|The Simpsons episode|
|Directed by||Michael Polcino|
|Written by||Sam O'Neal
|Original air date||February 9, 2003|
|Chalkboard gag||"SpongeBob is not a contraceptive".|
|Couch gag||The Simpsons sit down as normal. A giant baby picks them up and plays with them.|
"Pray Anything" is the tenth episode in the fourteenth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on February 2, 2003. In the episode, Homer sues the church and ends up receiving the deed to own it. Under his ownership, the church becomes a hangout for townspeople.
At a WNBA game which the Simpson family are attending, the announcer offers a $50,000 prize for successfully shooting a half-court basket. Ned Flanders kneels and prays before shooting the basket, and makes it. He declares he will donate the money, much to Homer's dismay. The following day, Homer asks Ned what his secret is, and Ned replies it is hard work, clean living, and prayer. Later, Homer could not find the remote control and prays to God to help him find it. He finds it under the couch and sees that his prayers are working.
After noticing his excessive praying, Marge tells Homer that he could not ask God to do everything for him, which he bluntly refuses to consider. On a Sunday, Homer is walking towards the church and looking up, talking to God. Not looking where he is going, he falls into a shallow hole. A lawyer convinces Homer to sue the church. In court, the jury finds in Homer's favor and he receives the deed to the church. Despite Marge's objections, he moves the family there, displeasing Reverend Lovejoy, who eventually leaves town.
The church becomes a bar and hangout for the townspeople, and Ned observes that they have violated all Ten Commandments. As Marge worries that Homer is incurring God's wrath, a rainstorm begins and Homer is struck by lightning. The town begins to flood, and the townspeople flee to the roof of the church. Just as the townspeople are about to enact revenge on Homer, Reverend Lovejoy returns in a helicopter and leads everyone in prayer, asking God to forgive them. The flood subsides, leaving Bart and Lisa to ponder what really caused such events.
The show has delved into religious themes many times in its history. In this episode, the theme of prayer is given center stage.
The episode had a freelance pitch. O'Neal and Boushell wanted to ensure they came up with a unique idea that had never been done before, as they knew the episode was near the show's 300th anniversary. The original pitch was based off an NPR story about the “gospel of prosperity”. This episode opens with a WNBA game because many NBA players had turned them down for a guest spot a couple of years before in the episode "Children of a Lesser Clod". The lenticular card of a "vengeful god" and "loving god" was animated by creating two images which cross dissolved with white lines interspersed. Al Jean explained that a valid point made in the episode was why God should care about the average man's first world problems when there are natural and man-made disasters that could use his help. Castellaneta did a longer falling noise at the table read than the one that appeared in the final cut of the episode. Jean explained that due to the loss of Phil Hartman – and therefore Lionel Hutz – it was tough to introduce new lawyers to the show. This episode includes one such attempt. The staff had a fight with the broadcast standards over Homer dancing around the church in his underwear. In regard to the sunset shot, up until this point in the show's history, there was not much graduated shading used because it had to be painstakingly drawn. In contrast, it is very quick and easy using computers, which is why Polcino prefers digital over the hand painted; many more color and shading options are made available.
The Orlando Sentinel's Gregory Hardy named it the thirteenth best episode of the show with a sports theme. Bringing in the Sheaves is hummed by Homer Simpson, and I Was Made for Lovin' You by Kiss is played in the background.
Polcino said Pray Anything was a "well-written show", and "one of his favourite scripts" as he loves addressing religious themes.
- Mazur, Eric; McCarthy, Kate (2010-09-27). "God in the Details: American Religion in Popular Culture". ISBN 9780203854808.
- The Simpsons staff (2003). Commentary for "Pray Anything", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Jean, Al (2003). Commentary for "Pray Anything", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Polcino, Michael (2003). Commentary for "Pray Anything", in The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Hardy, Gregory (February 16, 2003). "Hitting 300 - For Sporting Comedy, 'The Simpsons' Always Score". Orlando Sentinel. p. C17.
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