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Episode - 1F13 First Aired - 2/24/1994After discovering that people are more interested in sitcoms like Home Improvement and Married... with Children (read: sitcoms about blue-collar fathers who are either incompetent or the show's Butt Monkey) than telecasts of space launches, NASA decides to recruit an average man to go into space — and Homer (who has been passed up for an "Employee of the Month" award to an inanimate carbon rod) volunteers after they approach Barney Gumble.
This episode contains examples of:
Actually Pretty Funny: Marge admonishes Bart for writing "Insert brain here" on the back of Homer's head...and then starts to laugh at it.
Double Entendre: Homer's line when calling President Clinton: "Hello, is this President Clinton? Good. I figured if anyone knows how to get Tang, it'd be you." Homer was referring to the powdered drink associated with astronauts (Tang), but, considering Clinton's rep as a Handsome Lech (and his many sex scandals: Jennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and, later, with his intern, Monica Lewinsky), that line comes off as Homer asking Clinton to find him some easy women.
Kent Brockman News: A classic example, where Kent Brockman, after seeing an ant float past the news camera, overreacts and immediately assumes a race of 'space ants' has enslaved the crew and is about to take over earth, then apologizes after someone presumably has a talk with him.
Lampshade Hanging: Homer somehow knows the number to NASA and the White House. He tells him to shut up when they asked how did he got their number.
Late To The Realization: It took Homer 30 years to figure out the twist ending to Planet of the Apes (1968)note (despite that in the 1980s, he knew the ending to The Empire Strikes Back [that Darth Vader is Luke's father] and spoiled the ending for everyone else). While it can be excused that Homer only heard of Planet of the Apes and never knew the ending (or only saw it because it had monkeys in it), it's more believable to think that Homer is such an out-of-touch idiot that he doesn't know the ending to that movie.
2001: A Space Odyssey: Homer floating in weightless condition to the tune of Strauss' The Blue Danube. Later Bart throws a marker up in the air, which transitions to a scene in space, in reference to the famous scene where a prehistoric human throws his bone in the air, cutting to a spaceship 2.000 years later. Homer appearing as foetus in space, while Also Sprach Zarathustra plays in the background is a reference to the final scene of the film.
Star Trek: The background music during Itchy and Scratchy's space trip mimicks the theme song.
The Right Stuff: Homer and his co-astronauts walking in slow-motion towards the camera.
NASA watches Home Improvement (which has Tim Allen run over his neighbor Wilson after charging up his riding mower) and Married... with Children (where Peg once again begs Al for sex, Al says no, and flushes a toilet right next to him) to show the committee what people like to watch these days;
Homer hopes they don't land on the "Planet of the Apes", then figures out the ending of the original Planet of the Apes (1968).
During one of the tests, the speed of the apparatus morphs Homer's face into Popeye's. Later in the episode the same experience makes it morph into Richard Nixon.
Taking You with Me. After Homer breaks the handle on the shuttle. Banyon proclaims if he dies he's taking Homer to Hell with him.
Too Dumb to Live: According to Marge, Homer had trouble using a touch-tone phone when they first met — and he still does.
Even though Buzz points out the rod can hold the door for them to return to Earth, Homer tries to pull it out, still wanting to bash Banyon.
You Fool!: "Now we may never know if ants can be trained to sort tiny screws in space!"
Your Television Hates You: After losing to the rod at work and being ridiculed by his family, a depressed Homer decides to watch TV, saying: "TV respects me. It laughs with me, not at me." He turns it on and sees a man pointing at the camera, laughing, and saying: "You stupid..."