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Episode - 1F13\\
First Aired - 2/24/1994

After discovering that people are more interested in sitcoms like ''Series/HomeImprovement'' and ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' (read: sitcoms that have [[BumblingDad incompetent]] or [[ButtMonkey hapless]] fathers) 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:
* ActuallyPrettyFunny: Marge admonishes Bart for writing "Insert brain here" on the back of Homer's head...and then starts to laugh at it.
* AnimationBump: The sequence of Homer eating potato chips in zero gravity, which was guest directed by an ([[UncreditedRole uncredited]]) David Silverman. The scene also utilized some early [[ConspicuousCG CGI]] for the rotation of the chips in a few shots.
* ApesInSpace:
-->'''Scientist:''' Maybe we should finally tell them the big secret: that all the chimps we sent into space came back super-intelligent.\\
'''Suit-wearing chimp:''' No...I don't think we'll be telling them ''that.'' ''(rollerskates away)''
* AsHimself: Buzz Aldrin and Music/JamesTaylor.
* BananaRepublic: Implied to be what Mr. Burns is initially talking about at the ceremony:
-->'''Mr. Burns''': Compadres, it is imperative that we crush the freedom fighters before the start of the rainy season. And remember, a shiny new donkey for whoever brings me the head of Colonel Montoya.
* BarelyMissedCushion: When his stolen jet pack runs out of fuel, Barney falls onto the roof of a pillow factory and gets run over by a truck carrying marshmallows.
* BigNo: In slow motion, no less.
* BigShutUp: "How did you get this number?"
* BrickJoke:
** Homer losing to a carbon rod.
** Bart drawing on Homer's head.
** Homer being unable to use a phone properly.
* CrackDefeat: Homer loses Employee of the Week award to [[EpicFail an inanimate carbon rod]], then, after damaging and accidentally repairing the door on the space shuttle using a rod - and being credited as such by Buzz Aldrin - the crowd again focuses only on the carbon rod.
* DisqualificationInducedVictory: Barney by far outperforms Homer, but as soon as he drinks (what he thinks is) alcohol, he reverts to his previous state, leaving Homer the winner by default.
* DoubleEntendre [=/=] GettingCrapPastTheRadar: 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 HandsomeLech (and his many sex scandals: Gennifer Flowers, Paula Jones, and, later, with his intern, Monica Lewinsky), that line comes off as Homer asking Clinton to find him some easy women.
* EnmityWithAnObject: Homer and the inanimate carbon rod.
* EpicFail: After winning the chance to go up to space, Barney kills it after drinking champagne and getting drunk and trying to fly off with a jetpack. The kicker was it was non-alcoholic champagne.
* FauxHorrific: Homer and Bart find a space launch so boring that they scramble to turn it off and sigh in relief once they cut power to the TV entirely.
* FlappingCheeks: Both Homer's and Barney's cheeks flap when subjected to a centrifuge during astronaut training.
* HandsGoDown: During the press conference where Homer and Barney are introduced as astronauts, two reporters ask if it's a joke. After saying "no", the NASA spokesman asks if anyone has more questions. All reporters raise their hands but put them down once the spokesman asks for questions other than if it's a joke or not.
* {{Homage}}: This entire episode is a much shorter, less inspirational version of ''Film/TheRightStuff''.
* HypocriticalHumor: Right after Marge says that Homer's family respects him, Bart writes "Insert Brain Here" on the back of his father's head, causing the entire family to burst out laughing.
* IntellectualAnimal:
-->'''Scientist''': People, we're in danger of losing our funding. America isn't interested in space exploration any more.
-->'''Assistant''': Maybe we should finally tell them the big secret: that [[ApesInSpace all the chimps we sent into space]] came back super-intelligent.
-->'''Chimp''': No, I don't think we'll be telling them ''that''.
* JerkassBall: Downplayed in that it's a single moment rather than the entire episode, but the aforementioned HypocriticalHumor moment was pretty dickish and uncalled for, especially as Homer was feeling down and hadn't done anything to deserve it.
* KentBrockmanNews: 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. He seems surprisingly okay with [[TheQuisling welcoming our new insect overlords]] before that point though.
* LateToTheRealization: It took Homer ''30 years'' to figure out that the appearance of the Statue of Liberty in ''Film/{{Planet of the Apes|1968}}'' meant that the planet was EarthAllAlong.
* MajorGeneralSong: Barney sings it while doing flip-flops.
* MoodSwinger: Kent Brockman. At first he freaked out at the ants he mistook for hostile aliens, [[TheQuisling and then he was happy about it]].
* MyFriendsAndZoidberg: "Ladies and gentlemen and members of the press..."
* NewJobEpisode
* NiceJobBreakingItHero: Homer constantly.
* NoodleIncident: Homer somehow knows the number to NASA and the White House. He tells them to shut up when they ask how he got their number.
* NoRespectGuy: Homer twice over is ignored while a ''carbon rod'' is commemorated like a celebrity (though the second time, he had it coming).
* NotHelpingYourCase: In the space launch near the beginning of the episode, the commentators try to shake off accusations of a boring launch by playing up the vibrancy of the crew, and don't do a good job of it.
--> '''Commentator:''' They're a colorful bunch. They've been dubbed "The Three Musketeers". ''(stuffy laugh)''
--> '''Other Commentator:''' And we laugh legitimately. There's a mathematician, a different kind of mathematician, and a statistician.
* OffTheWagon: Barney goes on the wagon for astronaut training and aces all his tests. However, he degenerates back into his town drunkard persona after celebrating with a toast of ''non-alcoholic'' champagne.
* PublicDomainSoundtrack: Homer's floating around eating the chips is scored with "The Blue Danube Waltz."
* TheQuisling: Kent Brockman. [[MemeticMutation "And I, for one, welcome our new insect overlords"]].
* RunningGag: The NASA scientist bashing people with a cosh. [[RunningGagged He's prevented from doing so to James Taylor, though]].
* ShoutOut:
** ''Film/TwoThousandOneASpaceOdyssey'': 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 a fetus in space, while Music/AlsoSprachZarathustra plays in the background is a reference to the final scene of the film.
*** Also, the pod that Itchy rides in the ''Itchy & Scratchy'' episode.
** ''Franchise/StarTrek'': The background music during Itchy and Scratchy's space trip mimicks the theme song.
*** Meanwhile, Barney and Homer's NASA training includes a "Gamesters Of Triskelion" recreation, right down to the thrall outfits, and even the actual fight music from the show.
** ''Film/{{Alien}}'': Itchy bursting through Scratchy's stomach.
** NASA watches ''Series/HomeImprovement'' (which has Tim Allen run over his neighbor Wilson after charging up his riding mower) and ''Series/MarriedWithChildren'' (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 ''Film/{{Planet of the Apes|1968}}''.
** During one of the tests, the speed of the apparatus morphs Homer's face into ComicStrip/{{Popeye}}'s. Later in the episode, the same experience makes it morph into UsefulNotes/RichardNixon.
* SkewedPriorities: After Homer broke the handle off the hatch, he grabs a support rod to hit one of the other astronauts. The rod catches in the door and when it is pointed out that could allow them to return safely, he tries to remove the rod so he can continue the attack.
* SoProudOfYou: Averted, with Bart once Homer gets recruited.
-->'''Bart:''' Wow, my father's an astronaut. I feel so full of... what's the opposite of shame?
-->'''Homer:''' Pride?
-->'''Bart:''' No, not that far from shame.
-->'''Homer:''' Less shame?
-->'''Bart:''' ''(fondly)'' Yeah.
* TakeThatAudience: An in-universe example PlayedForLaughs:
-->'''Homer:''' TV respects me. It laughs with me, not at me!
-->'''Guy on TV:''' *points at the camera and laughs* You stupid!
* TakingYouWithMe. After Homer breaks the handle on the shuttle. Banyon proclaims that if he dies, he's taking Homer to Hell with him.
* TooDumbToLive: 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.
* YouFool: "Now we may never know if ants can be trained to sort tiny screws in space!"
* YourTelevisionHatesYou: 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...".
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