"E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" is the fifth episode of the eleventh season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 7, 1999. In the episode, inspired by a Zorro movie, Homer begins slapping people with a glove and challenging them to duels. However, when a real Southern gentleman accepts Homer's request for a duel, the Simpsons run off to the old farm Homer lived in with his parents and breed a dangerously addictive but successful tobacco/tomato hybrid called "tomacco". Just when they are about to gain a hundred and fifty million dollars from the hybrid, dangerously addicted animals ruin their plan.
The Simpsons go to the Springfield Googelplex Movie Theaters to see The Poke of Zorro which had intentional historic inaccuracies. Afterwards, Homer, imitating Zorro, frightens Snake away by challenging him to a duel by slapping him with a glove when he insults Marge; he then starts to use his dueling glove to get anything he wants from people. First up is Moe for calling him heavyset, but after a slap, he gives Homer a free beer. When a gun-toting Southern colonel at the Kwik-E-Mart actually "accepts" Homer's challenge, Homer finds himself bound to a duel at dawn the following day.
With Homer fearing for his life, Marge tries to assure him the colonel won't show up. Bart insults Homer over it, who is about to challenge him to a duel in return; however, his family stares at him because he didn't learn his lesson. The next morning, the colonel does show up, he and his wife having arrived outside the house in their RV. The Simpsons sneak out with Homer clinging to an old Christmas tree and search for a temporary home. They encounter former President Jimmy Carter at a Habitat for Humanity site. Lisa humbly requests that Carter build them a home, but he replies the houses they build are for the truly needy. Homer angrily demands that Carter comply, who is offended and about to glove-slap Homer to challenge him to a duel. But having learned his lesson by then, Homer screams and speeds off before Carter can administer the glove.
They find Grampa's old farmhouse (even though the end of "Grampa vs. Sexual Inadequacy" saw the old farmhouse burning down after Homer dropped a match and Grampa threw the sex tonic into the fireplace) on Rural Route 9 outside of Springfield, where they decide to live and, despite the land's poor reputation for growing crops, Homer becomes a farmer. After failing to grow a thing, Homer calls Lenny and requests that they send plutonium to make the crops grow "real big, real fast." They do eventually grow, but since Homer had accidentally mixed the tomato seeds with the tobacco seeds, he decides to call the tomato-cross with tobacco, Tomacco. Homer and Marge set up a stall, Homer providing tomacco and Marge, fresh-baked mincemeat pie. While the pies do not sell well, the tomacco is such a success that executives from Laramie Cigarettes offer to buy the rights to Tomacco for $150 million because they "want to sell tobacco to kids."
Lisa protests that the Simpsons cannot accept the tobacco executives' money, but Homer misinterprets this statement, and rejects the offer as insulting, demanding $150 billion for tomacco, which they refuse to pay. Dumped back at the farmhouse, the family sees tomacco-addicted animals from other farms eating their crops. Homer saves the last plant by tricking a cow into thinking that there was a flying saucer present and the family run into the house to discuss what to do with it. Lisa urges Homer to destroy it so the world won't be addicted to the drug but Homer says he cannot do it because he is "just one man!" The neighbouring livestock track the smell into the farm house and break in, he tosses it into the air, and it lands right in the hands of a Laramie executive. The Laramie executives' helicopter leaves, but a tomacco-addicted sheep has sneaked on board and attacks them. The helicopter crashes, killing everyone on board except for the sheep and destroying the final tomacco plant. The Simpsons return home from the chaos, only to find that the Southern gentleman and his wife are still waiting for Homer to go through the duel. Homer does, but ends up getting shot in the arm, and declines to go to the hospital until after eating one of Marge's mincemeat pies.
The episode was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and directed by Bob Anderson as part of the eleventh season of The Simpsons (1999–2000). The American rock band The B-52's guest starred in the episode as themselves.
Themes and cultural references
The Simpsons go to a screening of The Poke of Zorro, which is largely a parody of the Zorro film The Mask of Zorro (1998). Jonathan Gray wrote in Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality that The Poke of Zorro "ridicules the outlandishness of Hollywood blockbuster fare", especially its "blatant historical inaccuracies" which sees the film feature Zorro, King Arthur, the Three Musketeers, the Scarlet Pimpernel, "the Man in the Iron Mask and ninjas in nineteenth century Mexico." The film's credits list, actors John Byner, Shawn Wayans, Rita Rudner, Cheech Marin, Gina Gershon, Curtis Armstrong, Eric Roberts, Spalding Gray, Anthony Hopkins, James Earl Jones and Meryl Streep, singer Victoria Beckham, wrestler Steve Austin, soccer player Pelé and producer Robert Evans as having roles in the film, and, amongst others, thanks publisher Bob Guccione and hockey team the Philadelphia Flyers. The Buzz Cola advertisement shown before The Poke of Zorro is a parody of the opening Normandy invasion sequence from the film Saving Private Ryan (1998). Gray writes that it "scorns the proclivity of ads to use any gimmick to grab attention, regardless of the ethics: as an indignant Lisa asks incredulously, 'Do they really think cheapening the memory of our veterans will sell soda?'" Amongst the other films advertised at the theater is My Dinner with Jar Jar, a reference to the character Jar Jar Binks from Star Wars and the 1981 film My Dinner with Andre.
The song "Glove Slap" is a parody of the song "Love Shack". The B-52's sang both the original and the amended version used in the episode. The music playing during the sequence where the Simpsons begin farming is the theme tune from the television series Green Acres. The addicted animals attempting to break into the house to obtain the last Tomacco is a reference the film Night of the Living Dead (1968) and the zombies' attack. A farmer is shown using an elephant to measure his corn plants' height; this is a reference to the song "Oh, What a Beautiful Mornin'" in the musical Oklahoma!, which features the line "the corn is as high an elephant's eye". The Southern colonel's accent is similar to the Warner Bros. character Foghorn Leghorn and he uses Foghorn's phrase "Sir, I say sir!", while the mudflap on his RV features a picture of him in a similar pose to Warner Bros. character Yosemite Sam. Additionally, his horn plays the opening few notes of the song "Dixie". Coincidentally, in the Warner Bros. short Duck Amuck (originally released in 1953), Daffy Duck happens to mutter, "E-I, e, i, d'oh...?"
The episode originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 7, 1999. On October 7, 2008, the episode was released on DVD as part of the box set The Simpsons – The Complete Eleventh Season. Staff members Mike Scully, Ian Maxtone-Graham, George Meyer, and Matt Selman participated in the DVD audio commentary for the episode. While reviewing the eleventh season of The Simpsons, DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson commented that "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" provides "the kind of episode typical of the series’ 'post-classic' years. While it doesn’t become a dud, it lacks the spark and zing typical of the best Simpsons. We get a mix of decent moments but nothing that elevates the episode above the level of mediocrity." In the July 26, 2007 issue of Nature, the scientific journal's editorial staff listed the episode among "The Top Ten science moments in The Simpsons", writing: "Homer's attempts to be a farmer in 'E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)' involve using plutonium as a fertilizer. DNA from tobacco seeds and tomato seeds blend to produce a fruit that tastes like ashtray, but is nonetheless 'refreshingly addictive'." In 2011, Keith Plocek of LA Weekly 's Squid Ink blog named "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" the tenth best episode of the show with a food theme.
The process of making tomacco was first revealed in a 1959 Scientific American article, which stated that nicotine could be found in the tomato plant after grafting. Due to the academic and industrial importance of this breakthrough process, this article was reprinted in a 1968 Scientific American compilation.
A Simpsons fan, Rob Baur of Lake Oswego, Oregon, was inspired by the episode. Remembering the article in a textbook, Baur cultivated real tomacco in 2003. The plant produced offspring that looked like a normal tomato, but Baur suspected that it contained a lethal amount of nicotine and thus would be inedible. Testing later proved that the leaves of the plant contained some nicotine. Both plants are members of the same family, Solanaceae or nightshade. The tomacco plant bore tomaccoes until it died after 18 months, spending one winter indoors. Baur appeared on the episode's DVD commentary, discussing the plant and resulting fame.
- Bates, James W.; Gimple, Scott M.; McCann, Jesse L., Richmond, Ray; Seghers, Christine, ed. (2010). Simpsons World The Ultimate Episode Guide: Seasons 1–20 (1st ed.). Harper Collins Publishers. pp. 530–531. ISBN 978-0-00-738815-8.
- Jane, Ian (2008-11-01). "The Simpsons - The Complete Eleventh Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Gray, Jonathan (2006). Watching with The Simpsons: Television, Parody, and Intertextuality. Taylor & Francis. p. 2. ISBN 978-0-415-36202-3.
- Chernoff, Scott (2007-07-24). "I Bent My Wookiee! Celebrating the Star Wars/Simpsons Connection". Star Wars.com. Retrieved 2011-08-28.
- Druckenbrod, Andrew (2007-09-18). "Record Review: 'Simpsons' music may suffer in translation". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2011-09-03.
- Jacobson, Colin (2008-11-19). "The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season (1999)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Hopkin, Michael (2007-07-26). "Science in comedy: Mmm... pi". Nature 448 (7152): 404–405. doi:10.1038/448404a. Retrieved 2011-11-05.
- Plocek, Keith (2011-11-11). "Top 10 Simpsons Food Episodes: Tomacco Ribwich with a Side of Guatemalan Insanity Peppers + Skittlebrau". Squid Ink (LA Weekly). Retrieved 2011-11-12.
- Bio-Organic Chemistry, on page 170. ISBN 0-7167-0974-0
- Philipkoski, Kristen (2003-11-07). "Simpsons Plant Seeds of Invention". Health. Wired. Retrieved 2008-10-22.
- "Homer Simpson inspires man to grow 'tomacco'". CTV.ca. Nov 13, 2003. Retrieved 10 October 2010.
- Baur, Rob (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eleventh Season DVD commentary for the episode "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Summary of "Among the New Words", American Speech, Volume 79, Number 2, Summer 2004.
- Word Spy - tomacco
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- "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" at The Simpsons.com
- "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" episode capsule at The Simpsons Archive
- "E-I-E-I-(Annoyed Grunt)" at the Internet Movie Database