And Maggie Makes Three
"And Maggie Makes Three" is the thirteenth television episode of The Simpsons' sixth season. It originally aired on Fox in the United States on January 22, 1995. In the episode, Lisa notices that there are no photos of Maggie in the family photo albums. This leads to a recount of Maggie's birth: having settled all his debts, Homer quit his job at the nuclear power plant, and took his dream job at a bowling alley. However, when Maggie was born, his salary was not enough to support three children, so he had to return to his old job at the plant. He explains that all of Maggie's pictures are at his work station to inspire him.
The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden, and directed by Swinton O. Scott III. This was both Crittenden's and Scott's first episode on The Simpsons. It features cultural references to television shows such as The Mary Tyler Moore Show and Knight Rider. Since airing, the episode has received many positive reviews from fans and television critics, and has been called "a touching look at fatherhood" by Kevin Wong at PopMatters. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 10.3, and was the fourth highest rated show on Fox the week it aired.
While the family is browsing through the family photo album, Lisa notices that there are no baby pictures of Maggie at all. Homer explains by recounting the story of Maggie's birth. In 1993, Homer hated working at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant, and had a dream of working at a bowling alley. After he received a paycheck that cleared him of all his debts, he happily quit his job at the power plant, and went to get a job at the local bowling alley owned by Barney Gumble's uncle Al.
When Homer and Marge celebrated this development with sex, she became pregnant. In the meantime, Homer did an excellent job working at the bowling alley, and got treated well by the staff and customers as a result. Meanwhile, upon learning of her pregnancy, Marge feared that the news would end Homer's new lifestyle and happiness, because it meant he could no longer support his family on his bowling alley salary. Marge kept her pregnancy a secret as long as she could, but Patty and Selma, eager to ruin Homer's life, spread the news quickly around town. As a result, several people congratulated Homer, who was unaware of Marge's pregnancy until a baby shower was given to Marge back at the Simpson residence.
Realizing the truth, Homer became very unhappy and completely unenthusiastic about it. On Marge's advice, he attempted to get a raise on his salary to alleviate his problem, but Al stated that the alley can't do enough to make that much money unless the business was expanded. Homer then attempted to expand the business by using a shotgun to attract more customers, but this failed. Due to the financial problems caused by the pregnancy, Homer was forced to quit his job at the bowling alley and go back to the power plant. However, Mr. Burns made Homer beg for his job back, and in an attempt to break what is left of Homer's spirit as punishment for quitting his job earlier, he placed a large plaque in front of Homer's desk reading: "Don't forget: you're here forever". Homer was once again unhappy at his work, but as with all the Simpson children, when Maggie was born, Homer instantly fell in love with her. Back in the present, Bart and Lisa still do not understand what that has to do with Maggie's photos. Homer merely mentions that they are in the place where he needs them the most. The scene then cuts to his workplace where all of the photos of Maggie are positioned on the plaque on the wall, which now reads: "Do it for her".
The episode was written by Jennifer Crittenden, and directed by Swinton O. Scott III. This was the first episode Scott directed for the show. Crittenden also made her debut as a writer for The Simpsons in this episode. Crittenden was taking a beginners' writing program at 20th Century Fox when former The Simpsons showrunner David Mirkin hired her on the show. Crittenden's only writing experience before that had been as an intern on the Late Show with David Letterman. 20th Century Fox introduced Crittenden to Mirkin, and Mirkin read a script of hers that he liked. When Mirkin first talked to Crittenden, he thought she was a really nice woman who was very mature. Crittenden was only 23 years old at the time, but Mirkin liked her and he hired her.
After Homer quits his job at the power plant, he violently tosses his old boss Mr. Burns out of the cart he is driving. Homer then drives across a wooden bridge and tosses a match onto it—within a second the whole bridge is engulfed in flames. Mirkin came up with the joke, and said that the thing with animation is that you can stage almost anything and time it perfectly, something you would not be able to do in live action. He then said that the staff is always excited when the directors come in because they can, for example, make a bridge catch on fire instantly, just in the time of a single shot. As a live-action director, Mirkin said he enjoys the amount of control they have in animation.
In the episode, Mr. Burns places a "de-motivational plaque" in Homer's station that says "Don't forget: you're here forever". Homer then places photos of Maggie around the plaque to alter it into saying "Do it for her", referring to Maggie. The Simpsons writer George Meyer, who enjoys writing jokes that involve anagrams or any other forms of word play, came up with the idea for this particular joke. The joke is also an homage to Al Jaffee's Fold-in features in the Mad magazine.
The couch gag is a reference to the James Bond gun barrel sequence. Homer's flashback to saving the Nuclear Power Plant from freelance terrorists is a reference to Die Hard. Dr. Hibbert's flashback hairstyle is modeled after Arsenio Hall's. The family watches Knight Boat, a parody of Knight Rider. Homer spinning around with a bowling ball in his hand before throwing it into the air and exclaiming "I'm gonna make it after all!" is reminiscent of the opening of The Mary Tyler Moore Show where Mary throws her hat into the air.
In its original American broadcast, "And Maggie Makes Three" finished 47th in the ratings for the week of January 16 to January 22, 1995, with a Nielsen rating of 10.3. The episode was the fourth highest rated show on the Fox network that week, beaten only by Melrose Place, Beverly Hills, 90210 and the Rock 'n' Roll Skating Championship.
Since airing, the episode has received many positive reviews from fans and television critics. One-time Simpsons writer and comedian Ricky Gervais named it his second favorite episode, and said: "Mr. Burns gives [Homer] this terrible plaque above his desk that says, 'Don't forget: You're here forever.' It's about how sometimes things don't go the way you planned, which is pretty amazing in a cartoon. Homer then puts up all the pictures of Maggie he's ever taken to strategically cover this horrible thing so it now reads, 'Do it for her.' It gives me a lump in the throat thinking about it." Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, the authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, said: "A surprisingly traditional episode. The flashback to 1993 seems a bit odd, but this is a good example of a story that doesn't overly rely on set pieces and confounded expectations for its success." In a review of the sixth season, Joshua Klein of the Chicago Tribune cited "And Maggie Makes Three", "Treehouse of Horror V", "Homer Badman" and "Lisa's Rival" among his favorite episodes of the season.
TV Squad's Adam Finley said the episode "manages to be both incredibly funny and incredibly touching, both signs of a great Simpsons episode." He added that "the episode has some great gags in it, but the emotion is very real, too. Homer is not thrilled with the idea of having a baby, and the episode does a wonderful job of showing the dark side of having another mouth to feed." Colin Jacobson at DVD Movie Guide said in a review of the sixth season DVD: "Flashback episodes of The Simpsons usually work well, and [this episode] is no exception to that rule. Actually, at this point it’s one of my favorites, but that’s partially because of overexposure to some of the other episodes. In any case, this one has many hilarious moments – such as the scene that explains Homer's hair loss." Kevin Wong at PopMatters said the episode is "a touching look at fatherhood".
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- Klein, Joshua (September 9, 2005). "1994 vintage `Simpsons' sets a tough standard - Homer's head houses DVDs". Chicago Tribune. p. 7.
- Finley, Adam (2006-08-10). "The Simpsons: And Maggie Makes Three". TV Squad. Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-01.
- Jacobson, Colin (2003). "The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season (1994)". DVD Movie Guide. Archived from the original on 12 October 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-08.
- Wong, Kevin (August 24, 2005). "The Simpsons: The Complete Sixth Season". PopMatters. Retrieved 2008-11-18.
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