Crazy Noises: Alone Again Natura-Diddily

Alone Again, Natura-Diddly1

“While our organist is on a much needed vacation, we thought we’d try something new, so get down and put your knees together for the Christian rock stylings of . . . Kovenant!” – Reverend Lovejoy

For the fourth summer in a row, we here at the Dead Homer Society will be spending some time discussing twelve year old Simpsons episodes.  This year we’re doing Season 11.  Why Season 11?  Because we’ve done Seasons 8, 9 and 10 already, and it’s time to take an unflinching look at the end of the show.  Since Skype and podcasts didn’t exist in 1999, and we want to discuss these episodes the way the internet intended, we’re sticking with the UTF-8 world of chat rooms and instant messaging.  This text has been edited for clarity and spelling (especially on “solemn”).

Today’s episode is 1114, “Alone Again Natura-Diddily”.  Yesterday was 1113, “Saddlesore Galactica”. 

[Note: Dave couldn’t make it again this week.  I’m beginning to think this “job” of his is just an excuse not to watch Season 11.]

Mad Jon: I know we always talk about how off Maude’s voice is this season, but this is the most standout to me.

Charlie Sweatpants: Well, yeah, they’re sending off a character in a very serious way – and they’re doing it because they were too cheap to pay the actress they’d been paying for more than a decade at that point.

  If ever there was a clear indicator that FOX didn’t give a fuck about the quality of the show, that was it.

Mad Jon: I am not a fan of the character change episodes, but man, I am really not a fan of the ones that require an unemployed Homer to get things on track.

  Especially when he has to hide in a mailbox for some reason.

Charlie Sweatpants: No arguments here. Homer is such a crutch in this episode that Flanders comes home from a date straight to the Simpsons house.

Mad Jon: This one feels like a repeat of the Vegas wife one. Except, you know, someone dies.

Charlie Sweatpants: Good call.

  It’s got all the problems that one does, plus several more.  I mean, Homer actually promises not to be a jerk, and then proceeds to be a jerk, and we’re still supposed to sympathize with him.

And Jerkass Homer is especially bad here because the rest of the episode is so damned solemn and serious.

Mad Jon: It really is. We have to support Ned through his loss, as well as his realization that he needs to move on, through the trials of that, and finally to the point that he learns he can be himself and still find love, I guess. And all the while all I can hear in the back of my head is "And that’s my queue to exit."

So I am supposed to feel bad and slapstick-y at the same time? Homey don’t play that.

Charlie Sweatpants: I know how you feel.

This one is a hot mess all over, though I’ll again say that there are a couple of good jokes and lines.

Mad Jon: I like the sign in the park at the beginning "Outdoor Sex By Permit Only".

Charlie Sweatpants:   I’m partial to "War Rocks", even though it’s very dumb. But overall it’s just unwatchable because it jumps back and forth between maudlin and profound and dumb and loud so fast that you don’t know whether to turn off the television or punch it.

Mad Jon: "This isn’t a war, it’s a murder…" "This isn’t a war, is a mudah!"

I also am partial to war rocks, but at the same time I shame myself for it.

  If it was anyone but Homer, fine. But not Homer.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like "horny" on the Scrabble board is funny, but is also instantly cut off as Flanders does the incredibly un-him, unbelievable, and stupid thing and mails Homer’s stupid dating video in.

And then it ends with a despicable meet cute between Flanders and the Christian singer babe.

Mad Jon: Yep, I couldn’t feel that scene either. The idea of him playing scrabble with himself is one thing, but the words on the board made him feel too much like "The Simpsons Movie" Flanders that I hate so, so very much.

Charlie Sweatpants: Like, Maude’s been dead for ten minutes, and we’ve already given Apu kids this season, so if there’s one thing we need, it’s to make sure Flanders has a woman waiting for him.

Mad Jon: A hot Christian musician at that.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s the cheapest possible emotional resolution, which is fitting with the rest of this thing, but still pretty awful when you think about it.

Between that unwatchably poorly paced story and some of the worst Jerkass Homer ever, the few good lines and ideas just can’t compete.

Mad Jon: There really weren’t that many of them anyway.

  Although I did like the fax machine strapped to Lindsay’s leg.

Charlie Sweatpants: She was an early text message adopter.

A Pentecostal ska band is an awesome idea, and it’s funny that Flanders’ cock hangs past his knees, but the rest is way too nauseating to stomach.

Mad Jon: Why have hamburger when you can have steak? I probably say that almost daily.

  Again though, one line against a thousand.

  No competition here.

Charlie Sweatpants: Starwipe is excellent, but as you said, it’s heavily outnumbered.

  I feel like I’m saying this a lot lately, but I really hate this episode.

Mad Jon: You have been saying that a lot, but it has been justified, so don’t feel bad.

Charlie Sweatpants: It’s Season 11, my expectations are pretty low by this point, and this one still stands out for being both awful, and a preview of equally dumb things to come.

Mad Jon: This is going to get worse before it get’s better…

Charlie Sweatpants: Indeed it is. But not tonight.

17 Responses to “Crazy Noises: Alone Again Natura-Diddily”

  1. 1 Al Gore Doll
    2 August 2012 at 2:14 pm

    Did Homer commit manslaughter in this episode or am I remembering it wrong?
    I do remember his jerkass-ness somehow prevented Maude from getting medical attention after the fall from the precariously low-walled stadium, and yet we’re supposed to sympathize with him?
    A sign of things to come.

    • 2 Patrick
      3 August 2012 at 6:17 am

      Also didn’t the family stumble onto the track by accident how did homer manage to even get anywhere near the ambulance zone?

  2. 3 Jeremiah
    2 August 2012 at 2:14 pm

    This is where the Simpsons truly died for me. Jockey Elves, purple Loch Ness Monsters and fake Principal Skinners may have been dumb, and they were, but the way Maude’s death was handled here proved that the show was more than just dumb now – it was soulless. From the utterly ridiculous way they killed her off, to Homer’s reprehensible line about parking in the ambulance zone, and how quickly they swept the whole thing under the rug so they could get to a bunch of tired dating gags, which felt like the REAL reason they did this show in the first place (behind-the-scenes issues aside)… it’s like this whole episode was written by Martians who were entirely unfamiliar with the concept of losing a loved one. *That* is what this episode should have been about, and if the writers either did not want to tell that story or felt like they weren’t up to the (admittedly daunting) task of making *that* somehow funny, then they should have just kept Maude silent like Phil Hartman’s characters and Lunch Lady Doris. Because this episode was not only not funny, it was appallingly morbid.

    • 4 Patrick
      3 August 2012 at 6:19 am

      I agree with that fully or at least negotiate with the actress’s pay in the meantime.

    • 5 Lovejoy Fan
      6 August 2012 at 12:24 pm

      I couldn’t agree more with this.
      The only time I actually managed to feel anything for anyone in this episode was that scene where Ned reaches out to put an arm around his wife… only to realise she’s not there.

  3. 6 Patrick
    3 August 2012 at 6:13 am

    You have to give this episode credit for knowing that Nedna was a ridiculous idea.

  4. 7 D.N.
    3 August 2012 at 7:43 am

    Like “The Principal and the Pauper,” this episode is built around a character shake-up, one that leaves an unpleasant aftertaste (even if, in “The Principal and the Pauper,” everything was supposed to be back to normal at the end). It would be difficult for decent jokes to salvage this episode, to say nothing of what passes for jokes in this one. Did the writers think that pointing out explicitly Homer’s unwittingly-murderous behaviour (“I’m the one who drove her out of her seat. I’m the one who provoked the lethal barrage of T-shirts. I’m the one who parked in the ambulance zone, preventing any possible resuscitation…”) would somehow make it less abominable? The plot point of Flanders and the Christian Rock lady plays out like something out of a forced, laughless sitcom, but what really annoys me about this episode is how it permanently alters the Homer/Flanders dynamic. Flanders was the guy who had everything better than Homer, which made Homer’s dislike of the man understandable, and funny (if not admirable). Making Flanders a grieving widower throws that off, and unlike what happened in “Homer Loves Flanders,” things don’t go back to normal at the end of the episode.

    • 8 ecco6t9
      3 August 2012 at 8:07 pm

      It’s a horrifying moment. The only thing that tops the accessory to murder is the “pleasant dream” Homer had where he tried to kill his own father. Personally I feel that scene is offensive on many many levels.

      • 9 D.N.
        3 August 2012 at 10:49 pm

        The entire episode has an erratic tone – it tries to be funny, shocking, sad, cutesy, and mawkish, and ends up being a vomity mess. It’s more like “Steel Magnolias” than “The Simpsons.”

        Maude was never a particularly substantial supporting character anyway, so if there were behind-the-scenes issues with Maggie Roswell, they could have just kept the character around but never given her any lines. Actively killing her off – like making Skinner an imposter, marrying off Apu, and making Barney sober – was just annoying and unnecessary. And the way they killed her off was too offensive.

      • 11 Patrick
        4 August 2012 at 12:18 pm

        Oh god that horrible scene, fair enough that Homer and Abe’s relationship has been frosty but they’ve always loved each other regardless of that, so for homer to call it a wonderful dream is insult to injury. >:(

    • 12 Patrick
      4 August 2012 at 12:20 pm

      Let’s also add again that the whole ambulance thing doesn’t make sense as homer had (somehow) driven onto the track or hmm ah fuck it and fuck jerkass homer!

    • 13 Sumguy
      17 August 2012 at 7:56 pm

      That doesn’t make a lick of sense. Homer may be an idiot, but he’s a compassionate idiot. He’d be the first to blame himself for Maude’s death for the seat alone.

  5. 4 August 2012 at 2:06 am

    Hah. I know I’m alone in this, but I actually think this is a watchable episode. Flawed and unfunny but kind of interesting in a weird way… it feels like a different show, completely alien and fucked-up to what we know about the show. It isn’t a GOOD episode or anything, but I find it strangely compelling. Season 11 is just full of these kinds of episodes where they clearly had no idea what they were doing with the show anymore… like all the good plots and jokes had been used so they were trying to change things and didn’t quite know how to do it in a proper way… seeing the show fall apart at the seems is sad but also sort of interesting… I would have rather the show have continued to be good…. but what can you do…

  6. 4 August 2012 at 1:08 pm

    Would it really have been that hard to come up with a funny way to have her leave? Joining a free-love cult? Ascending to the skies in a one-woman rapture? Deciding to become a Christian bounty-hunter, tracking people who’ve lost their faith?

  7. 16 Residents Fan
    27 August 2012 at 2:51 pm

    “Deciding to become a Christian bounty-hunter, tracking people who’ve lost their faith?”

    Thanks for having a really great idea :) …that Zombie Simpons will never use. :(

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