The Simpsons: Homer's Odyssey   Rewatch 
January 25, 2023 10:44 PM - Season 1, Episode 3 - Subscribe

Homer Simpson finds a new purpose in life when he starts advocating for a safer community.

After an incident at Springfield Nuclear Power Plant gets him fired, Homer has trouble finding a job. Unable to see a way out, he ties himself to a rock and tries to jump off a bridge. When his family rushes to the bridge to save him, he saves their lives by pushing them out of the way of a bus. He successfully petitions the city to place a stop sign where his family was almost killed, and he becomes a local hero by placing warning signs at dangerous places throughout Springfield. When he takes on the nuclear power plant’s safety practices and leads a protest against it, Montgomery Burns, owner of the plant, defuses the situation by making him the safety inspector at the plant.

I call the big one “Bitey”
MRS. KRABAPPEL: Bart! Not another word out of you, or I’ll subject you to the humiliation of making you sing in front of the class.
BART: Can I pick the song?
MRS. KRABAPPEL: No. The song will be “John Henry Was a Steel-Drivin' Man” (Invidious, YouTube)
LISA: Here’s a good job at the fireworks factory.
HOMER: Those perfectionists? Forget it.
TV ANNOUNCER: Unemployed? Out of work? Sober? You sat around the house all day, but now it’s Duff time!
PROTEST LEADER: He also brought you the speed bump,
CROWD: [cheering]
PROTEST LEADER: the dip sign,
CROWD: [cheering]
PROTEST LEADER: the 15 mile per hour speed limit on Main Street.
CROWD: [booing]
  • Uranium-235 “is the only fissile isotope that exists in nature as a primordial nuclide.” (Wikipedia)
  • Blinky’s first appearance is in this episode.
  • Wayland Smithers was first heard on loudspeaker in a previous episode, but this is the first time we saw him. His race was changed from black to white in the next episode (Screenrant).
  • The bridge where Homer tries to commit suicide could be the same one where Lisa meets Bleeding Gums Murphy in a future episode.
  • Music? At Moe’s? The song playing was “I Fall to Pieces” by Patsy Cline (Invidious, YouTube)
  • Christopher Collins, sometimes referred to as Chris Latta, originally played Burns and Moe and was credited in this episode, but I’m not sure if his recordings ever made it to air. Harry Shearer now plays Burns and Hank Azaria plays Moe. Collins also played the Cobra Commander on G.I. Joe, Starscream on Transformers, and other roles. (Wikipedia)
  • More about John Henry (Wikipedia):
    According to legend, John Henry’s prowess as a steel driver was measured in a race against a steam-powered rock drilling machine, a race that he won only to die in victory with a hammer in hand as his heart gave out from stress. Various locations, including Big Bend Tunnel in West Virginia, Lewis Tunnel in Virginia, and Coosa Mountain Tunnel in Alabama, have been suggested as the site of the contest. The contest involved John Henry as the hammerman working in partnership with a shaker, who would hold a chisel-like drill against mountain rock, while the hammerman struck a blow with a hammer. Then the shaker would begin rocking and rolling: wiggling and rotating the drill to optimize its bite. The steam drill machine could drill but it could not shake the chippings away, so its bit could not drill further and frequently broke down.
    Lyrics of an early version of “John Henry Was a Steel-Drivin' Man”, along with more information about the legend, can be found at ibiblio’s website.
I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder
  • Someone (David Silverman?) on the DVD commentary for this episode mentions that Burns’s portrait is supposed to look like it was painted by Andy Warhol, but it looks like a paint by numbers instead.
  • A Mackleberry Twins’s body (Sherri’s or Terri’s) goes missing from the scene while she is insulting Bart’s dad on the field trip.
Worst. Episode. Ever.
So, what always bugged me about these early episodes is, look at the way that beard line just sort of jags out, you know, when [Homer’s] mouth moves. Oh God. It just really annoyed me. You know, in watching these old episodes, you know, it’s gonna be just a lot of complaining, because [multiple people interrupt] No, they’re great, I mean, they’re great, but, you know, it’s just going over and looking at the, looking at all the mistakes.
– Matt Groening, from the DVD commentary on this episode

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posted by chinesefood (10 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What was Homer's job at the plant before he became safety inspector?
posted by Paul Slade at 4:51 AM on January 26, 2023

One of the drones from Sector 7G?
posted by mmoncur at 5:05 AM on January 26, 2023 [2 favorites]

Homer has a quote in this episode, "I'm no supervising technician. I'm a technical supervisor." And in "I Married Marge", he announces to everyone, "Starting tomorrow, I'm a nuclear technician."
posted by chinesefood at 10:01 AM on January 26, 2023 [1 favorite]

You know what bothers me about this episode? When Bart is singing John Henry, at one moment his mouth is facing one direction and his eyes and forehead are facing the other way. Disturbing.
posted by Paragon at 2:56 AM on January 27, 2023

The moment's at 0:06 here(though you may have to slo-mo the clip to find it).
posted by Paul Slade at 5:26 AM on January 27, 2023

The eyes/mouth thing was an animation error in the early years. They aired it anyway.

For me in that clip, it's the opening riff that Bart sings that ends with "whoa!" that sticks with me because it was used in the Super NES game Bart's Nightmare as a recurring sound effect.
posted by Servo5678 at 12:23 PM on January 27, 2023 [1 favorite]

Oh yeah, that's the look. Thanks, I had no idea it was a repeating problem!

I have heard that long-running cartoon characters tend to stiffen over time, becoming less dynamic in their movement as their look and motion becomes entrenched.
posted by Paragon at 10:41 PM on January 27, 2023

The John Henry reversal comes at a moment when Bart is quickly turning his head back and forth. Maybe it's a side-effect of trying to create the illusion of movement in a sequence like that?
posted by Paul Slade at 4:09 AM on January 28, 2023

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