“Eww, these records used to be real accomplishments. Now they’re just gross.” – Lisa Simpson
For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes. This year we’re doing Season 11. Why Season 11? Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show. Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging. This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on the many variations of “motorcycle sword fight”).
Today’s episode is 1108, “Take My Wife, Sleaze”. Yesterday was 1107 “Eight Misbehavin”.
[Note: We lost Dave for technical reasons before we could get going on this one.]
Charlie Sweatpants: Ready to get going?
Mad Jon: I am.
Charlie Sweatpants: This episode is just wretched from start to finish.
Mad Jon: It really is.
Charlie Sweatpants: With some of the Season 10/11+ episodes I can’t stand, I can kind of see where they maybe had some good ideas or what they were trying to go for.
Mad Jon: There is literally 1 scene I don’t dislike, and most of them I downright hate.
Charlie Sweatpants: But how the hell do you get to Marge being kidnapped by a biker gang?
Mad Jon: I dunno.
I am pretty convinced that the entire episode was a setup for the motorcycle sword fight scene.
Also, someone at FOX owed John Goodman a favor.
Charlie Sweatpants: Very possible.
Even twelve years on, I’m still so confused by the sword fight that I’m not even sure I have an opinion on it.
It comes from nowhere, doesn’t make any sense even while it’s happening, and then it’s over.
Mad Jon: I was always under the impression that motorcycles weighed hundreds and hundreds of pounds.
Charlie Sweatpants: And there’s that.
Mad Jon: It really is possible that the episode was written around that idea.
Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t think it was written around it, my guess is that they had two things here: Homer gets a motorcycle (okay) and the fish-out-of-water/odd-couple thing with the highly domestic Marge and the highly un-domestic bikers.
Mad Jon: Yeah I know.
But my way is more disgraceful.
Charlie Sweatpants: True.
But the sword fight feels more like desperation to me. Like, we know Homer and this dude have to fight, and we know it isn’t funny, so how do we make it funny? How about an Errol Flynn/Douglas Fairbanks style sword fight with motorcycles!
And then someone else says, "I guess", and then someone else says it’s lunchtime, and that’s about it.
Mad Jon: I pictured the table from the Poochie episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: Exactly.
The whole thing just reeks of desperation.
But the sword fight is just the cherry on top of this pitiful excuse for a script.
Mad Jon: Yes.
Charlie Sweatpants: There are two freaking montages, no reason is ever given for why the other Springfieldians would want to hang out with Homer even though they have no motorcycles, no one (not even Lisa) notices at first that Marge is gone.
It’s just wretched from start to finish.
Mad Jon: But they had the note! With the thumb tack in the head??!?
Charlie Sweatpants: At this point the show is of the opinion that anything is funny so long as it’s unexpected, and that really, really, really doesn’t work after a while.
Mad Jon: That would explain why the bikers, who have lived by violence for their entire lives, are now pacifists.
Also, I hated the laughing scenes that preceded the learning to ride a bike montage.
Charlie Sweatpants: Compared to Burns laughing about the crippled Irishman, it’s transparently filler.
Mad Jon: That Irishman scene was gold.
I am laughing thinking about it right now.
Charlie Sweatpants: Who’ll provide for me little ones?
But the "anything unexpected is funny" thinking runs through the whole episode. Like, what was with Homer tossing Marge up in the air after the dance?
Mad Jon: I don’t know. That way she got to have amnesia for less than 3 seconds.
Charlie Sweatpants: I could use some of that amnesia after this episode.
Mad Jon: Me first.
Charlie Sweatpants: I’d be happy not remembering the scene where Marge is offended that none of them find her sexually attractive. In general, it’s not a good comedy idea to have to preemptively deflect thoughts of gang rape.
Mad Jon: Yeah, especially since they want to take her to the orgy a few minutes later.
I do want to remember the band names, because I used to play shows with a band called "Christ Puncher". The lead guitarist actually worshiped Satan. But you wouldn’t know it by looking at him.
Charlie Sweatpants: I assume that’s the one scene you liked?
Mad Jon: Yes, that’s the one scene I don’t dislike.
Charlie Sweatpants: I can see that.
Mad Jon: It is just a bunch of offensive band names being spouted in the rumpus room of a holy roller.
And it isn’t that long.
And nobody got shot or burned or anything.
Charlie Sweatpants: True enough. However, the better question is, what in the living fuck were they doing in Flanders house anyway?
Mad Jon: I dunno. He wanted to be part of it or something.
Charlie Sweatpants: He just sticks his head around the fence and asks to join.
For no reason.
And completely out of character.
Mad Jon: Yep
Charlie Sweatpants: By that point I’m sort of numb to it since it doesn’t make much more sense for Moe, Lenny and Carl to be there either, but it still stings.
Mad Jon: Why were Homer and Marge the only ones not in 50’s garb?
You know, I ask the question, but I know the answer, so nevermind.
Charlie Sweatpants: Well, why was Dennis the Menace there?
Mad Jon: Excellent rebuttal.
Charlie Sweatpants: I too ask the question and know the answer, so I’ll concur with your "nevermind".
This episode does have a few little lines that I like, but mostly that’s the product of delivery.
For example, when Apu is chasing them off, I can’t help but smile at the way Moe shouts "forget the pennies!" It’s dumb, I know, but Azaria does a great job of it.
Ditto with Shearer’s TV disclaimer about "consult calendar for current year".
Mad Jon: It’s the little things that allow us to not enter a ritual murder suicide pact.
Charlie Sweatpants: Episodes like this probably are cause for justifiable homicide in some states.
Mad Jon: Like one of those stand your ground states?
Charlie Sweatpants: Something like that, yeah.
The Hell’s Satans probably know a good lawyer.
Oh wait, they’re the dumbest biker gang there is.
Mad Jon: Yep.
Charlie Sweatpants: However, those few shining moments aside (I’m also partial to "I just swept the circle of death"), this one is unwatchable from start to finish.
Mad Jon: This was a "Simpsons go to…" turns into a "Homer becomes a…" episode.
Charlie Sweatpants: Good call.
Mad Jon: And there are just not enough lines in the middle to make me want to watch.
Charlie Sweatpants: This definitely has all the trappings of Zombie Simpsons with the completely unrelated first act followed by shit you aren’t even sure you’re actually seeing.
Like Homer sitting in his yard not driving his motorcycle.
Mad Jon: Making the vroom vroom noises
Charlie Sweatpants: And getting obsessed with a crappy fifties movie.
Mad Jon: Yeah that was pretty bad.
Charlie Sweatpants: And threatening Marge with divorce at the diner before taking a picture of her while she was asleep.
Even before the fucking motorcycle sword fight, Jerkass Homer was all over this one.
Mad Jon: He was.
Charlie Sweatpants: There isn’t a single moment in the entire episode where he’s even kinda sympathetic or remotely believable.
He loses Marge and asks Lisa to call the "Korean love bride" company.
Mad Jon: Ouch, forgot about that one.
Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah. Straight up asshole from start to finish.
I guess we got an NRBQ version of the theme song out of this episode, but it wasn’t worth it.
Mad Jon: No it wasn’t. I had almost forgotten this episode existed, and now I realize I should have tried harder to make that a reality.
Charlie Sweatpants: Unfortunately, you’re going to be feeling that a lot as we trudge through the rest of 11.
Mad Jon: Don’t worry, I’ve started drinking more.
Charlie Sweatpants: Good idea.