All's Fair in Oven War
"All's Fair in Oven War" is the second episode of The Simpsons' sixteenth season, and originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 14, 2004. In the episode, Marge gets her kitchen remodeled and the dishes she make inside it get rave reviews. Under the suggestion of Ned Flanders, she decides to enter a cooking contest.
Matt Selman wrote the episode, and Mark Kirkland served as director. Thomas Pynchon and James Caan guest starred as themselves. The episode features cultural references to songs such as "Separate Ways", "Boplicity" and "Take Five," as well as references to the film The Godfather and various fictional food mascots. The episode received positive reviews from critics.
Marge and Homer discover the house next to them is up for sale, and is marveled by the extensive kitchen inside the house. After realizing the poor quality of her own kitchen, she asks Homer to hire a contractor. Not wanting to pay the price of hiring one, he decides to remodel it himself. While remodeling the kitchen, Homer unearths his old collection of Playdude magazines. After Marge sees them, he innocently tells her he kept them only for the articles, and she decides to make sure by cutting out all the nudes from the magazines. After this, Homer decides that they are now of no use, and throws them away, only for them to be found by Bart and Milhouse. After reading the 1970s magazines, they are inspired to renovate their treehouse. After Homer's attempts of remodeling the kitchen fail, Marge finally decides to hire a contractor herself.
Despite the contractor assuring that the renovation will be done in three weeks, it takes two years of renovation (which (a) results in nobody, including Maggie, looking any older two years into the future, and (b) does not exist in any other episodes). Marge's kitchen is finally remodelled, for the price of $100,000. She then cooks her first dish in the kitchen, which gets rave reviews from many Springfieldians, as well as Thomas Pynchon. At the Kwik-E-Mart, Marge encounters an advertisement for the Ovenfresh bake-off, in which the grand prize is being Ovenfresh's spokeswoman, "Auntie Ovenfresh". Under Ned Flanders's advice, she decides to enter the bake-off with her "dessert dogs" and she wins, beating Ralph's "Grilled crayon sandwich." At the bake-off, most of the competitors cheat by ruining Marge's dessert dogs on purpose while insulting her, so while alone in the judging room, Marge retaliates by tainting all of the competitors' entries with Maggie's ear medicine. This was witnessed by Lisa, who then loses her faith in her as a result.
Meanwhile, Chief Wiggum and other concerned parents talk to Homer about Bart spreading Playdude to the other children. Realizing that Bart has got the Playdude magazines he threw away, Homer decides to have a talk with Bart about the facts of life. After the talk, a horrified Bart quickly spreads the talk to Milhouse and the other children, horrifying them as well. Meanwhile, Lisa confronts Marge for cheating, but she defends her actions by stating that the competitors pushed her into doing so with their antics. At the bake-off finals against Brandine Spuckler, Marge considers cheating again, but then discovers a note from Lisa and admits to her foulplay, restoring Lisa's faith in her. Not long afterwards, the new Auntie Ovenfresh flour bag with Brandine on it comes out and her husband, Cletus mentions that she has left him for James Caan. In response, Cletus's friends ambush Caan at a toll booth and gun him down in a scene reminiscent of the death of Sonny Corleone, Caan's character in the film The Godfather, luckily for him, he survives and complains about that scene.
Thomas Pynchon guest stars as himself in the episode, wearing a paper bag over his head. His role is reprised from the season 15 episode "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife". According to executive producer Al Jean, Pynchon helped write the jokes for his appearances. James Caan also guest stars in the episode, first seen in Bart's treehouse. He is then shown dating Brandine Spuckler, and he is later shot by hillbillies at a toll booth.
In the original version of this episode, after Homer tells Marge that she is the "best chef in the house," Marge grumbles, "Eh, BFD," which stands for "big, fucking deal". On Sunday night FOX repeats, the "F" in "BFD" is muted out. The original line can be heard in syndicated and UK reruns. The syndicated version also credits Russi Taylor, who was not credited in the original version of the episode.
- The episode's title is a play on the saying "All's fair in love and war", a proverb found in John Lyly's 16th century book Euphues that is commonly used to justify cheating.
- The film the Simpson family watches, Blacula Meets Black Dracula, is a parody of 1970s blaxploitation films.
- After the Simpsons' kitchen is renovated, Marge says: "When Virginia Woolf wrote every woman needs a room of one's own, she must have been talking about the kitchen." This is a reference to her 1929 essay A Room of One's Own.
- On the cover of one of the Playdude magazines, a headline reads "The Girls of Kent State: Four Nude in Ohio." This is a reference to the 1970 Kent State shootings, where the members of the Ohio National Guard killed four students. On the cover, two girls are kneeling down and a pair of legs is visible at the lower left-hand corner of the page. This is a reference to John Filo's famous picture of Mary Ann Vecchio and an unnamed person kneeling down over the body of shooting victim Jeffrey Miller. Sonny Jurgensen and Bella Abzug are also seen on the magazines.
- The song "Separate Ways" by Journey is played in the background during Homer's fantasy of him living next to himself. Also, "Boplicity" by Miles Davis is being listened to by Bart and Milhouse. "Take Five" by The Dave Brubeck Quartet is played in the background at Bart's treehouse.
- The logo for "Drizzlers Gravies" is a parody of Sherwin Williams's sign with a picture of a can of red paint being poured over the Earth.
- Among the food mascots seen during Homer's fantasy are Mr. Pringle, Mr. Peanut, Charlie the Tuna, the Pillsbury Doughboy, Toucan Sam, Count Chocula, the Jolly Green Giant, Twinkie the Kid, and the mascots for Snap, Crackle and Pop and Land O'Lakes.
- The episode's final scene, showing James Caan being ambushed by hillbillies at a toll booth, is a parody of a scene in the film The Godfather when Sonny Corleone, portrayed by Caan, is shot and killed at a toll booth. The scene was also parodied in the episode "Mr. Plow," in which Bart gets pelted by snowballs by Nelson and his gang of bullies.
- When Bart wants to transform the treehouse into a playdude mansion and mentions "then we can have orgies, whatever they are", he refers to the novel The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain in which Tom explains his idea about becoming a band of robbers to Huckleberry Finn and says "and we will have orgies, whatever they are" when referring to the women they plan to capture.
In its original American broadcast, "All's Fair in Oven War" garnered roughly 11.4 million viewers.
The episode has garnered positive reviews from critics. Eric Messinger of Springfield Weekly gave the episode a positive review. He gave the episode a B-, stating the Marge segment "needed a bit more fine-tuning." However, he praised the Bart segment, stating that it saved the episode, and that Bart not seeing nudity in the Playdude magazines worked well in every joke, and the segment was almost reminiscent to the season three episode "Bart the Murderer." He also praised the James Caan guest appearance, stating it "worked quite well, especially with the Godfather ending pay-off." In 2012, New York magazine named "All Fair's in Oven War" as one of the ten best later Simpsons episodes.
- "All's Fair in Oven War". The Simpsons.com. Archived from the original on 14 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-06-16.
- "All's Fair in Oven War" at TV.com
- Glenn, Joshua (October 19, 2003). "Pynchon and Homer". Boston.com.
- Ottosell.de - Pynchon Index
- Garvey, Matt (23 Jun 2008). "Simpsons Syndication Cuts Guide Season Sixteen". The Simpsons Archive. Archived from the original on 27 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-07-02.
- Titelman, Gregory Y. "Random House Dictionary of Popular Proverbs and Sayings", Random House, N.Y., 1996.
- Then Simpsons Channel | News Archive | November 2004[dead link]
- Springfield Weekly - Season 16 Reviews
- Seitz, Matt Zoller (February 10, 2012). "Nine Latter-Day Simpsons Episodes That Match Up to the Early Classics". New York (magazine). Retrieved February 11, 2012.
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- "All's Fair in Oven War" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
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- "All's Fair in Oven War" at TV.com