Synopsis by Mark Deming
Waylon Smithers (voice of Harry Shearer) has always taken his career as a bootlicking toady to aging energy despot C. Montgomery Burns (also voiced by Shearer) very seriously indeed, but Burns is convinced Smithers is starting to fray under the pressure, and demands that his assistant take a well-earned vacation. Insecure Smithers wants to make sure he'll still have a job when he comes back, so he chooses Homer Simpson (voice of Dan Castellaneta) to take his place. Homer proves every bit as incompetent as Smithers expected, but when Homer punches Burns after one insult too many, Burns dismisses Homer and is forced to perform any number of mundane tasks by himself. Burns becomes quite enthusiastic about his new sense of independence, and when Smithers returns, Burns decides he no longer needs his help and fires him. Smithers' attempts to land a new job are little short of disastrous, and Homer tries to help him convince Burns that he truly needs his help, but their schemes keep backfiring, making Burns all the more certain he can take care of himself. "Homer the Smithers" first aired on February 25, 1996.