Ugh... not another Homer episode. After last week's uneven installment, I wasn't looking forward to another half hour that centered solely on this main character and his absurd antics.
Unfortunately, "Them, Robot" featured many scenes that involved just Homer and the robots. Fortunately, the latter were voiced by Brent Spiner, adding a nice touch to the robot's continued assertions that his kind cannot feel human emotions.
After all the other employees were fired because their health becomes a legal liability for Mr. Burns, the power plant is run by a bunch of highly-advanced machines. A perfectly timed final word to Mr. Burns gets Homer the only human job left (leaving poor Smithers to teach elementary school). However, Homer gets a bad case of loneliness and decides to do a little reprogramming.
Once he is able to communicate verbally with the robots, Spiner's wonderful monotone starts to bring some much needed hilarity to the episode. As Star Trek's android Data, Spiner created an amusing character who continually tried to fit into the human world and ultimately succeeded in acquiring human emotions. His time as Data added humor to that television series and did the same to tonight's episode.
The best scene of the night was the baseball game because it involved Spiner's robot using logical reasoning to formulate the most amusing lines. When Homer tries to says he's the designated hitter for the team, taking all the turns at bat, the robot responds: "A designated hitter corrupts the purity of an otherwise elegant game. Illogical, illogical!"
The line is topped by the arrival of Bart and Milhouse who are both eager to join the game. A quick scan of the two reveals that Bart is the superior player, leading to this funny exchange:
Milhouse: My heart makes up for my shortcomings, like Rudy!
Robot: Rudy was only put in at the end of a meaningless game. We will notify you if this game becomes meaningless. | permalink
Admittedly, there were some great The Simpsons quotes this week, but the overall episode depended too much on Homer's stupidity.
For example, in order to continue drinking beer in front of the robots, he decides to lobotimize them using an electric drill. It becomes frustrating to watch only because we've seen it so many times before. A similar episode involving revolting robots, the classic "Itchy & Scratchy Land," was a great parody of the film Westworld. This one however doesn't really create an intelligent satire of the I, Robot plot.
But the Springfieldians response to the economic downturn was pretty amusing to watch, especially Barney's version of the three-card monte... or rather the three-card full monty.