pigging out

Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?

"Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?" is the third episode of the eleventh season of The Simpsons. It aired on October 24, 1999.


Springfield Elementary arranges a trip to the offices of The Springfield Shopper for the students. Homer volunteers, having left a dummy (which later gets promoted) to stand in for him at the Power Plant. On the way, he has trouble getting past a vehicle which cut him off. Angrily, he honks and curses at it (with impressionable kids in the car), until Lisa tells him that it is an ambulance. Thus informed, he honks and swears at the ambulance. Finally, they reach their destination... the zoo. Bart tells him that they were to go to the newspaper, and a loud, animal-scaring "D'oh!" later, they land up at the newspaper office. There, they are introduced to the newspaper's beginnings and the workings in the inner office.

While they are there, Homer smells cake, and a couple of sniffs later, figures out what it says. Meanwhile, the newspaper staff is having a retirement party for their over-finicky food critic. Homer crashes the party and starts pigging out on the food. The editor, seeing Homer's liking for food, offers him a job as their food critic. He asks Homer to prepare a 500-word sample review first. Homer thanks him for the opportunity.

At home, Homer gets to work. Since the E's do not work on his typewriter, he titles the review "Food Box: Go or No Go", by Bill Simpson. When he submits the review for evaluation, the editor has a nice laugh, due to the many typos, threatening references to the UN and the many concluding "Screw Flanders". Homer, acting as if the review was a joke, says he will get the "real" one.

At home, Lisa helps out Homer. Putting Homer's gestures into words, she prepares a glowing review. On reading the "real" review, the editor is mighty impressed and declares that this is page-one material (of Section H-2).

To celebrate Homer's new job, the family goes to The Sea Captain's restaurant, The Frying Dutchman. There, people overhear that Homer's a food critic. Captain McCallister brings along a "Critic Special" meal for them, where moving creatures signify freshness. Homer also visits Planet Springfield and a revolving restaurant. He gives all the restaurants he visits great reviews, his lowest rating being "seven thumbs up." Soon, everyone in Springfield has put on weight, eating in all of Homer's well-reviewed restaurants.

At the Springfield Shopper office, the editor introduces Homer to other critics. They chide him for being too generous in his reviews. Homer, giving in to peer pressure, decides to give out bad reviews. His next review is at a dinner theater, where Krusty gives a terrible rendition of King Lear, thinking it to be a comedy. Homer gives the food and the acting a scathing review, much to Lisa's discomfort. He continues the trend at Luigi's restaurant. Marge is given only "seven thumbs up" for her pork chops.

Lisa argues with him for being needlessly cruel, but he retorts saying that people will think what he wants them to think. Having had enough, she quits. Homer declares that he is a powerful person, who'll never get his comeuppance. Homer decides to do the reviews himself, though he does take some help from Maggie and Santa's Little Helper. On reading the baby- and dog-assisted review, the editor tells Homer to shape up as the Taste of Springfield food festival is coming up and he will be reviewing all restaurants in town. He also reminds him about having expectation in the Life Ways section like astrology, Broom Hilda, and articles about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

Meanwhile, the restaurateurs hold a secret meeting, regarding Homer's reviews. Luigi complains that he put a horse's head in Homer's bed as a warning, but Homer ate the head and gave it a better review than he gave Luigi. Soon, they decide to kill him. A French chef (of The French Confection) declares that he will do the deed, by feeding Homer an éclair containing one million calories and 25 pounds of butter per square inch covered in chocolate so dark light can not escape its surface. For good measure, he will also add some poison.

At the food festival, despite Marge's women's intuition, Homer goes on his reviewing duties. Meanwhile, the French chef prepares the deadly piece of confectionery (with his unnamed assistant who accidentally starts adding antidote but quickly stops). Bart overhears some of the restaurateurs discussing the murder plot and alerts Marge and Lisa. They split up, looking for him before it is too late. Marge took the Fried Foods section, Bart took the Salty Snacks section, and Lisa took the desserts section. Homer, meanwhile, has reached the French chef's stall and is about to eat the éclair. Lisa runs up and shouts that it is poisoned, but when Homer shrugs it off, she yells that it is low-fat. Homer chucks the lethal treat away in revulsion, causing it to explode harmlessly, leaving a large crater on the ground.

The French chef is apprehended by Springfield's finest, but, predictably, escapes. Homer thanks Lisa for saving his life and is relieved that he did not get his comeuppance. As he and Lisa walk away, an angry mob runs after them. As the scene fades to black, Homer gets beaten up, finally getting his comeuppance.

Cultural references

  • The title references the 1967 film, Guess Who's Coming to Dinner.
  • Homer's song about food resembles, in part, the tune "I Feel Pretty", from West Side Story.
  • The typewriter without an "e" refers to the film Misery.
  • Props seen at Planet Springfield: Herbie from The Love Bug, the coffee mug from Heartbeeps, a cane purported to be from Citizen Kane, a script from The Cable Guy, an alien resembling one from Mars Attacks! (but pink), a model of the Titanic, models of an X-Wing and TIE fighters, and a statue of C-3PO.
  • When Lisa and Homer discuss the language to use in his first review Homer attempts to augment nouns with "groin-grabbingly". Lisa offers the word "transcendent" to which Homer replies "What about groin-grabbingly transcendent?". "Groin Grabbingly Transcendent" is the name of a song by Jason Becker on his album The Blackberry Jams.
  • The episode was also the second episode of The Simpsons to feature a reference to the movie The French Connection (The first was "The Springfield Connection").
  • Luigi imitates the infamous "Horse Head" scene from the movie The Godfather, by placing a horse head on Homer's bed for giving his restaurant a bad review, however his plan goes wrong when Homer eats the head and gives it a bad review.
  • Homer blames the Springfield Shopper's TV critic for the cancellation of The Cosby Mysteries, proclaiming "That show had limitless possibilities!"
  • Homer typing the same thing over and over spoofs the 1980 film The Shining.
  • Citizen Kane is referenced multiple times throughout the episode, such as the "cane from Citizen Kane" and the scene where Homer tells Lisa "people will think what I tell them to think", and that she "can't do this to me, I'm Homer Simpson!" as she leaves the room.
  • The reference to comeuppance is another Orson Welles hat tip. The term is used similarly in Welles' film The Magnificent Ambersons.

External links

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