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Posts tagged ‘religion’

Blessed art thou among syrups

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The Father, the Son and the Holy Guest Star

Couch gag: The family are balloons who drift towards the couch. The Homer balloon scares the cat, who claws and pops him.

Director: Michael Polcino

Guest Voice:
Liam Neeson as Father Sean

Synopsis: After being expelled for a prank he didn’t pull, Bart is enrolled into a Catholic school where he and Homer are seduced by the religion.

Discussion: Hot on the heels of Homer predicting Armageddon comes this Catholic romp. This episode originally aired way back in 2005 just after the death of the very popular Pope, John Paul II. I must say that this depiction of Catholicism isn’t particularly offensive, but you know how sensitive people are when famous people die.

Anyhoo, the last 5 minutes of this ep are the best. From the moment Bart steps into the paintball game, the episode shines. It’s almost enough to make you forget how stupid the previous 15 minutes were.

Now, Catholicism isn’t very exciting and has some very strict rules, which Homer disagrees with (“No meat on Fridays? What do they eat, lightbulbs?”) but he’s seduced by the pancakes and bingo. Let’s face it, it’s probably the only way you could get Homer into religion. I don’t see Bart’s motivation for joining the religion though…

Lisa’s observance about religion is about what you’d expect from her, but the real shining point is right at the end when, 1000 years in the future, a great battle emerges between two factions of Bart’s teachings are fighting over whether he was a messenger of peace and understanding or love and tolerance. This sequence is the biting satire one expects from The Simpsons and the perfect way to finish a season.

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Nice rapture, Einstein

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Thank God, it’s Doomsday

couch gag: All the Simpsons have Moe’s face.

Director: Michael Marcantel

Guest voices:
Baha Men singing the haircut parody of their song, ‘Who let the dogs out?’
Los Lobos performing the end credits

Synopsis: After watching a movie about the Rapture, Homer predicts the apocalypse.

Discussion: Forgive me, Father, for I am about to blaspheme. What in the name of Jesus Christ was this shit?

After watching a movie called Left Below, Homer starts to panic and predicts the Rapture using numerology. His first prediction doesn’t come true but his second one, in which no one believes him, proves to be true… or at least, a very vivid dream.

Homer’s battles with religion are nothing new to The Simpsons. He’s started his own religion, he’s sued the church and taken residence, he’s taken active protests against going to church. Seeing a movie glorifying the Rapture which scares him into believing it could happen any day (and coincidentally, next Wednesday in particular) is completely out of character. Lisa’s quip about many predictions of Doomsday being incorrect is the most intelligent thing about this episode.

Coincidentally (or is it?), as I was watching today’s episode, a couple of Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door. They wanted to talk about what happens to people after they die and not the Rapture, but if they did I would have found it amusing for the coincidence. Spooky.

Anyhoo, back to the episode. Homer has dreamed about meeting God before, and Heaven does seem like a rather nice place but Homer being able to get there… well, it’s not going to happen because Homer just isn’t that pious. Surely wishing for the angel concierge’s head to explode proves that?

The Simpsons and religion go together well. This isn’t one of those well-done episodes. What if it were Marge who predicted Doomsday?

PS: Today is the anniversary of watching The Simpsons. Read about the past year here.

I’d still be sucking the juice outta glow sticks

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Pray Anything

Spongebob is not a contraceptive

Couch gag: A big baby grabs the Simpsons and drools.

Director: Michael Polcino

Guest voices:
Lisa Leslie as herself
Ken Burns as himself

Synopsis: Homer sues the church and wins the title deed, forcing the Church to be held elsewhere.

Discussion: Well, if there was a point to this episode, I missed it. Homer has formed his own religions before, and even had cracks at becoming more Christian. This episode feels like we’ve seen it all before, and there’s nothing new. Maybe it’s my cynicism from reading the latest Dead Homer Society post or maybe this is the point where God Himself is telling me to stop watching the car crash (I won’t, of course). In any case, there’s no love for this episode at all. It’s as stale as those crackers I found in the back of the cupboard yesterday.

Cue the Flanders jealousy thing again. Snore. Ned lands the $50k basketball shot and is rewarded in ways that send Homer insane with jealousy, so he tries this praying thing and it works… for a while. I’d also like to take this opportunity to point out a glaring mistake: Noah didn’t just take two of every animal on the ark. He took 7 pairs of clean animals and only one pair of unclean animal. Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know this, it’s one of those facts that everyone knows but is completely wrong, and it’s a good one to test out on your religious friends to see just how well they actually know their bible.

Anyhoo, there’s no real plot to this ep besides Homer being a jerk. There’s not even any good lines in the ep, apart from the sign out front proclaiming God is the original Tony Soprano. However, Marge’s quip about God not being “some sort of holy hotel concierge” made me wonder if Siri has overtaken this role. Ask Siri and she’ll (usually) grant your request (within reason and in a quiet area; I’ve found Siri can’t hear me when I’m at work).

So there you have it, folks. I’ve babbled on about crap because I can’t find anything decent enough to say about this episode. Homer rockin’ out to KISS in the church was probably the only highlight. That’s pretty sad if you ask me.

Save me, Jebus!

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Missionary: Impossible

A belch is not an oral report

Couch gag: The couch is in a subway station and the family catch the train that arrives.

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Guest voice:
Betty White as herself

Synopsis: Homer becomes a missionary in an attempt to escape Betty White and PBS after giving a fake pledge.

Discussion: It’s one of those episodes where the beginning marries perfectly with the premise. Homer wouldn’t voluntarily become a missionary, so being hunted down by PBS’ Pledge Enforcement Team seems perfectly reasonable. I’m also reminded about the Australian vernacular and how it’s a mix between UK English and American English. I forget that Americans don’t use the term “wanker” (or “fortnight”). But anyhoo…

This isn’t a brilliant ep but it does have its moments. Betty White is always popular, Lisa Jr is just the cutest and Homer’s attempts at creating a casino for the “savages” is pretty funny too. It could quite easily become another Lord of the Flies but the subtext is that Homer is trying to recreate a society based on what the white people did to Native Americans, because that’s all Homer knows. In fact, it goes deeper than that: Craig and Amy have been brainwashing the natives in order to Westernise them: when Homer asks about the naked chicks from magazines, the tribal leader replies that Craig and Amy have given them the gift of shame. There’s a whole dynamic about native peoples and Westerners that is explored very well within the time constraints. Not so sure about the toad licking though…

The ending is deliberate. Homer and Lisa Jr are trapped in a burning, falling turret when it cuts back to Betty White asking for donations for the “struggling” Fox network. A panel of Fox celebrities are seen waiting by the phones, including owner Rupert Murdoch (again with the crappy Aussie accents!) who answers a call with a $10k pledge from Bart, who cheekily adds it’s not the first time they’ve saved the network. It’s the sort of comment you can only make when your show is the cash cow for the network…

Homer no function beer well without

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The Joy of Sect

Shooting paintballs is not an artform

couch gag: The family are tiny, and help each other to sit on the couch. Santa’s Little Helper comes along and takes Homer

Director: Steven Dean Moore

Synopsis: Homer is sucked into a cult and brings the family along with him. Although the cult wears down Homer and the kids, Marge escapes and tries to de-program the others.

Discussion: This episode is a parody of cults in general, with a twist at the end that media (Fox in particular) is the real brainwasher of society.

Homer and Bart come across the cult at an airport, which are infamous for two things: Selling Michael Crichton and Stephen King books, and where different religions are represented in order to spread the word about whichever idol they favour. In this case, Homer is persuaded by the Movementarians, who promise that their Leader is buuilding a spaceship to take them to the blissful planet of Blisstonia. Seems fair enough- who wouldn’t give their life savings and deeds to the house in order for eternal bliss? Once they spend 100,000 years toiling, of course.

In response to the Leader’s tax-free status, Mr Burns tries to form his own new religion. This section, while funny, doesn’t really fit. Maybe it was just inserted to lengthen the episode? Perhaps the idea could be expanded into its own episode as a way for Mr Burns to not pay taxes? In any case, it doesn’t really fit here.

It’s nice to see the Simpsons out of their home and out of their minds. Most of the townspeople are under the spell of the Leader, bringing different depths to each character. Good ol’ Ned Flanders is still devoted to his own God and even assists the Simpsons in coming back from the Movementarians.

It’s a good episode, despite the weirdness of Mr Burns’ attempt at becoming god of his own religion. The Movementarians are an amalgamation of different cults, taking the weirdest parts of each and sticking them together with an awkward name. When the Leader is finally revealed as a fraud, the townspeople’s minds are freed from their illusion.

Everyone is stupid except me

Homer the Heretic

I will not defame New Orleans

Couch gag: The couch and wall swivel so a new, empty couch takes its place

Director: Jim Reardon

Synopsis: Homer refuses to go to church one morning, and after a visit from God in his dream, decides to create his own religion.

Discussion: Homer’s breaking another commandment, this time he refuses to honour the Sabbath. Previously we’ve seen Homer abandon the 8th commandment: Thou shall not steal, when he stole cable television (This post seems to have disappeared from the blog though… The divine at work?) Religion is treated somewhat fairly in this episode. Marge insists that the children be brought up “properly”, which means she wants Homer to set a good example and attend church. Homer hasn’t given religion away completely; he still believes in God, just in a non-conformist way.

Hinduism and Judaism are also acknowledged in the episode. Krusty comes to Homer’s door asking for donations for Jewish Clowns after several members were involved in an unfortunate tornado incident. Apu’s religion is mocked when Homer sees a statue of Ganesha in the Kwik-E-Mart and tells Apu that he lucked out with a stupid religion. When Homer is saved from his burning house, Reverend Lovejoy tells Homer that the hand of God was in each heart that saved him, whether the person is Christian (Ned Flanders) Jewish (Krusty) or “miscellaneous” (Apu).

Apu: Hindu. There are 700 million of us!
Reverend Lovejoy: Aww, that’s super.

That scene conveniently forgets the other rescue workers who have no assigned religion: Luann Van Houten, Barney and Otto, for example. Is the hand of God in their hearts as well?

It’s a good episode even if I don’t agree with the sentiment that children need religion to be brought up right. Highlights include Homer’s chats with God as well as his antics when home alone, missing church. Allusions to St Francis of Assisi are also good. 

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