A Star is Born Again
couch gag: The Simpsons are marionettes controlled by Matt Groening.
Director: Michael Marcantel
Marisa Tomei as Sara Sloane
James L. Brooks as himself
Helen Fielding as herself
Synopsis: Ned meets and falls for Sara Sloane, a famous Hollywood actress.
Discussion: Well, well, well. Whoda thunk Ned Flanders was a horndog? He’s had a couple of well, not flings exactly, but one could probably say that he’s felt the stirrings of passion a couple of times since his wife died (most notably with Christian singer Rachel Jordan). Here he’s falling for Hollywood actress Sara Sloane, portrayed to perfection by Marisa Tomei. Sara is everything Ned isn’t, but yearns for a simple lifestyle and some good, old-fashioned Neddy homefires.
This is a really sweet episode. It’s about time that Ned had a lovelife and moral crisis (who doesn’t love a moral crisis when it involves a beautiful woman?) The ep is punctuated by guest stars and wacky British comedy that US audiences probably don’t get- The Benny Hill Show was huge here in Australia and was as politically incorrect as they come. I guess that was the appeal… Benny Hill’s ending act in every episode was him being chased by policemen and busty women to the tune of Yakity Sax (aka the Benny Hill theme). I’m sure there are many clips of it on YouTube, however I fear the impact is lost 30 years later, and to an unfamiliar audience. In any case, Helen Fielding’s parody of it is quite funny and right on the mark.
Fridays are not “pants optional”
Couch gag: The current family come face-to-face with themselves, Tracy Ullman era. All 10 scream and run away.
Director: Steven Dean Moore
Mel Gibson as himself
Jack Burns as Edward Christian
Synopsis: At a test screening for Mel Gibson’s new movie, Homer leaves negative feedback and Mel agrees to let Homer reshoot the ending.
Discussion: Oh boy, where do I start?
Firstly, I agree with Homer that the the ending to Mr Smith Goes to Washington needs some work. Although I’m a big Jimmy Stewart fan, I didn’t love anything about the original 1939 film. In context, the film was very much a love letter to America in a time of depression and war. it also served to show the rest of the world how awesome America was, or as awesome as it wanted to seem anyway. Anyhoo, Mel Gibson’s fictional remake didn’t sit well with Homer, who thought a bit of violence would liven up the yak-fest.
Unfortunately, Hollywood and viewers disagreed and this film ruined Mel’s career (in the Simpsons universe). This episode is a clever satire of Hollywood processes such as testing audiences and a self-reflexive look at what it means to be a powerful celebrity in Hollywood. This was produced before Mel’s fall from grace: anti-semitic rants, domestic violence charges, drinking… In hindsight, Mel’s little speech about “it’s hell being Mel” is awkward now but at the time, Mel could do no wrong in Tinsel Town.
Other than that, it’s a decent episode and a solid start to Season 11.