According to the producers of The Simpsons, Fox wanted a spin-off for Otto Mann, the school bus driver for Springfield Elementary. The producers weren’t too keen on the idea.
Otto got a single spotlight episode, and after that he more or less faded into the background. Oh well. Maybe the Fox executives had the same sort of realization Otto himself had when he stopped to think about how his father told him he’d never amount to anything if he just goofed off playing the guitar all through high school.
When this episode came out, the ads for it made a big deal about the fictional band Spinal Tap being guest voices. Considering one third of the Tap featured was played by Simpsons regular Harry Shearer, that probably wasn’t a hard grab.
The Tap comes out for a concert that has, as seen in their fake documentary This Is Spinal Tap (younger readers may want to ask their parents), everything possible go wrong for the aging supergroup that may or may not be washed up. Thank goodness for them that the Berlin Wall fell! However, the band only does twenty minutes for the show, disappointing Bart and Milhouse (among others) while appearing on The Simpsons itself for less than ten. That’s, like, symmetry.
Then they are maybe killed in a fiery bus accident when Otto races the kids to school late.
And Otto doesn’t have a driver’s license. At all. You’d think the Springfield Board of Education would check for something like that.
And then Otto gets evicted from his apartment for not paying the rent, his parents (particularly someone called “the Admiral) won’t take him back, and he can’t even find a Dumpster brand trash receptacle to sleep in. Plus, he was surprised he had mustard.
Things start to look up for the long-haired weirdo when Bart lets him move into the Simpson garage. Bart even got Marge on tape agreeing to that, or at least Bart doing his best Marge impression, which was good enough to fool Homer since no one sounds on tape the way they do in their own head. I know I don’t.
Otto is highly disruptive. He’s not the Fonz. But there is one thing that can unite warring parties like Patty at the DMV and Otto when he needs his license back: hatred for Homer. Mock Homer, get a license. It doesn’t matter how many cones he ran over.
You don’t call Otto a sponge. Especially not if you down a 20 year old Billy Beer that was sitting in an old jacket for who knows how long.
Otto gets his job back, the Simpsons get their garage back, and Principal Skinner doesn’t have to drive the bus anymore.
All it took was someone, namely Bart, to call Otto an adult. He’d never been called that before.
Tried as an adult, sure, but never referred to as one.
It appears that all it really takes is a little confidence, and then maybe no one will demand a spin-off for a character like this again.