|The Simpsons episode|
|Promotional image for the episode.|
|Orig. airdate||December 12, 2010|
|Written by||Chris Cluess|
|Directed by||Ralph Sosa|
|Chalkboard gag||"Candy canes are not elf bones"|
|Couch gag||The Simpsons on the couch is depicted as an Advent Calendar.|
|Guest star(s)||Jon Hamm
"Donnie Fatso" is the ninth episode of the twenty-second season of the animated comedy series The Simpsons. It first aired on Fox in the United States on December 12, 2010. The plot revolves around an FBI agent, who helps Homer go undercover to infiltrate Fat Tony's mob. Homer agrees to this in hopes of decreasing his sentence after being charged for bribery. This episode is a reference to Goodfellas as well as real-life informant Donnie Brasco.
"Donnie Fatso" was written by Chris Cluess and directed by Ralph Sosa. Critics were polarized with the episode, with criticism stemming from its main plot and cultural references. Upon its initial airing, the episode received 7.32 million viewers and attained a 3.2/8 rating in the 18-49 demographic, according to Nielson ratings. "Donnie Fatso" featured guest appearances from Jon Hamm and Joe Mantegna, as well as several recurring voice actors and actresses for the series.
Homer and Marge wake on New Year's Day with hangovers after the family's New Year's Eve celebration. Homer takes out the garbage but Chief Wiggum and his cops arrive and inform Homer that the town has approved new dumb laws and Homer racks up a series of spurious fines. With fines of $1000, Moe suggests Homer bribe an official, but Wiggum catches him in the act and arrests him. After being sentenced to ten years in jail, Wiggum takes pity on Homer and suggests he talk with an FBI investigator who offers to reduce his jail time if Homer agrees to go undercover as an informant to investigate Fat Tony. Meanwhile, Marge becomes upset by Homer's "disappearance".
After freeing Homer from jail, Fat Tony lets Homer spend time with his gang. Impressed with Homer's attitude, Fat Tony decides to test him. His first order was to burn down Moe's Tavern (a revenge for the latter's rudeness towards Tony when he mistakes Tony's telephone call for a prank), but fortunately, Homer does not need to lift a finger as Moe already has done this in order to avoid sanitary inspection ("it's that or put in a ladies' room!"). Homer is accepted into the mafia family and forges a special bond with Fat Tony. However, internal conflict sets in as the mafia was attempting to import Belgian guns. Fat Tony later finds out that Homer is an informant for the government and, emotionally unable to withstand the fact of betrayal, dies of a heart attack.
Marge is pleased that Homer has his sentence scrapped and is able to come back home. Unable to bear the guilt from being associated with the death of Fat Tony, Homer decides to apologize to him at his grave, only to have Fat Tony's cousin Fit Tony kidnap him to settle a score. However, after Homer explains that he does not care about death, they have a conversation and come to the conclusion that the real culprits for killing Fat Tony were the government agents who spied on them. Fit Tony then assumes the family's management, but the stress of his new position makes him over-eat to the point where he becomes the new Fat Tony.
Donnie Fatso was written by Chris Cluess and directed by Ralph Sosa. In July 2010, it was announced that Jon Hamm would make a guest appearance in the episode as an agent for the FBI. In his interview with Entertainment Weekly, showrunner Al Jean was pleased with Hamm's performance, opining: "You gave him one note and he immediately did twelve great things with it. He was really funny. And handsome. He had it all. Hamm stated that appearing on the show was "an incredible experience". In his interview with Access Hollywood, he continued, "I got to work on The Simpsons, which I watched for 20 years and the show is still fresh and still funny and the characters still resonate. It’s one of the best shows on television. It was an honor to be asked to be a part of it." Joe Mantegna returned as Fat Tony, and voiced Fat Tony's cousin Fit Tony.
"Donnie Fatso" features several references to music, film, media, and other pop culture phenomenon. The episode's plot and title are parodical to that of the film Donnie Brasco. At the end of the episode, Homer's monologue serves as a homage to monologue of Henry Hill in Goodfellas. Similarly, the parodying monologue is set to Sid Vicious' version of "My Way". Near the end of the episode, Fit Tony narrowly avoids a car bomb, a scene similar to that in Casino. The final scene between Fat Tony and Homer is reminiscent to that of the television show Wiseguy.
The opening sequence of "Donnie Fatso" featured a Fox News helicopter with the words "Merry Christmas from Fox News… But no other holidays." It was the third episode of the season to satirize Fox News in its opening sequence, having first done so in "The Fool Monty", in which helicopter can be seen hovering over New York City with the slogan "Fox News: Not Racist, But #1 With Racists". Bill O'Reilly, host of the The O'Reilly Factor, harshly criticized the show, calling the producers "pinheads". He resumed: "Continuing to bite the hand that feeds part of it, Fox broadcasting once again allows its cartoon characters to run wild." In response, producers added a brief scene at the beginning of the opening sequence in the following episode, "How Munched is That Birdie in the Window?", in which a helicopter appears bearing the slogan "Fox News: Unsuitable for Viewers Under 75." The scene was later removed from the opening sequence of "How Munched is That Birdie in the Window?", and was replaced by one reminiscing the film King Kong. According to showrunner Al Jean, the producers of the show were pleased that they had annoyed O'Reilly, exclaiming that it was "very entertaining for [them]."
"Donnie Fatso" was first broadcast on December 12, 2010 in the United States as part of the animation television night on Fox. It was succeeded by episodes of Family Guy and American Dad!. The episode was viewed by an estimated 7.32 million viewers, despite airing simultaneously with Extreme Makeover Home Edition on ABC, The Amazing Race on CBS, and a game between the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys as part of the 2010 NFL season on NBC. "Donnie Fatso" garnered a 3.2/8 rating in the 18-49 demographic, according to the Nielson ratings. The episode also became the third highest rated show of the week on Fox, only behind Glee and Family Guy. Total viewership and ratings were significantly down from the previous episode, "The Fight Before Christmas", which received 9.56 million viewers and achieved a 4.2/11 rating in the 18-49 demographic.
The episode attained mixed receptions from television critics. Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club gave the episode a 'C' grade, scoring lower than "Road to the North Pole" of Family Guy and "For Whom the Sleigh Bell Tolls" of American Dad. VanDerWerff felt that the episode was "fairly lazy", and commented that the main plot was "too much of a mob movie pastiche." Eric Hochberger of TV Fanatic criticized the humor of the episode, opining that "for an episode with such an overdone story, we could have forgiven things if it were at least funnier." He continued: "Unfortunately, there just weren't enough jokes to make the episode worth it." In conclusion of his review, Hochberger gave "Donnie Fatso" a 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Critics were also polarized with the conclusion of Fat Tony, and the addition of Fit Tony. Entertainment Weekly writer Darren Franich named Fat Tony's death the ninth Best TV Character Death of 2010, writing, "give the writers some credit for doing something different: In the middle of an otherwise straightforward mob-themed episode, they actually went ahead and killed off Fat Tony, a character who was first introduced almost twenty years ago."
Dan Castellaneta's performance in the episode, as Homer, Barney, Krusty and Louie, was nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance at the 63rd Primetime Emmy Awards, but lost to Maurice LaMarche, who received the award for his role in the Futurama episode "Lrrreconcilable Ndndifferences".
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