You know, this was a somewhat sweet episode, but there’s a lot about it that doesn’t make sense.
Anyway, we open with the second grade school play, as directed by guest star Jon Lovitz’s Llewellyn Sinclair for some reason, with vegetarian Lisa set to play a pork chop for some other weird reason after a quick thing on where veal comes from (cue Nelson doing his best No Country for Old Men work…wait, Nelson isn’t in the second grade!). That all seems wrong, the play is canceled mid-performance, and Lisa doesn’t even get to go her lines playing a pork chop that she almost certainly hates on every conceivable lesson known to humanity. As such, she’s feeling down and Marge tells Homer he has to do something with his daughter.
Look, this is a sweet episode, but it isn’t the first time we’ve seen Marge tell Homer to take care of Lisa.
Homer’s solution is to take Lisa to the mall and buy her something, but the clothing store for kids is stocked full of stuff that seems intent on making kids sexy, and Homer won’t have that and starts to rant. Lisa is reading To Kill a Mockingbird for school despite that book being well beyond a second grade reading level, particularly for a class that includes Ralph Wiggum, a boy who doesn’t know what the color green is. But amidst Homer’s ranting, Lisa imagines her father as Atticus Finch.
So, here’s where things don’t make much sense. I can see Lisa finding Homer awesome for some reason because she’s done that before. It’s usually temporary. This episode at least has the twist that Lisa’s newfound affection for Homer is making Bart feel left out, particularly when Marge proves inadequate for whatever task Bart needs as a substitute Homer and when Maggie reveals her own heroes are, in order, Santa’s Little Helper and Grampa (who actually punches Bart at one point…good for Grampa).
But we also get bits where Homer and Lisa are watching the actual movie version of To Kill a Mockingbird, giving Mary Badham and the late Gregory Peck a guest starring credit, recreating moments from the movie to save Bart’s butt when he messes with a Bat Mitzvah, and…does it really take that long for Lisa to read a book? Or for the two of them to finish a movie? This apparently was going on for days. And as much as Homer’s initial rant shows him more self-aware than he is sometimes depicted, it doesn’t seem to rise close enough to the sort of rhetoric a smart kid like Lisa might expect from a modern day Atticus Finch. It just didn’t feel worthy of the glowing attention she suddenly gave her father.
So, yeah, this one raised more questions than answers, but it did feature another guest appearance by J.K. Simmons as a fast-talking school guidance counselor who has to talk fast because low school budgets mean he can only allot a minute or so to each student, but man, I saw an episode that was both sweet and confusing.
Rather typical for the show at this late stage in the game.