Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes
"Sex, Pies and Idiot Scrapes" is the season premiere of The Simpsons’ twentieth season, and first aired September 28, 2008. After getting charged for being involved in a fight, Homer meets bail bondsman Lucky Jim and Wolf the Bounty Hunter, who convince him to become a bounty hunter. In a twisted turn of events, he becomes Ned Flanders' partner. Meanwhile, Marge unknowingly begins working at an erotic bakery. Julia Louis-Dreyfus returns as Snake's girlfriend Gloria for the third time. Robert Forster provides the voice of Lucky Jim, and Joe Mantegna returns as Fat Tony in the episode. It was watched by 9.3 million viewers the night it aired.
An alcohol-free Springfield Saint Patrick's Day parade is interrupted by a brawl between the Nationalist Irish and the Unionist Northern Irish in which Homer participates. A group of hungry children steal Marge's picnic basket. She is saved by Patrick Farrelly, who gives the children a cabbage and returns the basket. Marge offers him a cupcake in gratitude, and Patrick immediately offers her a job at his bakery after eating it. Homer is taken to jail, because of his involvement in the riot. Due to his history of crime, Homer's bail is set incredibly high, and he is forced to get a bail bondsman named Lucky Jim to help him. Lucky Jim agrees to secure Homer's release from prison, as long as Homer does not skip his bail. Otherwise, he will have to deal with Wolf the Bounty Hunter, who quickly inspires Homer to become a bounty hunter himself. Homer's first mission involves pretending to sell condos on a street corner to criminals. Snake approaches Homer, who tries to take Snake down. Homer corners Snake in an alleyway, where Snake pulls out a pistol and fires a shot straight to Homer's head. Miraculously, Ned Flanders places a sheet of bulletproof glass in front of Homer, which deflects the shot. Ned attempts to convince Snake to come in quietly, unknowingly allowing Homer to sneak up behind Snake and capture him by asphyxiating him with a plastic bag. Homer convinces Ned to join him as a bounty hunting duo.
At the bakery, Marge realizes that Patrick employed her at an erotic bakery after seeing Patty and Selma pick out a suggestively-shaped cake. Marge tries to quit, but Patrick says that there is nothing wrong with what he is doing, and that many of her friends have bought cakes from the store. Patrick informs Marge that she has a gift, and Marge agrees to stay. Meanwhile, Homer and Ned are successfully pursuing several bail-jumpers. Homer, now richer, spoils his family with gifts. Marge is equally proud of her job. That evening, Homer and Ned conduct a stakeout, hoping to take in Fat Tony. When he emerges next morning, Homer and Ned chase him around Springfield and eventually capture him by crashing their car into a subway car. Disgusted by Homer's lawless capture, Ned angrily quits. Ned tries to get out of the bounty-hunting business, but agrees to hunt for Homer after Lucky Jim informs Ned that Homer has skipped his bail, while being too distracted with his new job. At first, Ned still refuses, but after he sees the other "options" of Jim (a number of amoral and sociopathic Bounty Hunters) Ned fears for Homer's sake and decides to arrests Homer by himself.
When Homer arrives home to find Ned waiting for him, Homer declares that Ned will never take him alive. A long Parkour chase ensues, ending with the two on a beam suspended high over the ground. Homer wails that he loved Ned, but Ned counters that Homer mostly hated him. Homer scoffs that it was only because Ned holds onto his resentments. Homer jumps onto another beam, but Ned fails to land on it, gripping onto the edge of the beam. He begs Homer for help, which causes Homer to flash back to all the good times he and Ned had together; Homer finally helps Ned, but ends up tumbling over the edge of the beam himself. Shrieking, he and Ned end up landing in a pool of wet cement – which unfortunately sets before they can get out. Chief Wiggum arrives to put Homer away, but in jail, Homer has been sentenced to a short stay. On the last night of his sentence, he receives a cake from Marge to "help get him through his sentence". He opens it to find a regular pink and white frosted sheet cake that simply says "to the love of my life". At the same time, Sideshow Bob escapes from the Springfield Penitentiary.
The episode title is an allusion to Steven Soderbergh's 1989 directorial debut Sex, Lies and Videotape. Robert Forster guest stars as bail bondsman Lucky Jim in the episode, the same job his character held in the 1997 film Jackie Brown. The bail bondsman Wolf is a parody of Duane "Dog" Chapman, the star of the series Dog the Bounty Hunter, while one of the bounty hunters lining up to chase Homer down, before Ned takes the job, is Rose McGowan's character Cherry Darling from Robert Rodriguez's 2007 film Planet Terror. In the opening St. Patrick's Day brawl, Marvel Comics characters The Thing and The Incredible Hulk have cameos, while before that Bart notes that he misses the IRA, a reference to the ending of their armed campaign in 2005. When Homer reminisces about the good times he and Ned had, one clip shows the two of them in a Batman-esque fight scene. The episode's couch gag parodies Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, with Boba Fett appearing and carrying away the family frozen in carbonite as he had done to Han Solo.
The episode features several musical references. Homer and Ned's song "Kindly Deeds Done For Free" is a parody of "Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap" by AC/DC. Lisa sings "Too Ra Loo Ra Loo Ral" to calm the fighting Irish, the Eddy Grant song "Electric Avenue" accompanies the montage of Homer and Ned hunting criminals.
It was watched by 9.3 million people making it the most-watched Fox cartoon of the night beating Family Guy which was second with 9.2 million viewers. It received 247,000 fewer viewers than the previous year's season premiere. Robert Canning of IGN called it a "decent, if fun start to the twentieth season". In the end, he gave a final rating of 7.2/10. Joel Brown of "MeeVee" gave the episode a B-. Justin Gagnon of The Daily Collegian called the episode "worthwhile viewing for both big fans and occasional watchers and proves that even after 20 seasons the show still can dish up some fresh laughs."
The episode stirred controversy in Northern Ireland and the rest of the United Kingdom over a brawl that occurred in the opening act of the episode. The brawl, between Irish and Northern Irish people, included Bart's line "Where are the IRA when you need them?" Gregory Campbell, a British MP for East Londonderry in Northern Ireland said "The Simpsons is a humorous cartoon but the context of using a line like that about an organisation which caused so much death will lead people to have very mixed views, some people may take it as a light hearted reference, while others who were affected by the real life violence of the IRA and are still suffering with that legacy, will not."
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