At a certain point, The Simpsons will essentially start to repeat itself. Arguably by this point, the show already had. But that doesn’t mean an episode like this one doesn’t feel really, really familiar, and not in a good way.
See, this episode seems an awful lot like “Lost Our Lisa,” in which Lisa took a bus by herself and got lost downtown. I wasn’t a fan because, well, it wasn’t very funny. I’ve said as much about many Lisa-based episodes. And this one, from the same writer as “Lost Our Lisa,” does more or less the same thing by showing Homer and Lisa bonding. It’s sweet. It just isn’t funny.
I mean, is there anything funny about Lisa saying she and Homer will just drift apart due to a complete lack of things in common? No, not really. Even if Homer is alone on an escalator.
Most of the humor here deals with the fact Homer obliviously does not know anything about his middle child, assuming things about her favorite movie, her interests in TV, her interest in schoolwork, and just general intensity when he gives up Lisa’s room to house a cell phone company’s transmission tower after he defaced the Bill of Rights while visiting a traveling Smithsonian exhibit, a place where Homer was more interested in Fonzie’s jacket and Archie Bunker’s chair. Having the tower was just until the family had paid off Homer’s destruction of a priceless heirloom, something Marge had hoped she’d never say again.
But Homer does that to Marge all the time. This time, with Lisa, it just seems piled on. And Lisa is a bit shrill when she corrects her father all the time (remember, she’s eight years old). Eventually, a mutual trip to separate sensory deprivation tanks teaches Lisa to see life through Homer’s eyes and appreciate him for what he is (again) and Homer gets dragged all over town when repo men come for the tank with him still in it, during which the tank is mistaken for a coffin by the Flanders family and a whale egg by Ralph Wiggum. Bruised he may be, but he seems to be OK all things being equal when Lisa suggests they go see the demolition derby he’d been pining for the entire episode.
And in a subplot, because Lisa-based episodes almost always have one, Marge was eavesdropping on cell phone calls through a baby monitor until Bart decided to teach her a lesson.
That lesson ended with Marge knocking out Milhouse.