The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star

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"The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star"
The Simpsons episode
The Father The Son and the Holy Guest Star.jpg
Homer with Father Sean (Liam Neeson)
Episode no.Season 16
Episode 20
Directed byMichael Polcino
Written byMatt Warburton
Production codeGABF09
Original air dateMay 15, 2005 (2005-05-15)
Guest appearance
Liam Neeson as Father Sean
Episode features
Couch gagThe Simpsons are depicted as parade balloons that float to the couch. The Homer balloon, however, ends up getting popped by Snowball II.
CommentaryAl Jean
Matt Warburton
Matt Selman
Tim Long
Michael Price
Tom Gammill
Max Pross
Hank Azaria
Tress MacNeille
Michael Polcino
Episode chronology
← Previous
"Home Away from Homer"
Next →
"The Bonfire of the Manatees"
The Simpsons (season 16)
List of episodes

"The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star" is the twentieth episode of the sixteenth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on May 15, 2005. Originally supposed to air April 10, the episode was dropped from the week's schedule due to the death of Pope John Paul II, since this episode revolved around Catholicism.[1] This episode is also the 350th episode in production order (in broadcast order, "Future-Drama" is the 350th episode).

Plot[edit]

Springfield Elementary School is holding its medieval festival. All the students are given roles: Lisa is queen, Martin is king, and Bart is the cooper. Bart is mad about his role and is treated terribly by everyone. Against his will, Groundskeeper Willie is chosen to play the village idiot; seeking revenge, Willie unleashes hundreds of rats from a pie. Bart is blamed for this, and is expelled from school. After looking through other schools, Marge decides to enroll Bart in St. Jerome's Catholic School. There, Bart's rebel attitude is frowned upon.

While holding dictionaries as a punishment, Bart meets Father Sean (voiced by Liam Neeson), who converted to Catholicism after St. Peter told him to repent. He is sympathetic to Bart and gives him a comic book about saints, and he is drawn into it. Marge becomes concerned over Bart's interest in the Catholic Church, due to the Catholic ban on birth control. Homer goes to the school to confront Father Sean, but after an expansive confession, Homer decides to convert to Catholicism as well for easy absolution of his sins. With Bart and Homer considering joining the Church, Marge (worried she might be alone in Protestant Heaven) seeks help from Rev. Lovejoy and Ned Flanders, who agree to get them back. While they are learning about First Communion, Marge, Lovejoy and Ned capture Bart.

On the road, Marge, Ned and Lovejoy try to bring Bart back to the "one true faith": The Western Branch of American Reform Presbylutheranism. Back at home, Lisa agrees with Homer and Bart's desire to join a new faith, and reveals Marge is taking Bart to a Protestant Youth Festival. At the Festival, Marge fails to bribe Bart with the Christian rock of Quiet Riot (Pious Riot after conversion). However, he agrees after playing paintball. Homer and Fr. Sean arrive with a motorcycle, and engage in a Mexican standoff with Ned and Lovejoy. Bart mocks the feuds between the different forms of Christianity, explaining that the stupid things they disagree on are nothing compared to the stupid things they agree on. The two groups agree to fight monogamist gays and stem cells, taking Bart's idea to heart. The episode then jumps 1,000 years into the future, when Bart is believed to be the last Prophet of God. Mankind is waging war over whether Bart's teachings were about love and tolerance, or understanding and peace (and whether he was betrayed by Milhouse). Engaging in a bloody battle, one side cries Bart's catchphrase "Eat my shorts", the other cries "Cowabunga".

Cultural references[edit]

  • When Otto plays a Lute at the school's medieval festival he performs part of his "Lute solo" with his teeth and sets it on fire in a way reminiscent of Jimi Hendrix
  • While discussing Bart's future education prospects at the dinner table, Homer remarks that Bart will join the Army if he continues to get expelled from school, at which point Homer follows up by saying "... where you'll be sent to America's next military quagmire. Where will it be? North Korea? Iran? Anything's possible with commander coo-coo bananas in charge". Homer both implicitly references the Bush Doctrine on preemptive strike and the Axis of Evil – a term used by President Bush to denote the nation-states of Iraq, Iran and North Korea. At the time of the episode was being aired, US forces were still fighting in Iraq. Commander coo-coo bananas was a reference to President Bush.
  • When Rev. Lovejoy and Ned arrive at St. Jerome's to pick up Bart, Lovejoy refers to Sean as "Popey Le Pew", a reference to cartoon character Pepé Le Pew.
  • Rev. Lovejoy is seen driving a van called the "Ministry Machine", a parody of the Mystery Machine from the Scooby-Doo franchise and painted in a similar psychedelic colour scheme.
  • During the "Catholic Heaven" sequence, Catholic Heaven's inhabitants all spontaneously break into a rendition of Riverdance, led by a Michael Flatley lookalike.
  • At one point, Father Sean remarks that "if I let Bart go, I'll be the worst Catholic priest ever...well, except for...you know..." followed by an awkward silence, a thinly-veiled reference to the ongoing allegations of sexual abuse in the Catholic church.

Reception[edit]

Robert Canning, Eric Goldman, Dan Iverson, and Brain Zormski of IGN called this episode the best episode of the sixteenth season. They thought of it as a great episode that dealt with the sensitive topic of religious tolerance, stating that "with a daring story, we can't help but remember when The Simpsons was an edgy hip show that would frequently shed a light on cultural complexes". They thought it would be ideal if there were more episodes like this one.[2]

L'Osservatore Romano, the daily broadsheet of the Vatican, praised[3] the episode for taking up issues such as Christian faith and religion.

Matt Warburton was nominated for a Writers Guild of America Award for Outstanding Writing in Animation at the 58th Writers Guild of America Awards for his script to this episode.[4]

References[edit]

  1. ^ It was replaced by On a Clear Day I Can't See My Sister which aired as scheduled later that night. Our Favorite Simpsons Episode: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star, Bingohall.com
  2. ^ "The Simpsons: 17 Seasons, 17 Episodes
  3. ^ Squires, Nick (October 17, 2010). "Homer Simpson 'is a true Catholic'". The Daily Telegraph. London.
  4. ^ McNary, Dave (December 14, 2005). "Peacock laffers have the write stuff". Variety. Retrieved February 23, 2019.

External links[edit]