Homer's Odyssey (The Simpsons)

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"Homer's Odyssey"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no. 3
Production code 7G03
Original air date January 21, 1990
Showrunner(s) James L. Brooks
Matt Groening
Sam Simon
Written by Jay Kogen
Wallace Wolodarsky
Directed by Wesley Archer
Chalkboard gag "I will not skateboard in the halls"[1]
Couch gag The family hurries on to the couch which makes it collapse.
Guest star(s) Sam McMurray as Worker Drone
Christopher Collins as Mr. Burns
DVD
commentary
Matt Groening
Wes Archer
Jay Kogen
Wallace Wolodarsky

"Homer's Odyssey" is the third episode of the first season of The Simpsons, and originally aired on the Fox network on January 21, 1990. In this episode Homer becomes a crusader for citizen safety in Springfield, and is promoted to his current position as Nuclear Safety Inspector for the entire power plant. It was written by Jay Kogen and Wallace Wolodarsky and was the first Simpsons script to be completed, although it was the third episode produced.[2]

Plot[edit]

Mrs. Krabappel takes Bart's class on a field trip to the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, where everybody watches as Homer crashes an electric cart into a cooling vent and is fired. Homer searches for a new job without success. Feeling like a failure, he writes a suicide note to his family and decides to end his life by attaching a boulder to himself and jumping off a bridge.

Lisa finds Homer's note and alerts the family. They hurry to the bridge to save him, but they are almost run over by a speeding truck. Homer pulls them to safety just in time, and he is suddenly filled with a new reason to live: to place a stop sign at the dangerous intersection. After successfully petitioning the city council, Homer embarks on a public safety crusade that involves placing speed bumps and warning signs throughout the town.

Unsatisfied with his own efforts, Homer takes on the biggest danger in Springfield, the nuclear power plant. After Homer rallies people to his cause, Mr. Burns decides to end the furor he is creating by offering him a new position as the plant safety inspector, along with a higher salary. Homer, torn between his principles and his livelihood, tearfully tells his followers that they must fight their battles alone from this point on and takes the job.

Production[edit]

"Black Smithers", as seen in this episode.
Waylon Smithers with the correct colors.

Waylon Smithers made his first appearance in this episode, although he can be heard over a speaker in The Simpsons series premiere "Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire".[3] In his first visual appearance, he was mistakenly animated with the wrong color and was made an African American by Gyorgi Peluci, the color stylist. David Silverman has claimed that Smithers was always intended to be "Mr. Burns' white sycophant,"[4] and the staff thought it "would be a bad idea to have a black sub-servient character" and so switched him to his intended color for his next episode. Smithers' skin tone was later explained as an "extreme tan".[5]

Blinky the Three-Eyed Fish makes a brief cameo in this episode; he later becomes of importance in episode four of the second season, "Two Cars in Every Garage and Three Eyes on Every Fish". Also notable is that Marge was originally called Juliette in this script as a homage to Romeo and Juliet.[6] Homer's middle initial, J, is mentioned for the first time in this episode. According to Matt Groening, it was a reference to Bullwinkle J. Moose.[7] Additionally, the following characters made their first appearances in this episode: Otto Mann, Chief Wiggum, Jasper Beardley, Sam & Larry, Mr. & Mrs. Winfield and Sherri and Terri.[1]

Cultural references[edit]

The episode's title comes from the Greek epic poem Odyssey, traditionally attributed to the legendary poet Homer. On the bus, Bart sings "John Henry was a Steel Driving Man," an American folk-song about a 19th-century hero of the working-class, building railroads across the West Virginia mountains.[1]

Reception[edit]

In its original broadcast, "Homer's Odyssey" finished twenty-eight in ratings for the week of January 15–21, 1990, with a Nielsen rating of 14.9, equivalent to approximately 13.7 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating Married... with Children.[8] Since airing, the episode has received mixed reviews from television critics. Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide stated that "the story rather fizzles out at the end, but there are many good moments, especially in the power plant."[1] Colin Jacobson at DVD Movie Guide said in a review that the episode is "possibly the best of the [first six] shows" and further commented that the episode "suffers a little from an odd tone, as the characters hadn’t become settled. Still, it seems surprisingly clever and witty"[9] In a DVD review of the first season, David B. Grelck gave the episode a rating of ½/5 and calls it "the first season at its worst" and continues that it was "notable for introducing Mr. Burns and (a strangely African-American) Smithers, but otherwise boring and preachy."[10]

Home release[edit]

The episode was released first on home video in the United Kingdom, as part of a VHS release titled The Simpsons Collection, in which it was paired with the sixth episode of the season, "Moaning Lisa".[11] It was once re-released in the UK as part of VHS boxed set of the complete first season, released in November 1999.[12] The episode would finally see the US home video release as a part of The Simpsons season one DVD set, which was released on September 25, 2001. Groening, Archer, Kogen, and Wolodarsky participated in the DVD's audio commentary.[13] A digital edition of the series' first season was published December 20, 2010 in the United States containing the episode, through Amazon Instant Video and iTunes.[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Homer's Odyssey". BBC. Retrieved 2007-07-30. 
  2. ^ Kogen, Jay (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Homer's Odyssey" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  3. ^ Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on March 2, 2007
  4. ^ "Background Guide to The Simpsons" (PDF). Hurtwood Media. September 2002. Retrieved 2007-10-25. 
  5. ^ Rhodes, Joe (2000-10-21). "Flash! 24 Simpsons Stars Reveal Themselves". TV Guide. 
  6. ^ Wolodarsky, Wallace (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Homer's Odyssey" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  7. ^ Groening, Matt (2001). The Simpsons season 1 DVD commentary for the episode "Homer's Odyssey" (DVD). 20th Century Fox. 
  8. ^ "New sitcom's `Grand' start helps NBC win again". The Orange County Register. January 24, 1990. p. L12. 
  9. ^ Jacobson, Colin. "The Simpsons: The Complete First Season (1990)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-08-29. 
  10. ^ Grelck, David B. (2001-09-25). "The Complete First Season". WDBGProductions. Archived from the original on 2009-02-02. Retrieved 2011-09-15. 
  11. ^ "The Simpsons - Moaning Lisa (1989)". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  12. ^ "The Simpsons - Season 1 Box Set [VHS]". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  13. ^ "The Simpsons - The Complete 1st Season". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 
  14. ^ "The Simpsons Season 1 - Amazon Instant Video". Amazon.com. Retrieved April 21, 2011. 

External links[edit]