|Worst. Bus ride. Ever.|
Airdate: May 10th, 1998
Synopsis: Lisa’s attempts to go to a museum exhibit crash when Bart does something stupid with props and glue. (Surprise, surprise.) Marge is not a fan of Lisa’s proposal to take the bus… so she gets approval from Homer. However, Lisa didn’t look at the bus schedule and winds up in the middle of nowhere. It’s up to Captain Wacky to rescue her!
Review: This episode, in my opinion, is just a weaker version of “My Sister, My Sitter”- Lisa tries to get out of potential trouble with her parents. However, whereas that episode had damn good pacing, a great setup, and believable characterization… this episode has Homer hijack the plot so that a drawbridge can close on his head.
Actually, the bus system in the United States is actually a tad bit more confusing if you’re not inside a major city. I mean, have you seen the Suffolk County Transit bus system out here on Long Island? Not exactly straightforward… nor is it as point-by-point as it is in New York City. Marge’s concern is pretty damn realistic… and guess what, she was right!
Lisa winds up in the middle of freaking nowhere!
Actually, this is somewhat believable characterization for Lisa. Sure, she’s a brilliant intellectual who might be the sanest in the family. However, when you think about it, she makes decisions that can be utterly brash and insane. There was no need for her to look at a bus schedule, and it came back to bite her.
I actually felt like this episode could’ve been a decent, if well-trudged through, character analysis for Lisa. Is she really as mature as she appears to be? We’ve seen her go to cruel lengths in “Girly Edition”, and here, she seems hell-bent on going to the museum, no planning, no consideration of the consequences.
Still, it’s a Scully-era episode. This, of course, means that they have to stuff Captain Wacky into the plot somewhere.
That’s the problem that seems to dominate the second half of the second act, as well as the first half of the third. Homer leaves work, tries to find Lisa, and proceeds to suffer only minor injuries from otherwise mortal wounds. He drives through a bunch of planks. A drawbridge crashes on his head. Cars run over his skull.
On one hand, he appears to suffer no damage, barring some tire tracks on the top of his head.
On the other hand, this leads into a part of the episode that is criticized by some Simpsons fans. For example, Simpsons fan Mike Amato, in his “watch them all” blog “Me Blog Write Good”, dissected Homer’s speech at the end of the episode– one where he encourages Lisa to take risks. Here’s his interpretation:
When Lisa vows she’ll never take a stupid risk ever again, Homer slams the brakes and informs her otherwise, claiming that stupid risks make life worth living, and that’s why he has so many crazy adventures. So yeah, instead of being an average American man who has dramatic and absurd scenarios befall him (which is part of the reason why they’re funny), now he’s Captain Wacky, actively doing stupid things on impulse. It’s astounding how jarring this scene is; even Lisa in-universe seems kind of perturbed by her father’s statements. Homer loves the thrill of adventure? […] His whole diatribe is almost like his new mission statement, as from this point on he’s pretty much always up to some wacky hijinks, a fractured caricature of his former self.
Mike Amato is pretty spot-on with his assessment, so I’ll just build on it a tad bit.
Now, in the writers’ defense, Homer has a point. Sometimes, you do have to take certain risks- you shouldn’t be milquetoast. I also think he might have been coming off the “rush” he got from almost dying- thus, having a slightly different outlook on life.
The problem here is that besides coming at a time when the character was “evolving”, we have to remember that this speech was given by Homer. There was no reason for it other than the writers found that Homer was available. To me, this is the moment when Homer began charging full-steam to Jerkass Homer-ville – one where he did whatever impulses or fantasies the writers had because they’re awesome.
Now that I’m done railing against that, I must admit that Homer is actually relatively sweet here. He goes to rescue Lisa, and despite almost dying, he and Lisa get to spend some quality father-daughter time together. It’s actually a pretty sweet ending.
It’s a cute episode, indeed, but one with a flaw that just seems too much like a bad omen of Jerkassery and Zaniness.
- Uh… Lisa wants to go see a bunch of artifacts from Egypt. The title of the program? “Treasures of Isis.” That might come off as a tad bit awkward to those that don’t read up on their history.
- Personal note: I never encountered a “split weekday schedule” bus – Suffolk Transit only does Weekdays and Weekends.
- One more note: the “Not What He Seems” review won’t be up until probably the end of the weekend.
Least Favorite Scene: Homer getting a drawbridge closed on his head… not so much.
Zaniness Factor: 3. Homer getting all those injuries and surviving? This is a cartoon now.
Jerkass Homer Meter: 2.5, only and only for his “risk” rant. It isn’t so much “callous” as it is “out of character”.