Homer is getting no respect from Bart and after a standoff over a piece of broccoli, Marge books them onto a cruise to help them work out their issues. Things get worse as Bart becomes second-in-command and Homer gets the captain drunk during a storm. After finally eating the broccoli, Homer accepts Bart’s authority and they get to land safely. While Homer’s away, Marge takes over his fantasy football team. At first, she’s shocked by the way fellow players act, but soon she dedicates herself to build a team that beats reigning champion Moe.
The episode starts with something we rarely see the Simpsons do: sse a computer. Even more shocking is the fact that Bart acts like a real kid on the computer. For example, he watches cheesy web content and lies about his age on sites with restricted material. When Homer’s parent controls don’t work, it gets even better because it becomes a joke about the older generations’ understanding of computers as well.
Homer being a parent is a nice change of pace. What makes it better is that its for a reason we believe he’d care for, respect. He doesn’t care about being a good parent. His chief concern is being an authority figure who gets respect.
The broccoli stand off is one of the better moments in recent Simpson history. We see it drag on and affect Bart and Homer, but both are too prideful to give in. As an added bonus, Lisa’s compromise fails. It could have been an easy way out, but it only helps to illustrate how stubborn Bart is.
As we get on the ship, we are greeted by the voice of Nick Offerman as the captain. In my opinion ,nobody could have been a better choice for this role. His voice is deep and his personality makes you believe he would be a ship’s captain. Offerman just has that rugged persona that projects in his voice and makes you believe in the character’s strength.
When it comes to Bart rising through the ranks, I like that the captain’s influence improves Bart and not Homer’s. Their relationship has had so many bonding moments and problems that it resembles an on again-off again relationship and it’s growing tiresome. It makes sense that when a different authority figure gives Bart the chance to prove himself, he’d do all he could to earn it.
As the storm gets worse and egos start to butt, Bart must finally prove his worth to his dad. We see a different Bart in this moment He’s finally found something worth putting his ego aside (and eating the broccoli) for.
Marge has become naive to the ways of the world, so when she takes over Homer’s fantasy football team, it’s hilarious seeing her deal with the idea of trash talkers and do everything she can to silence them. She’s out of her element and this makes for a great B-story. Actually, it’s probably the best one she’s had when Bart and Homer have gone away.
To top it all off, the parody of those snippets explaining the teams highlights and defeats is an excellent jab at everyone who takes their online fantasy football incredibly seriously. It gets even funnier with Moe’s reaction to his defeat at the hands of Marge.
I still have hope for a comeback for The Simpsons and this episode is why. It builds on what we already know to be true about the family (ex. Bart doesn’t respect Homer, Marge is too nice for her own good) and uses that in the episode in an effective manner. On top of that, the end credits features Nick Offerman singing.
Final Score: 4.5/5.0