Underneath all the bluster, Homer is really quite a shallow fellow.
By DAVE MASON
"The Simpsons" marks its 350th episode Sunday with a reminder of why we love Homer. And physicist Stephen Hawking explains, for the first time on national TV, how Homer's universe works.
Putting aside any black holes (or doughnut holes), here's the bottom line: Homer doesn't want to impress anyone.
He just wants to have a beer, watch TV and be loved.
And with some help, Homer tries to provide a roof over his family -- literally -- in a hilarious story that features not-to-be-missed moments with guest voice Hawking. It's the latest of several episodes that have included the "Brief History of Time" author over the years.
The story, "Don't Fear the Roofer," airs at 8 p.m. on Fox.
The episode begins with a storm, and the Simpsons' roof is leaking badly. Can Homer fix it? Maybe with the help of his new friend Ray Magini (guest voice Ray Romano). But no one sees Ray except Homer, and that leads to some hilarious misunderstandings in a story about Homer feeling unloved. (Awwwww. Have a doughnut, Homer.)
The episode works because it's a comedy of errors that shows Homer's better than he appears. Yeah, Homer messes up, but his heart's in the right place, and that's why Homer remains a hero despite his lack of wisdom.
In addition to the good premise and funny jokes, the story has a certain logic that even Hawking can appreciate.
And the team of longtime star Dan Castellaneta as Homer and Romano as Ray works well. It's a good role for Romano as his "Everybody Loves Raymond" approaches its May 16 series finale on CBS.
The "Simpsons" seems to be a long way from any such finale. As "Don't Fear the Roofer" shows, the writers haven't run out of ideas.
Another new episode, "The Heartbroke Kid," follows at 8:30 p.m. Sunday.