“I’m better than okay, I’m Homer Simpson!” – Frank Grimes
“You wish.” – Homer Simpson
In an attempt to fill the summer with love, hate and pointless Simpsons commentary we at the Dead Homer Society are going to spend some time overthinking Season 8. Why Season 8? Because Season 8 is when The Simpsons really began to deteriorate into Zombie Simpsons. That’s why. Because we’re cutting edge and ultra-modern we’re using a newfangled, information-superhighway fad called a “chatroom” to conduct our conversation. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (though not on “mitochondrial”).
Note: This is going to be the final entry in our Season 8 Crazy Noises series and the choice to end with Frank Grimes is deliberate. We consider “Homer’s Enemy” to be a watershed for the show, an episode that departs from much of what made The Simpsons great, but still manages to be hilarious. It was a feat rarely, if ever, to be repeated.
Mad Jon: As far as I am concerned this episode is the mitochondrial DNA of all Zombie Simpsons. That being said it worked out in this one.
Dave: I love this episode to bits. But it isn’t an episode of “The Simpsons,” really.
Mad Jon: Exactly.
Charlie Sweatpants: Not to get ahead of things, but I think this episode encapsulates everything that was both great about this show and at the same time showed how awful it was going to be.
Mad Jon: This is the episode where they figured out how Homer can be funny without being Homer. But it really only worked this time.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well put, Dave.
Dave: That’s a diplomatic way of putting it, Charlie.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well put, Jon.
Dave: It is, simply the Finest Zombie Simpsons Episode Ever.
Charlie Sweatpants: I always find that it boils down to the scene where Homer has Grimes over to the house and brags about all he’s done. It’s funny, yeah, but at the same time it’s an admission that Homer isn’t the loser that made him Homer.
Well put, Dave (x2).
Dave: Explain that a bit, Charlie.
Mad Jon: The problem is that this episode was funny enough that it didn’t have any natural predators. And later on when the writers ran out of ideas (I would like to point out the McFarland post from earlier this week) or they just got lazy, there was no proof that this type of comedy would end up as crappy as it has.
Charlie Sweatpants: Homer, at his core, was an all-American loser. He’s got a job he hates and kids who don’t appreciate him, everything he does goes wrong, etcetera. But all the adventures he got in, all the things he did, they’re the opposite of that and that was a big part of what made them funny.
Now he expects to “win”, he expects to get away with things, and that rips the heart out of it.
Mad Jon: Homer drink acid? He’ll sure try. Compete in a contest for children? Even he can’t lose that one.
Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly.
Mad Jon: Good thing Hank Azaria is as funny as he is with his actual voice and disdain for Zombie Homer.
Dave: That is a brilliant summary of Homer as he was and as he was doomed to be.
Mad Jon: Simply put, I hate that which Grimey hates.
Charlie Sweatpants: Thanks?
Well Grimes is part of the problem.
Dave: You’re welcome.
Mad Jon: I know, I was just making a statement about my hatred for the Homer of the last ten years.
Charlie Sweatpants: He’s too sympathetic. I understand and support the fact that the basis for a lot of the Simpsons humor is outrageous cruelty, but when it’s happening to Grimes it doesn’t land as well as when it’s happening to Homer.
What makes this episode so funny though, is the fact that it’s still pulled off with a great sense of style.
The dog barking when Burns is chewing out Grimes, Carl and Lenny’s descriptions of Homer, and the B plot with Bart and Milhouse works well too.
Mad Jon: I guess, but still I feel that if someone had been paying attention they never would have Homer’s actions proceed similarly in future episodes without another Grimes, which, of course, would be improbable if not impossible.
Dave: Yeah, there’s a lot to like about the subtle extras.
Mad Jon: the B plot is pretty good…
“I saw the whole thing..”
Dave: Milhouse takes on the role of dejected security guard pretty quickly, with hilarious results
Charlie Sweatpants: Well that’s the big rub with this episode, right? If it had come in the last or second to last season, it would be great. But you can’t watch it without watching the horrible architecture of Zombie Simpsons rise before your very eyes.
Dave – yes.
Mad Jon: That should have been even more proof.
Charlie Sweatpants: Especially since his dad just got divorced like 15 episodes beforehand.
Mad Jon: …for the writers that is..
Dave: It is a terrifying vision of things to come
But as I said, it’s the best out of all of them. The writers couldn’t even be bothered to improve on the “formula”
I guess in some ways that makes this episode a fluke. We should hate the shit out of it, but we don’t
Charlie Sweatpants: But that’s just it, this formula only works once or twice.
Mad Jon: Exactly
After this episode Homer should have returned to his life of self loathing and alcoholic coping mechanisms. He shouldn’t have become a fucking punching bag..
But when in Rome..
Dave: Something like that…
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t know if this is interesting or not, but I looked up the old usenet reviews on the SNPP page for this one. Only one guy gave it a C, everything else was either full of praise (A/B) or hate filled (D/F).
I, for one, straight fucking hated this episode when it came out.
Mad Jon: And that little boy grew up to be…. Roy Cone..
Charlie Sweatpants: Cohn.
Mad Jon: Eat me rummy
Sorry, drunk too.
Charlie Sweatpants: But it grew on me because once I know the ending, after I don’t care how weird the story is, I can enjoy the jokes.
Mad Jon: Let this be a lesson kids, drink too much and you’ll hate the Simpsons and tease your best friends.
Charlie Sweatpants: But like we said, it’s a formula that can’t hold up repeatedly and this was the best way it was ever done. It was all downhill from here.
Mad Jon: Agreed.
Charlie Sweatpants: There’s a lot of the horns of suspense for Grimes’ plan, and then the horns of danger for his freakout at the end, which sucks a lot of the fun out of the whole thing.
Mad Jon: yeah, the horns have never been a good thing.
I think we’ve harped on that before.
Dave: Horns bad? I’m sure we have
Charlie Sweatpants: Even in my drunken and loquacious state (notwithstanding all of the above), this one leaves me at a loss for words.
“Marge Be Not Proud” was the first miss, yeah, but this one broke the mold, it is unique.
Mad Jon: Its like a lung fish. It’s pretty funny, it’s a change from the predecessor, but it didn’t lead to anything worthwhile.
Dave: Thank you, Captain Science.
Charlie Sweatpants: Damn man, you’ve got biology on the brain.
Mad Jon: Sorry
Charlie Sweatpants: Just ask this scientician . . .
Okay, I’m getting depressed and it has very little to do with the booze. Any final thoughts?
Mad Jon: I hate the fact I love this episode. There I said it.
Dave: That pretty well sums it up.
Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we close with the opening then? Because Brockman’s line, with no lead in whatsoever, of “Which if true, means death for us all.” is as good a thing as he ever said.
Mad Jon: Ha ha ha