Homer becomes a food critic for the local newspaper following the retirement of the old one. But after showering every meal with praise, his fellow critics peer pressure him into becoming a Caustic Critic
, which quickly causes the local restauranteurs to plot his murder.
- Actor Allusion: Edward Asner plays a newspaper editor.
- Adult Fear: Uter's parents show up demanding Principal Skinner tell them what happened to their son. Uter's mom even says they just want closure at this point, probably assuming he's dead by now.
- Aluminum Christmas Trees: Some fans probably don't realize Platypus Man and The Cosby Mysteries (the two shows Homer blaming the television critic for cancelling) were both real shows (the ending of "Who Shot Mr. Burns?: Part 1" spoofed the latter with a Fourth Wall Psych).
- Ax-Crazy: The chef at Luigi's bursts out of the kitchen brandishing a knife after Homer insults his food. He even cuts off a piece of Homer's ear.
- Bait-and-Switch: While Homer is singing his song about his love of food he sings he "could even eat a baby... deer!"
- Balloon Belly: By the end of the food festival, Homer complains of being full to the point his belly button goes from "inny" to "outy."
- Big Beautiful Man: Ned Flanders admittedly looks a bit cute with his chubby cheeks after getting fat from following Homer's good reviews.
- Big Eater:
- Homer enjoys working as a food critic because he's getting paid to eat. (Though to be more accurate, he's being paid to write detailed reviews about restaurants)
- Lenny, the Flanders, Otto, Sideshow Mel, and Mr. Burns briefly become this too thanks to Homer's influence as a critic.
- Big Fun: Invoked briefly. Homer's fantastic reviews lead to a lot of citizens gaining weight, to which a now heavyset Mr. Burns claims he's "never felt jollier" until his shins break from the extra weight. He's later seen among the mob that delivers Homer's comeuppance at the end.
- Big "NO!": Homer's reaction when Lisa claims the poisoned eclair is low fat.
- Blatant Lies: When the other critics pressure Homer to be more heavy handed, he takes it as having to be nothing but nasty and snarky in reviewing every single restaurant, even when he clearly still enjoys all of them.
- Brain Bleach:
- When the Sea Captain and Akira discuss Homer's pants being unfastened:
I'm surprised he just doesn't give it up and go for sweatpants. Akira:
He says the crotch wears out too fast. Sea Captain:
Yar! That's gonna replace the whale in my nightmares
- While eating in a rotating restaurant with Lisa, Homer describes the view as beautiful and inspirational... until it rolls by Patty and Selma's apartment. At which point Homer gets a good look at them exercising in their underwear and passes out from disgust.
- Brick Joke: Early on, Bart points out that Uter has been missing since the previous field trip, with Skinner immediately changing the subject. During the Did you know Homer Simpson is a food critic? scene, Skinner gives the news to Uter's parents, with Uter's dad replying Kvit changing the subject. Vhere is Uter?
- In the restaurant Uter's parents demand Skinner tell them where Uter is. In the season 6 episode "The PTA Disbands" Uter was accidentally left behind after a field trip to Fort Springfield and wasn't seen again for some time, only popping up sporadically in further seasons.
- One of the restaurants Homer reviews is the Springfield Revolving Restaurant from the season 2 episode "Principal Charming".
- Carrying the Antidote: Parodied. The French assassin gets so caught up in making the poisoned eclair that he almost forgets that he'd been putting the antidote in it, too.
- Caustic Critic:
- Homer becomes one about halfway through, causing local restaurants to lose so much business that their owners conspire to have him killed.
- The critic that Homer is replacing was not exactly a nice one either: she gives a caustic criticism to the food of her farewell party (and the editor snarks about how this attitude made him divorce her). Although she apparently wasn't as bad as Homer got given no one was conspiring to kill her. Which makes sense on account of Homer took the suggestions made by the other critics too far and was being mean for the sake of being mean, to the point all of Springfield's eateries were on the verge of bankruptcy.
- Censored for Comedy: Homer's cursing while driving behind an ambulance. The words that got bleeped out weren't the kind of curse words that warrant a bleeping on TV.
- Comically Missing the Point:
- As King Lear, Krusty proceeded to mess around like he always does, as he thought the play was a comedy instead of a tragedy. He's quite surprised when a co-star informs him otherwise. Later, he attempts to salvage things by riffing on Shakespearean works, but upon getting booed, he calls them a tough crowd for booing Shakespeare.
- When at the newspaper and reading a periodical from the day he was born, Homer laughs and shudders at a picture of a baby underneath a headline that reads "Unusually Large, Ugly Baby Born" not realizing that he was that baby.
- Constrained Writing: When Homer becomes a food critic, he writes a review without using the letter E, since the E key on his typewriter is broken. "By Homer-no-Earl-no-Bill Simpson!"
- Conveniently Timed Distraction: After the French chef is arrested for trying to kill Homer and he's handcuffed, Chief Wiggum suggests to Eddie and Lou that they go get some Belgian waffles but Lou would rather have frittatas. While Wiggum and Eddie laughs at Lou for his frittata obsession, the French chef uncuffs himself and escapes with none of them noticing that he's gone despite the fact that he was standing between Eddie and Lou.
- Disproportionate Retribution: Be a Caustic Critic in Springfield and die. This is Not Hyperbole.
- Dissonant Serenity: Homer takes getting part of his ear chopped off by an enraged chef entirely too calmly.
- Enemy to All Living Things: A funny version.
- Epic Fail:
- Homer's first review is so poorly done the editor immediately believes it's a joke. For context, most of the words he used were made up and half of the review was "Screw Flanders" written over and over again. Homer just barely saves his ass by claiming it was a joke.
- Krusty's disastrous dinner theatre role has him dubbed, according to the newspaper article, the "Worst King Lear in 400 years."
- Even Evil Has Standards: The owner of Izzy's is the only one who objects to murdering Homer.
- Evil Laugh: Akira and the Sea Captain share one at the prospect of moving Homer "off the food page and into the obituaries". We than pan out to see Bart laughing along with them, until he remembers what they're laughing about.
"Wait a minute. They're gonna kill dad!"
- Exact Words: The tour guide at the Springfield Gazette claims that the paper uses a percent of recycled materials in each issue...namely, zero. "Zero's a percent!"
- Extreme Omnivore: Before becoming a Caustic Critic, the only bad review Homer gave was to a slice of pizza he found under the couch, and only then he claims it lost points simply because he found a Hot Wheels toy on it. Even one of the critics balks at the idea of him dying from too much chocolate, citing "I've seen this man eat a bowl of change!"
- Failed a Spot Check:
- Even though the dummy Homer leaves in his cubicle at work has a bucket with a face crudely painted on it for a head and sticks with gloves hanging limply on the end for arms, Burns mistakes it for an employee and gives it a promotion.
- It takes a moment for the assassin to notice that he is accidentally filling the "Bombe" with both the poison and the antidote.
- Fan Disservice: While eating at the revolving restaurant, Homer describes the view as beautiful (a fountain), inspirational (a church), and nauseating (Patty and Selma exercising in front of the TV in their underwear) and passes out.
- Fat and Proud: Getting fat from Homer's recommendations seemed to have been an improvement to Mr. Burns' horrible attitude until his shin bones shattered again. Likewise, the other fat characters don't seem to notice or care that they've gotten so big.
- Fate Worse than Death:
- Ann Landers and Dear Abby are kept trapped in tubes so the newspaper can keep sucking advice out of their heads, and at this point the two would prefer to die if they can't be free.
- Homer shrugs when told the eclair would kill him and still plans to eat it, but throws it away in horror when told it's low fat.
- Faux Horrific: Only Homer Simpson would consider a low-fat eclair a food worth screaming a Big "NO!" and tossing it away, and we mean more than being told it is laced with poison.
- Food Porn:
- Lisa's writing mixed with Homer's love of food turns the reviews into this. Several Springfielders become obese Big Eaters because the reviews make everything sound delicious.
- The assassin's description of the eclair.
Assassin: This eclair is over one million calories. Twenty-five pounds of butter per square inch. Covered with chocolate so dark, (the chefs start drooling) light cannot escape its surface! (They grab for the picture and he smacks their hands away) No, no, no! This is just a picture!
- Formerly Fit: Ned Flanders is usually sculpted like a Greek God under that sweater of his, but thanks to listening to Homer's good reviews he becomes significantly fatter alongside Maude. He's somehow back to his usual size before the episode ends.
- Four Point Scale: In-universe; initially Homer gives everything a good review, simply because he loves food so much. Even when he becomes a Caustic Critic, his rating of Marge's pork chops is the lowest he ever gave: seven thumbs up.
- French Jerk: As the French assassin prepares the poisoned eclair meant for Homer, but Ned Flanders notices it first.
Ned: Oh, that looks scrum-diddley-doodley...
Assassin: Get lost!
Ned: (taken aback) A rude Frenchman! Why, I never... (walks away)
- Gone Horribly Right: Homer is told to be more of a Caustic Critic for variety's sake (because he was giving good reviews willy-nilly). He becomes such a caustic critic that all of the cooks in Springfield eventually band together to hire an assassin to take him out.
- Human Head on the Wall: When Homer earns the rage of every restaurant owner in town due to his Caustic Critic reviews, a deli owner gets uncomfortable with the blood thirst of the others, and asks if they're chefs or murderers.
Sea Captain: Does that answer your question?! *points to an empty plaque on the wall between a stuffed blue marlin and a stuffed swordfish, which clearly reads "Homer"*
- Hypocritical Humor: Mr. Burns, of all people, gives an employee (or what he thinks is an employee) a promotion just for being in a good mood.
- Immoral Journalist: Homer's food criticisms go about it both ways: he first makes constant praising of restaurants, which makes people experience obesity-related health issues, and then he becomes so vicious at giving bad reviews solely for the sake of giving bad reviews that the restaurant owners of Springfield decide to save their businesses by assassinating Homer.
- Impossibly Delicious Food: Homer's reviews make all the stuff he eats sound like this, which is why a lot of Springfielders get obese.
Lenny: Hey Homer, great call on that chicken place! And on that rib place! (Camera angle widens to reveal Lenny now has a huge gut) I never knew everything was so good!
- Insane Troll Logic: After the newspaper tour guide mentions how Johnny Newspaperseed spread newspapers throughout the country:
Homer: If he's so smart, how come he's dead?
- It's the Same, Now It Sucks!: Invoked with the farm equipment critic:
Critic: We see John Deere has come out with this year's line of rototillers. Surprise, surprise, they're green! I say it's time to send John Deere a "Dear John".
- Japanese Politeness: Akira thinks banning Homer from the town's restaurants would be impolite. "I say we kill him."
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- The other critics weren't exactly wrong to lecture Homer about his reviews, pointing out he wasn't actually critiquing anything so much as he was blindly hyping up everything he tried. Being part of the mob also implies that they felt Homer took their advice a little too far by going in the opposite direction.
- The restaurant owners losing business had a right to be upset about Homer's bad reviews, not just because they were losing money but because it was clear Homer was going so far as to slander them with what was clearly libel. It still doesn't excuse them trying to murder him though.
- Karma Houdini:
- Discussed, lampshaded, and ultimately averted when Homer tempts fate at the end saying he'll never receive his comeuppance, only for Laser-Guided Karma to happen during the credits as Homer is beaten up by an angry mob of everyone he pissed off in this episode.
- In an alternate ending seen only on the season 11 DVD, he actually does become one, as he and Lisa walk off from the festival with him suffering no consequences.
- Played straight by the other critics that tell Homer to be mean, who are part of the aforementioned mob.
- Also played straight with the French chef who runs away while the police are distracted as well as all the other chefs.
- Kick the Dog: Homer becomes such a bastard as a food critic he needlessly insults Marge's pork chops, which he normally loves more than most food.
- Loose Lips: Captain McCallister and Akira gloat about how they're going to kill Homer at the festival which Bart overhears.
- Made of Explodium: "La Bombe" (even if full of poison and a Nutritional Nightmare) is supposed to be just an eclair. When Homer tosses it away, it lands and explodes like it had been packed full of nitro.
- Major Injury Underreaction:
- When Homer pans Luigi's food to his face, one of the chefs storms out with a knife, slashing Homer. Homer quips "I hope you cut me better than your green beans," but casually concedes when he realizes the chef did cut off part of his ear.
- After gaining a bunch of weight from all the good food reviews, Mr. Burns' shins collapse and break under the pressure. He only nonchalantly expresses this happening again and waddles away.
- Nausea Fuel: In-universe, Homer faints after seeing his sister-in-laws in their underwear.
- Negative Continuity: While Uter had been seen getting attacked during the last field trip the elementary school kids went on, he was seen a few episodes later getting harassed in school when Springfield was going to vote to deport its illegal immigrants.
- Never My Fault: Krusty's dreadful performance in King Lear has the dinner audience booing him, leading to this quip:
"Tough crowd. They're booing Shakespeare!"
- Non-Answer: Played for Drama (or Black Comedy) during the gossip montage in the middle of the episode. Right after Skinner asks some people if they have heard about Homer Simpson being a good critic, we immediately find out that the people he's talking to are Uter's parents and they are despairing and pissed that he keeps refusing to answer their questions of where the hell their son is (left behind and implied to be lynched in a field trip in the episode "The PTA Disbands").
- Noodle Incident:
- When Mr. Burns' shins collapse, he expresses mild concern that it happened again.
- Ned Flanders is skinny again near the end of the episode after having put on a lot of weight from Homer's reviews. While that could've been just for a one-off gag, since Burns and Sideshow Mel are still fat at the end, it raises the question of how Ned got back into shape so quickly.
- Whatever Homer did to piss Sideshow Mel off enough that he's in the angry mob at the end.
- The Nose Knows: Homer can tell that a cake says "so long and best wishes" from its smell.
Nelson: Your old man has an awesome nose.
Bart: That's nothing, he can hear pudding.
- Not Afraid to Die: Played for Laughs; when Lisa tells Homer the poisoned eclair is going to kill him, he simply shrugs and says "I've had a good run."
- Not What I Signed Up For: Lisa only started ghostwriting to help Homer, but angrily quits after he becomes determined to abuse his power and smear every restaurant in Springfield.
- Nutritional Nightmare: The French chef plans to kill Homer with "La Bombe", an éclair which is said to be over one million calories. The poison just sounds excessive after that.
- Ode to Food/Song Parody: Homer's "I Like Pizza" song, which is a parody of "I Feel Pretty".
- Papa Wolf and Mama Bear: Uter's parents make a quick appearance to establish that (in this episode) apparently Uter has not been seen since he was left behind in a field trip in the episode "The PTA Disbands". Uter's dad even roars at Skinner to stop trying to dodge their questions and tell them where the hell their son is.
- Paper-Thin Disguise: The dummy Homer leaves as his "double" at the power plant consists of a bucket with a crudely-drawn face on the front, a mop wearing one of his shirts stuffed with a pillow, and a tape recorder singing an (incorrect) version of "She Works Hard for the Money." It completely fools Mr. Burns—to the point where he gives the "employee" a big promotion.
- People Jars: The newspaper keeps Dear Abby and Ann Landers inside giant tubes to keep pumping advice out of them. They're not happy about it.
Ann Landers: My advice is to free us or let us die!
- Pre-Mortem One-Liner: One of the chefs/assassins comments that "Homer Simpson will be moving from the food pages...to the obituaries!" Bart finds this joke funny, until he remembers that the group is planning to kill his dad.
- Pun: Krusty's attempt to salvage his disastrous stint in King Lear is to punch up the material.
Krusty: How do you make a king leer? Put the queen in a bikini!
- Rage Quit: Lisa refuses to keep writing Homer's reviews when his nastiness goes overboard and he even starts lashing out at her.
- Reviews Are the Gospel: An in-universe example. Everyone follows Homer's reviews very seriously despite his reputation for being a moron (though more likely because of Lisa writing them for him). At first, everyone starts eating more and get fat like him due to his glowing recommendations because he makes everything sound delicious. Then when he switches tactics and starts negatively reviewing everything, almost all of the restaurants in Springfield are nearly put out of business due to the lack of customers. No readers are ever seen arguing against the reviews except the other critics who felt he was being too positive.
- Shower of Angst: Homer after he was rejected the first time ("Still not clean...").
- Skewed Priorities: One of the chefs suggests simply banning Homer from the restaurants after he starts giving everyone a bad review. Another chef says that they should just kill him instead, because banning him would be impolite.
- Lisa calls to her dad that the eclair is poisoned, but he doesn't seem to care. She resorts to Plan B: she lies that it's low fat, which causes Homer to panic and throw it away.
- Small Name, Big Ego: After Homer decides to become a Caustic Critic, he acts like he's the greatest critic in all of Springfield.
- Snap Back:
- After previously being seen as one of the newly fat Springfielders, Ned Flanders appears back with his slimmer physique by the time of the food festival with no explanation. It stands out mainly because Mr. Burns and Sideshow Mel are still fat when the episode ends.
- Having previously spent most of the episode in a good mood, Mr. Burns being among the angry mob indicates he's back to his sour personality with his shin bones shattering the likely excuse.
- Something Something Leonard Bernstein: Homer apparently couldn't remember the words to "She Works Hard for the Money," and fills in the gaps with "Something, something, something, money, give me lots of honey!"
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome:
- When the newspaper editor says Homer's restaurant review is going in the newspaper, Homer yells "Stop the presses!" The machine operator complies, shutting it down, allowing Homer to stick his article on the assembly line. When he yells, "Okay, start the presses!", the editor informs him, "That takes FOUR HOURS."
- Mr. Burns is repeatedly shown to have an incredibly delicate bone structure due to his old age. So naturally gaining a massive amount of weight would've put stress on his bones.
- Sure, Let's Go with That: Homer's first review was written with a typewriter that didn't have a working "E". When the editor dismissed it as a joke, Homer decided it was indeed a joke.
- Take Our Word for It: Lisa's ghostwriting managed to make all of Springfield's restaurants incredibly popular or nearly pushed them into bankruptcy, but we never get a really in-depth look at how powerful those reviews were.
- Take That!:
- Homer rips up a script of The Cable Guy saying how it almost ruined Jim Carrey's career.
- The episode itself is a 22-minute-long jab at the newspaper industry, from the use of gimmicks to sell subscriptions to the general meaninglessness of the lifestyle section.
- Temporary Bulk Change: Homer's rave reviews of just about everything cause several Springfielders (Ned and Maude, Otto, Sideshow Mel, Mr. Burns, and Lenny) to put on a great deal of weight. Some, like Ned, are skinny again near the episode's end, while Burns and Mel are still fat when they get ready to give Homer his comeuppance.
- Tempting Fate: Homer claims that he will never get his comeuppance, only for an angry mob to arrive to give it to him.
- Too Dumb to Live: The Sea Captain put Homers negative review of his restaurant in the window. In all fairness, doing so blocks the Health Code review...
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Homer gave glowing reviews to every place he ate at, until the other critics chided him for lauding everything and he gives nothing but mean spirited remarks on everything, even Marge's cooking (by only giving it 7 thumbs up instead of 9).
- Took a Level in Kindness: Mr. Burns is surprisingly nice for most of the episode. First, he gives the Homer dummy a promotion simply for being in a good mood, and then applauds Homer's reviews and says he's "Never felt jollier" after getting fat. But apparently having his shins shatter again brought him back to his usual horrible attitude.
- Toxic Friend Influence: Because of Homer, everyone who reads his reviews tries out the restaurants he lauded, and so they get morbidly obese from eating the fattening foods Homer recommended. Not so toxic in Mr. Burns' case since he definitely seemed to have gotten nicer before his shins broke.
Homer (seeing all the fat Springfield citizens): Look, Marge, I'm making a difference in peoples' lives.
- Tuckerization: Johnny Newspaperseed is a reference to John "Johnny Appleseed" Chapman.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Lisa's the only reason Homer was able to keep working as a food critic, but of course once he becomes a Caustic Critic he starts browbeating her as well as everyone else he insults.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The other critics, having no idea what Homer's usually like and how prone he is to outside suggestions, told him he didn't have to like everything he reviewed. Springfield's restaurants suffered massively from his bad reviews and it almost got Homer killed.
- Up to Eleven: The other critics simply told Homer he didn't have to like everything. He took that advice and decided to start giving horrible critiques to everything, even Marge's cooking.
- Walking Disaster Area: When Marge tells Homer she's concerned that something bad will happen if he enters the fairgrounds, Homer dismisses it:
- Weight Woe: As a result of Mr. Burns getting fat, his shin bones break again. And then he has to waddle back home like a penguin.
- Weirdness Magnet: Homer, as Marge puts it:
Only your father could get a part-time job at a small town newspaper and wind up the target of international assassins.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Bart asks whatever happened to Uter after the last field trip they were on.
- It's unclear as to whether the mob targeting Homer also went after Lisa for foiling the assassination attempt, as the screen fades to the credits before it reaches them.
- Who Writes This Crap?!: The other critics call out Homer's reviews glorifying everything as ridiculous. One of them even asks what "Nine thumbs up" is supposed to mean.
- Worst News Judgement Ever: The paper for Homer's date of birth reads "Unusually large, ugly baby born".
- You Keep Using That Word: When Homer defends his new caustic style, he says "My palate has grown more sophisticated.", to which Marge asks "Oh, yeah? What's a palate?" Homer can't answer, thinking it means a special time in a boy's life, so he runs away, grabbing some more food as he does.