El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)
|"El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Directed by||Jim Reardon|
|Written by||Ken Keeler|
Bill Oakley &|
|Original air date||January 5, 1997|
|Couch gag||The family parachutes to the couch; Homer's parachute fails sending him plummeting.|
Johnny Cash as the "Space Coyote"
"El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)", (Spanish pronunciation: [el ˈβjaxe misteɾˈjoso ðe ˈnwestɾo ˈxomeɾ]) also known as The Mysterious Voyage of Our Homer, is the ninth episode in the eighth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 5, 1997. In the episode, Homer eats several hot chili peppers and hallucinates, causing him to go on a mysterious voyage. Following this, he questions his relationship with Marge and goes on a journey to find his soulmate.
"El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" was written by Ken Keeler and directed by Jim Reardon. The episode explores themes of marriage, community, and alcohol use. Homer's voyage features surreal animation to depict the elaborate hallucination. The episode guest stars Johnny Cash as the "Space Coyote".
On a particular weekend, Marge tries to distract Homer in strange ways, like cutting certain things out of the morning newspaper and smoking in the house. Upon stepping outside, Homer smells the scents of Springfield's annual chili cook-off. Marge admits to trying to keep Homer from attending due to his drunken antics the previous year, but lets him go as long as he promises to not drink beer. At the cook-off, Homer demonstrates an extraordinary ability to withstand hot foods, but is burned by Chief Wiggum's super-hot chili and runs away screaming as the town folks laugh. Sitting at a table with Ralph Wiggum quenching the heat with water, he nearly drinks melted candle wax. When Ralph points this out, he gets the idea to use the wax to coat his mouth, enabling him to eat several of Wiggum's peppers.
After winning the chili eating contest, the peppers make Homer hallucinate. In a bizarre fantasy world, he encounters a snake, butterfly and tortoise, and accidentally destroys the sun. He arrives at a large Mayan pyramid and meets his spirit guide in the form of a coyote, who advises him to find his soulmate and questions Homer's assumption that Marge is his. Meanwhile, Marge hears of Homer's strange behavior and believing this was due to drinking alcohol, drives home without him.
The next day, Homer awakes in a golf course. Returning home, he finds Marge angry with him for his embarrassing behavior at the cook-off and asks for forgiveness, but she refuses. Homer makes note of the two's fundamental personality differences and questions if she is truly his soulmate. While roaming the streets at night, he thinks a lonely lighthouse keeper is his soulmate, but finds the lighthouse is operated by a machine. Seeing an approaching ship, Homer destroys the lighthouse's light hoping its passengers will stop and befriend him. An apologetic Marge arrives, having known exactly where Homer would go, and the pair realize they really are soulmates despite their differences. Marge fixes the light so the ship does not run into them, but it runs aground nearby, spilling its cargo of hotpants. Springfield's citizens happily retrieve them as Marge and Homer embrace. 
The episode was pitched as early as the third season by George Meyer, who was interested in an episode based on the books of Carlos Castaneda. Meyer had wanted to have an episode featuring a mystical voyage that was not induced by drugs, and so he decided to use "really hot" chili peppers instead. The staff, except for Matt Groening, felt it was too odd for the show at that point. Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein resurrected the story, and decided to use it for season eight.
Most of the hallucination sequence was animated completely by David Silverman. Silverman did not want the risk of sending it to South Korea, as he wanted it to look exactly as he had imagined it, including rendered backgrounds to give a soft mystical feel to the scene. The coyote was intentionally drawn in a boxier way so that it looked "other-worldly" and unlike the other characters. During Homer's voyage, the clouds in one shot are live-action footage, and 3D computer animation was used for the giant butterfly. During the same hallucination, Ned Flanders' line was treated on a Mac computer so that it increased and decreased pitch. The Fox censors sent a note to the writers, questioning Homer coating his mouth with hot wax. The note read: "To discourage imitation by young and foolish viewers, when Homer begins to pour hot wax into his mouth, please have him scream in pain so kids will understand that doing this would actually burn their mouths." The scream was not added; however, they did add dialog from Ralph Wiggum, questioning Homer on his action. The director also created a "wax-chart" for Homer for the animators to follow during the sequence when Homer's mouth is coated with candle-wax.
Homer waking up on a golf course was a reference to something that happened to a friend of the producers, who blacked out, and woke up on a golf course. He had to buy a map from 7-Eleven in order to find out where he was. He discovered that not only was he in a different town, but he was also in a different state. He then had to walk several miles in order to get back to his friend's house, which was the last place he remembered being the night before.
Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan were the writers' top two choices to play the coyote; the writers had wanted to use one of The Highwaymen as the voice of the spirit guide. Bob Dylan had turned the show down many times, having previously been offered a role in the season seven episode "Homerpalooza". Johnny Cash was offered the role, which he accepted. Matt Groening described Cash's appearance as "one of the greatest coups the show has ever had".
The main plot of the episode is based on the works of Carlos Castaneda, with some of the Native American imagery being similar to that used in the film Dances with Wolves. The lighthouse keeper actually being a computer is a reference to the episode of The Twilight Zone called "The Old Man in the Cave", in which a man in a cave turns out to be a computer. The main theme from The Good, the Bad and the Ugly is used during the scenes when Homer walks into the chili festival, and the song "At Seventeen" by Janis Ian plays in the background as Homer walks through the town of Springfield looking for his soul-mate after he wakes up from his vision. The scene at the end of Homer's hallucination, when the train is heading towards him, is a reference to the opening titles of Soul Train. Homer's record collection features albums by Jim Nabors, Glen Campbell, and The Doodletown Pipers.
In its original broadcast, "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" finished 34th in ratings for the week of December 30, 1996 – January 5, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 9.0, equivalent to approximately 8.7 million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, beating Millennium.
The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said: "Homer's chili-induced trip is brilliant, complete with the surreal tortoise and Indian spirit guide." The episode was placed eighth on AskMen.com's "Top 10: Simpsons Episodes" list, and in his book Planet Simpson, Chris Turner named the episode as being one of his five favorites, although he found the ending too sentimental. In 2011, Keith Plocek of LA Weekly's Squid Ink blog listed "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" as the best episode of the show with a food theme. IGN ranked Johnny Cash's performance as the 14th-best guest appearance in the show's history. Cash also appeared on AOL's list of their 25 favorite The Simpsons guest stars, and on The Times' Simon Crerar's list of the 33 funniest cameos in the history of the show. Andrew Martin of Prefix Mag named Cash his third-favorite musical guest on The Simpsons out of a list of ten. Fred Topel of Crave Online named it the best episode of the entire series.
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "El Viaje Misterioso del Nuestro Homer (The". BBC. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
- Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Richmond & Coffman 1997, pp. 220-221.
- Karma Waltonen; Denise Du Vernay (4 May 2010). The Simpsons in the Classroom: Embiggening the Learning Experience With the Wisdom of Springfield. McFarland. p. 127. ISBN 978-0-7864-4490-8. Retrieved 3 February 2013.
- Meyer, George (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Reardon, Jim (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Weinstein, Josh; Meyer, George; Groening, Matt; Reardon, Jim (2006). The Simpsons The Complete Eighth Season DVD commentary for the episode "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer (The Mysterious Voyage of Homer)" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Turner 2004.
- "HOMERIC VERSE". Entertainment Weekly. May 10, 1996. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
- Associated Press (January 9, 1997). "Sugar bowl was sweet for ABC, too". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- Weir, Rich. "Top 10: Simpsons Episodes". Askmen.com. Retrieved March 25, 2007.
- Plocek, Keith (November 11, 2011). "Top 10 Simpsons Food Episodes: Tomacco Ribwich with a Side of Guatemalan Insanity Peppers + Skittlebrau". Squid Ink. LA Weekly. Retrieved November 12, 2011.
- Goldman, Eric; Iverson, Dan; Zoromski, Brian. "Top 25 Simpsons Guest Appearances". IGN. Retrieved March 26, 2007.
- Potts, Kimberly. "Favorite 'Simpsons' Guest Stars". AOL. Retrieved November 24, 2008.
- Crerar, Simon (July 5, 2007). "The 33 funniest Simpsons cameos ever". The Times. Retrieved August 9, 2010.
- Martin, Andrew (October 7, 2011). "Top 10 Best Musical Guests On 'The Simpsons'". Prefix Mag. Retrieved October 8, 2011.
- Topel, Fred (June 12, 2013). "Best Episode Ever #1: 'The Simpsons'". Crave Online. Retrieved June 14, 2013.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M.
- Turner, Chris (2004). Planet Simpson: How a Cartoon Masterpiece Documented an Era and Defined a Generation. Foreword by Douglas Coupland. (1st ed.). Toronto: Random House Canada. ISBN 978-0-679-31318-2. OCLC 55682258.
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- "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Homer" at The Simpsons.com
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- "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer" at TV.com
- "El Viaje Misterioso de Nuestro Jomer" on IMDb