The Haw-Hawed Couple
Couch gag: Cartoon hands (implied to be Homer’s) cut Homer out of paper and it’s revealed that it’s the whole family holding hands.
Director: Chris Clements
Synopsis: When Bart is the only person to come to Nelson’s birthday party, they become best friends. Meanwhile, Homer is upset at the death of a fictional character in one of Lisa’s books.
Discussion: This episode starts well, then somewhere just after the middle it loses steam and crawls limply over the finish line. We start with Marge and Homer having some morning snuggles but that minor subplot gets lost by the wayside when Homer starts reading to Lisa. Marge is not seen in the ep after this point… I guess having her get mad at Homer for not coming to bed is way off course.
Anyhoo, the best part about the episode is Bart convincing all the other kids not to go to Nelson’s party, then being forced to go himself. This is also how Bart became best friends with Ralph Wiggum. This time he embraces his best friend-ship with Nelson because he’s now protected from the other bullies at school, but Nelson soon sees through it all when he spies Bart flying kites with Milhouse. This is where the ep starts to falter: Bart thinks Nelson’s gonna kill him and Nelson becomes this disjointed caricature of himself. Obviously he’s not really going to kill Bart, but his actions are a bit strange and don’t fit with the rest of the episode.
Meanwhile, Homer’s upset that the wizard from Lisa’s bedtime reading dies. The story is a parody of the Harry Potter novels (I don’t think it’s a spoiler that Dumbledore dies in the series) and translates well into this parody. Homer’s reaction at the wizard’s death isn’t exactly out of character, and it echoes the reaction by Harry fans when they’d read the then-latest novel… but it doesn’t go anywhere. Having a drink at Moe’s whilst lamenting the death is not funny, it’s weird and a bit creepy.
Because the ep started out well then went south just after halfway, I’m gonna have to score it an average mark. It’s unfortunate because there are some great lines (in the first half), including Martin Prince uttering, “We form a mighty faggot!” while a dictionary definition of the term ‘faggot’ appears on screen. For those who only know the derogatory meaning, a faggot is a bundle of sticks held together for fuel (it’s also a type of food: chopped liver rolled into a ball and fried). So there’s your learning for the day.