Couch gag: The Simpsons are squirted out of a piping bag onto a cake.
Director: Lauren Macmullen
Synopsis: Bart and Homer enter a robot derby, while Lisa mourns several cats in her life.
Discussion: Ya know, this episode isn’t too bad. It’s yet another variation of a theme of father-son bonding but at least they’ve both realised their unique relationship: “I like you, son”, followed by, “I like you too, dad.” it showcases Homer’s flaws, such as not being able to build anything remotely useful. We’ve seen many, many examples of this in the past: a spice rack for Marge, a BBQ pit (which was “art”), various inventions which seemed like a good idea at the time…
In this case, Homer’s inability to be a DIY guy forces him to become the robot, suffering injuries when fighting other robots. Homer being Homer, he takes it all quite well and doesn’t seem to suffer any more brain damage than usual. Although there’s not really anything new to offer about the father-son relationship, the setting of robot wars is actually kinda fun.
Meanwhile, Lisa’s mourning the death of Snowball II. Unfortunately the run of bad luck continues, and the next two Snowballs plus a Coltrane meet the Grim Reaper soon after Lisa brings them home. The last cat, Snowball V, is renamed Snowball II as it saves on buying a new bowl and it happens to look very much like the original Snowball II anyway. What a coincidence! This is a technique only acceptable in TV shows and it’s called “pressing the reset button”. It basically states that whatever happens, you can metaphorically press the reset button and the incident is never mentioned again. I’m sure you can think of 5 examples straight off the top of your head. To prove this point, Principal Skinner walks past and Lisa refers to him as Principal Tamzarian
This is an average episode, full of everything you’d expect. Maybe that’s the problem with these later episodes, they’re predictable and not surprising like earlier ones. It’s not just the scrapes the family find themselves in, everything about the show is dull now. Still, we press on…