The Great Louse Detective
"The Great Louse Detective" is the sixth episode of the fourteenth season of the American animated television sitcom The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 15, 2002. In the episode, the Simpson family wins a free spa weekend, and Homer is nearly killed when a mysterious figure locks him in a sauna. Chief Wiggum decides to hire someone who can think like a murderer in order to find the mystery assailant. Bart's mortal enemy Sideshow Bob is sent to live with the Simpsons so he can help find Homer's attempted killer, who turns out to be the son of a man that Homer drove to insanity. Since airing, the episode has received generally positive reviews from critics, though it has been cited for not being as good as some other Sideshow Bob episodes.
The Simpsons wins a free spa weekend. At the spa, Homer is nearly killed when a mysterious person locks him into an incredibly hot steam room with a spanner. Fortunately for Homer, Krusty the Clown unlocks the door, letting an unconscious yet alive Homer out. This prompts Homer and Marge to see Chief Wiggum, who suggests that they seek help from someone who can understand a murderer's twisted mind – Sideshow Bob, who is released from prison, much to Bart's discomfort. To ensure Bart's safety, Wiggum places a shock bracelet on Sideshow Bob's ankle to keep his murderous urges at bay when he comes to live at the Simpson house. Sideshow Bob asks Homer to list all the people who may want him dead, and decides to follow Homer around to investigate who the mystery assailant could be. During their day, they end up at a repair shop, where Homer chastises the mechanic, Junior.
Homer and Sideshow Bob go to Moe's Tavern, where a hand, holding a gun, appears at the door and fires at Homer, but it hits and shatters Moe's pickled egg jar. The person gets away in a tow truck. Sideshow Bob suggests that Homer should stay home and out of sight to be safe, but he is told that he was named the King of the Springfield Mardi Gras, in which he must ride on a float for the whole day. Sideshow Bob discovers that Homer won because someone filled the ballot box with ballots listing Homer's name, all in the same handwriting, but Homer takes part in the parade anyway in hopes of luring out his killer. At the parade, Sideshow Bob learns that Homer's engine is having a problem due to the repair by the mechanic (the brake line is cut), and draws a correlation between the wrench used to lock Homer in the steam room, the wrenches in the tow truck, a smudge on the spa invitation, and the tow truck driver (Junior). He saves Homer by getting fired out of a cannon, and grabbing Homer with his huge feet slipped under Homer's arm-pits, just before the float crashes into the Museum of Swordfish. Homer and Sideshow Bob end up giving chase to the killer, who is found out to be, indeed, Junior, Homer's mechanic. He admits his name is Frank Grimes Jr., and blames Homer for his father's death. When Homer questions how Junior could be Frank Grimes' son since he never married, Junior explains that his father "happened to like hookers." Junior attempts to kill Homer, but is foiled when the police arrive. Lisa thought it was Bumblebee Man, but she was wrong. Chief Wiggum places Grimes Jr. under arrest and has Sideshow Bob tranquilized with a dart.
That night, after Homer puts Bart in bed, Sideshow Bob, who was hanging to the back of the door to Bart's room, leaps down. Bart tries to get the shock bracelet remote control, but Sideshow Bob already has it and throws it out of the window, gags Bart with a piece of tape, picks him up and prepares to kill him with a knife, bent on killing him once again. However, Sideshow Bob realizes he is accustomed to Bart's face and he can not bring himself to do it. With that, Sideshow Bob tries to takes his leave, but gets zapped continuously by his shock bracelet (because of birds pecking the remote after it had landed in their nest).
"The Great Louse Detective" was written by John Frink and Don Payne and directed by Steven Dean Moore as part of the fourteenth season of The Simpsons (2002–03). American actor Kelsey Grammer guest starred in the episode, returning to voice the recurring character Sideshow Bob. Since season three's "Black Widower" (1992), the writers have echoed the premise of Wile E. Coyote chasing the Road Runner from the 1949–1966 Looney Tunes cartoons by having Bob unexpectedly insert himself into Bart's life and attempt to kill him. Executive producer Al Jean has compared Bob's character to that of Wile E. Coyote, noting that both are intelligent, yet always foiled by what they perceive as an inferior intellect.
This is one of the first episodes of The Simpsons that were animated with digital ink and paint, and marked the series permanent switch to that technique. Previously, episodes had been animated using the traditional ink-and-paint process. Digital ink and paint had been used by the animators of The Simpsons on a few occasions before "The Great Louse Detective", primarily to test the technique.
The episode originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on December 15, 2002. It was viewed in approximately 8.75 million households that night. With a Nielsen rating of 8.2, the episode finished 23rd in the ratings for the week of December 9–15, 2002. It was the highest-rated broadcast on Fox that week, beating shows such as King of the Hill, Malcolm in the Middle, 24, That '70s Show, and the 2002 Billboard Music Awards. On December 6, 2011, "The Great Louse Detective" was released on Blu-ray and DVD as part of the box set The Simpsons – The Complete Fourteenth Season. Staff members Matt Groening, Al Jean, John Frink, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Matt Selman, Tim Long, Michael Price, Tom Gammill, Steven Dean Moore, Mike B. Anderson, and David Silverman, as well as cast member Dan Castellaneta, participated in the DVD audio commentary for the episode. Deleted scenes from the episode were also included in the box set.
The episode has received generally positive reviews from critics. In 2009, IGN's Robert Canning listed "The Great Louse Detective" at number seven on his list of the "Top 10 Sideshow Bob Episodes". At that time, ten episodes revolving around the character had aired. Canning wrote that the episode "was a lot of fun as it put Bob in an unexpected situation with the Simpsons, interacting more with Homer than with Bart." He added that the episode "is also memorable for having Homer's attempted murderer turn out to be Frank Grimes Jr., son of Frank 'Grimey' Grimes. This was a nice reference to 'Homer's Enemy' and was a rare instance where the series carried through some continuity." DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson commented that "Over the years, we’ve gotten many a great Sideshow Bob episode, so this one has to live up to steep competition. While not a bad show, 'Louse' fails to live up to its predecessors. It does throw out some good moments, and it’s fine by Season 14 standards, but it doesn’t qualify as a Sideshow Bob classic."
- Simpsons World The Ultimate Episode Guide: Seasons 1–20. HarperCollins. 2010. pp. 667–711. ISBN 9780594045052.
- Asperschlager, Erich (2011-12-19). "The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season (Blu-ray)". DVD Verdict. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Keefer, Ryan (2011-12-15). "The Simpsons: The Fourteenth Season (Blu-ray)". DVD Talk. Retrieved 2012-08-22.
- Jean, Al (2003). Commentary for "Black Widower", in The Simpsons: The Complete Third Season [DVD]. 20th Century Fox.
- Jean, Al (2009). The Simpsons – The Complete Twelfth Season DVD commentary for the episode "Tennis the Menace". 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (2002-12-18). "Last week's network TV shows". Long Beach Press-Telegram. p. A18.
- Lambert, David (2011-09-28). "The Simpsons - Finalized Box Art, Details and Extras for 'The Complete 14th Season' DVDs, Blu-rays". TVShowsOnDVD.com. Retrieved 2012-08-19.
- Jacobson, Colin (2011-12-16). "The Simpsons: The Complete Fourteenth Season [Blu-Ray] (2002)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2012-08-02.
- Canning, Robert (2012-12-09). "The Simpsons: Top 10 Sideshow Bob Episodes". IGN. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
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- "The Great Louse Detective" at The Simpsons.com
- "The Great Louse Detective" at the Internet Movie Database