(originally aired March 2, 2003)
I really don’t like single Flanders. It just doesn’t work. As mentioned before, what made Flanders so great in the past is that he represented all that Homer didn’t have, but now with his wife gone, he’s been taken down a peg, leaving him a sad, lonely man who Homer now elicits some sympathy for, at least enough to not be as much of a dick to him. So now every Flanders plot has to involve him finding a new romance, even though we know they won’t work out, and they all make no sense at all, and of course, like all one-episode love interests, they have little to no characterization. The dame here is actress Sara Sloane, voiced by Marisa Tomei, who Flanders unwittingly serves at the Leftorium (“You don’t know who I am, do you?” “I sure do. You’re the most important person in the world, because you’re my customer!”) Sloane is filming a movie in Springfield, and takes comfort in Flanders’ small-town, simple way of living. Tomei does give her a degree of likability, and the ultra-revealing dress she wears in the third act doesn’t hurt, but ultimately, she’s pretty much disposable.
So even though a scene prior he muses how he’s “happily married to a dead woman,” Ned proceeds to date Sloane, and the two have a whirlwind romance. Or at least as whirlwind as Ned can allow, which doesn’t go much further than holding hands with him. The main runner is that Sloane is a lot more uninhibited than Ned, making her a source of temptation, but most of the middle portion of the show is kind of time killing, with reactions from the Simpson family, and Rainier Wolfcastle appearing as Sloane’s ex-boyfriend. The one bit I do like is the crazed tabloid reporters storming Ned’s home, breaking all of his possessions and taking photos of it (“Let’s concoct more lies!”) Then instead of running with that, they kill the bit off with a stupid gag about a Cher-crow. The stuff with Sloane and Ned are kind of sweet, but there really doesn’t feel like a big connection, at least not as big as we’re supposed to believe. I get Sloane is into Ned for his quaint, small-town charm, but what does Ned like about Sloane? That she’s pretty and nice? Through the whole show, it just feels like he’s being very polite rather than he’s head over heels in love.
As her movie wraps up, Sloane proposes Ned move out with her to Hollywood, but that being a wicked, sinful place, he refuses. So Sloane decides she’s going to stay in Springfield, even though it’s incredibly inconvenient and detrimental to her career being that far away from the major movie studios. But she’s only got one thing on her mind: fucking Ned Flanders. Ned of course is hesitant, premarital “doodly” being a sin and all, but after consulting the Bible and all of its passages that affirm this, eventually he cops and just bangs Sloane anyway. Sure, it’s out of character, but look, he’s a guy, and she’s a hot movie star, so I’ll be gracious and give him a pass on that. Plus he then expects her to marry him right afterwards (“I’m like Baskin Robbins, you get one free taste, then you gotta buy the scoop.”) Sloane declines, telling him she’s not ready to be tied down. Oh? But you already moved to this jerkwater berg away from your job to be with Ned, how is this any different? Oh, because I guess all she wanted to do is to get her rocks off, because she leaves him after this, then goes off and has a three hour celebrity marriage as a finale gag. So how genuine was Sloane through all this? Was Ned proposing marriage just her easy out? They wrap it up so quickly that it’s hard to discern. And we get a “happy” ending in that since he dated a movie star, Ned is more attractive to the ladies of Springfield, even though that doesn’t matter since he’ll never remarry ever, ever. Except he just did recently, but I’m not even going to touch upon that. Because I never watched it.
Tidbits and Quotes
– Maggie encased in sunscreen with sunglasses and sun hat is pretty cute.
– Twice in this show Ned consults Homer for advice about Sloane, and both times Homer rambles on some nonsense that is barely related to the subject, and both times the scene ends with Ned looking contemplative. Contemplative over what? What Homer just spouted was not helpful in the least; stop asking him for advice about everything.
– “She’s had more stars on her than Lisa’s homework!” When did Bart become catty? It’s like that stupid bit at the WNBA. Of the whole family, it seems Bart has turned into the hardest character to write. Homer is a moronic insane man, Marge is cautious and makes lame jokes, Lisa is the know-it-all/substitute narrator, and Bart… well… there’s no simple personality traits you can latch onto with him, he’s just a regular ten-year-old. So instead of writing him like one, we’ll just throw random lines at him and hopefully people will think it’s funny.
– I really like this line from Ned (“We occupy that useless mass of land between Los Angeles and New York called ‘America’!”)
– One of the paparazzi yells at Ned, “Do you plan to kill Sara like your last wife!” a horrible, despicable line, but out of the mouths of bottom-feeding tabloid reporters, it works just fine.
– Sloane is shooting her film at PolyStar Pictures. But… that’s the studio we saw in Hollywood in the Mel Gibson episode. Couldn’t they have pulled a shot of Krustylu Studios, there must be dozens of establishing shots they could have reused. Or did they not give a shit?
– “Ned, I haven’t seen you this happy in years!” “I haven’t felt this good since we stole the 2000 election!” Yep, Ned’s an ultra wacko religious conservative Republican now! The GOP is evil and he loves George Bush!
– I like Flanders’ twisted nightmare of “Hollyweird,” complete with an appearance from James L. Brooks (“Perhaps you’d like to go to a football game?” “Well…” “We don’t have a team!” “Nooooo!!”)
– The scene at the Kwik-E-Mart is like a perfect storm of shit: distasteful dialogue (“The last thing I bought for a lady was a casket,”) Apu trying to pawn off two of his kids on Sloane, and apparently has already given away three to Mia Farrow… somehow, then the Simpsons walk in and we get this from Bart and Lisa (“Look, it’s celebrity boy-toy Ned Flanders and his arm candy Sara Sloane!” “Miss Sloane, how are you handling the change from La-La-Land to Blah-Blah-Land?”) Nobody talks like that. At all. Especially not small children. If they’re going to keep writing dialogue like this for these kids, they might as well age them up to teens so it makes a little more sense.
– Sloane attends the ladies’ book club, where they all make excuses for why they didn’t read the week’s book and crack open the margaritas. I like that conceit, but then it’s ruined when Sloane brings in “Bridget Jone’s Diary” author Helen Fielding (voicing herself) to do a stupid bit, which then comes back later when we have absolutely no way to end our episode.
– Love this dialogue when Sloane shows Ned her skimpy outfit (“Loosen up, honey, this dress just creates the illusion of nudity.” “Well, Siegfried and Roy create a lot of illusions, but I doubt their girlfriends dress like that!”)
– Honestly, I can see Ned being tempted and sleeping with Sloane; it would have worked a lot better if the entire episode was focused on it, because it’s a huge leap for his character. Call it ‘The Last Temptation of Flanders.’ Instead we got this, and a cop-out ending. Le sigh.