In our silly lil game, we sometimes see things pop in that we have no clue as to their Origin. They seem familiar, but we just can’t pinpoint from where. So that is why we decided to make a fun lil reminder out of it. To let you know just Where Did THAT Come From?
Full disclosure, in this event the items that are pretty obvious because an entire mini-event is named after the exact episode it all comes from. Just in case you’ve been living under a moon rock or just found the site today, I’m talking about all the goodness from the DEEP SPACE HOMER update. At first, I debated not even doing an origin write-up for all this amazing stuff but after seeing several tappers confused by the potato chips floating around, I realized not everyone has seen every Simpsons ever (if you subscribe to basic cable, you can with the FXXNow App btw). For these folks, or the kind Addicts who like when I do these posts, I decided to show you all the schtuff. Honestly, I won’t complain about the chance to analyze one of my favorite episodes. This one definitely made my Top 55 of 581. Anyhoo… let’s head off to “Deep Space Homer” (S5:E15) and see what there is to see.
I guess I should just start this by warning you that this is more like an episode recap than a traditional WDTCF in case the title wasn’t enough of a clue. I think I always loved this episode because as a kiddo, I was always enthralled with space shuttle launches. My Grandpa was involved in high levels of this stuff like being a part of Project Gemini and other satellite launch stuff. A lot still remained classified when he passed on to become a part of that amazing star stuff in the sky. One of his good friends was lost on the Challenger. I even went to a middle school named after Christa McAuliffe. Suffice to say that I loved and still do love anything having to do with space travel and seeing it in my favorite cartoon was amazing when I was fourteen. I still like it and love seeing a mini-event dedicated to it. I’ll stop rambling and just get on with tons of pics and words by yours truly.
It all starts with a mandatory workers of the week award ceremony at the Power Plant. Everyone at work has gotten one except for Homer. Union Rule 26 states every employee has to get one “regardless of gross incompetence, obesity, or rank odor.” He’s a shoe in… or is he? Burns can’t believe he’s overlooked this winner for so long. “A round of applause for this inanimate carbon rod.”
Homer is pissed. The rod proves it’s all a popularity contest. He feels unappreciated. At dinner, Bart draws “Insert Brain Here” on Homer’s head and, based on the laughter of his family, even they don’t respect him. It’s a sad day for Homer when even the television seems to mock him. Homer turns the channel from a random man laughing at him to a boring broadcast of a shuttle launch. A mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician are going to study “the effect of weightlessness on tiny screws.” Very boring stuff but definitely the Rocket Launch Pad/Platform in the newscast. It appears a bunch more throughout the episode.
Homer and Bart turn off the TV rather than watch another boring space launch. Then it’s off to NASA where there’s a problem with the space launch.
Noone’s watching and the Nielson ratings are the lowest ever. And yes… in the episode it’s not NARA. They got away with using the real acronym back in 1994. My guess is the legal mumbo jumbo for TSTO necessitated a name change for the update. I’m sure the items above look familiar. The American public is no longer interested in space travel. The NASA heads consider telling the truth, “that all the chimps we sent into space came back super intelligent.” I wish this guy had been included in this event. Could you imagine him roller skating around town?
Gotta love a smart ape. I love every ape I see from Chimpan-A to Chimpanzee… Ok I’m rambling. NASA needs a new angle. Instead of “clean cut, athletic, go-getters”, they need a “blue collar slob” to interest the public. They find their everyman when Homer calls to complain about the boring launches and hard to find Tang. NASA tracks Homer to Moe’s but afraid he’ll get in trouble, he fingers Barney as the culprit. After realizing what the NASA guys want, Homer wants respect too so both Barney and him are clubbed over the head and off to “get higher than you’ve ever been in your life.” They want to win the respect of their family and friends. At Cape Canaveral, Barney and Homer are trained as astronauts even if the public thinks it’s a joke and possibly dangerous to send “underqualified civilians into space.” During training, they pass the Shuttle Hanger. You can also see the side of the Space Training Center.
So training basically consists of astronaut type thingys (it’s a highly technical term). Barney is not allowed to drink and ends up doing very well. Homer just ends up being Homer. Barney’s three hour star-earning task to “Demonstrate Balance” comes from this segment. The rivalry between these two best friends is very fun.
In what is perhaps my favorite scene if this episode, Barney wins the competition but after the celebratory toast, spirals back into his alcoholism, steals a jet pack, runs out of gas, bounces of the pillow factory roof and is run over by a marshmallow truck. “I don’t understand it. That was non-alcoholic champagne.” Homer wins by default. “The two sweetest words in the English language.” After being clubbed over the head… Homer gets to be an astronaut aka Deep Space Homer.
Homer is nervous for the flight but gets to walk to the shuttle all cool in slow motion just like one of his TSTO animations. He runs away from the launch but Marge convinces him to go back. Homer doesn’t want to end up missing an opportunity like when he waited too long and didn’t get to meet Mr. T at the mall. He’s off into space with Buzz Aldrin and Race Banyon with an IRS surveillance satellite, an experimental ant colony, and children’s letters to God. “Make rocket go now!”
Mission accomplished… NASA has the highest TV ratings in 10 years. Funny that they state they have no clue how the spacecraft is doing since all their fancy instruments in mission control are for measuring TV ratings. First thing Homer does in Space? Open a bag of ruffled potato chips and eats them in zero gravity to the music from 2001: A space Odyssey to avoid them clogging the instruments onboard.
Of course Homer crashes into the experimental ant colony ruining the chances of finding out if ants can sort tiny screws in space. Then James Taylor plays “his own brand of laid back adult contemporary music” aka his “unique brand of bittersweet folk rock” from mission control while the astronauts deal with their potentially critical situation of ants and potato chips.
America’s first glimpse of “average-naut Homer Simpson” shows a giant ant floating in front of the camera before the picture is lost. “What we’ve seen speaks for itself. The Corvair spacecraft has apparently been taken over – conquered if you will — by a master race of giant space ants. It’s difficult to tell from this vantage point whether they will consume the captive Earthmen space me or merely enslave them. One thing is for certain, there is no stopping them, the Ants will soon be here. And I for one welcome our new insect overlords.” Gotta love Kent Brockman offering to round up people for the underground sugar caves and how quickly he has an image for it.
The ants short out the navigation systems but James Taylor, the unkempt youngster, suggest a great way to get rid of them… create a total vacuum to blow the ants out the door. Homer and the astronauts try it but Homer was unrestrained and almost flys out of the space craft. He breaks the door handle while Buzz and Race rescue him making the door unable to ve secured. Banyon decides to kill Homer if they’re gonna burn up on reentry but Homer goes to defend himself with a rod from the ship. Homer accidentally gets the rod stuck in the door while trying to bash his assailant and the three think the rod might hold for the return to Earth. Well, they try after subduing Homer who still wants to bash Race Banyon with the rod.
The shuttle attempts the risky reentry, Kent is still thinking giant ants are coming to Earth… Hail Ants! And end the suspense… the rod holds. While Buzz Aldrin gives Homer credit for being the real hero by jerry-rigging the door with the rod, the newscasters all give credit to the inanimate carbon rod who gets on the cover of Time and it’s own parade. Our new statue definitely comes from the magazine cover so I guess Homer’s hand is also semi-famous. Also a beautiful way to bookend the episode.
Poor Homer… gypped again. But at least he got to be an astronaut. The episode ends with a funny scene of Homer and a FOX satellite ala the Star Child from 2001. You may have seen something similar in a cut scene from the Maggie Act of the 2015 Holiday Event. Maybe Homer was the first Skyfinger?
Fun fact about this episode… there’s actually a copy of it on the International Space Station. Seems NASA liked the episode even if it lampooned them. Of course, this isn’t the only time Homer went into space. In “Homerazzi” (S18:E16), after Marge’s precious family photo album is destroyed in a fire-proof safe by a Krusty doll, Malibu Stacy hybrid convertible, and Scent of a Wookiee cologne, the family sets about to recreate all the photos. While we don’t see a photo, NASA sent Homer up again so he could get one of him as an astronaut. It’s quite possible I only mention this because I wanted to write the third sentence in this paragraph.
Of course, someone is bound to point out that of all the items in this update, the space shuttle simulator really wasn’t in “Deep Space Homer”. We do see a shuttle in the Shuttle Hanger but because I like to be thorough, I figured we’d go searching for shuttles in the Best. Show. Ever. Whenever I think of space shuttles in The Simpsons, I always go back to Martin Prince’s derby car in “Saturdays of Thunder” (S3:E9)… the Honor Roller.
But that’s not a real shuttle so I figured there’d have to be one at the Springfield Air & Space Museum iat the beginning of “Midnight Rx” (S16:E6). There’s a bunch of planes including the Enola Gay but the only shuttles are seen in pictures on the walls. There is a bunch of astronaut/NASA-esque stuff though.
For our next shuttle sighting, we have to head to the couch gag in “Take My Life, Please” (S20:E10). The family finds their couch missing and has to chase after it. Besides a car chase, Venice, India, they finally catch up to the couch in space where there is a shuttle floating in the background. This gag was repeated in “The Great Wife Hope” (S21:E3). Just a few seasons later, a space shuttle appears again in a different intro for “Moe Goes From Rags to Riches” (S23:E12). In the opening sequence, a none too healthy sounding space shuttle goes right across the opening title.
We head back to the Springfield Air & Space Museum in “Married to the Blob” (S25:E10) for one more shuttle. In Comic Book Guy and Kumiko’s manga super happy love mantage, it’s one of the places they go. CBG is taking a picture next to the shuttle (which looks a ton like our new one) but when he leans on it, it goes careening out of the museum.
So there you go. If you really want more, maybe watch “The Strong Arms of the Ma” (S14:E9) or “C.E.D’oh” (S14:E15) to find pictures of the Inanimate Carbon Rod but I thought that might be diving into this post too far. All you really have to do is watch the intro for a random episode to see the rod go home with Homer from the Power Plant and then be thrown out of the car. Otto smokes it in the Christmas versions.
So to recap, this long post discussed the origins for the Rocket Launch Pad/Platform, Space Shuttle Simulator, Astronaut Barney skin, Inanimate Carbon Rod Monument, Space Training Center, Deep Space Homer skin, Shuttle Hanger, and Potato Chips. I’m loving this short event. So much goodness and I’m already far into it. I think two weeks seems fair for folks to get everything. What do you think of it all? Willing to admit you learned a thing or two from this? Where you a space nut like me growing up? Sound off in the comments and happy spacy tapping to all my favorite astro-nuts.
TTFN… Wookiee out!