Lifetime of Simpsons

S26 E20 – Let’s Go Fly a Coot

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While we’re absolutely swimming in Moe episodes at this point in the show, I’m still a little shocked at how few Grandpa episodes we get anymore. Back in the day it was almost guaranteed that once a season we’d get an episode that was heavily Grandpa focused, usually with him and Homer’s relationship developing. But not anymore. Now they’re incredibly far and few between. Which will be more or less fixed by today’s episode, which is mostly a Grandpa episode. Better than nothing!

The episode begins with Homer taking Bart over to Milhouse’s house for a birthday party. And things are insane. Apparently, Kirk and Luanne have gone completely overboard and thrown Milhouse the most elaborate party ever. Milhouse has his own Squishee flavor, a jungle-gym built do look like his head, fancy gift bags, go-karts, and all sorts of other insane stuff. And Homer is more or less disgusted, especially when Kirk explains how ludicrously expensive the party was.

Homer absolutely hates the ideas of these elaborate parties, and knows that Bart and Lisa will soon be asking for equally fantastic parties. Homer does not want to do this, and instead of just making Bart and Lisa pariahs, he decides to do something insane. He’s going to go around and ruin other children’s elaborate parties in the hopes that this fad will fade, so that he doesn’t have to throw a big party for his children. It’s kind of the supervillain strategy, but let’s see how it pans out.

And Homer is great at this. He travels the town, ruining all sorts of parties, and Marge obviously starts to get suspicious that it may be Homer behind this crime-spree. Marge ends up asking Homer flat-out if he’s behind it, and when he just tells her the truth, she’s honestly kind of cool with it, since she also doesn’t want the huge parties. So, everything’s good!

Well, until they get a sudden visit from some representatives of various businesses that benefit from these parties. That’s right, Big Birthday is here to yell at Homer, and for some bizarre reason they decide to do a Network parody with Ned Beatty’s “order of nature” speech. It’s odd, but it does tell Homer that because of his actions he’s going to blackball the Simpsons from all future birthday parties, promising them they’ll never have good birthday’s ever again.

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However. They’re willing to make a deal. If Homer goes and gives someone a great birthday that they’ll let bygones be bygone. The only problem is, the person Homer needs to throw a party for is Rod Flanders. So, Homer grits his teeth and decides to give Rod the best damned birthday of all time. They set it at an aviation museum and Rod has a spectacular time. Everyone in town seems to show up and there are all sorts of events.

They even get a visit from a real World War II era bomber, flown by actual veterans. They land at the museum and start talking to folks, when they recognize Abe. Turns out that Abe served with these folks, and was friends with the primary veteran, a guy nicknamed Mach. They do point out the fact that at this point Abe has claimed to have been a part of every branch of the military during World War II, which is insane, but they just kind of glaze past it. They’re excited to see Abe, until they realize how sad he is, and how poorly Homer treats him, which makes them decide they should do something to help their old friend.

Oh, and we need a B-Plot. So, while Bart is wandering around the party at the aviation museum, he goes to hang out with Milhouse, only to find something shocking. Milhouse is standing with his somewhat attractive older cousin Annika. She’s from the Netherlands, and she’s voiced by actress Carice Van Houten, really only because her actual name is Van Houten. Regardless of that though, Bart instantly starts crushing on Annika, and is very impressed that she smokes eCigarettes. Remember those? Before vapes? Oh, 2015.

We’ll get back to that later though, for now it’s time to cut over to the Simpson’s house, where the veterans have arrived to talk to Homer. Well, to punch Homer. Turns out they’re very irritated with how Homer treats Abe, and they want to set Homer straight. They want Homer to appreciate and respect his father, and promise that they’ll be staying in town until they can get Abe a better life.

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And this begins with them forcing Homer and Abe to spend more time together. The whole crew go out to see a movie at the theater, which is basically just an Expendable’s parody with old action heroes. They have an okay time, even when they force Homer to go wait for Abe while he pees during the movie. But, after the movie the veterans take Homer and Abe to a VFW where they hold a gun on Homer, and make him promise that he loves Abe and will be a better son.

Meanwhile, Bart is spending a lot of time with Milhouse and Annika, and has even started to buy eCigs for himself, since there are very lax laws regarding them in Springfield. So, Bart gets to just sit around, vaping with Annika, which becomes a problem when Marge stops by after jogging with Luanne. She’s furious about this, and drags Bart home, yelling at him the whole time. But, when they get there Homer doesn’t really care, since he’s busy with the whole Abe storyline.

But Abe gets interested. When he hears that Bart has done something stupid for a girl he has a crush on, Abe decides to tell them a story. So they all sit back and Abe starts to tell them about when he worked on an Air Force base, with Mach and the guys. We see that Abe was in love with a cocktail waitress, and Mach had started making the moves on her. So, to impress the waitress, Abe stole Mach’s experimental jet and was able to break the sound barrier with it, earning the respect of the guys, and he hand of the waitress, who turns out to be Mona.

Everyone’s impressed by the story, and Bart decides that the moral of it was that it’s totally worth doing something stupid to get love. He then flees from the house, off to chase down Annika, who is now on her way to the airport. Bart runs through the airport, finds Annika, and then does something surprising. He yells at her, telling her that she’s kind of a shitty person, and is too full of herself. He then leaves her behind, as we see that the veterans are preparing to leave Springfield, their mission complete. Because now Homer and Abe are best friends? Sure, let’s go with that.

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More or less I enjoyed this episode. It’s not great, and compared to other Abe/Homer episode it’s pretty lackluster. I get that this is a serialized narrative, and they’re going to always reset Homer and Abe’s relationship after each episode, but I feel like we’ve seen so many damn episodes about Homer learning that he should start respecting Abe more than he does. And this one was even weirder than most. Because usually Homer learns that he’s been underestimating Abe, and then realizes that he’s been a fool. This time some old guys hold a gun to him and tell him he needs to respect Abe or presumably die. Which lacks some punch. The whole Bart plot is pretty ridiculous, and seeing Bart deal with vapes feel very similar to Marge driving for Uber. Far too contemporary. There are some good bits in the episode, and it wasn’t a total wash, but man was it not firing on all cylinders.

Take Away: Appreciate your father, or his buddies will MURDER YOU!

 

“Let’s Go Fly A Coot” was written by Jeff Westbrook and directed by Chris Clements, 2015.

 

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