Crazy Noises: Missionary Impossible

Missionary Impossible1

“Oh, save me, Jebus!” – Homer Simpson

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 “amalgamation”).

Today’s episode is 1115, “Missionary Impossible”.  Tomorrow will be 1116, “Pygmoelian”.

A Brief Note on “Jebus”: As discussed below, this episode is illogical, racist, and really terrible in a lot of ways, but it did give the world “Jebus”, a fantastic term that has spread far and wide in the years since it first appeared.  I’ve seen it used in more publications and by more people than perhaps any other creation of the show outside of “D’oh” and “Worst/Best. [Blank]. Ever.”.  That said, I am mystified as to why it is sometimes spelled with two “e”s, “Jeebus”.  There’s even a guy quoted in this episode’s Wikipedia article spelling it that way.  I’m not king of words or anything, and my own spelling is atrocious enough that I am in no position to cast stones or point at the mote in my brother’s eye (as it were), I just don’t see why you’d spell it that way when it’s pronounced exactly like the original word. 

Charlie Sweatpants: Shall we get to it, then?

Mad Jon: Let’s.

Dave: Yes, let’s.

Mad Jon: Missionary Impossible?

Charlie Sweatpants: I have a very simple opinion on this episode: it sucks . . . but it gave the word "Jebus", and that is worth the rest of it.

Dave: Jebus is a wonderful thing

  Otherwise this episode doesn’t register at all

Mad Jon: It’s like a travel episode where they forgot to bring the rest of the family.

That’s two strikes right there.

  Although I thought the PBS pledge drive had a few ups.

Charlie Sweatpants: Structurally, it is a complete mess, and the weirdness ebbs and flows like a toilet tank that hasn’t been given enough time to properly refill between flushes.

Mad Jon: But for me, the rest was kind of a random amalgamation of events loosely structured around Homer teaching the natives to be Homer.

…So I basically agree with you.

Charlie Sweatpants: You’re just relaxing after the whole Bart-as-Homer thing, and then it’s time for a giant earthquake/volcano/whatever.

Mad Jon: You mean the end?

Charlie Sweatpants: Yeah.

Mad Jon: Where everyone died but Betty White?

Charlie Sweatpants: What I mean is that this one goes back and forth between being kinda calm and then turning into something approximating a Halloween episode, and it does this like every thirty seconds.

One minute, Homer and the non-denominational-"microasians" are working together to build a chapel . . . then Homer rings a bell so loud it opens up the earth beneath them.

Dave: I find "microasians" offensive, btw.

Charlie Sweatpants: I don’t blame you. About halfway through I was trying to figure out if this episode was more or less racist because they invented the least inventive fictional place ever.

Dave: I think that makes it more racist.

  They couldn’t be bothered to be creative.

Charlie Sweatpants: It almost feels like one of those Bugs Bunny cartoons they can’t show on TV anymore. Like, here’s all the stereotypes at once, but it’s okay because we’re the Simpsons and so it’s not serious.

There’s no way they would’ve done something that clumsy two or three seasons before this.

Mad Jon: So, does that bother you more or less than the "B" microplot?

  You know, the one that started and that’s all.

Charlie Sweatpants: You mean Bart becoming Homer and then nothing happening except one of the worst Burns scenes up to this point?

Mad Jon: That’s it all right.

  I was pretty unhappy with that whole thing.

It made me look not lazy. And that is a feat, my friend.

Charlie Sweatpants: It was astonishing that it was what they went with to give the rest of the family something to do. I thought it was just a little joke to be tossed off by Homer on the radio, but they actually made it a plot. I guess the toaster going to daycare was cut for time.

  In between blundering from one "wait, what the fuck is going on?" moment to another, it also stretches a lot of jokes.

The PBS thing at the beginning is the perfect example, and that’s before you get to all the characters chasing Homer down the street.

  Just that opening with the fake PBS show tacks on way longer than what amounts to the exact same joke at the beginning of "Marge on the Lam".

Mad Jon: Agreed.

Charlie Sweatpants: Crude British sitcoms, okay fine, but it’s not a good enough idea to take up all that time.

Mad Jon: But I did kind of like the pledge enforcement van.

Charlie Sweatpants: Perfect example. Pledge enforcement is kinda funny.

Mad Jon: I could have done without everyone that was ever born chasing homer however, as you have pointed out.

Charlie Sweatpants: Right. And even then it doesn’t make sense.

Homer gets chased by magical and fictional characters . . . who for some reason lose track of him in the church . . . even though we saw Oscar and Elmo chase him into the fucking church.

  Even if you grant that scene all of its fantastic characters, it still doesn’t make sense.

Mad Jon: At that point it was just moving the plot along, but whatever. We have to get Homer somewhere that he can lick toads and corrupt recently Christianized natives somehow.

Charlie Sweatpants: But it did give us Jebus.

Mad Jon: But it did give us Jebus, that is correct.

Dave: Jebus, woo!

Charlie Sweatpants: And there are a couple of other decent little jokes scattered about, "the gift of shame", and I’ve always kinda liked the no-nonsense brutality of the pelican just falling over, but Jebus is so wonderfully versatile that it blows everything else away here.

Mad Jon: Agreed, Also I forgot about the gift of shame, which is hilarious. Mainly because of my Catholic wife’s constant handwringings.

Charlie Sweatpants: Betty White also gets in a couple of decent lines when she’s talking about how much she hates thieves. But the chase scene, and the collection scene, and even that bit at the end with the FOX telethon drag on, so even she doesn’t come out ahead.

Anything else here, or should we move on to Moe’s new face?

Mad Jon: I got nothing else, let’s get while the gettin’s good.

Charlie Sweatpants: Thank Jebus.

20 Responses to “Crazy Noises: Missionary Impossible”

  1. 1 Al Gore Doll
    21 August 2012 at 2:17 pm

    This episode also had the line,
    “Wouldn’t be the first time”
    in regards to the Simpsons saving FOX.
    A pretty good line in a completely off-the-wall ending.

  2. 2 Thrillho
    21 August 2012 at 2:40 pm

    It also has “If they’re not having a go at a bird, they’re having a row with a wanker.” This episode isn’t that bad if you just string together individual lines while leaving the plot out entirely. Then again, the same is true of most episodes from the last 13 years.

  3. 3 Dan S.
    21 August 2012 at 4:15 pm

    I’m not sure if I noticed at the time but Family Guy and the Simpsons shared a lot of plots around this time. Wasn’t there a very similar plot where Chris pretty much did the same thing as Homer in this episode?

    • 4 Charlie Sweatpants
      21 August 2012 at 4:49 pm

      There was a Family Guy episode where Chris went off with the Peace Corps, but that was post-resurrection, not part of the original Family Guy run, so it was many years after this one.

      • 5 Patrick
        22 August 2012 at 7:28 am

        Either way a lot of ZS episodes would work well on Family Guy and sometimes American Dad i’m a fan of both those shows, it’s just a speculation.

  4. 6 colonelcoward
    21 August 2012 at 6:18 pm

    “That said, I am mystified as to why it is sometimes spelled with two “e”s, “Jeebus”.”

    The linguistic explanation would be, “ee” is the default way in English to express the long “e” sound. Jebus could, theoretically, also be pronounced “jeh-bus” but “Jeebus” makes the pronunciation less ambiguous. If you were making a nonsense word with that sound in it, for example, you would almost always use “jee” rather than “je.” A lot of times when a word gets disconnected from its origins, it reverts to the default rule–like in baseball, when someone hits a ball and the left fielder catches it, you say they “flied out” rather than “flown out.” I think there are examples where spelling has changed too, but I can’t think of any.

    It’s usually based on popular consensus whether the disconnect is strong enough to revert to the default, and sometimes you have gray areas where people haven’t come to a consensus. For example, we never really came to a decision on whether the plural of walkman is walkmen or walkmans.

    Or, to say it in one line: The preferred spelling of Jebus is J-E-B-U-S, although E-E is an acceptable ethnic variant.

    I originally did think of it as “Jeebus,” because my mind emphasized the stupidity of Homer over its connection to the original word. Like, if Homer were to write it out, I’ll bet he would spell it “Jeebus.”

  5. 7 SW
    21 August 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Family Guy actually used the word “Jebus” first, in the episode “Holy Crap,” which aired September 30, 1999. The popularity of The Simpsons at the time strikes again.

  6. 9 ilmozart
    21 August 2012 at 9:58 pm

    This episode also gave us a line that I find myself quoting at odd times – “I’m not not licking toads”
    Clearly this has use in every day life.

  7. 10 Orangutanagram
    21 August 2012 at 11:32 pm

    Am I the only one that finds the Jebus thing supremely stupid? Please tell me I’m not alone.

    • 11 Dan S.
      22 August 2012 at 1:35 am

      Im with you on that one. I just see it as an unfunny mispronunciation. Also I thought it was odd that they played it as if Homer doesn’t know that its pronounced Jesus which I always found weird seeing that its something that he probably knows as frequent church goer and citizen of a Western country.

    • 12 colonelcoward
      22 August 2012 at 4:04 am

      I just found it funny that he was imploring Jesus for help, while mispronouncing his name at the same time.

      Interesting to note that Family Guy had used the word first. Just more evidence of how the show was becoming more Zombie than Simpson at this point…

    • 17 Matt the JERK
      22 August 2012 at 11:42 am

      Thirded. Not funny and very evident of what era of the show it came from. Lame.

  8. 18 Patrick
    22 August 2012 at 7:21 am

    I swear Jebus was used in an earlier ep?

  9. 19 Hipposlippo
    22 August 2012 at 2:35 pm

    I just wanted to chime in that this was the worst episode of the first 11 seasons. Far and away. I think I laughed at seeing Big Bird in an alley and maybe the FOX donation thing at the end. That’s it.

    Personally, I thought Season 11 should have ended the series. It was the first terrible season and the bulk of the good ones were from the Season 10 production run. Having it end with a terrible season would have been the right time to end it because nobody would have ever wondered if it should have kept going. “Behind The Laughter” would have made for a great finale since its unique, horribly flawed and watchable enough to serve as a closer.

  10. 20 Patrick
    22 August 2012 at 4:06 pm

    Second that.

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