The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed
"The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" is the sixteenth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season and the 457th episode overall. It aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 28, 2010 (Palm Sunday and the eve of Passover). In this episode, the Simpsons vacation in Jerusalem with Ned Flanders, but Homer does not appreciate the city's religious importance—until he gets lost in the desert, and in a severe state of dehydration, believes himself to be the Messiah.
The episode was written by Kevin Curran and directed by Michael Polcino and guest stars Sacha Baron Cohen as the Israeli tour guide Jakob and Yael Naim as his niece Dorit. It makes references to popular culture including Transformers and VeggieTales. "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" received a 2.7/8 Nielsen Rating in the 18-49 demographic and mixed reviews from critics.
Ned Flanders becomes frustrated when Homer disrupts his Bible study group, and Reverend Lovejoy recommends that Ned invite the Simpson family to join them on a tour of Jerusalem. Homer is skeptical, but Marge accepts and soon the family is on their way to Israel. Upon arrival in Jerusalem, they are joined by Krusty the Clown, who is making a Jewish pilgrimage. They pass the Western Wall and meet a talkative and pushy tour guide named Jakob.
At first, Homer and the other tourists show more interest in the hotel's buffet than they do in seeing the city, much to Ned's dismay. When they arrive at King David's tomb, Ned implores Homer to show some respect. Homer, however, continues to goof off and Ned becomes increasingly impatient with him. When Jakob takes the group to the Western Wall, Homer and Bart get in an argument over placing written prayers between the rocks. Bart escapes on his skateboard, but is chased down by Jakob's young niece, Dorit, who has military training and specializes in Krav Maga. She subdues him with multiple kicks to his testicles.
Their next stop is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Ned prays that Homer finds some meaning in the tour. But when he discovers Homer taking a nap on Jesus' tomb, he loses his temper and yells at Homer. Ned is removed from the church by security when they hear the commotion and is banned for life from visiting the site. Ned subsequently scolds Homer, telling him that his soul is "not worth saving", and storms off. Homer rushes after Ned to make amends, but loses sight of him and believes that Ned is lost in the desert. Actually, Ned merely went to get a cup of tea to calm his anger, after which he went to see a movie. Homer takes a camel and rides off to find Ned, but soon becomes lost in a sandstorm. While feeling the effects of dehydration Homer starts singing about how thirsty he is. Homer arrives at the Dead Sea, drinks some water, and adds more salt to the water after tasting it. Still dehydrated, he hallucinates, and in the hallucination, he is visited by a pickle, carrot, and tomato from VeggieTales and told that he is the new Messiah.
After being rescued by Marge and a security guard, Dr. Hibbert diagnoses Homer with Jerusalem syndrome, whose sufferers possess religiously-themed obsessive ideas. Homer escapes from the hotel and ends up at the Dome of the Rock. Marge, the Simpson children, and Dr. Hibbert all chase after him, only to hear him preach that the similarities of different religions outweigh their differences, and that all should search for a common ground for a joint new religion, the so-called "Chrismujews" (and in Homer's mind, this includes "peace and chicken" - chicken because it is accepted as food in each of the above-mentioned religions). Shortly afterwards, Agnes and Dr. Hibbert also develop the syndrome. Ned witnesses Homer's speech and is profoundly moved. In the end, most of the people on the tour develop Jerusalem Syndrome, and on the flight back to Springfield, Ned and Homer reconcile. Bart receives another hit in the testicles, this time from Lisa, during an argument over choice of seating.
The episode was written by Kevin Curran, his second writing credit for the season after "Rednecks and Broomsticks" although the other episode was produced for season 20 and directed by Michael Polcino his second directing credit for the season after "Thursdays with Abie". Sacha Baron Cohen guest stars as Jakob and Yael Naim appears as Dorit.
This is one of few Simpsons episodes to use the Bleep censor.
The Fiddler on the Roof, a fictional Jew, makes an appearance in Israel. The episode features the characters from VeggieTales in Homer's hallucination. Ned watches a parody of Transformers, titled The Reformers. When Homer is lost with the camel in the desert, there are allusions to the film Lawrence of Arabia. Homer mistakes the Lord's Resting Place for that of cartoon character Porky Pig. While Dorit is chasing Bart, the music and surrounding characters are similar to the film Run Lola Run.
In its original airing, "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" was viewed by 5.698 million viewers and got a Nielsen Rating of 2.7, with an 8% share of the audience. It came second in its timeslot and second in the "Animation Domination" lineup.
The episode received lukewarm reviews. Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a 7.3, calling it was "Decent" and adding, "I was underwhelmed with Sacha Baron Cohen's voice work as the group's tour guide. He was like a sped up Borat and was actually a bit difficult to understand at times. The few jokes that did get through were only okay." Canning also stated that "It's difficult to keep your expectations in check when you hear about an upcoming guest star, and that likely affected my perception of this episode. But that it is what it is. Perhaps subsequent viewings will find me enjoying this more, but for now, "Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" was just this side of good." Todd VerDer Werff gave the episode a B+ and said "there were jokes here that went on way too long, like that whole krav maga thing. But, for the most part, this was a funny vacation episode, and the show hasn't done one of those in a while." Jason Hughes of TV Squad gave the episode a negative review saying "I don't expect 'The Simpsons' to have that sharp edge of wit it used to in its earlier, more subversive days, but I do expect it to be able to create situations for humor from time to time; even if it's gentle humor." The TV Fanatic gave the episode a 3/5 saying "It manages to combine jokes, while still showing positive messages such as Homer showing genuine care after Flanders, his supposed enemy, takes off into the dessert [sic]. Or even Homer's positive message of re-uniting all faiths."
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- Snierson, Dan (2009-09-18). "Exclusive: Sacha Baron Cohen to guest on 'The Simpsons'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2009-09-19.
- "The Simpsons - Episode Guide - MSN TV". Tv.msn.com. 2011-01-23. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- "Fox Primetime". Fox Flash. Retrieved 2012-11-08.
- Canning, Robert. "The Simpsons: "Greats Story Ever D'Ohed" Review". IGN.
- Jason Hughes. "'The Simpsons' - 'The Greatest Story Ever D'Ohed' Recap". TV Squad.
- Gorman, Bill. "TV Ratings: Basketball Elevates CBS; Undercover Boss Still In Charge". TV by the Numbers.
- Todd VanDerWerff. ""The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed"/"The Brown Knight"/"Brian Griffin's House of Payne"". AV Club.
- Eric Hochberger. "The Simpsons Review: "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed"". TV Fanatic.
- Jessica Ravitz (March 29, 2010). "Homer Simpson isn't the only would-be 'Messiah' in Jerusalem". CNN.
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