Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily
"Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" is the third episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 1, 1995. In the episode, the Simpson children are put in the custody of Ned and Maude Flanders after a series of misadventures. Homer and Marge have to attend a class for bad parents so that they can get their children back. Learning that none of the children have been baptized, Flanders sets up a baptism, but Homer and Marge are able to stop him just in time.
The episode was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Susie Dietter. The story was pitched by another writer on the show, George Meyer. It was the first episode on which writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein served as show runners. The episode features cultural references to the 1965 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Sonny & Cher's song "I Got You Babe". Since airing, the episode has received positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 9.0, and was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.
Homer books Spa treatments for himself and Marge. Despite Marge's warning for them to clean up the house before they leave, Homer refuses and they leave their messy house in the care of Grandpa. When Bart is sent home from school with head lice and wearing a burlap sack (as he had his clothes burned to prevent contagion) and Lisa all messed up and without shoes (as a result of being continuously bullied at school), Marge and Homer are accused of being negligent parents. Two Child Protective Services agents arrive at their house and take Bart, Lisa, and Maggie to a foster home—right next door, at Ned Flanders's house.
The kids have to get used to bedtime at seven o'clock with the sunlight still out, and hours of Bible board games. Bart and Lisa hate the Flanders house, but Maggie enjoys being there as she gets more attention from the Flanders than she did with Homer. Meanwhile, Homer and Marge have to attend a special class for bad parents so that they can get their children back.
When Ned finds out that Bart and Lisa were not baptized possibly due to Homer's lack of belief in God, he takes it upon himself to give the kids an emergency baptism. Back in the class for bad parents, Marge presumably fails the class, although it was later revealed due to a marginal error made between her scores and another mother's score, she actually had passed. She and Homer are declared decent parents and they quickly head for the Springfield River to stop Ned from baptizing their children. Just as Ned is about to pour holy water on Bart, Homer shoves Bart over to prevent the water from hitting him. However the water hits Homer, apparently burning him and momentarily making him polite until he goes back to his crude self. Maggie is unsure if she should return home to her family since Ned's family has been more attentive to her. Then Marge arrives in time and resumes being a loving mother to her. With a new sense of family unity, the Simpsons happily head home with Homer and Marge both promising the kids that Grampa will never babysit them again.
"Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" was the first episode to be made after Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein became show runners of The Simpsons. They wanted to start the season with an episode centering on the Simpson family. The story was pitched by writer George Meyer at a story retreat. Story retreats were held twice a year at a hotel room close to the studio lot, where all the writers gathered to pitch their ideas. Seventeen episodes were pitched at this particular story retreat. Out of them all, Weinstein considered this episode to be the best, and he thought the pitch by Meyer was the "best" he had ever heard. Oakley and Weinstein selected former full-time staff writer Jon Vitti to write the episode, wanting a "heavy hitter", since it was going to start the seventh production season. Vitti retained in his script most of what Meyer pitched at the retreat.
The episode was directed by Susie Dietter. There is a statue portraying The Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder outside the courthouse in the episode. Oakley said that this was a mistake because he and Weinstein thought that Springfield was located in Swartzwelder County, incorrectly going off a montage in the season three episode "Dog of Death". That montage depicts Springfield as being located in Springfield County; while Swartzwelder is the adjoining county. The female Child Protective Services agent, in appearance, is based on a teacher both Oakley and Weinstein had in high school that they "hated". Cast member Hank Azaria's voice for the character Cletus was off in this episode because, over the summer between seasons, Azaria and the producers had forgotten what Cletus sounds like.
Ned and Maude Flanders sing Maggie to bed with their own version of Sonny & Cher's song "I Got You Babe". The Itchy & Scratchy cartoon that Lisa and Bart watch is called "Foster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!", a reference to the 1965 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Flanders says that he used to let his sons watch My Three Sons, but it got them "all worked up" before bedtime. The headline of a newspaper that Marge gives to Lisa for her history project is "40 Trampled at Poco Concert", a reference to American rock band Poco. While riding in Flanders's car, Maggie spins her head around with a scary smile on her face to look at Bart and Lisa, as in the 1973 film The Exorcist.
In its original American broadcast, the episode finished 53rd in the ratings for the week of September 25 to October 1, 1995, with a Nielsen rating of 9.0. The episode was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, Beverly Hills, 90210 and Melrose Place.
Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson enjoyed the episode and said that "its best elements come from the amusing bizarreness of the Flanders home, but Homer and Marge’s classes are also fun. Chalk this one up as season seven's first great episode." Jennifer Malkowski of DVD Verdict considered the best part of the episode to be when Marge tells Bart and Lisa that someday they will have to be adults and take care of themselves, just before Homer comes to Marge about a spider near his car keys. She concluded her review by giving the episode a grade of B+. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it "one of the most disturbing episodes, as Bart and Lisa are dragged into the Flanders' sinister lifestyle." They thought the ending, when Ned tries to baptize the children, was "nail-biting stuff", and Maggie's second first-word was "a truly shocking moment". The authors added: "It's astonishing that anything this radical made it on to prime time television. The final moments are perhaps the most moving in the entire series, a wonderful affirmation of everything the series, and the Simpson family, are about." Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, thought the episode was "fantastic" and he called it one of his favorites. He particularly liked the ending which he thought was "sweet".
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
- Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Weinstein, Josh (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Vitti, Jon (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Dietter, Susie (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "Nielsen Ratings". The Tampa Tribune. October 5, 1995. p. 4. Retrieved on January 7, 2009.
- Jacobson, Colin (2006-01-05). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (1995)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Malkowski, Judge (2006-01-16). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Groening, Matt (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
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- "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" at The Simpsons.com
- "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" at TV.com
- "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" at the Internet Movie Database