TV Recap / Review: Professor Frink Illicitly Helps Homer Land a New Job in “The Simpsons” – “Frinkenstein’s Monster”

This evening, the FOX Network aired the 11th episode of The Simpsons’ 35th season, entitled “Frinkenstein’s Monster” (the title being an obvious riff on Frankenstein), and below are my brief recap and thoughts on this installment of the long-running animated sitcom.

There haven’t been a ton of episodes focused on Professor Frink over the years, and I suspect that’s because he’s another one of those one-joke characters that work better in the background of The Simpsons. I mean, Frink’s entire persona is really just voice actor Hank Azaria doing an impression of actor/comedian Jerry Lewis in 1963’s The Nutty Professor, and there are only so many ways the writers can milk that– admittedly very funny– concept. But at long last, tonight we got the Homer / Frink team-up episode we’ve all been waiting for (not that we’ve necessarily been waiting for it), which opens with a flashback to a newly invented reality for the purposes of this story in which a young, not-yet-balding Mr. Simpson is a go-getter looking to succeed with flying colors in his new job at the Springfield Nuclear Power Plant.

Cut to the present, with Homer (voiced, as always, by Dan Castellaneta) worrying that he’s lost his spirit of ambition, which we can see is true since he’s making this observation while downing his pal Barney Gumble’s (also Castellaneta) beer while Barney is in the bathroom of Moe’s Tavern. But it’s Homer’s lucky day that Professor Frink also happens to be drinking at Moe’s that day, and the two commiserate over their failed aspirations– though Frink is at long last able to prove to himself that he is indeed human by shedding a single tear, which he proceeds to collect with an eyedropper and store in a vial chained around his neck. And when Homer gets headhunted to work at a new nuclear power plant in Shelbyville (thanks to his ever-growing resume of odd jobs), Frink also agrees to be present as moral support for his interview on Zoom.

So, predictably, Professor Frink becomes Homer’s Cyrano de Bergerac (a literary reference that is alluded to in the name of Frink’s invention of eyeglasses with a headset attached) in helping him secure this new position, but then Homer insists that the professor continue in remotely coaching him through actually performing the job as well. At first the plan goes swimmingly, with Homer convincing his new Finnish boss Onni Korhonen (Harry Shearer) that he is indeed quite accomplished at nuclear science, but after Korhonen hires the woman (Dr. Spivak, played by guest star Amanda Seyfried) who was passed over for Homer’s job as Simpson’s secretary, everything begins to fall apart. Spivak suspects something is up pretty much right away, and eventually she uncovers Homer’s scheme and taps into the frequency of Frink’s device while Homer is on a ski retreat for the Shelbyville plant.

Meanwhile, Marge Simpson (Julie Kavner) is torn about her husband’s suspicious rise to the top because she’s been enjoying more free time to herself thanks to having access to daycare for baby Maggie, while Lisa (Yeardley Smith) is perturbed about her father’s change of personality and business acumen to the point that she writes an entire song about it. Anyway, the whole thing ends with Dr. Spivak confronting Homer and Marge in a ski lift gondola and forcing the latter to confess his lies to Korhonen. Then Homer accidentally skis down a hill backwards and there’s a very funny line about not calling 911 when he realizes that his health insurance has just been cut off.

There’s a smattering of funny gags like that scattered throughout this episode, but overall I wasn’t head-over-heels about it. The stuff at the new power plant reminded me a little too much of the classic Hank Scorpio episode, and the Professor Frink-as-Cyrano plot just felt a little too warmed-over for me, though I was amused by the idea that Mr. Smithers (Shearer again) now has ready-made forms for Homer to fill out when he leaves– and then inevitably returns to– his job at Springfield Nuclear. But maybe the biggest failing of this particular installment is that Frink came out of it still feeling pretty one-dimensional to me.

New episodes of The Simpsons air Sunday evenings on FOX.

Mike Celestino
Mike serves as Laughing Place's lead Southern California reporter, Editorial Director for Star Wars content, and host of the weekly "Who's the Bossk?" Star Wars podcast. He's been fascinated by Disney theme parks and storytelling in general all his life and resides in Burbank, California with his beloved wife and cats.