Oh boy. Folks, I don’t think I can imagine an episode that’s more of a perfect storm of plot elements that I don’t like. We have an episode that’s full of needless cameos, focuses on sports, and has weird Christian overtones. That’s a hat-trick of stuff I can’t stand in Simpsons episodes. So let’s see how it is!
The episode begins with the family heading to Springfield Park, and becoming shocked at how run down and horrible it is. It’s full of crime, graffiti, and litter, and just seems to be generally disgusting. But Marge isn’t going to stand for it, and she decides that she should organize a charity carnival to fix things. Unfortunately it turns out someone already had that idea, and one is in progress as they speak, so they just go to that instead. Which, I’ll admit, is a pretty great joke.
The family begin wandering the carnival, checking out all the fun activities. Homer tries out an auction, but ends up losing to Ned Flanders, who gets a new video-recorder. So Homer wanders over to a little game Bart is playing where you try to hit a frog onto a lillypad. Bart manages to get the top prize, a giant stuffed octopus, and starts gloating to Homer. Homer then decides to show up his son, and try the game himself.
Shockingly, Homer manages replicate Bart’s accomplishment and also win the top prize, which apparently lets the carnie take the octopus from Bart and give it to Homer. Thus begins Homer’s insane bout of gloating. He begins dancing around, mocking Bart, and just generally acting like an ass. And the other people at the carnival are eating it up. Even Ned enjoys the thing, and he ends up taking a video of it. Which is where everything gets crazy. Because as Ned is filming it, he’s approached by Comic Book Guy, who introduces himself as Jeff Albertson, and who asks for the video to put on his website. Ned accepts.
So Comic Book Guys puts the video of Homer acting like a jackass onto the internet, and it quickly becomes a viral video, zipping all around the world. And like most viral stars, it quickly ruins Homer’s life. People start mocking him in the streets, and he decides to become a bit of a shut-in, hoping to avoid the public. But that changes when a man named Dionne Overstreet shows up. Dionne is a professional football player, and he has a weird request of Homer.
Apparently Dionne is a rather competent player, but he never gets any news coverage because he’s a little boring. And he thinks that if he gets Homer to choreograph him some obnoxious end-zone dances, he’ll become popular. Which is crazy, but Homer decides to go through with it, and begins creating braggadocios dances for him. Dionne buys all of Homer’s dances, and he starts cooking up more and more.
Meanwhile, we’re introduced to a secondary plot which is absolutely insane. Ned decides that the current state of film and television is lackluster for Christians. Things are too smutty and violent I guess, so he decides to use his new video-recorder to begin making his own movies, based on the Bible. So he forces Rod and Todd to go to the backyard and start making a movie based on Cain and Abel. And after ignoring their valid questions about how Cain and Abel reproduced, they begin making the movie.
But before we check out the weird results of that we check back in on Homer, who is really busy. Dionne has finally begun playing and using Homer’s dances, and they’ve become a huge hit. He’s acting like a total ass, but the public is eating it up, and he’s getting on all of the highlight reels. And the results are obvious. Dionne’s a hit, and all sorts of other professional athletes decide that they want to hire Homer to spice up their victory dances.
But enough about that for now, let’s see how Ned’s movie is going! Oh, it’s already done. And he’s having a screening of it at the Church for everyone. And the small group of people who were interested settle in for Ned’s insane little film. It tells the Biblical story, and is full of insane violence. Oh, and there’s weird moments where Ned flashes newspaper headlines about stem cells curing Alzheimer’s and gay marriage being legalized in Massachusetts as signs that the Devil is winning. Which is bonkers, but exactly what Christian movies love to say.
Shockingly though, people love it. They walk up to Ned after and start telling how great it was, and how it’s changed their lives. Mr. Burns even thinks that there’s a market for Bible movies based on the response from the people, and offers to bankroll Ned into making more movies. However, there is someone who didn’t love it. Marge. She thought the movie was disgusting and overly violent, and isn’t afraid of telling Ned that. But he doesn’t care.
While Ned begins working on his next project though, Homer’s business is flourishing. He’s turned the house into a camp for athletes to come learn how to be assholes, and he’s gotten such luminaries as LeBron James, Yao Ming, Michelle Kwan, Tom Brady, and Warren Sapp. They even start to live at the house and do chores for Homer while he teaches them. And that night while they’re eating dinner at the Simpson’s house, Marge starts peeping on Ned’s film.
And things have escalated. Ned is now just making a movie all about the Old Testament, and while he’s still filming in his backyard, things have gotten a lot bigger. There’s massive sets and it seems like everyone in town is acting in it. And it all comes together when Ned finishes Tales of the Old Testament, and it’s getting a huge screening at the Aztec Theater. And it’s nuts. We see the Sea Captain as Jonah being brutally killed by a whale and Judge Snyder acting as King Solomon cutting a baby in half before killing himself.
And it’s all too much for Marge. In the middle of the screening she gets up and start yelling until they stop the showing.. She yells at Ned for how violent the movie is, and while Ned fires back Mr. Burns takes notice of the outcry and decides to get rid of the movie in case it brings a boycott on himself. So there goes Ned’s career as a disgusting filmmaker. But don’t worry everyone, this weird plot is going to have a resurgence.
But let’s get back to Homer, because things are getting even weirder. The professional sports industry has taken note of Homer, and while they begin thinking that he’s ruining sports, they also can’t help but play the footage of his stupid dances. And he’s gotten so popular that he’s brought before the Commissioner of Football and all of the owners. But they don’t want to chastise him for his behavior. Quite the opposite, they think that what he’s doing is great. Viewership is up, they’re making a lot of money in player fines, and they want Homer to plan this years Super Bowl Halftime Show.
So Homer gets ready for his Halftime Show, and starts researching past shows to get ready. However, when things get down to the wire, and it’s the day before the Game, Homer flakes. He’s planned nothing and has no idea what to do, so he runs away from the Stadium and goes to find something to clear his head. And shockingly, the ends up at the Church. He heads in to pray, and ends up running into Ned, who is also looking for guidance about his movie. And while the two begin talking, they end up striking a stupid bargain.
Because Homer has nothing to put in his Halftime Show and Ned has a lot of religious nonsense to spew, they decide to work together, and let Ned make the Halftime Show be about Biblical stuff. So when the Show begins, people are stunned. It’s a retelling of the story of Noah, and features people ice-skating, actually flooding the field, all of Homer’s “students” holding up the Ark, and finally Ned just straight up reciting the Bible. And people hate it. Rightly. And just like that Homer’s credibility is gone and Ned no longer has an outlet for his nonsense, and things go back to normal.
Oof. This episode is rough. Like I said up top, there’s a lot about this episode that I just don’t like. I’m not a fan of episodes that just cram in a bunch of flavor-of-the-month celebrities and have then basically say two words to the Simpsons, and sticking a bunch of these athletes who give terrible line-deliveries is pretty egregious. And then there’s all the Bible nonsense. I’m all for keeping any religious beliefs kept separate from the rest of public life, but the episode barely seems to come down on that side. It’s mainly focused on making fun of Mel Gibson’s Passion of the Christ movie, and how gross it is to have violent Bible flicks. Despite the fact that the Bible is full of violence and sleaze. So the main argument against Ned’s stuff ends up being that it’s better to white-wash the Bible and ignore the gross parts about it, which is really weird. I guess the people at the end hate it, but it’s more just done to give the episode an ending. I don’t know, this is just a whole lot of stuff that I don’t like, and it created a deeply unpleasant episode, at least to me.
Take Away: No one wants to hear you talk about your religion. Keep that shit to yourself.
“Homer and Ned’s Hail Mary Pass” was written by Tim Long and directed by Steven Dean Moore, 2005.