|The Simpsons episode|
Moe and Renee at the police moonlight ball
|Episode no.||Season 9|
|Directed by||Dominic Polcino|
|Written by||Ron Hauge|
|Original air date||March 1, 1998|
Helen Hunt as Renee
|Chalkboard gag||"Silly string is not a nasal spray"|
|Couch gag||The Simpsons sit on the couch, and hydraulic presses crush them into a cube.|
"Dumbbell Indemnity" is the sixteenth episode in the ninth season of the American animated television series The Simpsons. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on March 1, 1998. It was written by Ron Hauge and directed by Dominic Polcino. The episode sees Moe trying to keep his new girlfriend by using a large amount of money, but when it runs out, he decides to commit insurance fraud. Homer helps him, but is caught and sent to jail, and attempts to take revenge on Moe when he does not bail him out. Helen Hunt makes a guest appearance as Moe's girlfriend, Renee. The episode contains several cultural references and was generally well received.
At Moe's Tavern, Homer notices that Moe is depressed because he cannot get a date. Homer decides to take Moe out to meet a woman. The trip to a disco proves to be unsuccessful, but on their way home, a flower vendor named Renee starts a conversation with Moe, and he ends up asking her out.
Moe and Renee seem to form a strong relationship, but Moe is insecure about his hold on her and he feels he must spend large amounts of money so she will stay with him. Upon maxing out his credit card, Moe comes up with a scheme to commit insurance fraud by having Homer steal his car and park it on train tracks so it would be destroyed. The night the scheme is supposed to take place, Moe and Renee attend a police charity event aboard a yacht; the event's attendance by all the officers in town ensures Homer will not get caught perpetrating the scheme, and gives Moe an alibi so that no one will suspect he was behind the act. Homer botches the plan by stopping to watch a drive-in movie, while the train they were counting on to destroy Moe's car passes by. Deciding all is not lost, Homer drives the car over a cliff — but his attempt to exit the car before it sinks into the water below fails. The car ends up sinking just near the yacht where the police charity event is taking place, and when Homer swims to the surface, he is arrested.
Moe speaks to Homer through the bars of his jail cell window and promises to bail him out, but changes his mind when Renee talks about wanting to vacation in Hawaii. While packing for the trip, Moe is confronted by his own conscience, in the form of Homer, who makes him feel bad for his betrayal. Moe ends up telling Renee the truth about the insurance fraud scheme, and she is at first happy he was honest. However, when Moe starts scheming again for a way to get Homer out of jail without paying the bail, Renee is disgusted and leaves him.
Moe's idea involved setting his bar on fire, which he ends up doing by accident as he realizes Renee has left. Meanwhile, Homer escapes jail by attacking Hans Moleman, who was delivering books to the inmates. He enters the burning bar to confront Moe, and the two start fighting. They are both soon rendered unconscious from smoke inhalation, but Barney appears and rescues them. The bar is completely destroyed, and during their reconciliation Homer promises to help Moe get back on his feet. In the final scene, Homer has allowed Moe to temporarily relocate his bar to the Simpsons' home.
The episode was written by Ron Hauge, who has said he thought of the episode while attempting to create a story involving general illegal activity. Originally, Hauge had a different title for the episode, "Mutual of Moemaha", parodying the name of the Mutual of Omaha insurance company. The episode was going to add to the development of Moe's character in the show, though the staff did not think they were able to develop him more until later episodes.
Director Dominic Polcino and the animators of the episode were praised for their efforts by the other staff members, especially during the scene where Homer is driving down the cliff and attempts to escape Moe's car. Polcino and his animators went to great lengths to correctly time Homer's rolling and create a vivid and detailed lake, as well as animate Homer sinking to the bottom of the lake. Show runner Mike Scully commented that, "It's hard enough for us to come up with the ideas, but when Dominic and the animators can make it, it's really fantastic."
The episode guest starred Helen Hunt as Renee, Moe's girlfriend. Hunt has said she liked the design of her character, who was named after Hauge's wife. During the making of the episode, Hunt and Hank Azaria, who voices Moe, were dating. In an interview with People Magazine in 1998, Scully stated: "Hank and Helen got along so well it's hard to believe they are a real couple." In July 1999, the couple married, but divorced in December 2000, after a long separation.
The title of the episode is a reference to the film Double Indemnity, which also had a plot involving an insurance scam. In the scenes where Moe and Renee are seen dating, the song "I'm a Believer" by The Monkees is playing. Other songs include "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer" by Amos Milburn and "Brick House" by the Commodores.
In its original broadcast, "Dumbbell Indemnity" finished 25th in ratings for the week of February 23 - March 1, 1998, with a Nielsen rating of 10.5, equivalent to approximately 10.3 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 authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, enjoyed the episode, commenting: "A case perhaps of life reflecting art as guest star Helen Hunt is now married to Hank Azaria, who is, of course, Moe, which is rather nice as you can't help but feel sad that, by the end of this rather clever and charming episode, Moe has been unlucky in love once more." In a 2006 article in USA Today, "Dumbbell Indemnity" was highlighted among the six best episodes of The Simpsons season 9, along with "Trash of the Titans", "The Last Temptation of Krust", "The Cartridge Family", "The Joy of Sect", and "Das Bus". IGN ranked Hail to the Chimp, the film Homer goes to see in the episode, as the seventh best fictional film within another work. Show runner Mike Scully greatly enjoyed the scene where Homer attempts to escape Moe's car when it is going down the cliff, and has said that it is one of his favorite scenes from the show.
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