Brake My Wife, Please
Couch gag: The Simpsons have their photo taken in a novelty cardboard cutout.
Director: Pete Michels
Jane Kaczmarek as Judge Harm
Steve Buscemi as himself
Jackson Browne as himself
Synopsis: Homer loses his license and Marge feels unappreciated when driving him around and running his errands.
Discussion: Screwed if I know what this episode was about. Something about Homer being a jerk and Marge stressing. Throw in a couple of absurd musical numbers and you end up with a confused look on your face and a subtle gladness that the atrocity is finally over.
There are no redeeming features to this episode. No classic lines, no discernible plot, and even the three guest stars are out of place; they feel shoved in at the last moment in a vain attempt to bring a pulse to the dying show. It’s one of the worst episodes thus far simply because I got to the end and thanked the Lord it was over. What the hell was that about? No, really, someone please tell me because I have no idea.
Secrets of a Successful Marriage
Five days is not too long to wait for a gun
Couch gag: The family run together and explode into a fireball.
Director: Carlos Baeza
Phil Hartman as Lionel Hutz
Synopsis: Homer signs up to teach an adult class on how to have a happy marriage. The class becomes bored so Homer starts spilling private things about his marriage. Marge is disgusted and throws him out of the house.
Discussion: I can’t believe we’re at the end of season 5 already! It has flown by so fast!
Anyhoo… there’s another marriage crisis in the Simpson household. Homer’s been spilling secrets that Marge doesn’t want people to know about, like she dyes her hair (scandalous!) or that she likes her elbow being nibbled. Homer ends up living in the treehouse and Moe drops by as a suitor for Marge.
It’s familiar territory with new twists. In Matt Groening’s original vision, The Simpsons is “realistic” situations, which includes marital problems. Marge and Homer have encountered problems in almost every season so far and always work through them at the end.
This time it’s a bit different. Homer is intentionally continuing to sabotage the relationship. Not because he wants to break up, but because he wants to earn the respect of his class. While he’s busily scrubbing away grass stains from his underwear, Moe comes a-knockin’ on Marge’s door. It’s the first time that Moe’s crush on Marge is shown.
Lisa and Bart have a subplot about a pink elephant balloon, but it’s lost within the main plot. Good episode, good choice to end season 5 with.
Some Enchanted Evening
I will not yell “Fire!” in a crowded classroom.
Couch gag: The family sit down normally and nothing happens.
Directors: David Silverman and Ken Butterworth
First Appearance of:
Bill Pie (Pie in the Sky radio traffic announcer).
Synopsis: Marge is feeling unloved and unappreciated by Homer and calls a radio therapist for advice. Homer hears the broadcast and turns to Moe for advice. Homer arranges a romantic dinner and overnight stay at the Off-Ramp Motel… but they’ll need a babysitter for the kids. Enter Ms Botz, whom is later identified on America’s Most Armed and Dangerous as being the Babysitter Bandit. Lisa and Bart apprehend her but Homer unties her and allows her to escape, believing she is the victim of another classic Bart Simpson prank.
Discussion: This episode has a long backstory, which I won’t go into here. Suffice to say it had a few issues which were largely resolved by the time of broadcast. There are some continuity errors, such as Barney’s hair is blonde as it was at the beginning of the series.
I’ve only just realised that Penny Marshall voiced Ms Botz (I know, a little slow on the uptake) and she does a fantastic job playing a thieving psychopath.
The main theme with the episode is again, the marital troubles between Homer and Marge. It’s a recurring theme throughout the first season (and occasionally, every other season as well) but this is a reflection of Groening’s desire for The Simpsons to be “real”. This is the last episode of the first season and in total, we’ve seen 3 episodes (out of 13) that feature marital problems between Homer and Marge (for the non-math geeks out there, that’s 23% of this season’s episodes- almost a quarter). So there’s a real issue going on here; it’s most definitely not a perfect family living in a perfect house in a perfect town. Other TV shows at the time didn’t really focus on marital problems the way The Simpsons did. It was probably deemed too uncomfortable for conservative audiences or something. But anyway, Homer and Marge always sorted out their problems within the half hour timeslot, ready for another episode ‘next week’. And that’s just the way it should be.