"One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" is the eleventh episode of The Simpsons' second season. It originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 24, 1991. In the episode, Homer consumes a poisonous fugu fish at a sushi restaurant, and is told that he has only 22 hours left to live. He accepts his fate and makes a list of all the things he wants to do before he dies.
The episode was written by Nell Scovell and directed by Wes Archer. It features guest appearances from Larry King, George Takei, Sab Shimono, Joey Miyashima, and Diane Tanaka. The episode was selected for release in a video collection of selected episodes, titled The Last Temptation Of Homer, that was released November 9, 1998. The episode features cultural references to songs such as “Theme from Shaft”, “Gypsies, Tramps & Thieves”, and "When the Saints Go Marching In". Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. It acquired a Nielsen rating of 14.1, and was the highest-rated show on the Fox network the week it aired.
Homer takes his family to the new sushi bar, The Happy Sumo. After sampling most of the items on the menu, he tries sushi made from the fish fugu. The chef in charge is having sex with Edna Krabappel, so his apprentice has to slice the fugu, of which certain parts are toxic. He tries to do it carefully, but Homer becomes impatient, only to have it served and become unsure if the poisonous portions have been removed. Homer considers it a treat, but the chef soon returns and believes that the fish has not been prepared correctly and tells Homer that he may have been poisoned. Homer and Marge go to the hospital, where Dr. Hibbert informs Homer that based on a chat he had with the sushi chef, Homer is found out that he has increased likeliness of death and has 22 hours left to live. At night with Marge by his side, he decides not to tell his children about the bad news and makes a list of all the things he wants to do before death.
On his last day, after oversleeping, Homer attempts to do all the things on his list. He has a man-to-man talk with Bart, listens to Lisa play her saxophone, and borrows Ned Flanders's camcorder to make a video for Maggie that she can look at when she is older. Homer finally reconciles with his father, which takes up far more time than he expects and forces him to give up doing some of the things on his list. After trying to catch up on time he lost doing these things, Homer is arrested for speeding. He calls Barney, who is asked to pay $50 to bail him out. After being acquitted, he tells off his boss Mr. Burns and has one last drink at Moe's Tavern with his friends, causing him to miss dinner with his waiting family. He then hurries home in time to say goodbye to his children and make love to Marge.
At midnight, Homer quietly gets out of bed, visits each family member, who are all asleep, and says goodbye. Feeling glum, he goes to the living room and listens to Larry King read the Bible on tape. The tape plays out to which suddenly his head drops and it appears he has succumbed to the poison. Marge awakens the next morning and is panicked that her husband is not by her side. She runs downstairs and finds Homer, collapsed in the armchair. As she mourns, she realizes that his drool is still warm. She wakes him up and drums in the fact that he is alive and had not been poisoned after all. Homer then prances around in an overjoyed state and vows to live life to its fullest. Back to living his normal life, Homer returns to the couch watching a bowling tournament and eating pork rinds.
The episode was written by Nell Scovell and directed by Wes Archer. In the episode, Bart and Lisa sneak into the sushi bar's karaoke room and sing the theme song to the 1971 film Shaft, "Theme from Shaft". The Fox network censors originally did not want the staff to use the song because they thought the lyrics were too obscene to appear on television. In order to prove the censors wrong and show that it could appear on television, the staff dug up footage from an old Academy Awards ceremony at which the song was performed by Isaac Hayes. When the chef of the sushi bar finds out that Homer has been poisoned, he yells at his apprentices in Japanese. The staff wanted the language they spoke to be actual Japanese, so they hired a Japanese actor who translated the lines for them. The episode introduced the character Akira, who has appeared many times later on the show. American actor George Takei provided the voice of Akira. The episode featured many other guest appearances; Larry King as himself; Sab Shimono as the sushi bar chef; Joey Miyashima as Toshiro, the apprentice chef who slices up the fugu; and Diane Tanaka as hostess of the bar. King's role was first offered to American singer Bruce Springsteen, but he turned it down. According to showrunner Sam Simon, actor William Shatner also rejected the part.
"One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" originally aired on the Fox network in the United States on January 24, 1991. The episode was selected for release in a video collection of selected episodes, titled The Last Temptation of Homer, that was released on November 9, 1998. Other episodes included in the collection set were "Colonel Homer", "Homer Alone", and "Simpson and Delilah". The episode was again included in the 2005 DVD release of the Last Temptation of Homer set. It was also released in May 1998 on the seventh volume of the Best of The Simpsons video collection, together with "Bart Gets Hit by a Car". The episode was later included on The Simpsons season two DVD set; released on August 6, 2002. Scovell, Matt Groening, Al Jean, and Mike Reiss participated in the DVD's audio commentary.
In its original broadcast, "One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish" finished twenty-seventh in the ratings for the week of January 21–27, 1991, with a Nielsen rating of 14.1, equivalent to thirteen million viewing households. It was the highest-rated show on the Fox network that week.
Since airing, the episode has received mostly positive reviews from television critics. DVD Movie Guide's Colin Jacobson said that despite a "potentially gimmicky tone", the episode provided "a lot of fun moments along with a little emotional content as well. The show usually balanced sentimentality cleanly, and that occurred here; it avoided becoming too syrupy and featured just enough emotion to make an impact. It also contained some great bits, like Bart and Lisa’s karaoke performance of the 'Theme from Shaft'. It also ended on a hilarious and incisive note." Jacobson's favorite line of the episode was the sushi restaurant hostess's "This is our karaoke bar. Now it is empty, but soon it will be hopping with drunken Japanese businessmen." The authors of the book I Can't Believe It's a Bigger and Better Updated Unofficial Simpsons Guide, Warren Martyn and Adrian Wood, wrote: "Again, a playful dig at racial stereotypes. Homer comes over as a reasonable man who wants to live his last day in style, and the closing twist is easily as good as the farewells leading up to it." Jeremy Kleinman of DVD Talk said that the episode is "rich with sentimentality and Homer's expression of love for his family as he fears that his time is up." He also commented that while all of the chalkboard gags on the show are "funny", this episode "features a true gem" as Bart writes "I will not cut corners" once and then puts ditto marks below. Ed Potton of The Times wrote: "The writers offer black humour by the bucketload, but the grim reality of Homer's fate is never in doubt; his eventual collapse is deeply affecting. A great example of [the show's] fierce satire being offset by a potent emotional core." Doug Pratt, a DVD reviewer and Rolling Stone contributor, said the first half of the episode has "fun skewering Japanese restaurants and such, while the second half is reasonably successful at emphasizing character while sustaining the comedy."
In a review of the second season, Bryce Wilson of Cinema Blend commented: "The worst moments of this season are merely uninspired, never truly horrible. Slight misses like “Dancin' Homer”, “One Fish, Two Fish, Blowfish, Blue Fish”, “Bart's Dog Gets an F”, and “The War of the Simpsons” are a bit flat. But even in their lowest points, humor is easy to find." Jeremy Roebuck of KVUE named this episode, along with "Bart Sells His Soul", "Homer the Heretic", "Simpsons Bible Stories", and "She of Little Faith", one of the best Simpsons episodes with a religious theme. Dawn Taylor of The DVD Journal thought Homer's line to Bart, "I want to share something with you, the three little sentences that will get you through life. Number one: 'Cover for me.' Number two: 'Oh, good idea, boss.' Number three, 'It was like that when I got here.'", was the best line of the episode.