The Homer They Fall
"The Homer They Fall" is the third episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on November 10, 1996. After Homer realizes he has a bizarre medical condition that renders him unable to be knocked out, he is convinced to embark on a career as a boxer by Moe Szyslak, who manages him. The episode was written by Jonathan Collier and directed by Mark Kirkland. It guest stars Michael Buffer as himself and Paul Winfield as Lucius Sweet.
|"The Homer They Fall"|
|The Simpsons episode|
|Episode no.||Season 8|
|Directed by||Mark Kirkland|
|Written by||Jonathan Collier|
|Original air date||November 10, 1996|
|Chalkboard gag||"I am not my long-lost twin"|
|Couch gag||The living room is in a desert and the family is dressed as cowboys and cowgirls. When the family sits down, the couch neighs and gallops away.|
David X. Cohen
During the Simpsons' visit to a high-tech gadget store, Bart buys a gimmicky utility belt. When he shows it off at school the next day, Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney beat him up and take it. Homer talks to their fathers at Moe's Tavern in an attempt to get the belt back; they beat him up but find that they cannot knock him down, even after breaking a two-by-four board over his head.
Moe chases the bullies' fathers off and, having seen Homer's ability to absorb physical punishment, suggests that he take up boxing and let Moe - himself a former boxer - manage and train him. Marge insists that Homer have a full medical checkup first, during which Dr. Hibbert discovers that the layer of fluid around his brain is thicker than normal, allowing him to withstand powerful blows to the head. Discovering that Homer is too weak and out of shape to inflict any damage by punching, Moe suggests that he let his opponents exhaust themselves trying to knock him out, then push them down to the canvas for an easy win.
Homer does well in his first fights against homeless men, eventually rising to the top of the Springfield Hobo Boxing Association and attracting the attention of Lucius Sweet, Moe's former boxing manager. Sweet visits Moe with news that current heavyweight champion Drederick Tatum is about to be released from prison and is looking for a comeback fight, preferably against Homer. Moe knows that Tatum is far too strong and fit to tire out against Homer, but the idea of fame and fortune leads him to agree to the fight and promise that Homer will last at least three rounds. Moe quickly wins Homer over, feigning confidence in his fighting skills.
Homer ignores Marge's pleas not to go through with the fight, which is being wildly hyped by the media; on the night of the event, Moe falsely promises her that he will throw in the towel as soon as Homer appears to be in any danger. Tatum's first punch is strong enough to leave Homer badly dazed, and Marge shouts for him to start fighting back. Homer's punch completely misses Tatum, who hammers him in the top of the head and then prepares to deliver a punch that will either knock him out or kill him. Just before he can land the blow, Moe flies in using a paramotor stolen from the Fan Man and airlifts Homer out of the ring while the audience boos loudly. Outside the arena, Marge thanks Moe for saving Homer and Tatum expresses his respect for the love between the two. Sweet berates Moe for not even being able to deliver one round of boxing and calls him a loser, but pays him $100,000 anyway, and Moe flies off with the paramotor to help people around the world.
The episode was written by Jonathan Collier, who is a huge boxing fan. Knowing that the people on the internet would "give them grief", the writers went to a lot of effort to explain how Homer would be able to challenge for the Heavyweight Title. A lot of the scenes involving Homer fighting hobos were pitched by John Swartzwelder. Lucius Sweet is a parody of boxing promoter Don King, and is voiced by Paul Winfield, who had previously played King in HBO's 1995 biopic Tyson. In the script, Sweet was described as "A Don King type who looks and sounds exactly like Don King". The similarity is even pointed out by Homer with the line, "He is exactly as rich and as famous as Don King – and he looks just like him, too!" King was asked to guest star, but turned the part down. Drederick Tatum is a parody of Mike Tyson. The name came from George Meyer, who went to high school with a boy named Drederick Timmins, which Meyer thought was a cool name. Tatum having done time in prison is a reference to the fact that, at the time of the episode's production, Tyson had just recently been released from prison after serving three years for rape. Homer is at one point referred to as "The Southern Dandy" as a reference to the old-time boxers and wrestlers who had similar nicknames.
In preparation for this episode, Mark Kirkland watched several boxing films and is satisfied with how it turned out. Whenever designing rooms, Kirkland tries to show a bare lightbulb because he feels that it makes things more depressing. In the scene in Moe's office, there is a brief shot of a poster advertising "Szyslak Vs. Oakley" and "Kirkland Vs. Silverman", referring to then-executive producer Bill Oakley and The Simpsons directors Mark Kirkland and David Silverman. The scene where Tatum is walking to the ring surrounded by shady characters is based on a real life photo of Tyson.
The episode opens with a parody of Bonanza. The montage of Homer fighting various hobos was based on a similar montage in Raging Bull. The music is inspired by "The Flower Duet" from the opera "Lakmé" by Léo Delibes. During the montage, there is a brief parody of the George Bellows painting "Dempsey and Firpo". The "Fan Man" is based on James Miller, a man famous for parachuting into arenas during big events. Homer's walk-out music is "Why Can't We Be Friends?" by War and Tatum's is "Time 4 Sum Aksion" by Redman. The song heard over the end credits is a rendition of Barbra Streisand's "People", sung by Sally Stevens.
In its original broadcast, "The Homer They Fall" finished 29th in ratings for the week of November 4–10, 1996, with a Nielsen rating of 10.0, equivalent to approximately 9.7 million viewing households. It was the second highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files.
In response to the season fourteen episode "Barting Over", which is about skateboarding, Raju Mudhar of the Toronto Star listed what he thought were "excellent" episodes of The Simpsons and scenes also related to sports. He included "The Homer They Fall", writing that Drederick Tatum is "a thinly veiled Mike Tyson parody who's made cameos over the years". Similarly, in 2004 ESPN.com released a list of the Top 100 Simpsons sport moments, ranking the entire episode at #2, saying, "Greatest sports introduction ever: In the Tatum fight, Homer is introduced as the Brick Hithouse (and is also known as the Southern Dandy), and his walk-to-the-ring music is 'Why Can't We Be Friends?'". Drederick Tatum was placed at the eighteenth spot on the list. Conversely, 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 "the dullest, one-joke episode of the entire series".
- "The Homer They Fall". The Simpsons.com. Retrieved on March 27, 2007.
- Groening, Matt (1997). Richmond, Ray; Coffman, Antonia (eds.). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to Our Favorite Family (1st ed.). New York: HarperPerennial. p. 213. ISBN 978-0-06-095252-5. LCCN 98141857. OCLC 37796735. OL 433519M..
- Martyn, Warren; Wood, Adrian (2000). "The Homer They Fall". BBC. Retrieved March 27, 2007.
- Richmond, Ray; Antonia Coffman (1997). The Simpsons: A Complete Guide to our Favorite Family. Harper Collins Publishers. p. 173. ISBN 0-06-095252-0.
- Episode Capsule Archived 2007-03-09 at the Wayback Machine at The Simpsons Archive.
- Weinstein, Josh (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "The Homer They Fall" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Meyer, George (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "The Homer They Fall" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Groening, Matt (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "The Homer They Fall" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Cohen, David X. (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "The Homer They Fall" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Kirkland, Mark (2006). The Simpsons season 8 DVD commentary for the episode "The Homer They Fall" (DVD). 20th Century Fox.
- Associated Press (November 14, 1996). "NBC back on top in ratings race". Sun-Sentinel. p. 4E.
- Raju Mudhar, "Simpsons' sports spoofs simply 'excellent'; Stars like Tyson often lampooned Show celebrating 300th episode", Toronto Star, February 16, 2003, p. E.03.
- Collins, Greg (January 23, 2004). "The Simpsons Got Game". ESPN.com. Archived from the original on August 24, 2007. Retrieved March 29, 2007.