Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Homer's Odyssey

As I've mentioned before, I used to mispronounce 'odyssey' as 'ah-dee-ah-say' because a Lego commercial lied to me I misheard an announcer on a Lego commercial. I bring this up because this episode's title has 'odyssey' in it. The episode is one of my favorites and it's not just because it features a lot of street signs.

We open on Bart's fourth grade class getting ready to go on a field trip. We hear what other field trips the class has been on including the state penitentary and water park. Today they are going to the nuclear plant and later on they will go to a chocolate factory which makes me wonder how something as boring as the box factory got in there. Oh well, I guess not all field trips can be exciting. Because Bart is late getting on the bus, he has to sit next to Wendall, who always gets sick and always throws up. I've been thrown up on before while riding a school bus. The kid behind me threw up and it went between the seat and the window and I was sitting next to the window. It got on my arm and in my shoe. We are also introduced to twins, Sherri and Terri, who not only insult Homer but also get Bart in trouble by kissing him. Bart's punishment is to serenade the bus with "John Henry Was a Steel Driving Man."
Well, they took Bart Simpson to the graveyard
And they buried him in the sand, oh yeah.
And whenever the locomotive came a-rollin' by
they said 'There lies a steel-driving man. Lord, lord!
The field trip at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant starts off with the kids watching a short film about nuclear power which introduces us to corporate logo and mascot, Smilin' Joe Fission.
The film talks about how wonderful nuclear power is and all the amazing stuff you can do with it and it just touches on how it's made. The part I always loved was when Smilin' Joe talks about the waste nuclear power causes but says the waste can just be swept under the rug where no one will find it for millions of years. One of the pieces of waste finds its way out so Smilin' Joe just kicks it off-screen. Another well done part of the film that I never really paid attention to is the shot of everything being powered by nuclear power.
I love the pig roasting in the living room and the man shaving his face/eye most
of all.
We finally get to the main crux of the plot as Homer, trying to find the children, gets distracted by Bart and crashes into a pipe. Homer is then fired, ironically, by Sherri and Terri's dad who is apparently black:
One thing I noticed during this latest rewatch is that Homer only bursts one pipe which is turned off rather quickly. I know Sherri and Terri's dad says that it's the last straw but of all the things Homer has caused at the plant, this seems rather tame.

So, now Homer is unemployed and spends his days watching Loaftime. He attempts to look for another job but all he can find is one for a technical supervisor and Homer's background is as a supervising technician. For some reason, this episode always worried me about unemployment. Not working seemed horrible. Now that I'm older both work and unemployment are horrible. After Homer is unable to find a job and unable to gather enough money to buy a beer, he decides to kill himself. Along with unemployment, this was the first thing I watched that talked about suicide. For some reason, the unemployment part was much more traumatic.
I'd kill myself too if I held a pen like that.
Instead of choosing the easy way out, Homer decides to tie himself to a boulder and throw himself off a bridge which requires him to tie a boulder around himself and carry the huge rock to a bridge. Homer is nearly hit by a car because that intersection doesn't have a stop sign, meanwhile, Bart and Lisa wake up and realize Homer is missing. The kids and Marge find the suicide note and run off to save him, nearly getting hit by a car themselves causing Homer to realize that he should devote his life to public safety.
Why is there a boulder already on the bridge? A joke that Homer didn't have to
carry the one he has?
The Simpsons go to a city council meeting where Homer requests a stop sign be installed at 12th Street & D and Lisa sits by this guy:
The council approves and thus begins Homer's journey, or odyssey, if you will, into public safety. A montage of the many signs Homer gets installed, the biggest waste of money being the "Sign Ahead" sign. Is Homer getting paid for any of this? He's just getting signs installed and it's not like he's on some sort of board or committee, he's just himself. It's always nice to have meaning in your life but the Simpsons need money. Despite all the good he's doing, Homer is not satisfied and he won't be until he shuts down the nuclear plant. To be fair, it's not clear if Homer wants to shut it down or just make it safer but either way, it puts a big hurt on Springfield's economy.

Homer then has a rally where we are introduced to Black Not-Flanders prototype (because Flanders has already been introduced) who lists Homer's accomplishments of a speed bump (yay!), the dip sign (yay!) and the 15-mile-per-hour limit on Main Street (boo!). Burns is surveying the demonstration from his office above who calls Homer into his office and offers him the job of safety inspector. Here is where the ending falls apart. Burns offers Homer the job on the condition he tells those people that the plant is safe. Homer thinks about it and decides to it but backs out when he fears compromising his principles. Burns then points out that he'd be giving up a good job and money by not taking the job which Homer agrees with and says he will use every free minute he has crusading for safety but that he would have fewer of those minutes if Burns gave him a job. It just seems like a weird scene to me. Maybe I'm not understanding it right.
I love the Xs in the stuffed bear's eyes.
The lasting legacy of this episode for me is when Marge is congratulating Homer for the dip sign and she says that "now drivers won't be caught off guard by that little mmm in the road." For years after this episode I would call dips "mmms". I think I finally stopped when I got interested in girls.
Holy god, look at those Springfieldians.

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