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Worldly Distractions: The Simpsons 26.8 - Covercraft





Hello hello, people of the Simpsons universe! In our penultimate episode before the Christmas break, we ponder the nature of music and aging. The show has tackled this subject with aplomb before, so it's not like they're going to screw this one up. Right?


No opening credits. Couch gag: The family bumps into each other en route to the couch, distracted by their smartphones.

Moe gets into a fight with his neighbour, King Toot (of the eponymous music store), over dumpster space. That's Will Forte, by the way. Chief Wiggum half-heartedly tries to stop it, but it turns out the musician is a smooth talker. However, they can't keep their tempers down very long, and both wind up hauled to the police station. Meanwhile, Homer is talking to Lisa about the Tragedy of Canadian Team Transfers (it is considered treason ever to mention that so-called team Colorado has) when they realize that King Toot's is closed. Lisa reluctantly shops at the big-box equivalent, Guitar Central.

One of the floor staff, Stig, notices Homer browsing guitars and decides to take advantage of the man's mid-life crisis, pressuring him into a sale. Homer walks out with a bass, along with thousands of dollars of unnecessary paraphernalia. His music shakes the whole house, with tragic consequences (RIP, Milhouse), and Marge is not pleased. Lisa's thrilled, however. Validated, Homer proceeds to play the guitar all over town, getting arrested on one occasion and pissing everyone off.  Marge complains to her friends on a Ladies' Night Out. They all commiserate, as their husbands are dealing with mid-life crises in a similar fashion. They come up with a fantastic plan - if all the husbands form a band, then only one house will be shaken off its foundation at a time. No one bothers to ask the guys about this, but it looks like the band has been created.

The group reluctantly gets together. They quickly figure out that they have little in common, except for a passion for "hard drivin' rock". It gets even better when Apu joins them as a lead singer (though not after some racism on Homer's part). Also, for some reason this episode keeps throwing fake ads everyone (for restaurants, gels, etc), and it's really irritating.

"Covercraft" gets off to a nice start, landing some festival gigs. Apu confesses to some nervousness right before the first show. Homer suggests that he pretend he's singing along to the radio at the Kwik-E-Mart, and wear the uniform for authenticity.

...hey, hey, wait a minute - is no one going to mention that two members of the Be Sharps have reunited? Why does Homer not know that Apu can sing? Are we seriously going to retcon one of the most iconic episodes of the series' run? I've had quarrels with this show before - but dammit, Simpsons, I think you've finally broken my heart.

Anyway, the group is successful over a variety of random episodes, and Homer is a minor celebrity. While at rehearsal, they are interrupted by most of Sungazer, Apu's favourite band. They ask Apu to replace their recently deceased lead singer. Homer assumes that he'll stick by Covercraft, but Apu is eager to go off with his new colleagues. Homer curses all the rock stars while a bunch of legends laugh at him from heaven, including Sammy Hagar, who is only temporarily there due to a choking incident. And yes, that is his voice.

Apu hurtles to fame, and Homer's resentment grows. Again, they just need to get the barbershop quartet back together and all will be well. Geez, you guys. Lisa begs her dad to think of the music. It has absolutely no effect. The band wavers without a lead singer. Homer calls them all "Yokos" and throws them out. He sits in the basement, alone, sadly strumming his bass. Marge tries to reassure him, though Homer won't leave his funk. Apu has offered them backstage passes and killer seats. Sulking, Homer attends the concert. While waiting for the show to begin, he reflects on how he helped Apu reach success, by convincing him to wear the Kwik-E-Mart shirt - and then he gets a terrible idea.

He sneaks into Apu's dressing room - ah, there it is, a "Be Sharps" picture on the wall - and absconds with the shirt, or at least tries before Apu walks in. He hides in the closet. Apu argues with his bandmates, who have been treating him badly. Homer realizes just how miserable the famous life is. Determined to help his friend, he calls up Apu's brother Sanjay and asks him to send over a whole bunch of hot dogs.

Ten minutes later, the entire band's down with food poisoning, and Covercraft is ready to take its place. They're awesome. Even Marge gets up and dances. Sungazer reprises the concert (still ill), Homer and Apu get arrested, Stig from Guitar Central teaches guitar to Martin, Sanjay hooks up with some groupies, and Homer and Apu's friendship is back on. Over the end credits, Homer, Apu, Moe and King Toot out with Sammy Hagar in prison, because the studio had already paid him for the day, I guess.

I always enjoy an Apu-Homer friendship episode, but in this one, I feel like it could have done so much more. The Be Sharps episode was that good primarily because it managed to play off of all the personalities involved, while still making fun of the music industry. Here, Rev. Lovejoy and Kirk Van Houten may as well have been cardboard cutouts, and while some of the jokes about music and show biz were cute, it wasn't anything the Simpsons haven't done better. Not to mention the talented Will Forte was almost completely wasted. All in all, I'd call it a non-episode. Maybe next time, guys.



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