| "Simpson Tide"
| Episode Information
"Simpson Tide" is the nineteenth episode of the season 9 of The Simpsons and the one-hundred and ninety-seventh episode overall. It originally aired on March 29, 1998. The episode was written by Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia and directed by Milton Gray. It guest stars Rod Steiger as Captain Tenille and Bob Denver as himself.
- "Bored as usual, Homer decides to take up a new career in the Navy, where he single-handedly cuts the ribbon on treason season by charting a submarine into soviet waters. Meanwhile, Bart gets his ear pierced."
After having a dream about Planet of the Donuts, Homer is woken up by Lenny at the Nuclear Power Plant, as it is break time. In the break room, there is only one donut left and Homer manages to drool over it. Homer then comes up with a plan to make the donut bigger by exposing it to the nuclear reactor. Shortly after, the power plant is evacuated due to a fire caused by the donut in the reactor. Homer is then fired and left jobless.
On television, Homer sees an advert for the Navy Reserves, which states that you'll only have to work one weekend a month and you'll be drunk off your ass whilst doing so. Seeing this, Homer decides to sign up and visits the recruitment office. At Moe's Tavern, Homer tells his friends what he did. Upon hearing this, Barney, Moe and Apu all decide to join up alongside Homer. At the Springfield Naval Reserve Base, the four of them start their training and Homer quickly gets on the nerves of the drill instructor. After training, Homer graduates and becomes a navy reserve member.
Outside the Simpson house, Milhouse reveals to Bart that he had gotten an earring. Bart thought it was lame at first until he saw the reaction from his schoolmates who all thought it was cool. At school, Principal Skinner allows Milhouse to keep the earring, despite it being against the school's dress code. Meanwhile, Homer visits the Veterans of Unpopular Wars bar where he listens to a story from Abraham Simpson. Homer and Marge then go and see a show by Bob Denver.
Bart, who at this point wants an earring, goes to the Springfield Mall to get his ear pierced at In 'N' Out Ear Piercing. He returns home with a piercing which angers Homer and Marge. At school the next day, Bart finds that everyone in school has earrings so he's not considered cool. At the Naval Reserve Base, Homer is told he's being assigned to a nuclear submarine due to his years of working in the Power Plant for the Naval war games.
At the submarine dock, Captain Tenille gives a short speech to his crew, and promotes Homer due to his jokes. Before he boards the U.S.S. Jebediah, Homer takes Bart's earring with him. Aboard the submarine, Homer makes another good impression on the captain. Whilst the captain was checking on a blockage in a torpedo tube, Homer was put in charge. At that point, an enemy submarine attacks them. Homer orders the submarine to fire the torpedoes, firing out Captain Tenille and killing him. After finding this out, Homer is promoted to captain due to Tenille's last orders. Homer orders the submarine to return home before changing his mind and taking it out into Russian waters.
The story of Homer hijacking a nuclear submarine started going around, with Homer being accused of treason. The United Nations are called together to discuss the missing submarine, with Russia revealing that they are still the Soviet Union. An aircraft carrier then locates the submarine and attacks it, causing it to start flooding. Homer then remembers Bart's earring and uses it to plug the hole in the submarine, saving everyone. The submarine then surfaces, being surrounded by ships. Homer tells everyone that it was his first day on the job and he is taken to court over his actions.
In court, all the admirals give up due to them having indictments of their own. Homer is then let off the hook with a dishonorable discharge. Outside the court, Bart asks Homer if he can get one of several tattoos, all of which Homer refuses.
The episode was the second and last to be written by Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia and was also the final episode directed by Milton Gray. This was the last episode Al Jean and Mike Reiss executive produced together, although both would return in season 13 with Jean as show runner and Reiss as a producer.
"Simpson Tide" was one of two season nine episodes that was executive produced by Al Jean and Mike Reiss, who together were the showrunners for the third and fourth seasons. Although Jean would later return to run the show, it was the last episode that Reiss received an executive producer credit for. Joshua Sternin and Jeffrey Ventimilia, the episode writers, were working on Jean and Reiss's show The Critic at the time, and pitched an episode where Homer joins the naval reserve. Although the episode is partly based on the film Crimson Tide, the original episode pitch was made before the film was released. After the release of the film, the writers decided to start incorporating stuff from the movie in the script. In the original draft, Bart snuck onboard the submarine with Homer. They were trying to do it "for the comedy of it", but couldn't get the draft to work, so it was cut. It was difficult for them to figure out how to get the captain off of the sub and they eventually decided to have him shot out of the torpedo tube.
The Navy drill sergeant was voiced by Michael Carrington, who had written the season four episode "Homer's Triple Bypass". Bob Denver voices himself in the episode and was directed by Mike Reiss. Rod Steiger guest stars as Captain Tenille and was directed by Al Jean.
Michael Schiffer, one of the writers of the film Crimson Tide is said to have enjoyed this episode. Mike Reiss considers the sequence where Russia returns to being the Soviet Union to be "the nuttiest the show has ever been". The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it "a fairly straightforward episode where the biggest laugh comes from Homer being able to talk to penguins and Bart trying to impress his classmates by doing The Bartman."