Lifetime of Simpsons

S22 E16 – A Midsummer’s Nice Dream

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Welcome back to Lifetime of Simpsons everyone, and let me tell you, we have a weird one today. Typically I’m not the biggest fan of episodes that revolve around celebrity guest stars showing up and dominating an episode, but I think I’m going to give today’s episode a pass. Because how could I not enjoy an insane episode about Homer meeting and hanging out with Cheech and Chong.

And this episode doesn’t mess around at all, because things start immediately with Kent Brockman hosting some insane segment of the news about entertainment, that quickly establishes that Cheech and Chong are coming to Springfield. Apparently the duo got their start in Springfield as the weathermen for the station in the 70’s, but after a nearby drug bust was lit on fire they were introduced to marijuana and their lives changed forever.

But now they’re off on a reunion tour, and it’s all going to start in their hometown of Springfield. And after a brief explanation for younger viewers about who Cheech and Chong are, we get to see how incredibly excited Homer is. He’s apparently a huge Cheech and Chong fan, and becomes obsessed with getting the kids to understand it all. So he drags Bart and Lisa up to the attic and makes them listen to his old comedy records, which don’t really succeed in getting them onboard.

That’s their loss though, because Homer and Marge are all set to go to the big show, along with basically everyone else in town. They all pile into an amphitheater and eagerly await the arrival of the duo. And when the show starts they immediately swing for the fences, and begin things with their classic “Dave’s Not Here” sketch. And the crowd loses their minds, eagerly awaiting the famous catchphrase.

However, we see that all is not well with Cheech and Chong. Specifically Chong. He’s really aggravated that everyone in the building knows the punchlines to the gags, which makes him feel like they’re being boring and not growing as artists. He and Cheech have a quick little argument on stage, which escalates to the point that Chong storms off the stage, quitting the reunion tour before it ever actually began.

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And people are not pleased. The crowd of Springfieldians begin booing, and Homer realizes that it’s his time to shine. He knows all of the Cheech and Chong bits, and decides to race up to the stage and start playing along. And, against logic, Cheech really appreciates it, and they end up having a great show together. Such a great time that after the show Cheech asks Homer to become his new partner. Homer obviously agrees to this idea, and the two head out to tour the country as Cheech and Chunk. For some reason Cheech has to drive the bus, but they have a good time, as long as they don’t talk about Chong at all.

Meanwhile, Tommy Chong has decided that now that he’s free of Cheech’s influence it’s time to become a true artist. But, he knows that he still needs a partner. So he holds some open auditions and we get to see a wide variety of local weirdoes try to do some classic bits. We see Ralph, Gil, Willie, and Skinner all give it their best shots, and at the end he chooses someone surprising. Principal Skinner. Mainly because he’s the least funny person Chong has ever met, and figures that it’ll make himself look funnier.

This episode isn’t all going to be fun and games though, so let’s get introduced to the very strange B-Plot that we’ll be tackling this episode. Because while Homer is on his tour one day Marge and Lisa are wandering around town, walking Santa’s Little Helper. But when the two are distracted Santa’s Little Helper gets loose and ends up running into the Crazy Cat Lady’s house. Marge and Lisa then have to attempt to gain access to her weird house, and find that she’s more than happy to let them in. However, they also learn that beyond having obvious mental issues and a pride of housecats, she’s a hoarder, and her house is a goddamn mess. They manage to find Santa’s Little Helper and then decide that they need to help her.

Marge then organizes a large group of people to help her fix up the Cat Lady’s house, and then they get her tickets to a performance of Cats to keep her away. The group then fix up the house, get all of her weird hoarded belongings carted out, and when she gets home something shocking happens. She pretty quickly becomes Eleanor Abernathy again. She thanks Marge for helping her with her issues, and Marge leaves happy and fulfilled. Until she starts poking around in Eleanor’s hoarded stuff, and ends up becoming a hoarder herself, because apparently it’s contagious. So, Marge decides to take all of Eleanor’s stuff home with her.

Meanwhile, Homer has been travelling all around the country with Cheech, and he’s found out something shocking. Cheech is a bummer. He’s a consummate professional, and doesn’t have any time for goofing off, preferring to constantly practice their act so that it’s as tight and enjoyable as possible. Which bums Homer the hell out. But, Homer’s doing really well with it, so that’s a bit conflicting. He even has a weird fantasy about being a master comedian while listening to “Basketball Jones.”

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Despite of all of this though, Homer’s starting to lose interest in being Chunk. He keeps trying to cheer Cheech up, but it’s clear that something is really bothering him, and definitely knows now to bring up Chong. And things aren’t going great for Chong either. He and Skinner, or Teach and Chong, has created a very weird avant-garde “comedy” show that no one seems to be a fan of.

Luckily Homer’s going to get a slight reprieve, because things are getting dire back at the Simpson’s house. Marge has become an absolute hoarder, and it’s reached the point that Bart and Lisa have to call him for help. So Homer comes back to save Marge. And his strategy is a solid, but mean one. He calls Eleanor up and asks her to help Marge out, and when she gets inside the house and sees all the crap, her disorder comes back and she rapidly becomes the Cat Lady again. She then leaves with all of the crap and the curse, letting Marge go back to normal.

And because Homer’s on a roll he decides to fix Cheech and Chong’s relationship while he’s at it. Plus the fact that he’s being driven sort of insane by Cheech is a factor. Regardless though, that night at a big performance he convinces Chong to show up and he and Cheech have a tearful reunion on the stage, agreeing that they need to have a compromise, getting some growth from Chong and some stability from Cheech.

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This episode is a whole lot of fun. Episodes that revolve around Homer meeting some celebrity and becoming friends with them can be very hit or miss, and I think this one may work best because Cheech and Chong are such marginal figures. When Homer’s paired with a celebrity whose a pretty big deal they tend to overshadow him, but this one worked pretty well for me. It’s also a whole lot of fun seeing these goofy sides of Cheech and Chong, seeing Cheech be so driven that he insists on constant rehearsals for his silly bits and literally driving the bus, and seeing Chong strive to be a legitimate artist are fantastic. The whole Cat Lady B-Plot is a little odd, and feels like it’s one of those B-Plots that they wanted to be a whole episode, but couldn’t quite crack, but it’s very truncated and a tad half-baked. But the strength of the primary plot and the great performances from Cheech and Chong are enough to make this a really fun episode.

Take Away: Sometimes partnerships are able to bring out the best in each other.

 

“A Midsummer’s Nice Dream” was written by Dan Ccastallaneta and Deb Lacusta and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2011.

 

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