Episode 11 - Homer's Triple Bypasss
24 June 2011
Synopsis: Homer's terrible diet puts increasing strain on his heart. Mr Burns fires him leading to a heart attack. Dr Hibbert tells him he will need surgery but it will cost forty thousand dollars. Homer can't afford that and so turns to less-than-reliable-looking Dr Nick Riviera. Homer's friends and family come to see him before the big day.
The Good: Once more the sweetness was the best part of this story. The family seem genuinely sad at the prospect of losing Homer and the scene where Bart and Lisa whisper to him what he should say to the other one was lovely. I did like the idea of showing the rest of the people in Homer's life reacting to his surgery though much of it was a bit flat. I smiled at Patty and Selma trying to fix Marge up with a sleazy looking guy called Andre while Homer was still in the operating theatre.
The Bad: Otherwise this episode had no hook. There is obviously no way Homer was going to die and the writers didn't link his heart attack to anything in particular. He didn't plan on changing his diet nor did he really make any special effort with those he might leave behind. To some extent that plot has already been done (211) and so we were left with a string of jokes which didn't work. Grandpa laughs at the prospect of Homer dying, Moe is cheap, Barney is confused, Apu doesn't care about his customers welfare and so on. All those gags felt a bit cheap and easy.
But then again none were quite as bad as Dr Nick Riviera. I understand the shows desire to expose the risks the poor must take with their healthcare but Dr Nick had too little basis in reality. It might be funny to see an incompetent surgeon but to have one so incompetent was just silly. He doesn't wash his hands, he watches "How to" surgery tapes, he needs Lisa's direction to make an incision, he has a history of lawsuits and dead patients and so on.
Overall the episode never chose a story or tone to go with. There was no purpose to the episode and so it felt half-hearted (no pun intended), as if no one had a vision for what Homer's heart attack would mean to him. So we ended up with jokes about him eating lots or using the defibrillator for fun or playing with his hospital bed. None of it had any resonance.
Best Joke: Dr Hibbert gives Homer a new fat analysis test by making his belly flab jiggle and seeing how long it keeps moving. It won't stop jiggling leading Homer to excitedly and foolishly cry "Look at that blubber fly!"
The Bottom Line: Season Four has been a disappointment since the first few episodes. Too many jokes have been the very basic kind with a lot of "Homer is dumb" stuff thrown in. This was a particularly disappointing episode and wasted the kind of very realistic story you would expect the writers to do something clever with.
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