|Poor Wiggum, poor poor Wiggum.|
Season 5 starts off with a flashback episode, and a somewhat odd one at that. Its not about Homer and Marge, nor is it about any of the kids. No, this flashback episode details Homer's time as a member of a barbershop group. How many people could see that one coming?
The story is brought up during a Springfield Swap Meet, when Bart and Lisa spy a peculiar album made by a group named "The Be Sharps", with Homer's face on it. When inquired, Homer more than happily tells the two about the group. The year is 1985 (one year after Lisa's once-canon birth in Lisa's First Word), and Homer, alongside Apu, Principal Skinner and Chief Wiggum, sing barbershop songs around town amidst increasing popularity. A talent agent sees them perform and wants to make them famous, except for Wiggum whom he feels is "too Village People", demanding him to be replaced. As Homer dumps Wiggum into the middle of nowhere late at night, the remainder of the group has difficulty finding a replacement. After several failed auditions, they group hears a wonderful singing voice emanating from the bathroom in Moe's. The three soon realize its Barney crooning, and make him the new fourth member, much to Wiggum's continued dismay.
With Homer as the group's songwriter, the group records its first #1 hit: "Baby on Board", based on the sign Marge bought to stop people from intentionally ramming into her car. With that hit, the Be Sharps rise to national fame, even winning a Grammy in the process. However, time changes all things, and as the group starts to fatigue from their work (and Barney becomes super hipster thanks to being in a relationship with a Japanese "artist"), they learn that the group is not only not "hot", but also "not". With that, the group breaks up and everyone goes back to their lives.
Back home from the swap meet, Homer sends the kids off to bed after telling them the story. Looking at the album again, Homer feels a little nostalgic, and gets the group together to sing another song on Moe's rooftop, which is enjoyed by most except for the still-bitter Wiggum.
This ended up being a very enjoyable episode. Wiggum proves to be the best source of comedy as he struggles with being kicked out of the group, and the references throughout the episode are neat to find and look at as well. Even with the odd premise, its a strong start to Season 5.
Final Score: 9.5