Any hope I might have had that at some point the Fox Network might cancel The Simpsons seems to have been temporarily dashed in that the network has once again renewed the show for two more seasons. It’s like the network won’t let me stop writing these!
Wait, I could stop these any time I wanted to. Never mind…
But for this episode, one that features an extended guest appearance by a fellow who isn’t an actor or a flat-sounding Elon Musk–cripes that Musk-based episode is terrible on so many levels–we start in Homer’s childhood in the 90s when he loved hip-hop and aspired to be a rapper of some kind.
Man, the fandom always reacts so well when Homer isn’t a teen in the 70s. Then again, the last time we visited this era, he was a directionless twentysomething in the 90s, so this is bound to go over well with obsessive nuts who do nothing but write about TV shows online.
That sounds familiar…
However, one thing that is different about youthful Homer is he is looking forward to going to work. He works for Gil at some kind of Chuck E Cheese style restaurant that sells ranch sauce by the pitcher and has a robotic rock foursome that Homer DJs for in that he announces them and that’s it. But when a disgruntled kid tosses his ranch pitcher at a yak, the robot shorts out, and it’s up to Homer to run out, manipulate the thing to look like he’s rapping, and that calms down the scared kids and gives Gil the great idea to have the robots do more contemporary song parodies. He charges Homer to come up with the music, and Homer does. He’s excited, and the only fly in his dream’s ointment is Grampa’s surety that Homer will fail.
Then the FBI raids the restaurant and confiscates the robots because Gil was using the place as a front to sell drugs. Grampa drives by just long enough to say he told Homer so.
Fast forward to the present and Homer is having a breakdown outside the restaurant, crying his eyes out in the middle of the parking lot.
Good thing Marge got those traffic cones.
However, Homer seems OK the next day as he goes off to work…until Marge points out all the little things a happy Homer does most mornings that he isn’t doing right now. Bart and Lisa didn’t notice. Moe did because Homer wasn’t doing his usual happy stunts at the bar the night before either. He and Marge hug and cry because Homer must be in a really dark place.
So, the only thing to do is track down the robots. Gil knows the FBI eventually sold them since he kept track and hoped to one day get them back and use them as a front to sell even better drugs, but that just means Bart and Lisa got the list. Fortunately, all four are still in Springfield. Marge divides up the list. Lisa finds one at Disco Stu’s house and convinces him to hand it over with help from Stu’s mother. Marge found one at Professor Frink’s where it was doing…something involving mixing beakers, and the other robots demanded Frink give that one its freedom. They wanted freedom too, but Frink had their power button handy. Moe found one at Sideshow Mel’s though Mel denied it until Moe pointed out what Mel was really doing with the lone girl robot. And Herman had the last one when Bart and Lisa got there, only to discover director JJ Abrams’s people just took it away because Abrams needs to be constantly reminded by kitschy childhood stuff to be creative as he works on a new Mission Impossible movie in town where Springfield is a stand-in for Somalia.
That’s a lot of robot tracking, and we aren’t even halfway through the episode.
Regardless, Bart and Lisa do manage to get into Abrams’s office and take the robot, but they’re stopped by is head of security voiced by Greg Grunberg because you don’t get Abrams without Grunberg. It’s, like, a law. Regardless, Abrams is actually touched by the story of Homer’s need and lets Marge and the kids have the last robot, following them home, and seeing Homer’s joy at getting the robots back…causing him to decide to reboot the franchise and taking the robots away again. Homer is sad again because the same thing happened again, only different and years later.
Abrams says that’s what he does.
You know, I gotta say…Abrams is a hell of a good sport about this whole episode criticizing Hollywood reboots and his role in many prominent ones. True, it’s only a gentle ribbing, but still…
Anyway, Homer is so sad now, Marge suggests the unthinkable and that he eat his feelings. One trip to the Krustyburger makes things worse as Homer runs into Comc Book Guy who suggests Homer become an Internet Troll to attack the movie. Homer likes that idea, deciding to do just that for the next few months, putting on a little more weight and dressing like Comic Book Guy in time to protest the premier, an event he crashes. Abrams sure looked nervous when Homer suggests “JJ” were not his actual initials.
However, it all turned out well. Yes, the Pizza Bot story was different from what Homer knew, and yes, he didn’t like that, but by then, Marge called in the one person who could talk Homer down: Grampa. See, the reboot wasn’t really ruining Homer’s childhood. Grampa admits he had already done that. And the new version was to help other kids like Bart and Lisa ignore their own awful childhoods. Homer gets it now.
Plus, the robots are back, and this time, they dispense frozen yogurt.
So, everybody wins? I don’t know. A lot happened this time around if nothing else.