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In Marge We Trust (2 of 2)

In Marge We Trust (2 of 2)
S08E22 Marge We Trust

"In Marge We Trust" is the twenty-second episode of The Simpsons' eighth season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on April 27, 1997. It was written by Donick Cary and directed by Steven Dean Moore. The episode guest stars Sab Shimono as Mr. Sparkle, Gedde Watanabe as the factory worker, Denice Kumagai and Karen Maruyama as dancers, and Frank Welker as the baboons. In the episode, Marge replaces Reverend Lovejoy as the town's moral adviser while Homer explores the mystery of why his face appears on a Japanese-language detergent box.

Reverend Lovejoy's sermon bores his congregation. After Marge voices her concern over Lovejoy's lack of enthusiasm about helping people, he explains that his passion faded as he dealt with Ned Flanders' constant trivial problems. Marge begins working for the Church as the "Listen Lady", listening to people's problems and helping solve them. Lovejoy realizes his inadequacy and feels depressed; images of saints chastise him for doing little to inspire his congregation.

Homer takes Bart and Lisa to the Springfield dump to dispose of their Christmas tree, where they find a box of Japanese dishwasher detergent, Mr. Sparkle, whose mascot resembles Homer. Disturbed, Homer contacts the manufacturer in Hokkaidō, Japan. He is sent a promotional video that reveals that the mascot is a result of a joint venture between two conglomerates, whose mascots, a smiling fish and lightbulb, merge to form Mr. Sparkle; the similarity to Homer is a coincidence.
Ned calls Marge for help: delinquents Jimbo, Dolph, and Kearney are loitering outside his store, the Leftorium. At Marge's suggestion, he tries to shoo them away, but they harass him. Ned calls Marge again, but when one boy cuts the phone cord, Marge assumes that Ned has hung up and that everything is fine. The next morning, Maude informs Marge that Ned is missing. Marge goes to Lovejoy for help, and they track Ned to the zoo, where Japanese tourists think Homer is Mr. Sparkle. Lovejoy rescues Ned from the baboon enclosure and rediscovers his passion for his job, regaling his congregation with the tale of Ned's rescue.

By season 8, the show had begun to explore episodes revolving around secondary characters. Reverend Lovejoy was selected for this episode because, aside from being noted as "the priest who didn't care", he had not had much character development. This was the first episode that Donick Cary wrote for The Simpsons. He was disappointed that his first story was about "Marge's crisis with faith." The trip to the dump was inspired by Donick Cary's youth, in which he would often go "dump picking". This led to the writers deciding to have Homer's face on a discarded box, which became the Mr. Sparkle subplot. To help create the advertisement, the writers watched videos of many Japanese commercials. An original scene from Lovejoy's flashback showed that Jasper Beardley preceded him as minister of the First Church of Springfield. The solution for how Mr. Sparkle resembles Homer was written by George Meyer, after hours of time had been spent trying to come up with a realistic ending. Matsumura Fishworks was named after Ichiro Matsumura, a friend of David X. Cohen.

In its original broadcast, "In Marge We Trust" finished 25th in ratings for the week of April 21–27, 1997, with a Nielsen rating of 10.1, equivalent to approximately 9.8 million viewing households. It was the third highest-rated show on the Fox network that week, following The X-Files and King of the Hill. The episode received critical acclaim; authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, said: "A rare case of both storylines being worthy of full episodes in their own right, this is a cracking episode which highlights the unduly neglected Rev. Lovejoy and makes you realize Homer isn't the only one ready to kill Ned Flanders! Great stuff." In a 2000 Entertainment Weekly article, Matt Groening ranked it as his fifth favorite in the history of the show. Josh Weinstein described it as one of the best of the season, as well as being one of the most underrated episodes of all time. He also described the Mr. Sparkle commercial as his all-time favorite sequence. The fake Fruity Oaty Bar commercial from the film Serenity was partially inspired by the Mr. Sparkle advertisement. Since 2009, the show's new opening sequence includes Mr. Sparkle detergent with Marge's supermarket purchases. 1pp2p30eccmcv3443