Monday, July 11, 2011
Retro Review: Colonel Homer
Or the One Where
Homer manages Lurleen Lumpkin, a waitress/country music singer with eyes for him.
After Marge insults Homer's intelligence at a movie, he spends the night at a redneck bar where he meets Lurleen.
This episode is the first appearance of Lurleen Lumpkin, voiced by Beverly D'Angelo, who played Chevy Chase's wife in the various National Lampoon's vacation movies. D'Angelo also wrote two of the songs Lurleen sings ("You're Wife Don't Understand You" and "I Bagged a Homer"). Though Lurleen makes cameo appearances in various episodes throughout the show's run, she won't make another full appearance voiced by D'Angelo until "Papa Don't Leech" in season nineteen).
Thus far, this is the only episode of the series for which Matt Groening received an individual writing credit.
Homer's attire as Lurleen's manager (and the title of the episode) are a reference to Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
This episode is also, arguably, the first of the "Homer Gets A New Job" subset of episodes (unless you want to make a case for "Dancin' Homer"). Though like many early examples of such episodes, the fact that Homer is once again doing something instead of his regular job is much more subtle than in the episodes from later in the show's run.
Finally, this is the first appearance of the "Homer's Lifelong Dream" routine, in which Homer proclaims his latest shenanigan to be his lifelong dream, after which Marge corrects him with his previous, already completed, lifelong dream. Here, he insists its always been his boyhood dream to manage a beautiful country singer, and Marge corrects him that his boyhood dream was to eat the world's biggest hoagie, which he did at the county fair last year.
Marge: Who is this woman?
Homer: Well, right now, she's an out-of-work cocktail waitress, but she's going to be a country music superstar like...uh... that jerk in the cowboy hat... and that dead lady.
Homer: Marge, you make it sound so seamy. All I did was spend the afternoon in her trailer watching her try on some outfits.
Marge: Hm... I thought you said she was overweight.
Homer: Marge, it takes two to lie. One to lie and one to listen.
Marge: All our money's tied up in this woman. If she fails, we're broke. If she succeeds, I have no husband. I don't know what to root for.
Patty: You don't?
The best kind of Homer/Marge episode, in that it puts stress on their relationship before reaffirming it, but which features a memorable A plot with plenty of laughs, so that it doesn't feel like just another "Homer and Marge have problems, but work it out in the end" episode. The real strength comes from Homer's almost childlike ignorance of Lurleen's attraction to him, which is funny in and of itself but more importantly, allows us to enjoy the situation more because we know Homer isn't trying to hurt Marge and doesn't realize his genuine desire to share Lurleen's voice with the world is straining his marriage. It's an effective way to portray Homer as a humorous dullard without going over the top with his stupidity.
The introduction of a minor (but memorable) supporting character, along with some great original songs and an early "Homer Gets a New Job" plot in a strong Homer/Marge episode.