1.7 Call of the Simpsons
Jealous of Flanders’ RV, Homer buys a much clunkier version of his own. He drives it off a cliff he and Bart have to navigate through the wilderness for help.
This episode is a lot more fluff and fun than the first six, which is fine, and there’s still some stuff to sink your teeth into.
The same theme of provider-masculinity we saw in “Simpsons Roasting on an Open Fire” gets explored here, as Homer can’t deal with Flanders showing up in a beautiful new RV as their sons are cutting their respective lawns (a nice little foreshadowing of Bart and Homer’s adventure in the wilderness).
Homer-as-prey is pretty much the theme of the episode, as he gets thoroughly played by a dominant and very funny RV salesman. Homer’s masculinity renders him highly fragile and easily taken advantage of, and he spends way more than he should on a vehicle he doesn’t need that isn’t very nice anyway.
The family goes camping, and Homer refuses to look at a map or ask for directions, because of course that would mean he’s not a good provider. He gets lost and drives the RV over a cliff, though the family escapes just in time. Marge and Lisa stay behind and Bart and Homer go into the wild for help, with Maggie following the boys.
I love the show’s little moments of hyperbole. Marge, having built the smartest little shelter with Lisa, picks up a chipmunk and neatly places it on a log with two other chipmunks as a decoration. The writers are fantastic at presenting on-point satire, then pushing it into the absurd just once before moving on. Late-era Simpsons goes straight to the absurd and stays there, which doesn’t make for very insightful satire.
And Maggie plus bears is just great TV.
Homer and Bart in the woods is mostly just slapstick, and it’s all great. Homer gets mistaken for Bigfoot, which is a little on the nose as a plot development, which is a little on the nose, but the gags are funny so who cares.
Best Moment: Homer in captivity asking for applesauce on his pork chops.
Best Quote: “When you’re an experienced woodsman like me, you get a feel for these things. Its becomes natural. Like a third sense.” -Homer