Season eight, episode three of The Simpsons, titled The Homer They Fall and originally aired on November 10th 1996. I viewed this episode alone on Thursday night February eighteenth at my apartment on DVD and a 27 inch television. The opening title sequence to this episode is the long version which starts with Bart writing something obnoxious on the detention blackboard, in this case “I am not my long lost twin.” The couch gag features the family in cowboy attire jump on a couch in a desert scene at which point the couch gallops away and whinnies like a horse. This episode is one of the myriad stories where Homer temporarily switches professions. In The Homer They Fall he becomes a professional boxer.
When Bart is harassed by bullies at school Homer decides to try to reason with their fathers. In an attempt to make peace at Moe’s Tavern Homer ends up being beaten by the three men with repeated punches and even has a pool cue broken over his head but nothing they do can even knock Homer down. When Moe chases the men out of the bar with a shotgun he convinces Homer that his ability to take a beating is a sure fire path to a career in pro-boxing. Moe, a former boxer himself, albeit a terrible one, becomes Homer’s manager.
When Marge learns of their scheme she insists that Homer be examined by a doctor. The family physician Dr. Hibbert reveals that Homer’s brain is “cushioned by a layer of fluid 1/8 of an inch thicker than normal” when in fact the X-Ray shows us that Homer’s brain is merely that much smaller than everyone else. Cleared to box, his training begins. Because he can’t punch well they formulate the strategy that Homer will stand there until his opponent becomes exhausted from beating him at which time Homer will simply push him over. Using this technique he wins his first fight against a boxcar tramp.
Following a montage showing Homer defeat a number of tramps, hobos, and bums and highlights his meager monetary gains Moe is paid a visit by Lucious Sweets. Lucious is a clear parody of boxing promoter Don King just as his protégé Heavyweight Champion of the World Drederick Tatum is a parody of Mike Tyson. Moe and Sweets have a past relationship leading the promoter to ask Moe to have Homer challenge Tatum for the title. Lucious believes Homer can last three rounds against the champ, just enough for everyone to make a big payday. When Tatum is released on parole the newspaper headline reads “Champ to Whale on Local Man.”
A concerned Marge makes Moe promise to throw in the towel if Homer is in danger but when she leaves he tosses the towel in the garbage. In a typical Simpsons display of irreverence for anything considered sacred, before the fight famous ring announcer Michael Buffer declares to the crowd, “Due to popular demand we will forgo our National Anthem.” Tatum beats Homer so badly that he takes a mid-round breather to converse with Charlie Sheen at ringside yet Homer still remains on his feet. Just when it seems that Tatum will deliver the knockout blow Moe swoops in wearing the “Fan Man’s” fan powered flying contraption to scoop Homer up and deliver him safely from the ring and into the parking lot.
While Moe still takes Lucious’s check for $100,000 everyone is grateful that he saved Homer. To close out the show Moe flies away with the “Fan Man” running after him demanding the return of his flying machine. Over the closing credits are still shots of Moe using the fan contraption to do various good deeds: he saves people from floods and quicksand, puts out a forest fire and air drops relief aid to a group of starving people.
As usual this episode echoes art and pop-culture relating to the subject matter. Homer’s training and victory montages are references to Rocky and Raging Bull, respectively (www.imdb.com). The topical element of this episode was aimed at Mike Tyson’s outrageous behavior in and out of the boxing ring, in this case with reference to his doppelganger Drederick Tatum being incarcerated for pushing his mother down the stairs.
While this episode is no less funny, the dialogue and sight gags are incredible, than others it is a Moe story. The only character who develops during this show is Moe who, as a secondary character and a scumbag, is not as compelling as the core characters of the Simpson family or even several of the other secondary characters. Even though Moe is given some depth and shows he’s not just an opportunistic malcontent it does not have the same far reaching dynamic as when the principals gain new depth.
While this is a hysterical episode overall, compared to many of the other season 8 shows it is left wanting for greater canon wide influence and character development.
The Simpsons Season 8 Episode #3: The Homer They Fall
Rating: 3 out of 5