called Thicker Than Water about a family whose patriarch is a dentist, living in the suburbs.

No one is really that interested in the show, since it’s just some typical 80’s treacle. But Homer quickly gets fascinated by it. Oh, and there’s an incredibly solid joke that required me to pause the episode I laughed so hard, where Homer responds to the show telling him it was filmed in front of a live studio audience by saying “everyone in that studio audience is dead now.” Stupid, but it hit me in just the right way.

Anyway, something actually starts happening when Bart and Milhouse are out riding bikes together. And, pretty quickly after this is established, Bart crashes his bike and ruins it. And it just so happens that he crashes it right next to a store that’s selling some sort of amazing mini-bike that Bart decides he needs more than life itself. So Bart marches home, goes right up to Homer, and requests that he be given this fancy mini-bike.

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However, Homer has been overdosing on Thicker Than Water, and has decided to apply some of the lessons that the father imparts on the show. He thinks that Bart will appreciate the bike more if he earns it, and refuses to buy the bike for him. And, not surprisingly, Bart hates this idea, and he storms out of the room. Which makes Homer question this method a bit, until Marge tells him how sexy it is that he’s being a good father.

But that doesn’t help Bart, so he goes and asks Lisa for advice. She doesn’t really have much, but tells him that he could get money from a job or getting good grades. Bart’s a little shocked at the concept of getting paid for good grades, and decides that this is a decent tactic. So he goes down to offer this compromise with Homer, who finds an episode of the show with a similar plot, and agrees to giving Bart a reward for the grades.

So, with this mission in mind, Bart puts his nose to the grindstone and begins studying like he’s never studied before. And after ignoring all sorts of interesting distractions, like Willie finding the ghost of a boy he murdered, Bart succeeds. He gets an A on a test and brings it home to claim his reward. However, Bart should have clarified the vaguely worded promise Homer made him, because it turns out that said reward is the feeling of accomplishment, not a new mini-bike.

And Bart is furious. He can’t understand why Homer would do something so shitty to him, and he storms up to his room to begin plotting Homer’s doom. Which actually arrives much faster than he anticipated, because just a few moments later Apu arrives at the house to give Homer his Nuclear Plant ID badge, which he left at the Kwik-E-Mart. Apu explains that there are countless dangerous countries and organizations in the world who would kill for access to a Nuclear Plant. And Bart doesn’t want anything killed, he just wants a mini-bike.

So Bart decides to auction off some nuclear secrets to a variety of hostile foreign powers in exchange for a shitty dirt-bike. Yep, it’s time for some treason. And it turns out that several groups are incredibly eager to get a hold of some secrets from the Nuclear Plant, because some Chinese intelligence agents quickly abduct Bart, ready to make good on his deal. Bart becomes a little worried about this, but because they promise to give him the stupid bike he agrees to it.

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The Chinese agents give Bart a flash drive, and tell him to go to the Plant and get as many secrets as he can. So Bart heads back to the house and tells Homer that he’s realized the lesson that he was supposed to learn, and he thanks Homer for it. The two then begin spending a lot of time together, which Homer becoming convinced that he’s a great dad. All leading to Bart coming to the Plant to spend time with Homer.

Bart then begins traveling all around the Plant, getting as many documents as he can on the flash drive while keeping one step ahead of Homer. And once he has enough data he heads to the drop. Which happens to be at the panda exhibit at the zoo, because why not? Bart drops an envelope with the flash drive off near some bamboo, and finds his mini-bike waiting for him. He then triumphantly rides it home, and spends the night cuddling with it.

However, the next morning Bart wakes up and heads downstairs to find something shocking waiting for him. Homer has bought him the mini-bike, because Bart has been such a good kid lately and he felt like he needed a reward. So now Bart’s a little conflicted, and begins to feel guilty for the treason he just committed. He rides around on the bike Homer gives him a bit, but his conscious gets the better of him and he heads back to the zoo.

Unfortunately Homer was watching Bart sullenly ride the bike, and got suspicious. So now Homer has followed Bart to the zoo, trying to figure out what’s going on. Bart gets to the drop site, hoping to reverse the deal, and is shocked to find the drive still there. However, the Chinese agents arrive immediately after, and take the drive from him. The agents then threaten to attack Bart, right as Homer arrives. Homer defuses the situation, and offers the agents to take him instead, letting Bart off the hook. The agents agree, and Homer is brought to China to build them a Nuclear Plant. It doesn’t go well, quickly explodes, and Homer is sent back to America so everything can go back to normal.

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Yeah, so this is a weird episode. I overall enjoyed myself with it, but it’s incredibly dumb. I mean, Bart Simpsons straight up commits treason in this episode, all for a mini-bike. I feel like the idea of Homer deciding to become a better father because he saw one on TV is a great one, and it really worked well in the episode. There’s just some tonal mismatch when the treason begins. Because up until then this was a fairly grounded episode, and then things get insane. I kept expecting to learn that these weren’t actually Chinese agents, just people messing with Bart because he did something bad. But nope, these are legit spies, and they end up forcing Homer to build then a nuclear plant. Which is insane. But insane in a good way, because I ended up having fun with the episode, even though it’s pretty stupid.

Take Away: Don’t commit treason. Especially for bikes.

 

“Homer the Father” was written by Joel H Cohen and directed by Mark Kirkland, 2011.

 

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