Recap / The Simpsons S 5 E 1 Homers Barbershop Quartet

Episode - 9F21
First Aired - 9/30/1993

Homer's Barbershop Quartet is the first episode of the fifth season of The Simpsons.

When Bart and Lisa find a record of a barbershop quartet called the Be Sharps, featuring Homer, Apu, Skinner and Barney on the cover, Homer tells them of the Be Sharps' rise and fall, in a hilarious send-up of The Beatles' career.

This episode contains examples of (YMMV tropes can be found here):

  • Abbey Road Crossing: The cover of Bigger Than Jesus is a direct parody.
  • A Cappella: Like all barbershop quartets a lot is sung a cappella.
  • A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted: What happened to Willie during the Be Sharps' tour.
  • Alliterative Title: The song "Baby on Board".
  • As Himself: David Crosby and George Harrison.
  • Backstory of the Day: As per usual with many flashback episodes, with Homer revealing his short time as a superstar, that was seemingly forgotten about and never mentioned prior to this episode (with the kids even Lampshading this heavily at the end of the episode). This likely counts as an Ass Pull, though it may reference John Lennon's own attempts to hide his stardom from his child until he came across some merchandise.
  • The Band Minus the Face: The Be-Sharps' career trajectory mirrors that of The Beatles, including the popular Chief Wiggum's replacement by the far more talented Barney Gumble and the group's rise to pop stardom with Barney in the lineup.
  • Bigger Than Jesus:
    Bart: Did you screw up like the Beatles and say you were bigger than Jesus?
    Homer: All the time. That was the title of our second album.
  • Butt-Monkey: Wiggum. He's kicked out of the band and all of his attempts to get back in blow up in his face.
  • Celebrity Is Overrated: Shortly after winning a Grammy, Homer grows despondent after being separated from his family for so long.
  • Comically Missing the Point:
    • When Homer meets George Harrison. "Oh my God! Oh my God...where did you get the brownie?"
    • One particularly high-strung individual misinterprets Homer's dedication to the Statue of Liberty during a performance in New York Harbor.
      Homer: We'd like to dedicate this next number to a very special woman. She's a hundred years old and she weighs over two hundred tons.
      Panicky Audience Member: This enormous woman will devour us all! AAAGGGHHHH! [Jumps off the boat.]
      Homer: Uh, I meant the Statue.
  • The Comically Serious: Despite being the most straight-laced member of the quartet, Skinner is labeled as "the funny one."
  • Continuity Nod: Some of the paintings Marge made in "Brush With Greatness" are on display at her stand in the swap-meet. Barney's Japanese girlfriend would later reappear in the episode Mom and Pop Art.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper: Homer's consoling of Marge after he told her that women would want to have sex with him (according to his manager):
    Don't worry, honey. It's just until we finish our tour of Sweden.
  • Epic Fail: Marge's attempt to compensate for Homer's absence doesn't go well. First, her recording of Homer's voice stops working, terrifying Bart and Lisa, and then the junk Homer she made starts falling apart, terrifying them even further.
  • Extra! Extra! Read All About It!: A paperboy announces the Be Sharps singing on a roof. A man buys a newspaper and finds out it has no mention of the Be Sharps.
  • Funny Background Event: In the middle of his story, the Simpsons' car gets a flat tire in the middle of nowhere. Homer continues narrating to the kids as if nothing's happened, while Marge has to walk 12 miles to the nearest gas station alone and replace it herself.
  • Grail in the Garbage: Homer finds a copy of the Declaration of Independence, Action Comics No. 1, a sheet of Inverted Jenny stamps and a Stradivarius violin in a 5¢ item box. He dismisses it as junk and tosses everything aside.
  • Hidden Depths: Barney, Barney of all people, turns out to have an astounding singing voice.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Apu swears "by the many arms of Vishnu" that he is not an Indian.
  • It's Been Done: The Trope Namer. George Harrison says this on seeing the B-Sharps singing on a roof-top.
  • Jerkass: Major Quimby begins the episode muttering about how much he hates everyone at the swap-meet, and after giving his introduction marches off in need of a drink and a shower.
  • Nothing Personal: There's one scene with the Sea Captain fighting a giant squid. The captain explains it's not personal and he's just interested on the gold in the squid's belly.
  • The Pete Best: In-Universe: Chief Wiggum, kicked out for being "too Village People."
  • Replacement Scrappy: In-Universe: Inverted. Barney is initially hated by the quartet's fans for taking Wiggum's place...until everyone hears him sing.
  • Rooftop Concert: In a parody of Let It Be the Be Sharps perform on a roof.
  • Sgt. Pepper's Shout-Out: The back cover of the "Bigger Than Jesus" album is a spoof of the back cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band
  • Shoot the Television: After seeing Johnny Carson mock him on The Tonight Show for being kicked out of the Be Sharps, a furious Wiggum shoots his TV four times. Subverted in that not only does he miss them all, but it turns out he thought he was holding the remote (which was in his gun holster) and wanted to change the channel. When it further becomes clear that his TV hates him, he throws his gun at it and shatters the screen.
  • Shout-Out: The Be Sharps' career mirrors The Beatles'. This is lampshaded repeatedly throughout the episode, once by an actual Beatle.
    • A very minor Beatles reference occur in the first few minutes of the episode. One of the things Marge is trying to sell is her painting of Ringo Starr from "Brush Of Greatness".
    • The "Melvin and the Squirrels" record is a reference to Alvin and the Chipmunks.
    • Moe's bar is named "Moe's Cavern" instead of tavern in this episode, in reference to the bar "The Cavern" where the Beatles where discovered by their manager Brian Epstein.
    • During the audition Jasper sings "Theme From A Summer Place" and Chief Wiggum "Talk To The Animals" from Doctor Dolittle.
    • The cover of "Meet The B Sharps" is similar to The Beatles' American cover of With the Beatles.
    • Homer's first attempt at a song "There was nothing in Al Capone's vault, but it wasn't Geraldo's fault" is a reference to TV presenter Gerald Rivera, who in 1986 hosted a nationally broadcast special "The Mystery of Al Capone's Vault". He build up a lot of suspense and curiosity on what might be found in Al Capone's vault once it was opened, but it turned out to be nothing but dirt and one beer bottle.
    • The band arriving at the airport and being screamed at by fans is also an obvious example.
    • Principal Skinner's unfunny answer that nevertheless is perceived as funny by reporters references the witty answers that the Beatles gave to the uninspired questions of the press at the time.
    • While the Be Sharps listen to Barney's new song "Number 8" they strike a similar pose as The Beatles and Yoko Ono did on a famous photograph. [1] The "Number 8" song itself is a reference to "Revolution #9" on The White Album.
    • When Skinner mentions: "I can't remember the last time we were all together" Apu answers: "Last year, on that stupid Dame Edna special."
    • The Rooftop Concert is an obvious reference to the Beatles' rooftop concert in the concert film Let It Be. Homer's comment "... and I hope we passed the audition" is the final line in both the album Let It Be and the documentary.
    • Barney's accidental audition by singing "Danny Boy" is one to Can't Stop the Music. Ironic, since he was replacing Chief Wiggum, who was "too Village People".
  • Special Guest: The Dapper Dans as the singing voices of "The Be Sharps". George Harrison and David Crosby also appear.
  • Take That!:
    Homer: Here. (hands bellhop his statue)
    Bellhop: Oh boy, an awards statue. Oh wait, it's a Grammy. (throws it down the balcony)
    Man: Hey, don't throw your garbage down here! (throws it back up at Homer and knocks him out)
    • When the Barbershop Quartet performs near the Statue Of Liberty Ronald Reagan is attending the ceremony. He says: "Damn ceremonies. This is a time I could be working, Mommy", poking fun at the fact that Reagan, due to his old age, didn't do much difficult or hard work in the White House. Most of it was left to his administration, while he just signed papers and gave speeches. The joke that he confuses his wife Nancy with his mother is a reference to his senility, which was already showing during his term.
    • Yoko Ono naturally comes in for this, with her counterpart having a "song" that's nothing but her saying "Number 8" and Barney belching.
  • Terrible Interviewees Montage: After dropping Wiggum, the rest of the band go through one of these looking for his replacement. Candidates include Abe Simpson singing a "hip" version of Old MacDonald, Willie butchering Downtown with his Scottish accent, Jasper singing Theme From A Summer Place with blatantly wrong lyricsnote , and Dr. Dolittle;
    Skinner: Good lord! Dr. Dolittle is Chief Wiggum!
    Wiggum: This bird's gonna fly! (Jumps out window)
  • Too Dumb to Live: The Be Sharps had marketed a funny foam that was recalled for being poisonous if ingested. Homer then says if anyone was dumb enough to eat it, they deserve to die. Cut to Bart doing just that (eating the foam, not dying from it).
    Homer: BART!!
    Bart: What?
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Bart and Lisa wonder aloud several things (mostly about Homer's hidden musical abilities); of course these things are never explained in the episode.
    • Though Homer's musical abilities could be answered by the infamous episode "That 90's Show".
  • Wild Take: Bart and Lisa's reaction to the malfunctioning fake Homer that Marge created in his absence.
  • Yoko Oh No: In-Universe. Barney hooks up with one who disrupts the band's chemistry.
  • Your Television Hates You: Sitting at home, Wiggum turns on the TV to see Johnny Carson badmouthing him. After changing the channel, he finds Joan Rivers also badmouthing him.