“Hahaha. They haven’t changed a bit, have they?” -Troy McClure in The Simpsons 138th Episode Spectacular
WOW. What can I say about this episode. Well, on the positive side, at least they got the characters names right. As we can see in the card pictured to the left. Because they certainly didn’t get anything else right. Wow does this episode ever suck. I mean wow. This is awful. Just awful. This gives the modern day episodes a run for their money in the suckitude department.
There’s so much wrong with this episode, I don’t know where to start. Basically no one behaves in character in this episode. NO ONE. Except maybe Bart. Lisa is pretty much just a female Bart. Playing pranks and being a brat.
Meanwhile, Marge gets drunk at the Nuclear Power Plant family picnic thingy and embarrasses Homer. Yes, you heard right. Marge is the one who gets drunk in public and embarrasses Homer.
Oh look, it’s The Flanders. Oh wait, no it isn’t.
Back at home, Marge and the kids eat TV dinners in the living room while watching TV. Marge even puts her feet up on the couch because as we all know, she’s such a couch potato. And look how inattentive she is to Maggie. She always regretted having that third child. Two was enough. Thankfully, Homer, our ever responsible father figure, enters the room and shuts off the TV so that his family can eat at the table and talk about their day.
As you can see in the final panel, Homer is all smiles and eager to have a pleasant family discussion. Unfortunately his family is too consumed with stuffing their faces. Tisk, tisk. Why can those gluttons be more like Homer?
After seeing an advertisement for Dr.Marvin Monroe, Homer PAWNS THE TELEVISION SET in order to pay for Family Counselling. Good ol’ Homer. Always putting his family’s needs ahead of his love for television. That’s our Homer!
The Clockwork Orange parody in Dr. Marvin Monroe’s office with the shock therapy treatment is the only redeemable thing about this entire episode. Probably one of the more famous scenes during the early years of the show.
The most interesting and notable scene in this episode, however, involves Homer talking to Moe about Homer’s MOTHER.
Homer: My mother once told me, ‘Homer, you’re a big disappointment’. And, God bless her soul, she was really onto something.
This marks the first and, I believe, ONLY, mention of Homer’s mother until she returns in Season 7. And the woman who returns in that episode doesn’t seem to match up at all with the woman Homer describes here. Plus, in that later, far superior, episode, we learn Homer’s mother left him when he was just a small child. So how could she say he was a ‘big disappointment’ when he’d only been alive a few years. Okay, I’m nit picking, but that line about his mother only makes this episode feel even more dated than it already was.
Overall, this episode sucks. I mean, I’ve seen episodes suck before, but this was the suckiest episode that ever sucked. That being said, I can forgive them. Unlike the modern day episodes, which have no excuse for sucking as bad as they do, or for even being on the air, here the show was still in its infancy and trying to find it’s voice. “No Disgrace Like Home” is a perfect example of the growing pains of the first season, and of an episode that doesn’t stand the test of time. But it was fun to look back at how far they’ve come. At least you get some enjoyment out of that. Unlike watching the new episodes where you just feel depressed looking at how far they’ve fallen.
- “Hey, Flanders, it’s no use praying. I already did the same thing, and we can’t both win.” Homer, to Flanders.Ah, the 50-50 nature of praying. Praying, wishing wells, four leaf clovers, pick your superstition and hope for the best.
This seems like a good a time as any, to take a bit of a detour from our regularly scheduled programming, to bring you this George Carlin routine:
“I’ve often thought people treat God rather rudely, don’t you? Asking trillions and trillions of prayers every day. And most of this praying takes place on Sunday. His day off. It’s no way to treat a friend. But people do pray, your sister needs an operation on her crotch, your brother was arrested for defecating in a mall. And I say, fine. Pray for anything you want, but what about the Divine Plan? Remember that? The Divine Plan. Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was a good plan, put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn’t in God’s Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn’t it seem a little arrogant? It’s a Divine Plan. What’s the use of being God if every run-down shmuck with a two-dollar prayerbook can come along and fuck up Your Plan? And suppose your prayers aren’t answered. What do you say? “Well, it’s God’s will. “Thy Will Be Done.” Fine, but if it’s God’s will, and He’s going to do what He wants to anyway, why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn’t you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It’s all very confusing.” ~ George Carlin. The greatest of all time
Anyhoo, now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
In “Dead Putting Society”, Homer, like a lot of bad fathers, is vicariously living through his son. Primarily so he can feel better about himself and his own life in comparison to Ned Flanders. It all starts when Homer is invited over to the Flanders house. Homer feels Ned is flaunting how much better his family has it in life.
Homer: You’ve been rubbing my nose in it since I got here! Your family is better than my family, your beer comes from further away than my beer, you and your son like each other, your wife’s butt is higher than my wife’s butt, you make me sick!
That night, Homer is tossing and turning in his sleep, still fuming over what Flanders said. Or, in this case, implied.
Homer: He said, that… he said … well it wasn’t so much what he said, it was how he said it.
Marge: Well how did he say it?
Homer: Well, he..
Marge: Was he angry?
Marge: Was he rude?
Homer: Okay, it wasn’t how he said it either. But the message was loud and clear. Our family stinks!
Meanwhile Flanders is also tossing and turning, losing sleep over how he exploded with rage and through Homer out of his house. Even though, he really did no such thing. So he calls Reverend Lovejoy in the wee hours of the morning for some advice.
Flanders writes a heartfelt letter to Homer and slides it under his door that night. The next morning, Homer reads the letter aloud to his family who are all deeply touched by Ned’s letter. Nah, I’m just kiddin’. They laugh their asses off.
Homer: You are my brother. Ahahaha. I love you. Ahahehehe. And yet, I feel a great sadness…in my bosom! AHAHAHAHAHA!
Even Marge chuckles at ‘Bosom’ once the rest of the family leaves the room. Bosom! Ahahaha!
After Ned’s olive branch is rejected, and Homer and Ned’s competitiveness reaches a fever pitch, Ned ends up writing a very different kind of letter: a contract, which thankfully didn’t have to be written in blood, regarding a wager made between the two Dad’s on the outcome of the mini-golf tournament. The father of the loser, or “the boy who doesn’t win”, has to mow the others lawn in his wifes favorite Sunday dress. Game on.
In preparation for the big tournament, Bart gets help from both Homer and Lisa, who favor very different teaching methods. Lisa focuses on the mathematics of the game and helping Bart clear his mind.
Lisa: I want you to shut off the logical part of your mind.
Lisa: Embrace nothingness.
Bart: You got it.
Lisa: Become like an uncarved stone.
Lisa: Bart! You’re just pretending to know what I’m talking about!
Lisa: Well it’s very frustrating!
Bart: I’ll bet.
Only after explaining to him the philosophical thought experiment, “If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?”, does she get through to him. Now he is ready to begin. (cue Eye of The Tiger)
Meanwhile, Homer, favors a very different, far more direct approach.
“Son, this is the only time I’m ever gonna say this. It is not okay to lose.”
Needless to say, Homer is a terrible golf instructor. But I love how Homer’s mannerisms and body movements are identical to the mechanical monkey behind him.
Now comes the big day. Of course, it all comes down to Bart and Todd. And after an evenly matched game, they decide they are both equally good and are going to call the game a draw at the final hole.
Ned is moved to tears by his sons gesture. Homer also sheds a few tears. But for very different reasons.
“They’re both losers! Losers!”- Homer, weeping over the result.
Since neither boy won, both Homer and Ned have to mow the others lawn in their wife’s dress. If it’s any consolation prize, from the looks of their lawnmowers, at least Homer will have the better lawn.
Well, this one was never in doubt. No suspense here. Unlike Bart and Todd’s miniature golf game, the match between these two episodes was not quite so evenly matched. No need for a tie here. We have a clear winner. “Dead Putting Society” gets the win. And while it’s far from an all-time classic, it is head and shoulders above “There’s No Disgrace Like Home”.
In fact, even if “Dead Putting Society” had been a mediocre episode it still would have won by a wide margin. Much like Bart’s participation trophy on his bookshelf, “Dead Putting Society” wins simply by showing up.
For up to date tournament results, click here: