Simpsons Did It!: “Missionary: Impossible”

There’s a magical moment in this episode where guest star Betty White calls everyone who watches PBS but doesn’t contribute to the pledge drive a thief.  Thieves make her so damn mad.  Angry Betty White makes me so damn happy.

Yes, there’s a pledge drive on PBS, and even Homer is surprised he’s watching the channel in the first place.  He had discovered a British sitcom, the nation’s longest running (seven whole episodes!) and wanted the pledge drive to go away so he could go back to watching a family of soccer hooligans hit each other.  Pledge host Betty White and some other guy say they need $10,000 to go back to the show, so Homer does the only thing he can think of and calls up an anonymous pledge of $10,000.

He might have gotten away with it were it not for the fact Homer had, for some reason, registered with Insta-Trace, so Betty White was able to announce his name and address on the air, and then send out the Pledge Enforcement Van.

So Homer tries every not-particularly-impressive thing he can think of to get out of this.  He claims the bank isn’t open in the middle of the day.  He continues to deny it while standing outside a clearly open and busy bank.  He tries to get the teller to give him the money with a quiet promise to pay it back.  He even tries to stab his problems away but the pen was on a chain.  At first, Betty White seems understanding.  But, she isn’t.  Those soccer hooligans want the money Homer promised but clearly didn’t have.  This forces Homer to run from the angry, viscous monsters that make up PBS, like Yo Yo Man and his killer cello, Mr. Rogers promising an ass-kicking, laser-blasting Teletubbies, and some freaky Sesame Street characters.  Elmo was particularly chilling.

Homer’s only hope is to run to the church and demand sanctuary, a word Rev. Lovejoy wishes he’d never taught the Simpson patriarch.  So, Lovejoy sneaks Homer away to a plane to fly away until the heat dies down.  Where is Homer going?  To the South Sea to work as a missionary.

Small problem:  Homer doesn’t even believe in Jebus.

Homer arrives to an island where he finds out he’s the replacement for two missionaries that are just leaving.  He has no idea what to do, aside from avoid the bed bugs.  He does meet a little girl with a mouthful of a name that he quickly dubs “Lisa Jr.”  Well, it was Yeardley Smith’s voice.  Makes sense to me.  After eventually finding the right toads to lick, Homer hears Marge over the ham radio tell him how everyone in town is proud of him, but in the absence of Homer, he makes some quick promotions.  Bart’s the man of the house, Lisa is now the boy, Maggie is the brainy girl, and the toaster is the new Maggie.  Marge is a consultant.  Bart takes this seriously enough to go work at the Power Plant at Homer’s job.  He can’t do any worse, ya know?

But Homer feels inspired, and decides to try to build something the natives can use.  That means a casino, and he even invents a local form of beer.  That just causes violence and drunkenness, so he instead tries to finish the chapel, which he does do, but while licking toads and ringing the church bell, the local volcano erupts, leaving Homer and Lisa Jr. trapped and falling into molten rock.  This looks like the end!

Cut to Betty White and the PBS guy holding a pledge drive for Fox.  Manning the phones are such luminaries as a Fosters-swilling Rupert Murdoch, Mulder and Scully, that claymation guy from The PJs, Bender, and Luke Perry.  There’s a (probably deserved) swipe at Family Guy when someone calls up to pledge $10,000 to save the network.

It was Bart.  It wasn’t the first time.

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