Retro Rerun Review: Herman’s Head

Hey, there, people who like reading about television shows and/or things that make them think of olden times. Here we are again with another installment of Retro Rerun Review. What’s on today’s docket, you ask? Well, well, well, what do we have here? If it isn’t Herman’s Head. 

The Show: Herman’s Head 

Ran for: 72 episodes (3 seasons) from 1991 to 1994

What it’s about: What’s going on inside the head of Herman, a NYC magazine fact-checker. 

My relationship with it: Literally all I remember about this show is that Lisa Simpson (Yeardley Smith) was on it. And as a 9-year-old, it was freaky to see Lisa Simpson be a human. (Hank Azaria, who voices about half of the characters on the Simpsons was also on it, but 9-year-old me didn’t realize that.) 

This Episode: Season 3, Ep. 8, “Jay is for Jealousy.” Originally aired November 4th, 1993. 

The episode opens in an office with Hank Azaria kissing Yeardley Smith. It’s like Moe Szylak is making out with Lisa Simpson and I AM WEIRDED OUT. They are talking about a weekend getaway to Cape Cod, and Moe leaves. Then Herman (William Ragsdale) is like, “ooh, it’s getting serious,” and Lisa is like, “yeah, it is.” 

She starts to walk off, and she is stopped by a blonde lady who looks remotely familiar. The blonde lady thinks things are moving too fast. She’s dressed a little like military-era Michael Jackson. 

She says, “I think you should wait,” and she pauses while she consults a piece of paper she’s holding, “two months and three days.” 

Ope, looks like there’s an office pool going about when Moe and Lisa are gonna smash. In a highly comic twist, Lisa doesn’t care— she’s like, “put me down for next week.” 

Anyway, then we have the opening credits. They are terrible and very, very 1993. There’s a bad En Vogue knock-off doing the theme song and lots of shitty graphics. 

Now we’re back in the office and Herman’s sister is getting off of the elevator… at his work? Feels weird that you’d go meet your sibling at their place of business— on their exact floor, even?— but here we are. His sister is Jennifer Aniston. WHATUP RACHEL. Anyway, she’s moving to NYC from Another Place, and she suggests that she wants to work where he works. 

BOOM! Now we’re in Herman’s Head. That didn’t take long. 

There’s an accountant-looking guy who is jealous of Suzy, and an Elaine Benes-looking character (holy shit, this lady WAS on Seinfeld, as Sister Roberta, the nun who fell in love with Kramer) who is like, “shouldn’t we just be proud of her?” And then in comes the fat slob in the backward baseball cap and bathrobe, who, had this show been made like, seven years later, would have been played by Artie Lange. He looks in the refrigerator and says, “there’s nothing in this refrigerator except baby food and beer— hey, grandma’s here!” What a weird joke. 

And just like that, we’re out of Herman’s Head. There are like, three lines of dialogue and then Sister Aniston says, “speaking of Jay, is he around?” And just like that, we’re BACK in Herman’s Head. 

I. Am. Dizzy. 

This scene in the head is pretty funny. Sister Roberta says, “remember the last time she saw Jay?” And then Jay (this is Hank Azaria’s character) and Jennifer Aniston are in Herman’s Head, too, and they’re very rigidly reading erotic dialogue to one another. 

Back outside of the head, Jay walks by and Jennifer Aniston tries to say hi and he does the ol’ “look lady, I’m not the father gag” as he scurries away. I guess this is how we know he is promiscuous. He comes back and hugs Suzy because he’s joking. Oh, and then here comes Lisa Simpson. She says, yes, she remembers Suzy, then goes on a bit of a rant about the torrid love affair Jay and Suzy had previously. Clearly, she is uncomfortable with Suzy’ arrival. 

Now we’re at a bar with Suzy, Jay, and Lisa Simpson, who’s character name I still don’t know. Suzy is telling a story about a man in Paris who tried to pay her $40 to watch her take her jeans off. I think the whole joke is that Jennifer Aniston is, you know, really hot. Lisa Simpson is super jealous (which is kind of the theme of the episode) and the whole scene is pretty decent. All three of these actors have chops, you know? 

Lisa leaves and Herman shows up. He’s been reading his sister’s work, per her request, and he doesn’t have very good things to say about it. She gets pissed and leaves, and that’s the end of the scene. 

Later, back in the office, Lisa approaches the blonde from the opening scene (Henny is her name, maybe? Is that a name?) and expresses her concern about Suzy and Jay. “Henny” shares the concern, but hers is because, if Jay and Suzy get it on, she’ll have to start yet another pool. Ouch. 

Suzy shows up in the office (again? What kind of building is this? There is no security.) and tells Herman that she’s sorry, he was right, and she wrote a more appropriate article. Herman’s boss comes out of the office and says he read Herman’s article that Herman submitted for Sidewalks magazine. It sort of suggests that the viewer already knew something about the article? I am kind of confused. All I know is that they haven’t been in Herman’s Head in a while. 

Oh, hey, here we are. They are all sitting around reading Suzy’s new article that she is hoping Herman will also submit to Sidewalks. And then, oh, wait, shit! It’s Bobcat Goldthwait! He’s “Jealousy,” I guess, and according to Wikipedia, it’s the only appearance he made on the series. He’s good! He’s explaining that, despite how the others would like to remember things, there have been plenty of occasions where Herman was jealous of Suzy. “Christmas of ’82, she got a new bike, we got corrective shoes.” 

Anyway, back in the real world, Herman says he’ll take Suzy’s sample to the editor. She is grateful. 

In the next scene, Louise (that’s Lisa Simpson!) is confronting Jay at the bar and he’s explaining that Suzy is old news. It’s a pretty funny scene with some good Moe-and-Lisa back and forth. Then here comes Herman, and he’s excited because he’s a finalist for the Sidewalks magazine gig. He runs off to procure some champagne to celebrate, and Louise takes this opportunity to pitch goin’ back to her apartment for some of the ol’ in-and-out. But Jay balks. He leaves, she leaves, then Herman returns. Then Herman’s sister comes back. 

There is a lot going on. 

Then we are in Herman’s Head and they are discussing how he forgot to submit his sister’s writing sample like he promised. Herman, who is being a real piece of shit, feels bad. 

In the next scene, we’re back in the office and Louise is sharing her suspicions with Herman. I feel like I’ve already seen this scene. Did I accidentally rewind? What is happening. 

Anyway, she’s like, “why doesn’t he wanna bone me?” And Herman is like, “I’ve got my own problems,” and so then Louise is discussing it with the blonde who now I think might be named “Heady” and not “Henny.” Is that any more of a name? Hendy is no help, though, because she’s only concerned about her sex pools. 

Suzy shows up in Herman’s office for the 15th time, and Herman admits he forgot to submit her sample; she thinks he did it on purpose. She storms off to go share the story with the head of Sidewalks Magazine? I don’t really know. In Herman’s head, raving lunatic Bobcat Goldthwait convinces all of the other feelings to go sabotage things.

So now we’re in the office of… again, I don’t know, the editor? And Suzy is standing there while he reads, which feels like it should bug the editor, but maybe it doesn’t. Herman barges in. He apologizes on behalf of his unprofessional bitch-of-a-sister (my words, not his). Mr. Joffee (sp?) says that her work isn’t what they’re looking for and she asks for some constructive criticism. And then Mr. Joffee ANNIHILATES her ass with both barrels, telling her that her writing is wretched and she has no talent, that she needs to go back to Indiana. Herman does the right thing and tells Joffee that she wouldn’t want to work for a son-of-a-bitch like him, anyway. The audience goes “ooooh.” Joffee tells Herman he’s no longer a finalist, which, how does he even know who Herman is? 

Outside of the office, Herman and Suzy are chatting and Suzy is suggesting that Herman is jealous. Back in Herman’s head, they kick Bobcat out and Sister Roberta throws a grenade after him. KABOOM. Back in real life, Herman admits that maybe he IS sometimes jealous of Suzy. They agree to get lunch and she leaves. 

Then Louise walks up and Herman is like, “whatever is happening with you and Jay it has nothing to do with my sister.” He goes on to suggest she needs to talk to Jay about it. Seems reasonable. 

So then in the next scene, that’s exactly what’s happening.  Louise is preparing a romantic dinner for the two of them. Jay comes in and starts taking off his clothes so they can bonk. Oh, turns out he’s 4 hours late. She confronts him about not wanting to sleep with her. He’s like, fine, here’s the deal, I’m not used to good girls, I need a real whore to have the sex with, or else I need YOU to teach me how to have sex with someone who you actually love. She’s like “okay,” and I think they’re gonna do it. 

But why was he 4 hours late? They never tell us. 

Then it’s the credits and we’ve got bloopers! God, I love bloopers. Except these bloopers are strangely unsatisfying. Oh well.

Would I Watch Another Episode: Yeah, I definitely would. The writing was a little smart and funny, and the whole concept was definitely original. All of the actors were super solid, too. It’s a bit surprising this didn’t last longer than three seasons.

Grade: 7/10