In this episode written by Tim Long, the Simpsons find Springfield Park to be a littered wreck and they spot a church carnival to raise money for a clean-up. When Homer wins at a game, he goes into a victory dance that Ned Flanders captures with a video camera he won at the carnival. Comic Book Guy offers to put the video on his website and soon, Homer's dance becomes a worldwide viral phenomenon, much to Homer's embarrassment. However, major sports stars like Tom Brady and LeBron James ask Homer to teach them his dance, inspiring Homer to become a victory dance choreographer and start a showboating academy.
Meanwhile, Ned, outraged by the state of today's media, decides uses his camera to create a film version of the story of Cain and Abel. After being shown to the public, everyone cheers except for Marge, who finds it too violent. Mr. Burns comes up to Ned to finance his next film titled Tales of the Old Testament, running at a length of 800 minutes. Midway through the screening, an outraged Marge stands up and calls the film out for its gore, threatening to boycott all Burns-related services. When Burns asks what alternative power sources, the audience names several sources. Burns admits defeat and says the film will never be seen again, to Ned's disappointment.
Homer's choreography becomes so popular, he is asked by the football commission to produce the Super Bowl halftime show. He can't come up with any ideas, so he goes to a lonely Ned, who's praying in church, and the two ultimately collaborate a retelling of the story of Noah's Ark which ends with a flooded stadium full of mock corpses and Ned reading a Bible verse (the story's actual ending, in which the waters recede and Noah and his family emerge to a fresh start for Earth, is not depicted). The production is roundly booed and criticized for spreading Christian messages. In the end, the Simpsons are back home enjoying breakfast with several sports stars...the main course being omelettes made from eggs people have thrown at the house.
This episode aired immediately after Super Bowl XXXIX along with the series premiere of American Dad!. With 23.1 million viewers upon its premiere, this is one of the highest rated episodes in the show's history
"Homer and Ned's Hail Mary Pass" contains examples of:
- Ascended Meme: "Jock Center" introduces Homer as "Professional Jerkass Homer Simpsons".
- Author Tract: In Ned's first film, as Cain murders Abel, Ned appears as Satan and the newspaper headlines "Massachusetts Legalizes Gay Marriage" and "Stem Cells Cures Alzheimer's" flash onscreen with hellfire in the background.
- Artistic License Sports: Showboating has pretty much been banned from most major sports. The NFL even has a rule against scripted showboating since the 1980s. While dances and celebrations are fine, the stuff that the players do in the episode would result in a fine and/or suspension.
- Biting-the-Hand Humor: "I'm the worst thing to happen to sports since Fox."
- Blatant Lies: Yao Ming pretends he can't understand English. Lisa tries to call him out on it.
- Bloodier and Gorier: Parodied. To make his films faithful to the Bible, Ned includes frequent bloody and gory scenes, sometimes exaggerating the gore.
- He also shows entirely unfaithful depictions of the Judgement of Solomon and Jonah and the whale, seemingly for the sake of even more gore. One suspects Mr. Burns may have had something to do with this, but it's never stated.
- Cain and Abel: The subject of Ned's first film.
- Chew-Out Fake-Out: We're first led to believe the commissioner of the NFL is going to insist Homer stop teaching players to showboat instead he commends Homer on improving ratings and invites him to do the Superbowl halftime show.
- Given Name Reveal: Comic Book Guy casually tells Ned his real name: Jeff Albertson.
- The Great Flood: Homer simulates this during the halftime show by flooding the entire stadium.
- Hand-or-Object Underwear: Ned wears a leaf over his crotch in his first film.
- Hypocritical Humor: Homer's opening to the halftime show.Homer: A time before TV, before cowboys, before dinosaurs...the time of the Bible.
- Instant Humiliation: Just Add YouTube!
- Judgment of Solomon: One of Ned's Bible stories is about the story of Solomon cutting the baby in half. After seeing what he just did, Solomon cuts himself in half. You'll note that this does not happen in any version of the story, completely contradicting Lisa's claim that he's just trying to be true to the Bible.
- Memetic Mutation: In-Universe; Homer's victory dance becomes a global sensation.
- Money to Throw Away: The stadium the Super Bowl is played in was completed a week before the game...and is scheduled to be demolished a month after the game. It cost $300 million.
- Moral Guardians: Marge is incensed over the gore of Ned's films.
- Ned once again when he decides to base faithful Bible-based films. This time, in response to suggestive commercials Rod and Todd are watching, not as an entry for a film festival as seen in "A Star is Burns."
- Inverted when a liberal mother criticizes the half-time show for pushing Christian values on innocent children.
- My God, What Have I Done?: In one of Ned's films, King Solomon did cut the baby. Realizing what he did, he cut himself in half out of remorse.
- New Job as the Plot Demands: Mentioned: "Lisa, I bet you're wondering why Daddy's not at work again."
- Nightmare Face: In Ned's first film, Cain (Rod) is forced to walk the Earth forever with "the mark of evil" on his face, which has an eyeball hanging out of it socket.
- O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Eleanor Abernathy, aka the Crazy Cat Lady makes an appearance in the episode, speaking normally. When Marge remarks on this, Eleanor explains she's been put on a psycoactive medication that helps make her lucid. When Marge points out the 'medication' is just Reese's Pieces, Eleanor promptly resumes her normal behaviour, shouting incoherent gibberish and hurling cats at the Simpsons.
- Stereotype Flip: A secular mother is angered by the halftime show because it spreads Christian messages.
- The Stinger: The first part of the credits shows an alternate scene of Homer welcoming the sports stars to his showboating academy.
- Suddenly Voiced: The Crazy Cat Lady because she's been taking medications. She goes back to incoherent jabber when Marge sees that the medications are Reese's Pieces.
Milhouse: I didn't know you could talk!
- Parodied with Michelle Kwan.
- Super Bowl Special: While one in real life, Homer and Ned also make one for the in-universe Super Bowl, which is panned because everyone happens to be atheist.
- Tempting Fate: Marge declares her intention to boycott the power plant in response to Mr. Burns financing Ned's films. When Burns asks her how she plans to get by without nuclear power, much to his annoyance Marge and a good chunk of the audience chip in with renewable energy sources they could make use of.
- Truth in Television: As Lisa points out to Marge, The Bible is actually quite violent when you really get down to it
- Whip It Good: Mr. Burns recommends that Moleman being whipped for real during a film shoot despite Ned's objections.