Hurricane Neddy

Last updated
"Hurricane Neddy"
The Simpsons episode
Episode no.Season 8
Episode 8
Directed by Bob Anderson
Written by Steve Young
Production code4F07
Original air dateDecember 29, 1996 (1996-12-29)
Guest appearance(s)
Episode features
Couch gag The couch is replaced with a coin slot and the words "Vend-A-Couch" appear on the wall. After Homer inserts a coin and nothing happens, he pounds on the wall and the couch lands on him. [1]
CommentaryJosh Weinstein
Steve Young
George Meyer
Bob Anderson
Episode chronology
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The Simpsons (season 8)
List of The Simpsons episodes

"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. [2] It was written by Steve Young, directed by Bob Anderson, and features a cameo by Jon Lovitz as Jay Sherman from The Critic . [1] In the episode, a violent hurricane strikes Springfield. By pure chance, the only house destroyed belongs to Ned Flanders. As a result, Ned begins to lose his faith in God and the townspeople around him, leading to a nervous breakdown.

Contents

Plot

As Hurricane Barbara approaches Springfield, panicked citizens ransack the Kwik-E-Mart. After the storm, the Simpsons leave their basement to find their home unscathed. Their next-door neighbor, Ned Flanders, emerges from a heap of rubble and sees that his house is destroyed, forcing the Flanders family to take shelter in the church basement. Ned is further discouraged after learning that his business, The Leftorium, was looted after the storm. Distraught, Ned begins to believe that God is punishing him like Job. In the church sanctuary, Ned wonders aloud why God spared them the storm's wrath while directing it at him.

The next day, Marge escorts the Flanders family back to their house, which the people of Springfield have rebuilt as a surprise. Ned's joy soon turns to dismay when he finds their shoddy work has made the house barely habitable. When Homer leans on the front door, the entire house collapses. After one of the lenses in his glasses breaks, Ned is unable to contain his rage any longer and snaps and verbally attacks Springfield's residents, pointing out their many flaws.

Worried he is losing his mind, Ned voluntarily commits himself to a mental hospital. He is visited by his childhood psychiatrist, Dr. Foster, who recalls Ned's childhood as an out-of-control brat raised by beatnik parents. Ned's treatment involved eight months of continuous spanking by Dr. Foster. The treatment left Ned unable to express anger until the losses he suffered from the storm made him erupt in repressed rage.

Dr. Foster realizes that his earlier approach was flawed and enlists Homer to help Ned express his emotions. Dr. Foster thinks Homer is perfect for this treatment because of his and Ned's mutual dislike. After several scripted insults fail to rile Ned's anger, Homer begins to improvise. When Homer disparages his apparent like of everything, Ned realizes he hates two things: the post office and his parents. Dr. Foster declares Flanders cured and releases him from the asylum.

Outside the hospital, Ned is greeted by the townsfolk of Springfield. Ned vows that if any of them does something that offends him, he will tell them instead of stifling his anger. Dr. Foster tells him this is a healthy boundary, but suggests Ned ease up after he tells the crowd he will run them down with his car if they make him extremely angry which makes Homer observe Ned really is crazy. [2] [3]

Production

A scene from the episode, featuring a sign reading "Free John Swartzwelder", referencing one of the series' writers FreeSwartzwelder.png
A scene from the episode, featuring a sign reading "Free John Swartzwelder", referencing one of the series' writers

Steve Young, a writer for the Late Show with David Letterman , was brought in as a freelance writer to write the episode. [4] The writers wanted to explore what made Flanders tick and examine what made him act the way he does. [4] The original idea came from George Meyer, who had also wanted an episode about Flanders' faith being tested. [5] 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 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. [5]

Writer John Swartzwelder's animated likeness can be seen in a padded cell, in reference to his reclusiveness. Swartzwelder in Hurricane Neddy.png
Writer John Swartzwelder's animated likeness can be seen in a padded cell, in reference to his reclusiveness.

A caricature of John Swartzwelder can be seen shutting the door of a room in Calmwood Mental Hospital. [4] 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". [5] 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. [6]

Cultural references

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. [4] Todd is wearing a Butthole Surfers T-shirt; however, the censors only allowed the letters Buttho Surfers to appear onscreen, partially obscuring the band's offensive name. [4] The opening sequence is parodied during the storm when the word Hurricane appears onscreen, accompanied by the same chorus which sings the show's name. Jay Sherman from The Critic , who had previously appeared in "A Star Is Burns", can be seen in the mental hospital repeatedly saying his catchphrase, "It stinks"; [4] Ms. Botz from "Some Enchanted Evening" appears as a patient in a nearby room. A 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 . [4]

Reception

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 . [7]

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." [8] 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." [9]

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References

  1. 1 2 Hurricane Neddy. BBC.co.uk. Retrieved on March 27, 2007.
  2. 1 2 "Hurricane Neddy". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on March 27, 2007.
  3. 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.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Hurricane Neddy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  5. 1 2 3 Meyer, George (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Hurricane Neddy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  6. Anderson, Bob (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "Hurricane Neddy" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
  7. Associated Press (January 3, 1997). "ABC ends up on top in a slow week". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
  8. 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.
  9. 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.