This one’s on the house.
How many times have we seen Homer and Marge flirt with the edge of divorce? It’s one of the most common premises in Simpsons history. What about Moe going upscale? It is not quite as frequent, but we have definitely seen it before. What about those two setups combined into one? That is new and promising.
The latest case of Simpson marital strife is given very little setup. True, Marge is upset that Homer is spending too much time drinking at Moe’s, but there is little indication that he is doing so any more than usual. It seems like we are supposed to take it for granted that these two are always in trouble. This is upsetting on two levels: first off, it is lazy writing, and second, it is always a bummer to be told that any domestic bliss in Springfield is just an illusion.
Thankfully, Homer and Marge are quick to reconnect, although more trouble is brewing. At least this time, though, the challenge is legitimate and interesting. Nigel (Michael York), one of Mr. Burns’ old school chums, is visiting the power plant, and he spies an opportunity for some fun: a high-stakes bet that he can break up Homer and Marge permanently, thus perfectly fitting the brand of old rich men cruelly amusing themselves at the expense of the working class.
Everyone insists that Homer and Marge are inextricable, which is heartening to hear after a beginning in which their troubles are taken for granted. Moving on, Nigel’s plan becomes twofold when he notices Moe’s long-held affection for “Midge.” He becomes the backer for MoHo House, the new fancy-pants watering hole designed to be THE destination for all Springfield’s native and visiting celebrities. So what are Homer and Marge doing at the grand opening? Obviously, they are there because Nigel conspired to put them there, but there is not really any made-up reason to justify it. Oh, well.
Eventually, all is right, as Homer and Marge end up back in each other’s arms, because they just cannot be permanently apart and because Moe could not ever bring himself to pull such a betrayal. I am a bit of a sucker for seeing this union renew itself over and over, so there is some joy to be had, which is good because this is less a laugh-out-loud episode and more a heartwarming one. Judged by that standard, it does the trick but does not break the mold. “Moho House” is also prettied up with a musical aspect, which fits the fanciness but does not reach transcendence. Overall, this is a decent episode, but I wonder if it would have been better if it had instead focused more on the pseudo-love triangle between Mr. Burns, Smithers, and Nigel.
Memorable Lines and Random Jazz:
-“She was as aloof as Steve Martin”? Since when is that Wild and Crazy Guy known for his aloofness?
-“Sir, do you need help with that tea bag?” “No, I can talk to Nigel by myself.”
-Flanders handing the harps to the ghosts of Maude and Edna is nothing short of disturbing.
-“She barely knows I exist, which is the best thing I got going for me.”
-“The trailer gave away too much, like, uh, the fact that it was terrible.”
-Moe has never had a white person problem before, thus proving the significance of class in this country.
-“I was a psychiatrist. Then I lost my license for prescribing too few meds.”