750. Homer’s Adventure Through the Windshield Glass

Original airdate: May 21, 2023

The premise: Homer crashes his car into a fire hydrant in a blind rage, leaving him flying through his front windshield. As time slows to a crawl, he works through the source of his anger and what to do next thanks to an animated Happy Little Elf doll helping him navigate his emotions.

The reaction: The premise alone definitely made this finale stand out to me, and it enters some unique territory for the show, but boil it all down and it feels very dry. It’s another of those “mystery” episodes where something is slowly revealed, except the reveal isn’t all that interesting, nor is the road to it. We start with Homer leaving the bank incredibly upset about something Marge did, so what exactly happened? By the five minute mark, we learn that Marge has been getting $1000 checks each month care of a trust set up by her late father, something Homer was completely unaware of. Despite Homer thinking Marge is spending this money selfishly on herself, at ten minutes, we see Marge uses the extra cash to bail Homer out of whatever drunken shenanigans he’s gotten himself into in the past few weeks. Like, obviously? Homer is clearly thinking irrationally, envisioning Marge eating caviar hoagies served to her by a robot butler, but it feels weird to me that this is his reaction. I feel like Homer would be more despondent that Marge kept such a big secret more than go absolute apeshit over it. So just when it seemed like the conflict was over, Homer witnesses another vision, of Clancy Bouvier telling teenage Marge she’s going to set up a trust for her because he’s worried his daughter’s going to marry a loser. Then Homer dies and is sent to fucking Hell where he meets face to face with Clancy. So yeah, Clancy Bouvier has been such a humongous question mark over the course of this entire series. We saw him in “The Way We Was,” the chain smoking father who clearly was the inspiration for his daughters’ lifelong habit (well, two of them anyway), we learn he was a steward much to li’l Marge’s horror in “Fear of Flying,” and… that’s about it. I think we learned of his passing in a real throwaway line, he just has never really been brought up all that much. So here he is, returning in a big, bad way, so what does he do? He reasons with Homer by showing him a possible future where twenty-something Lisa brings home a real schmuck of a boyfriend she claims to want to marry, the message being that all fathers will be suspect of whoever their daughters want to be with, I guess. It feels like such a cliche, almost antiquated emotional conclusion. I also don’t get Homer’s blind-sighted reaction finding out his father-in-law thinks he sucks. Patty and Selma openly hate his guts, and though I can’t think of a single one-on-one interaction Homer’s had with Marge’s mother, I can’t imagine it’s been pleasant. I dunno, I just didn’t completely buy it. Homer’s dense, but not that dense. In the end, Marge and the kids arrive as Homer’s loaded into an ambulance, and Marge sadly uses more of her father’s money to make the EMT give him some medicine. The reveal that Marge is spending her money on Homer is meant to be positive, I guess, but this feels like it’s out of the 2000s era of the show where we see how Marge is just aiding and abetting Homer’s absolute worst qualities and it’s portrayed as loving, even though it’s really incredibly sad. The money Mr. Bouvier left for his daughter has all been going towards keeping her husband out of jail or paying his bar tab or whatever crazy shit he needs to get out of, but hey, Homer and Marge love each other, so who cares about any of that. HAPPY 750 EPISODES EVERYBODY!!!

Two items of note:
– So yes, this is the 750th episode of the series. Man oh fucking man. I’ve given up pondering when this show could possibly end, it’s blown so many milestones at this point. As of now, they’ll definitely get past 800, so hooray for that, I guess. We actually get to see the opening title sequence this week, where the gimmick is they threw in 750 background characters throughout. It’s catnip for the most obsessive fans to freeze frame and identify each and every character, but watching it, I couldn’t get over how cheap it looked, since almost all the characters aren’t moving, so it comes off as just a bunch of cardboard cutouts placed behind the actually animated characters. Also there’s weird variance in line weight between some of the crowd, it feels strangely inconsistent. I won’t come down on this too hard, since it’s just a cute little milestone special, and the show has leaned away from heavy fan service as of late for the most part, but it came off a bit eye-rolly to me
– The Happy Little Elf is voiced by Lizzo, with her and Homer almost exclusively voicing the first two acts. She does an okay job, but nothing really memorable. She gets to sing a song, of course, musically explaining how Marge is spending her money on him, you dumbass. As usual for this show, they just forget to make the songs funny. Sometimes they throw in a few token lines that are supposed to be funny, like Bernice Hibbert’s song about non-profits in “Write Off This Episode,” but here, there’s just literally nothing, unless you count repeating “That was Marge, bitch” as being funny. It’s not. Under the credits, we have a bonus animated segment of animated Lizzo recording her part, then she jams out on her flute with Lisa on her sax as they play the Simpsons theme, of course. This clip was released online in the week to promote the episode, and I couldn’t quite pinpoint why it was bothering me right away. People have praised the show’s animation in the last few years, and yes, we have definitely gone from the show looking very static to characters actually fluidly moving every now and again. But the way characters are animated in those sections look unappealing to me, like they’re not hitting any strong or fun posing, it just comes off as weirdly floaty to me. So when Lizzo plays her flute and is dancing around, that’s what it comes off as to me. Also, these characters have never, ever looking good drawn looking to camera, and Lizzo keeps turning her head to face forward, and it just looks so off to me.

And would you look at that, another season has reached its ever-lovin’ conclusion. Many fans heralded last season as a particularly strong showing, with some going as far as claiming it to be a new Renaissance, and a lot of that carried over into this season. Spotlighting side characters, format-bending episodes, emotional stories, these last two years feel like they’ve gotten the most love the show has received in a good long while. As for me, I think I’ve come to accept that a lot of this stuff that some fans are responding to positively are things that I just don’t care for. What they see as emotionally resonant, I see as unearned, cliche, or just not affecting to me. For a show that’s now in its fourth decade on the air, it’s definitely morphed and changed into different forms over the years, and your mileage may vary as to how you view the show in its current state. I’ll at least give it that it’s not trying to rest on the laurels of the past, or just keep mashing the same character and premise buttons they’ve been doing for years… for the most part. I’ll at least give it to this season for pulling off an absolute miracle, with not one, but two episodes I can actually say I enjoyed, “Treehouse of Horror XXXIII” and “Lisa the Boy Scout.” Both of these are non-canon, experimental episodes, so it doesn’t feel quite as impressive as me liking “Portrait of a Lackey on Fire” from last season, but hell, that I can actually say with very few reservations that I liked two episodes this year, including the Halloween episodes, the first I’ve liked in… maybe twenty years? That’s absolutely worthy of kudos. But of course, there’s also been plenty of episodes that were absolute garbo (“From Beer to Paternity,” “When Nelson Met Lisa,” “The Many Saints of Springfield,” “The Very Hungry Caterpillars,” “Clown V. Board of Education.”) But hey, 2 out of 22 episodes is a new record for me (that’s nearly 10%!!) Who knows what season 35 may bring? I dunno, but you know me, I’m like a moth to the flame for this shit. I’ll be there!

My Futurama retrospective starts this Thursday, and new posts will continue weekly from there. In an incredibly convenient coincidence, that gives exactly nine weeks until Futurama premieres on Monday, July 24th, so I’ll get in my nine look back posts right under the wire, and then reviews of the new episodes will go up sometime in the week that they air. This new season is being split in half over two years, so only the first ten will air this summer, wrapping up right around the time season 35 of The Simpsons will be starting, so everything’s working out smoothly with this timing! Get ready to blast off back to the future, kiddies, we start our look back this Thursday!

20 thoughts on “750. Homer’s Adventure Through the Windshield Glass

  1. The fact that this episode was written by Mike Scully (did the elves give it away?) has me intrigued. Sounds like it’s pretty par-for-the course with this show though, just with some throwback early 2000s-era Simpsons vibes mixed in with the 2020s-era ones. Dumbass jerkass Homer, sort of, kind of, but not really …

    … Actually, that’s more of a late-2000s Simpsons vibe, isn’t it? That between-eras SD Al Jean stuff, back when it felt like Jean was cynical about, but not yet tired of, being the Simpsons show runner. Interesting how these two eras sort of cancel out to that middle ground. I guess that reflects how the series’ priorities have gradually evolved throughout the years.

    1. This episode was actually written by Tim Long, who’s been on the show since the Scully era, so your feelings aren’t entirely wrong. Scully stopped being a producer on the show just a few years ago, I assume because of him developing and running Duncanville.

      1. He might have been similar to Mike Reiss in that he just hung out in the writers room once a week. This show’s got a lot of producers.

      2. Huh. I could have sworn I read that this was written by Mike Scully. I can’t believe I would learn misinformation off the Internet.

      3. Yeah, guys like Mike Scully and Mike Reiss have an open door policy where they come in once a week and just give feedback for whatever the writers are working on. I think David Mirkin has the same policy as well.

  2. I feel the same way about season 34 as I did with 33: now that Jean has finally stepped back (for the most part) and Selman is the one running things now, the show isn’t so terrible anymore but instead settling towards “so okay it’s average.”

    It at least feels good to see more effort being put into these episodes again.

  3. Ayo, I’m back again! So, what a season, huh? I guess I can no longer contain my silence and go over my reactions towards all 22 episodes, or at least, what I can remember of them…

    Ep 1: Uh, it’s about a turtle and conspiracy theories and people sharing a bond over conspiracy theories? One episode in and I can hardly remember anything about it. Good start!
    Ep 2: I’m sorry, I know absolutely nothing about this one except for the fact that the title of the episode was relegated to a B-plot
    Ep 3: Okay, this one I CAN actually remember because it actually felt like an unexpected burst of creativity! Yeah, this was like an HD version of “Behind the Laughter,” and that’s a good thing! I’m just shocked at the anti-establishment, anti-capitalist, anti-Disney balls this episode had. Clearly the higher-ups in the staff forgot to tarnish this ambitious script into the usual mush. This may be my favorite thing to come out of Zombie Simpsons’ dreadful neverending HD era. Sorry, “The Man who Came to be Dinner”
    Ep 4: And now I’m back to being forgetful again. I think Marge and Krusty were being like the Ellen show? Whatever, it probably sucked sacks
    Ep 5: Making an episode that was an extended TOH segment sounded like an experiment worth doing. Too bad it’s rotting away in the “Failed Experiment” bin alongside “Simprovised” and “The Road to Cincinnati”
    Ep 6: Wow, a good TOH! When was the last time we had that? 2003? I mean, the first segment was nothing to write home about but godDAMN was the second segment’s manga style gorgeous! Oh, and the third segment was fanservice actually used in a funny and clever manner. It was so nice to see Mike not have to put parody in quotes for once.
    Ep 7: An emotional episode centered around Duffman’s family life? Really guys? This is worse than the time Prof. Frink was desperate for love
    Ep 8: Oh yeah, this was the one where Grampa had an adopted son or something and Homer was his stepbrother and it was really schmaltzy and felt like it belonged in CBS.
    Ep 9: In which we learn that mixing together “When Harry Met Sally” and “Lisa’s Date with Density” creates an unfixable mess. If I were Rob Reiner, this episode would piss me off.
    Ep 10: I’m pretty sure Mike actually liked this one but I thought it was really, really dumb. “Boblox?” Really? Sounds like a Roblox knockoff made by Lauren Boebert where the characters all have AR-15s hahaha political satire is funnee!
    Ep 11: I’m really surprised this wasn’t a “Top Gun” parody considering the massive success of “Top Gun: Maverick”. I loved that movie, it was wonderful. Unlike this treacly garbage where Moe and Nelson share a bond?
    (Continued in a reply)

    1. Ep 12: Hey, another episode that actually tried something different and even though it didn’t succeed, I can still respect it the same way I respect otherwise unremarkable Season 33 classics like “A Serious Flanders” and “Pixelated and Afraid”
      Ep 13: Outside of Fat Tony and Ned Flanders bonding, is this supposed to be a parody of “The Many Saints of Newark?” I’m asking this because I completely forget what happens here.
      Ep 14: Another episode with an interesting premise; the reveal that Carl apparently descends from a lineage of black cowboys sounds cool, except it feels like this premise would work way better in another show that’s not an animated comedy from the 90s. Also, Springfield’s supposed to be a dumpy nowhere town yet they have a black district? Oh wait, that’s right, Springfield’s Los Angeles Jr. now!
      Ep 15: When the episode immediately reminds you of the very first HD episode of Zombie Simpsons (an episode that’s now 14 years old mother of fuck), that is not a good sign. At all.
      Ep 16: This is the worst episode of Season 34. At least in my eyes. It’s just an absolute failure of satirization of CRT and when Kirk somehow becomes corrupt with power, it’s done so hamfisted and unsubtly I just can’t take it seriously at all. Yuck!
      Ep 17: Hey look guys, Jacques is back! God, Al Brooks is so old now… Whatever, still better than “Singin’ in the Lane”
      Ep 18: This one was about rival pop singers with one being a idol of Lisa and the other working with Homer to defame the other one… I think? Also, Niceass Homer sings a super schmaltzy song at the end about how he loves his family. I’m sure people thought this episode was good and that the song was heartwarming, but I’m not one of them. This is the kind of stuff you’d see on generic sitcoms that the show was tearing limb to limb back in the glory years.
      Ep 19: I’m sorry, I completely forgot this one 100%. Probably for the better.
      Ep 20: I get not wanting to do a COVID-19 lockdown episode back when the pandemic was still active but why bother doing one at all?
      Ep 21: They seriously should’ve called this episode “Barty the Clown”
      Ep 22: This is the season finale. Homer dies in this episode. Why couldn’t they have just kept him dead and ended the series? We can only hope 2025 is the year Zombie Simpsons is finally put out of its long overdue misery.

      Overall, Season 34 sucked but it’s the best HD season in the show.

      1. One wishes Homer dies, not out of cruelty, but the idea of finally pumping the brakes on this show. But, status quo must be appeased so the next season premiere is going to be something wacky.

  4. Depicting Homer and Marge’s marriage as bitter, non-communicative, and codependently toxic? Busting out hoary old comedy cliches like fathers instinctively disapproving of every boy their daughter dates? Yep, it’s an Al Jean episode, all right! The man who’s convinced comedy hasn’t evolved since 1963.

    1. “The man who’s convinced comedy hasn’t evolved since 1963.”

      This is the best description of Al Jean’s Simpsons I’ve ever read.

  5. I’m glad I wasn’t the only one who noticed how cheap the cameos were. Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of them were lifted right from promotional illustrations or even the fan wiki.

    As for the episode itself, it was a good deal of nothing. In fact, that was my general feeling of Season 34 s a whole. Even the lamer episodes left no lasting impact this time. I mean good on them for not wasting a guest star this time around (as the show tends to do often), but beyond that it left no impact in the slightest. Even Rough Draft’s attempt to produce fuller animation in the stinger left nothing because they’ve tried that so many times and it always looks jerky compared to AKOM’s attempts at being fluid. Though it could just be due to the former working on a lot of projects while the latter only has this show to work with (unless they’re doing uncredited subcontract work for other studios).

  6. The episodes are getting increasingly out-there but I don’t really consider that to be the same thing as creative or full of effort. They throw out random concepts at the wall but the quality of the writing is the same. The dull characterizations are the same. The constantly-failing humor is the same.

    I feel like these episodes are outlandish for the purpose of surprise value and people just misconstrue that for being good.

  7. “I feel like these episodes are outlandish for the purpose of surprise value and people just misconstrue that for being good.”

    Uhh, wtf? Why would people misinterpret something that is completely subjective? Instead of… I don’t know? Trying to understand why people like this change, you just throw it at the wall as people misinterpret it as good! Nice way to minimize those who make detailed analogies and who bother to analyze the episodes and give them a fairer treatment, instead of “duh modern simpsons bad”.

    1. I don’t remember if he was ever addressed as such in the series itself, but his name was given as Clancy in The Simpsons Uncensored Family Album, first published in 1991.

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