"Dude, Where's My Ranch?" is the eighteenth episode of The Simpsons' fourteenth season. The episode aired on April 27, 2003. It was written by Ian Maxtone-Graham and was the first episode directed by Chris Clements.
When the family does Christmas carols
, they sing songs, until they reach the Blue-Haired Lawyer
's house. He tells the family that they cannot sing Christmas carols, unless they pay a royalty
. In response, Homer
makes the lyrics for his own carol. Later, Ned Flanders
comes in and tries to help Homer, until Homer kicks him out. Homer finds new inspiration in an anti-Flanders song, "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders". He plays the song at Moe's
, and when David Byrne
comes in, he likes the song so much, that he wants to produce and record the song. "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" becomes so popular that even William Shatner
does a cover of it. This leads to mass publicity, which annoys the Simpsons, who want to avoid it. They find a brochure for a dude ranch
, the Lazy I Ranch, and go there.
The family arrives at the Lazy I Ranch, owned by the Rich Texan, who tells Lisa that the ranch was built on cruelty to animals and oppression of indigenous people, which annoys her. It makes her want to leave, until she meets a cowhand, named Luke Stetson, who shares her views on the ranch. The family meet a man called Cookie who shows them round and sets out some dinner. Homer and Bart also have their own adventure when they meet a tribe of Native Americans who want a dam removed so they can reclaim their land. They are confronted by beavers, but manage to battle them back, destroy the dam, and give the land back to the Native Americans. Meanwhile, Lisa thinks that Luke is off-limits, because she overhears him on the phone promising a first dance to a girl named Clara. When Lisa encounters her, she tricks her into going the wrong way. At the dance, Lisa finds out that Clara is Luke's sister. It is up to Lisa, Bart, and some surprising heroes—beavers—to save Clara. It is a success, although Lisa is disappointed in Bart for destroying the beaver dam. However, when Lisa comes clean about what happened to Clara, Luke is offended and they separate. Meanwhile, Homer asks Marge what has happened since they went into the car. Marge points to a grave to give an example that Cookie had died the previous night. As the Simpsons return to Springfield, they hear a self-deprecating cover version of the Andrea True Connection song "More, More, More", (entitled "Moe, Moe, Moe"), on the radio, sung by Moe and produced by David Byrne (who Moe kidnaps earlier in the episode), and turn around to spend another week at the ranch.
- This episode's title is a reference to the movie Dude, Where's My Car? and the term dude ranch.
- The character of Cleanie was styled after the The Lord of the Rings character Gollum, from his appearance to the way he said "My preciousss.... Gollum!". Andy Serkis, who provided the voice of Cleanie, played the character of Gollum in the The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
- When the blue-haired lawyer says that "Good King Wencelas" is free, Homer says it "sucks" then leaves humming it.
- The main theme music from the 60's western film The Magnificent Seven is prominently used as background music in this episode.
- Maggie dances to "Oops, I did it Again" and parodies Britney Spears' Pepsi commercial with Buzz Cola. This is the second time in four episodes Maggie dances.
- When asked to have a drink by the Indian chief, Homer & Bart do not react upon hearing that the drink is bear urine. However, they freak out when the chief says the drink is actually Fresca.
- Homer and David Byrne dance while sharing the same outsize suit that David used in the concert film Stop Making Sense.
- When Moe takes David Byrne, it is a reference to Misery. At the end of the episode, Moe had David Byrne write a song for him, similar to how the character Annie gets Paul to write a novel for her.
- William Shatner's cover of "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" is an obvious parody of his infamous musical career, including his performance of Elton John's "Rocket Man" at a 1978 science-fiction film awards ceremony.
- During their "Everybody Hates Ned Flanders" ballad, the Bill and Marty press a button that causes a fake scream. The same thing happens in the middle of the Ohio Players song "Love Rollercoaster".
- The "Lazy I Ranch" is a reference to David Byrne's musical concert tour that he was on that year, the Lazy Eye Tour.
- The Indians have a magazine called "Peace Pipe Aficionado", a parody of Cigar Aficionado.
- Homer being pulled by Bart on a horse is a parody of how Billy Crystle is pulled in City Slickers. The music played during the gag is also similar to the music from the movie.