In today’s match, we have two episodes from Seasons 4 that see Homer land in the hospital. In “Homer’s Triple Bypass”, Homer is diagnosed with clogged arteries and requires a $40,00 operation that he can’t afford. Meanwhile, in “So It’s Come To This: A Simpson’s Clip Show”, an April Fools’ prank gone horribly wrong puts Homer in a coma.
The episode opens with Homer in bed eating a late night snack that includes a plate of spaghetti, a bowl of fondue, an entire cake, an entire pizza, an entire turkey, and my personal favorite, an entire bottle of diet cola. Because apparently Homer’s watching his weight.
Marge (notices Homer clutching his chest): Homer, what is it?
Homer: Just working the turkey through. (punches his chest) There it goes.
But what’s a late night snack without something to watch on TV. In this case, Homer’s watching Springfield’s version of COPS. Starring Chief Wiggum and his incompetent police force.
Bad cops, bad cops
Bad cops, bad cops
Springfield cops are on the take
But what do you expect for the money we make?
Whether on a car or on a horse?
We don’t mind using excessive force
Bad cops, bad cops
Chief Wiggum: This is Papa Bear. Put out an APB for a male suspect, driving a ….car of some sort. Suspect is hatless. Repeat, hatless!
Homer (yelling at the tv): I can’t wait until they throw his hatless butt in jail.
The next day, despite his late night binge eating spree, Homer is still thinking about food.” The best meat’s in the rump” ~ Pig, in Homer’s imagination
Later that morning on his way to work, Homer gets stuck driving behind a slow-moving 18 wheeler carrying the birthplace of Edgar Allen Poe. Homer runs out of patience and runs the truck off the road.“Now you’ve done it.” ~ Hans Moleman
After Homer hears some irregular thumping noises coming from his car, he decides to stop at a nearby gas station .
Homer: I keep hearing this irregular thumping noise.
Mechanic (listening): I think it’s your heart, and I think it’s on it’s last thump.
Homer (relieved): Whew. I was afraid it was my transmission. (drives off.)
After being called into Mr.Burns office for slacking off on the job, Homer and his bipolar heart endure a roller coaster of emotions courtesy of a sometimes confusing verbal onslaught from Mr.Burns.
Mr. Burns: Your indolence is inefficacious!
Homer: [stares blankly; heart beats normally]
Mr. Burns: That means, you’re terrible!
Homer: Aarrggghh! [suffers a heart attack and collapses]
Homer’s soul leaves his body for a few moments, but comes back for ham.
Mr.Burns: Oh dear. Send a ham to his widow.
Homer’s spirit: Mmm, ham. (his spirit returns to his body)
Mr.Smithers: No, wait. He’s alive!
Mr.Burns: Oh good. Cancel the ham.
Homer is rushed to the emergency room where Dr.Hibbert uses the defibrillator on his heart, much to Homer’s enjoyment. After a few shocks, Homer asks for more. Homer’s near death experience also resulted in his life flashing before his eyes, including the time his voice changed at a most inopportune time.
Homer: Oh, Doctor, I was in a wonderful place filled with fire and brimstone and there were all these guys in red pajamas sticking pitchforks in my butt!
Dr.Hibbert performs several medical tests on Homer to determine the state of Homer’s health. First he injects some radioactive dye into Homer’s bloodstream, then performs a test to see how long it takes for Homer’s blubber to stop jiggling.
Dr. Hibbert: Now Mrs. Simpson, what you see here is the radioactive dye we injected into your husband’s bloodstream.
Nurse: But doctor! I haven’t injected the dye yet!
Dr. Hibbert: Good Lord!
Homer: (waving) Hi.
Homer: Woo hoo! Look at that blubber fly!
Dr.Hibbert: (concerned) Yes. Nurse, cancel my 1:00.
Now comes the hard part. Dr.Hibbert takes Homer and Marge into his office for a frank discussion regarding the results of Homer’s examination. Unfortunately, the grim nature of the news Dr.Hibbert delivers is lost on Homer. Homer hasn’t been this oblivious since his meeting with Dr.Hibbert’s long lost brother at the Shellbyville Orphanage in “Oh, Brother Where Art Thou”.
Homer: Say it in English, Doc.
Dr. Hibbert: You’re going to need open heart surgery.
Homer: Spare me your medical mumbo jumbo.
Dr. Hibbert: We’re going to cut you open, and tinker with your ticker.
Homer: Could you dumb it down a shade?
Dr. Hibbert: I must warn you though, this procedure will cost you upwards of $30,000.
Homer: Aaarrrggh! (collapses)
Dr. Hibbert: I’m afraid it’s now $40,000.
That night, Homer and Marge discuss how they’re going to go about paying for Homer’s operation. After Homer informs her that they gave up their health plan at the union for a pinball machine, he tries to console his sobbing wife by reassuring her about the quality of America’s healthcare system.
Just as Homer is about to sign a new insurance policy, he suffers another heart attack and his application is rejected.
Clerk: Now, under “heart attacks”, you crossed out three and wrote zero.
Homer: Oh, I thought that said “brain hemmorrhages”.
Clerk: All right. Here’s your policy.
Homer: Now let me tell you something Mr.sucker. I just-
Clerk: Wait, you still haven’t signed it yet.
Homer: (takes pen) Oh, yeah, I- (suffers chest pains)…must….sign…policy!
Clerk: (pulling policy away) I’m sorry, sir, we can’t insure you!
Homer: I made an H!
Clerk: That doesn’t count!
Homer: Looks like an X!
Clerk: We better get you to a hospital.
Homer: Can I have a free calendar?
In a last ditch effort, Homer seeks out several of Springfield’s religious leaders in hopes that they will lend him the money for his operation.
- Homer [to Reverend Lovejoy]: Now I know I haven’t been the best Christian. In fact, when you’re up there yak-yak-yaking, I’m usually either sleeping or mentally undressing the female parishioners. Anyway, can I have $40,000? Homer [to Rabbi Krustofsky): Now I know I haven’t been the best Jew, but I have rented Fiddler on the Roof, and I will watch it. Anyhoo, can I have $40,000? Homer: (to unknown character) Now I know I haven’t been the best….oh forget it.
As Homer once famously said back in season 1, the answers to life’s problems aren’t at the bottom of a bottle, they’re on TV. And in this case, the answer to Homer’s problems come in the form of a TV commercial featuring Dr.Nick Riviera. All Homer has to do is have a long enough attention span to sit through an entire commercial without changing the channel, and his problems could be solved.
Dr.Nick Riviera: I”ll perform any operation for $129.95! Come in for brain surgery and receive a free Chinese finger trap! You’ve tried the best, now try the rest! Call 1-600-DOCTORB. The B is for Bargain!
Homer: Boring! (almost changes the channel)
Marge: Wait, Homer! This could be the answer we’ve been looking for.
Homer and Marge realize that, whether they like it or not, the controversial Dr. Nick is their only option. As hilarious as this episode is, this is a very real dilemma for a lot of American families who, even though they live in the wealthiest country in the world, they for some reason still have to choose between paying medical bills and everyday bills. Something we in Canada and all of Europe, as Homer earlier pointed out, do not have to worry about. Anyhoo, now comes the really hard part: breaking the news to the kids.
Bart: Nothing you say can upset us we’re the MTV generation.
Lisa: We feel neither highs nor lows.
Homer: Really? What’s it like?
Lisa: Eh. (Shrugs)
Which brings us to the best scene in the episode, where Homer does his best to break the news as gently as possible to his kids that their daddy will have to undergo major open heart surgery. Homer uses puppets based on characters from Matt Groening’s “Life In Hell” comics, to describe the gory details of his coronary bypass operation.
Homer: And so the tiny aorta fairies will take Mr. Leg Vein on a long trip to marry to Ms. Left Ventricle.
Lisa: Dad, are you trying to tell us you’re getting a coronary bypass graft?
Bart: Oh no. What if they botch it? I won’t have a Dad… for a while.
Homer: Kids, kids. I’m not gonna die. That only happens to bad people.
Bart: What about Abraham Lincoln?
Homer: He sold poison milk to school children.
Homer: What? I’m just trying to make it easier for them.
With the operation a go, Homer checks himself in to the hospital for an overnight stay before the operation the next morning. Just when you think Homer’s luck can’t get any worse, it turns out Ned Flanders is his hospital roommate.
Flanders: Homer Simpson!? Well if that don’t put the dink in coinkidink.
Homer [to Flanders]: What are you in here for?
Flanders: I’m having a kidney and a lung removed.
Homer: Who are you donating them to?
Flanders: First come, first served. You?
Homer: I got a bad heart.
Flanders: If I could give you my heart, I would Homer.
Homer: Shut up Flanders.
While Flanders flaunts his prayers for every one to see and hear, Homer pulls over the curtain that divides their two beds so that he can pray in private. For all his Bible thumping, Ned seems to have forgotten that prayer is supposed be done only in private between you and God. Homer seems to have remembered that, unlike the devout Ned Flanders. Although, it’s possible Homer pulled the curtain over simply to get away from Flanders for a while.
I really liked the animation of the room in this scene as Homer bows his head and prays. Unlike Ned’s prayer in which he thanks God for rather trivial things, Homer’s prayer is far more heart felt and meaningful. That makes me believe that Homer doesn’t pull the curtain over simply to get away from Flanders, but rather that he wanted to be alone at that moment regardless of who was on the other side of the room.
In these early seasons, it’s not uncommon for Homer to not want others to see the serious side of him. In a not too distant future episode it is revealed that Homer, unbeknownst to everyone else, has pictures of Maggie plastered all over his work station. At times, mostly in much later seasons which aren’t included in this tournament, Homer is portrayed as nothing more than a jerk, whereas in a lot of these early era episodes, such as this one, he is given a sensitive side that he opts to keep hidden from others. Except of course for us viewers. He could score a lot of easy points with his family if he allowed them see this side of him, but he chooses not to. Much like his prayer to God, some things are meant to be kept private. I think that’s an admirable quality in a person. Sort of like an anonymous donation to charity, or donating a lung or kidney to someone you may never even meet, which, oddly enough, is exactly what Ned Flanders is in the hospital to do. Well if that don’t put the dink in coinkidink.
Sunday School Teacher: In Heaven, you get to do whatever you like best, all the time.
(In Lisa’s imagination, of Homer in heaven)
Homer: (Using a cloud as a bed) Cloud goes up, cloud goes down, cloud goes up…
(cut to the real Homer in the hospital)
Homer: (Using the bed lifter) Bed goes up, bed goes down. Bed goes up, bed goes down. Bed goes up, bed goes down…
Homer’s friends pay him a visit to wish him well before the operation. Well, sort of. Krusty’s visit only makes Homer more nervous, while Grampa tells him that he sees an upside to outliving his son. Lenny and Carl stop by to tell Homer they had a hell of a time finding a replacement for him at work. Quality bricks are indeed hard to come by. And finally, Moe drops in to bring Homer a beer for old times sake, while Barney, under the mistaken impression that Homer is having a sex-change operation, brings Homer a bikini.
Moe: You know Homer, that beer ain’t free.
After his “friends” have left, Homer’s family check in to see him for what they hope will not be the last time.
Homer: Now Marge, if the unthinkable should happen, you’re going to be lonley
Marge: Oh, Homer. I could never remarry.
Homer: Damn right. And to make sure, I want to be stuffed and put on the couch as a constant reminder of our marital vows.
A teary eyed Marge invites the kids in. Homer delivers what could be his final goodbyes to his children. Unfortunately, he’s not very good at this sort of thing (at least not in front of others anyway), so the kids help him out.
Homer: Kids, I wanna give you some words to remember me by, if something happens. Let’s see..er….oh, I’m not good at this.
Lisa: (whispers into Homer’s ear)
Homer: Bart, the saddest thing about this is I’m not going to see you grow up….
Lisa: (whispers into Homer’s ear)
Homer:…because I know you’re gonna turn out great, with or without your old man.
Bart: Thanks, Dad.
Homer (choked up): And Lisa…(Homer waves Bart over)
Bart: (whispers into Homer’s ear)
Homer: I guess this is the time to tell you….
Bart: (whispers into Homer’s ear)
Homer:…that you’re adopted and I don’t like you. (realizes) BART!!
Bart: (whispers into Homer’s ear)
Homer: But don’t worry, because you’ve got a big brother who loves you and will always look out for you.
Lisa: Oh, Dad.
This is exactly the kind of scene that separated The Simpsons from the rest of the pack, and it’s exactly the kind of stuff I’m looking for in a winning episode. Just the right amount of heart and humor. Although technically Bart and Lisa do all the talking for Homer, it’s only because he lacks the ability to articulate such a message in front of others, not because he doesn’t feel it. So while the scene is played mostly for laughs, it is still genuinely touching as well. In it’s own Simpsons sort of way.
A less than touching moment is happening across town at Moe’s Tavern…
Barney: [after a short while] How long has it been?
Moe: Six seconds.
Barney: Do we have to start over?
Moe: Hell, no.
Oh well. It’s the thought that counts. Six seconds of humanity is probably a new record for Moe.
The operation is now underway. I like the use of a birds-eye view camera angle used in both the operating room and the waiting room. While a scared Homer lays on the operating table under the lights, Bart paces around the room anxiously under the clock on the wall. Time seems to stand still in moments like this. Notice how the clock in the waiting room and the light above the operating table look remarkably similar, as does the circular shaped operating room and the throw rug Bart is pacing back and forth on.
“What the hell is that?” The last thing Homer hears Dr.Riviera say before succumbing to the anesthesia.
The operation does not get off to a good start as Dr.Nick has absolutely no idea what he’s doing. To start, he doesn’t know where to make the incision. Fortunately Lisa is watching from above to guide him through it. “Thanks little girl!”
Dr. Nick: (singing) The kneebone’s connected to the… something. The something’s connected to the… red thing. The red thing’s connected to my wrist watch. (realizes) Uh-oh.
In the end, despite getting off to a rocky start, ‘the operation is a complete success!’
Lisa: All right, Dad!
Bart: You rule intensive care!
Homer’s heart beats to the tempo of the Simpsons theme, then for a brief moment stops beating altogether. And just as he did at the start of the episode when he was “working the turkey through”, Homer beats his chest to get his heart beating again and it finishes the theme.
- Episode: So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show
- Aired: April 1st, 1993 (April Fools Day)
- Written by: Jon Vitti
(This review contains 53% new footage)
Lisa plays the saxophone hook from the song “Baker Street” for her comatose father as their silhouettes illuminate the hospital window from the street, in “So It’s Come To This: A Simpsons Clip Show.
It all began one fateful April Fools Day morning after Bart was the victim of several of Homer’s April Fools pranks. First, Bart wakes up believing he is blind due to Homer putting duct tape over his eyes in his sleep. I love the animation of Homer peeling the tape of Bart’s face.
If that wasn’t enough, Homer leaves spoiled milk stored behind the furnace for several weeks then puts it back in the fridge for Bart to drink. After suffering yet another indignity at the hands of his father, Bart vows revenge.
Bart: You’re going down, Homer. I’m gonna fool you!
Homer: You talk better than you fool.
Bart: I’ll fool you up real nice.
Homer: You couldn’t fool your mother on the foolingest day of your life if you had an electrified fooling machine!
Now that’s sarcasm!
Lisa: Like Halloween and Christmas, April Fools Day traces its origins to pagan ritual.
Homer: God bless those pagans.
Bart is hell bent on getting revenge on Homer by coming up with the ultimate April Fools Day prank. An April Fools Day prank to end all April Fools Day pranks. If only he could find Homer’s one weakness.
Homer: Ah, beer. My one weakness. My Achille’s heel, if you will.
Homer: (opening a beer which had fallen on the floor) It’s a good thing that beer wasn’t shaken up anymore or I would have looked like quite the fool. An April fool that is.
After using a hardware store high-speed paint mixer to shake up a can of beer that belongs to Homer, Bart returns home and places the ticking time bomb beer can back in the fridge. Bart then cranks up the temperature in the house to ungodly temperatures to make Homer thirsty enough to go to the fridge for the shaken up beer. Unfortunately, at this moment it appears Homer’s laziness is stronger than his desire for beer. Homer’s ass remains glued to the couch. Only a public service announcement on TV does the trick.
TV announcer: The following is a public service announcement. Excessive alcohol consumption can cause liver damage and cancer of the rectum.
Homer: Mmm, beer
That has to be my favorite “mmm” ever. Nothing like cancer of the rectum to help work up the thirst. When Homer finally emerges from his ass groove, the sofa is soaked in a Homer shaped puddle of sweat. Homer’s shirt is also soaked with sweat under his pits, and the few hairs he has atop his head are stringy and wet.
Bart: APRIL FOO….(An explosion occurs before he can finish his sentence)
When Homer pops the shaken up beer can, a violent explosion rocks the house and sends beer foam soaring into the sky. Chief Wiggum proceeds on foot.
Lou: (into radio) We need pretzels; repeat; pretzels!
After Bart’s practical joke results in Homer being hospitalized, Marge and the kids once again find themselves back in the all too familiar confines of the emergency waiting room, awaiting news on Homer’s condition.
Dr.Hibbert: Mrs. Simpson, I’m afraid your husband is dead. (laughs) April Fools! He’s very much alive, although I’m afraid he may never walk again.
In a parody of “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest”, a deranged Barney attempts to end Homer’s suffering by suffocating him. Barney then smashes a water fountain through the hospital window and runs into the distance.
After Barney’s encounter with a water fountain, Homer has his own run-in with a heavy appliance. Homer tries to get some chocolate from a vending machine, but it crashes on top of him. Ten chocolate bars fall directly into Homer’s mouth as he lay pinned and injured under the heavy machine. Homer has not had much luck with vending machines throughout his life. This latest encounter puts him into a coma.
In a scene that was cut from the original episode but re-made for the DVD, Professor Frink devises a plan to travel inside the comatose Homer through his rectum via a shrunken submarine. If excessive alcohol consumption doesn’t give Homer cancer of the rectum, this certainly will.
Lisa: Is a coma painful?
Grampa: Oh, heck no. You relive long lost summers, kiss girls from high school. It’s like one of those TV shows where they show a bunch of clips from old episodes.
In my favorite scene in the episode, Lisa sits at her father’s hospital bedside and plays the saxophone hook from the song “Baker Street” as their silhouettes illuminate the window from the street below.
Bart also visits his father’s bedside where he tears up and confesses to his comatose father that he was the one who shook up that beer can. As Bart tears up during his confession, Homer regains consciousness and springs to life.
Homer: WHY YOU LITTLE! (sits up in bed and strangles Bart)
Marge: He’s alive!
Marge and Lisa rejoice as a now fully conscious Homer strangles Bart.
Upon Homer’s waking up from his coma, he is unaware that months have passed since he first went in the hospital.
Lisa: You were in that coma for 7 weeks.
Marge: You lost 5 percent of your brain.
(Everyone laughs, including Homer)
Homer: Me lose brain? uh-oh!
(Everyone including Homer laughs)
Homer: Why I laugh?
I went into this match thinking it would be a no-brainer. After all, one of the episodes is a clip show. I wasn’t even sure if I should include a clip show as a true episode. Seemed a little unfair to pit “Homer’s Triple Bypass” up against a simple clip show while I’ve had other classics pitted against each other. On the surface, “Homer’s Triple Bypass” would appear to have a huge advantage. But I was wrong. “So It’s Come To This” may be a clip show, but it’s the best damn clip show any show has probably ever done. Only The Simpsons could take the tired clip show concept and turn out an episode that was entertaining, original, hilarious, and even heart warming at times. Both episodes perfectly combine exactly what I love most about the classic Simpsons years: a whole lot of humor with a little bit of heart. But even though The Simpsons clip show exceeded my expectations from what I remembered of it from years ago, “Homer’s Triple Bypass” is still the superior episode. “So It’s Come To This” put up a good fight, but Homer’s Triple Bypass has even more humor and more heart.
Out of these two Homer in the hospital themed episodes, it’s “Homer’s Triple Bypass” that truly rules intensive care!
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