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|
|Directed by||Mark Kirkland|
|Written by||Jonathan Collier|
|Showrunner(s)||Bill Oakley &
|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
The Simpsons visit a high-tech gadget store and Bart buys a gimmicky utility belt from Comic Book Guy for $4. He shows off its features to his classmates until the school bullies ask him if he would like to trade belts. He tells them that what they are wearing are not belts but instead extension cords. He is beaten up by Dolph, Jimbo and Kearney, who steal the belt. After being told about Bart's situation and Bart refusing to talk to adults in his school which will cause him to get beaten up more, Homer decides to talk with the bullies' fathers at Moe's Tavern, but he is also beaten; however, after one of them breaks a 2x4 stick on Homer's head, they are unnerved when that cannot knock Homer down. They are then chased away by a shotgun-wielding Moe.
Moe is impressed by Homer's ability to absorb severe punishment and suggests he take up boxing, with Moe – a former boxer himself – as his trainer and manager. Homer initially is unsure of the idea but he is convince after Moe tells him that boxers make enough money to eat steak dinners every night with their choice of dressing. Marge is annoyed by the idea and tells Homer to get a medical checkup first. A medical test diagnoses Homer with a rare genetic abnormality which gives him extra fluid protection in the brain, effectively rendering him near-invulnerable to knockout punches. While training, it is discovered that Homer is a weak puncher, and is extremely out of shape, gasping for breath after throwing a single punch. Moe strategizes that Homer should stand still in the ring and let his opponents exhaust themselves trying to knock him out, and then knock them down with a tap.
Homer does well in his first fights, mainly because he is competing against opponents who are homeless and nowhere near professional level. At every match, he follows Moe's advice and gains widespread attention, eventually becoming the top ranked fighter in the Springfield Hobo Boxing Association. Moe's former boxing manager Lucius Sweet visits Moe and announces that the current Heavyweight Champion Drederick Tatum is being released from prison and is ready for a comeback fight, and Sweet wants Tatum to fight Homer. Lucius hopes that due to Homer's fame as a human punching bag, he will at least be able to endure a few rounds and give the fans a good match. Moe tells Sweet that Homer is just a "freak fighter" and that Tatum will destroy Homer in the ring. Despite knowing that Tatum is far too strong for a fighter of Homer's ability, Moe is tempted at the idea of fortune and fame from the fight and promises Sweet that Homer will last at least three rounds with Tatum, giving the audience enough time to get drunk.
One night Moe invites Homer for a beer on his roof and pitches the idea to Homer, with Homer agreeing to the fight due to moe's "confidence" in his fighting ability. Tatum is paroled and the media begins hyping the fight. Marge finds out about the match and tells Homer not to fight Tatum, with which Homer responds by telling Marge that he will make a fortune for one night of work. On the day of the fight Marge makes Moe promise her that the moment Homer is in any danger, he will throw in the towel. After Marge walks away Moe throws the towel in the trash can. As soon as the fight starts and it is obvious that Homer cannot withstand Tatum's barrage and for the first time in his boxing career is dazed by the very first punch. Being semi-unconscious within the opening seconds of the first round, he sees Marge in the audience telling him that Tatum is not going to get tired like the rest of Homer opponents and that he needs to fight back. Homer decides to fight back, but misses completely, getting brutally hammered on the top of the head by Tatum. As Tatum readies himself to deliver the final blow, Moe flies in using the Fan Man's paramotor and carries Homer away with the audience booing loudly. Outside the arena, Marge thanks Moe for saving Homer and Tatum shows respect for the love Moe showed for Homer. Sweet meets Moe in the parking lot and tells him that all he wanted was three rounds of boxing, yet Moe couldn't even get him one. Sweet declares that Moe will always be a loser, but still gives him a check for $100,000. Moe starts up the paramotor and flies off into the night, spending the new few weeks helping people around the world with his flying machine.
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 fan 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, pg. 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.