Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily
"Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" is the third episode of The Simpsons' seventh season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on October 1, 1995. In the episode, the Simpson children are put in the custody of Ned and Maude Flanders after a series of misadventures. Homer and Marge are forced to attend a parenting class so they can get their children back. Learning that none of the children have been baptized, Flanders sets up a baptism, but Homer and Marge are able to stop him just in time.
|"Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Directed by||Susie Dietter|
|Written by||Jon Vitti|
|Original air date||October 1, 1995|
|Chalkboard gag||"No one wants to hear from my armpits"|
|Couch gag||Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, Maggie, Grampa, Santa's Little Helper, and Snowball II are in a nine-square grid as seen in the opening credits of The Brady Bunch.|
The episode was written by Jon Vitti and directed by Susie Dietter. The story was pitched by another writer on the show, George Meyer. It was the first episode on which writers Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein served as show runners. The episode features cultural references to the 1965 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! and Sonny & Cher's song "I Got You Babe". Since airing, the episode has received positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 9.0, and was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.
When Bart is sent home from school with head lice and Lisa without shoes, Marge and Homer are accused of being negligent parents. Two Child Protective Services agents arrive at their house and take Bart, Lisa, and Maggie to a foster home—right next door, at the house of Ned Flanders.
Bart and Lisa hate living with the Flanders, but Maggie enjoys it as she gets more attention from Flanders than she did with Homer. Meanwhile, Homer and Marge are forced to attend a special class for bad parents so they can get their children back.
When Flanders finds out that the children were not baptized, he takes it upon himself to give the kids an emergency baptism. When Homer and Marge are declared decent parents, they quickly head for the Springfield River to stop Flanders. Just as Flanders is about to pour holy water on Bart, Homer shoves Bart over to prevent the water from hitting him. The Simpson family is reunited, and they head home together.
"Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" was the first episode to be made after Bill Oakley and Josh Weinstein became show runners of The Simpsons. They wanted to start the season with an episode centering on the Simpson family. The story was pitched by writer George Meyer at a story retreat. Story retreats were held twice a year at a hotel room close to the studio lot, where all the writers gathered to pitch their ideas. Seventeen episodes were pitched at this particular story retreat. Out of them all, Weinstein considered this episode to be the best, and he thought the pitch by Meyer was the best he had ever heard. Oakley and Weinstein selected former full-time staff writer Jon Vitti to write the episode, wanting a "heavy hitter", since it was going to start the seventh production season. Vitti retained in his script most of what Meyer pitched at the retreat.
The episode was directed by Susie Dietter. There is a statue portraying The Simpsons writer John Swartzwelder outside the courthouse in the episode. Oakley said that this was a mistake because he and Weinstein thought that Springfield was located in Swartzwelder County, incorrectly going off a montage in the season three episode "Dog of Death". That montage depicts Springfield as being located in Springfield County; Swartzwelder is the adjoining county. The appearance of the female Child Protective Services agent is based on a teacher both Oakley and Weinstein had in high school that they hated. Cast member Hank Azaria's voice for the character Cletus was slightly distorted in this episode because, over the summer between seasons, Azaria and the producers had forgotten what Cletus sounds like.
Ned and Maude Flanders sing Maggie to bed with their own version of Sonny & Cher's song "I Got You Babe". The Itchy & Scratchy cartoon that Lisa and Bart watch is called "Foster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!", a reference to the 1965 film Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!. Flanders says that he used to let his sons watch My Three Sons, but it got them "all worked up" before bedtime. The headline of a newspaper that Marge gives to Lisa for her history project is "40 Trampled at Poco Concert", a reference to American rock band Poco. While riding in Flanders's car, Maggie spins her head around with a scary smile on her face to look at Bart and Lisa, as in the 1973 film The Exorcist.
In its original broadcast, the episode finished 53rd in the ratings for the week of September 25 to October 1, 1995, with a Nielsen rating of 9.0. The episode was the fourth highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files, Beverly Hills, 90210, and Melrose Place.
Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson enjoyed the episode, saying that "its best elements come from the amusing bizarreness of the Flanders home, but Homer and Marge’s classes are also fun. Chalk this one up as season seven's first great episode." Jennifer Malkowski of DVD Verdict considered the best part of the episode to be when Marge tells Bart and Lisa that someday they will have to be adults and take care of themselves, just before Homer comes to Marge about a spider near his car keys. She concluded her review by giving the episode a grade of B+. The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, called it "one of the most disturbing episodes, as Bart and Lisa are dragged into the Flanders' sinister lifestyle." They thought the ending, when Ned tries to baptize the children, was "nail-biting stuff", and Maggie speaking was "a truly shocking moment". The authors added: "It's astonishing that anything this radical made it on to prime time television. The final moments are perhaps the most moving in the entire series, a wonderful affirmation of everything the series, and the Simpson family, are about." Matt Groening, the creator of The Simpsons, thought the episode was "fantastic" and he called it one of his favorites. He particularly liked the ending which he thought was "sweet".
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia, eds. The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 183. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily". British Broadcasting Corporation. Retrieved 2009-01-04.
- Oakley, Bill (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Weinstein, Josh (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Vitti, Jon (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Dietter, Susie (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- "Nielsen Ratings". The Tampa Tribune. October 5, 1995. p. 4. Retrieved on January 7, 2009.
- Jacobson, Colin (2006-01-05). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season (1995)". DVD Movie Guide. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Malkowski, Judge (2006-01-16). "The Simpsons: The Complete Seventh Season". DVD Verdict. Archived from the original on 2008-12-04. Retrieved 2008-12-01.
- Groening, Matt (2005). The Simpsons season 7 DVD commentary for the episode "Home Sweet Homediddly-Dum-Doodily" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.