Thursdays with Abie
"Thursdays with Abie" is the ninth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season. It aired on the Fox Broadcasting Company in the United States on January 3, 2010. In the episode, Grampa meets a human interest journalist who writes and publishes Grampa's life stories making Homer jealous and while giving his story of Mr. Burns to the newspaper finds out the journalist plots to kill Grandpa. Meanwhile, Bart is forced to care for a stuffed lamb as part of a class project and gives the lamb to Lisa. This of course leads to a combined reference towards both Lisa's vegetarianism and Buddhism.
The episode was written by Mitchell H. Glazer & Don Payne and directed by Michael Polcino. The episode aired in the United States on January 3, 2010. The episode achieved a Nielsen rating of 4.0/10 in the 18-49 demographic. The episode also received positive reviews from critics.
It was the 450th episode of The Simpsons.
During a trip to a water park with the family, Abe meets a journalist named Marshall Goldman. Abe is thrilled that Marshall is interested in hearing his rambling anecdotes, and tells of the time he sat on and Animal trained a real shark during World War II, after the warship he served on was sunk by a torpedo in Pacific Ocean. Marshall publishes Abe's story in the Springfield Shopper. When Homer reads Marshall's article, he is shocked that other people find Abe's stories interesting. In his next anecdote, Abe tells of giving a not-yet-famous Clark Gable a shoe shine at the Springfield railway station and lending him a copy of Gone with the Wind, but still remembers his anger at not being paid. A rapt Marshall writes up this story as well and Abe's fame grows. Homer decides to visit his father, but Abe tells him off, suggesting that Homer only wants to spend time with him now that he is famous. Later, Marge suggests that, in actuality, Homer is angry with himself for not having spent more time with his dad. Insulted at the not-so-false suggestion, Homer listens to Mr. Burns' anecdotes, writes his own column and takes it to the Springfield Shopper (where it is quickly shredded). While at the newspaper office, Homer sneaks into Marshall's office and discovers a manuscript that Marshall intends to submit for a Pulitzer Prize. The manuscript states that Abe is dead and Homer realizes that Marshall intends to kill Abe. He rushes to the railway station, but Abe and Marshall have already departed on a vintage train known as the Tinseltown Starliner (Clark Gable went to the same train after Abe does his shoe polishing). With the help of Lenny and Carl, Homer breaks through a window just as Marshall pulls out a gun. The two struggle, and then Abe pulls the emergency brake and Marshall is knocked out by a vast load of hat boxes. Homer and his father reconcile, with Abe telling Homer that he is ready for his first ramble.
Meanwhile, Bart has possession of Larry the Lamb, a stuffed sheep toy that each child in Mrs. Krabappel's room takes a turn caring for over a weekend, much to the dismay of Nelson, who says that Larry was "all that kept me sane" in song. Bart resents the stuffed toy, so Lisa offers to take care of him. However, she accidentally loses Larry down a storm drain. Bart goes in to retrieve him, and is chased by sewer rats and sewer cats before finding Larry atop a pipe. Bart uses Larry to slide to safety but the toy rips and Bart unceremoniously crashes through a grate to a beach, where Agnes Skinner (who all this time has heard the children calling out for "Larry") tells Bart to "Give him my number. I'll teach him things. Things he can use."
"Thursdays with Abie" serves as a parody of Tuesdays with Morrie in which Mitch Albom learns about life values from his former teacher Morrie Schwartz. Simpsons voice actor Hank Azaria, who voices Marshall, also played Albom in the film based on Tuesdays with Morrie. The opening Flyby gag is a parody of the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. The Slimu octopus is a parody of Shamu, the killer whale. The song that plays during the train station scenes is the American jazz standard "Chattanooga Choo Choo." Also Nelson sings a different version of "Mary Had a Little Lamb.
In its original American broadcast, "Thursdays with Abie" the episode was viewed by an estimated 8.65 million households and received a rating of 4.0 rating/10% share in the 18/49 rating being the most viewed and highest rated episode on Fox's Animation Domination block, beating out Family Guy, American Dad, and The Cleveland Show and was second in its time slot after NBC's Football Night in America. The show ranked seventh in the 18/49 rating and was third on Fox for the week after The OT and The Allstate Sugar Bowl and made it 20th in the weekly ratings (it was still Fox's top rated scripted show).
The episode got a positive review from IGN's Robert Canning giving it an 8.4/10 and saying that "Overall, the episode was a success, using one of the best Simpsons running jokes to tell an engaging and even sentimental tale". Todd VanDerWerff of The A.V. Club gave episode a C+ saying that "Most of the core relationships on The Simpsons have hung on to their ability to move us. Most Homer and Lisa episodes are still touching on some level, while most Bart and Lisa episodes play off the two's easy camaraderie. One of the exceptions to this rule is the relationship between Homer and his dad. The two had some great episodes in the show's early going, as the series examined the way that Abe's inability to be a good single parent reverberated down through the years (in a much, much funnier way than that sounds)." Jason Hughes of TV Squad stated in his review "I didn't find the episode particularly funny, but I appreciated that The Simpsons did bring a bit of that emotion back to the character's relations".
Ariel Ponywether of FireFox gave the episode a B saying "“Thursdays with Abie” is a middle-of-the pack affair; a lot of the knowing pokes at Mitch Ablom’s [sic] “Tuesdays with Morrie” mildly amuse, but don’t have the bite and zing necessary for true satire." Dan Castellaneta was nominated for Outstanding Voice-Over Performance for playing Abraham Simpson and Homer Simpson in this episode, but lost to Anne Hathaway who won for her role in another The Simpsons episode Once Upon a Time in Springfield.
- "Fox Primetime". Fox Flash. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Canning, Robert (2010-01-04). "The Simpsons: "Thursdays with Abie" Review - TV Review at IGN". Tv.ign.com. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Ponywether. Ariel (January 13, 2010). "Review -- The Simpsons: "Thursdays with Abie"". FireFox. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "TV Ratings Sunday: Cold Case Ratings, NCIS Ratings, America's Funniest Home Videos Ratings, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition Ratings, The Simpsons Ratings, The Cleveland Show ratings, American Dad ratings, Family Guy ratings, Football Night In America ratings, Sunday Night Football Bengals vs. Jets ratings, Desperate Housewives Ratings, Brothers & Sisters ratings, 60 Minutes ratings". Tvbythenumbers.com. 2010-01-04. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- "TV Ratings: Pro and College Football and Desperate Housewives top weekly viewing". Tvbythenumbers.com. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- by Todd VanDerWerff January 4, 2010 (2010-01-04). ""Thursdays with Abie"/"Field of Streams"/"Big Man on Hippocampus"/"Don't Look a Smith Horse in the Mouth" | The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, Family Guy, American Dad | TV Club | TV". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2010-07-31.
- Hughes, Jason (January 4, 2010). "Review: The Simpsons - Thursdays with Abie". TV Squad. Retrieved 2010-07-11.
- "2010 Emmy Nominations: Outstanding Voice-Over Performance". emmys.com. Retrieved 2010-09-24.
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