If I learned anything from this episode, and I didn’t, it’s that Bronson, Missouri looks a heck of a lot more interesting that Branson, Missouri. And that isn’t hard.
Homer was getting a lot of bad news one fine day. First he learned the XFL wasn’t coming back for a second football season. Then he learned Grampa was dead.
Well, good news on that last one. Grampa wasn’t dead. A neighbor with a similar name died instead. And now Grampa has a new neighbor, a sexy older woman named Zelda (voiced by Olympia Dukakis). She seems to take a shine to Old Abe until she sees Zack. Zack is the elderly smoothie who owns a mini-van. In other words, he can drive places. That makes Zach popular with all the elderly ladies around the Retirement Home, including Zelda.
Since Grampa was taking a liking to Zelda, he decides he needs his license back. It seems he lost it once when he found out the orca tank was not the aquarium parking lot. Playing dead across Homer and Bart’s attempts to play two board games at once (that would be Scrabble and Battleship) finally gets Grampa down to the DMV, where flirting with Patty gets him a license as long as he promises never to do that again. That’ll show that cloud!
Having a license really improves Grampa’s love life. He gets to go on all kinds of dates with Zelda, sometimes with Homer and Marge tagging along. Of course, he has to borrow Homer’s car to do it. It works out pretty well until he starts staying out all night and then Homer tries to take the keys back. Abe refuses to believe Marge that Zelda is nothing but a hootchie. As it is, Grampa is allowed to drive to the store, where an accident gets him into a death race with the Souvenir Jackitos gang of elderly men who wear jackets telling you where they’ve shopped. Snake officiates with his surprisingly silent girlfriend Gloria, and Grampa does manage to win with Jasper and the Old Jewish Guy riding in the backseat. They get down the drainage ditch to the tunnel first. And then they shoot out the other side, plummet a very long way, crash into a tree, and wreck the car.
Oh, and the tree was in Homer’s backyard, so you can bet he knows about it. Abe can’t drive that car anymore.
Plus, Zelda is more than willing to now use her two tickets to Branson on Zack instead of Abe.
Heartbroken, Grampa tries to hotwire Marge’s car. He gets some help from Bart, who apparently knows how to do that, and then even agrees to take Bart along since school wasn’t doing the boy any good. I’d like to think it was also because Bart’s already been to Branson, so he might know a thing or two about the town.
While the rest of the Simpsons eventually find a bus to Branson, Bart and Grampa manage to see Zelda and Zack go into a show for forgotten celebrities and sneak backstage, where Grampa sadly has to inform Tennessee Ernie Ford that Ford has been dead for a long time.
The show starts, full of has-beens, with only one voicing himself (that would be Bill “Ray Jay Johnson” Saluga), and Grampa gets onstage just as Homer and the others show up. Grampa calls first Zelda onstage to tell her how he really feels. How does he feel? He feels she really is a hootchie. He even gets the crowd to chant that along with him. Then he has Homer come onstage to apologize, and Homer will gladly forgive Abe in public.
Everyone has a happy ending that isn’t a hootchie. Heck, Bart and Grampa learned they both love Itchy and Scratchy’s radio adventures.
That shouldn’t work…