Alone Again, Natura-Diddily (The Simpsons)
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"There are Simpsons episodes that have fewer good ideas in them, demonstrating just how bereft the show is of ideas and characters (“Lisa Goes Gaga”). There are Simpsons episodes that have technically been objectively more decrepit with poorer plotting and dialogue (“Saddlesore Galactica”), and those that have been more offensive in terms of failing to measure what type of shock value is appropriate. By those standards alone, “Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” doesn’t get its infamy.
To me, this episode earns its ire because it demonstrates that the show has irreversibly lost its soul. From the raison d’etre to the execution, to the animation (lifeless and lacking), to the characterization, to the horrid mixture of the meta and the tragic, to everything in between, there is no other episode of the Simpsons more destructive to the universe and characters that was done this poorly. It is the perfect storm of wretched, one that the show can never really recover from, has never recovered from, and in my opinion, will never recover from.
This is The Simpsons’ Twin Dilemma. It’s Night In Sickbay. The show’s official dethroning moment of absolute suck. The half-hour when everything bad about the show formally caused the bottom to fall out, and the remains to hit rock bottom and keep digging. The day that any other animated show could formally dispatch it from the pinnacle of contemporary animated television. (Which it did. Several times.)
“Alone Again, Natura-Diddily” is, to me, the moment The Simpsons truly becomes a zombie – soulless, vapid, and something that can’t be rescued as much as it needs to be euthanized.
Congratulations, Ian Maxtone Graham and Mike Scully. As far as I’m concerned, you broke what was once the greatest TV show of all time."— The Review Nebula
Alone Again, Natura-Diddily is the 14th episode of Season 11 of The Simpsons. It was aired on February 13, 2000, and is the episode where Maude Flanders is killed off.
After Maude Flanders is killed in a freak accident involving a t-shirt cannon, the Simpsons attempt to console a grieving Ned Flanders.
- The episode fails to deliver due to the insignificance of Maude Flanders as a character.
- It rushes the plot; Ned loses his wife, grieves, dates again, has a crisis of faith, meets a potential new wife, and regains his faith all in 24 minutes.
- Another problem is the way that Maude dies in it; her death feels rather rushed and lazy and it feels too much like an in-your-face type of death, due to the fact she is just suddenly killed by getting shot by a t-shirt gun which causes her to fall to her death off the stadium.
- There's no reason why they couldn't have made something out of Maude's death, considering that the show had previously managed to produce a very touching episode about the death of Bleeding Gums Murphy, a character who'd only had one focal episode and a couple of minor cameos, in "Round Springfield". Instead, Maude's death feels like just some minor plot device to get the episode underway.
- The only reason why Maude was killed off was that Maggie Roswell, her voice actress, departed from the show in 1999. If they wanted to stop using her in the show, they could have simply retired her character off the show similar to how Troy McClure and Lionel Hutz were retired when Phil Hartman died.
- Like "Life of Brian" it shoves in some distasteful jokes for an episode that's suppose to be sad such as Bart tampering with the funeral cake.
- To be fair, even though Maude wasn't a significant character in the first place, the episode does lampshade this in Reverend Lovejoy's speech at her funeral.
- Also, while she didn't exactly deserve to die, not many fans liked her character, so her being killed off is far from a big deal.
- Despite arguably being at fault for what happened to Maude, Homer at least feels bad for the incident that occurred and this episode is one of the rare moments Homer feels sympathy for Ned.
- There are a few funny scenes such as Ned telling God that he won't go to church, but then going anyway while repeatedly apologizing to him.
While the episode has a 7.6/10 rating on IMDB, "Alone Again, Natura-Diddily" received mixed reviews from critics and fans. NoHomers.net users originally ranked it as the 14th worst episode of The Simpsons in 2003, but it fell to the 16th worst on the 2006 list, then 27th worst on the 2011 list.
- A commercial that aired before the episode was broadcast angered many viewers in Charlotte, North Carolina as it looked like it was parodying an incident at Lowe's Motor Speedway in which three spectators were killed by flying debris during the 1999 VisionAire 500K.
- Season 12's "I'm Goin' to Praiseland" revisits the events of this episode.
- "Voice Of 'Maude' Disputes Report". The Columbian. 2000-02-05. p. E6.