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Recap / The Simpsons S10 E13 "Homer to the Max"

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Original air date: 2/7/1999 (produced in 1998)

Production code: AABF-09

When a dashing lancer named Homer Simpson becomes a Bumbling Sidekick on a new cop show, Homer petitions the court to have his name legally changed and takes advantage of the good life that comes with having a new name — until he gets roped into an environmental protest.

This episode provides examples of...

  • 555: The garden party invite lists Trent Steel's phone number as KL5-2654.
  • Awesome Ego: In-Universe: Ed Begley, Jr. rides a go-kart powered by his own sense of self-satisfaction. It goes as fast as a race car, too.
  • Awesome McCoolname: Judge Snyder allows Homer to have his name changed to "Max Power" because it was the only one of his proposed options that he spelled correctly. His other options included "Hercules Rockefeller", "Rembrandt Q. Einstein", and "Handsome B. Wonderful".
  • Bait the Dog: When Homer says "Enough is enough" to a crowd, Krusty pulls him from the crowd and gives him a speech of how "it's never enough for them", implying that he relates and sympathizes with Homer's plight... only to then ask Homer if his nephew could kick him in belly.
  • Bank Robbery: The first episode of Police Cops features robbers trying to take the bank to their hideout and rob it there.
  • Black Comedy Animal Cruelty: After Homer breaks free from his chain, he throws it up into the air and it strangles an eagle flying overhead.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: In-Universe: In All in the Family 1999 after Archie Bunker proclaims his love for the Token Minorities around him, he mutters to himself, "I wish I'd saved my money from the first show."
  • Bumbling Sidekick: On Police Cops, the character of Homer Simpson becomes one to Lance Kaufman after the first episode. Lenny even refers to the character as one.
  • Cassandra Truth: When Homer tells Trent where he got the idea for the "Max Power" name from, Trent assumes it's a joke.
  • Catch and Return: In Police Cops, a robber tries to shoot Homer but he catches the bullet and tosses it back at the robber.
  • Character Catchphrase: The Homer in Police Cops gets one before and after his retool. "And that's the end of that chapter." Then "Uh-oh, Spaghetti-O's!"
  • Couch Gag: Marge enters with a laundry basket, humming as she hangs the wet Homer, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie on a clothesline.
  • Death Glare: After Homer accidentally destroys a redwood forest, the entire garden party gives him one when he asks where their bus is going next.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: Police Cops. Which apparently had the working title of Badge Patrol.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Homer cutting down his tree manages to knock down all the other trees in the forest and destroy a police car. To top it off his chain hits an eagle when he tosses it skyward.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: At the protest, Homer finds Chief Wiggum's use of the phrase "tree-huggers" funny, so he orders Eddie to swab Homer's eyes with mace. When Marge remarks that she thought mace is a spray, Wiggum orders Eddie to mace Marge's eyes next.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness: In-universe: Police Cops Homer Simpson starting as a competent cop and being later changed into a Bumbling Sidekick.
  • Epic Fail:
    • Homer's singlehanded demolition of an entire forest (including the smashing of a patrol car and killing an eagle) when he tries to prevent the cops from macing him as a protestor against the forest's destruction. In-Universe, the Police Cops version of Homer mistakes a "toys-for-guns" exchange program for the reverse, and so he ends up giving away guns to criminals.
    • Lenny once held a New Years' Eve party, and didn't even have a clock.
  • Establishing Character Moment: The idiot version of Homer on Police Cops is introduced stumbling in with haphazard clothing, and the first line spoken to him by Da Chief is "Now what have you done, Simpson?"
  • Euphemistic Names: Homer tells Marge that while he was at the courthouse, he had her name officially changed to "Chesty LaRue". When Marge protests, Homer proposes the alternatives "Busty St. Clair" and "Hooty McBoob".
  • Everyone Has Standards: An avid lover of TV Homer might be, but the midseason shows he watches at the beginning of the episode are too dumb for even him to enjoy.
  • Executive Meddlinginvoked: Discussed:
    Lisa: Producers fiddle with shows all the time. They change characters, drop others, and push some into the background.
  • Full-Name Basis: Homer asks for monogrammed "Max Power" — not merely "MP" — towels.
  • Gasp!: Homer does this when he sees that the cool detective on Police Cops is also called Homer Simpson.
    Homer: GASP! He's Named Like My Name!
  • Genre Shift: In-Universe. Police Cops starts off as action show before being retooled into a comedy.
  • Hypocritical Humor: Chief Wiggum mocks Homer's intelligence while scratching himself with a loaded gun.
  • I Am Not Spock: In-Universe: Once the character is changed into a clown, people start treating Homer like he's the character.
  • I Resemble That Remark!: Homer's attempts to prove that he's nothing like (the new) Homer on Police Cops only causes him to act more like him.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Lenny when he tells everyone Homer was about to do something stupid. On one hand, it isn't really being a good friend to follow a friend about waiting for him to mess up, but on the other hand, Homer did cause a huge accident trying to cook fondue on his work console.
  • Juggling Loaded Guns: Chief Wiggum scratches himself with his gun... right after calling Homer "that stupid cop from TV".
  • Line-of-Sight Name: Homer got the name "Max Power" off a hair dryer.
  • Named Like My Name: Homer's Buffy Speak reaction to hearing that Police Cops (well, in its pilot episode, at least) has an Inexplicably Awesome The Ace character with his same name is the Trope Namer.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: The second incarnation of Police Cops' Homer Simpson is basically a Simpsonized Chris Farley.
  • Non-Idle Rich:
    • The Police Cops version of Homer, before being turned into a Bumbling Sidekick.
    • The celebrities are all dedicated environmentalists. This terrifies Homer, who only wanted the self entitled benefits of celebrity.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • Marge mentions an unspecified time when Anthony Michael Hall stole Homer's car stereo.
    • As Homer complains about getting chained to trees making this the worst party they've ever been to, Marge casually argues that Lenny's New Year's Eve party was worse.
      Marge: He didn't even have a clock.
    • Marge also mentions having a tattoo with Homer's name on her "you know what".
    • An aide whispers in Bill Clinton's ear that Quebec "has the bomb".
  • Oblivious to His Own Description: Homer's unaware that his description of the new Bumbling Sidekick version of the Homer Simpson "Police Cops" character matches him as well.
    Homer: Hey, what's going on? That guy's not Homer Simpson. He's fat and stupid!
  • The Other Darrin: In-Universe: Played for Laughs — During the joke about how networks love animation because they don't pay the actors squat, Ned Flanders comes in and adds, "Plus, they can replace the voices and no one can tell the diddly-ifference." For the sake of that joke, Karl Wiedergott (a featured voice actor who joined the show during its tenth season, usually as one-line background characters) voiced Ned Flanders (who is regularly voiced by Harry Shearer). Played a bit straighter with changing the actor playing the Police Cops Homer Simpson between the pilot and the second episode from a handsome guy to a Chris Farley Expy — this alongside turning the character into a complete idiot.
  • Police Brutality: When the cops try to deal with the protesting celebrities (and Homer), Wiggum orders that the cops use pepper spray. Or rather, a mixture of pepper so strong that the bottle guarantees will probably destroy the eye, and needs a massive swab for it to be applied (so they chase after Homer in order to hold him down so they can do so). Him being chased by the cops around the tree that he's chained to causes the Disaster Dominoes mentioned above.
  • Quip to Black: After the newly rechristened Max Power walks into a cactus after defining the "Max Power way", Lisa remarks, "We should really put that in the corner." Cue commercial break.
  • Retirony: After Homer causes one of the trees to fall on Chief Wiggum's police car.
    Chief Wiggum: What a tragedy. That car was just two days away from retirement.
  • Retool: An In-Universe example with Show Within a Show Police Cops changing the character Homer Simpson from a Sonny Crocket-style super-cool cop to a Chris Farley-style fat Walking Disaster Area levels of bumbling idiot in between the pilot episode and second episode, which being so close to Homer's In-Universe Real Life persona, causes him a whole lot of grief.
  • Sanity Slippage: Homer briefly experiences this after the fallout of the new Homer Simpson, during which he orders Bart to kill a random cat and a big, yellow flower which were apparently laughing at him. Marge lampshades it:
    "Homer, your growing insanity is starting to worry me..."
  • Scarf of Asskicking: The cool Detective Homer Simpson wears a scarf on the "Police Cops" show to highlight just how badass he is, which prompts the real Homer to wear one as well. The character still wears it after being retooled into an idiot, but it's much less asskicking then.
  • Self-Deprecation: Lisa suggests that mid-season is just a dumping ground for shows that weren't good enough for the fall line-up. Guess what show premiered in December 1989, well after the fall premieres.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The initial detectives' appearances and behavior in Police Cops and the show itself were modeled after Miami Vice.
    • A subtle one to Max Headroom: When Homer's asked where he got the name "Max Power", he said he got it off a hair dryer. In the Max Headroom series, Max got his name from the last thing Edison saw before getting in a car crash: A sign that said "MAX HEADROOM 2.3 M".
    • The retooled Police Cops has Da Chief yelling "SIMP-SOOOOOOOON!" at the new, dumbed-down Homer Simpson, similar to how on The Jetsons, Mr. Spacely would yell "JET-SOOOOOOOON!" at George Jetson.
  • Show Within a Show: Police Cops and the other mid-season shows, like The Laughter Family, Admiral Baby, and America's Funniest Tornadoes.
  • Song Parody: Homer's "Max Power" song is sung to the tune of the title theme of Goldfinger.
  • Spit Take: At the garden party, Homer happily eats a fish while Trent Steel gives a speech. When Trent mentions that with privilege comes great responsibility, however, Homer spits.
  • Status Quo Is God: In the end Homer/Max changes his name back to Homer Simpson.
  • Take That!:
    • Biting-the-Hand Humor: Homer's line about networks loving animated shows because they don't have to pay the actors anything (and a newly-voiced Ned Flanders adding that networks can also change the characters' voice actors and no one can tell the difference). At the time of the episode's premiere (February 7, 1999), The Simpsons voice actors were in a pay dispute and were threatened with being replaced by soundalikes if they didn't agree to FOX's offer.
    • At the environmental party, Homer refuses to talk to Lorne Michaels, who was actually voiced by Simpsons regular and former Saturday Night Live cast member Harry Shearer.note 
    • To make Homer feel better, Marge tells him that his new characterization may serve as the comic relief, like Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.
    • The aforementioned comment about Anthony Michael Hall and how it was a coincidence that some other man with the same name stole Homer's car radio.
    • The joke about nobody knowing who Jeremy Piven is.
    • An In-Universe example (either that or it was too funny an inspiration to pass up) happens when Homer begs the writers to stop making the Police Cops Homer Simpson an idiot because they are mocking him as well, only for the next episode to have that Homer repeat the plea word for word, complete with copying Homer's "D'oh!", after falling groin-first into a cactus.
  • Title Confusion: This episode shouldn't be confused with "Maximum Homerdrive", which happens to be a Homer-focused episode that happens to have been written by the same writer (John Swartzwelder) and happens to be part of the same season as this one.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Chief Wiggum pointed a gun at himself while insulting Homer's competence.
  • Unfortunate Names: Homer has Marge's name changed to "Chestie LaRue." He says if she's not completely satisfied she can be "Busty Saint Clare" or "Hootie McBoob."
    Marge: I don't want to be "Chestie LaRue" or "Busty Saint Clare".
    Homer: Fine, "Hootie McBoob" it is.
  • What Could Have Been: In-universe: Police Cops wasn't originally supposed to be a series. It was supposed to be a comedy ("Titanic meets Frasier") about a psychologist on-board the RMS Titanic starring Annie Potts and Jeremy Piven, but was scrapped because the idea scared the hell out of them, so they came up with a cop drama. Also, Police Cops was supposed to be called Badge Patrol, but they didn't like the title or the idea of hi-tech badges that shoot laser beams.
  • Who's on First?:
    Trent Steel: You like Thai?
    Homer/Max: Tie good, you like shirt?