The Blunder Years
Production Code
Episode Number
09 December 2001
Ian Maxtone-Graham
Steven Dean Moore
Executive Producer
Mike Scully
Jimmy Heenan
Plot While unpacking after her daily grocery shopping, Marge realizes that she has brought a different brand of paper towels called "Burly Paper Towels". However, she does not mind so much after seeing the spokesmodel on the cover is a rugged, handsome lumberjack. The fact that the towels absorb liquids better than a sponge impresses her even more. She has to tell someone about her new discovery and so she makes a call to Lisa, who is in school, but comes rushing back thinking it's an emergency. Marge demonstrates Burly's "insatiability" and fantasises about the model, much to Lisa's discomfort. While dreaming about his manliness and ruggedness, Homer comes in, unsettled that a bee buzzed past his ear. She gives him a hug, while still looking at the Burly label. Homer, getting wind of her fantasising, tries to fantasise about other spokesmodels, like "Mama Celeste's Frozen Pizza" and Paul Newman (who tells him, like he told Redford "it ain't gonna happen!").

Later, Marge types out a letter to "Burly" and Homer, after reading the typewriter ribbon, decides to play a prank on her. With Bart's help, he calls her from Ned Flanders' home, giving the fake name of "Chad Sexington" (the "Burly model"). He tells her that he will be over for dinner that night. Marge, excited to the point of irrationality, decorates the whole place with Burly towels, makes the family dress up and even rolls out a towel carpet to the door. However, when the doorbell rings, it turns out to be Barney, dressed in Burly's red-checked shirt and underwear. While Homer and Bart have a hearty laugh, Marge feels humiliated and storms off, as does Barney. Lisa tells Homer that Marge is really unhappy, so he decides to make up for it by taking the family out to dinner.

They go to the Pimento Grove, where live performers perform. Marge, no longer embarrassed, even finds the joke quite funny, since no one got hurt (except feelings). The next act is a hypnotist called Mesmerino. He first hypnotises Professor Frink into becoming a "make-out artist" (à la The Nutty Professor) but "redorkulates" him soon after. Then he turns his attentions on Waylon Smithers and Mr. Burns, calling Burns "Skeletor" and "Smithers' father." Smithers corrects him, saying that his father died many years ago.

Homer volunteers to be hypnotised. Mesmerino hypnotises him into thinking he's a famous historian and later Emily Dickinson. Both times, Homer just runs around shouting that he's a famous historian and Angie Dickinson. Mesmerino then hypnotises Homer into thinking he's twelve years old again. As Homer starts to reminisce, he starts screaming incessantly. Mesmerino, unable to make him stop, beats a hasty retreat. The family gets him out of there. He keeps screaming, even while tipping the parking lot attendant, driving home, brushing his teeth and sleeping.

The next day, Lenny and Carl bring him home early from work, still screaming. They finally manage to calm him down with some Yaqui tea. They wonder what made him scream so much so he starts to recall the events leading up to the scream-inducing incident. He, accompanied by twelve year old Lenny and Carl, are hiking in the woods and are confronted by a young Fat Tony and his goons, for wandering into his marijuana patch. As the trio is about to get tuned up, they are saved by a troubled young Moe, toting a BB gun. The present-day Moe comes to the Simpsons' home, on noticing his bar was empty. He too begins to recall the events of that day.

He remembers that while they sat by a fire that night, they saw a near-meltdown at the power plant. The next day, they went to the old quarry for a swim and Homer jumped in, only to find that there was no water there, only mud. After falling in the mud, he started screaming a bit. Moe believes that's why Homer was screaming last night. However, Homer recalls that there was no water in the quarry because something was blocking the inlet pipe. When Homer unblocks it, he finds a rotting corpse in it, causing him to scream even more.

Now that the mystery of Homer's screaming is solved, the mystery of the corpse intrigues the family. They figure that the body can't have been discovered after that day, so it still must be there. It appears murder's afoot... murder most foul! The Simpsons decide to investigate and get rid of Lenny, Carl and Moe, albeit politely and subtly. They go to the old quarry and meet Chief Wiggum there, who wants to tag along, the crime buff that he is. Marge uses Burly paper towels to drain the water from the quarry. They find the skeleton and go into the inlet pipe to see where the body came from. They find that the pipe leads to a ladder, which in turn leads to Mr. Burns' office! They confront him about the body, but he insists he did not murder anyone. He tells them that the dead man is Smithers' father, Waylon Smithers Sr. He shows an old surveillance tape, during the imminent meltdown (which young Homer and his friends witnessed) in which the father of Waylon Smithers goes into an unstable reactor core to prevent the meltdown. He succeeds in saving the city (and his baby son, whom he had handed to Mr. Burns) but he dies in the process due to exposure to large amounts of radiation.

Burns tells them that, since cover-ups were popular at the time, he shoved Waylon Sr. down his "corpse hatch" (or "innocence tube") and kept the truth from Waylon Jr. However, Waylon Jr. has heard the full thing and now knows the truth, which sounds much better than what Burns told him, about his dad being killed by savage Amazon women (which perhaps scarred Waylon Jr.'s manhood).

The Simpsons go home, happy that the mystery was solved. Homer has swiped Waylon Sr.'s skull to keep in his "Memories" collection. Moe then enters, saying that he has found clues, important to the mystery. Although the mystery's been solved, they decide to humor him and listen to his rambling about all the different clues he has managed to find.
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