February 26, 2024

Gabbing Geek

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Simpsons Did It!: “Them, Robot”

In which Homer finds a way to violate the laws of robotics.

You know, sometimes The Simpsons just gets stunt casting right.  Getting Star Trek: The Next Generation actor Brent Spiner to voice a bunch of robots?  Case in point.

See, it all starts as Homer is looking forward to his weekend when he hears that Monday is the Plant’s annual physical complete with a drug test, and by the way, alcohol counts.  Can Homer make it a whole weekend without drinking?  Well, he does have a brunch with Patty and Selma and he promised Lisa he’d help her write a haiku.  Fortunately, his complaints about his weekend take care of the haiku on the spot.

Then he goes to brunch and accidentally eats and drinks a lot of alcohol-based stuff.  No one told him what was in a mimosa.

As it turns out, Homer isn’t the only one, and many of his co-workers take the test and immediately start doing stuff like where Lenny licks a toad.  That’s right.  An actual toad.

Of course, this sort of stuff, be it the drug testing or something else, just costs the Plant a lot of money, but Smithers has a plan:  replace everybody with robots.  Mr. Burns likes the idea of an employee who doesn’t need to be paid and never takes time off, so he does it.

He apparently forgot the last time he tried that:


But on his way out, Homer stops by Burns’ office to, well, first compliment the boss on a new break room microwave, then to express anger over being fired, and finally to give Burns some general advice that somehow works in Burns’ favor.  See, Smithers is quick to point out the Plant will still need someone to pick up the mail and so forth so Homer, and only Homer, can keep his job.

Yes, even Smithers is fired.

I guess Mr. Burns also forgot what happened the last time he fired almost everybody except for Homer.  And it turns out without Burns, Springfield has a 90% unemployment rate.  That doesn’t square with what Marge remembers of Burns and his arrival in Springfield.  He seemed so nice.  Sure, the elephant he was riding stepped on and disfigured a boy who turned out to be Moe, but…wait, Burns was the same age in Marge’s memory…how old is that guy?

However, getting back to Homer, he soon finds out he’s an outcast at Moe’s, what with all his old co-worker friends being mad he got to keep his job.  It even drives Moe to drink his own watered-down beer, which makes Moe threaten himself with a shotgun.  That’s not healthy.

But see, Homer’s lonely, and talking to the robots initially only gets him electric shocks.  Then he finds out there’s a conversation mode he could activate.  Sure, it takes multiple robots since many seem to have their heads explode before he figures it out, but when he does and a pleasant Brent Spiner voice comes out, Homer learns the robots can only go where a yellow line lets them.  As such, Homer adds a yellow line and takes the robots to play baseball.  Bart can play too, but not Milhouse.  He’s physically deficient.

The robots do follow Asimov’s Laws of Robotics, seen when Homer goes to retrieve a ball from traffic and a robot stops him from getting hit by a car at the cost of its own…life?  Homer crying over the robot might not be so bad, but then he doesn’t get out of traffic and more robots keep running out to deflect more cars.

Homer then tries to give a funeral to the broken robots, but that pesky Law of Robotics means they stop him from having a beer since alcohol isn’t good for you.  What can Homer do if he wants to drink with his new friends?  Borrow Flanders’ electric drill and reprogram them the old fashioned way by drilling into their heads.

All that does is remove the Laws of Robotics, and now they want to eliminate the one thing keeping the Plant from operating smoothly.  That’d be Homer.  The glowing red eyes should have been a clue.

Homer runs for it, and despite the fact the robots are slow and can barely climb stairs, he still thinks he’s a goner.  He does manage to get to Burns’ house, and Burns doesn’t take kindly to revenge-crazed robots.  He releases the hounds.  One hound gets tossed very far away.  The others retreat.  Burns tells them off.  Now the hounds and the robots are chasing Homer and Burns.  The only place to hide is a greenhouse, which is a terrible hiding place, and when the robots come in, Homer does ask Burns his age.  All we learn is it has four digits.


Fortunately, the human workers from the plant and assorted others show up, angry at being unemployed, and destroy the robots.  Burns will hire them all back (as temps), and the robots are done.

Except for one Homer reprogramed and took fishing.  That one couldn’t take too much of Homer’s requests and self-destructed.

That may be the best anyone can hope for.