Thursday, 2 December 2010

TEAM HOMER


SEASON 7 EPISODE 12 (EPISODE 140)

THIS IS IT:
The episode about team work and bonding and how a competitive past time can go awry.  In other words: ten pin bowling.  It begins at The Android’s Dungeon & Baseball Card Shop where Bart and Milhouse are browsing as the latest Mad Magazine Special Edition hitting the racks causes great excitement with Milhouse commenting “they’re really sticking it to that Spiro Agnew guy again.  He must work there or something”.  They proceed to do the fold-in at which point Comic Store Guy tells them angrily “you fold it, you bought it”.  Back home Homer reads the magazine with Bart discovering the t-shirt transfers as Marge becomes concerned that “those magazines create a dangerous amount of laughter”.  Next we see Homer at Moe’s where he is the only person in the bar as Moe comments how “business stinks tonight” wondering where Barney, Lenny and Carl are.  Homer comments “they never come around anymore now that they’ve got their mistresses”.  With this Moe concedes “might as well close the dump” just as outside Mayor Quimby is leading a large group of gentleman to the bar stating “I am a going to drink you under the table”.  Stretching his arms out Homer states its getting late and he had better get home at which point he desperately lurches at the bar asking “there’s gotta be some other place we can go.  Think Moe, think”.  The episode cuts to a bowling alley where it is League Night.  As Homer and Moe ask about playing the teenager at the desk comments “sorry its league night, I couldn’t give a lane to my own mother” as she passes commenting “I have no son”.  Discouraged they exit with Moe ranting “man you go through life, try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch ‘em in the face.  And for what?  For some pimply little puke to treat you like dirt unless you’re on a team.  Well I’m better than dirt.  Well, most kinds of dirt.  Not that fancy store bought dirt, that’s loaded with nutrients.  I can’t compete with that stuff”.  At this point Apu steps up equally frustrated about being unable to play (“that I cannot bowl reeks with my self esteem as well”).  With this Homer gets up and says “I’m tired of being a wannabe league bowler, I wanna be a league bowler!”  And with that Homer declares them a team as the alley assistant informs them that they are short one person.  Soughting solution Homer points at Otto playing a crane arcade game stating “that long-haired freak’s bowled with us for years”.  The truth is that Otto is more focused on the machine stating “I don’t care if it takes me all night, I’m gonna get me that lobster harmonica”.  Now convinced that they are a team the assistant states that hey now just needs the $500 registration fee.  Of course they don’t have this kind of money as Homer reacts in horror before asking the assistant if he will accept an “out of state, co-party bank cheque”.  With this we cut to Marge and Homer in bed where she is telling him “no I will not pay you $500 for sex”.  His persuasion continues to fail as he states “oh come on Marge.  You’re getting something in return and I’m getting a bowling team.  Its win win”.  Eventually the reality dawns that Marge does not have $500 to spend on sex so she suggests that Homer find someone with money to sponsor his team such as Mr Burns.  From here we cut to Mrs Krabappel’s class where she is setting a homework assignment as Bart announces how hot it is the room before saying “I better take off my sweater” to expose his t-shirt displaying the Mad Magazine transfer of “Down with homework”.  As the class explodes in laughter Mrs Krabappel attempts to cover its message as Milhouse comments “the shirt makes a good point” and Nelson adds “I’m with the shirt, homework rots”.  And with that the classroom riots throwing books out windows, banging the blackboard erasers together, Ralph eats paste and the teacher’s desk is set on fire.  In a bad stroke of luck this is the exact moment Principal Skinner steps round the corner with Superintendent Chalmers in the process/middle of his yearly evaluation.  As the evaluation comes to an end Chalmers says he is most impressed and proceeds to give it a perfect 10 as he writes the grade down beginning with the zero first.  Unfortunately before he has opportunity to complete writing the score a stampede of children comes running through the hall chanting “down with homework”.  As he passes Skinner spots Bart pulling him from the crowd and gasping at the message on his t-shirt.  In the principals office Skinner looks at the offending shirt and says “so we meet again Mad Magazine”.  With this Bart asks how he knows it was from Mad as Skinner looks out the window and launches into a war story: “the year was 1968.  We were on recon in a steaming Mekong Delta.  An overheated private removed his flak jacket to reveal a t-shirt sporting an iron on Mad slogan “Up with miniskirts”.  We all had a good laugh even though I didn’t quite understand it.  But our momentary lapse of concentration allowed Charlie to get the drop on us.  I spent the next three years in a POW camp forced to subsist on a thin stew made of fish, vegetables, prawns, coconut milk and four kinds of rice.  I came close to madness trying to find it here in the states but they just can’t get the spices right…” at which point Bart cuts in asking “er, my punishment?”  Snapping out of his mental flashback Skinner states that he is going to have to think about it before handing Bart a sofa cushion to wear home.  From here we cut to Mr Burns groaning as Smithers files his nails.  Suffering Burns states that he needs more Ether because he can “still feel the movement of the Emery board”.  As Smithers attempts to sedate him more he discovers he is fresh out of Ether so heads off for more as Burns commands him to leave the rag which he promptly takes a hit of.  At this point as Smithers leaves the office Homer nervously steps in as thanks to the Ether Burns hallucinates that Homer is the Poppin’ Fresh doughboy.  Getting up he states there is something he has wanted to do to him for years as he pokes Homer in the belly and makes him giggle.  And as Homer continues to giggle Burns continues to poke accidentally repeatedly poking him in the eye in the process.  Before long Homer calms down and asks Mr Burns if he would like to sponsor his bowling team for $500 as he responds by grabbing his belly and stating “well certainly Poppin’ Fresh.  I owe my robust physique to your tubes of triple bleached goo.”  Celebrating appropriately Homer jumps out the office announcing to the hallway “hey everybody.  If you want to ask Burns for a favour, now’s the time!  He’s doped up or dyin’ or something”.  At this point Hans Moleman sweeping outside the office enters and asks Burns for $17 for a push broom rebristling.  Still hallucinating Mr Burns states “why its that delightful TV leprechaun.  I’m going to get your Lucky Charms” as he reaches for drill and aims for Hans’ skull as the camera cuts to the hallway as the squishing of skin, bone and brains is heard as Moleman feebly declares “oh no, my brains”.  The second act begins with Homer, Moe, Apu and Otto outside Barney’s Bowlarama where they are writing “Pin Pals” on the back of each other’s plain white t-shirts.  The time is 8PM when they enter as Krusty playing for the Channel 6 Wastelanders comments to his team-mate Kent Brockman “hey, nice ‘quote’ uniforms ‘end quote’” and Brockman joins in mocking “news just in.  New additions to the worst dressed list: those guys!” as their other team-mates Bumblebee Man (Pedro) and Arnie Pie join in with the laughter.  With that Apu reacts “oh forget this, I am far too fragile to withstand an evening of barbs like that” as Homer reasons “oh c’mon.  If we quit now we’ll never know how badly they’re gonna beat us” as Moe agrees “yeah you’re right, that’s the kinda think that would haunt ya”.  The next thing we see is Bumblebee Man scoring a strike and goading “Buenas noches senoritas” as Moe reacts “what did he say?  What did he say?  Was that about me?”  The game finally comes down to Otto needing to bowl a spare at which point Moe decrees defeat as Homer steers morale by getting them to support and chant “you can do it Otto!  Help each other out!  That will be our motto!”  And as the chant builds Apu adds the verse “make this spare, I’ll give you free Jellotto” followed by Moe stating “then make to my place, where I’ll get you blotto” as Homer closes “domo erogoto, Mr rebotto”.  Then with the war chant still going Otto calmly steps up “guys, I made the spare.  We won” at which point the Pin Pals celebrate spraying the beers over each other as in the background the Channel 6 Wastelanders exit with scowls.  At this point Barney Sr approaches the Pin Pals stating “those beers are $5 a piece” as they carefully rinse their shirts and out pouring the beer back into the bottles, recapping them and returning them.  Back at the Simpson house Homer is in bed with Marge telling her about the victory and how it came down to him, he was the one that came up with the chant that won the matching encouraging the 7 10 split shot.  With this Marge asks who knocked down the pins as Homer concedes “some guy, Otto I guess” as she responds “good for him”.  Frustrated be her reaction Homer explains “its not the individual that matters, it was a team effort and I was the one who came up with the whole team idea.  Me!”  Still failing to resonate with Marge she says “I can’t believe Otto picked up a 7 10 split.  He’s phenomenal”.  The following day the episode returns to school where Skinner is holding an assembly announcing “several days ago a violent riot erupted incited by an inflammatory t-shirt slogan” at which point the school kids start murmuring trying to recall the slogan prompting Skinner to continue “no, no, now don’t try to remember what that slogan was.  To ensure this frenzied dance of destruction is never repeated I’ve decided starting Monday all students will be required to wear uniforms”.  With this the entire hall gasps “uniforms!?” as paper balls and a shoe are thrown at Bart who is to blame.  From here Skinner puts on a record of Spanish Flea while Lunch Lady Doris introduces Martin and Lisa modelling the uniforms: “say hello to our little genius Martin who looks even smarter in this vest and short pant combination from Mr Boy of Main Street.”  Speechless Nelson and Milhouse look on dumbfounded as it continues “or how about Lil’ Lisa Simpson.  She’ll have no reason to play the blues in this snappy ensemble topped off with a saucy French beret that seems to scream ‘silence!’”  She too gets hit by a barrage of rolled up paper and a shoe.  At this point Skinner waves in two forklift trucks (one driven by Willie) carrying one box from Mr Boy and one box from Mr Boy For Girls.  “All right now pick your size: extra-small or extra-large.  We’ve got both.  No pushing now”.  And within seconds they have run out of extra-large.  Back the bowling alley the Pin Pals are now playing DMV Regulation Kings who include Selma and Patty among their numbers.  The chanting continues as Homer, Apu and Otto cheer on Moe with “go Moe, go Moe, don’t make Homer go Doh!”  And it indeed works as they win again climbing to third in the league standings behind the Holy Rollers in first and the Springfield Police Framers in second.  Next we see Apu bowling successfully against the Springfield Police Framers who are made up of Chief Wiggum, Eddie, Lou and Snake.  For their next shot they unshackle Snake who takes a long run up of ten steps passing the lane and escaping through a hatch door on the side of the alley.  As a result the Springfield Police Framers have to forfeit as the Pin Pals register their latest victory.  With the championship now in sight they look at the trophy as Apu states they will never win it because “the Holy Rollers have won it five years in a row” at which point they turn and look at the Holy Rollers consisting of Ned Flanders, Maude Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy and Helen Lovejoy.  Moe disputes them saying “they think they are so high and mighty just because they never got caught driving without pants”.  Back home Bart and Lisa are now sporting their new school uniforms as Bart complains how his slingshot doesn’t fit in his new outfit’s pocket and that the shorts leave nothing to the imagination.  As he concludes “these uniforms suck!” Marge asks where he picks up words like that as we cut to Homer on the phone saying “that team sure did suck last night.  They just plain sucked.  I’ve seen teams suck before but they were the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked”.  With that Marge nags “Homer, what you mouth” as Homer finishes the call “I gotta go, my damn wiener kids are listening” as Lisa disputes “we are not wieners” as he asks “then what are you dressed like that for?”  In tandem Bart and Lisa respond “they made us!” as Homer mocks responding “that’s loser talk.  You gotta start acting more like me and my team the future league champions of the world.  Nothings gonna stop us now”.  And at this exact point Mr Burns is review his cheques as he shouts “stop everything.  I don’t remember writing a cheque for bowling” which actually turns out to be a cheque for (internal) bowling (“remember the month you didn’t do it?”, “yes, that was unpleasant for all concerned”).  Then he discovers the cheque he wrote to sponsor Homer’s bowling team.  Picking it up Smithers reads the memo as being “to my pal Poppin’ Fresh” (“oh yes that greedy grabbing glob of chemicals”).  Smithers immediately picks that it “was probably one of your Ether induced hallucinations” as he checks the employee computer files to see who can pull off such an impersonation.  There are two matches either: Pops Freshenmeyer or Homer Simpson the second of which carries a probability error of 1 in 44 billion, in other words a perfect match.  Upon discovery Burns declares “lets shut down this bowling scam right now”.  The episode cuts back to Barney’s Bowlarama where The Homewreckers featuring Mindy Simmons, Princess Kashmir, Lurleen Lumpkin and Jacques are going down to the Pin Pals where Homer is bowling to the chant of “come on Homer, come on Homer, pretend this is baseball and hit us a homer”.  He gets the strike and wins them the game and as the defeated Homewreckers exit Princess Kashmir pushes Jacques.  As the Pin Pals bask in victory Burns and Smithers arrive with Burns stating “look at them Smithers, enjoying their embezzlement” as Smithers states “I have a much uglier word for it sir: misappropriation”.  As the pair of them approach Smithers yells “Simpson” prompting Homer to nervously toss a bowling over his shoulder prompting a bone crack and scream in the background.  And just as Burns looks as if he is about to punish Homer he drops his voice and states “I want to join your team”.  Homer and Smithers respond in shock as Burns states “I’ve had one of my unpredictable changes of heart.  Seeing these fine young athletes revelling in the humiliation of a vanquished foe, I haven’t felt this energised since my last, er, bowling”.  With this Otto states “oh man, he’ll blow our winning streak” as Moe adds “call this an unfair generalisation if you must but old people are no good at everything”.  Now placed in an awkward situation Homer states “no look boys its not that simple the guy’s my boss.  Tell you what, I’ll give him a shot and if he stinks it’ll be easier to tell him no”.  The try out is tough as Burns pushes the bowling ball as if it were a boulder.  He soon gets out of breath attempting to push it as he collapses on top of it and his tongue slips out as ever the supporter Smithers runs up to the pins and kicks them over to give him a kind of strike.  Then as Burns turns to look for the team’s opinion Homer declares “welcome aboard!”  Back at Springfield Elementary the kids in their uniform are trudging around obeying the bell in paralyzed group fashion, their collective will is broken as Skinner states “ah, these uniforms are a godsend.  Horseplay’s down 40%, youthful exuberance has been cut in half, high spirits are at an all-time low” as Lunch Lady Doris adds “they’ve even begun blinking in unison”.  In Mrs Krabappel’s class she announces now that they are in quiet time she is going to make sure her desk is exactly parallel to the wall as she bends over and makes her behind vulnerable for a shot of some kind.  With this Bart picks up his slingshot having forgotten what to use it for (“oh there’s something I used to do in this situation but can’t remember”).  Even Nelson has forgotten to laugh as he goes “Ha! Ho?”  Back at the bowling alley Otto is now out the Pin Pals having returned to the claw arcade machine stating “I can’t believe I got booted off the team for Mr Businessman.  I bet I get a little respect once I get that Harvard diploma” which he promptly goes after in the machine.  Meanwhile on the lanes Mr Burns is playing for the Pin Pals guttering his bowl as Moe angrily informs Homer “that’s the third game in a row he’s cost us” as they lose to The Stereotypes consisting of Luigi Risotto, Groundskeeper Willie, Cletus Spuckler and Captain McCallister who all fire off their stereotypical trademark catchphrases in victory.  At this point Apu curses “they begged me to join their team”.  After the game the four team members each have a beer as beneath Moe and Apu boot Homer beneath the table prodding him that he needs to fire Mr Burns from the team.  Oblivious to this Burns states “we certainly got walloped tonight didn’t we fellas”.  With this in mind Homer informs Burns that “next week is the big championship game” as Burns fails to take the hint laughing it off stating “the only ship worth giving a damn about is friendship” as he folds a napkin into the shape of a ship placing it on Homer’s beer (“look here comes the friend ship sailing your way”).  Then as the paper ship sinks to the bottom of the glass he states “oh let me get that friend” as it turns out that he learns he loses a fingernail in the drink (“there’s Leprosy for you”).  Back at Springfield Elementary the kids now at breaktime remain in a trance bouncing balls and swinging in tandem while games of It are no longer energetic.  Reviewing the situation Superintendent Chalmers walks through the schoolyard with Skinner while in the background rain clouds arrive.  And with exactly a minute before Chalmers leaves a storm breaks out which gets the uniforms wet to reveal colours as Milhouse proclaims “I’m freaking out” and the other kids snap out of their trance and run riot.  Angered Chalmers asks why the uniforms aren’t colourfast as confused Skinner states “I don’t know, I got them at the same place I get all mother’s dresses.  Oh my god, mothers in the park” as he goes running off and Chalmers gleefully states “now this I gotta see”.  That night back at the Simpson house Homer is moaning to Marge “we were so close to winning the championship.  Now thanks to Burns its never going to happen.  And I spent so much time building that trophy case” as the camera cuts to a crappy wooden contraption with an Oscar in it stating Best Supporting Actor Don Ameche with the name scratched out and replaced by Homer Simpson.  Trying to help Marge offers “maybe Mr Burns will bowl a great game and you will win your championship” at which point Homer turns it into emotional blackmail asking “so you’re saying we’re definitely going to win” as he lets off one of his “woo-hoos!” before declaring “I won’t need this anymore” flushing the Don Ameche Oscar down the toilet where it gets stuck and he is next heard to say “Marge, someone broke the toilet”.  Onto the championship game where Homer, Moe and Apu are all warming up as the Holy Rollers arrive wearing monk/druid outfits as tracksuits.  They mean business as Moe states “don’t worry about nothing Homer.  I have a feeling Mrs Burns is going to have a little accident that might keep him from bowling with us tonight” as Burns staggers in held up by Smithers as his left leg has given up (“my old gimpy knee has gone akimbo again”) at which point a masked Moe jumps out the bathroom and hits the knee with car wrench actually repairing the knee as Burns declares “that precision assault popped it back into place.  Thank you masked stranger”.  Having failed in his effort to get rid of Burns, Moe snaps at Homer “either Burns goes or Moe goes” as Apu repeats the sentiments.  With this Burns arrives asking “so who’s ready to kick Christian keyster?”  Then as Homer begins sacking Burns from the team he fails to complete his sentence before Smithers hands him a box of Pin Pals personalised bowling shirts.  Impressed by this gesture Moe and Apu (“at last I finally have a garment fine enough to be married in”) are won over.  Burns continues his affection speech “I have always been wealthy but this is the first time I have felt rich”.  He then asks Homer what he was about to say as he bluntly says “you’re off the team” which Moe promptly laughs off as a joke (“he’s just ribbing ya Monty”).  Despite the matching uniforms the championship game is a disaster as while Mr Burns does one bowl the entire Holy Rollers manage a round of bowls each getting a strike in the process.  In response Apu, Moe and Homer all bowl strikes.  Eventually with one bowler left the Holy Rollers are one pin ahead.  And unfortunately that one bowler is Mr Burns.  Stepping up her gutters his first bowl suggesting “next time I few steps towards centre don’t you think?” as his team-mates cover their faces in horror as Homer proclaims “goodbye trophy”.  From here Burns rolls the last ball of the game which teeters on the gutter.  Meanwhile back at the crane game Otto is still chasing his prize as suddenly the crane has grip on “something big” which actually turns out to be a base screw attaching one of the legs to the machine.  As Burns’ final ball inevitable ends up in the gutter it softly knocks two pins which subtly wobble.  And at this exact moment Otto yanks the screw from the machine as one of its legs comes off and it crashes to the ground spewing all the prizes on the floor including the lobster harmonica.  The vibration of the crash causes all the pins to fall on the bowling lanes as Burns gets a strike and the Pin Pals win the championship.  With this Homer cheers “we won! We won!” as he, Apu and Moe jump and celebrate as the trophy is handed to Homer and promptly snatched from him by Mr Burns.  As sinister music drops in Burns strokes the trophy and says “you mean I won”.  Apu promptly says “we were a team sir” as Burns reveals that “I’m afraid I’ve had one of my trademark changes of heart.  You see teamwork will only take you so far, then the truly evolved person makes that extra grab for personal glory.  Now, I must discard my team-mates much like the boxer much shed roll after roll of sweaty disgusting flab before he can win the title”.  Hurt by this Homer comments “I guess some people just never change.  Or they quickly change then quickly change back”.  Then in a rare positive moment Moe pipes “you know what, we don’t need him or his trophy.  We got each other, huh?”  At which point Otto returns and joins in a group hug.  From here we cut to them stood at the gates of Burns’ mansion as Moe, Apu and Otto chant Homer on as he breaks into Burns’ mansion to retrieve the trophy.  As he does so the alarms sound and four hounds begin chase as he races to the gates at his team-mates then just as he jumps on the gate one of the hounds grabs him and drags him back down as they proceed to tear into him.  With this Otto ends the chant with “I guess no one can” as Moe shouts “run!  Before they’re through feeding”.  The episode ends with Homer being torn to shreds by the hounds.  Its actually a pretty dark finale if you think about it.

IS IT ANY GOOD:
The bowling element is very good but the Bart school uniform portion distracts from it and feels like a contractual obligation to give Bart airtime.

WHAT IT TAUGHT ME:
Team sports connected to work are a minefield.  Do not socialise with your boss.  Uniforms are issued as a system of mental control.

EXTERNAL REFERENCES:
Hans Moleman is mistaken by Mr Burns as the Lucky Charms leprechaun.  Mad Magazine makes yet another appearance.  It was obviously an influence on the writers.

BEST LINES:
Moe ranting “man, you go through life, try to be nice to people, you struggle to resist the urge to punch ‘em in the face.  And for what?  For some pimply little puke to treat you like dirt unless you’re on a team.  Well I’m better than dirt.  Well, most kinds of dirt.  Not that fancy store bought dirt, that’s loaded with nutrients.  I can’t compete with that stuff”.   Amen Moe.  Also Mr Burns’ attitude towards getting ahead is a lesson for life: “You see teamwork will only take you so far, then the truly evolved person makes that extra grab for personal glory.  Now, I must discard my team-mates much like the boxer much shed roll after roll of sweaty disgusting flab before he can win the title”.

BEST JOKES:
Homer struggling to do the Mad Magazine fold-in and still laughing when he gets the incorrect answer of “The All Ighty Ollar”.  Marge angrily telling Homer “no I will not pay you $500 for sex”.

PERIPHERAL MOMENT:
The bowling alley is known as Barney’s Bowlarama and has a coffee shop.  Tuesday night is league night at the lanes.  Teams in the league are: Pin Pals (Homer, Moe, Apu, Otto then Mr Burns), Channel 6 Wastelanders (Krusty the Clown, Kent Brockman, Arnie Pie, Pedro aka Bumblebee Man), The DMV Regulation Kings (featuring Selma and Patty Bouvier), Springfield Police Framers (Chief Wiggum, Eddie, Lou and Snake), The Homewreckers (Mindy Simmons, Lurleen Lumpkin, Princess Kashmir and Jacques), the Holy Rollers (Ned Flanders, Maude Flanders, Reverend Lovejoy and Helen Lovejoy) and the Stereotypes (Luigi Risotto, Groundskeeper Willie, Cletus Spuckler and Captain McAllister).

REALITY CROSSOVER:
Having played company football I am very aware at how seriously bosses can take sports.  By getting involved you are taking your own career in your hands.  I’m not proud to admit that I once had my boss in a headlock because he dropped me from the company 5-a-side team in order to play ringers in an important game.

MVP:
Moe gets off some amazing lines.

GUEST APPEARANCES:
None.

SONGS:
“Spanish Flea” by Herb Alpert is used to back the modelling of the new school uniforms.

EPISODE LINKS:
The Homewreckers feature Mindy Simmons from The Last Temptation Of Homer, Princess Kashmir from Homer’s Night out, Lurleen Lumpkin from Colonel Homer and Jacques from Life On The Fast Lane.

PERCULARITIES/RUBBERBAND REALITY:
Surely Homer would not be able to withstand the onslaught of four hounds tearing him to shreds.

BART ON THE BLACKBOARD:
I am not certified to remove asbestos.

OTHER:
I’ve always been shit at bowling, almost as shit as Mr Burns.

FINAL WORDS:
Strike!

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