|The Simpsons episode|
|Directed by||Nancy Kruse|
|Written by||Frank Mula|
|Original air date||January 16, 2000|
|Chalkboard gag||"I will stop "phoning it in"".|
|Couch gag||A psychiatrist is seated next to the couch. Homer yells, "Oh, doctor, I’m crazy!" and sobs while the rest of the family stares at each other.|
"Faith Off" is the eleventh episode of the eleventh season of the American animated sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 16, 2000. In the episode, Bart believes he has the power to heal others through faith after removing a bucket glued to Homer's head. Meanwhile, Homer creates a homecoming game float for Springfield University. The episode, which features guest appearances from Don Cheadle and Joe Mantegna, received generally positive reviews from critics following its release on home video in the season 11 DVD.
Homer receives a letter from Springfield University inviting him to an upcoming reunion party, where Dean Bobby Peterson reveals it is actually a fundraiser for the college's football team and forcibly takes all of the attendees' money. As revenge, Homer decides to pull a prank on Dean Peterson with his old nerd friends, Benjamin, Doug, and Gary. He tries to put a bucket filled with glue on the Dean's head, but another fraternity had already hung another bucket full of glue over the door; it falls on Homer's head, and he cannot get it off. He tries to drive with holes cut in the bucket over his eyes, but he drives the family off course — to a religious revival, hosted by a faith healer named Brother Faith, where Bart pulls the bucket off Homer's head. Brother Faith considers this act a sign that Bart has "the power" of healing. Lisa is skeptical and attempts to use reason to explain that the hot stage lights heated the metal bucket, causing the glue to liquefy and thus loosen, while at the same time expanding the bucket and allowing Bart to pull it off. Undaunted, Bart becomes a faith healer, pulls miracles of his own, and even forms his own church which massively outdraws Reverend Lovejoy's congregation on its first day of operation. There, Bart heals Springfield's residents (when in fact, his demonstrations for the day consist of punching Grandpa in his paining artificial hip, Professor Frink where he had been suffering a cramp in his back, and slapping Patty's cigarette out of her mouth).
The church is cut short, however, when Milhouse is run down, though not fatally, after he mistakes an oncoming truck for a dog; Bart had "healed" him of his myopia during his revival meeting by knocking his glasses off his face. Subsequently, Bart decides to end his career as a faith healer. Meanwhile, Homer prepares for Springfield University's homecoming football game by building a float that he has fashioned out of flowers he has stolen from Ned Flanders. At the game, everyone cheers for S.U.'s football team's star player, a kicker named Anton Lubchenko. Homer gets drunk and forgets he has made a float to celebrate SU. He crowd surfs down to the playing field, and runs to his float. Unfortunately, the other floats have left the field and the players have come back on. Homer drives his float over the leg of Lubchenko, horribly wounding him. Fat Tony, who had bet a substantial amount of money on Lubchenko's performance, threatens to kill Homer with an ice pick if Lubchenko does not return to the game. Homer convinces Bart to try to heal the kicker. Bart prays to God to help him heal the kicker. With his team down by two points, Lubchenko returns to the game and kicks the winning field goal, losing his leg in the process. Bart announces at the end of the game that he now knows that he does not have special powers and so is not a healer. Dr. Hibbert tells Bart he is happy with this: "More money for me."
Production and themes
"Faith Off" was written by Frank Mula and directed by Nancy Kruse as part of the eleventh season of The Simpsons (1999–2000). The episode features guest appearances from Don Cheadle as Brother Faith and Joe Mantegna as Fat Tony. A major theme in "Faith Off" is the Christian practice of faith healing. In his 2008 book The Springfield Reformation: The Simpsons, Christianity, and American Culture, Jamey Heit wrote that "The Simpsons reiterates the vibrancy that defines black Christianity in 'Faith Off.' A faith healer, Brother Faith, inspires Bart to nurture his spirituality. Bart responds to the call and at least for the rest of the episode embraces the spiritual vibrancy that he learns from a black Christian leader."
The episode originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 16, 2000. On October 7, 2008, it was released on DVD as part of the box set The Simpsons – The Complete Eleventh Season. Staff members Mike Scully, George Meyer, Matt Selman, and Nancy Kruse participated in the DVD audio commentary for the episode. Deleted scenes from the episode were also included on the box set. A song Bart sings in the episode, called "Testify", was released on the soundtrack album The Simpsons: Testify in 2007.
Reception from critics has been generally positive. While reviewing the eleventh season of The Simpsons, DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson commented on "Faith Off", noting: "If nothing else, I like this one for the sight of Homer with the bucket stuck on his head; something about seeing him with those little eyeholes entertains me. Otherwise there’s not much powerful at work here. The healing plot is a decent one, and Don Cheadle gives us a good guest performance. The program is fine but not much more than that." Nancy Basile of About.com, on the other hand, listed the episode as one of the episodes she felt "shined in season eleven". Alison Kerr of The Herald called the episode "brilliant". In his review of the eleventh season, Den of Geek critic Mark Oakley wrote that "there are some fine episodes to be found", such as "Faith Off", which he described as a "highlight". He added that the "song Testify harks back to the brilliance of the show’s great musical numbers like The Stonecutters Song." In 2003, the Orlando Sentinel's Gregory Hardy named "Faith Off" the fifth best episode of the show with a sports theme. Jerry Greene, another Orlando Sentinel columnist, listed the episode at number seven on his 2004 list of the show's "Top 10 Sporting Episodes". He particularly liked the inscription on Springfield University's gateway that says: "If you can read this, you're accepted."
- "Simpsons - Faith Off". Yahoo!. Retrieved 2011-10-08.
- Mazur, Eric (2009). God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture. Taylor & Francis. p. 251. ISBN 978-0-415-48536-4.
- Pinsky, Mark I. (2009). The Gospel According to the Simpsons, Bigger and Possibly Even Better! Edition: Leader's Guide for Group Study. Westminster John Knox Press. pp. 15–21. ISBN 978-0-664-23208-5.
- Heit, Jamey (2008). The Springfield Reformation: The Simpsons, Christianity, and American Culture. Continuum. p. 161. ISBN 978-0-8264-2895-0.
- "The Simpsons Episode: 'Faith Off'". TV Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-09.
- Jacobson, Colin (2008-11-19). "The Simpsons: The Complete Eleventh Season (1999)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Jane, Ian (2008-11-01). "The Simpsons - The Complete Eleventh Season". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- "David Byrne, B-52's for Simpsons compilation". NME. 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2011-07-19.
- Basile, Nancy. "'The Simpsons' Season Eleven". About.com. Retrieved 2011-10-02.
- Kerr, Alison (2000-09-07). "TO buy". The Herald.
- Oakley, Mark (2008-09-28). "The Simpsons Series Eleven DVD review". Den of Geek (Dennis Publishing). Retrieved 2012-08-10.
- Hardy, Gregory (2003-02-16). "Hitting 300 - For Sporting Comedy, 'The Simpsons' Always Score". Orlando Sentinel. p. C17.
- Greene, Jerry (2004-04-07). "D'oh! The end may be near for The Simpsons". Orlando Sentinel. p. D2.
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