“The Dad Who Knew Too Little” Makes Baby Jesus Cry

Actually Funny Detective

“Now, don’t you fret.  When I’m through, he won’t set foot in this town again.  I can be very, very persuasive. . . . C’mon, leave town.” – Crappy Private Detective
“No.” – Sideshow Bob
“Aw, I’ll be your friend.” – Crappy Private Detective
“No.” – Sideshow Bob
“Oh, you’re mean!” – Crappy Private Detective

They make a lot during this commentary of the fact that there’s an emotional core to this episode, namely Homer trying to connect with Lisa. But whenever they’re trying to push that you can’t help but notice that the stuff going on in the episode is batshit insane and unbelievably dumb. This includes, but is not limited to, Homer hiring a private detective to stalk his daughter, a phony break in at an animal testing lab, them running from the police after being framed by said private detective, and a chase/fight scene at a traveling circus. Homer working two jobs to get Lisa a pony this is not. Hell, this isn’t even Homer’s magical mystery sensory deprivation tour through the repo process.

Nine people here, including Yeardley Smith and Weird Al Yankovic.

0:30 – Apparently Selman won a Writers Guild award for this, which he had to accept from the twelve year old from “Whale Rider”. Apparently he made a “Whale Rider” joke about Marge humping Homer that didn’t go over well.

2:00 – The story about the awards ceremony and the girl from “Whale Rider” is still going on.

2:15 – Jean brings things back by mentioning that among the things that already happened was a parody of MTV’s “Cribs” with Elliot Gould playing himself. Apparently Gould had written them a nice letter when he was mentioned in “The Way We Was”, though Jean misremembers it as Marge thinking he was attractive when it was that girl with the glasses Barney asked to the prom.

3:00 – Selman launches into a long story about where an idea for this episode came from, gets lost, and has to end it by again mentioning his awards show joke.

3:45 – Jean again brings things back by complimenting Smith on her Lisa and how much he likes doing Lisa episodes. Jean asks Smith how she’s most like Lisa and she says that they have a similar sense of humor.

4:45 – There’s an intentionally crappy animation of Rod Flanders as a spaceman here, and Mark Kirkland gets complimented on his ability to make crappy look authentically crappy.

5:15 – That leads to Jean saying that the one thing they have a hard time doing is getting their orchestra to sound like a crappy school band.

6:00 – Finally, some interesting trivia from Weird Al. He gave Tress MacNeille one of her first jobs after she got to Hollywood as a Lucille Ball look-alike/sound-alike for his video for “Rickey”. Sadly, I couldn’t find it on YouTube just now.

6:25 – David Silverman worked on the Dire Straits parody video in UHF.

6:50 – Selman just followed up the stories about MacNeille and Silverman by interjecting himself and saying “I have a connection to Weird Al too in that Weird Al taught me what funny was.” This isn’t as bad as the time he complimented Stan Lee on his physique, and I’ll repeat my glass houses caveat from that post: I’ve never met anyone I’m a serious fan of, so there’s a decent chance I would make a colossal fool out of myself in a similar situation. But Selman really comes off as a cloying brown nose when he does things like that.

7:15 – Selman’s ass kissing leads to an awkward silence, which he then breaks by pointing out that the electronic diary in this episode is based on a real product. Apparently Joel Cohen’s daughter had a diary with a voice activated electronic lock. The password was “girls rule”, but it didn’t work very well, so he’d hear his daughter in her room saying “girls rule” over and over again. Everyone laughs, though Jean is forced to wonder why they didn’t use that in the episode. It is pretty funny.

8:00 – Smith asks why Carl is the same color as the bar, Jean tosses it over to Mark Kirkland who ignores the question and goes on a long explanation of how he likes noir films and such.

9:10 – Compliments for Azaria as the voice of the private eye.

9:40 – Selman really signed up for Homer’s chunkylover53@aol e-mail address. Apparently for a while he was trying to answer e-mails to that address. He’s long since stopped.

10:45 – Jean breaks a silence by bringing up more Weird Al-Simpsons trivia. He was one of the first other artists to sample the Simpsons and actually pay for it.

11:15 – Not much going on, commentary wise. More people are impressed with Azaria’s impression of Robert Stack as the detective, which leads to people talking about Stack in general.  Jean loves his delivery at the end of Airplane! when he’s asked if they should turn on the search lights and he says, “No, that’s just what they’ll be expecting us to do.”. 

12:00 – Smith asks Selman how he came up with this, and it was all based on the feeling a kid gets when their parents inadvertently reveal that they really don’t understand their children.

13:00 – Now they’re talking about how many of them have daughters, and some random guys they know who also have daughters.

14:00 – Compliments on the animation as Homer runs out the window of the detective’s office. Kirkland credits some of the animators, Josh Taback, Matt Faughnan.

14:30 – Laughing at the way that Lou and Wiggum mocking each other is actually Azaria insulting himself.

15:00 – Jean mentions that this is the episode that came up with “Ariel Ponywether”, which is the pseudonym of someone who reviews Zombie Simpsons on Firefox News.

15:20 – When Homer acts guilty for hiring the detective, they were channeling Phil Silvers.

15:45 – And we come back from the act break to a car chase and Selman saying, “I can’t believe Weird Al is here. This is so great.”

16:00 – That leads Jean to explain that they do two commentaries in an afternoon, and Yankovic was just sticking around from “Three Gays of the Condo”.

16:15 – Selman’s kissing Weird Al’s ass again.

17:15 – Jean breaks into the Weird Al lovefest to point out that a joke about Homer painting on his eyebrows was Tom Gammill’s. Apparently that reminded of comedians from the 1930s named Clark and McCullough, one of whom painted on his glasses.

17:40 – That leads to a discussion of Groucho Marx’s mustache, and Weird Al asks if it was an urban legend that he painted it on because he couldn’t really grow one. Apparently that is an urban legend. Marx did later grow a real mustache.

17:50 – Smith asks if this was when they still had three acts, and it was. Jean then explains that they went to four breaks so they could cram in more commercials and people were more likely to see at least the first or last commercial break. Jean concludes, “But I always figured, ultimately, people will see them on DVD or on-line so it doesn’t really matter.” This sounds like an objection to the four act style (which does indeed suck), but someone breaks in to ask whether or not Homer painting teardrops on his face means he killed three people, so he doesn’t get to finish his plot. Damn you, Zombie Simpsons! One of your crappy jokes interrupted an explanation for one of the reasons you suck.

19:00 – Irony alert here. Kirkland goes off on a long spiel about how you need to establish the emotions of an episode early and how much working on the show taught him about properly anchoring feeling like that. Meanwhile, on screen, an enraged private detective is firing a stunt man out of a cannon at Homer.

19:50 – That prompts Jean to say that after the table read he always wants to be able to give James L. Brooks one sentence of what the show’s “emotional through line” is about. I’ll give Jean credit, he says they don’t always live up to that.

20:00 – Homer’s battling the detective in a hall of mirrors now, Kirkland again gives credit to Matt Faughnan.

20:45 – The scene concludes with Lisa blinding the guy with a laser pointer, which Smith is kind of upset about. I don’t think she realized how bloodthirsty the show can get. It’s endearing.

21:30 – And we end on more compliments for the mirror animation.

6 Responses to ““The Dad Who Knew Too Little” Makes Baby Jesus Cry”

  1. 1 D.N.
    8 February 2012 at 5:36 pm

    I might be risking my DHS credentials here, but I don’t mind this episode. Actually, no, I have to explain myself. Most of this episode is indefensibly stupid – a less-inspired rehash of Homer-losing-Lisa’s-respect storylines we’ve seen many times before. But that said, I think that Dexter Colt is one of the better one-off characters from Zombie Simpsons, due to the fact that he’s got a funny voice from Hank Azaria (not a flat reading from a currently popular celebrity, which would be the case if the episode was made today), and because almost everything he actually says is funny (his antiquated, hardboiled, Rex Banner-ish lingo; lines like “You know, Simpson, from the moment you walked into my office, I had a feeling I’d kill you in a Hall of Mirrors,” etc).

  2. 2 Bea Simmons' Rotting Corpse
    8 February 2012 at 5:52 pm

    Here’s the video for Ricky, you just misspelled it:

  3. 3 Bea Simmons' Rotting Corpse
    8 February 2012 at 5:59 pm

    Sorry for double posting in a row, but a question arose. I don’t really watch any of the other Fox (animated) shows, so I was wondering if they also adapted the 4act format?

  4. 8 February 2012 at 11:27 pm

    So the person with the most interesting trivia is the guy who doesn’t work on the show. Ok.

  5. 5 Son of Duane
    9 February 2012 at 1:17 am

    “Selman really signed up for Homer’s chunkylover53@aol e-mail address. Apparently for a while he was trying to answer e-mails to that address. He’s long since stopped.”

    I actually remember emailing a message to that address out of sheer curiousity.
    All I got in the reply was some crappy one-liner “signed” by Homer Simpson.

  6. 9 February 2012 at 11:29 am

    I haven’t bothered listening to any of the Season 14 commentaries yet. I see Yeardley Smith is still asking stupid unanswerable animation questions, and Matt Selman is still operating under the delusion that he’s the funniest person in the room and everyone loves him.

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