"Hurricane Neddy" is the eighth episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 29, 1996. It was written by Steve Young, directed by Bob Anderson and features a cameo by Jon Lovitz as Jay Sherman from The Critic. In this episode, "Hurricane Barbara" viciously strikes Springfield but, by pure chance, the house of Ned Flanders is the only one destroyed. As a result, he begins to lose his faith in both God and the townspeople around him, especially Homer, as he suffers a nervous breakdown.
In midst of a quiet afternoon, the wind starts to pick up, which leads Lisa to find out that a hurricane is on the way. Lisa warns Homer, but he is skeptical since there has been no record of a hurricane ever hitting Springfield. Lisa reminds her father that the records only go back to 1978, "when the Hall of Records was mysteriously blown away". The evening news confirms that "Hurricane Barbara" is close, resulting in panicked citizens storming the Kwik-E-Mart and Homer attempting to secure the Simpson home. The hurricane strikes and after a few treacherous hours, the storm ends and the family cautiously leaves the basement. Initially, they are thankful to see that their home is untouched and Marge comments that everything works out if one has a little faith.
Meanwhile, next door Ned emerges from a heap of rubble and sees that his house was destroyed, along with everything else he owned except the family gravestones, while all the houses around his are intact. Ned is relieved that his family escaped serious injury, but it turns out to be little solace since he does not have home insurance, as he considers insurance a form of gambling. The Flanders family is forced to move into the Rescue Center in the church basement, although they appear to be the only family to be affected to that extent. Ned is further discouraged after learning that his business, the Leftorium, was looted following the hurricane. Distraught with annoyance, Ned begins to believe that God is punishing him and, seeking answers, he goes to read the Bible in the church but receives a paper cut. Interpreting it as further punishment, he sits down and laments that he is falling apart, even after doing everything the Bible says, "even the stuff that contradicts the other stuff."
The following day, Marge arrives at the church and takes the Flanders family back to their house, completely rebuilt by the people of Springfield. Overjoyed, Ned inspects the house, but becomes increasingly dismayed as he discovers its extremely shoddy construction. Immediately after the inspection, the house collapses. Ned tries to calm down, knowing that the townspeople tried their best, but is unable to contain his rage and finally snaps, lashing out at all the residents of Springfield, and directing his most vehement invective at Homer (who believes he got off easy because he wasn't yelled at). Ned then drives himself to Calmwood Mental Hospital to seek psychotherapy.
While in the asylum, Ned is visited by his childhood psychiatrist, Dr. Foster, who tells Ned about his childhood life - as a completely out-of-control brat raised by beatnik parents who did not believe in discipline. As a result, the young Ned went through the University of Minnesota Spankalogical Protocol, which involved eight months of continuous spanking. The treatment worked so well that it rendered him unable to express any anger at all, and all Ned's repressed anger built up inside him until he erupted.
Dr. Foster enlists Homer to help Ned learn how to appropriately express emotions, as he is the person who Flanders harbors the most resentful feelings towards. After several failed scripted insults, Homer manages to get Ned to open up about some of his repressed dislikes, finally admitting he hates his parents, after which he immediately feels better. Upon hearing this, Dr. Foster declares Flanders cured and he is immediately released. Outside the hospital, Ned is greeted by the townsfolk of Springfield including the rest of the Simpsons and his family, who cheer him. Ned promises that from now on, if anyone does something he does not like, they will hear about it, which Dr. Foster tells him is very healthy. Ned then adds, "And if you really tick me off, I'm gonna run you down with my car." Homer responds by laughing and saying, "Ned, you so cra-zay!" as he and Ned begin to laugh, before the end credits begin with a crazy clockwork version of The Simpsons theme.
Steve Young, a writer for the Late Show with David Letterman, was brought in as a freelance writer to write this episode. The writers wanted to explore what made Flanders tick and examine what made him act the way he does. The original idea came from George Meyer, who had also wanted an episode about Flanders' faith being tested. One of the key story points came from his friend Jack Handey, a writer for Saturday Night Live who wanted to do a sketch about a down-on-his-luck shoemaker who is visited by a bunch of elves who help him, but make very bad shoes. Likewise, it inspired the idea that the neighbors would rebuild Flanders' house, but do a bad job and provoke an outburst.
A caricature of John Swartzwelder can be seen shutting the door of a room in Calmwood Mental Hospital. Later in the episode, during the scene where the townsfolk are welcoming Ned back, someone can be seen holding a sign that says "Free John Swartzwelder." During the sequence where Flanders yells at the town, a man with a ponytail and wearing a white shirt who is a caricature of Bob Anderson can be seen.
The scene at the beginning of the episode, in which the people of Springfield mob the Kwik-E-Mart, is based on the events of the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Todd is wearing a Butthole Surfers shirt; however the censors only allowed "Buttho Surfers". Jay Sherman from The Critic, who had previously appeared in "A Star Is Burns", can also be seen in the mental hospital repeatedly saying his catchphrase, "It stinks". The small door at the end of the hallway in Flanders' rebuilt house echoes the improbably small hallway in the film Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory.
In its original broadcast, "Hurricane Neddy" finished 18th in ratings for the week of December 23–29, 1996, with a Nielsen rating of 8.7, equivalent to approximately 8.4 million viewing households. It was the second highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files.
Marge's line, "Dear God, this is Marge Simpson. If You stop this hurricane and save our family, we will be forever grateful and recommend You to all our friends," was cited by journalist Mark Pinsky as an example of how "Simpson family members are both defined and circumscribed by religion." Journalist Ben Rayner speculated that some fans, whom he called "nerds," would want an explanation of "how Barney fit through that tiny door to the 'master bedroom' in the rebuilt Flanders family home."
- Hurricane Neddy BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on March 27, 2007
- "Hurricane Neddy" The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on March 27, 2007
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Hurricane Neddy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Meyer, George (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Hurricane Neddy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Anderson, Bob (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Hurricane Neddy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (January 3, 1997). "ABC ends up on top in a slow week". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- Victoria Combe, "Praise and glory to the God-fearing Homer Simpson: Chaotic cartoon family criticized as dysfunctional is defined by religion, journalist says in book," Standard, St. Catharines, Ontario: August 31, 2001, pg. A.1.FRO.
- Ben Rayner, "Offering up the goods on Springfield's finest; The Simpsons have breached the boundaries of animation. Today a director details how they do it, writes Ben Rayner," Toronto Star, October 30, 2005, pg. C.06.
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