“Now, the only antidote to a zany scheme, is an even zanier scheme!” – Homer Simpson
“Why does it have to be zany?” – Fat Nerd
Since the show had all but run out of ideas by Season 11, it’s no surprise that they had to start revisiting topics and concepts that they’d already done with increasing frequency. And while most of “Kill the Alligator and Run” is a bizarre slideshow of the family leaping from one goofy, vaguely Southern situation to another, it gets there by transporting Homer to a raucous college party and having him run around with the drunken kids. As it happens, Homer had tried to party with college students once before, in Season 5’s infinitely better “Homer Goes to College”.
As with so many comparisons between The Simpsons and Zombie Simpsons, to really get to the heart of the matter you have to put aside most of Zombie Simpsons usual problems. So, no, the trip to Florida doesn’t have anything to do with spring break, nor does it have much to do with Homer’s odd freakout at the beginning of the episode or the subsequent multi-act run from the law. And, no, Homer getting down with the college kids doesn’t make any sense on its own either, from his getting to the beach with a bed tied to him to his bizarre antics at the Kid Rock concert to the sheriff happily looking the other way for Homer. All of those typical Zombie Simpsons shortcuts distract from just how empty the comedy here really is, so while they exist and are a big part of what makes this episode so very unwatchable, they aren’t what makes their take on “spring break” so utterly empty, boring and unfunny.
On the surface, both “Homer Goes to College” and “Kill the Alligator and Run” have Homer acting like a jerk around college kids. But if you look just a bit deeper, you can see that Zombie Simpsons wasn’t doing anything else while The Simpsons was using Homer for far more than just him running around and yelling.
Homer yelling and running, there’s a lot of this.
The premise of “Homer Goes to College” was that Homer, in his infinite stupidity, thought that all those Animal House style movies about college are what life on campus is really like. When he actually got there, he figured that the jocks would be constantly beating the nerds, that the dean was naturally out to get everyone, and that the rest of the students would feel the same way he did. Homer being Homer, he couldn’t see that none of that was true, and instead tried to do things like take the nerds on a beer fueled road trip and prank a nearby school that no one else on campus even cared about. The jokes come fast and heavy, but the main idea on which everything else rests is that Homer is wildly out of place and spectacularly wrong about what college is like.
By contrast, in “Kill the Alligator and Run”, Homer isn’t wrong about anything. In fact, he’s exactly correct about what it is all those young people are doing. Because of this, the episode is left with hardly anything to do but exaggerate the wildness on display and hope for the best. That’s how it gets stuck with having Homer and some kids turn over the family car, Homer ride to the beach on the top of a van, and a Kid Rock concert that features a cartoonish, Acme-sized bottle of booze and the late Joe C being fired out of a makeshift slingshot. Like their hapless fluffing of Lady Gaga earlier this year, this is Zombie Simpsons making something look awesome and mistaking that for satire.
So while Homer is behaving like an out of control jerk in “Homer Goes to College”, there’s a point to it, namely that Homer is doing his level best to fit in with the insane depictions of college in movies and teevee. Homer isn’t just stumbling around because that’s what he likes to do, nor is he insisting on it because he’s an invincible cartoon character, he’s just got it in his head that zany schemes and pig abduction are par for the course. He can’t comprehend that Dean Peterson (but you can call him Bobby) isn’t some crotchety old jerk who hates fun, or that the students don’t think it’s funny that the professor dropped his notes. He doesn’t even realize the nerds are nerds until his family tells him.
The Jerkass Homer in “Kill the Alligator and Run” is just and only that: Jerkass Homer. He’s not interested in acting out some strange media portrayal, he just wants to run around and scream and drink for the sake of running around and screaming and drinking. So when it ends, he just keeps it up, dragging his family along for the ride. It’s the difference between this (which, let’s remember, is just the starting point for more insane adventures):
And let’s not even wonder where he got the airboat or why the rest of them are going along with this.
And this (which is a movie parody and occurs at the end of the episode):
And, once again, Homer learns nothing.