The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed
"The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" is the sixteenth episode of The Simpsons' twenty-first season and the 457th episode overall. It aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 28, 2010 (Palm Sunday and the eve of Passover). In this episode, the Simpsons vacation in Jerusalem with Ned Flanders, but Homer does not appreciate the city's religious importance—until he gets lost in the desert, and in a severe state of dehydration, believes himself to be the Messiah.
The episode was written by Kevin Curran and directed by Michael Polcino and guest stars Sacha Baron Cohen as the Israeli tour guide Jakob and Yael Naim as his niece Dorit. "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" received a 2.7/8 Nielsen Rating in the 18-49 demographic and mixed reviews from critics.
Ned Flanders becomes frustrated when Homer disrupts his Bible study group, and Reverend Lovejoy recommends that Ned invites the Simpson family to join the group on their tour of Jerusalem. Homer is skeptical, but Marge accepts and soon the family is on their way to Israel. Upon arrival in Jerusalem, they are joined by Krusty the Clown, who is making a Jewish pilgrimage. They pass the Western Wall and meet a talkative and pushy tour guide named Jakob.
At first, Homer and the other tourists show more interest in the hotel's buffet than they do in seeing the city, much to Ned's dismay. When they arrive at King David's tomb, Ned implores Homer to show some respect. Homer, however, continues to goof off and Ned becomes increasingly impatient with him.
Their next stop is the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Ned prays that Homer finds some meaning in the tour. But when he discovers Homer taking a nap on Jesus' tomb, he loses his temper and yells at Homer. Ned is removed from the church by security and is banned for life from visiting the site. Ned subsequently scolds Homer, telling him that his soul is "not worth saving", and storms off. Homer rushes after Ned to make amends, but loses sight of him and believes that Ned is lost in the desert, while Ned merely went to get a cup of tea to calm his anger, after which he went to see a movie. Homer takes a camel and rides off to find Ned, but soon becomes lost in a sandstorm and starts to feel the effects of dehydration. Homer arrives at the Dead Sea and drinks some of the salty water, furthering his dehydrating. He hallucinates a visit from a pickle, carrot, and tomato from VeggieTales, who tell him that he is the new Messiah.
After Homer is rescued by Marge and a security guard, Dr. Hibbert diagnoses him with Jerusalem syndrome, whose sufferers possess religiously-themed obsessive ideas. Homer escapes from the hotel and ends up at the Dome of the Rock. Marge, the Simpson children, and Dr. Hibbert chase after him, only to hear him preach that the similarities of different religions outweigh their differences, and that all should search for a common ground for a joint new religion, the so-called "Chrismujews". Ned witnesses Homer's speech and is profoundly moved, but the effect is lost on the crowd as nearly all of the other tour group members have developed Jerusalem syndrome as well. On the flight back to Springfield, Ned and Homer reconcile.
In its original airing, "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" was viewed by 5.698 million viewers and got a Nielsen Rating of 2.7, with an 8% share of the audience. It came second in its timeslot and second in the "Animation Domination" lineup.
The episode received mixed reviews. Robert Canning of IGN gave the episode a 7.3, calling it was "Decent" and adding, "I was underwhelmed with Sacha Baron Cohen's voice work as the group's tour guide. He was like a sped up Borat and was actually a bit difficult to understand at times. The few jokes that did get through were only okay." Canning also stated that "It's difficult to keep your expectations in check when you hear about an upcoming guest star, and that likely affected my perception of this episode. But that it is what it is. Perhaps subsequent viewings will find me enjoying this more, but for now, "Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" was just this side of good." Todd VanDerWerff of The AV Club gave the episode a B+ and said "there were jokes here that went on way too long, like that whole krav maga thing. But, for the most part, this was a funny vacation episode, and the show hasn't done one of those in a while." Jason Hughes of TV Squad gave the episode a negative review saying "I don't expect 'The Simpsons' to have that sharp edge of wit it used to in its earlier, more subversive days, but I do expect it to be able to create situations for humor from time to time; even if it's gentle humor." The TV Fanatic gave the episode a 3/5 saying "It manages to combine jokes, while still showing positive messages such as Homer showing genuine care after Flanders, his supposed enemy, takes off into the desert [sic]. Or even Homer's positive message of re-uniting all faiths." Ariel Ponywether gave the episode a D-, the worst grade of the season, the reviewer commented “The Greatest Story Ever D’ohed” more than earns its new status as the fandom’s latest favorite “Worst. Episode. Ever.” The reaction from fans has been mostly mixed-to-negative. "The Greatest Story Ever D'ohed" is the lowest rated episode on nohomers.net. It was voted the #1 worst episode by the site in 2011. On TV.com The episode has a 6.8/10 indicating mixed reviews. It also received similarly mixed reviews on IMDB with a 5.7/10
While searching for Ned in the desert, Homer complains of his hunger, thirst, and libido to the tune of the theme from Lawrence of Arabia.
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- Jessica Ravitz (March 29, 2010). "Homer Simpson isn't the only would-be 'Messiah' in Jerusalem". CNN.
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