Homer to the Max
"Homer to the Max" is the thirteenth episode of The Simpsons' tenth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 7, 1999. In the episode, Homer discovers that a new television show, Police Cops, has a hero also named Homer Simpson. He is delighted with the positive attention he receives because of his name, but when the television character is rewritten from a hero to a bumbling idiot, he is mocked and taunted, so he changes his name to "Max Power" to rid himself of the negative attention. Max gains new friends, and is forced into a protest to prevent a forest from being knocked down. In the end, he changes his name back to Homer.
The episode was written by John Swartzwelder and directed by Pete Michels. Since airing, it has received mixed reviews from television critics. Overall, the episode received a Nielsen rating of 8.5.
The Simpson family looks through new mid-season TV shows, and realize they are all pretty lousy. They settle on the pilot episode of a show called Police Cops, a show which follows a suave and dashing detective named Homer Simpson and his partner Lance Kaufman. Homer is delighted with the positive attention he receives because he shares the dashing, intelligent character's name. Despite the family telling him it is just a coincidence, Homer begins to receive congratulatory phone calls. He begins imitating the character, adopting his distinctive scarf and catchphrase, "...and that's the end of that chapter."
Unfortunately, by the second episode of Police Cops, the Homer Simpson character has been rewritten from a handsome man into a stupid, fat, and lazy detective who uses a now ridiculous catchphrase "Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O!" when he makes a mistake, which results in Homer being mocked by his friends. Humiliated at being laughed at and being the subject of negative attention, Homer appeals to the producers to change the character back, demanding why they changed the character to being so stupid. When the producers refuse to either explain their reasons or change the character back, Homer legally changes his name to "Max Power" (a name he got off a hair dryer) after unsuccessfully attempting to sue the company for improper usage of his old name.
Max seems to be more well-adjusted with his new name as all the negative attention had faded away for good, but Marge is somewhat unhappy that he changed his name without consulting her, saying that she fell in love with "Homer Simpson", though she understands that his new name is opening new doors to success for him. At work, Mr. Burns is impressed by the new name and compliments Max, who decides to shop at Costington's in order to further improve his image. There, he meets a successful businessman named Trent Steel and, after a chat, they go out to lunch.
Trent invites Max and family to a garden party. Despite Marge's reservations, the couple attend the party, where they meet lots of famous people, including actor Woody Harrelson, then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, TV producer Lorne Michaels and actor Ed Begley, Jr. Max finds out that the garden party is nothing more than an excuse to save a redwood forest from destruction, something which Max does not like. After traveling with the party guests to the forest, Max, Marge, and the rest of the guests chain themselves to the trees in order to prevent the bulldozers from knocking them down. Chief Wiggum arrives and decides to get rough with the protesters. Eddie and Lou start chasing Max around his tree, trying to "swab" him with mace. However, as he runs round and round the tree, the chain around Max begins cutting into the tree. The huge redwood falls, knocking down all the other redwoods in a large domino-like chain reaction, angering their newfound friends.
That night at home, Marge is happy that Max has changed his name back to "Homer Simpson". Homer, however, informs Marge that while he was at the courthouse, he took the opportunity to change her name to "Chesty La Rue", along with the alternative names "Busty St. Claire" and "Hootie McBoob."
Pete Michels, director of the episode, had read a story in the newspaper about people with famous names. He came up with a way of how Homer's life could be affected if he saw someone on TV with his name. While creating the Homer Simpson television character, the production staff was deciding if the character should be "cool" throughout the episode, or if he should be an idiot from the beginning. The staff decided to use both methods and have him become an idiot after being seen as cool in the first episode of the new program. The hat Homer wears while walking through the mall is a parody of one owned by Woody Allen. Ron Hauge, a The Simpsons show producer, suggested the name Max Power to a friend who wanted to change his name. His friend, however, did not take it. The episode would also inspire Tom Martin's cousin to name his son Max Power.
The TV show Police Cops is a parody of the television series Miami Vice. One of the new TV shows features Archie Bunker in the show All in the Family 1999. Homer suggests the names Hercules Rockefeller, Rembrandt Q. Einstein, and Handsome B. Wonderful to Judge Snyder for his name change. The "Max Power" song is sung to the melody of "Goldfinger", the theme from the James Bond film Goldfinger (1964). Actor Woody Harrelson, President Bill Clinton and producers Lorne Michaels, Brian Grazer and Jerry Bruckheimer are shown in attendance at the party. The police attempting to "swab" the protestors is a reference to several incidents in 1997 in which sheriff's deputies of Humboldt County, California, swabbed pepper spray in the eyes of environmental protesters.
Since airing, this episode has received mixed reviews from television critics. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote that though it was "funny in all the right places, this is an episode of two distinct stories, neither of which mesh together. The whole Ed Begley, Jr. saving the forest bit seems to have been tacked on, as if the stuff about Homer finding his name being abused (shades of Mr. Sparkle again?) ran out of steam. Not a bad show, more a sort of 'So what?' show." Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a 7.7/10 rating, commenting that "it has a number of really funny scenes and memorable lines", but overall "the storyline didn't really have anywhere to go and the final half of the third act is a complete waste of time." Morgan Larrick of About.com noted "Homer to the Max" as "one of the most unforgettable episodes" when reviewing the complete tenth season.
In an article written for the Modern Day Pirates titled "In Search of The Last Classic Simpsons Episode", author Brandon listed "Homer to the Max" as a contender for the latest episode that made him feel like he was "watching The Simpsons in their heyday." He believes it was "the last classic episode before [the show's] episodes start to seriously get spotty in quality," and from that point on, "they start to go months or even seasons between episodes with polish."
- "Homer to the Max". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
- "Homer to the Max". BBC. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
- "Weekly Nielsen Ratings". The Stuart News. 1998-02-21. p. P10.
- Michels, Pete (2007). The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season Commentary for the Episode "Homer to the Max" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Scully, Mike (2007). The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season Commentary for the Episode "Homer to the Max" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Hauge, Ron (2007). The Simpsons: The Complete Tenth Season Commentary for the Episode "Homer to the Max" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Martin, Tom (2009). The Simpsons The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Pokey Mom" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "The Simpsons - Season 10, Episode 13: Homer to the Max - TV.com". Retrieved 2014-03-17.
- Egelko, Bob (2004-09-21). "Pepper spray case going to jury / Anti-logging group charges unusual force used in 1997". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2014-03-17.
- Canning, Robert (2009-08-18). "The Simpsons Flashback: "Homer to the Max" Review". IGN. Retrieved 2010-04-25.
- Larrick, Morgan. "The Simpsons -The Complete Tenth Season DVD". AnimatedTV.About.com. Retrieved 2008-09-07.
- "In Search of The Last Classic Simpsons Episode". The Modern Day Pirates. Retrieved 2013-02-12.
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