The Simpsons Season 29 Episode 12 Review: Homer Is Where The Art Isn’t

A simple matter of a heist and a 70s detective parody propel The Simpsons’ Homer Is Where The Art Isn’t.

This The Simpsons review contains spoilers.

The Simpsons: Season 29 Episode 12

“I like you, Manacek,” virtually everyone says in The Simpsons season 29, episode 12, “Homer Is Where The Art Isn’t.” Even suspects in the art heist he’s investigating. No, Manacek isn’t a cop, not even a private dick. He’s a freelance investigator who submits his invoices to Mutual Allied Insurance. You may not want to like him. It might even be in your best interest to actively dislike him, but he grows on you, dammit, like the episode itself.

The episode works because it is fully committed to the source, right down to the ever-consistent theme music. What does that mean, boss? Freelance theft investigator Thomas Banacek, played by George Peppard on the seventies series, took a ten percent cut of whatever the insurance companies saved, and peppered his conversations with Polish proverbs like “a truly wise man never plays leapfrog with a unicorn.” The show Banacek rotated on NBC on their Wednesday Night Mysteries, famous for McCloud, Columbo and Quincy. ABC’s The Mickey Mouse Club Show already established the mysterious precedent by declaring hump day “Anything Can Happen Day.” The reason everyone likes this 70s detective is because of guest voicer Bill Hader, who can make anything happen.

Take the Den of Geek Reader Survey for a chance to win a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

This is Hader’s second vocal appearance on The Simpsons, having voiced Slava in “The Fabulous Faker Boy” from season 24. The credits to the Manecek episode list Dick Pompeii as the actor playing the shamus. This affords the series an opportunity to fill a very large hole in the heart of Springfield: Troy McClure. You might remember this B- and C-movie actor from such films as Dial M for Murderousness, Gladys the Groovy Mule and Radioactive Man III: Oh God, Not Again, and the self-help videos “Smoke Yourself Thin” and “Get Some Confidence, Stupid!” McClure was voiced by the late Phil Hartman, who also did the voice for the ambulance-chasing mouthpiece Lionel Hutz, and many memorable one-off characters, like the Monorail pusher. Springfield also hosts action star Rainier Wolfcastle, but there should be room.

Ad – content continues below

Springfield’s Museum of Fine Art, also known as SMUFA to a small but dedicated following, is closing its doors, releasing docents into the wild, and putting their canvasses on the auction block. Homer is accused of stealing a million-dollar painting after helping inflate its price to $15 million. He doesn’t do this for the money. He believes he purloined the painting because it spoke to him. But he mainly values the connection it brings him to Lisa. Homer and Lisa appear to be at odds since the beginning of The Simpsons. She is a genius. He is basically a troll.

It would seem Marge has far more potential to bond with her daughter than Homer. The Simpsons’ matriarch was a painter herself, having drawn a wonderful rendering of Ringo Starr which gave her the inspiration to paint a warts-and-all portrait of local billionaire, Montgomery Burns. But inside Homer beats the heart of a true artist. Granted, it beats at triple the rate of most people’s hearts, due to his love of all things pork. Homer grew up playing gigs as a one-man band, wrote the B-Sharps’ only hit, and waxes poetic on the bong rattling bass of Mel Schacher of Grand Funk Railroad. Homer is sensitive. He dances in the abstract art. He doesn’t care if it is representational or not, he doesn’t know what representational means. Before he is touched by Juan Moreau’s “The Poetess,” he thought art had to be pretty ladies, Bible crap and 3D sidewalk drawings where it looks like you call in, but once he opens to it, he can rejoice in a yellow orb as the sun or Pacman at rest. He appreciates the cubist dimensions of every day life, even the mooning of young Bart.

So, who stole the painting? Everyone of course, this is Springfield. This is Manacek, not Ellery Queen where audiences were asked, in the last five minutes of the show, whether the killer was “someone else,” a person not mentioned during the investigation. That would seem they just pulled Megan Matheson out of their tote bag just to give us an art thief. But Burns is also carted off. Of course the art heist itself is an intricate affair involving two sets of identical twins and building an identical replica of Gavelby’s Auction House next door. Solving it is a simple matter of throwing everyone in jail but the true thief, Lisa.

The admonition “no handwashing or we’ll be late for lunch” is very revealing, but the best delivered line of the episode is Homer’s “please don’t,” answer to Manacek’s promise that “there’s more to your story than you’re letting on, and I’m going to find out what.”

Manacek’s got a lot of lines, and seducing amazing women is part of the smug pretty boy detective’s process. He’s seeing a therapist about it. Marge spends a large part of the episode swatting down Manacek’s come-ons. Marge has been courted before. Everyone from Artie Ziff to Charles Montgomery Burns has tried to come between Springfield’s blue-haired goddess and the stocky man in tight pants she’s married to. Marge calls Manacek a son of a bitch, after she slaps him, leaving a visible mark, after one come-on too many. But like everyone else, once she reaches the breaking point, and acknowledges Homer has many flaws, thousands of flaws, everywhere – flaws, she has to admit, she likes Manacek. And we like this very solid episode. Damn their wit.

“Homer Is Where The Art Isn’t ” was written by Kevin Curran, and directed by Tim Bailey. The episode was made in loving memory to Stephen Hawking.

Ad – content continues below

The Simpsons stars Dan Castellaneta as Homer and Abe Simpson, Julie Kavner as Marge Simpson, Nancy Cartwright as Bart Simpson, Yeardley Smith as Lisa Simpson. Hank Azaria plays Kirk Van Houten, Chief Wiggum and Moe. Harry Shearer is Seymour Skinner, Kent Brockman, C. Montgomery Burns and Waylon Smithers. Guest stars: Cecily Strong and Bill Hader.


4 out of 5